Dear Rishi Sunak MP,
On behalf of the UK’s SMEs, entrepreneurs, and sole-traders, we want to thank you and your team for your tireless efforts to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on business. It’s a really tough time for business owners across the country, and the economic packages you’ve presented to date go a long way to mitigating their worries.
We’re in the midst of a business finance crisis of unprecedented proportions. At Funding Options, we have seen an immense increase in demand, with almost 5000 SMEs requesting around £400M in loans in the last 10 days. As an industry, we want to do our bit to help, but at the moment we feel as though we’re being overlooked. Many alternative lenders and challenger banks don’t have access to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme funds. This is despite alternative finance being the first port of call for many independent businesses, and us having the technology already in place to disseminate funds to SMEs at a pace that other lenders can’t match.
Announcing financial measures for businesses is one thing, but enabling access to them is another. With month-end payroll upon us, companies across the country are facing a cashflow crisis right now, and we don’t have time to waste.
The UK’s Fintech scene is one of the strongest in the world. There are hundreds of companies, with thousands of talented individuals, who have created solutions to meet the demands of an increasingly digital nation.
As an industry, Fintech has always been digital-first. We know how to pivot at a moment’s notice, and we’re used to scaling technology quickly. We’re also used to collaborating with one another. So please, let us do our bit and help us to help you get those important funds to businesses that need them.
As an industry, we call on you to:
Disseminate funds faster: Give alternative lenders and challenger banks access to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) funds so that businesses large and small can access finance as easily as possible. Spreading the load will help reduce bottlenecks, and ensure as many SMEs as possible can access the much-needed funds as quickly as required.
Develop better solutions faster: We have some of the world’s best developers, all of which are used to pivoting at a moment’s notice, and building products to scale. We can help build platforms that will streamline the process for businesses to access these funds. You can also use our customer success staff to offer support and guidance to businesses. We are on the frontline when it comes to supporting businesses facing financial worries. We know the pain points around accessing finance, and we’re ready to offer help through our digital channels.
Use open banking technology: Allow us to use our existing technologies and innovations, such as Open Banking, to enable the fast, secure and accurate processing of loans. This will reduce the time it takes to distribute loans under the CBILS, therefore saving businesses and jobs, helping to stabilise the economy, and building the road to recovery.
At a time like this, the industry should come together for the greater good. All around the country we’ve seen businesses do their bit, such as alcohol companies switching their production lines to make hand sanitiser, and car companies helping to manufacture ventilators. Beyond this letter, we are working actively with groups and networks from the Fintech community to put together proposals to collaborate and support the government in this critical time.
We are steadfast, committed and confident that given the opportunity, we can get your generous financial support to SMEs and individuals around the country quickly. So please, help us, help you, to help them.