Zopa opens testing for its banking products to customers

Zopa's move into the banking sector is gathering pace as customers test out its savings product

Zopa’s move into the banking sector took another step forward as the company starts testing a savings product with selected customers.

The peer-to-peer lender has selected 200 customers to beta test its savings proposition over a month-long period.

Zopa, established in 2005, first set out its stall to offer banking services in 2016 when it applied for a UK banking licence. It received this in December 2018 and has since been testing a savings product as well as a credit card with its staff.

Didier Baclin, chief product officer at Zopa, said inviting existing customers to test its Fixed Term Saver product is a major milestone on the company’s bank journey. “It is a great opportunity to ensure that the product meets their expectations before the full launch next year,” said Baclin.

Zopa decided to build the tech platforms for its banking products in-house because of its extensive internal tech talent with experience in building a peer-to-peer lending platform. It has around 500 staff, with around 100 working directly with technology, such as software developers and data scientists. Around one-third of its employees work at least partly with technology.

Baclin, who was previously an Amazon employee, is driving the tech project underpinning the bank. He told Computer Weekly earlier this year that Zopa’s success in the peer-to-peer lending sector, where it has lent more than £4bn, is evidence that it can differentiate.

 Zopa is applying its tech knowhow and machine learning to give consumers services that are as easy to use as Netflix and Amazon.

“With things like Netflix, a lot of very complex things are going on in the background, but to the customer it looks very simple,” said Baclin. “That is exactly what we are trying to do.”

In 2018, in preparation for the new bank, Zopa invested in building a team of developers, based in London and Barcelona. “From then until now, the teams have worked tirelessly to create systems that are purposely different from traditional banks,” said a Zopa statement.

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