By Aisling Finn on Thursday 26 August 2021
The newly accredited digital bank has also raised a £20m Series A funding round to help it get its lending off the ground.
Banking licences are hard to come by and take years of preparation but the UK’s digital banking space just got its latest fully-fledged member.
Bank North, which changed its name from B-North upon securing its licence, has been awarded a banking licence by the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), taking it one step closer to becoming a key player in the SME banking market.
The newly minted SME-focused digital bank hopes to become the UK’s first “truly regional bank of the modern era” and will open the doors to its first lending pod in Manchester later on this year before rolling out its services across the UK.
Bank North’s lending pods will be equipped with in-branch lending experts to help ensure that regional SMEs get the support and guidance that they need.
“Our model is groundbreaking and there has never been a more compelling backdrop to launch a new regional bank for the UK, as the country looks to build back better and recover from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jonathan Thompson, CEO and founder of Bank North, said.
“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.”
After opening its first lending pod, Bank North will begin lending in October 2021, helping regional SMEs get back on their feet after a tumultuous year.
Bank North’s lending pods will see the bank offer loans tailored to the circumstances of each local SME, making it a breath of fresh air away from the UK’s heavily centralised banking system.
“Our focus on regional pods, as opposed to a centralised structure, will help spread opportunities for growth around the country,” Ron Emerson CBE, chair of Bank North added.
“We believe that locally available finance will be critical in enabling the UK’s regions to level up. Talent is not confined to particular areas of the UK, and nor should our banking systems be.”
The bank has also closed a £20mSeries A funding round from new and existing investors, including the likes of LHV Asset Management, Skipton Building Society, Channel 4 Ventures, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Steve Davis, entrepreneur and CEO of Grantside Ltd.
Bank North’s funding round will help it kick off its lending activities later on in the year.
UPDATE 26-08-2021 - This article was updated to include the total funding raised by Bank North in its Series A.