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Santander Adds Trade Finance To SMB Mobile App Asto

Asto, the U.K.-based mobile app that provides small businesses (SMBs) and entrepreneurs with bookkeeping solutions, is adding trade finance to its list of offerings. Owned by Spanish banking conglomerate Santander, Asto will integrate invoice financing into its platform, reports said on Friday (May 3). Reports noted that this may signal Santander’s entrance into “micro-financing” in the small business segment.

The addition of trade and invoice financing to the app follows Santander’s acquisition of invoice and expense management app Albert, which also targeted micro-businesses. The company’s technology was integrated into the Asto platform, and the invoice financing feature facilitates funding via Santander, according to reports.

“A lot of people are struggling with trying to understand and get access to finances that might help them in growing their business, or overcoming certain periods of their business where extra cash would be really handy,” said Albert Co-founder Ivo Weevers, who became Asto’s chief product and design officer, in an interview with the publication.

“What we’re doing now is providing a comprehensive solution where we help people with their daily tasks around bookkeeping, and understanding where they are financially, but also connecting dots seamlessly with a financial solution,” continued Weevers. “This is what this new micro-financing solution is all about.”

Invoices can be issued directly from within the Asto app. Business owners who wish to seek financing on unpaid invoices can hit a “finance” button that provides information on how much capital they could obtain, how much they would need to repay and repayment deadlines based on invoice payment terms.

“One of the [innovative] steps we are trying to do here is we are making this option available for the smaller end of the [SMB] market, which is, by far, the biggest and, by far, the most unserved,” Weevers said. “By doing it on mobile, which is their favorite device, and also doing it in a matter of minutes, rather than having to wait for weeks.”

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