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SoFi wins preliminary approval for US national bank charter; launches credit card

SoFi wins preliminary approval for US national bank charter; launches credit card

Online lender Social Finance has received prelimary approval from the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency over its application for a national bank charter and launched its first credit card.

SoFi started life as a student loan financing outfit but in recent years has been expanding aggressively.

Earlier this year it paid $1.2 billion for financial services API and payments platform Galileo Financial Services. In 2017 it bought mobile banking outfit Zenbanx and last year it teamed up with Coinbase as it moved to add the ability to trade cryptocurrencies within the overall SoFi Invest platform.

The OCC's conditional approval of SoFi's bank charter application coincides with the launch by the firm of its first credit card. Carrying no annual fee, the card provides up to 2% unlimited cashback when redeemed into SoFi Money or SoFi Invest accounts, or used to pay down SoFi Student Loans or SoFi Personal Loans.

Applications for the card will open to SoFi members in phases, beginning today, and will be available to the general public in early 2021, with additional features to roll out in the interim.

"Based on feedback from our members, we designed a credit card that helps our members pay down debt or invest in the future with every purchase, while building holistic, healthy money habits," says Anthony Noto, CEO, SoFi. "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."

The firm first applied for a license in 2017 but withdrew from the process later that year following the departure of CEO Mike Cagney, who left amidst allegations of sexual harassment at the firm.

SoFi follows Varo Money and Square as the third fintech to win approval from the OCC for a national bank charter.

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