How has Technology Redefined MSME Lending?

Differentiated underwriting, customized offering, flexibility, and fewer criteria for MSME loan eligibility are but a few reasons that make NBFCs a better choice for small organizations. Findings revealed that NBFCs demonstrated the lowest turnaround time for MSME loans which fell from 24 days in 2014 to 18 in 2018. (Stats from Economic Times)

As the most dynamic and promising sector today, MSMEs need easy, quick access to credit. With over 60 million MSMEs in India and a lending potential of 100bn that banks are unable to meet, they are forced to turn to informal sources of credit to finance their needs. There’s a wide gap between the demand and supply of credit in the MSME sector and NBFCs are well on their way to bridging it.

Technology and its uses have seeped into every industry across the board, each to different extents. The NBFC sector is no exception. Whether it’s the digitalization of documentation for paper-free processes or harvesting intelligence to deliver an exceptional, seamless experiences. The time has come for the leaders of change to adopt and implement technology to improve efficiency, accuracy, and speed and deliver value to their customers.

Against all odds, public deposits in NBFCs increased from $293.78 Mn in FY09 to $4.95 Bn (INR 319.05 Bn) in FY18.(sourced from Inc42, link mentioned) And, it might just have been the new financial technologies being leveraged that are responsible for this growth. Many NBFCs are strategically targeting this underserved market and leveraging technology to meet their needs. Let’s find out how tech is changing the MSME lending landscape:

Risk assessment

In the past, NBFCs depended on collateral and physical documentation to assess the creditworthiness of a small business. The birth of the internet and the domination of technology today has facilitated access to a wide range of formal and informal sources of data. It draws a clearer picture of the small business’ financial standing and allows financial institutions to assess their eligibility and take a call on whether the application should be approved or denied. This gives small businesses, with little to no formal proof of profit, the chance to become credible borrowers.

Documentation has gone digital, and processes online. While the migration of data to the cloud helps improve accuracy and speed of response, it inadvertently opens the organization up to a number of cyber threats. NBFCs must take the security measures necessary to safeguard their customer data, while they optimize the use of tech to simplify risk assessments and other operations.

Loan application process

Gone are the days when MSMEs needed to fill out a multi-page loan application or be present at a fixed location. Financial services technology has simplified the process to the extent of a few clicks. Additionally, it has the capacity to identify potential shortcomings related to the repayment of the debt and takes a call on whether to approve or deny the loan, almost instantly. The repayment process has also been simplified through the usage of UPI payment gateways that lets you pay both the principal and interest online.

Earlier the options available to MSMEs were limited by location, collateral, time, interest, etc. Technology gives customers access to lenders that were once out of their geographical reach and vice versa. NBFCs can now reach rural markets and provide services to the financially weaker and unserved markets like never before.

Challenges Faced

Technology is no longer the way of the future, but the way forward today. NBFCs that fail to recognize this critical shift, run the risk of extinction. Transformation is not possible overnight, it takes years of planning, implementation and course correction. There are a number of challenges faced by NBFC on the journey towards a digital tomorrow, some of which include:

Capital Intensity- Digitalization is a capital-intensive investment that a number of NBFC are unable to afford or unwilling to create a budget for. Many of them fail to see the potential impact and fear that it might be a risk too big to take.
Time and Man-power- Transformation is a time and effort consuming process that some NBFCs are unable to accommodate.
Stability- The NBFC market is currently in a state of influx, where most players are at a loss about what to do next.
The changes mentioned above have simplified processes, boosted the flow of credit and enhanced the overall loan experience for the MSME sector. It has also allowed financial institutions to launch MSME schemes that are customized to meet their needs. As one such NBFC, Capri Global is dedicated to empowering them with the finances to sustain and grow their businesses.

The contribution of the MSME sector to the GDP of India and the lending they receive from NBFCs, are both undeniable. Technology has become the stepping stone into the future and NBFCs that want to not just survive but win down the line have no choice other than walking the tech tight rope.