NatWest's Tyl offers rewards app for UK SMBs as it faces threat from neobanks

  • NatWest is giving consumers a chance to support merchants hit by pandemic lockdowns.
  • This marks its latest effort to woo UK small and medium-sized businesses amid fierce competition from neobanks.
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NatWest’s business payments service, Tyl, has launched a rewards app to encourage customers to support UK small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that have been hit by coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, per Crowdfund Insider. 

The app, called Tyl Rewards, lets Tyl’s existing business clients—there is no extra charge for participating—offer 10 rewards points to their customers for each £1 ($1.28) they spend. Customers can use the app to redeem their accumulated points for rewards that merchants select.

Merchants can also use the app to track the success of their rewards campaigns. The introduction of this app follows a boost in support for SMBs: 30% of UK customers feel the pandemic has resulted in them supporting their local businesses more frequently, per an internal survey cited by Tyl.

Tyl Rewards is NatWest’s latest SMB-centric initiative. The app is the third support offering that the UK-based bank has rolled out in less than two months.

  • In March, NatWest unveiled a free digital advice hub called MentorDigital, which helps SMBs with topics including employment law, health and safety guidelines, and HR. The hub is likely a play for smaller companies that don’t handle these functions internally.
  • Last week, NatWest relaunched its SMB incubator program. More than 1,400 UK companies will be able to take advantage of the revived incubator—which is open to SMBs in every growth stage—as it offers them networking access to industry peers, one-on-one coaching, and support from experts in related industries.

NatWest’s SMB-focused support efforts in the UK may be intended to stave off intense competition from neobanks in the space. In just the past year, neobanks have experienced rapid user growth in the UK SMB space. Last Monday, Starling reported that it has 350,000 business customers—an increase of 50,000 from just the past month—and said that it has hit 6% SMB market share in the UK.

Meanwhile, Revolut counts more than 500,000 business clients, and SMB-focused neobank Tide has doubled its users in just the past year, crossing the 330,000 mark for member businesses and climbing above 5% UK SMB market share—it has an 8% goal for 2023, according to AltFi. With neobanks gaining traction, NatWest’s recent focus on SMB offerings could be an effort to avoid ceding ground to digital upstarts.

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