Building society Nationwide has received a £50 million grant to help it develop its business banking plans.
The money was awarded by the Banking Competition Remedies Board as part of the latest round of handouts from the RBS bailout fund.
The Swindon-based building society is the only major high street provider currently not to offer a business current account and aims to shake up the market as it focusses squarely on supporting the UK’s 5.6 million small enterprises.
It hopes to attract an estimated 340,000 customers in the next five years, including 125,000 business current accounts switching to Nationwide.
Up to a million of the society’s members are understood to own businesses, and it receives 50,000-plus enquiries each year looking for help with business banking needs.
Nationwide says it will provide specialist training for its 7,000 branch-based colleagues, as well as recruiting for 400 new job roles based throughout the UK, including Swindon.
The Capability and Innovation Fund grant, it says, will be used to enhance the Society’s plans to deliver a fully-fledged business banking proposition including unsecured loans, credit cards and savings - providing the best of branch and digital service and access to dedicated UK-only call centres.
It will also be used to develop a suite of associated products and services aimed at making the lives of business owners easier, from support with accountancy and cashflow to assistance with foreign payments.
Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide Building Society, said: “This is good news for small businesses. The fund gives unprecedented opportunity to accelerate plans and inject competition into this market.
"As a building society, we are in a unique position as the only mutual with the scale, trust and track record to offer a compelling alternative to the banks. While the money is a massive boost for our plan, we also aim to match every pound of the £50 million award with our own funding over a five-year plan.
"As a mutual organisation driven by our social purpose, it is important that business owners are given more choice to find an account which suits their needs and we look forward to delivering this proposition.”