By Emily Nicolle
Of Financial News
A London fintech firm named Lanistar, which claims to be developing "the world's most secure card," has been subject to a warning by the Financial Conduct Authority for operating without authorization.
Lanistar launched a major advertising campaign on Nov. 16, paying online influencers, sport stars and social media personalities to talk about its product on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Those who touted the firm's product to its Generation Z and millennial demographics included footballer Luis Suarez, Love Island celebrities and TikTok influencers.
The FCA said on Nov. 18: "We believe this firm has been providing financial services or products in the U.K. without our authorization. Find out why to be especially wary of dealing with this unauthorized firm and how to protect yourself from scammers."
"Almost all firms and individuals offering, promoting or selling financial services or products in the U.K. have to be authorized by us," the watchdog said in a statement.
"This firm isn't authorized by us and is targeting people in the U.K. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorization."
A statement on Lanistar's website said its e-money accounts will be provided by a partner firm.
The cards were to be issued by Mastercard, after the two signed a partnership agreement in June.
Lanistar said it raised more than 15 million pounds ($19.9 million) in funding from the chief executive's family members in July, with the aim of becoming worth GBP1 billion by the end of the year.
It currently has a waiting list set up for those interested in the firm's polymorphic card, which is expected to be available from January.
The card was expected to have a keypad and display for one-time PIN and security codes, according to a press release from the fintech on Nov. 16.
Lanistar was offering three account tiers to its users, ranging in costs from free to GBP14.99 per month.
Run by chief executive Gurhan Kiziloz, Lanistar said it has 400 staff across offices in London, Athens and Macedonia. Press representatives from the firm have declined multiple requests for interviews from Financial News.
In a statement responding to the FCA, Lanistar said it was aware of the FCA's notice.
"Legal and regulatory compliance are central to Lanistar's business and we confirm that we aren't providing financial services or products without the FCA's authorization. We have announced our intended future services and we will be partnering with firms that are authorized 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."
Mastercard was contacted for comment.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires