Rebecca Wayman

SME lending platform to 'revolutionise' North East's marketplace

The region is said to be playing a key role in the development of a new challenger bank that looks set to change the SME lending market.

County Durham fintech specialist Growth Capital Ventures (GCV) has teamed up with players in the industry to drive forward the growth of B-North, a startup established to build the bank and get it up and running come 2021.

These partners include Teesside-based Craig Iley; former Santander divisional managing director, Jonathan Thompson; and David Broadbent, the former chief commercial officer at International Personal Finance Plc.

Once operational, the bank will deliver loans of between £500k and £5m to companies looking to scale up their business.

After securing £4m through an initial seed round in December 2018, B-North has now exceeded its target of raising a further £2.3m via a second round of investment.

The money from round two is being used to strengthen the existing management team and continue building the infrastructure ready for launching the bank later in the year.

As of July 2018, the SME lending market was reportedly worth over £154bn, yet this figure includes £48bn of unmet demand as estimated by the British Business Bank.

Craig Iley, founder and director of B-North, said: “SMEs represent the beating heart of the UK economy but need far more financial support than they’re currently getting.

“With centralised decision-making, legacy systems and bureaucratic processes, it can take several months for a large high street bank to complete a loan facility - which is no good for an ambitious SME that needs the cash to invest quickly.

“That’s why we’re so committed to creating a challenger bank that can disrupt the current status quo created by incumbent mainstream banks and other lenders.”

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