JP Morgan will next week launch its new digital-only lender ‘Chase’ in the UK, as it aims to become one of the biggest banks in the country.
In its first international expansion through a retail operation in the bank’s 222-year history, JP Morgan will initially offer only current accounts through the new lender Chase, before turning its attention to other products like savings and loans.
Sanoke Viswanathan, head of JP Morgan’s newly minted international consumer division, told the Times that Chase would launch in the UK next week on Tuesday.
The bank plans to invest heavily into the UK operation and accumulate “millions of customers over time” to be viable, he said, before potentially expanding into other countries in Europe and Latin America.
“London will be the global headquarters of something which could be far-reaching — the focal point of what the whole international digital bank will be in the future,” he told the Times.
It comes after three years of secret development at the bank’s Canary Wharf UK headquarters and a significant but undisclosed investment by the bank in what is one of the bank’s top three ongoing projects, Viswanathan said.
And the number of employees involved with Chase exceeds that of many startups, with 400 focused on the project in London, 200 in Edinburgh and 250 more in India and the Philippines.
JP Morgan chose to launch its first digital retail bank in the UK due to consumers’ relatively fast adoption of online financial services and a regulatory framework that accommodates such a project well, according to Viswanathan.
The bank will face substantial competition in the increasingly crowded UK digital banking market, with well-established fintechs Monzo, Starling and Revolut having gained significant market share in the past few years as consumers transferred from traditional banks.
It also comes after US rival Goldman Sachs launched Marcus in the UK three years ago with more of a savings focus.
In June, JP Morgan bought UK robo-adviser Nutmeg in a £700m deal, acquiring its customer base of over 140,000 and its £3.4bn assets under management, and the bank is eyeing up further acquisitions as Chase grows.