News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

crowd reading information off billboards

1.UK – FinTech   

Nucleus Commercial Finance has launched a new lending product to help UK SMEs borrowing through the the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) top-up funds. 

The new line of funding, named Business Growth Loans, allows companies to borrow up to £25,000 as the government-backed scheme comes to an end with a term of six months. Qualifying businesses will have the option to apply for a top-up every quarter.  

CBILS will finish on 31 March but will be replaced by a new scheme announced in last week’s budget.   

Chirag Shah, CEO, Nucleus Commercial Finance comments: “We continue to be fully supportive of CBILS and are proud to have lent a total of £180m to date through the scheme. Our lending through CBILS means we can see the additional support businesses currently require and the funding gap it will leave once the scheme ends. This has driven us to design a product that will continue to provide businesses with the vital finance they need to survive and recover.” 

The launch of Business Growth Loans follows Nucleus securing a new £200m funding line in January from two global investment management firms. The finance increases Nucleus’ capacity to support businesses in 2021 through this new product and a number of existing solutions.” 


2. UK – FinTech 


Finextra reports: 

“The banking offshoot of UK retailer Marks & Spencer is to close all of its current accounts and shut its 29 instore branches to focus instead on reward-based credit cards and digital payment services. 

Launched in 2012, M&S Bank operates as a joint venture arrangement between HSBC and Marks & Spencer. It currently claims some three million customers.

The move away from the traditional banking market has been brought about the shifting consumer landscape and the digital progression in banking brought into sharp relief by the Covid pandemic.

The retailer says it will pull up the shutters on its bank branches in July and stop serving current accounts in August.” 


3. UK – FinTech 


Crowdfundinsider reports: 


Sugi, a UK-based green investment mobile app, has successfully secured its initial £350,000 funding target through its equity crowdfunding campaign on CrowdcubeThe campaign, which recently made its debut, has already attracted more than 170 Crowdcube investors. 

Sugi describes itself as a new way for everyday investors to engage with green investing. The platform does not sell investments. Instead, it connects to users existing investment platform, whether they have an ISA, SIPP, or trading account,  so they may do the following: 

  • Discover the environmental impact of portfolios 
  • Learn how individual investments affect the planet 
  • Compare impact with similar investments 
  • Take action to improve impact 


4. UK – FinTech 

AltFi runs an opinion piece – the recent Kalifa Fintech review misses a key gender-equality point…


“What the review presents is an opportunity to take a fresh approach to the future of finance—and in addition to its forward-facing proposals, that should mean looking closely at gender representation throughout the sector with real determination to sponsor change. 

It is no secret that women have been underrepresented in banking consistently and whilst fintech has the opportunity to transform the world of financial services, to date, many of the same mistakes are being made when it comes to diversity. Shockingly, according to research by Oliver Wyman, women make up less than 30 per cent of the workforce in fintech, and hold only 13 per cent of executive roles, far less than the banking sector, which reached (a still low) 23 per cent in 2019. 

These figures are particularly concerning in light of a recent review by the Women and Inequalities Committee, which reported that women in business are likely to be most negatively impacted by the current economic climate, suggesting these stark discrepancies will only increase further if action is not taken. With this in mind, if now is a moment to plot the future of fintech post-covid and after Brexit, fixing the under-representation of women at every level must be a major priority throughout the industry. 

Diversity within fintech is not only essential from an ethical standpoint, it also improves innovation. It is fundamental that women are at the table when critical decisions are being made about the development of new technologies that will impact them and their exclusion from these discussions risks gender inequality becoming embedded. 

A lack of representation at board level also means that there is a substantial unmet opportunity for increased revenue - companies are less able to serve the needs of female customers. A study by Credit Suisse found that firms with at least one woman on their board performed 26% better than those with exclusively men. This highlights the potential of fintech when gender inclusivity is a priority, and how this will benefit the sector as a whole.” 


5. International – FinTech 

Finextra reports: 

“The European Banking Authority (EBA) has taken all email systems offline after being hit by a cyber-attack targeting its Microsoft Exchange Servers. 

Europe's top regulator is not the only body under attack, with multiple hacking groups acorss the world exploiting vulnerabilities to backdoor unpatched servers.

Microsoft issued emergency patches on Tuesday last week, but they do nothing to disinfect systems that are already compromised.

The EBA says that access to personal data through emails held on MS Exchange servers may have been obtained by the attacker. It is currently scrambling to identify what, if any, data was accessed.”