The need for creating the right Small-Dollar Loan Products: Balancing Borrower Needs, Regulatory Compliance, Risk Management, and Responsible Lending Practices

Date published: 14 Dec 2023

Amidst global unrest and the aftermath of the pandemic, borrowers' requirements have been markedly impacted by inflation, job reductions, and unpredictable economic circumstances. Unanticipated expenses may prompt borrowers to seek loans to manage various facets of their financial situations. Here are some diverse needs of borrowers during times of inflation.

  • Increased cost of living
  • Increase in Mortgage and Rent Payments
  • Emergency Funds
  • Irregular Income

Individuals with irregular income, including seasonal workers, may find the need for small-dollar loans to fill gaps in cash flow, ensuring the ability to cover daily living expenses.

When creating loan products and evaluating the financial capacities and risks of prospective borrowers, lenders ought to consider the diverse needs of the borrowers based on the above factors.

Here are key factors to ponder when developing small-dollar loan products:

Key Factors for designing Loan Products:

Setting up small-dollar loan products necessitates thoughtful attention to the borrower's requirements, regulatory mandates, risk management, and the implementation of responsible lending practices. Here are popular types of small-dollar loan products:

  • Traditional payday loan
  • Instalment Payday Loan
  • Traditional Instalment Loans
  • Line of Credit
  • Cash Advance
  • CAB/CSO Loans
  • Auto Title Loans

Loan Configurations: Each of the above loan types can be configured in multiple ways depending on the lender's competitive advantage and also in compliance with the governing laws and regulations of the state.

Here are some examples of how a loan product can be configured.

  • Single or one-time repayment on the customer’s payday with simple interest as a fee.
  • A multi-payment loan on fixed dates with interest-only payment and a final balloon payment with a simple interest calculation.
  • A multi-payment loan on fixed dates with diminishing principal with a simple interest calculation, construed as an installment loan.
  • A multi-payment loan of fixed dates with pro-rata interest, making it the traditional installment loan.

Loan Amounts: Define the range of loan amounts for your small-dollar loan offerings. While these loans generally span from $100 to $5,000, the precise range can be customized based on your target market and regulatory framework.

Interest Rates: Establish interest rates that are both competitive and transparent, aligning with local regulations. Explore the option of implementing tiered interest rates, providing lower rates for borrowers with a positive credit history or returning customers in good standing.

Payment Terms: Design flexible repayment terms that align with the borrowers' financial capabilities. Options may include short-term loans (e.g., 2 weeks to 6 months) or longer-term loans (up to 2 years).

Fees and Charges: Precisely outline all charges linked to the loan, including origination fees, late payment fees, and prepayment penalties. Confirm that fee structures adhere to applicable laws. Make flexible provisions for writing off or charging off fees when appropriate.

Application Process: Simplify the application process to enhance user-friendliness and speed. The utilization of online applications and automated underwriting can accelerate the approval process.

Credit Scoring and Underwriting: Establish a just and precise credit assessment procedure that includes factors beyond the conventional credit scores, encompassing aspects like employment history, income stability, and overall financial well-being.

Approval Criteria: Define specific approval criteria that align with your target borrower profile. This may include minimum income requirements, age limits, and residency status.

Transparency: Furnish borrowers with straightforward and easily comprehensible loan terms, detailing the complete loan cost, annual percentage rate (APR), and repayment schedule.

Loan Disbursement: Provide convenient options for distributing loan funds, such as direct deposit into the borrower's bank account or instantly delivering funds to their verified card.

Repayment Options: Provide a range of repayment options to borrowers, allowing them to choose from automatic withdrawals, online payments from customer portal, click-to-pay, IVR Payments, or in-person payments at physical locations. This diverse selection aims to accommodate different preferences and convenience for repaying small-dollar loans.

Backend Reporting: Streamline the option of reporting borrower repayment behavior to credit bureaus that will assist borrowers in establishing or enhancing their credit histories.

Collections and Past Due: Create explicit protocols for handling collections and defaults, prioritizing fair and ethical practices.

Regulatory Compliance: Make certain that your small-dollar loan products adhere to regulations at the local, state, and federal levels, encompassing usury laws, consumer protection laws, and licensing requirements.

Customer Support: Provide customer support that is both responsive and helpful to address borrowers' inquiries, concerns, and issues pertaining to their loans.

Financial Education: Contemplate offering resources and tools that aid borrowers in making well-informed financial decisions and enhancing their financial literacy.

Marketing and Disclosure: Create ethical marketing approaches and transparently communicate all loan terms and conditions in promotional materials.

Risk Management: Periodically evaluate the efficacy of your loan products and make necessary adjustments to enhance borrower service and align with evolving regulations.

Continuous Improvement: Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your loan products and make necessary adjustments to enhance borrower service and ensure compliance with evolving regulations.

Creating small-dollar loan products entails striking a balance between offering accessible financial services to underserved communities and upholding responsible lending practices that shield borrowers from predatory behaviors. Conducting comprehensive market research and risk assessment is crucial to customizing your loan products to meet the specific needs of your target audience, all while adhering to relevant laws and regulations. Choosing the right Lending Platform ensures your portfolio stays effective, relevant, and compliant in the ever-changing financial landscape. SparkLMS is highly customizable, with continuous development of new features designed not only to align with the evolving lending ecosystem but also to remain pertinent in the face of future changes.

Thank you for taking time to read through this article.

Get in touch with us to commence the journey towards a smart and profitable lending experience. Our dedicated team is here to setup the lending platform that adapts to the market trends and that is flexible to your specific needs. From user-friendly interfaces to personalized features, we're committed to crafting a solution tailored to your needs. Reach out now and take the first step toward revolutionizing your lending experience with SparkLMS Lending Platform.