Zopa, the 15-year-old peer-to-peer lending company, is announcing that it has been awarded its full U.K. bank licence, as it gears up to launch a fixed-term savings account, followed by a credit card.
Dubbed "Zopa Bank," the new challenger bank will sit alongside its existing peer-to-peer lending business, under Zopa Group, creating what the veteran fintech previously described as the first hybrid peer-to-peer and digital bank offering.
Zopa had provisionally acquired a U.K. bank license in December 2018 "with restrictions," the first major milestone in the licensing process. The full license, which required Zopa to raise a further £140 million late last year in a round led by IAG Capital in order to meet capital required to become a bank, means it can now launch more widely.
"The Zopa Fixed Term Savings Account offers a competitive rate over 1-5 years at a time when rates are at a historic low," says the upstart bank. "The account can be opened in as little as 7 minutes online and is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000."
Next, Zopa says it plans to introduce a credit card in the coming months, which will include "innovative new features designed to put customers in control of their borrowing."
"The card will address the needs of customers who have had to put up with poor service and unclear pricing from their existing card providers. These new products will sit alongside Zopa’s existing offering of personal and auto loans and investment products," says Zopa Bank.
Whether or not a new challenger bank, even one with Zopa's established brand, can cut through the noise this late in the race remains to be seen. The challenger bank space in the U.K. is crowded, to say the least, including burgeoning household names like Monzo and Starling, and to a lesser extent, Tandem, which on the surface looks to be Zopa's most direct non-legacy competitor.