SoFi, the US online lender whose CEO once promised to smash the big banks like a meteor smashed the dinosaurs, could be about to become a bank itself. On Monday the FDIC revealed that SoFi had filed an application for an industrial bank charter from the state of Utah. If successful, the privately-held firm will be able to collect FDIC-insured deposits.
Last year SoFi originated $8bn in loans, it said in February, up from $5bn in 2015. In its FDIC application, SoFi noted that its target customers prefer not to use “traditional banking channels” such as branches and paper cheques. “SoFi has become a leading provider of financial services to those consumers and finds the lack of adequate options an opportunity to lead in offering the bank’s vital services as well. Accordingly, the bank would be pro-competitive and pro-consumer,” the company wrote. SoFi Bank will be chaired by Arkadi Kuhlmann, a former CEO of ING Direct USA and Zenbanx, who became head of banking at SoFi after the acquisition. ING Direct, owned by the Dutch bank, was once the largest savings and direct bank in America, with more than $84bn in deposits and 7.8m customers at its peak.