Peer-to-peer lender Zopa makes first move into banking

Peer-to-peer lender Zopa made its first entry into banking, as it launched a savings account.

The firm began testing a fixed-term saver account this morning, inviting 200 customers to sign up to the account.

It will offer 4 per cent interest to savers who can deposit up to £100 into the beta account.

Zopa, which became the world’s first peer-to-peer lender in 2005, plans to launch a full savings bank account next year.


Simple products

The move is the first bank product from the business, since it was granted a banking licence with restrictions by regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in December 2018. Its terms of agreement with the FCA meant that it had to launch its first banking product by next month.

Zopa chief product officer Didier Baclin (pictured) said: “Inviting existing customers to test our Fixed Term Saver is a major milestone in our bank journey. 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.”

The firm’s Peer-to-Peer chief executive Natasha Wear said the group would offer a basic savings and loans bank, at the AltFi London Summit in March.

She said: “We want to offer simple fair products with no teaser rates and no hidden fees.”


Lower demand for loans

Wear added that apart from savings accounts it would offer a credit card, but would not launch a current account because the group “has little experience here”.

Zopa, alongside Funding Circle and Ratesetter, is one of the UK’s ‘big three’ peer-to-peer lenders.

Peer-to-peer lending has been slowing down, as growth in the UK economy eases. Funding Circle, the country’s largest peer-to-peer lender, it cut its growth forecasts in half to 20 per cent in July, due to lower demand for loans.

The UK savings market is worth £1,450bn, compared to the British peer-to-peer market valued at £5bn.

Zopa has originated over £4bn of loans between around 500,000 people in the Britain since it was founded 14 years ago.

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Roger Baird

Roger Baird is News Editor at Finixio. He has worked as a financial journalist for 20 years reporting on companies, capital markets and the UK economy.

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