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Natwest takes on Funding Circle with new SME lending platform Esme

By Daniel Lanyon on 21st February 2017

The RBS-owned bank is looking to disrupt the disruptors with the launch of a new online lending service.




NatWest is set to launch a new digital platform to allow small and medium sized businesses to obtain speedy unsecured loans of up to £150,000.


The new platform, called Esme Loans, aims to give customers a snappy decision on their lending application in the manner of the fast growing p2p platforms such as SME-focused Funding Circle which recently passed the £2bn mark of cumulative lending. This number makes Funding Circle just shy of being the UK’s largest platform after Zopa, which las lent £2.04bn since its inception .


The platform aims to fund successful borrowers within an hour of application. Customers also benefit from no early repayment charges. Esme was developed by fintech firm Ezbob and has been developed in response to the emergence of innovative direct and P2P lending platforms, and aims to simplify and speed up the lending process.


The new automated, lending platform will originate unsecured and unregulated loans of up to £150,000 for a maximum of 5 years for UK SME customers, whether they bank with NatWest or not.


Alison Rose, CEO Commercial and Private Banking at NatWest says the firm is launching a trial of Esme.


“Esme will offer SMEs a quick decision and almost instant funding, allowing those customers to go on and do what they do best – run a business.”


“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.”


Natwest, which is part of the beleaguered Royal Bank of Scotland Group, is charting a course like many larger financial organisations to embrace wider innovation and digital technologies. Over the next five years, NatWest is also investing £70m to give non-personal banking customers a better digital experience and is also launching a robo advice service for investors.


David Tomsett

27 Feb 2017 02:09pm

Doesn't mention how lenders can get involved and what rates of interest can be delivered. I trust Zopa and Funding Circle a lot more than NatWest, who's Fat Cats still get massive bonuses for underperforming.

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