International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), the largest computer-services provider, is loaning $4 billion through business partners to encourage client spending, with terms including no interest for the first year.
To encourage lending, IBM developed an application for iPads and smartphones that will allow partners to approve their clients for contracts of as much as $500,000 in minutes, the company said today in a statement. IBM will administer the loans over the next 12 months through its global financing unit, which managed $36 billion in assets as of last year.
“Businesses both large and small are having tough times with this tight credit market,” said Mark Hennessy, general manager of IBM’s global business partners and midmarket, in an interview. “This is an enhanced focus on supporting our partners taking our solution to market.”
Clients will come to IBM for simpler, more flexible loans because “banks don’t necessarily understand this space as well,” Hennessy said. The loans will make it easier for business partners to sell their own technology combined with IBM hardware or cloud computing and analytics products, with some financing offered interest-free for 12 months with no money down, according to the statement.
In cloud computing, companies hire providers such as IBM to store data and applications remotely.
IBM’s global financing unit has operated since 1981 and uses standard industry tools to evaluate default risk, the company said. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) Inc. have similar loan options. IBM issued $1 billion in loans to small and medium-size businesses through its partners in 2011, the company said.
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