GBA Discusses Innovations in Small Business Financing at DFI/IFI Working Group Meeting

Monday 30th May 2016

SME Finance Forum Conference Rome
Alliance Chief Executive Inez Murray attended the SME Finance Forum/International Fund for Agriculture Development Annual DFI/IFI Working Group Meeting in Rome May 19-20, where she spoke about digital innovations that are helping small women-owned businesses to access financing.

The annual SME Finance Forum meeting convenes the main International Finance Institutions (IFIs) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) working on developing the SME sector in emerging markets to share knowledge and experience. This year’s event focused on:

  • Global value chain finance
  • Challenges and solutions to address the small business financing gap
  • Remittance-based financial inclusion
  • Bundling financial and non-financial services for innovative financing
  • Gender and age inclusive SME finance and the impact of technology

During her presentation, Inez showcased the many ways GBA banks are leveraging digital solutions in mobile and online banking – from reaching the unbanked using agents in the marketplace to offering the characteristic GBA value proposition of information, education and networking services online.

Recent innovation within the Alliance network includes Westpac’s Connect Now video conferencing service, where business owners can access a dedicated team of banking specialists using high-speed video conferencing technology. Customers book their sessions online and can access the conferencing system either at branches or on their laptops.

Banks are also using digital solutions to make it easier and faster to apply for a loan without any paperwork. For example, RBS is offering an online consumer loan, which will soon be available for businesses, and Westpac has its Live Online Loan Application (LOLA), an online unsecured lending product for small businesses, for which Westpac has earmarked A$30 billion in pre-approved lending. The knotty topic of leveraging the digital revolution to help underwrite very small loans to businesses less than three years old remains a challenge for many banks. A couple of FinTech firms were on hand to share how they are making headway, including by helping small businesses establish a financial footprint through non-traditional sources like phone and utility bill payments.