Transferwise Vs. Revolut: Who Will Win the Fintech Race?

An In-Depth Analysis of the Skill Sets of the Engineering Teams Behind the Two Companies

© Knowledge Officer

In May 2019, Transferwise, a UK-Based online international money transfer service, made the headlines by hitting a massive $3.5 billion valuation. February 2020, the British fintech industry gets into the spotlight again as Revolut, a UK-based digital banking service, makes the headlines by achieving a record-breaking $5.5 billion valuation. As the two startups’ customer bases and revenues double, it becomes evident that both companies have no pains in generating revenues or investments to support their growth. But a question remains, do they have the other critical, but often disregarded element that completes the growth equation, namely ‘talent’? And does this talent play a role in the valuation of these tech startups?

In this report, we have used our talent analytics technology in Knowledge Officer to dig deep into the skill sets of the engineering teams behind the two fintech startups to provide you with an answer to these questions. We have analyzed the skill sets of 600 engineers, with 50% representation from each company, to arrive at a better understanding of both companies’ talent strengths and weaknesses. We answer the question, ‘what talent needs do they inherently have and should fulfill to support their growth strategies?’.

Talent Snapshot

© Knowledge Officer

Knowledge, Skills, and Experience

Academic Diversity Reigns

‘13% of Revolut’s engineers have an academic background in business or economics, compared to 3% in Transferwise.’ Click To Tweet

Our analysis reveals that, overall, 95% of the engineers in Transferwise have a strong formal academic degree in computer engineering, but that is not without being at the expense of academic diversity. Revolut plays a different talent balance with its engineers having diverse backgrounds, ranging from computer engineering to data science, business, economics, and information security.

The Stats:

© Knowledge Officer
  • 95% of Transferwise’s engineers have an academic degree in computer engineering, as opposed to only 66% in Revolut.
  • Revolut’s engineering talent shows more diversity with 7% of its engineers having a data science academic background, versus 2% in Transferwise.
  • In addition to having strong computer engineering backgrounds, 13% of Transferwise’s engineers have academic backgrounds in a non-computer engineering specialization, 13% in STEM, and 3% in business or economics.
  • In addition to computer engineering degrees, 15% of Revolut’s engineers have academic backgrounds in STEM, 13% in business or economics, and 10% in a non-computer engineering specialization.
  • Information security appears as a less frequent, but yet existing field of academic pursuit with 3% of Revolut’s engineers and 2% of Transferwise’s engineers having undergone some academic instruction in the field.

Postgraduate is Popular!

‘52% of Revolut’s engineers hold postgraduate degrees versus 44% in Transferwise.’ Click To Tweet

Postgraduate degrees are on the rise and common among the engineering community in both Transferwise and Revolut. Both companies show an approximate 50-50% split between Bachelor degree holders and postgraduate degree holders in their engineering departments, with the numbers shifting slightly in the favor of Revolut.

The Stats:

© Knowledge Officer
  • 48% and 42% of Revolut and Transferwise’s engineers hold master degrees respectively.
  • 4% and 2% of Revolut and Transferwise’s engineers hold Ph.D. degrees respectively.
  • All in all, Revolut scores higher with 52% of its engineers holding postgraduate degrees versus 44% in Transferwise.

An Ensuing Battle Between Engineering Skills & Data Science

'Transferwise scores higher on 82% of software engineering skills; Revolut scores higher on 83% of data science skills.' Click To Tweet

Transferwise’s engineering department scores significantly higher than Revolut on 82% of the skills identified by our analysis system as top engineering skills, signifying a clear software engineering edge on Transferwise’s end. On the other hand, from the top data science skills identified by our systems, Revolut scores significantly higher than Transferwise on 83% of them, clearly highlighting Revolut’s edge in the data science field.

