In a move set to challenge the status quo in the British banking sector, Amicus has become the most recent applicant for a banking licence in the U.K. The industry has been ablaze with a torrent of suitors, since banking regulation was simplified to encourage more investors. Amicus Finance will focus on property lending, as a continuation of its current business process, and it will now be able to take deposits. The firm has submitted its application to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), for a licence approval in 2017. The company is headed by John Jenkins, a former head of GE’s UK financial services unit. The firm was founded seven years ago and has lent £950 million so far, mainly for short-term property loans, SMEs and working capital.
This is in a similar line as David Rowland and Jonathan Rowland’s proposed bank, Redwood, that will lend to small and medium-sized enterprises. Atom and Starling are other firms seeking banking licences, also with a niche scope, theirs being strictly mobile banking. It is not expected that another bank will come into the market to rival HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds TSB or Royal Bank of Scotland, but it is expected that the increased competition will help improve the industry. Mr Jenkins said they had been discussing with regulators for the past 18 months, and are making preparations for a positive result. Given their size, Jenkins said the bank will most-likely not offer instant-access accounts, and will rather opt for “notice and term type accounts.” Amicus is preparing for the switch by getting a former head of Sainsbury’s Bank – David Fisher – on its board and other financial services stalwarts.