Israel’s Bank Leumi is planning to bring its online-only bank Pepper to the United States. Launched in 2017, Pepper is a digital banking venture that is initially offering individual accounts with plans to move into securities and mortgages, as well as joint banking options.
Pepper can only be used on a mobile phone — it has no branches or even a website. Customers can download the mobile bank’s app and simply open an account using their phone. Since its inception, Pepper has been acclaimed for its technology, and is opening more accounts per day than its parent bank across its 250 brick-and-mortar branches in Israel.
Now, according to Financial Times (FT), Bank Leumi is in talks with potential partners about bringing Pepper to the States.
“We said we wanted to go overseas and we searched wide,” said Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, Bank Leumi’s chief executive. She added that the U.S. was chosen as the first international venture due to its size and because “[U.S. banks] are very advanced in some areas, but in some aspects, they’re so behind in basic banking.”
The plan is for Pepper partner with a company that already has a large national client base in the U.S.
“We … are currently pursuing several options for collaborations in the U.S. with significant and interesting players,” said Russak-Aminoach, though she declined to reveal their identities.
If the plan comes to fruition, Pepper will compete with the likes of Goldman Sachs‘ digital offering Marcus, which jumped across the pond earlier this year. An internal memo revealed that Marcus will be open to the 6,000 employees of Goldman Sachs in the U.K., with a savings rate of 1.5 percent — nine basis points ahead of the current highest-yielding, instant-access savings account that customers in the U.K. can access. According to the memo, Goldman said it’s “an important milestone in the growth of Goldman Sachs’ consumer business, as well as continued diversification of the firm’s funding.”