Revolut, the biggest European digital bank with 13 million users, is close to applying for a banking license in the U.S., CNBC has learned exclusively.
The London-based fintech firm plans on applying for a charter with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and California’s Division of Financial Institutions within weeks, said people with knowledge of the matter.
The move from Revolut, valued at $5.5 billion in a February fundraising round, is the latest example of one of a new breed of digital challengers seeking to become a regulated bank. In March, payments giant Square won approval to start a bank. Earlier this year, Lending Club, a fintech pioneer, bought Radius Bank for $185 million in part to gain a national bank charter.
Even though Revolut’s bank charter will be with California, it will allow the lender to operate widely throughout the U.S. via interstate agreements, said one of the people, who declined to be identified speaking about the start-up’s private plans.
Still, its move to apply for a state banking charter rather than one through a national regulator like the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency drew questions from some industry observers.
The U.S. financial regulatory regime is large and fragmented, and fintech startups have taken several different approaches to breaking into the market. The most successful so far, like Chime and Current, have simply partnered with existing banks.
Revolut has already started doing business in the U.S., launching its core digital banking product in March after partnering with Metropolitan Commercial Bank. After a slow start, the fintech start-up is approaching a half million users in the U.S., helped in part by a recent push to offer savers a high interest rate, according to a separate person with knowledge of the firm’s operations.
„Tendinţele pe care le-am remarcat înainte de începerea pandemiei s-au accelerat pe perioada stării de urgenţă. Am văzut acest lucru ca o oportunitate, un tipping point pentru bancă. Post-pandemie nu avem cum sa ne întoarcem la comportamentul financiar pe care îl aveam până în februarie a.c. Relaţia românilor cu online-ul s-a schimbat. In plus, cardul fizic se va dematerializa. Vom asista la o scădere a cererii pentru cardurile fizice, respectiv la o creştere a preferinţei pentru componenta digitală a acestora.”