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FCA in talks with 21 new banks

The FCA and PRA say the regulators are “open for business” and are appealing for new entrants.

The FCA says it is in talks with a total of 21 firms ahead of them applying for authorisation to become banks.

Speaking at a regional banking conference in London last week, FCA banking authorities manager Nicola Wildman says the regulator has undergone a “sea change” in its new bank authorisation process.

Wildman, who is charge of all banking applications to the FCA, said the 21 firms are in an informal “pre-application” stage before making a formal application to become a bank.

She said some new entrants are pushing ethical values or good customer service while local authorities have also been approved for banking licences.

Wildman said: “We really are open for business for people to come along and have a chat with us. It has been a sea change for the regulator.”

The FCA and PRA have been given statutory objectives to boost competition in financial services. In July the regulator relaxed rules for new entrants to make it easier for firms to get banking licences.

Prudential Regulation Authority domestic UK banks division director Sam Woods said: “We are taking a big policy risk and it is the right thing to do as long as firms are fully resolvable. It is now over to new entrants but our message is the PRA is open for business.”

Metro Bank said the approval process for new banks has been significantly improved.

It took 20 months for the bank to obtain a banking licence. The bank highlighted a number of “Catch 22” issues around capital requirements and setting up infrastructure prior to approval.

Metro Bank founder Anthony Thomson said: “You can now get authorised in nine months and it is a very clear staged process, which is just phenomenal and the Government should be congratulated.”

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