A new challenger bank based in Manchester is looking to revolutionise the SME lending market after smashing its crowdfunding target of £2.3 million to take total investment to more than £6m.

FinTech specialist Growth Capital Ventures has teamed up with a range of major players in the industry to drive forward the growth of B-North, a start-up established to build the bank.

B-North founder and director Craig Iley, former Santander divisional managing director Jonathan Thompson and David Broadbent, the former chief commercial officer at International Personal Finance PLC, are among the key figures.

Once operational, the bank will deliver loans of between £500,000 and £5m to ambitious companies looking to scale up their business, providing finance up to ten times faster than large mainstream banks.

B-North secured £4m through an initial seed round in December 2018. The new funding will be used to strengthen the existing management team and continue building the infrastructure ready for launching the bank later in the year.

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As of July 2018, the SME lending market was reportedly worth over £154 billion yet this figure includes £48 billion of unmet demand as estimated by the British Business Bank.

B-North aims to disrupt a huge UK SME loans market by delivering fast, efficient funding to highly profitable and scalable SMEs that have been the backbone of the UK economy for a very long time.

Iley, an entrepreneur from Middlesbrough with extensive experience of the finance sector, said: “SMEs represent the beating heart of the UK economy but need far more financial support than they’re currently getting.

“With centralised decision-making, legacy systems and bureaucratic processes, it can take several months for a large high street bank to complete a loan facility – which is no good for an ambitious SME that needs the cash to invest quickly.

“That’s why we’re so committed to creating a challenger bank that can disrupt the current status quo created by incumbent mainstream banks and other lenders.”

The leadership team have worked closely with GCV to raise capital as well as working with internationally renowned partners – including tech banking specialists Mambu, nCino and ClearBank – to develop a business banking solution capable of processing loans at speed.

Human interaction is also at the core of B-North’s unique business model, with plans to roll out a network of regional pods consisting of highly qualified, experienced staff who can sanction a deal within 24 hours and ensure lending solutions can be delivered ten times faster than those delivered by large incumbent banks.

There is still an opportunity up until the 15th January 2020 to invest in the current round via GCV’s online platform, growthfunders.com.

Peterson, co-founder and chief operating officer of GCV, said: “The B-North business model is unique; the combination of people and technology allows B-North to deliver face-to-face banking quicker and better than the competition. For investors this is an opportunity to invest in an exciting start-up with high growth potential at the start of their journey.

“With such a huge target market to go at and demand for flexible and fast finance high among Britain’s army of SMEs, this is one of the most talked about investment opportunities we’ve ever hosted on growthfunders.com.

“Opportunities like this are very rare and this could be the last chance for private investors to participate before B-North becomes a fully-fledged bank.”