Peer-to-peer lending platform Linked Finance has launched a new "Deferred Start Loan" for businesses affected by the coronavirus. 

The 15-month loan allows businesses to borrow up to €100,000, with repayments due in 12 monthly instalments after the first three months, during which no interest or capital repayment will be paid. 

Linked Finance said the new loan is aimed at businesses who need working capital at a time of reduced cashflow.

It may also be an option for SMEs moving fast to adapt to the new normal - investing in their online services, buying a van for deliveries, or paying for equipment to get their staff up and running working at home.

The loan was launched yesterday and Linked Finance said it has attracted strong levels of interest from businesses attracted by the quick and easy lending process. 

The first loan was offered on Monday to a business services firm and was funded in one second with the support of its large base of investors who are keen to back Irish SMEs at this time. 

Applying for the new loan is the same process for Linked Finance's usual loans. Businesses fill in an online form and provide some simple financial documents - two years of full accounts, six months bank statements and a tax clearance cert. 

There are no assets secured against the loan so also no legal hurdles or fees involved, and early repayment can be made without penalty.

Last week Linked Finance unveiled a range of other financial supports it is offering to existing borrowers and new SME customers during the coronavirus outbreak. 

"This is an extremely difficult time for many Irish SMEs, but we want to send a message that there are sources of financial support available that can be accessed quickly and easily," Niall Dorrian, chief executive of Linked Finance said. 

"The new Deferred Start Loan we have launched allows companies access to much needed capital, whilst being able to delay repayment of interest and principal for the first three months," he said. 

"This is part of a package of measures Linked Finance has introduced to support businesses in every country of Ireland who are facing unprecedented challenges due to coronavirus.

"We hope the Government will consider our sector as a key channel that can be used to quickly deploy support to help SMEs that are the lifeblood of employment throughout the country," Mr Dorrian said.

Since its launch in 2013 Linked Finance has provided loans totalling over €130m, for over 2,500 local businesses in every county of the country.