Behind every dark cloud is a silver lining. While some industries–like travel, tourism, real estate, and retail–have been hit hard by the disruption caused by COVID-19, also knowns as coronavirus, other industries have benefited. According to the COVID-19 Landscape Overview, published by Swellshark, one such sector is financial services. And because people are home more, due to lock downs and quarantines, much of that business is going to online, or alternative, lenders.
Biz2Credit has reported a 25 percent increase in loan demand in the last week. Fountainhead saw an unprecedented 280 loan inquiries between March 13 and 16.
In a time when most people can’t handle a $400 emergency, this is understandable. People still have to eat, pay their mortgages, and keep the lights on, and if they’re not working due to a company shutdown, they aren’t earning an income. In Pennsylvania, the governor has shut down all commerce with the exception of life-sustaining businesses.
Since people are home, they’re online more. That means they’re ordering more of what they need from online retailers, which is why companies like Amazon, Zoom, and Slack are now on a hiring spree.
There has been a swell of humanitarianism as brands cut prices, extend deadlines, and offer grace on payment plans to assist consumers affected by the current crisis. This is encouraging. Still, small businesses and consumers are looking for ways to make ends meet as the whole world seeks to get back to a state of normalcy. And that’s why they are running to online lenders, many of whom promise lower credit standards and faster access to capital. Since we’re at the beginning stages of the economic crisis, if we use China as the measuring stick, this could last for a month or two. I expect to see an uptick in competition among online lenders to originate new loans and service the growing need.
As a result of this increased demand, online lenders will soon be competing to attract new customers. Those who do a better job of positioning themselves in front of consumers and businesses seeking loans will emerge as winners once it all blows over.