Buzzy, billion dollar fintech startup Revolut has hired a PR firm with a specialism in crisis communications and is recruiting an in-house defamation lawyer as negative coverage of the company continues.
Two industry sources told Yahoo Finance UK that Revolut has appointed MHP Communications to act as external PR and communications advisors. Keith Gladdis, a former news editor at the Daily Mail, is understood to be working on the account.
When Gladdis joined MHP as a director in 2017, the PR firm said that he would be “offering senior counsel to clients on media strategy, crisis communications, and effective campaigning.”
A spokesperson for Revolut said appointing an outside PR firm was the “logical development for a large and growing business.”
“MHP Communications will undertake a programme of proactive campaigns and media strategy to support Revolut in its next phase of international growth, led by the agency’s specialist financial services team. This includes launching in north America and Asia as part of a long term programme of international expansion,” the spokesperson said.
Yahoo Finance UK last month broke the news that Revolut was hunting for what is understood to be its first external PR firm.
The appointment comes amid a string of bad headlines for Revolut, which is one of the UK’s so-called “unicorn” startups — a private tech business worth over $1bn.
The Telegraph reported last month on what it claimed were sanctions screening issues at the company. On the same day, Wired published a report detailing the “toxic” internal culture at the startup. These followed headlines earlier in the year about fake data used in Revolut’s adverts and scrutiny of the company’s banking activities in Lithuania.
UK marketing magazine The Drum recently described Revolut’s year so far as a “PR crisis.”
Revolut has pushed back strongly against the claims of a poor internal culture and compliance issues. The startup said it was improving its culture and that the reports around sanctions screening systems were “misleading.”
However, on Tuesday, the BBC reported that a Revolut whistleblower approached the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority in 2016 to raise concerns about internal culture and compliance. This led to an investigation by the FCA that was closed a year later, according to the BBC.
As well as calling in PR help, Revolut is also recruiting an in-house defamation lawyer as it seeks to fight back against negative headlines and protect its reputation.
A job posting on its website said the role will involve “supporting a variety of defamation claims and reputation related matters.”
The new role will also “advise on libel, slander and internet defamation matters and recommend to senior management the steps required to protect the business’s reputation by bringing or defending such claims.”
“With regard to our legal team, Revolut’s swift growth has generated great interest in the business. This has sometimes led to untrue and damaging claims being made, which we always seek to correct. Revolut is undertaking recruitment to fill a range of highly skilled roles worldwide,” a spokesperson for Revolut said.
Revolut is one of Britain’s hottest startups. It was founded in 2015 by a former Credit Suisse currency trader and began as a prepaid card linked to an app that let people buy ultra-cheap currency. It has expanded into everything from insurance to cryptocurrencies.
The startup was valued at $1.7bn (£1.2bn) last year and has raised money from top venture capitalists in Europe and Silicon Valley. It has four million users globally and signs up thousands of new accounts each day.
Oscar Williams-Grut covers banking, fintech, and finance for Yahoo Finance UK. Follow him on Twitter at @OscarWGrut.