ZOPA, the UK’s oldest and largest peer-to-peer lender, has announced that it has been granted full authorisation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The platform has undergone a rigorous 18-month approval process since applying to the City regulator and can now apply to HMRC for ISA manager status to offer the Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA).
The news is a pivotal moment for the industry, which has been waiting for the largest players to become fully regulated to move the sector into the mainstream. The regulator’s stamp of approval on the so-called grandfather of P2P lending is expected to boost the sector’s legitimacy to investors and financial advisers alike.
With smaller platforms already experiencing an influx of investor demand for the IFISA, it is likely that Zopa’s tax-free wrapper will attract high volumes of new inflows.
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“Zopa, both individually and as a founder member of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA), has campaigned for P2P lending to be a regulated activity for a number of years,” said Giles Andrews, co-founder and chairman of Zopa. “We are delighted to receive our full FCA authorisation.”
“The authorisation process has been rigorous and in-depth and involved extensive scrutiny of our business,” said Zopa’s chief executive Jaidev Janardana (pictured).
“We will continue to focus on serving UK borrowers and investors through our market-leading products and best-in-class customer experience.
“In addition, we are also working towards applying for a banking license which will allow us to offer great customer choice whether you are spending, borrowing, saving or investing.”
Last November, Zopa announced that it is launching a bank to sit alongside its P2P business. It said at the time that it is planning to apply for a banking licence and hopes to gain approval within 15 to 24 months.
Zopa has lent more than £2.7bn to consumers since its fruition and employs over 200 people. It has lent over £800m over the last 12 months and has over 60,000 active investors.