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Business & Economy

New challenger bank to be set up for fast-growing SMEs

Businesses in County Durham have teamed up to develop a new challenger bank that will ‘revolutionise’ the SME lending market.

Fintech specialist, Growth Capital Ventures (GCV) will work alongside industry partners to drive forward the growth of B-North, a start-up established to build the bank and get it up and running next year.

These partners include Teesside entrepreneur Craig Iley, former Santander divisional managing director Jonathan Thompson and David Broadbent, the former chief commercial officer of International Personal Finance Plc.

B-North secured £4 million through an initial seed investment round in late 2018 and has since then exceeded its target raising another £2.3 million.

The money from round two is being used to strengthen the management team and continue building the infrastructure ahead of the launch of the bank later this year.

There is still opportunity for investment into B-North until this Wednesday (January 15).

Once operational, the start-up challenger bank will deliver loans of between £500,000 and £5 million to ambitious companies looking to scale up their business, providing finance up to ten times faster than high street commercial banks.

As of July 2018, the SME lending market was worth over £154 billion. That being said, the British Business Bank estimates that £48 billion of this is unmet demand.

B-North aims to disrupt this market by delivering funding to highly profitable and scalable SMEs in a fast and efficient way.

Craig Iley, founder and director of B-North, said: “SMEs represent the beating heart of the UK economy but need far more financial support than they’re currently getting.

“With centralised decision-making, legacy systems and bureaucratic processes, it can take several months for a large high street bank to complete a loan facility – which is no good for an ambitious SME that needs the cash to invest quickly.

“That’s why we’re so committed to creating a challenger bank that can disrupt the current status quo created by incumbent mainstream banks and other lenders.”

Craig Peterson, co-founder and chief operating officer of GCV, added: “The B-North business model is unique; the combination of people and technology allows B-North to deliver face-to-face banking quicker and better than the competition.

“For investors this is an opportunity to invest in an exciting start-up with high growth potential at the start of their journey.”