Starling and Tide admit leaving customers unhappy over BBLS but say they helped many others

By John Reynolds on Wednesday 11 November 2020

Alternative Lending

Tide CEO Oliver Prill said Tide would partake in the BBLS again while Starlng executive Helen Bierton points to the thousands of customers Starling helped.

Starling and Tide admit leaving customers unhappy over BBLS but say they helped many others
Image source: Oliver Prill/Tide.

Executives from Tide and Starling admitted customers were left unhappy over their handling of the government-backed Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) but said they helped many other customers.

Tide CEO Oliver Prill and Starling’s head of banking Helen Bierton were speaking yesterday at the AltFi Festival of Finance on a session entitled ‘Cracking The SME Opportunity’, which also featured Soren Skov Mogensen, the chief growth officer at Banking Circle.

Starling and Tide both suffered a customer backlash over their handling of dishing out loans under the BBLS.

Tide shuttered its scheme after being unable to raise funds to fulfil the volume of loans requested and having no funding supplied from the government while Starling faced a backlash after it stopped accepting new sole trader business accounts.

Bierton said: "Unfortunately there are some customers who have been disappointed. But there are so many customers who have been supported.”

Bierton pointed to the 35,000-plus Starling customers who took out a loan under the scheme.

“We don’t get it right every time. But we will listen to our customers and we will support them. But there are some tough decisions that need to be taken too.”

Prill said: “I often get asked ‘would I have done it again?' Yes, I would, because we did help some. And I am still hopeful that at some stage the government will consider direct lending.”

“We really feel bad about this. We tried our utmost to resolve it quickly and we got it sort of under control in early Q3,” he added.

Prill also pointed to the dynamic of a surge in SMEs opening business current accounts during Covid with fintechs like Tide as major high-street banks struggled with new account openings during the pandemic.

Bierton added that the “account opening experience for Starling has just been phenomenal during this period."

The panel was moderated by Oscar Willaims-Grut, the senior city correspondent at Yahoo Finance.

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