7 alternative funding platforms join forces to launch small business finance portal

Crowdcube, Seedrs, MarketInvoice, Funding Circle and Zopa among crowdfunding, peer-to-peer, and pensions lending sites behind lead generation site for rejected bank loan applicants

Seven of the UK’s leading alternative finance providers have joined forces to launch signposting finance portal Alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk.

Collectively the businesses involved – regulated equity crowdfunding sites Crowdcube and Seedrs, invoice finance marketplaces Platform Black and MarketInvoice, peer-to-peer lenders Funding Circle and Zopa, and pension platform Pensionledfunding.com – account for over 85% of the current alternative funding market and have been responsible for providing more than £580m to small businesses.

Announced before the Alternative Finance Summit in London yesterday, the move is designed to redirect a reported 45% of rejected bank loan applicants to other potential sources of finance.

While already popular and growing, the alternative finance platforms remain a niche dwarfed by the universal awareness of the nation’s high street banks.

Following their own power in numbers or crowd principles, the move has been engineered by the collective to make small businesses more aware of the most suitable non-bank funded lending options to finance start-up or early stage growth.

Users will be asked to submit responses to a few simple online questions, from amount of finance needed, to desired timeframe and company turnover before being directed, via a traffic light system, to the most suitable provider/s available on the platform.

However, the founding members were quick to add that the initiative is by no means ‘a closed shop’, with more platforms expected to join after the initial first phase launch.

Whilst the sector is clearly growing, Adam Tavener, founder of Pensionledfunding.com, who initially sparked the idea for the new portal, was frustrated that banks are “too nervous to refer outside of themselves”.

With the Breedon report suggesting banks should play a larger role in signposting businesses elsewhere, Tavener decided that a collaborative platform could offer the greatest chance of “de-risking non-bank lending”.

As Anil Stocker, co-founder of Market Invoice, commented: “Together we’re stronger.”

The second phase will then involve pitching the platform to banks, with a positive dialogue already underway with the British Business Bank.

It was no coincidence that the government’s main proponent of the banking initiative, business secretary Vince Cable, was the keynote speaker at the conference later that day.

However, all of the founders involved were keen to stress that the portal is complementary to banks – as Stocker point out they “want to work with banks but also to supplement and build on what they do”.

While it may take a while for banks to come on board, in his keynote speech at the Alternative Finance Summit yesterday afternoon the secretary of state for the department of Business, Innovation and Skills remarked:

“Anything that redirects people who are turned down by one lender, is an advance.”

He also added that the government were “seriously considering making it mandatory for banks to recommend alternative means of lending”.

 

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