How Tech Can Enable Banks to Support SMEs During the Pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 has put many businesses on pause with a challenging and uncertain economic outlook. SMEs in particular have been hit hard from the pandemic’s consequences, making them more dependent than ever on external financing.

Governments and financial institutions have worked in tandem to respond with a set of revised financial services that offer adjusted approval criteria, lower interest rates and longer repayment schedules. While these plans are an essential step to stabilising local economies, there is another crucial element to handling the situation: speed.

Timing is of the essence and implementing a quick solution is a challenge addressed on two fronts. Firstly, banks need to have an infrastructure that accommodates a swift product launch, which is something many institutions lack. As for the customer’s perspective, they need financing yesterday — a fast credit decision was a rising demand prior to COVID-19, but now its impact holds a whole new meaning.

What measures can banks take today to respond? The answer lies in having the tools that give room for agility.

Take one of our clients as an example. In 2018, BAWAG P.S.K fully digitised its SME lending service through our technology. Backed by AWS, Austria’s federal development bank, BAWAG P.S.K was able to support business customers in the new situation through enhanced loan volumes and terms, as well as a highly-automated interface for assessing and processing applications in coordination with federal agencies.

Our team was able to make the necessary adjustments in a matter of days. For example, the new process required additional documents, so we added a simple function for customers to upload digital copies and supported BAWAG P.S.K.’s analysts with additional solutions. This was possible above all because the bank had already partnered with us to build a joint solution that allowed fast and flexible changes.

This is the role that fintechs can play in the current economic climate: support through agility and innovation.

Our technology’s impact does not end at process automation or cost reductions. Rather, by partnering with banks in these trying times, we have the opportunity to help them design better, faster, more empathetic services that can have profound influence not only on companies’ financials, but also on real people’s livelihoods.