Citi has launched a new digital lending platform designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) connect with regional, local and community banks.
Called Bridge built by Citi, SMEs in the US will be able to seek loans of up to $10 million. It will initially include 18 banks and will be available to businesses through a pilot programme across the Southeast and Rockies regions, including Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Citi aims to boost SME access to capital with the new platform, after issuing loans totalling $5 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program during 2020 and 2021.
The bank believes that demand for capital will persist and aims to enable regional, local and community banks, which currently lack the digital tools to reach potential borrowers, to expand outside of their current markets to provide supply.
Dominik Mjartan, president and chief executive officer of Optus Bank, a Citi partner, says: “Bridge built by Citi will enable us to deploy the capital we’ve raised from Citi and others back to more entrepreneurs—jumpstarting the desperately needed revitalisation after this pandemic ravaged many neighborhoods, particularly those in underbanked communities.”
A team led by Rohit Mathur and Harte Thompson developed the platform through the in-house D10X programme, an internal incubation process that helped test the hypothesis, explore the market and develop the solution.
Using the platform, borrowers submit their information via a single, standardised form for all lenders.
The platform uses technology to allow for smart and efficient prospecting, which works better for both lenders and borrowers, according to Citi. They can also track the loan process in real-time.
Vanessa Colella, Citi’s chief innovation officer, says: “Citi prides itself on encouraging a spirit of entrepreneurship among its employees to solve financial access issues and improve digital offerings for our clients and community partners. The development and launch of the Bridge built by Citi platform is a great example of the power of innovation that comes from within a global institution like Citi and our ability to build a service that has the potential to change the future of business lending.”