Redwood Bank, a new UK-based SME challenger, has secured a banking licence following approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

As Banking Technology reported in October last year, Acorn Financial Partners (AFP) submitted a banking licence application. Now that it has authorisation, AFP is called Redwood Bank.

Redwood says it will now enter its mobilisation phase and expects to launch to customers later in 2017.

Jonathan Rowland, co-founder of Redwood Bank, says: “With the opportunities being created by Brexit and the financial services sector’s rehabilitation, this is a great time to be entering the market.”

The bank is wholly owned by Redwood Financial Partners Ltd (RFP), a company controlled by Jonathan and David Rowland. Warrington Borough Council has also acquired a 33% stake in RFP, the “first time” a borough council has made an investment of this type. The council’s executive board has approved an investment of £30 million in Redwood as part of its capital funding.

Redwood will offer secured SME lending products to owner occupied businesses, as well as to commercial and residential property investors. It will also provide business deposit accounts.

Following the council’s investment, prior to launch Redwood will open a northern regional office in Warrington, which will help its plans to offer lending to SMEs in the town as well as the bank’s “heartland region” of the northwest. The bank will be headquartered in Letchworth.

Redwood will be announcing a number of senior board-level management appointments over the coming weeks as it gears up for launch.

With so many new entrants trying to muscle into the UK banking sector, Banking Technology has put together a comprehensive list of the known challengers to date and the technology they are using.