NatWest has outlined plans to scale and grow its digital lending platform Esme Loans following a successful pilot phase.
Esme Loans was developed by the bank at its innovation unit with fintech firm Ezbob as a direct response to the emergence of specialist direct and P2P lending platforms.
Launched at the beginning of 2017, Esme offers UK-based SMEs a fast, paperless commitment on unsecured loan amounts up to £150,000.
The bank says that during the pilot phase, the platform processed 3,800 applications representing over £200m of loan opportunities.
Richard Kerton, head of Esme Loans, says: “We were constantly engaging with our customers throughout the pilot phase, and the most common feedback we received was that a lending process that is transparent, simple and stress-free is what business owners want.
“Most small business owners believe that applying for a loan will be difficult and time consuming so we’ve focused our efforts on removing any unnecessary complexity from the process and making it as transparent as possible. As a result, the application form only asks for the information we need, our interest rates our published on our website and our pre-checker tool quickly gives customers an accurate view of the cost of a loan.”
NatWest in February added Esme Loans to its Capital Connections panel, which hooks alternative finance providers up to businesses that don't qualify for a loan from the bank. Demonstrating its determination to further grow the business, the bank has signed up Esme Loans as the headline sponsor of the Evening Standard Business Awards and is launching a new brand and marketing campaign.