NatWest debuts digital platform for SME lending
NatWest (part of the RBS group) is set to launch a new digital platform to allow small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to quickly obtain unsecured loans of up to £150,000.
Called Esme Loans, it is in trial mode and the bank will offer fast decisions on lending applications “potentially within an hour”. There will be no early repayment charges. The bank is targeting UK SMEs with a turnover of over £15,000 (maximum £25,000). Businesses need to be limited companies and have been trading for a minimum of 18 months.
Alison Rose, CEO commercial and private banking at NatWest, says: “Through Capital Connections, our panel of five P2P and alternative lenders, we’ve already broadened choices for customers but we wanted to go one step further and create our own alternative lending platform.”
The new automated, lending platform will originate unsecured and unregulated loans of up to £150,000 for a maximum of five years for UK SME customers, whether they bank with NatWest or not.
The idea of Esme Loans was “borne out of an ‘innovation cell’” and by working with UK-based financial provider Ezbob.
Over the next five years, NatWest says it is also investing £70 million in digital programmes for “non-personal banking customers”.