U.K. Taps Fintechs and Queen’s Bank for Business Rescue Push

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The state-backed British Business Bank added eight new lenders to its emergency lending program for small companies, including two fintech firms and Coutts & Co., the private banker to Queen Elizabeth II, the organization said today.

With more than 45 lenders now accredited for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the British Business Bank is racing to get funds to small- and medium-sized companies that are struggling to stay afloat as the U.K. enters its fourth week of lockdown. Under the plan, known as CBILS, the government covers 80% of the risk on loans of up to 5 million pounds ($6.2 million) and picks up the tab for 12 months of interest and fees.

Online lending startups Starling Bank Ltd. and OakNorth Bank Plc, joined the Co-operative Bank Plc, Cynergy Bank Ltd. and Coutts, which is part of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, as five institutions newly approved for CBILS. The British Business Bank said three other lenders already certified for an older guaranteed lending program were also cleared to participate.

“These new lenders will be able to deploy vital funding and get additional finance flowing to smaller businesses across the U.K. as quickly as possible,” said Keith Morgan, the chief executive officer of the British Business Bank.

Ever since CBILS was launched on March 23, small business owners have complained that lenders have been too slow to respond to their applications and underwrite loans. On April 8, UK Finance, the trade association for the banking industry, said CBILS’s lenders had approved 453 million pounds worth of loans for 2,500 companies. The program has received more than 130,000 inquiries for loans.

— With assistance by Silla Brush

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