SME financing: special focus
The vexed battle to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) continues amid risk aversion, economic weakness, new regulations and banks’ balance-sheet repair. Here is a round-up of Euromoney's recent coverage.
OakNorth shows that SME lending need not be unduly risky and can be highly profitable, and other new banks are following its example.
Best bank for SMEs in:
Chinese premier Li Keqiang has told the country’s banks they need to increase their lending to small companies, but the details are fuzzy.
The region’s leading banks produce some of the best numbers in the global industry, and success in retail banking – and a hard-learned approach to risk management – are core; could the growth of digital banking bring a new era of change?
Banks in emerging Europe have long outperformed many of their western peers in the race for digitalization – now a handful of pioneers are taking it to the next level and using technology to transform the banking landscape across the region.
CEO says bank liquidity and lavish social spending hamper capital markets development.
Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank, says his institution’s announced merger with Diamond Bank will not only make it Africa’s largest bank by customers but also give it the potential to double its client base within just two or three years.
Their numbers have soared from 100 in 2014 to more than 700 today – some firms will consolidate or be taken over, but most of them will fail; Asiamoney meets three startups that seem likely to stay the course.
Mettle starts digital-bank spawn from leading UK lenders; new IT system to enable more user-friendly design.
Egypt’s private-sector banks have traditionally been wary of lending to SMEs, but now a combination of new technology and central bank pressure is driving some of the country’s most sophisticated lenders to take a fresh look at the segment.
Singapore: SMEs are at the heart of the digital challenge September 2018
Singapore has become a hothouse for the fintech and banking debate, but can its banks meet the challenge?
Mexican banks struggle to plug SME funding gap September 2018
Banks have found it hard to lend to Mexico’s large SME segment, but persistence is beginning to pay off for those with the requisite focus – and skills.
Rather than super-CEOs and messianic technology, European banks might find salvation simply in small-business lending by empowered staff. As some of the best-performing banks recognize, keeping to the basics offers good long-term returns.
Beijing has spent years sitting back and encouraging its powerful fintech firms to create and innovate. But it is starting to crack down on parts of an industry that it feels may have grown too far too fast, starting with peer-to-peer lenders.
The state’s policy banks have a low profile, both at home and abroad, but a loan scandal has forced Taipei to shake up leadership and make the banks more international. The chair of Taiwan Business Bank discusses the industry’s future.
Bracher admits “severe pressure” to reduce spreads; credit portfolios tilting to SME and consumer segments.
April 05, 2018
New technology and a handful of savvy operators have transformed banking for SMEs in Russia since the start of the decade. Now some of the sector’s biggest names are squaring up for the next challenge: affordable and accessible credit.
Lending surveys suggest small businesses are reluctant to borrow even though banks approve most of their credit applications: but the reality is very different.
Most new challengers are attacking retail, but a few ingenious startups are moving into the more fragmented and poorly served small business market. It is here that concepts of open banking and banking as a platform may first become real.
Have banks finally learned not to hold their customers in contempt?
Efforts to improve the speed of payments being made to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has not seen success, so technology might be used to fill the gap.
The impediments to providing more trade finance to emerging-market clients are well known, but that does not make them any easier to overcome. Could the ultimate solution be in turning trade finance into an attractive asset class for institutional investors?
Arnold Ekpe, a mainstay of African banking for the past three decades, has been appointed chair of financial inclusion firm Microcred’s supervisory board.
The UK Treasury’s plan to boost SME banking competition by paying RBS customers to go elsewhere doesn’t make sense if they are simply pushed into the arms of another huge, global player.
The pioneering fintech lender has grown fast by offering much needed working capital in hours – rather than weeks – to small business customers poorly served by the banks. But now the banks want their share of iwoca.
Two years into its small and medium-sized enterprise initiative, the bank is working hard at its focused sector offering. It is paying off.
Alibaba, Alipay, Ant Financial – by now everyone in banking knows the triumvirate of brands that have transformed financial services in China, and the domestic story is only the start. Going global will be Ant Financial’s biggest-ever test, with tougher markets, tighter regulation and a whole new world of risk management. But it is nothing if not ambitious.
Taking payments off retail investors’ debit cards for new share placings has quickly changed the way AIM-listed companies place new equity and could have implications for bigger deals.
Beehive and Eureeca are using online crowdfunding to raise debt and equity for small businesses in the Middle East. Becoming regulated will allow them to grow rapidly. In time, they could eat the banks’ lunch, or the banks just might swallow them.
