The Treasury “missed a trick” by not using fintech firms more for coronavirus emergency lending schemes but has an opportunity to utilise them in subsequent initiatives, Innovate Finance’s chief executive has said.
Speaking at the LendIt Fintech Europe conference, Charlotte Croswell (pictured) suggested banks could look to partner with fintech firms to get funds to small businesses, after the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme and bounce back loan schemes end in November.
Crosswell said there was “frustration” at how long it took fintechs to gain accreditation for the government-backed loan schemes.
“We have to give government credit for getting a scheme in place within 10 days,” she said.
“They based it on the enterprise finance guarantee, which excluded non-banks, which was seen as the best way to get funds to businesses.
“Bank call centres were decimated and there was a pipeline of marketplace lenders wanting to distribute funds but couldn’t.
“It was hard when they knew they had the technology to onboard clients, it was frustrating to not be able to participate.
“The British Business Bank used to have two people accrediting lenders, that went up to 20 overnight.”
There are now more than 100 accredited lenders under the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme including just a handful of peer-to-peer lenders: Funding Circle, Assetz Capital, Folk2Folk and LendingCrowd.
Funding Circle is the only P2P lender offering bounce back loans and Crosswell warned that the low borrowing rate – 2.5 per cent – meant alternative lenders cannot compete with banks, as they can access wholesale funding.
She said UK Finance is in regular dialogue with the Treasury and British Business Bank about the role fintechs can play in future schemes.
“A more holistic approach is needed,” she said.
“There needs to be a scheme that recognises the role everyone has to play.
“More partnerships between banks and fintech lenders wouldn’t surprise me.
“Banks won’t want to turn away customers but will look to non-bank lenders to get the money out.
“I would like to see a more even ecosystem now we have the time.”