The Stats:

© Knowledge Officer
  • With regards to software engineering frameworks, Spring is the most commonly mastered framework in both Transferwise and Revolut, with Transferwise faring significantly higher, as 44% of Transferwise’s engineers cite it as a skill they master, in comparison to 17% in Revolut.
  • With regards to product management frameworks, Agile comes in second in Transferwise and Revolut, being mastered by 27% and 14% of Transferwise and Revolut’s engineers respectively.
  • Following Agile, Scrum appears to be the most commonly mastered product management framework in both Tranferwise and Revolut, being mastered by 21% and 14% of their engineers respectively.
© Knowledge Officer
  • With regards to programming languages, Java comes first in both Transferwise and Revolut, with Transferwise scoring significantly higher, as 73% of Transferwise’s engineers and 53% of Revolut’s engineers master it.
  • The next most common programming languages in Transferwise are Javascript and Python, being mastered by 66% and 28% of the engineers respectively.
  • In Revolut, following Java, Python comes in second followed by Javascript, being mastered by 41% and 37% of Revolut’s engineers respectively.
  • Transferwise scores higher than Revolut in all programming languages except Python, Kotlin, Objective-C, and Swift, which might confirm higher mobile development and machine learning skills in Revolut, versus higher software development and engineering skills in Transferwise.
© Knowledge Officer
  • In the data science field, there is a change in game, and Revolut scores significantly higher than Transferwise in almost all areas.
  • 13% of its engineers mastering data analysis versus 4% in Transferwise, 11% mastering machine learning versus 5% in Transferwise, and 4% mastering deep learning versus 1 % in Transferwise.

The Banking Industry Leads the Pipeline

‘10% of Transferwise & Revolut’s engineers come from the banking industry, 7% from big tech companies, and 6% from one company, EPAM Systems.’ Click To Tweet
© Knowledge Officer

The data reveals that no specific company feeds the pipeline of engineers being employed in Transferwise or Revolut, although EPAM Systems takes the lead as 6% of both Transferwise and Revolut’s engineers cite it as a previous employer. On an industry level, though, the banking and tech industries are the top sources of engineers for both Transferwise and Revolut.

The Stats:

© Knowledge Officer
© Knowledge Officer
  • On an aggregate level, 10% of Transferwise & Revolut’s engineers come from the banking industry, 7% from big tech companies, and 6% from EPAM Systems.
  • On a company level, 8% of Revolut’s engineers have had previous work experience in EPAM Systems and 4% in Luxoft, while 6% of Transferwise’s engineers have had previous work experience in Morgan Stanley or EPAM Systems.
  • On an aggregate level, 10% of Transferwise & Revolut’s engineers have had previous work experience in the banking or financial services industry.
  • Second to the banking industry, at least 7% of Transferwise and Revolut’s engineers have had work experience in one of the big tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, or Amazon.
  • Second to the tech industry, 6% of Transferwise and Revolut’s engineers have had previous work experience in EPAM Systems.
  • On a company level, 8% of Revolut’s engineers have had previous work experience in EPAM Systems and 4% in Luxoft, while 6% of Transferwise’s engineers have had previous work experience in Morgan Stanley or EPAM Systems.

A Predominantly Young Engineering Talent

‘Almost 75% of Transferwise and Revolut’s engineers have less than 10 years of work experience.’ Click To Tweet

The data reveals that juniors or experienced non-managers are the biggest, most common professional segment employed by both Transferwise and Revolut, as almost 75% of their engineers are below the 10-year range of work experience. The data also shows that, overall, Revolut has an engineering team with significantly lesser years of experience than Transferwise. 

The Stats:

© Knowledge Officer
  • In the 0-5 year range of work experience, Revolut scores much higher with 31% of its engineers falling in this category, in opposition to 19% in Transferwise.
  • In the 5-10 year range of work experience, it is almost a tie, as 50% of Revolut’s engineers are within this range, very close to Transferwise’s 51%.
  • In the 10-15 year range of work experience, Transferwise scores higher with 23% of its engineers falling in this category, in opposition to 16% in Revolut.
  • In the 15-20 year range, Transferwise again scores higher as 6% of its engineers fall under this category, in opposition to 2% in Revolut.

Structure, Culture, and Feel

An Engineering Melting Pot!

‘Only 18% of Transferwise’s engineers are sourced from the base country, the UK; close to 14% in Revolut, suggesting an increasingly growing global talent.’ Click To Tweet

Both Transferwise and Revolut have more than 50% of their engineering talent sourced from outside the UK, their home country. Although both companies thrive on global talent, Revolut has a significantly more global engineering workforce, with more than 67% of its engineers having previous work locations outside the UK.