The UK has been one of the world’s key testing grounds for new financial technology thanks to London’s status as global financial centre and the UK authorities’ support for new competition to the incumbent banks they had to rescue in the crisis, but the big four banks’ central role as clearing banks has kept truly disruptive innovation away from the profitable core of retail banking, until now.
Telecoms tycoon backs new SME online lender; chairman Péretié sees sector-beating ROE.
Lending to small firms in Europe has traditionally been the preserve of the banks; they have the networks and relationships to originate deals for these types of clients, but non-banks now have this business firmly in their sights. And as more banks and funds start to cooperate in this space, the latter can expect to appear more frequently in transactions for Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises.
A management shake-up and a renewed focus on financing small and medium-sized enterprises have boosted Brac Bank’s performance. But CEO Selim Hussain says he is nowhere near finished when it comes to unleashing the bank’s potential.
The European leveraged loan market is in overdrive, offering unprecedented terms to borrowers and pushing leverage to uncomfortable levels. Cash-rich non-banks are breaking out of the mid market and into syndication. But stoking competition for assets exposes their Achilles’ heel: the yields they have promised their own investors.
Some of Europe’s biggest banks have joined behind KBC’s blockchain prototype to help SMEs increase trade across the continent.
The latest bank offering is to look into how blockchain can be used to benefit small and medium-sized enterprise trade.
Ironically, as Popular’s core franchise is small and medium-sized enterprises, it is at the forefront of the very segment much healthier banks are falling over themselves to expand into because of the record low margins in mortgages and corporate lending. Popular is particularly strong among the smaller SMEs, which in Spain make up the bulk of SME banking.
While non-bank providers such as hedge funds and technology companies have taken significant market share in retail FX, they have not got a foothold in corporate FX business.
Banks are very concerned about how emerging fintech firms will take a slice of their business, according to Misys’ white paper 'Digitization in corporate banking – new rails for revenue growth'. SME lending was considered under threat by 68% of banks, with 61% believing supply chain finance was being pressured by the new entrants.
An extraordinary revolution is taking place in digital banking in India. Driven by the state, it is anchored on a billion-strong biometric database to finally bring financial inclusion to a country that needs it more than any other. Banks may face a binary outcome: be quick or be dead.
"In most of the EBRD region, banking is still a bricks-and-mortar business," says Nick Tesseyman, the EBRD’s head of financial institutions. "You can’t reach SMEs unless you have a branch network."
Technology is finally bringing banking services to the unbanked in both developing and developed markets. While technology companies are driving this transformational shift, it looks increasingly likely that traditional banks will ultimately be service providers. They have everything to gain if they can form partnerships and create a long-term strategy.
When microfinance banks in Africa speak of the rise of new technology, they usually focus on its potential and, perhaps disingenuously, play down the risks. They say the spread of mobile phones and internet access enables small loans to reach Africa’s rural poor more efficiently than ever before. But while international microfinancier Finca is aware of these opportunities, it knows from painful experience in Uganda that new technology opens up new vulnerabilities too.
Banks are beginning to work more closely with peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders, which at first looked like a threat, to find mutually beneficial ways to serve small corporate borrowers.
In 2010, The World Bank estimated there were around 125 million small and medium-sized enterprises in the world. By 2013 some 25 million of these were active on Facebook. Today Facebook reports 50 million SME users. In the US, the share of exports by large multinational corporations dropped from 84% in 1977 to 50% in 2013. Among SMEs that export, the smallest – those with fewer than 50 employees – are gaining share the fastest, McKinsey finds.
Small corporates and not-for-profit organizations are increasingly looking at peer-to-peer FX as a way to lower costs. Euromoney speaks to four customers who have taken their business away from banks.
The sharp divergence in availability of financing for SMEs is increasing, according to new data from Misys. With growing inequality, technology is being leveraged to try to bridge the gap.
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Deutsche Bank mandated for Reg-S sterling deal.
"While SMEs have historically had to rely on the big banks for any sort of financial service, genuine innovation and technological development from the fintech sector has given rise to a wide range of truly compelling alternatives."
While credit conditions appear to be easing for medium-size borrowers, small companies face big hurdles in securing finance. Finpoint aims to help them over.
Tesco recently made headlines after being found to have deliberately delayed payments to its suppliers. In a statement released in response to the findings, Tesco said the company had undertaken a review of its practices and made changes, including creating a dedicated supplier helpline to address issues within 48 hours, and introducing 14-day payment terms for UK-based SMEs.
Bourse is working with governments and regulators and is creating an exchange specifically for small to medium-sized enterprises.
