FinTech: Online Lender and Fintech SoFi Refiles For A National Bank Charter

July 10, 2020 | FinTech, News
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After an abortive attempt in 2017, this is SoFi’s second stab at the valuable banking license.

SoFi becomes one more fintech looking to crossover into mainstream banking after it filed a de novo application with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for a national bank charter. According to American Banker, which cited a SoFi spokesperson, the fintech applied on Wednesday, though a copy of the charter application was not available till Thursday.

SoFi has applied for a proposed de novo bank titled “SoFi Bank, National Association.”

The company, a fintech “unicorn,” made its initial foray into student lending but has expanded successfully into a wider range of financial services such as personal loans, home mortgages, credit score monitoring, and small business financing. It also offers investing services for stocks, ETFs, retirement accounts and cryptos; and insurance for renters, homeowners, autos, and life cover.

CEO Anthony Noto on SoFi’s move

“We firmly believe that by pursuing a national bank charter,” said CEO Anthony Noto in a statement. “We will be able to help even more people get their money right with enhanced value and more products and services.”

According to Business Insider, CEO Anthony Noto said in an email to employees that the fintech start-up “thought long and hard about embarking on this path, and are proud of what we have accomplished in the last 2+ years to position ourselves to take this next critical strategic step in our development.”

Advantages of a bank charter

If SoFi is successful in its application, it would be able to accept deposits and lend money on its own, rather than have to tie-up with chartered banks. That would make its services more cost-competitive.

Secondly, the regulatory path for SoFi would be much easier, with compliance required with a single set of federal regulations rather than 50 different state regulations.

Using the “de novo” route would also allow SoFi to accept FDIC-insured deposits.

According to Crowdfund Insider, the fintech may have also decided to apply because of the change of guard at the OCC. Brian P Brooks, the new acting controller, is a fintech veteran and has invited public comments on proposed new regulations on digital banking.

Related Story:  SoFi Buys Galileo for $1.2 Billion

Image of SoFi CEO Anthony Noto:  TechCrunch/Flickr                                                 

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