Finance · 25 May 2017

Challenger CivilisedBank aims to reinvent small business banking model

High street banks UK
CivilisedBank wants to rebuild the trust high street lenders broke with business customers

A new digitally-based challenger bank for small UK companies has announced it has received a banking licence from the Bank of England, and aims to begin serving business customers in early 2018.

CivilisedBank will offer small businesses savings and loans, transaction banking, overdrafts, current accounts with deposits and foreign exchange, providing funds to owners who may not be able to secure finance from traditional high street lenders.

Reinventing the traditional banking model, CivilisedBank will introduce a nationwide network of “local bankers”, who’ll work within the community and develop one-to-one relationships with its small business owning customers.

Its unique model will not see CivilisedBank open any bricks and mortar branches which, according to the challenger, typically involve high client volume per banker, and high costs associated with maintaining a presence on local high streets.

Instead, CivilisedBank has pledged that within five years it will have at least one local banker operating in every major UK town and city, underpinned and connected by the latest online technology.

Commenting on the concept, the chairman at CivilisedBank, Chris Jolly, said in a statement: “We are reinventing traditional banking for businesses by bringing back one-to-one relationship banking.

“We want to return to a civilised way of banking with personal service backed by effective technology without legacy issues. CivilisedBank represents a cultural innovation in banking and genuinely new approach in the UK market.”

In order to rebuild trust between business customers and their bank, and increase transparency in the business lending space, CivilisedBank’s network of local bankers will pre-arrange meetings and visit customers at their workplaces.

“We will be partners with our customers, supporting and helping them grow their businesses,” added CivilisedBank CEO Gordon Dow.

“Our customers will benefit from an innovative, yet secure digital platform, as well as being able to build an open and transparent relationship with a local banker.”

Challenger banks have been shaking up the world of business lending, and disrupting the way small firms approach accessing finance, since the financial crisis in 2008.

Lenders like Atom Bank, Metro Bank and Monzo are seen to offer a more diverse range of flexible products, and a more personal service.

High street banking continues to fail small business owners

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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