Esme Loans, which has been developed in response to the emergence of peer-to-peer (P2P) finance, will offer unsecured and unregulated loans of up to £150,000 for a maximum term of five years to businesses with a turnover of between £15,000 and £25m.
The idea was created through an ‘innovation cell’ working with fintech specialist and business lender ezbob Limited.
Alison Rose, CEO of commercial and private banking at NatWest, 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.
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“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.
“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.”
The new platform will be available regardless of whether customers bank with NatWest and will not charge for early repayments.
Businesses need to be limited companies and have been trading for a minimum of 18 months.
Esme’s launch comes amid a wider push for an improved digital customer experience from NatWest, which will see the bank invest £70m over the next five years.