ING Bridges Dutch SMBs To Funding Options

Dutch bank ING is linking its small business (SMB) customers to alternative lending marketplace Funding Options, the firms said on Monday (Feb. 4).

The partnership means Funding Options has launched services in the Netherlands, expanding beyond the U.K. for the first time, said reports in Crowdfund Insider. Approximately 1.8 million SMBs in the Netherlands will gain access to Funding Options via ING Bank.

“We’re very excited to launch in the Netherlands through this partnership with ING,” said Funding Options Managing Director Ryan Edwards-Pritchard in a statement. “This is a great example of the banks and [FinTech firms] working together for the benefit of customers. We look forward to supporting Dutch small businesses to access alternative funding and achieve their goals just as we have already supported thousands of U.K. ones.”

The partnership follows a $6.5 million investment from ING Bank’s investment arm ING Ventures in the marketplace lending company, and comes after the U.K. Treasury chose Funding Options to implement the bank referral scheme, which allows traditional lenders to refer small businesses to alternative finance options if they have been rejected for a bank loan.

Data released last September revealed that the U.K.’s bank referral scheme has yielded less than $20 million in small business funding since the initiative launched in November 2016, with more than 900 small firms securing financing.

While Funding Options has positioned itself as a bank collaborator, in 2016, the company criticized large financial institutions for pulling away from small business lending. The firm’s CEO and Founder Conrad Ford wrote a letter for Asset Finance International, calling attention to small businesses’ reduced access to overdraft loans.

“Funding Options estimates that, without access to overdrafts, [SMBs] have less capital with which to expand current operations, invest in new assets or trade through tough times,” he said at the time.