Scots challenger bank backed by industrialist Jim McColl launches £5m funding round

Alba Bank, the recently formed Scottish challenger bank backed by industrialist Jim McColl, has launched a £5 million funding round as it gears up to become operational this year.

The 'digital-first' bank will support small and medium-sized enterprises in Scotland and the UK regions, while pledging to 'bring back the craft of relationship banking'.

The “digital-first” bank will support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Scotland and the UK regions, while pledging to “bring back the craft of relationship banking”.

It aims to fill a gap in the market to support UK-based SMEs “develop their aspirations to grow and realise their potential”.

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In collaboration with Seismic Venture Partners, Alba has announced a new £5m funding round, allowing private and regional investors to play a part in the venture.

Already backed by a number of Scottish entrepreneurs and business leaders, including McColl of Clyde Blowers fame, Glasgow-based Alba believes that the current funding round represents an “exciting opportunity for investors”.

McColl said: “The unique Alba banking model referred to as ‘high touch, high tech’, provides a new form of relationship business banking, combining fintech, that makes life much easier for SMEs, with human relationships. A focus on understanding business needs and applying human judgement to modern day analytical tools.

We view Judo Bank in Australia as a very similar model and although they are three years ahead of Alba, they are already ‘directly challenging the big four banks in Australia’ according to their current CEO, Joseph Healey. Alba will certainly aim to emulate Judo’s success.”

Alba’s chief executive, Rod Ashley, said: “The association with Seismic Venture Partners allows us to open up this unique investment opportunity to a wider range of investors.

“We are really excited by the opportunity to broaden our investor base to local people in the local areas we are looking to develop and grow into.

“Our existing investors have been fantastic in their support to date and it is an important part of our journey to open up this investment to a broader range of investors across Scotland and the UK regions.”

There are some 334,000 SMEs in Scotland. The annual British Business Bank SME business finance survey found that 67 per cent of SMEs do not receive adequate support from their bank and 76 per cent have received no contact with a relationship manager.

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