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eBay takes Big 4 lenders to task

Date: Monday 15 Nov 2010

eBay takes Big 4 lenders to task

Online auction site eBay has joined the chorus of organisations grumbling about a lack of lending to small businesses on the part of banks.

The web site’s Online Business Index, a bi-annual report into the attitudes and performance of hundreds of online businesses operating on eBay’s UK site, indicated that the so-called Big Four banks – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) – are almost twice as likely to refuse to lend to online businesses that use eBay than Santander.

RBS (including National Westminster Bank) is the most likely of the Big Four to refuse finance, the survey showed, with 37% of respondents saying they had been refused financing by the part-nationalised lender.

Even the best of the Big Four, Barclays, had a refusal rate of 32%, as against 19% for Santander, the Spanish bank that recently rebadged former building society brands such as Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley to the parent company’s name.

The report appeared to touch a nerve with the British Bankers Association (BBA), the trade body of the clearing banks. The BBA said that eBay’s numbers did not tally with “several independent surveys” which suggest a refusal rate in the mid-teens.

The majority of respondents to eBay’s survey said they had seen little in the way of increased levels of helpfulness from the banks. Lloyds fared particularly badly on this measure, with 58% of the banks’ customers who completed the survey saying the bank had failed to become more helpful. RBS’s customers were split 50/50 on the issue while once again Santander topped the poll, with just 48% of respondents saying it had become no more helpful.

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