Esme Loans hits £50m of loans to UK small firms

By Roger Baird on Monday 29 April 2019

Digital Banking

The NatWest-owned unit said lending has jumped more than three times over the past 12 months.

Esme Loans said it has hit over £50m of lending to UK small businesses two years after its launch.

The NatWest-owned unit, founded in 2017, said its loans over the last 12 months have jumped more than three-fold compared to the year before.

The digital lender, which provides unsecured business loans between £10,000  and £150,000, was set up to “simplify and speed up the lending process for UK SMEs”, according to the high street bank.

Fintechs grew rapidly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis as they served small businesses, who found it difficult to get loans from high street banks, because these traditional lenders feared defaults.

Esme chief executive Richard Kerton said: “We’re delighted to be able to support UK entrepreneurs and small businesses. We have achieved great momentum since launch just over two years ago, and we are now lending over three times more than we were this time last year.”

Last month, the unit struck a deal with Microsoft that will allow the business loans platform to use artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up customer applications.  

Esme said the US tech giant will build cloud based data warehouse and provide AI chatbots to answer common customer questions during the application process.

Esme said the new service, due to launch this month, will allow it to “make faster and better targeted lending decisions and to provide automated service assisted by artificial intelligence”.

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