SME-focused Bank North granted UK banking licence
Bank North — previously B-North — has secured an Authorised with Restrictions (AWR) banking licence from the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
The firm aims to start lending in October 2021, delivering local on-demand support for businesses through its cloud banking technology.
Bank North says its network of decentralised regional ‘pods’ will enable it to deliver committed finance to businesses up to ten times faster than the industry standard.
Each pod will provide loans tailored to the circumstances of local business. The bank says the approach is “a much-needed antidote” to the UK’s centralised and standardised banking system, which it claims has left many businesses with no local contact at their bank.
Bank North plans to open its first ‘lending pod’ in Manchester before expanding across the UK.
The firm says it has also closed a successful Series A funding round from investors including LHV Group, Skipton Building Society, Channel 4 Ventures and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
The funds will be used to support the development of new technology and provide operating capital.
Bank North CEO and founder Jonathan Thompson says there has never been a more “compelling backdrop” to launch a new regional bank for the UK, as the country looks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“SMEs will be the lifeblood of economic recovery. We owe it to the UK’s innovators and entrepreneurs to help them access the funding that will enable them to grow and create opportunity across the country,” Thompson says.
Bank North chair Ron Emerson adds that authorisation from the PRA represents a significant vote of confidence in its business model.
He says: “Our focus on regional pods, as opposed to a centralised structure, will help spread opportunities for growth around the country. We believe that locally available finance will be critical in enabling the UK’s regions to level-up.”