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Zopa’s New Bank Launches in Beta

Just over two years ago, P2P lending company Zopa announced its plans to launch a challenger bank. Today, the U.K.-based company announced it received authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

Zopa is currently operating in a period called AWR (authorization with restrictions), meaning it has met all of the FCA’s conditions and is allowed to begin testing the new banking products. The company will use its own staff to serve as the beta testers for the new banking products.

There is no word yet on when the restricted period will be lifted to allow Zopa to fully launch, but when it does, it will offer savings accounts and credit cards that can be managed within a new mobile app. The app will offer money management tools that help place customers in control of their finances by showing all of their accounts in a single place.

To position itself as more user friendly than traditional banks, the company is branding itself as the Feelgood Money company. Backing this ideal, Zopa is avoiding hidden fees and promising to have “helpful humans” on the other end of customer service calls.

“This is a huge milestone for Zopa as we are now the world’s first combined peer-to-peer lender and digital bank,” said Zopa CEO Jaidev Janardana. “It also brings us one step closer to being the best place for money in the U.K. by offering a broader selection of personal finance products.” Janardana discusses what’s next for Zopa in the video below:

Zopa 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. The company plans to continue to grow its peer-to-peer platform, which will run alongside Zopa’s bank offerings.

Zopa’s former CEO Doug Dolton debuted the P2P lending platform at FinovateSpring 2008 at Finovate’s very first show in the Bay Area. Last month, the company added $20.7 million to its Series G funding round, bringing its total funding to more than $77 million. Earlier this fall, Zopa earned recognition on the Inc. 5,000, ranking 1,314.