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Zopa hunts for 40 tech whizzes as it narrows focus on bank launch

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Britain’s largest peer-to-peer lender has heightened its focus on building a bank, firing the starting gun on a recruitment push that will see it hire at least 40 developers for the project.

Zopa, which started life as an “eBay for money” service in 2005, has until recently focused its energy on matching people looking for a loan with people wanting to make an investment – cutting out any need for a bank.

However its tune changed late last year, when it emerged that the technology firm wanted to challenge high-street lenders by offering deposit accounts and overdrafts.

Having raised £32m from investors eager to support the project earlier this month, the group is now looking to bulk out its workforce by at least 16pc – bringing in tech experts able to build a digital bank from scratch.

The hires will come from London and Barcelona, where Zopa opened a technology hub last week.

The Barcelona hub will give the firm “access to some of the best software engineers in the world” and accelerate the process, head of bank build Didier Baclin said when the office opened.

While the extra hires will inevitably speed up the process a major hurdle will be getting a banking licence. The firm is expected to apply for approval later this year, triggering a process that can take up to two years.

The move suggests Zopa is ramping up its focus on this project, following a warning by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney earlier this year that the rising popularity of financial technology firms could damage the model of traditional mainstream lenders.