The Stats:

© Knowledge Officer
  • Tranferwise’s top source of engineering talent is the UK, providing it with more than 18% of its engineers.
  • Second in line is Estonia, providing Transferwise with 8% of its engineers, followed by Hungary at 7%.
  • Revolut’s top source of engineering talent is Russia, providing it with more than 27% of its engineers.
  • Second in line is Poland, providing Revolut with 15% of its engineers, followed by the UK at 14%.

The Rise of the Data Scientist & the Product Engineer

‘The second most common title in the engineering team of Transferwise is ‘product engineer’, in comparison to ‘data scientist’ in Revolut.’ Click To Tweet

Our findings point out that when it comes to the structure inside the engineering function, Transferwise leans more towards multi-skilled full-stack engineers while Revolut tends to have more specialized platform-specific engineers. Besides software engineers, the second most common job title in Transferwise is ‘product engineer’, in comparison to ‘data scientist’ in Revolut, signifying Transferwise’s increasing focus on the customer versus Revolut’s focus on R&D. Moreover, certain job titles emerge in one company more than the other such as ‘customer support’ in Transferwise and ‘financial crime analyst’ in Revolut.

The Stats:

© Knowledge Officer
  • Besides multi-skilled software engineers, ‘product engineer’ is the most common job title in the engineering function in Transferwise, comprising 13% of the current talent.
  • Likewise, ‘data scientist’ comes second in Revolut, after ‘software engineer’, comprising 11% of the current engineering talent.
  • 10% of Revolut’s engineers are IOS engineers and 7% are Android engineers, in contrast with 3% IOS and 3% Android in Transferwise.
  • Interestingly, 11% of Transferwise’s engineers are full-stack engineers, while the title does not appear at all in Revolut’s engineering team.
  • Other titles worth mentioning are the ‘Financial Crime Analyst’ title which comprises 7% of Revolut’s engineering team, with no similar title appearing in Transferwise.
  • Other unmatched titles are ‘customer/technical support engineer’ which appears three times in Transferwise’s engineering team, in comparison to the title ‘account executive’ which appears only once in Revolut.

Transferwise: A Safe Place for Work

‘18% of Transferwise’s engineers have been working in the company for 3-5 years; in contrast to 2% in Revolut.’ Click To Tweet

There is no better indicator of the health of a company’s culture than employee retention. In that respect, Transferwise fares significantly better than Revolut, with the data supporting a comparatively higher employee turnover in Revolut. The data, however, may be exaggerated due to Revolut’s rapid growth and increased hiring in recent years.

The Stats:

© Knowledge Officer
  • Founded in 2015, only 2% of Revolut’s current engineers have been employed in the company for 3-5 years to date, with 98% of its engineers having less than three years of experience in the company.
  • Contrastingly, founded in 2010, 18% of Transferwise’s engineers have been employed in the company for 3-5 years to date.
  • To put things more clearly, 6% of Transferwise’s current engineers have been working with the company since its early founding years, versus 2% in Revolut, despite Transferwise being founded 5 years prior to Revolut.

The Way Forward

© Knowledge Officer

According to the sample analyzed in this study, it is plausible to deduce that, all in all, Transferwise has mastery in software engineering development skills and frameworks. The company is also obviously investing in customer support, creating a healthy work environment, and strongly connecting with its customers through its customer-oriented ‘product engineers’. To maintain its growth, the company may need to diversify its engineering talent background by feeding financial and business expertise into their skill sets. More engineers with data analysis backgrounds may also further enhance the tech expertise of the company.

The data suggests, on the other hand, that Revolut has played the knowledge diversity game well and has an all-rounded engineering team with a good understanding of business, finance, and data science. To maintain its growth, the company is yet to invest in enhancing the software development expertise of its engineering team as well as connecting its engineers more with customers, hiring more dedicated customer/technical support personnel, and, definitely, building a healthier work environment.

We are not perfect! The results of this research remain inconclusive and further research across larger datasets are required to reach conclusive results. In the meanwhile, it is clear that being powered with skills data analysis enables companies to objectively investigate the skill sets of their employees and build skills for the workforce of the future. 

Knowledge Officer provides different such data analysis services which you can further explore on our business page. You can check the published data analysis reports of other companies here. And if you’re interested in analyzing your own skills, get your free skills gap report from our skills insights page. We also provide several career accelerators to help you and your company bridge the skills gap that you may have. For more information on that, please visit https://knowledgeofficer.com/pro.