Italy’s third biggest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) sold the majority of a €1.6 billion securitized SME lease portfolio in January, just as concern over Italian SME lending was at the sharp end of a renewed bout of volatility in Europe.
Challenger banks and supply chain finance providers are creating innovative methods to get more funding into the SME market.
SME banking has been a top priority for Turkish lenders since the country’s regulator called time on the consumer boom in late 2013. Can the segment keep its cool in the face of rising local economic and political pressures?
Iwoca a game changer, say banks; it will lend at scale to small companies.
Commercial cards are moving beyond mere expenses to become another source of funding in the supply chain, especially for the middle market.
Naveed Sultan, global head of treasury and trade solutions (TTS) at Citi, explains the importance of developing SME and MME financing options, as the clout of transaction services to Citi's business strategy grows.
Micro SMEs still cut off from bank finance; new way to lend against cash flow.
Private placements have usurped securitization as Europe’s great SME financing hope. The financial markets support EU commissioner Jonathan Hill’s Capital Markets Union initiative to promote it. But the thriving US market will be hard to compete with, let alone replicate. Which leaves two questions: Can the EU build it? And, even if it can, will issuers and investors come?
Innovation is held back by the gap between the old financial system, investing and lending primarily against hard assets, and the new knowledge economy that depends on intangible assets. A new type of bank could benefit SMEs seeking to develop innovative products. It could also give investors the chance to redeploy speculative capital more productively. But who is the driving force behind Snowflake?
Not everyone was blown away by the targeted LTRO and ABS measures announced by Mario Draghi to stimulate lending to Europe’s real economy.
Although the SME sector is frequently cited as a potential growth driver by bankers in emerging Europe, providing funding to smaller firms can be problematic for traditional lenders, particularly in the aftermath of recession and at a time when western European parent banks are under pressure to repair balance sheets.
Taxpayers to take portion of unexpected losses; guarantees only for new loans to smaller SMEs.
European companies, and particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), could yet suffer a cash-flow squeeze from direct debits under the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa) regulation, despite the European Commission handing companies an extra six months to comply.
A subsidiary of French banking group Société Générale has launched a new supply chain finance platform designed to enable large companies to provide much-needed financing support to their small and medium-sized suppliers.
Supply chain finance (SCF) is typically the preserve of large companies with hundreds of suppliers, but signs are emerging this type of short-term financing is beginning to be embraced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) too.
Small and medium-sized enterprises are meant to be the machine that drives Europe’s growth-free markets to recovery. But each country’s environment for SME funding remains even more disparate than their economies.
Monoline wrap for pool of SME risk; firms pay up for five-year tenor.
ECB battles Basel rules in war for SME finance
Euromoney investigates whether the need to stimulate European SME financing will finally soften the regulatory treatment of ABS, which has now been deemed by the European Commission the vehicle through which the growth of bank lending can best be achieved.
Bank payment obligations (BPO) – touted as an innovative new payment instrument to transform global trade – are more likely to benefit multinational corporations, and more consultation with corporates is needed, say analysts, after the July unveiling of technical rules for the product.
While interest rates remain relatively low, business is booming and so is consumer power. Banks hoping to take advantage of this are shifting their energy to the consumer market.
In an exclusive interview, Benoît Coeuré, member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, discusses the challenges that Europe faces in stimulating financing to small and medium-sized enterprises, including the creation of a truly pan-European and cross-border capital market in the region and how securitization can be used to re-establish funding to these firms.
Some six million businesses were created in the US in 2012. The country is experiencing a start-up boom. What impact is the wave of entrepreneurs having, and how are the angel investor and venture capital industry adapting?
The ECB’s recent decision to reduce haircuts on funding collateral comprising asset-backed securities should be a boon for the moribund European securitization industry, but its real target is the continent’s small and medium-sized company sector, which has struggled to secure bank support since the financial crisis.
In July, the SEC voted four-to-one to implement Title II of the Jobs Act, lifting the ban on general solicitation of private offerings. That means issuers of non-public equity – namely small businesses – can now approach accredited investors directly and more easily raise capital in private markets.
Mobile point-of-sale technology – which facilitates contactless low-value payments – is gradually taking off in the retail space, thanks to new cost-effective platforms. Transaction bankers need to provide innovative software and sales solutions, targeted to the SME sector, in particular, analysts say.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch stands out because it provides a level of service to SMEs on an international scale comparable to that traditionally available only to large companies.
Agency to apply corporate rating experience to smaller firms to stimulate greater investor participation.
