Start-up JIKO co-founded by ex-Goldman trader is first fintech to complete takeover of a national bank

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CNBC | Hugh Son | Sep 3, 2020

Jiko CEO - Start-up JIKO co-founded by ex-Goldman trader is first fintech to complete takeover of a national bankKey Points

  • A tiny start-up led by a former Goldman Sachs trader has become the first fintech firm to complete the acquisition of a nationally regulated U.S. bank, CNBC has learned.
  • Jiko, a 23-person company co-founded by Stephane Lintner, has closed a deal to purchase Mid Central National Bank, a 63-year old retail bank based in Minnesota, according to people with knowledge of the transaction.
  • Instead of being held in deposits, customer money is swept into Treasury Bills, which are liquidated when a person uses a debit card or withdraws cash from ATMs.
  • The Jiko account generated a 3.3% annualized return last year, far outstripping the nominal rate that most big banks pay, Lintner said. But interest rates have fallen since then as the Federal Reserve slashed rates in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A tiny start-up led by a former Goldman Sachs trader has become the first fintech firm to complete the acquisition of a nationally-regulated U.S. bank, CNBC has learned.

Jiko, a 23-person company co-founded by Stephane Lintner, has closed a deal to purchase Mid Central National Bank, a 63-year old retail bank based in Minnesota, according to people with knowledge of the transaction. The start-up secured approval for the move from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, these people said.

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The move by Jiko, which bills itself as a new kind of bank, gives it broad access to the highly-regulated U.S. market. Fintech firms have to choose one of three ways to break into this market: acquire a banking institution, apply to become a chartered bank, or partner with an existing lender.

Most of the new breed of online only-banks like Chime and Current chose to team up with existing FDIC-backed institutions, as that is the fastest way to get started. Last month, Varo Money became the first consumer fintech firm to earn a banking charter from the government through an application.

But Jiko, a company that has flown under the radar since its creation in 2016, is the first of the recent wave of fintechs to complete the takeover of a regulated bank, allowing it to offer Americans a broad array of financial services. Lending Club, one of the biggest U.S. providers of personal loans, said it was buying Radius Bancorp in February, but that deal will close in 2021, CNBC reported at the time.

“The move by Jiko represents an important milestone in the maturity and evolution of fintech companies seeking to expand the reach of their products and services,” Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks said in a statement. “It demonstrates the value and attractiveness of banks and in particular the federal banking system.”

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