The US-based personal finance innovator that withdrew a 2017 bank license application amid sexual harassment allegations against co-founder and former CEO Mike Cagney has applied again.
SoFi has filed an application for a national bank charter with the Office of the US Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
If the application is successful, the online personal finance company will be able to accept deposits and lend money without the help of traditional bank partners.
SoFi currently provides student loan refinancing, mortgages, personal loans, investing and banking—all thanks to the support of partner banks.
Once free from the partnership fees, the neobank will be able to offer more competitive interest rates for its suite of loans, checking and savings offerings.
The license will also bring the fintech under one set of federal regulations, instead of operating under 50 different state laws.
Hoping to “help more people and enhance value”
“We firmly believe that by pursuing a national bank charter, we will be able to help even more people get their money right with enhanced value and more products and services,” said CEO Anthony Noto.
SoFi was founded in 2011 by Mike Cagney, Dan Macklin, James Finnigan, and Ian Brady, four students who met at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
The goal was to provide more affordable options for students taking on debt to fund their education.
The company’s inaugural loan program was a $2m pilot at Stanford. For this pilot, 40 alumni invested an average of $20,000 to 100 students.
Investor accounts double in 2020
In 2020, SoFi has seen the number of its investor accounts double, the CEO said.
In April, SoFi announced plans to acquire payments software company Galileo, which powers platforms like Robinhood and Chime.
Robinhood, which offers a free basic stock trading account via its app, has seen accounts grow from one million to 10 million since 2016. It ranked No. 46 on this year’s Disruptor list.
The company claims to have 1 million members and has made $45bn in loans to date. SoFi has raised $2.3bn in funding and is valued at around $4.8bn.