Peer-to-peer lending platform Linked Finance said it has now issued over €150m in loans to Irish SMEs.

It said the milestone was passed as the company issued €9.6m in loans in the first quarter of 2021, up 4% on the first three months of 2020.

Linked Finance became the first non-bank lender to offer loans through the Government's Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS) at the start of the year.

It has already funded over €7m worth of loans to SME customers, which it said underlined the success of alternative lenders participating in the scheme.

The CCGS offers low cost working capital and capital expenditure loans for businesses affected by Covid-19. Linked Finance can offer borrowers decisions on loans of up to €250,000 in under 24 hours from receiving their documents.

Niall O'Grady, CEO of Linked Finance, said that reaching the milestone of €150m shows the continuing migration by SMEs to the fast and efficient approach that alternative fintech lenders like Linked Finance can offer.

"It is a reassuring sign of the drive and ambition of Irish SMEs to see them investing in their operations with the aim of rapidly recovering as the country starts to emerge from the pandemic," Mr O'Grady said.

"In recent months we have seen a notable increase in lending to businesses across the retail and wholesale sector signalling positive sentiment and that restocking is taking place in advance of reopening as Covid restrictions ease," he added.