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2020 set to be a record breaking year for new banks


After the high-water point of 2017, the market has been relatively starved of new entrant banks.  That’s all about to change with 2020 poised to be a record-breaking year for authorisations and launches.  There are six banks authorised, three of which received their licence in 2020, who should launch later this year.  With a further eight awaiting licence approval and four firms poised to submit their application, who too could gain authorisation in 2020, it’s set to be a busy year.  James Blower takes us through the runners and riders. 


Authorised but yet to launch



Zopa was authorised with restrictions way back in December 2018 but only had the restrictions lifted in December 2019 following a £140m funding raise from US investor IAG Capital, who were already a minority investor in peer-to-peer lending pioneer.  The London Bridge based firm, led by CEO Jaidev Janardana, is understood to have delayed its launch due to Covid-19.


Formerly Ursa Finance, revver was authorised with restrictions in late June 2019, with the intention of offering property based commercial loans to businesses based in the north west of the UK. Based in Manchester, and led by former McKinsey manager Arpan Gautam, it’s the first new entrant to use Finastra’s new cloud-based platform.  It remains to be seen whether it has raised the required capital to exit mobilisation, as there’s little in the public domain about its finances.  If it has, it should enter the market in late June or early July.

JN Bank

The largest mortgage lender in Jamaica, JN Bank, part of JN Group, was awarded its banking licence in December, which was announced in January by the Bank of England.  JN Bank will offer cross border banking services and enter the commercial banking market in the UK.  James Bawa, ex CEO of Monmouthshire and Teachers Building Societies, has led the team responsible for attaining the licence.  The Bank is expected to offer savings products here.


The UK’s first specialist agricultural bank got its licence in January and intends to focus on lending to farmers.  Its flagship account is ‘Oxbury Farm Credit’, an exclusive input finance facility which provides an alternative to a bank overdraft or trade finance.  It will offer instant, notice and fixed term savings to personal and business customers who want to back British farmers.  Led by ex ClearBank CEO, James Farrar, the Bank is based in Chester and is expected to launch fully in late 2020.


Another January authorisation, Vive, part of GKBK, is currently authorised with restrictions.  Ex VTB and Barclays Nick Anthony is CEO for the City of London based Vive, who will offer personal loans to underserved customers who struggle to access affordable credit.  The Bank will offer fixed rate savings in house and an open banking-based Money Manager app, which is currently signing up beta testers.  Expect to see Vive live around July/August 2020.

Castle Trust

Castle Trust are the newest bank, having been granted authorisation with restrictions on 20th March this year.  Based in Tower42 in the City of London, they are an established property lender financed by £711m invested in their ‘Fortress Bonds.’   Led by ex MD of Retail Distribution at Santander, Martin Bischoff, Castle Trust are principally backed by JC Flowers.  The Bank has chosen DPR as their platform provider for their in-house savings business and are expected to be live in the market by September.



Awaiting application approval



Unusually for a banking licence applicant, Cashplus has already got a long track record in the banking sector behind it, having started out in 2005.  Using an e-money licence, it provides business and personal current accounts as well as business and personal credit cards.  Led by former Barclaycard director, Rich Wagner, it has 100,000 SME customers and a 7% share of all new UK business accounts.  It submitted its application in August 2019 and intends initially to use a banking licence to lend £200m to its existing customers.

Expect authorisation to be confirmed imminently.


Manchester based B-North intends to focus on SME lending, asset finance and the buy to let.  It submitted its licence application in September 2019 and had an oversubscribed £2m fundraising complete on Crowdcube in December.  Led by former Santander Divisional Director, Jonathan Thompson, it has the first British Business Bank Chairman, Ron Emerson, as its Chair.  B-North will use Newcastle Strategic Solutions to raise deposits.

Expect authorisation with restrictions to be announced early in May 2020

Recognise Financial Services

Part of aim listed City of London Group, Recognise submitted its banking application in November 2019.  The Shoreditch based start-up is already in the bridging loans market and will focus on lending to SMEs.  Led by ex-Metro Commercial Banking MD, Jason Oakley, it will be the first client of Newcastle Strategic Solutions to offer SME deposits, as well as personal savings.

Expect authorisation with restrictions in May 2020

Ashman Finance

Ashman’s is based in the West End and plans to offer development finance, bridging, commercial mortgages and asset backed and unsecured finance for SMEs.  It is headed up by James Leach and is understood to have submitted its licence application late in 2019.

Expect authorisation with restrictions in May/June 2020

DF Capital

DF were thought to be close to authorisation before they announced in December 2019 that their chief executive had left after an ‘investigation into his personal conduct’ and that ‘its banking licence could not be issued until the [new CEO] appointment had been made’.  With ex-Aldermore Group MD of Business Finance, Carl D’Ammassa joining in March this year, authorisation is likely to be close for the working capital specialist lender.

