Jonathan Rowland plans £40m float for ‘Bitcoin bank’

A Bitcoin banking company backed by multimillionaire businessman Jonathan Rowland is eyeing a £40m float on London’s slowly recovering stock market.

Mode, which provides online payments services and lets users buy and sell Bitcoin, is aiming to become a UK “super app” for financial services. The app has received investment from Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter.

The company is expected to confirm a stock market listing in the next month and has been sounding out investors. It is hoping to raise £7.5m. 

Mode offers a consumer-facing app, which it hopes to turn into a challenger to Monzo. Its products include a “Bitcoin jar”, where users can buy cryptocurrency that then offers them an interest rate return. 

Crypto assets are unregulated and considered high risk, although rival apps, such as Revolut, also offer ways for users to buy them.

Mode also has a payments arm, where it has deals with China’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay, allowing businesses to process payments from Chinese consumers using its services. 

The financial technology company was founded by Mr Rowland, son of property investor David Rowland. The family are known as financial advisors to Prince Andrew. 

So far, it has not sought a banking licence, although it calls its consumer app a “Bitcoin banking” app. It does have an e-money licence for payments. 

Mr Rowland has two decades of experience in the city, selling his investment company JellyWorks aged 24 amidst the dotcom boom, which surged to more than £300m in value, although it was later sold for £67m. In 2015, he co-founded challenger small business bank Redwood. 

Mode is a minnow compared to Monzo and Revolut, but Mr Rowland said while more established challenger banks had acquired millions of customers and multi billion pound valuations they were failing to make any money. “I like Monzo,” he said. “But I don’t see them making money.”

He said: “There is no other fintech doing what we do. There is no listed retail cryptocurrency or banking disruptor.”

His own challenger is being pitched to investors as a so-called “superapp”, similar to China’s Alipay, which will have multiple functions in payments, money transfers and investments. Last month, it announced it had hired Ria Liu, Alipay’s former UK chief executive. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.