Peer-to-peer lending platform Linked Finance has been approved as a lender for the Government's Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS). 

The approval means that SMEs looking for fast and simple discounted loans can now access this scheme through the Linked Finance platform. 

The CCGS is designed to offer low cost working capital and capital expenditure loans for businesses affected by Covid-19. 

The scheme was launched in July by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and operated through the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI). 

The scheme has now been extended to include a wider range of lenders who service the SME market.

It said it will be able to offer borrowers decisions on loans of up to €250,000 in under 24 hours from receiving their documents. 

The loans will have terms of six months to five years and interest rates will start at 4.75%. The interest rate charged by Linked Finance will depend on the loan term and credit grading of the borrower.

Since its establishment in 2013 Linked Finance has grown rapidly to deliver over €140m in loans to Irish businesses.

Niall Dorrian, chief executive of Linked Finance, said the company's approval as a Covid-19 credit guarantee scheme lender recognises the innovation and high levels of technical underwriting skill that the company provides to Irish businesses. 

"It is also an important milestone in the diversification of how businesses access finance in this country, a trend that's been happening in many European markets in response to this pandemic," he said.

"We've been proactively supporting both new and existing customers to manage the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses, and we encourage companies to avail of our fast and simple lending service. We want to help Irish SMEs with clear long-term viability to keep moving forward and get the cashflow support they need," he added.