UK bank NatWest, part of RBS group, will launch a new digital platform to speed up the lending process for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). With this digital platform, small and medium businesses can obtain unsecured NatWest loans of up to £150,000.
Dubbed Esme, the loans can be obtained, potentially within an hour, if the application is approved.
The bank also stated that customers can benefit from no early repayment charges. According to the bank, the scheme took shape as a means to simplify and speed up lending process and has been developed in response to direct and P2P lending platforms.
With the new scheme customers can avail unsecured and unregulated NatWest loans of up to £150,000 for a maximum period of five years. This is for UK SME customers, irrespective of whether they have bank accounts with NatWest or not.
The Esme loan scheme is part of the bank’s ongoing digital agenda. It follows the December launch of Nift, a software platform that makes it easier for customers to read and understand Terms & Conditions.
NatWest also stated that it plans to invest about £70m over the next five years. This investment will be used in developing digital experience for non-personal banking customers.
The new scheme has also been designed to reduce the number of steps required for completing payments and will automatically compare and show the cheapest payment methods.
NatWest Commercial and Private Banking CEO Alison Rose 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.”