Is the new ‘Esme’ loan service from NatWest the fast finance solution SMEs have been waiting for?

This week NatWest, part of the RBS group, announced they will be launching a new online service for SMEs that will allow small business owners to to get a loan in hours - even outside of opening times.

The service, which has been named “Esme”, will run under the NatWest brand, and will even be available to customers who don’t bank with NatWest or any other branches of RBS.

How will Esme loans work?

The program works through all stages of the loan application without the need for a face-to-face or lengthy application process.

And just because it’s a quick, automated process, that doesn’t mean you’re only able to borrow peanuts. Using Esme, small business owners could get a loan of up to £150,000.

Alison Rose, CEO of RBS’s corporate, is keen to make life easier for SMEs: “The last thing small and medium-sized enterprises want is to spend hours filling in paperwork, so this allows them to quickly complete a digital process.”

And it seems that RBS plans to continue targeting small and medium businesses in the coming months and years. Rose also said: “SME lending is a really big part of our engine of growth.”

Is this the end of bank managers?

For many small business owners and other self-employed people, financial advice is invaluable. So does the rise of baking apps and online services mean we’ll be seeing fewer bank managers?

Rose was keen to make it clear this is not something RBS is planning.

“We know a relationship banker is so important if a company does get into distress,” she said. “The relationship banker stays with them the whole way through.”

Is RBS still in the doghouse with SMEs?

Unfortunately for RBS, they may be rather on the backfoot in the online banking services game.

Not only are other banks making similar moves, but it wasn’t so long ago that RBS was accused of ‘deliberately destroying small businesses’. For those who felt the sting of the company’s Global Restructuring Group, it’s unlikely they’ll want to trust the bank again with their finances.

Santander has recently launched its own fast loan service, while completely new challengers like Tide are looking to totally revolutionise the ways SMEs bank, so there are plenty of options out there.

There’s no information yet as to exactly when Esme will launch, but it remains to be seen how popular it will be with SMEs.

What do you think about this latest move from RBS? Let is know in the comments.

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