Online small business lending platforms OnDeck (NYSE: ONDK), Kabbage and CAN Capital – today announced the formation of the “Innovative Lending Platform Association,” which will focus on advancing small business online lending education, advocacy, and best practices. Together the three founding companies have provided access to more than $12 billion dollars in working capital to small businesses to help drive growth and hiring.
“OnDeck is one hundred percent focused on responsibly serving small businesses and we are proud to join other industry leaders in this groundbreaking initiative to establish transparency best-practices that benefit the marketplace,” explained OnDeckCEO Noah Breslow. “In the days ahead, we look forward to working with other lenders, trade associations, policymakers, and non-profit organizations to create a national model for small business lending disclosure.”
To promote common disclosure verbiage and standardization, the association launched in partnership with the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), an advocate for microbusiness in the United States, to create a model small business lending disclosure called the SMART (Straightforward Metrics Around Rate and Total Cost) Box. The SMART Box will present a small business with a chart of standardized pricing comparison tools and explanations, including various total dollar cost and annual percentage rate metrics that enable a comprehensive pricing comparison of loans of equivalent duration.
“As our industry rapidly evolves, we believe it is critical to provide the tools and transparency businesses need to make informed borrowing decisions,” opined Kabbage Co-Founder and COO Kathryn Petralia. “We founded Kabbage based on the fundamental premise that businesses can use the power of their own data to grow in ways never before thought possible. We are thrilled to take our commitment to SMBs to the next level by joining this group of fintech leaders to launch a clear methodology for how fees are calculated and communicated to borrowers. We look forward to continuing this open dialogue with our peers, customers, policy makers and regulators to support small business growth in the United States.”
The formation of the Innovative Lending Platform Association and the launch of the SMART Box initiative follows an analysis of the small business marketplace that began in 2015 and is informed by small business organization survey data, including recent findings from an industry study underscoring small business customer preferences and priorities. The SMART Box initiative will be open to industry stakeholders for engagement to ensure that the new model disclosure empowers small business borrowers to make an apples to apples comparison for different lending options. The AEO, with the mission of creating economic opportunity for underserved entrepreneurs, will serve as the engagement facilitator and process feedback received from interested stakeholders.
“Ever since our company was started by a small business owner 18 years ago, CAN Capital has believed that the key to the success of our industry rests on the success of the small businesses we serve,” highlighted CAN Capital CEO Daniel DeMeo. “This means providing clear disclosures on pricing, ensuring products are represented accurately and providing the highest level of customer service. We are excited to work with our fellow leaders in alternative small business finance and other stakeholders in the sector to publish best practices that can help support the small business owners that are the backbone of America’s economy.”
Beginning in June 2016, the Innovative Lending Platform Association will commence a 90-day “national engagement period” in which feedback will be sought on the SMART Box initiative from lenders, trade associations, policymakers and non-profit organizations. In September 2016, the Innovative Lending Platform Association will encourage responsible development of the small business lending industry to voluntarily adopt or support the model disclosure.
“The SMART Box Initiative could be a game changer in driving small business ownership through greater inclusion to capital access,” concluded AEO President and CEO Connie Evans. “We are proud to be part of a collective cross-sector effort to bring creative solutions to the complex issue of improving capital access to Main Street. It should go far in helping business owners, particularly those in underserved communities, navigate the new frontier of lending options.”
The Association has begun engaging with other organizations that represent a broad set of small business capital providers interested in advancing standards. To engage with the Innovative Lending Platform Association in the development of the SMART Box initiative, click here.