Jaidev Janardana, CEO of UK digital bank Zopa.
LONDON – British digital bank Zopa is bolstering its management team with several seniors as the company looks to fuel growth and prepare its business for a possible public listing.
The SoftBankThe company-backed company, which offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts, told CNBC exclusively that it has hired Peter Donlon, the former chief technology officer of online card retailer Moonpig, as its CTO.
The firm also brought in Kate Erb, a qualified chartered accountant from KPMG with more than 20 years of experience in financial services, as chief operating officer.
Erb was most recently Operations Director at Leeds Building Society.
Donlon notably saw Moonpig through its public listing in 2021, which at the time valued the company at around £1.2 billion. Moonpig now trades at £151 a share, giving it a market capitalization of £518m, reflecting a broad slide in tech stocks.
His appointment reflects Zopa’s push to grow maturity and increase user numbers in anticipation of a possible initial public offering (IPO). Zopa planned to go public last year, but put that ambition on hold as the stock market took a turn for the worst with rising interest rates holding back high-growth tech stocks.
Chief executive Jaidev Janardana insisted the bank had no immediate plans for an IPO, but suggested a flotation could be on the horizon by the middle of next year if sentiment in public markets changes.
What will have to change for that to happen, he explained, is for the public markets to reopen.
“We haven’t had a great IPO,” he told CNBC in an interview on the sidelines of London Tech Week this week. “I would love to see some successful IPOs actually coming.”
“If you look at the kinds of banks and how they’re valued, or technology companies, both, the public market valuations aren’t great.”
“The second thing is… liquidity. he added. “We need to make sure there is enough liquidity to make a public company truly public. Shares should be able to be bought and sold reasonably easily.”
Zopa will soon reach 1 million customers, a company spokesperson told CNBC. It wants to eventually reach 5 million users in the coming years. The company competes with big banks and fintechs such as Monzo, Revolut and Starling.
Janardana suggested the company could try to accelerate the growth of its business through mergers and acquisitions and a move into other areas of finance, including small business lending and open banking, which allows data to be shared between banks and third-party firms.
Zopa raised 75 million pounds ($95.9 million) from investors earlier this year.
“We’re open,” he said. “Where there’s an opportunity for us to use open banking, infrastructure, data to provide a holistic experience for customers, that’s something we’re interested in.”
“Another thing we are interested in is lending to small and medium-sized businesses.”
Zopa achieved profitability on a monthly basis in April 2022. Zopa aims to achieve full-year profitability by the end of 2023.
When it comes to products that Janardana is not interested in introducing, cryptocurrencies are at the top. The finance executive, who has been at the helm of Zopa since 2014, said cryptocurrencies are “not great for the retail consumer today.”
“I’m not a big fan of crypto yet, I’m not convinced,” he said. “It’s a complex product that people don’t understand, which is why we’ve never offered it.”