Jan 24, 2022

The new bank on the block

After calling it quits on the banking business almost a decade ago, US tax-preparation company H&R Block started marketing new checking and saving accounts last week - this time, without actually being a bank. With the launch of its mobile banking platform, Spruce, the 67-year-old firm is joining a crowded field of fintech challenger banks hoping to take share from traditional retail banks by offering low-cost accounts. Even as H&R Block re-enters the banking space, the company is not interested in pursuing a banking charter. Shares of US fintech giant SoFi surged 16 per cent last week after it secured regulatory approval to become a bank while shares in Dave, a fintech that relies on the partner bank model, lost half their value in the first few days of trading this year. The company counts banking and technology heavyweights including Bank of America, HSBC, Barclays, Intel, ING, and UBS among its shareholders.

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