Banco BNI Europa will provide €50m over two years as an institutional investor in an online platform that funds Irish SMEs.

The platform, called Linked Finance, secured backing from Banco BNI Europa as part of the bank’s investment partnership strategy with lending platforms across Europe, including in Germany, Belgium and Finland.

As part of a wider strategy to identify the best marketplace lending platforms in key European markets, Banco BNI Europa said it would deploy its capital alongside Linked Finance’s existing lenders.

Linked Finance has more than 19,000 members who supply capital for lending to SMEs.

Niall Dorrian, chief executive officer of Linked Finance, said: “Banco BNI Europa decision to deploy capital on the Linked Finance platform is great news for Irish SMEs. It is yet more evidence of how the world is changing and through technology Linked Finance is making it easier for SME’s to borrow money. This arrangement with Banco BNI Europa will allow us to immediately increase lending to local businesses, complementing the funding available from our existing users; ordinary members of the Irish public, who will continue to play a crucial role in helping us to fulfill our mission of providing fast and affordable finance for Ireland’s SME sector.”

Pedro Coelho, executive chairman Banco BNI Europa, said: “As a fintech-driven bank, a partnership with Linked Finance is a natural fit for our business, supporting our strategy of growth and diversification within our European portfolio. Over the past few years, we have successfully built a network of strategic partnerships with fast-moving fintech companies across Europe. Ireland is a market we have been keen to enter and, as the leading marketplace lending platform here, Linked Finance is the obvious partner. We are very excited about the potential of this relationship.”

Linked Finance had its 5th anniversary, and said it has funded over €50m to Irish SMEs since its launch in 2013.

Notable companies that have raised funding with Linked Finance include Viking Splash Tours, The Rolling Donut, Big Red Cloud, Lolly & Cooks, Murphy’s Ice Cream, Iconic Offices and the Irish Fairy Door Company.