Earlier this week, Zopa made an exciting start to 2017 by becoming the first UK peer-to-peer lending platform to lend its £2 billionth pound.
There’s still a lot of 2017 to go, and some of you have been asking about Zopa’s plans for the rest of the year ahead. We caught up with our CEO, Jaidev Janardana, to answer some of those questions.
What are Zopa’s main plans for 2017?
Jaidev: Continuing to meet the needs of our customers will of course be our primary goal for 2017. We’ll also start to apply for our banking license, and will work closely with the regulator over the next year with a view to acquiring the license and offering FSCS-protected deposit accounts and overdraft alternatives in 2018. We’ll also be working with the FCA to complete our authorization and to begin offering IF ISA products.
Are there any particular areas of growth that you’re focusing on?
Jaidev: We remain focused on the UK personal loans market, and particularly see the car finance and retail point of sale finance markets as areas where we can significantly improve the options available for consumers. Improving and expanding our loan offering will provide our lenders with the investment opportunities they expect from us. As we continue to grow, we’ll also make sure that Zopa continues to be a great place to work by retaining and attracting the very best talent.
What do Zopa’s plans to launch a bank mean for customers?
Jaidev: Zopa’s bank will sit alongside our existing peer-to-peer lending offering. So, in addition to our current award-winning investment and loan products, we intend to offer FSCS-protected deposit accounts and revolving credit products. We don’t plan to offer current accounts at this stage.
Will you expand beyond the UK?
Jaidev: We’ll remain focused on the UK market for the foreseeable future.
We have a record of strong performance and 12 years of experience in managing credit risk in the UK. We think there is still huge opportunity for us to grow our share of this market and offer all of our customers better products and experiences. We also believe the regulatory environment here in the UK – one which encourages innovation, new technology, and increased competition in the banking sector – is particularly supportive for businesses like ours.
Are there particular global political and economic trends that you’re paying attention to?
Jaidev: Zopa focuses on consumer lending and so we pay a lot of attention to trends that we believe would impact the financial health of consumers. These include inflation, wage growth and the number of new jobs in the economy. With inflation expected to rise this year, investors will need to pay even more attention to how they earn a good return on their money, while borrowers should take advantage of the current price competition amongst loan providers.
Where do you expect to end 2017?
Jaidev: We expect to have grown our existing peer-to-peer lending business significantly and hope to be well on the way with our banking license application. Our goal continues to be to make money simple and fair, and by growing our customer base and developing new products, I think we will be further along the path to making this a reality for more people by the end of the year.