NatWest is set to launch a new digital platform to allow small and medium sized businesses to quickly obtain unsecured loans of up to £150,000. Esme Loans gives customers a fast decision on their lending application which, if successful, will result in rapid funding, potentially within an hour. Customers will also benefit from no early repayment charges. The new lending application offers similarities to peer to peer SME-focused platforms,
Borne out of an ‘Innovation Cell’, working with Fintech partner Ezbob – Esme 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 said: “We are excited to launch the trial of Esme this week offering SMEs yet more choice in how they access the funding they need to invest and grow. 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. At NatWest we are committed to designing, developing and trialling innovative customer solutions so we can offer services and products that will really make a difference to our customers.”
The launch of Esme forms one part of the bank’s wider innovation and digital agenda and follows the launch in December of Nift, a software platform that makes T&Cs easier for customers to read and understand. Over the next 5 years, NatWest is also investing £70m to give non-personal banking customers the best digital experience. The New Bankline will give customers a more intuitive, secure and efficient environment to work in. It will reduce the number of steps needed to complete a payment and will automatically compare and show customers the cheapest payment method.