Alternative finance provider Advanced Payment Solutions, now called APS financial, has received a credit licence from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that will allow it to conduct regulated consumer credit activity in the UK.
The fintech provider, which also has FCA e-money licence, will now be able to offer a wide range of lending products that have been traditionally offered by only high street banks.
The license will enable it to conduct consumer credit lending (including high cost short term credit lending) for micro SMEs, sole traders and consumers.
Capabilities within the lending arm range from traditional credit cards, account overdrafts and loans, to specific innovative credit products, such as Debit Protect and iAdvance credit. Debit Protect offers instant one-off loans to customers who are predicted to have a direct debit fail on the following day.
APS financial CEO and founder Rich Wagner said: "This credit licence now completes our suite of financial licences, allowing us to conduct complete banking services, standing as proof that you do not need to be a bank to offer banking services.
"As I have professed before, never has the word ‘bank’ been so easily divorced from ‘the provisions of banking services’. For small businesses and consumers that are fed up with the traditional barriers faced when operating with a high street bank, APS now offers all of the main services of a bank, while maintaining the flexibility to ensure that the process is faster and cheaper."
Rich Wagner, of APS Financial, feels strongly that the UK has enough banks and sees little value in desperately seeking a banking license. He has been constantly pushing for smaller "non-banks" to have access to the UK’s payment system s Bacs, Faster Payments and CHAPS, and in his own words has been "amazed by the engagement [of the Bank of England]" in supporting and understanding the request for wider access and being open to change.
Wagner penned a report as chair of the EPA advisory board in February 2016 , proposing a "direct agency model", meaning these smaller non-banks can access the payments system via newer banks such as Raphaels, thereby not incurring all the problems, cost and red tape brought about by traditional banks’ legacy systems. Currently, non-bank payment fintechs access the payments systems indirectly and until such time as the Bank of England might grant them settlement accounts of their own, the direct agency model would at least serve to offer PSPs access to Faster Payments technology. The Bank of England is reviewing the current model alongside the PSR.