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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Good Year For Innovation In SME Finance

Source: Bank of England
As the headwind for UK banks stiffened today, we have news from MarketInvoice, the UK-based online invoice discounting platform, that it has enabled SMEs to raise £2 million against their invoices since February 2011, with £500,000 raised through the platform in August alone.

"Buyers" of each firm's invoices are institutional investors (such as asset managers and private investment funds) - who we know have plenty of cash in search of a home. They bid against each other on the platform to ensure some competition to provide cheaper funding. The types of deals done to date, and how the process works, are described here. In effect, this puts the traditional invoice discounting, or 'factoring', process online.

Of course, MarketInvoice is not alone in providing small businesses with alternatives to bank finance. Funding Circle, the peer-to-peer platform for small business lending, has also reported healthy interest. And Crowdcube facilitates equity investments.

So far, each of these new entrants has chosen to innovate around a specific funding instrument or process. No doubt other alternative providers, and further innovation, will emerge while the banks remain in complete disarray. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.

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