Barclays has increased its unsecured lending limit from £50,000 to £100,000 as a result of new research that shows the importance of faster finance for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Barclays has identified more than 40,000 SME customers that it says could be eligible for the higher levels of lending.
The move comes as Barclays reveals the findings of a new survey of 1,100 SME business owners. Almost one in five (18%) of those polled that had previously used a bank loan said they had lost out on business opportunities in the past because they could not get funding fast enough.
The research found that 11% of business owners said they'd be more likely to apply for a loan if they could get a decision within 24 hours. The respondents were hesitant to offer their home as security, with almost half (47%) saying they would be deterred from taking a substantial loan out against their home; 31% said they would rather pay a slightly higher interest rate.
When asked what they would do with £100,000 of business lending, the business owners polled said:
- Purchase new equipment (34%);
- Improve or increase branding/marketing (32%);
- Diversify the business, such as entering a new market or launching a new product (31%);
- Hire more staff (23%);
- Get new premises (14%).
Applicants for Barclays unsecured lending will typically be able to get a decision within 24 hours and have the money in their account within five working days. Barclays already offers 250,000 clients pre-assessed lending limits of up to £25,000 via mobile and online banking. In addition, Barclays is increasing the maximum unsecured overdraft for business lending from £25,000 to £50,000.
Ian Rand, chief executive of Barclays Business Banking, said: "A business loan … can really transform a brilliant, hard-working company, allowing it to scale up and serve more people. Removing barriers to such investment is good for firms across the country, and for the economy.
"Unsecured lending can also be particularly useful for certain types of business. This includes nimble firms that achieve high growth rates without owning premises that would serve as security for a loan, or those led by young entrepreneurs who have a successful business but are yet to buy a home that could serve as security."