Customers Bancorp suspends planned spinoff of digital bank

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Customers Bancorp in Wyomissing, Pa., is putting the proposed spinoff of its digital bank on hold.

The $11 billion-asset Customers plans to keep BankMobile for the next two to three years, according to a slide presentation tied to the company’s investor day.

Customers said the decision “reflects complications” with the regulatory process and the “value we expect from the launch” of its first white-label partner. “We will continue to annually evaluate the best option for BankMobile,” the company said.

BankMobile’s white-label partnership with T-Mobile is expected to begin in the fourth quarter.

Customers is also expected to shrink its balance sheet to get below $10 billion in assets, which would allow it to delay caps on interchange fees under the Durbin amendment.

BankMobile has 1 million active customers and $732 million in demand deposits. It generated $31 million in noninterest revenue in the first nine months of 2018, Customers said.

Customers had planned to transfer BankMobile to Flagship Community Bank in Clearwater, Fla., in a complex series of transactions. But Customers disclosed in August that Flagship had withdrawn its application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to address questions and comments from the regulator.

The expiration date for the BankMobile transfer was Sept. 30.

Customers also warned in August that it might be considered an affiliate of BankMobile even if it spun the unit off. Under that scenario, BankMobile would have failed to qualify for the small debit card issuer exemption under the Durbin amendment.

Losing the exemption could have led to a “material loss of interchange revenue and may adversely impact the combined company’s ability to attract or retain other white label partners,” Customers warned at that time.

The potential loss of that exemption may have motivated Customers to delay a spinoff of Customers, Michael Perito, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, wrote in a note to clients.

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