British Fintech Firms Rush to Provide Loans Amidst Pandemic

With Britain’s coronavirus business relief measures hitting a few speedbumps, the country’s fintech firms are looking to step up.

CNBC reports that several of the U.K.’s leading fintech firms have been seeking accreditation to provide loans under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

Only 40 banks – including Barclays, Lloyds, and HSBC – were originally accepted into the program but as of late, challenger banks such as Starling, OakNorth and Funding Circle have been given the green light as well.

“I think the challenger banks have got a real opportunity here,” Starling’s Chief Banking Officer Helen Bierton told CNBC. “We try and build in a way to get help to customers as quickly as possible. We’ve been set up that way; we’re a technology-led bank.”

Having more digital banks join the program could be a boon for the industry, given that some of lenders currently in the loan scheme have been criticized for being too slow and too difficult to work with. Only 21% of CBILS loan applications have approved, bank trade association U.K. Finance said.

U.K. fintech industry body Innovate Finance has been piling pressure on the government to include non-bank lenders in CBILS. The organization’s CEO, Charlotte Crosswell, said she was “delighted” by Funding Circle’s recent approval by the BBB, but was “eager to see more non-bank lenders become accredited lenders.”

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