In an exclusive interview with Euromoney, Benoît Cœuré, member of the executive board of the European Central Bank, discusses the challenges that the region faces in stimulating financing to small and medium-sized enterprises and says non-bank investors are a useful spare tyre.
The transaction banking demands of small and medium-sized enterprises are diverse and rapidly evolving amid technological innovation and globalization. The line is blurring between SMEs and larger corporates.
The rapid growth of intra-regional trade in Asia is encouraging local banks to enter into an alliance to facilitate the cross-border activities of under-banked Asian medium-sized companies, writes Enrico Camerinelli of Aite Group, a financial services research firm. Disintermediation takes root in Turkey
The country’s rapidly growing SMEs urgently need funding avenues other than those provided by the country’s banks. Some new options are beginning to emerge to solve that conundrum.SME credit crunch: New spirit of cooperation promises accelerated supply chain financing growth
Swift and the International Chamber of Commerce's Banking Commission in recent weeks published new legal and technology standards for bank payment obligations, a payment term that allows buyers and suppliers to secure and finance international trade transactions. Will this turbo-charge supply chain financing adoption?Supply chain finance still viewed with caution among SMEs
Supply chain finance has been identified as a powerful tool for financing SMEs but some have expressed concern it can be used as a stick with which powerful corporations can beat their vulnerable suppliers and, in other instances, an inappropriate financing tool for the corporate in question.
European and Basel forbearance on trade finance regulations will reduce, at the margin, borrowing costs for the larger corporates but for SMEs the challenge of accessing capital will remain undiminished until the banking sector is re-capitalized. Meanwhile, creative financing solutions are afoot.
The SMEs that dominate the German economy continue to rely heavily on local relationship banks for finance. But the special circumstances of some companies and the eagerness of non-bank lenders to get into the market mean that funding through such instruments as Mittelstand-focused bonds, Schuldscheine and subordinated debt is becoming more prominent.
"If there is one lesson we have learned from recent years it is that you should not depend on the banks"
It is not only bankers and asset managers figuring out new ways to finance the Mittelstand; so are the companies themselves.
Commerzbank issued a five-year €500 million covered bond backed by SME loans at the end of February – a landmark deal for the market given the atypical structure.
Alternative lenders embrace SMEs as banks retreat
Regulators hope they can transform the retail bond market into a regular source of funding for mid-caps - and the smaller firms.
There are signs that private equity firms are looking closely at the smaller end of the market.
“Debt finance for SMEs has never been easy... From 2004 to 2007, there was a hiatus in this trend thanks to easy credit, but the market has now reverted to how it was before – but to an extreme”
While the international markets are one source of funding for Europe’s corporate sector, and corporate bond issuance is at record levels, for the army of small and medium-sized companies, international markets are simply not an option at this time.
Small-, medium- and large-cap Nordic companies seek to diversify funding and lock in competitive pricing levels and deep local market liquidity.
SME lending remains elusive.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are more willing to settle payments with Chinese suppliers in RMB, says money-transfer services provider Western Union Business Solutions.
French insurer has big plans for a novel way of providing corporate finance.
July 2013Mobile point-of-sale technology – which facilitates contactless low-value payments – is gradually taking off in the retail space, thanks to new cost-effective platforms. Transaction bankers need to provide innovative software and sales solutions, targeted to the SME sector, in particular, analysts say. June 2013Agency to apply corporate rating experience to smaller firms to stimulate greater investor participation.The rapid growth of intra-regional trade in Asia is encouraging local banks to enter into an alliance to facilitate the cross-border activities of under-banked Asian medium-sized companies, writes Enrico Camerinelli of Aite Group, a financial services research firm. June 2013The country’s rapidly growing SMEs urgently need funding avenues other than those provided by the country’s banks. Some new options are beginning to emerge to solve that conundrum.May 2013Swift and the International Chamber of Commerce's Banking Commission in recent weeks published new legal and technology standards for bank payment obligations, a payment term that allows buyers and suppliers to secure and finance international trade transactions. Will this turbo-charge supply chain financing adoption?May 2013Supply chain finance has been identified as a powerful tool for financing SMEs but some have expressed concern it can be used as a stick with which powerful corporations can beat their vulnerable suppliers and, in other instances, an inappropriate financing tool for the corporate in question. May 2013European and Basel forbearance on trade finance regulations will reduce, at the margin, borrowing costs for the larger corporates but for SMEs the challenge of accessing capital will remain undiminished until the banking sector is re-capitalized. Meanwhile, creative financing solutions are afoot. It is not only bankers and asset managers figuring out new ways to finance the Mittelstand; so are the companies themselves.