Following the 2008 economic downturn, e-commerce took the business world by storm.
Businesses moved online and the industries changed. As customers got used to new online business norms, demand started to rise, and we are now starting to see this same shift in the digital lending landscape.
People who haven’t been keeping up with lending technology may still associate digital lending with cumbersome integrations, unintuitive flows, steep learning curves for staff, and rigid credit decisioning logic.
However, today, this is no longer the case. A fully functional, secure, and even affordable lending automation solution can now be deployed within several business days allowing lending businesses to convert more clients, branch out into new audiences, and diversify income.
Advances in fintech has created an enormous window of opportunity for those wanting to enter the digital lending niche. Furthermore, now any business owner can offer lending products and services to customers in installments without involving a middleman in the form of a bank or a credit union. After all, why share the profits when you can keep them.
Everything from application processing, borrower evaluation, underwriting, servicing, collection, and reporting can now be fully automated. Modern e-lending fintech solutions use intelligent AI-driven models to help all businesses, from a retailer or auto dealer to a bank or enterprise-grade telecom company offer both affordable and profitable financing to their customers.
Further, now that the entire economy is embracing digital, more flexible and adaptable SMEs can take part of the market share from traditional financial institutions. To give you an insight into the world of digital lending, let's go over the basics.
Digital lending challenges and opportunities for lenders
Even for millennial business owners, one of the challenges when undergoing digitalization is a preconceived bias that it has to be hard. But the truth is that the popular understanding of the way digital lending works has not caught up with the current state of most fintech companies.
With today’s technology and cross-integration capabilities, the digitalization process, as well as launching a brand-new lending operation from scratch, is neither extremely expensive nor complex. Most importantly, in the digital age, lending as an industry isn’t monopolized by large-scale traditional financial institutions. Anyone can offer credit products now.
In lending, just as well as in e-commerce, fintech acts as the great equalizer that provides everyone with the same means of production. So the success isn’t determined by the initial company portfolio size. Rather by the agility, readiness to adapt to the needs of the client, and the accuracy of the credit decisions. All of that is achieved through technology, not enormous staff these days.
Both traditional and alternative lenders, as well as startups, retailers, and service providers can use lending automation to quickly adapt and capitalize on the unique challenges and opportunities that arise in the marketplace. However, only the lenders who embrace intelligent lending digitalization will come out on top.
Why your business should capitalize on digital lending
No business can brush aside a viable low-maintenance monetization source. Especially when said income source doesn’t put a strain on the employees and the business owner. But just to give you a better idea of the tangible and intangible return you can get on digital lending, the biggest benefits you can receive include the following and much more:
Reduced credit risk
The combination of traditional and alternative borrower evaluation approaches used in modern digital lending solutions allows for an unmatched risk assessment accuracy and speed.
Improved operational efficiency
Automation should solve problems, not create them. Digitalizing lending the right way, you will notice that your business’ operational efficiency starts to improve exponentially.
Reduced human error
Lending automation technology is sophisticated enough to put most of the crediting work on autopilot. By automating recurring tasks and analyses, you leave very little room for human error.
Increased customer LTV
An intuitive interface and streamlined business shows your clients that you’re a reliable business owner who puts borrowers' needs first. User-friendly, fast, and accurate lending automation isn’t a matter of science fiction anymore.
Increased speed of origination and servicing
With a modern lending automation platform, a loan can be originated, approved by an underwriter, and disbursed in under two minutes.
Advanced tracking and reporting
Internet and all-consuming digitalization only make sense if you utilize the data your business collects. Get lending automation software that allows for granular analysis, action tracking, and reporting.
Easily set up remote work processes
As the business world goes remote, lenders can’t but abide by this trend. Luckily, it’s more than possible with today’s technology. So as a business owner, you’d have separate workspaces for different employee types and instant tracking of all the actions taken by borrowers and staff within your lending portal.
Given that you’ve made the right lending automation software choice, the fully functional end-to-end lending automation solution can be launched in a matter of a few weeks or even days. We’ll get into this more in the next section.
9 steps to help you choose the best digital lending automation software
Choosing a new software provider that will automate a large part of your business is probably the most important thing about lending digitalization. The wrong solution will slow your operation down, make risk assessment mistakes, increase expenses, and take months if not years to fully deploy. These risks can’t be tolerated and need to be addressed when you consider digital lending software providers.
1. Define short and long-term business needs
Before you commit, you need to figure out exactly the functionality your business will need tactically and strategically. If you’re not sure about your needs, in the beginning, don’t worry, just ask a lot of questions during demos and you’ll quickly start getting a firm grasp of what you can get.
