NatWest is looking to position itself in competition with the speedy alternative SME lenders through a new platform that will give small business borrowers a decision on their loan application in three minutes.
The bank said Thursday (April 20) that it is launching the online platform to cut down the time it takes for SMEs to see a loan decision, traditionally taking 21 days, said NatWest. The bank has pre-assessed half a million SMEs, it explained, that can access the online platform this summer and seek financing.
NatWest has more than $5 billion allocated to finance SMEs through this platform, it said.
The platform will provide small businesses with an instant view of how much they can borrow, and they can see those funds within two days of approval.
“We want businesses to know we are open for lending, so rather than waiting for them to come to us, we will proactively show them how much they could borrow when they log in to their online banking,” explained Marcelino Castrillo, managing director of business and private banking at NatWest.
The platform will supplement existing SME lending operations that can be accessed in physical branches and over the phone, the bank added.
A survey released this month in the U.S. by the Federal Reserve found that SMEs actually prefer to work with their banks over alternative lenders when seeking financing because they have a more positive experience overall. In the U.K., the banking market has seen a recent influx of challenger banks, many of which are positioned to compete with traditional SME lenders and doing so with a focus on the customer experience.