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Loan Approval Rates at Alternative Lenders, Small Banks Drop Again

April 14, 2015, 07:23 AM
Filed Under: Banking News

Small business loan approval rates at big banks and institutional lenders continue to improve, attaining new post-recession highs in March 2015, according to the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, the monthly analysis of 1,000 loan applications on

Big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) approved 21.6% of small business loan requests in March 2015, up slightly from 21.5% in February. Further, loan approval rates at big banks have increased each month for nearly a year.

“Big banks continue to be strong in small business lending,” explained Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora, who oversaw the research. “This is a reflection of overall strength of the economy, the confidence of small business owners, and the investments that big banks have made in their branding and technology.”

Meanwhile, institutional lenders granted 60.9% of funding requests by small business owners in March, an increase from 60.7% in February 2015. Approval rates by institutional lenders have increased each month ever since Biz2Credit began monitoring this category of lenders over one year ago.

“Institutional lenders are willing to offer attractive loans to small business owners,” Arora said. “Our Biz2Credit platform enables them to buy small business loans as a solid investment with miniscule risk. Less than one percent of loans on our institutional platform have defaulted since January 2014."

For the fourth consecutive month, small banks denied more than half of their loan requests to small business owners, as lending approval rates at small banks slipped from 49.6% in February to 49.5% in March. After reaching an all-time Index high in May 2014, lending approval rates at small banks have steadily declined for most of the past year.

"Smaller banks have seen a gradual decline for nearly a year. They are losing market share to big banks and institutional lenders, which can offer attractive terms and quicker processing," said Arora.

Approval rates at alternative lenders -- merchant cash advance companies, factors, and other non-bank institutions – dropped to 61.2% in March, from 61.4% in February. Alternative lenders' approval percentages have declined each month since January 2014, coinciding with the emergence of institutional lenders in the small business lending marketplace.

"Alternative lenders have declined as institutional lenders have risen, and this trend shows no signs of letting up," Arora explained. "Entrepreneurs no longer have to pay high interest rates offered by alternative lenders. They can get money just as quickly from marketplace lenders at much lower rates. Bad news for alternative lenders, but good news for borrowers."

Credit unions granted 43.1% of loan applications in March, a decrease from 43.3% in February 2015.

"Credit unions peaked in 2012 in small business lending and have experienced a slow and steady declined nearly every month," Arora explained. "They never became the force in small business lending that they had hoped to become."

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