Expect authorisation in June 2020


Newcastle based GBB plans to increase development finance to SMEs in underserved regions of the UK, starting in the North of England.  Led by ex-Wesleyan Bank CEO Steve Deutsch, who has a team of around 20 already in place, including many from Virgin Money.  GBB submitted its banking application in January this year and will offer fixed rate savings from launch.

Expect authorisation with restriction in July 2020 

Lintel Financial Services

Lintel has been floating around the new start up bank space for several years, having first emerged in 2013.  Led by Nazzim Ishaque, with former Deloitte partner Ian Tyler as Chairman, it applied for it banking licence in January this year and intends to offer multi-currency accounts and credit cards to students and professionals.

Expect authorisation with restrictions in July 2020.


Glasgow based Alba is another planning to target the under-served SME market in the UK, with plans to have experienced relationship managers to bring back the craft of relationship banking to the sector.  Ex Airdrie Savings Bank CE, Rod Ashley, heads up Alba and Michael Harriman, who was behind the IT of SME cloud bank Redwood, is interim Chief Information & Technology Officer.  Alba submitted its application in January.

Expect authorisation with restrictions in July 2020



Application imminent


Monument Corporation

One that’s flown under the radar with a small team of eight, headed up by Founder Mintoo Bhandari, based in the West End.  Targeting affluent clients, Monument is believed to be close to submitting its banking licence application.


Formerly B-Social, Kroo rebranded in March 2020 following a £7.8m seed funding.  Kroo, the Bloomsbury based fintech is currently building a ‘social bank’ while its existing debit Mastercard with 9,000 customers is provided via an e-money licence.  Led by CEO Nazim Valimahomed, Kroo has been on a recruitment drive as it expects to submit its full banking licence application in this quarter.

Orchard Funding Group

Having previously withdrawn an application this time last year, CEO Ravi Takhar updated the market in March that there remains considerable scope to pursue its strategic objectives and this includes submitting its banking licence application, which is expected by the end of April 2020.  The finance company focuses on insurance premium finance and has a loan book of £34m.


A £3m seed round at the start of the year has given Griffin’s co-founders David Jarvis and Allen Rohner the firepower to build a sandbox and continue their banking licence application.  Griffin aims to be the banking partner of choice for fintech innovators, providing an API platform to enable firms to open ringfenced accounts for customer funds with built in compliance and ledger reporting.  Expect a summer announcement that it has applied for its banking licence.



Still in the race



Wapping based online broker ActivTrades is still pursuing its banking licence application.  Already in the bridging market, founder Alex Pusco is searching for a replacement to lead the application after the retirement of Steve Clowes who was leading the process. 


Founded by entrepreneur Marko Sjoblom, Fiinu has just completed a £1.7m seed investment round as it continues through the pre-application stages of the regulatory process with the aim of becoming in the ‘Walmart of Banking’ offering an alternative to those who have no access to an arranged overdraft with their primary bank.


The firm is looking to bring the Danish concept of fixed for term mortgages to the UK and are in the process of building a digital bank to facilitate this.  Led by Arjan Verbeek, expect to see further news in the second half of 2020 on the status of their banking licence application.


Another new entrant looking to serve the UK SME banking market, with credit cards and savings also part of the plan, Gravity has followed revverbank in signing up with Finastra for its core banking.  Gravity has Monzo and Charter Savings Independent Non-Executive Director Tim Brooke as Chair.  Expect to hear more in the second half of 2020.






The planned digital bank which intended to provide a new way of banking and shopping, dropped out of the process in October 2019.

London Business Bank

The proposed business bank aiming to focus on businesses in the capital, wound down in 2019 and was struck off in March 2020.

Belmont Green

The appointment of Anth Mooney, former Director of Financial Services at Virgin Money, in January this year was seen as a sign that the owner of the Vida Homeloans specialist mortgage brand was ramping up its efforts to become a bank.  However, it is understood that a number of the team engaged to build the bank have recently left the business as these plans are shelved.


The German car maker currently uses its parent’s banking licence to make car loans through its UK financial services division but had prepared to apply for a UK banking licence.  It’s understood that this has been curtailed due to UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

Burnley Savings & Loans

Dave Fishwick, the popular TV entrepreneur behind “Bank of Dave” has been looking to obtain a banking licence for some time but a proposed £7m funding round launched on Seedrs late in 2018 didn’t capture the public’s imagination as hoped.  Dave hasn’t spoken publicly about the licence application since.  While the official line is that the firm are still seeking a banking licence, that is looking increasing unlikely.

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We help savers get the best deal for their money by providing unique insight in to the savings market.  We help prospective banks apply for a banking licence and we help build customer services, products and marketing for them.  We also work with existing banks and building societies to improve their savings propositions.  This  insider view of savings means we are uniquely placed to help savers.

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