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SoFi acquisition of Zenbanx marks first step into banking

Say hello to SoFi deposit, money transfer, and credit card products

SoFi announced it acquired Zenbanx, a fintech mobile bank, marking its initial steps into the banking world.

The San Francisco-based lender has come a long way from its foundation as a student refinance lender.

This new acquisition brings SoFi close to becoming a bank, as SoFi intends to leverage Zenbanx’s platform and underlying technology to expand SoFi’s growing suite of online personal finance offerings. Currently, SoFi focuses on student loans, mortgages and personal loans, along with a handful of other offerings. 

“With Zenbanx joining SoFi, we’re moving one step closer to becoming the center of our members’ financial lives by adding SoFi deposit, money transfer, and credit card products to our offerings for members,” said Mike Cagney, co-founder, CEO, and chairman of SoFi.

The acquisition of Zenbanx adds a likeminded startup company to SoFi’s pocket. Founded in 2012 by former ING Direct CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann, Zenbanx offers a mobile banking account that lets people save, send and spend money in multiple currencies both domestically and internationally.

Under the acquisition, Kuhlmann will assume an executive role leading banking products at SoFi, and Zenbanx’s staff will be joining the company. Zenbanx’s Claymont, DE and Toronto, Canada locations will remain open as SoFi offices.

In a blog on Zenbanx’s website, Kuhlmann wrote, “I’ve had the good fortune to be at the forefront of a couple revolutions in personal finance, first with ING Direct and again with Zenbanx, to make banking work better for people. I see a kindred soul in SoFi’s CEO Mike Cagney and his team. Together, SoFi and Zenbanx are going to use the Zenbanx mobile banking platform as a foundation on which to develop innovative deposit and transaction products that will align with the needs of the SoFi member community."

SoFi entered into the mortgage world in the middle of 2014 and hasn’t let up on the gas since then.

About a year ago, when SoFi launched a major ad campaign during the Super Bowl, Meg Ciarallo, vice president of brand marketing at SoFi, alluded to the future growth of SoFi outside of mortgages and student loans.

“For example, we’ll soon launch wealth management services, and we are significantly scaling our entrepreneurship and career services programs,” she added. “While the marketing campaign is a large investment, now is the right time for SoFi to be increasing consumer awareness at a large scale  – we have 120,000 members who want to SoFi, who don’t want to bank. We’re confident there are millions more like them.”

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