Online lenders have to overcome missteps with borrowers and investors before they can enter the fintech promised land, Congress was told Tuesday.
The fintech sector, which includes online (also known as “marketplace”) lenders, could very well lead to the “next iPhone” of financial products or services that benefit consumers, the Financial Services Roundtable told the House Financial Services Committee.
“The potential benefits of this convergence between financial services, enabling technologies and the firms that produce them are immense,” said the trade group, which represents the largest financial firms in the nation.
But to get there, online lending has a long way to go.
Online lending accounts for only a small fraction of the $3.5 trillion in consumer debt and customer satisfaction is lacking, the group said.
The industry got a black eye this year after the CEO of one of the largest firm in the business, Lending Club, resigned after the disclosure that a considerable number of loans were of poorer quality than the company had told investors.
High interest rates and unfavorable lending terms led to a satisfaction rate of only 15 percent among small businesses that borrowed from online lenders, compared to 75 percent among those that borrowed from banks, American Bankers Association CEO Rob Nichols told the panel.
Nichols called for federal oversight of online lenders to boost the customer experience and prevent malicious actors.
Both Nichols and Gerron Levi, government affairs director of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said online lenders should be subject to the Community Reinvestment Act and antidiscrimination borrowing standards.
“(Online lending) has to be fair and equitable to low- and moderate-income communities, women and rural communities,” the Levi said.