Online Lending: Fast and Flexible


You opened a takeout counter shop in Bayside three years ago, and it’s been quietly humming along. But after some local food blogs mention your signature smoked Cuban sandwich, people are starting to line up down the block. You can’t afford to lose this kind of momentum.

You’ll need to find enough capital to hire two more employees and buy a bigger oven. Last time you went to the bank for a loan, it took a week to fill out the application and three months to get approved. Luckily, you have alternate funding options – like an online lender.

We know small businesses – your grocers, laundromats and landscapers – are vital to New York’s economy, but they face a widening credit gap. Consider the hurdle every small business faces: access to timely and affordable credit. According to a 2016 Federal Reserve report, 67 percent of businesses with annual revenues below $1 million experienced credit shortfalls. Small-business lending by traditional banks has declined 20 percent over the last 10 years, costing New York an estimated $8 billion in gross domestic product. With 3.9 million New Yorkers employed by small businesses, this affects you or someone you know.

Online lenders have stepped up. From 2015 to 2017, five major online lenders funded $758 million to 11,490 small businesses in New York, according to a recent study by NDP Analytics. That capital then created over 20,000 jobs and almost $800 million in wages. And online lenders are making a big impact in often overlooked communities: almost a third of those loans fueled businesses in zip codes with below-median incomes.

It’s no surprise why small businesses are turning to online lenders. Online lending is fast and flexible, offering an alternative to savvy business owners seeking smaller, shorter-term loans. Technology enables online lenders to gather information about an applicant’s creditworthiness more efficiently, meaning they can approve borrowers and provide funding when it matters.

But New York’s Department of Financial Services recently recommended new regulations that would drive out online lenders. By imposing burdensome requirements and arbitrary rate caps to block online lenders from bringing affordable credit to the small-business market, these regulations would choke off capital to businesses and entrepreneurs across the state. It’s clear who’s on the losing end of these recommendations: New York’s hard working small-business owners and their employees.

What New Yorkers need is thoughtful regulation that promotes responsible innovation and recognizes the value of online lending. Online lenders empower small businesses and their local economies to succeed.

Just because your sandwiches are old school doesn’t mean your lender should be. Meanwhile, you can turn your focus back to the eager New Yorkers waiting around the corner. Those Cubanos aren’t going to grill themselves.

Scott Stewart is the CEO of the Innovative Lending Platform Association, the nation’s leading trade organization for online lending companies serving small businesses, including OnDeck, Kabbage, Lendio, The Business Backer, Breakout Capital, PayNet, 6th Avenue Capital and Orion First.