Linked Finance sees SME loans explode as Covid restrictions relax

An easing of Covid restrictions appears to have boosted borrowing among Irish small businesses, with peer-to-peer lending platform Linked Finance recording the largest monthly lending volume in its seven-year history last month .

Inked Finance lent 5.5 million euros to SMEs in July, nearly three times the amount borrowed by companies through the platform in July of last year.

The platform is now on track for a record year, having loaned € 21.6 million so far this year.

This compares to the 19 million euros that were loaned in 2019 – the year before the pandemic hit.

The company said it saw strong loan growth last month across all sectors and particularly in wholesale and retail trade, construction and manufacturing.

Linked Finance lent money to over 40 SMEs last month, with an average loan amount of € 136,000.

The company is also an approved lender under the government’s Covid-19 credit guarantee program.

Since obtaining this approval in January, Linked Finance has received two additional funding allocations under the program, bringing its total to € 15 million. Linked Finance offers loans of up to € 250,000 under the credit guarantee scheme, for terms of six months to five years at interest rates from 4.75 pc.

It also offers a new “Recharge PME” loan, which offers pubs, restaurants, accommodation providers and cafes loans of up to € 50,000 to help them reopen, restock and rehire staff.

“The SME market is now clearly beginning the takeover process, although different categories are at very different stages of their takeover,” said Niall O’Grady, Managing Director of Linked Finance.

Since its creation in 2013, Linked Finance has facilitated loans of more than 162 million euros to more than 2,800 local businesses across the country.

Companies from various industries seek funding through the platform and target domestic and international expansion with the funding.

Mr. O’Grady joined Linked Finance as CEO in January. Until recently, he was Managing Director of Insurance Company 123.ie and Director of Distribution at RSA. 123.ie is owned by RSA. Previously, he was Commercial Director at Permanent TSB.

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