P2P lending company and newly initiated challenger bank Zopa is taking a first step on its banking journey with the rollout of a new savings product. The U.K.-based company is launching fixed-term savings accounts that will be available for terms of one month and pay 4% interest.
This news comes after the company received partial authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) last December and launched bank products with its staff as beta testers. This partial authorization is the reason behind the limited nature of the savings accounts. Zopa is currently operating in a period called AWR (authorization with restrictions), meaning the company has met all of the FCA’s conditions and is allowed to begin testing bank products.
Under those restrictions, Zopa cannot accept more than $64,000 (£50,000) in customer deposits, so it is only inviting 200 current investors to test out the new savings product. There is no word yet on when the restrictions will be lifted.
“Inviting existing customers to test our Fixed Term Saver is a major milestone in our bank journey,” said Zopa CPO Didier Baclin. “It is a great opportunity to ensure that the product meets their expectations before the full launch next year so that we deliver a great product that customers can trust.”
Zopa’s choice to start its bank product offerings with a high-interest savings account doesn’t come as a surprise. As we covered last month, multiple fintechs are offering high interest bearing accounts in order to attract customer deposits away from their primary, traditional bank.
Last year, Zopa closed a $77 million (£60 million) investment round that contributed to the company’s total of $297 million in funding it’s received since launching in 2005. Zopa is seeking to raise additional funding this year, stating that the fresh capital will offer the boost it needs to have the FCA’s restrictions removed.
Zopa’s former CEO Doug Dolton debuted the P2P lending platform at FinovateSpring 2008 at Finovate’s very first show in the Bay Area. The company was founded in 2005, pioneering peer-to-peer lending in the U.K., and has since amassed 400,000 customers and facilitated $5 billion (£4 billion) on its platform.