Unlike banks, which have dragged their feet in helping customers access finance, fintechs have acted quickly and in partnership to create novel solutions for personal and business customers, often for free.
Despite the UK government launching its business loan interruption scheme, incumbent banks have been accused of being slow to act.
According to the British Business Bank, only HSBC has participated so far, with just 983 companies having had emergency loans approved. Out of 130,000 enquiries, 0.04% of the $407bn (£330bn) made available by the UK government has been used.
Instead, banks have tried to steer customers towards interest-bearing loans, rather than the government-backed 12-month, interest-free offer that comes with no setup fees. Banks have also asked for personal guarantees of loans less than $284,000 (£250,000), so much so that the government recently banned the practice.
The contrast with fintechs is stark, with several partnering to offer simple solutions to COVID-related business problems. TrueLayer, for example, is offering free, automated information retrieval and compliance services, which will help with securely verifying individuals and their bank accounts for existing contracts involving payments.
Payroll fintech Pento has launched a coronavirus furlough tracker that helps businesses work out the full amount they can claim from the government, which is free for the first three months.
And Starling Bank has granted three-month interest-free holidays on existing overdrafts to customers who can prove that COVID-19 has made them lose income. Compared to incumbents that are still charging interest for deferred loans, Starling customers are unlikely to want to switch bank anytime soon.
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