JPMorgan launches a UK digital retail financial institution on the lookout for development abroad

JPMorgan Chase & Co. signage will be illuminated at night on Tuesday, July 10, 2017 at a bank branch in Chicago, Illinois, the United States. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is expected to release earnings numbers on July 13th. Photographer: Christopher Dilts / Bloomberg via Getty Images

JPMorgan Chase takes a side from the digital disruptors.

The largest US bank by assets announced Wednesday that it plans to expand its retail presence to the UK for the first time. Instead of traditional stationary branches, however, it only offers services via a mobile app.

JPMorgan’s first product to be tested internally before its release later this year will be a checking account, the bank said in a statement. This is followed by a “range of products” that, according to someone with knowledge of the plans, likely include credit cards and home loans.

The project will provide a case study on whether, according to this person, JPMorgan can expand its retail bank in other countries around the world.

In the US, JPMorgan and other large lenders are restricted by federal regulations prohibiting lenders from buying other banks after receiving 10% of the country’s deposits. The project could ultimately also provide information on how it manages its network of 4,908 retail branches in the United States, the person said.

“We are bringing Chase to the UK because we want to offer our customers a new banking choice that will allow them to benefit from a simple and exceptional banking experience that builds on the significant skills of JPMorgan Chase,” said Gordon Smith, who heads the retail banking division by JPMorgan.

“The UK has a vibrant and highly competitive consumer banking market, so we designed the bank from the ground up to meet the needs of customers here,” he said.

In recent years, JPMorgan has been reported to be working on a secret project in the UK after the bank listed vacancies for technical positions there. In 2019, TechCrunch reported that the bank was in the early stages of creating a retail digital bank in the UK after closing a similar offering called Finn in the US. Bloomberg first reported on the official launch of the UK product.

The announcement comes after news that Dimon has admonished his management team about the rise of fintech competitors. Square and PayPal have grown in market cap in recent years, partly due to the viral success of wallets that are increasingly becoming full-service digital bank accounts.

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