OnDeck has transformed SME lending

OnDeck has transformed SME lending through the way it leverages technology as well as its support of the small business community, says CEO Cameron Poolman.

Fintech of the year at last year’s AMAs, the lender is no stranger to the digital transformation of the industry; its proprietary credit scoring system offering fast funding at a time when small businesses need it the most.

MPA spoke with Poolman about the ways OnDeck stands out from other lenders in the current climate and why it has a “high tech, high touch” philosophy.

An advocate for small business

When other lenders were scrambling to process loans at the height of the first Australian lockdown, fintechs such as OnDeck were on the front foot.

Poolman says its SME credit scoring system allows a quick and easy application process for clients as well as a rapid funding time of generally one to three business days.

“OnDeck’s genuine commitment to the SME community also sets us apart.”

“We only lend to small business, and we undertake regular qualitative and quantitative research to gain deep insights into the needs of SMEs.”

Throughout the challenges of the pandemic, the lender has been an advocate for SMEs by providing an updated COVID-19 resource hub and liaising with the Federal Government on the funding needs of small business.

“OnDeck was quick to recognise the challenges of lockdowns and social distancing for the SME community, and in response, we were absolutely on the front foot delivering valuable support – not just to our clients, but to the small business sector more broadly. “

“As a lender that is continually in close contact with the small business sector, OnDeck was able to provide the Federal Government with timely insights regarding the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme and the changes being introduced under phase two.”

He says its support of brokers is another thing that sets it apart.

“We offer a wealth of free support for brokers to build their commercial loan book, including white label marketing collateral, plus resources that can be used to educate and inform clients, such as our free business credit score calculator, ‘Know Your Score’.”

“This focus on brokers resulted in 70% growth in our broker channel lending through 2019.”

High tech, high touch

Despite digitalisation remaining a core part of the fintech’s business model, OnDeck has maintained a humanised approach; its research highlighting 60% of business owners believe having someone to speak to is a key driver of trust.

“We often talk about the ‘high tech, high touch’ philosophy of our business, which our customers and brokers really respond to.”

“Moreover, our research confirms that over one in five (22%) SMEs want to deal with an Australian-based lender.”

“That’s completely understandable as time-poor business owners want the reassurance that an SME lending expert, who is part of the Australian community, is available to respond to any queries.”

Diversifying into commercial finance

To brokers, Poolman says now is a good time to consider diversifying into commercial finance.

“Brokers have demonstrated exceptional agility during COVID-19 and have rapidly transitioned from in-person meetings, to harnessing the power of tools such as Skype, Google Hangout, and Zoom that allow ‘business as usual’ in unusual times. “

“But it is the uncertainty of the times we now live in that make it particularly important for brokers to explore diversified revenue streams. “

The lender offers a range of support for brokers considering an expansion into the commercial sphere, as well as a streamlined application process and rapid response times that time-poor brokers are sure to appreciate.