The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, FinTech Australia and theBankDoctor.org released a report on 28 February 2018, which outlines the steps taken by fintech lenders to increase transparency and disclosure.
The report, Fintech lending to small and medium sized enterprises: Improving transparency and disclosure, analyses the different approaches to disclosure across the fintech industry and makes recommendations on best practice and identifies commitments to action.
Items for action in the report include:
• the development of an industry Code of Conduct to cover fintech balance sheet lenders offering unsecured business loans by June 2018. This is proposed to be a customer-centric document that will prescribe what a customer can expect in terms of transparency and disclosure from a lender.
• expanding this Code of Conduct to other fintech lending and finance products over time
• Fintech lenders to agree to the contents of an easy-to-understand contract summary page by June 2018. This summary page would include a common set of measures when making loan offers to customers.
• the ASBFEO and theBankDoctor.org to work together to produce a guide to assist small business owners better understand the ‘ins and outs’ of borrowing from a fintech lender. This will also be published by June 2018.
The report also includes a Glossary of Common Lending Terms as a first step toward driving a consistent industry-wide approach to the communication of these terms, which should ultimately make different contracts easier to understand and compare.
New research will aim to establish current trends and best practice in the growing fintech lending market to small and medium-size enterprises (SME).
Fintech small business lenders are being surveyed as part of a collaborative research project by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) with industry organisation FinTech Australia and independent SME finance expert Neil Slonim from theBankDoctor.org.
Fintech lenders are an emerging alternative to banks for small business loans, often through seamless and highly automated online application, assessment and decision processes.
The survey will collect information from fintech lenders that can shed light on some of these issues.
Results will be published in a report to identify industry best practice and help SMEs to better understand their fintech borrowing options.
The survey results will also inform fintech lenders how they can help SMEs by improving the transparency of their lending products and by clearly communicating the rates, costs, terms and conditions of their products.
A roundtable meeting was held on Wednesday 13 December 2017 between representatives of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, FinTech Australia and theBankDoctor.org. The communique from the roundtable is now available.