Bunq, the $1.8 billion European neobank, hopes to safe license for UK enlargement this yr

PARIS — Dutch digital financial institution Bunq is hoping it is going to handle to safe a banking license from U.Ok. monetary regulators later this yr or early subsequent yr, the agency’s CEO and founder Ali Niknam instructed CNBC.

“I hope we’ll get someplace by the top of the yr, possibly early subsequent yr, as a result of the U.Ok.’s processes could also be barely totally different to Europe as a result of it is a totally different regulatory space,” Niknam mentioned in an interview final week on the Viva Tech convention in Paris.

“I do not know when they will say sure, however up to now I’ve little motive to consider that we cannot achieve success.”

Bunq, recognized for its rainbow-colored playing cards and a give attention to so-called “digital nomads” not sure by anyone nation or location, initially launched within the U.Ok. in 2019. But the financial institution was pressured to exit the nation in late 2020 due to Brexit.

The passage of Brexit into legislation meant that EU-based monetary establishments could not depend on their very own nation authorizations to function within the U.Ok. market. Currently, Bunq solely holds a banking license with the Dutch central financial institution.

Challenges of reentering UK market

Now, Bunq is plotting a reentry into the U.Ok. market. The agency final yr submitted an utility with the Financial Conduct Authority for an digital cash establishment license. It says a U.Ok. launch would permit it to faucet right into a “massive and underserved” market of some 2.8 million British digital nomads.

That will show troublesome, although. Rival European fintech Revolut, which relies in Britain and at present has an digital cash establishment license, has been making an attempt for some years to safe its U.Ok. banking license.

To ensure, a banking license is totally different from an e-money license. The key distinction is {that a} banking license provides corporations permission to supply loans. Monzo and Starling are among the many few U.Ok. shopper fintech platforms that maintain their very own financial institution licenses.

“We’re working as exhausting as we are able to, the U.Ok. regulator has been very responsive, dialogue is ongoing, I do not understand how lengthy it’ll take, however issues appear to be shifting,” Niknam instructed CNBC.

Founded in 2012 in Amsterdam by Dutch tech entrepreneur Ali Niknam, Bunq has since grown to develop into considered one of Europe’s largest neobanks total, with 12.5 million customers throughout Europe and deposits of 8 billion euros ($8.6 billion). It was final privately valued by traders at 1.65 billion euros.

Earlier this yr, Bunq reported its first full yr of profitability, producing 53.1 million euros in internet revenue in 2023. Bunq can be pursuing enlargement within the United States, having beforehand filed for a U.S. federal financial institution constitution in April 2023.

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