UK to explore legislation to make banks refer small businesses to alternative platforms

UK to explore legislation to make banks refer small businesses to alternative platforms

Proposals by the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer to explore legislation that will force banks to refer small businesses that they turn down for loans to crowdfunding and P2P platforms have been cheered by the alternative lending industry.

The proposals, unveiled in today's budget statement, follow an idea first floated by coalition politician Vince Cable in a speech to the London Stock Exchange last month. At the time, he said that he was exploring an independent "referrals exchange" process so that small companies turned down for funding by a bank would be automatically referred to other providers.

He said that current process was not working: "If a bank turns down a business for a loan, in 40% of cases that business gives up."

Last week, seven of the country's major alternative funders launched a Web portal - - designed to signpost SMEs to the most appropriate source of non-bank funding, providing a short-cut to alternative finance options.

Collectively, the platforms behind the initiative - CrowdCube, Funding Circle, Market Invoice, Platform Black, Seedrs, Zopa and - account for 85% of the alternative non-bank funding market and have provided to date more than £580m to SMEs.

Liberum, the investment bank, forecasts that alternative funding providers could originate £535bn in financing by 2024, which would represent 50% of the gross volumes in the UK and US consumer and UK SME market.

Adam Tavener, chairman of says: "This is a real opportunity for a collaborative culture to develop between the banking and alternative sectors, not just to refer businesses but to work together on multi source deals that provide exactly the right shape of funding package for the business owner. Better signposting, would give businesses - particularly SMEs - safe access to approved lenders, while helping banks keep UK businesses growing by encouraging innovative or complimentary funding."

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