April 30, 2024

Revolut graduates raise $6.5m for crypto exchange to fill the void left by FTX

The crypto exchange aims to position itself as a halfway house between centralised and decentralised systems

Tom Matsuda

4 min read

X10, a new crypto exchange for professional traders founded by three former Revolut employees, has raised a $6.5m round. The platform aims to address a gap in the market that FTX — which the jailed Sam Bankman-Fried founded – once occupied.

The funding round is its first as it emerges from stealth today. Tioga Capital led the raise with participation from Semantic Ventures, Cherry Ventures, Starkware and Cyber Fund. 

Revolut’s former head of crypto operations Ruslan Fakhrutdinov, ex-technical lead Dmitrii Krasovskikh and former lead crypto engineer Stefano Franz left the neobank last year to begin work on the startup.


Building a “selfcustodial” exchange 

X10 is what’s known as a “selfcustodial” crypto exchange. This means it sits like a halfway house built on one of the crypto sector’s main dividing lines: centralised and decentralised systems.

While the early, cyberpunk-coded days of bitcoin were built on the ideological principle that crypto should be decentralised, meaning there is no central authority that controls the system, as the sector has grown more centralised platforms have popped up.

Well-known companies like Coinbase, Kraken and Binance are examples of this, offering people the ability to buy crypto while holding their customers' currency themselves in their centralised system. These offerings gained traction due to their ease of onboarding and exchanging between crypto and real-world currencies.

Decentralised exchanges such as the a16z-backed UniSwap allow users to make trades without relying on a central authority. Rather than placing funds under the control of a third party, users have direct control over their assets with transactions carried out directly on a blockchain network, which proponents say is a more secure way to hold crypto.  

X10’s founders believe that so-called selfcustodial systems can offer the best of both worlds: they let the user hold their cryptocurrency in their own wallet, but trade orders are processed via a centralised system that makes the process smoother for the user.  

Fakhrutdinov says that a catastrophe such as the FTX collapse, where billions in customer deposits were syphoned off into risky trades by Bankman-Fried, wouldn't have happened if it had stuck closer to blockchain’s decentralised model. He says the inspiration for X10 came about as he saw countless FTX users lose control of their deposits as the centralised crypto exchange capitulated in November 2022. 

“How can we effectively make sure that this won't happen again?” he says he asked himself. “To be honest, the answer was always in the blockchain technology itself…one of the purposes of blockchain is to allow for selfcustody — let's call it financial freedom.” 

While trading on decentralised exchanges may be more secure, they’re typically used by diehard crypto types, with a clunky user interface (UI) to match. 

“The crypto community doesn’t really have a high bar for proper UI for products,” he says, “A lot of teams [working on decentralised products] have managed to be successful without offering a perfect overall experience.” 

Fakhrutdinov adds that X10 is aiming to build what he calls a “trustless exchange” where “honesty and transparency is built in” but that is also easy to use for crypto newbies.


X10’s trading infrastructure is largely run on centralised servers, but traders are required to log onto the platform with their crypto wallet. All trades are settled directly on the blockchain.

Like FTX — which billed itself as “built by traders, for traders” — X10 is targeting professional investors. It’s a market he says he knows well, having overseen the creation of Revolut’s forthcoming crypto exchange for pro traders, but he says the startup might expand its scope in the coming years.

The boom and bust 

Fakhrutdinov started at Revolut during its crypto boom years in 2021 but when he left to raise funding for his startup the sector was knee-deep in a downturn. He closed out the fundraising process in July 2023, during a quarter where $130m went to crypto startups in Europe across 31 deals.

According to Dealroom, dealmaking has picked up with $357m raised across 51 deals last quarter. That comes as landmark legislation has come into force in the US and Europe to bring crypto more into the regulated financial sector, which industry advocates hope will increase retail and institutional investors’ confidence in the asset class. 

Notably, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved eleven bitcoin ETFs (exchange-traded funds) — which will enable retail and institutional investors to have direct and regulated exposure to the world’s first blockchain-based cryptocurrency — in a watershed moment for the industry. Following the news, the price of bitcoin hit a new all-time high of $69,000.

Fakhrutdinov says he’s “lucky” the 10-person team at X10 is launching at the beginning of the bull market. The funding will be used to further build out the crypto trading platform, notably developing a mobile app. 

Tom Matsuda

Tom Matsuda is a fintech reporter at Sifted. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn