Fintech giant Revolut has been forced to overhaul a scheme offering free accounts to Ukrainian refugees after it was exploited by customers.
Revolut, run by Russian-British founder Nikolay Storonsky, rolled out a programme in March to allow those fleeing the war access to Revolut’s payments services without normal associated fees.
But a spokesperson said the firm had been forced to suspend referral payments after customers swooped on the scheme to try and bag referral fees of up to £250.
“As part of our free accounts offer for Ukrainian refugees – which has onboarded tens of thousands of users in less than six weeks – our controls flagged that a small number of accounts were being targeted by users attempting to exploit our referral campaign,” the spokesperson said.
“We have therefore temporarily paused the referral aspect as a precautionary measure.”
The scheme allowed existing customers to refer up to five other people to these accounts for a fee of £50 in the UK, but Revolut found the offer was being abused by customers just weeks after launch.
Revolut rolled out the scheme after Storonsky, whose father is Ukrainian, condemned the invasion as “horrifying”.
“This war is wrong and totally abhorrent,” he wrote in a blog last month. “I am horrified and appalled at its impact, and I add my voice to those around the world calling for an immediate end to the fighting, and a commitment to diplomatic solutions.”
Storonsky founded Revolut in 2014 with Ukrainian Vlad Yatsenko, who now serves as chief technology officer.
A funding round last year valued the firm at $33bn, making it at the time Britain’s most valuable private company.