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US credit card wars heat-up: SoFi joins the fight and buys a bank

A very Zopa-esque move.

a man in a suit sitting in a chair

Anthony Noto/Flickr/TechCrunch.

Listed alternative lending giant SoFi is entering the credit card market in the US, in a move not dissimilar to that from Zopa in the UK.

SoFi, which started out as a student lender, has grown to offer a range of lending and investment products, from mortgages to personal loans, ETFs and savings accounts.

The addition of its own credit card is aimed at incentivising what SoFi says are healthy financial habits, and reduce their debt with perks like 2 per cent cashback that can be used to pay down student or personal loans.

Its card also offers a reduced interest rate for customers who regularly make on-time repayments.

“As part of our goal to help people get their money right, we are thrilled to now be able to start offering the SoFi Credit Card more broadly—a product we have refined and tailored through iteration driven by member feedback,” said SoFi CEO Anthony Noto. 

“With each purchase that cardholders would normally make, they can now accelerate the path to their financial goals.”

SoFi also this week quietly bought a small US bank, Golden Pacific Bancorp, for $22m—a small deal for a lender set to be valued at over $8bn when it goes public later this year, but a big strategic play.

The lender has been working on its own banking charter and has provisional approval, but owning a local bank which it plans to expand nationally with $750m of its own capital, will speed up the process.

SoFi says it expects the bank takeover to close by the end of the year, at which time it will be able to accept deposits and lend against these.

If this all sounds a bit familiar, it is a very similar strategy to that of Zopa in the UK which started out life as an alternative lender and has now launched a credit card after becoming a bank.

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