With greater confidence in the U.S. economy and small business confidence in the current presidential administration, alternative lending is yet again at a crossroads. The latest Biz2Credit Small Biz Lending Index revealed, for the seventh month in a row, that large U.S. banks increased their loan approval rates to SMEs in February, with approval rates hitting 24.1 percent. That’s still below the approval rates seen at alternative and marketplace lenders, though, with Biz2Credit pegging that statistic at 58.4 percent.
Despite approving most of the loan applications received on their platforms, alternative lenders have dropped those approval rates. It’s a sign, Biz2Credit said, of alt-lenders struggling to keep their competitive edge over traditional banks that are finally implementing better technologies. According to Nonso Maduka, head of small business at NerdWallet, part of the problem is that small businesses are more familiar with traditional banks.
“Many small business owners continue to use their network of friends, family and business contacts to get advice and referrals,” the executive recently told PYMNTS. “So if an owner has a business checking account at a local or national bank, you could imagine that he or she would check out available financing options there. This is primarily happening offline, so there is still an awareness gap about the growing alternative lending space.”