February 25th, 2021 | Nearly ruined

Yesterday I lived a real nightmare. I made a huge mistake, that could have damaged me really badly.

And I'm still on my second month being self-employed. Yikes.

A few days ago, I got a notification from Revolut, saying that I am eligible to upgrade to Revolut Bank.

It's still Revolut, but now they have a banking license. And 100,000 EUR deposit protection. If something happens, the Central European Bank will pay you back your money. Basically, you have the safety of a normal bank.

I got excited. Revolut is awesome. And now they are a proper bank. I can have everything in one place. With analytics. Notifications for every transaction. Set budgets. Check my burn rate and savings.

It's the future of banking, after all!

I decide to move some money from my PayPal to my Revolut account. I've done this before. Multiple times. But, this time the amount was larger.

As soon as it landed in my account, it flagged the system. They start asking me for proof of funds.

"Where is this money coming from?"

"How did you get this money?"

"We need documents!"

Of course, my money was from my savings. And everything I do is legal. So, initially, I had nothing to worry about.

However, while trying to contact customer support, I quickly realized that it's non-existent. It's only chat bots and docs.

So, I went online and end up reading Reddit threads... And that's when the nightmare started. I was reading real life horror stories.

People losing their money forever. Unable to get anyone on the phone. Even people that were running their businesses on Revolut Business. With employees on payroll, and being customers from day one. They couldn't get someone on the phone or resolve the situation.

Only canned, automated responses. No updates on the process, because a third-party agency does the checking. And that third-party agency is legally forbidden to share the status of the process. Even with Revolut.

Many stories ended with accounts frozen for months. Or people never getting their money back.

As you can imagine, I was freaking out.

I send some paperwork. Rejected. No explanation or feedback as to why.

I re-send some paperwork, after correcting some things I imagined could be wrong. Rejected again. This time I also get an SMS telling me that they temporarily froze my account.

WHAAT?! Ok, this is going exactly like the Reddit stories. Word for word. I'm becoming a statistic. I am one of the unlucky ones that will never be able to prove their source of funds.

I'm sweating. I'm going paranoid. I'm fucked.

What can I say. Congratulations. You have almost all your money in a fucking startup. And they just froze your fucking account.

What an idiot! The guy who talks about Nassim Taleb's Barbell Strategy. And talks about eliminating single points of failure.

I send the papers a third time, after correcting them again. At eleven o'clock at night, I receive a notification saying they were accepted. My account goes back to normal!

I instantly feel 10 kilos lighter. And get drunk on wine, with a huge smile on my face. Haha.

Not because I now have money to buy things. But because I have money to relax. It's my runway. My piece of mind. My safety. My defense against a rainy day.

I was reminded that 80% of money's value is taking your worries away, providing you with the basics, and enabling you to own your time. All the rest is bullshit.

I already have that. Now, I have to protect it.

Lesson learned. Or better put, lesson reminded.

No single points of failure. Not in money. Not in technologies. Not in distribution channels. Not in life.

As for the money, I'll be slowly spreading it in multiple accounts. And not in big transactions.

Looking back it may not seem so scary. I made a transaction. And I was asked for some documents. I sent them. And the whole situation was resolved in a day. But, that's an illusion. In reality, it was a very risky situation.

And the worst part of it is that I knew it was risky.

It's scary that humans only learn by making mistakes. Actually, AI systems as well. It seems to be a core characteristic of learning.

I was reminded that I am on a very steep learning curve. Becoming self-employed for the first time. This is only my first year, of hopefully, many.

I will make mistakes. I cannot avoid that. But I have to be in a position to avoid ruin. 

A position with no single points of failure.

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