North Based UK challenger aims to shake up the SME lending market


UK-based start-up, Project BankNorth is settings its sights firmly on the country’s bustling SME sector.

With 5.7 million SMEs* in the UK, the Project BankNorth team sees significant opportunity to disrupt the SME lending market and better support the ambitions of UK entrepreneurs and business owners.  

The process of launching and scaling a challenger bank is understandably complex, but one with which the founding team is well versed, with experience from other UK challengers, including Metro Bank and Atom Bank around its leadership table. 

BankNorth’s regulatory journey is already underway, and the company is in the course of a seed capital raise to drive forward the process of regulatory approval.

It has assembled an impressive founding team with chairman Craig Iley and CEO Jonathan Thompson at the helm.  Jonathan’s 26 years’ experience in the industry includes roles at Santander and Deloitte, whilst Craig will take on the role of Chairman and brings more than 33 years’ banking experience, most recently as a founder of Atom Bank.

Jonathan Thompson, CEO said: 

“It’s no secret that SME owners have been short on love from many of the established players in the SME finance market.  There is a clear opportunity to set new standards for delivery and simultaneously transform the expectations of entrepreneurs and business owners alike.”  

BankNorth’s team is well qualified to do this, with extensive first-hand experience of the structural and cultural weaknesses in the UK SME banking marketplace.

Craig Iley, Chairman, added: 

“SMEs are the backbone of UK economy, they need banking partners who understand their needs whilst efficiently and proactively supporting them and helping them to grow. That’s why we’re launching Project BankNorth – a customer first, flexible and fast-paced lender.

“The initial response to our funding drive has been above expectation with both institutional and individual investors supporting the team and our unique approach.”

BankNorth’s innovative model will transform the way SME lending is delivered, by focusing the whole business around frictionless delivery of tailored debt solutions for UK businesses.  The business will bring every aspect of the borrower journey under one roof in key UK locations, combining great people with technology to deliver a slick, stress-free borrowing experience.

The Project BankNorth team has been working with Growth Capital Ventures for its current seed raise.