Grid Finance, a cash-advance lender to micro and small businesses, said on Friday it has appointed John Moran, the former Department of Finance secretary general, as its chairman.
The development comes as Grid is considering whether to get back into peer-to-peer lending, or crowdfunding, as the Central Bank prepares to start regulating this sector on foot of new EU regulations.
Grid Finance was founded by Derek Butler, a PwC-trained accountant, in 2013 to focus on crowdfunding, following a four-year stint working with aid agency Goal in Uganda and Haiti.
However, it got out of crowdfunding, an area where companies raise small amounts of funding from a large number of people, in 2019, blaming the slow pace of plans to regulate the industry.
Grid now focuses on providing short-term loans to businesses that earn money from credit card and debit card sales – an area known as merchant card financing. It raises its own funds through institutional investors.
It lent out about €10 million last year and Mr Butler told The Irish Times earlier this week that it expects the figure to grow to €25 million in 2022.
He also said that the company is assessing the new crowdfunding regulatory regime and will decide by the end of March whether to re-enter this retail funding market for businesses.
“Grid is positioning for growth and to play a key role in supporting the recovery of businesses as the Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed. We have ambitions to support as many as 10,000 businesses by the end of 2023,” Mr Butler said on Friday.
“With John on board as non-executive chairman, he will provide vital strategic input and expertise that will be invaluable as we continue on our journey to help SME’s build their financial health and well-being. We already have a number of exciting initiatives and plans for 2022 and beyond.”
Mr Moran, a lawyer and banker by background, joined the Central Bank of Ireland in 2010 as head of wholesale banking supervision, before moving to the Department of Finance a year later, initially to lead the department's involvement in rescuing and restructuring the then-ailing banking sector. The Limerick man served as secretary general of the department between 2012 and 2014.
Mr Moran also served on the European Investment Bank's board between 2013 and 2018 and chaired the Land Development Agency between January 2019 and last May.