Esme Loans has joined a handful of leading alternative finance firms in a partnership with a NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) programme designed to help businesses access alternative sources of finance.

Esme Loans, a digital lending platform owned and backed by NatWest, allows small and medium-sized businesses to quickly obtain unsecured loans of up to £150,000. Esme will join a select group of leading alternative finance firms on NatWest’s and Royal Bank of Scotland’s Capital Connections panel.

The banks set up Capital Connections in 2016 to help SMEs access alternative sources of capital after being unable to secure traditional financial backing. NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland signpost business customers to the panel of innovative sources of finance, including equity crowdfunding and marketplace lenders. There is no commission paid to the banks as a result of any referrals.

Richard Kerton, Head of Esme Loans, said: “Since we launched Esme Loans last year, we have seen very positive early results – attracting almost £130m worth of business while receiving great customer feedback. With more than 5.5m SMEs in the UK, they are truly at the heart of the UK economy. By joining Capital Connections we hope to be able to work with even more businesses and support their growth.”

Alison Rose, CEO of Commercial and Private Banking at NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “We are excited to welcome Esme Loans to Capital Connections. Esme offers customers a quick decision and almost instant funding, providing another distinct choice for the many innovative businesses in the UK. As the biggest supporter of British business, we understand that traditional funding routes are not always the best option for fast growing start ups. Through Capital Connections we’re able to signpost a broad choice of funding options through its impressive range of alternative lenders.”

Esme is the eighth alternative finance provider to join Capital Connections, alongside Funding Circle, Assetz Capital, Start Up Loans, Seedrs, Together, iwoca and NatWest Social & Community Capital.