The technology giant is building a dedicated data warehouse enabling NatWest backed Esme to simplify its services and have a chat bot to hand to help with applications. The lender, which has approved over £59 million of support since launching two years ago and has a board with 80 women and 20 men, says these take about 10 minutes and have no hidden costs. Customers should start seeing the improvements from next month. Annual rates for the one to five year loans range from 3.84 per cent to 26.4 per cent.

Esme chief executive Richard Kerton said: “This partnership can help us support increased numbers of SME customers with a simpler end-to-end lending process, and also provide us with a greater understanding of our customers’ needs.

“We’re confident that this new partnership will help us accelerate our growth throughout this year and beyond.”

Wayne Bartlett, head of Microsoft’s UK Banking added: “By automating processes and applying artificial intelligence it will mean that more businesses get access to credit quicker, which in turn helps the overall economy.”



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