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Zopa busts into branches with building society partnership

Leading peer-to-peer lending platform Zopa partners with Saffron Building Society.

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Zopa loans can now be accessed in branches. The world’s original peer-to-peer lender has struck a partnership with Saffron Building Society. Its loans will now be made available to Saffron’s customers in any of its 11 branches across Hertfordshire, Essex and Suffolk, as well as via the building society’s website.

Saffron was established in 1849 and today manages assets worth over £1bn. As a mutual organisation, the society is wholly owned by its 90,000 members. Those members will now be able to access Zopa loans more easily, for the purposes of, say, buying a car, or renovating a home.

Prospective borrowers can apply via a short online application form, and can expect a personalised quote within minutes, without adversely affecting their credit score.

“As a member focussed mutual Building Society we are always considering different ways to offer members and customers complementary services that enable them to do more with their money,” said Colin Field, CEO of Saffron.

“The partnership with Zopa is an exciting addition to our financial planning product range and we are delighted to be working with such a progressive customer focussed business that offers real value to customers combined with a best in class customer experience.”

Zopa has some history working with banks. Every month, several million pounds’ worth of its loans are funded by Metro Bank deposits, after the two formed a partnership in 2015. But of course, Zopa is also on the path to becoming a bank, and is preparing to apply for its licence.

The platform is currently struggling to deploy capital. It hasn’t on-boarded a new investor in over six months, because it simply isn’t originating enough loans to lend out the extra money. If it gets its licence, whenever that may be, Zopa will suddenly have access to deposits. While the platform also has plans to branch out into overdrafts, the fact remains that Zopa is going to need to carve out new origination channels over the next few years, if it is to benefit from the lowered cost of capital that being a bank can bring.

“We’re delighted to be teaming up with Saffron Building Society and bringing our simple, flexible, and better value loans to even more people in the UK,” said Zopa’s CEO Jaidev Janardana (pictured). “The partnership is exciting for us as it brings together two customer-led businesses, as we continue on our mission of making money simple and fair for customers.”

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