The UK's Financial Services Authority has issued a warning to would-be investors in Lanistar, a much-hyped fintech startup aiming for a £1 billion valuation, stating that the firm is providing services or products without authorisation.
Says an FCA statement: "This firm [Lanistar] is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation."
The FCA continues: "[S]ome firms act without our authorisation and some knowingly run investment scams".
The warning comes days after Lanistar paid a host of social media influencers - including Love Island contestants and drag queens - to promote the launch of Volt, the "world's most secure card".
Founded by serial entrepreneur Gurhan Kiziloz, Lanistar has said that it is building a new debit card that links to up to eight bank cards to help customers better manage their finances via "polymorphic" technology and open banking.
As far back as March, the firm said it was in talks with the FCA about securing a full banking licence ahead of a launch this winter. No licence has been granted.
Kiziloz has boasted that he is building a £1 billion company, with reports of a 400-strong workforce.
Yet, a recent £15 million investment from Milaya Capital, which would have given the VC a 10% stake at a £150 million valuation, fell through. Instead, the funding was replaced by money from Kiziloz's family members.
The FCA warning has set Twitter ablaze, with some in the industry saying it confirms what has long been said in private about the flashy startup.
Update: In response to the news, Lanistar issued the following statement:
"Lanistar Limited (Lanistar) is aware of the Notice in respect of Lanistar which has appeared on the website of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and related press stories.
"Legal and regulatory compliance are central to Lanistar's business and we confirm that we are not providing financial services or products without the FCA's authorisation.
"We have announced our intended future services and we will be partnering with firms that are authorised by the FCA to provide financial services or products.
"We are in the process of contacting the FCA to clarify the position and will be requesting that the Notice is removed."