LENDING Works has become the first major peer-to-peer lending platform to receive full Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approval, paving the way for its launch of the new Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA).
The consumer P2P lender, which is part of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association, said on Thursday that it is planning to offer the tax-free wrapper within the next few weeks.
The announcement follows a speech on Monday by Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the regulator, where he hinted that platforms might not have much longer to wait for permission.
“To receive FCA full authorisation marks a momentous day for Lending Works,” said founding chief executive Nick Harding (pictured).
“This achievement is the culmination of what has been an intensive journey for us over the past year and vindicates all that we do and stand for as one of the UK’s leading P2P platforms.”
The regulatory process has been notoriously arduous. Lending Works applied for full authorisation in October 2015 and said it has undergone a stringent review process since then.
The next stage is to receive ISA manager status from HMRC, but this is broadly accepted to be a formality rather than another regulatory mountain to climb.
“With full authorisation in hand, the next step for us is to launch our new ISA – something we have spent much of the past few months preparing for,” said Harding.
“Given the great benefits this new tax-free wrapper will bring, the level of enthusiasm among our lenders, and indeed consumers within the wider sector, for the new IFISA has been substantial. We very much look forward to delivering this new product imminently.”
The next, inevitable question is whether this means Lending Works’ peers are close to receiving approval. Industry commentators have speculated that the FCA will issue its authorisations in tranches, having approved a number of smaller platforms earlier in the year.