With lockdown restrictions starting to ease across the country, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has expanded its SME loan offer to give businesses fast access to funding as they restart their business operations.

From Friday 1 October, eligible small business customers can apply for loans of up to $5 million with interest rates from 2.60 per cent and flexible repayment terms, including the option of a repayment holiday period.

CBA Group Executive Business Banking, Mike Vacy-Lyle said: “Small businesses play a vital role in all sectors of our economy and their success is critical to our economic recovery. It’s incredibly important they have access to simple and fast funding options to help them navigate the changing environment as lockdowns ease and the country starts to reopen.

“We’ve continued to invest in our technology systems and platforms to ensure we can provide this support to small businesses across the country.

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“Our digital lending platform, BizExpress, provides a lending decision in record time and also enables a customer to have the funds in their account in near real-time.

“We’ve also recently launched a digitised working capital solution – Stream Working Capital – to help small businesses quickly access cash flow tied up in their unpaid invoices.”

Mr Vacy Lyle said the bank’s technological investments, in addition to the expanded scheme, would ensure even more businesses have access to cash flow, especially those who have been impacted by the volatility of the lockdown restrictions over the past few months.

“Many of our business customers have been speaking with the bank about their cash flow needs as they start thinking about reopening – whether that is covering staff costs, funds to start marketing and advertising their businesses, replenishing stock and inventory in the lead up to Christmas, or growing and expanding their operations,” Mr Vacy Lyle said.

“We saw enquiries for SME Recovery Loans increase by 30 per cent from July to August, and customer queries have continued to rise in September. Many of our customers are feeling confident and ready to get back to business and start opening up again.”

One such business is Penrith micro-brewery, Rusty Penny, whose owners are raring to restart after a tough few years.

This weekend, Rusty Penny will launch a limited edition brew to celebrate the NRL Grand final and the anticipated NSW reopening.

“It’s been two years like no other and a real headache to try and navigate. When the pandemic first hit we took out a SME Guarantee loan with CBA as a bit of a safety net to keep us going, surviving and moving forward,” Rusty Penny co-owner Mark Lyons said.

“Over the proceeding months we needed to change how we’d been operating. We made most of our sales through on-premise tap beer sales and we had to move to start canning our beers and arranging ‘click and collect’ options. We also arranged a food van to station outside the brewery so that we could provide take away food and drinks.

“In March this year we had another blow, with the floods impacting our operations. We must be on a very low part of Penrith, the whole road flooded and we had to close for almost 2 weeks. We were able to use the SME Recovery Loan to help out through this.

“Despite the setbacks, we’ve been growing and we’ve outgrown our current premises. With the SME Recovery Loan we’ve been able to secure a new lease at a bigger site (just 500m down the road) and expand our operations. So we’re growing from being a brewery that can accommodate 30 people, to one that can accommodate 250 people.

“We’ve had such good customer feedback that the new bigger space means we will have room for brewing, canning product for online sales, and we’re also going to be subleasing some of the new premises to Texas BBQ food van so they can have a full kitchen inside the brewery.”

“We’ve basically changed up our business model through COVID and we’re really looking forward to opening up again and welcoming back our customers.”

CBA’s SME loans are in addition to a wide range of support measures that CBA is providing to customers, including merchant fee waivers and business loan deferrals.

To provide a further cash injection in the lead up to Christmas, CBA is automatically waiving three months of merchant fees for small businesses who have been hardest hit by the latest COVID lockdowns. This equates to more than $7 million dollars back into the pockets of merchant customers.

“We have been contacting more than 50,000 customers this week to let them know we are automatically waiving their standard merchant fees for September and through to November. This translates into approximately $7 million back into their pockets leading up to Christmas,” Mr Vacy Lyle said.

For more information visit Coronavirus support for business customers - CommBank.

Applications for the Government’s SME Guarantee Scheme (Business Restarter Loan) closed on 17 June 2022.