2. Consider an all-in-one system with a modular structure
Integrating multiple complex products together is an extreme undertaking even if you have an amazing team. The problem is that you can’t always predict which part of which solution’s legacy code is causing your lending portal to crash. That’s why it’s recommended to get an all-in-one solution that is capable of automating every step of the lending process.
3. Cloud-based vs. on-premises
Depending on your operation’s peculiarities, you may need to have your lending portal deployed on the cloud (faster and more efficient) or on-premises (may be slower for the client but arguably is safer).
4. Comprehensive, integrated origination, servicing, and collection functionality
Ideally, all the parts of your lending solution should work like a well-oiled machine. But even if you decide to do with separate solutions for parts of your business process, make sure that all the steps that have to do with money are automated within one solution.
5. Advanced technology applied to automation and proprietary credit scoring models
6. Consider user-friendliness of the solution (UI and UX design)
In the age of Uber and Stripe, users have come to expect a certain level of user-friendliness of the software they use. Creating a solution of sufficient intelligence and usability in-house is a herculean task, but you can put together an optimal platform for you with a solution that has a modular structure and is easy to adjust.
7. The platform should be tailored to your business needs and local market
Getting the most advanced platform on the market isn’t going to do you much good if it’s not flexible and agile enough to quickly and efficiently adjust to the way you do business. You don’t want to be like everyone else. Digital lending technology these days allows you to stand out.
8. Time-to-market and learning curve
The speed makes a real difference in today’s digital space. The lender who is able to launch a reliable, user-friendly, and intelligent solution in your local market first will get a chance to score a bigger part of the target audience.
9. Software provider’s track record
Last but not least, make sure to get detailed information on the provider’s previous project for clients with similar business models. Reviews, awards, mentions on authoritative resources, high-profile partners - anything that makes you trust a vendor, run your checks, cause this is a big technological decision.
Hopping on the digital lending trend
Let’s take a look at a few more reasons digital lending is the latest trend to take the world by storm.
The growing need for credit funds
Using credit as just another financial tool started as the American dream and now has become a global phenomenon. With economic, health, and nature crisis happening, borrowers need lenders that provide easy-to-use interfaces, intelligent business flows, quick decisioning, simple disbursement, and automatic collection.
And as businesses put all this on cruise control, there is less spend invested on operations and the overall portfolio health grows.
Contactless lending and remote work trends have taken over the world
Even if you prefer to work from an office, it is smart to have a plan B. It’s safe to say that each month more businesses switch to digital, contactless, and remote processes. There’s no avoiding these trends, you can just postpone the transition at a cost of losing business to entrepreneurs who didn’t.
Lowering crediting risks for lenders
Not only does digital lending save costs and streamline processes, if done right, it can also allow you to make more accurate decisions than all of the traditional players around. The reason being the flexible scorecard models, credit decision rules, and loan decisioning logic within the system you use.
As traditional decisioning approaches become obsolete, more and more lenders turn to use things like bank statements scoring or psychometric evaluation of their potential borrowers to get a better insight into how these people think, how likely they are to pay back the loan, and what terms will work for them.
Enable peer-to-peer lending or invoice financing
One nice part of lending digitalization is that one doesn’t necessarily have to stick to the classic funding models. A business can just as well enable things like P2P lending allowing investors into a portal to make money as the middleman instead of outsourcing this to a bank. Alternatively, or in parallel, one can use lending to support vendors and practice invoice financing or factoring.
Digital lending statistics
Digital lending is a relatively new force in the financial services market, but it’s already a force to reckon with. It can be an amazing asset for a business or, if digitalization is not utilized, it can cost a lender their business.
To give some numbers on the development of the fintech space and how quickly and effectively this industry automates financial products and services:
20% is the expected annual ROI on fintech-related projects.
82% of financial service incumbents expect to increase fintech partnerships in the next 3-5 years.
Lending is the second least regulated financial business in the current regulatory environment based on a PWC industry survey.
This shows that digital lending currently has a lot of opportunity for anyone wanting to claim their market share with a modern crediting automation solution. And whereas in the past, both clients and SMEs were forced to work with clumsy large enterprise-level financial institutions, now this niche of the economy is getting more democratic.
The industry entry barrier is getting lower and like with most things technology reached, it gets immeasurably better. Borrowers get fair rates, quick approval, and stress-free user experience, and lenders can return and multiply their technology investments.
Automation isn’t going to stop due to economic crises. If anything, it’s going to become more important and faster to implement. This enables your business to enter areas that weren’t accessible before. Retailers, auto dealers, healthcare providers, banks, credit unions, as well as many others are competing for the same borrower right now.
Vit Arnautov is the Chief Product Officer at TurnKey Lender, a company creating intelligent AI-driven solutions for lenders. With more than 10 years of experience leading product teams for tech companies, Vit is happy to share his expertise in running the product team of a lending tech company.