- Alt lenders’ ability to leverage technology and provide more efficient lending services to the underserved is allowing them to penetrate the market and find success.
- Insider Intelligence has broken down what alternative lending is, list the top alt lenders in the industry, and detail how alternative financial institutions are threatening the dominance of incumbent banks.
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Nonbanks and alternative lending institutions are making their way into the banking industry – posing a major threat to incumbent banks. Alt lenders’ ability to utilize technology and provide efficient and effective lending services to underserved businesses and individuals is allowing them to penetrate the market and find success.
Below we break down what alternative lending is, list the top alt lenders in the industry, and detail how alternative financial institutions are threatening the dominance of incumbent banks.
What is alternative lending?
Small businesses typically struggle when attempting to receive financing, so oftentimes they turn to alternative lending – where funds are provided outside of traditional banking. Nonbanks – financial institutions that do not have a full banking license – also offer different lending options to smaller businesses.
Nonbanks can engage in typical bank-related services like credit card operations and various lending services, such as mortgage lending. These lenders provide users with easier access to obtaining loans — especially for consumers who may not have the best credit or meet certain requirements.
Nonbank and Alternative lending industry trends
The presence of alternative lenders and digitally advanced nonbanks is continuing to grow in the banking industry – pressuring traditional financial institutions to digitize their own lending options.
According to Oracle’s Digital Demand in Retail Banking study of 5,200 consumers from 13 countries, over 40% of customers surveyed think nonbanks can better assist them with personal money management and investment needs, and 30% of respondents who haven’t tried a nonbank platform said they’re open to trying one.
Alt lenders are also garnering attention, particularly from small- and medium-businesses (SMBs). According to data reported by SME Finance Forum, in 2018 there was funding gap of $5 trillion between the financing needs of SMBs and the institution-based financing available to them — causing SMBs to seek alternative funding options.
Alt lenders use technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning to gather data and onboard customers, and Insider Intelligence’s SMB Lending Report explains that if incumbents don’t explore technology advancements, alt lenders could begin taking a larger share of the market.
Types of nonbank loans
Nonbanks offer customers and businesses a variety of loan options including: mortgage loans, small business loans, and peer-to-peer loans.
Nonbank mortgage loan
Due to the regulation of mortgages, it can be difficult for incumbents to digitize the lending process, and the inability of traditional banks to adapt to the digital landscape has lead to an increase in alt lenders supplying mortgage loans to consumers.
Insider Intelligence’s Online Mortgage Lending Report found that the top five US banks – Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase, US Bancorp, and Citigroup – only accounted for 21% of total mortgage originations, which is a huge decline from their 50% combined market share in 2011.
Alt lenders are a threat to incumbents because they can provide traditional financial products, like mortgage loans, to consumers at a lower cost with more relaxed eligibility criteria. This combined with their technological offerings allows alt lenders to provide mortgage loans in a more attractive way.
Small business alternative loan
Loan applications from microbusinesses and small businesses are commonly rejected by traditional financial institutions. Due to the looser regulations for alt lenders, they can capitalize on the high demand of smaller businesses.
According to a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, in 2016 only 58% of loan requests from small businesses were approved by incumbent banks, compared to 71% approved by alt lenders that same year.
Unlike traditional lending, alt lenders have the ability to leverage a broad set of data and machine learning — allowing them to reach further into the small business lending market than incumbent banks.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) loan
Peer-to-Peer loans – one of the most popular forms of alternative lending – bring together a borrower, an investor, and a partner bank through an online platform. Leveraging metrics, like credit scores and social media activity, P2P platforms can link borrowers to lenders at suitable interest rates.
P2P lending platforms facilitate interactions without actually owning the loans – allowing them to keep costs low. This quality is particularly attractive to customers looking to refinance existing debt at the lowest rate possible.
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Top nonbank and alternative lenders
- SoFi: This startup initially focused on student loan refinancing, but has expanded to include mortgage loan refinancing, mortgages, and personal loans. In 2019 SoFi closed a $500 million funding round led by Qatar Investment Authority — posing a threat to incumbent banks.
- Quicken Loans: This established nonbank is known for its Rocket Mortgage, an online mortgage application that takes less than 10 minutes to complete. In Q4 2017, Quicken Loans became the largest US residential mortgage originator by volume — even beating out Wells Fargo.
- Kabbage: This was one of the first online lending platforms and uses third-party data to avoid SMBs submitting wrong information. The startup offers business-to-business operations, and in July 2019 it secured $200 million revolving credit facility after already receiving a $700 million securitization agreement three months prior.
- OnDeck: This is a technology-enabled global financial platform helping small- and medium-sized businesses secure fast, short term business loans up to $250,000 and lines of credit up to $100,000. In October 2020, OnDeck was acquired by Enova to increase access to its financial products and services for both business owners and consumers.
Alternative lending market
Even though traditional banks still hold the largest market share for business lending, growth has continued to slow – suggesting an increased demand for alt lending platforms. Through technology that uses AI and machine learning, alt lenders are able to efficiently onboard customers.
According to Insider Intelligence’s SMB Lending Report, SMBs make up nearly all of private sector businesses in the US and employ 60% of all workers in the country. However, SMBs usually have trouble when applying for loans at incumbent banks and instead turn to alternative lending platforms.
Due to the massive SMB market size, alternative lending companies are positioned to threaten to incumbent banks, and unless traditional banking institutions update their lending practices, alt lending technologies could potentially overhaul legacy processes and gain a greater percent of the overall market share.