It’s Official – SoFi Has Applied For a Bank Charter

Until last month it was unknown how SoFi, the most successful fintech firm in the US, was going to offer deposit accounts. Once we learned they planned to create a bank through an industrial loan company (ILC) charter we dug into what exactly an ILC was. Now, approximately one month after announcing their plans SoFi has submitted their official application which was published by TechCrunch yesterday.

According to the document, SoFi hopes to offer its customers an FDIC insured NOW account and a credit card product, with no additional services offered by the bank. A NOW account is a negotiable order of withdrawal account or in other words, a deposit account that pays interest. The bank, if approved, will be called SoFi Bank and will be a subsidiary of SoFi with 100% of all issued stock to be held by SoFi.

SoFi intends to market its products in all 50 states and not surprisingly will be an online only bank. The headquarters will be in Salt Lake City, Utah and they will also operate an office out of Wilmington, Delaware. SoFi will invest $4 million to fund bank organization expenses as well as $166 million to capitalize the bank.

The application mentions their core customers as millennials and highlights the “…strong trend among this demographic to not utilize traditional banking channels such as branches and paper checks.” The following was also included in their application:

SoFi Bank is applying for a bank charter because the existing SoFi members have asked for these banking products repeatedly for over three years when surveyed at SoFi member events. The products meet the convenience and needs of the community by offering the following attributes.

  • An FDIC insured deposit account that pays a competitive interest rate compared to those available by most brick and mortar banks
  • No minimum balance on checking and little to no fees in most cases, except for add on services such as wire transfers
  • A credit card underwritten and priced based on a customer’s ability to repay, leading to lower interest rates for some consumers on revolving balances
  • A secured Credit Card for provision of credit to LMI community.
  • A credit card Rewards Program that can be utilized to pay down balances on SoFi loans.
  • A mobile first technology offering which will constantly improve to set the standard for mobile based banked

Arkadi Kuhlmann, who was CEO of Zenbanx (the company SoFi recently acquired) is in the application as the proposed CEO and Chairman of SoFi Bank. Beyond working for Zenbanx, Kuhlmann has experience in traditional banking as well:

Mr. Kuhlmann is the President of Banking at SoFi and was the Founder, Chairman, President & CEO of ING DIRECT, the largest savings and direct bank in U.S. with more than $84 billion in deposits and 7.8 million customers at its peak.

Conclusion

SoFi is leading the way in becoming a full service fintech firm. Not only do they innovate but they continue to do so at impressive speed. While this is far from a done deal it’s great to see SoFi making progress on offering deposit accounts, something that their current customers are clearly demanding.

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