Starling, the digital bank, and Funding Circle, the UK’s small business loan platform, have entered a strategic partnership to provide £300 million of lending to small businesses under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
Starling will lend through Funding Circle alongside other institutional investors, and will help more than 4,000 (based on the average loan size of £70,000) small businesses to access finance across the UK.
The announcement follows Starling’s and Funding Circle’s accreditation to CBILS, with both FinTechs opening for applications last month. This lending commitment will further increase the flow of funds available to small businesses and help get money into the hands of business owners more quickly.
Today’s news demonstrates the vital role FinTechs will play in facilitating loans under the government’s Covid-19 support schemes. Since 2017, the majority of net growth in SME finance has come from FinTech lenders (according to BoE data from March 2020).
Lisa Jacobs, UK Managing Director at Funding Circle, said: “Small businesses form the backbone of the UK economy and will be at the heart of the nation’s future recovery. At Funding Circle we are pleased to be able to offer businesses a decision in as little as four minutes through our instant decision technology. This partnership will help to ensure the UK’s vital small business community has the financial firepower required to not only survive this period, but to go on and thrive.”
Those thoughts have been echoed by Anne Boden, chief executive of Starling Bank, who said: “At Starling we are pursuing every avenue we can to get this money into the hands of small business owners as quickly as we can. This partnership with Funding Circle provides us with another outlet, on top of our own CBILS and BBLS lending, to help meet the needs of business owners affected by coronavirus. It’s a great example of the FinTech industry pulling together to meet a very urgent need.”
Declan Ferguson, chief strategy officer at Starling Bank, added: “Small business owners face an unprecedented challenge. Our priority now must be to put money into the hands of the entrepreneurs quickly, to help them get through the coronavirus emergency. This partnership will help achieve this.”
With CBILS loans, the first 12 months of interest and any arrangement fees will be paid by the UK government as a Business Interruption Payment. At Funding Circle, CBILS loans also benefit from an initial 12-month payment holiday, to ensure small businesses benefit from no repayment of principal, interest or fees in the first 12 months.
SMEs with an annual turnover of up to £45 million can apply, there are no penalties for early repayment and no personal guarantees are required.