Online loans: Easy and practical, but can be too costly


Online loans: Easy and practical, but can be too costly

Online loans 29Jan2018

Boy Hazuki Rizal



Online borrowing is gaining popularity in Indonesia, as it is now easy for people to use the internet to access funds.

There are 28 financial technology (fintech) startups that are already registered with the Financial Services Authority (OJK). These fintech startups offer financing and money lending through their websites or apps, which can be downloaded freely.

The online borrowing is done through peer to peer lending (P2PL), in which borrowers are matched with lenders. People who want to borrow money can go through this channel after submitting a request. Some fintech startups even ask you to connect to their social media accounts.

Then, the fintech company will assess your credit rating, like a bank does, and will inform you whether or not you are eligible for credit. They will also assess the risk level of your borrowing. The higher the risk, the more interest you have to pay, while those whose risk is deemed to be lower will pay less interest. Another mechanism apart from P2PL is direct lending, where the fintech startup itself is the lender. So in this case, people use the website or application for borrowing only. Most fintech startups require no collateral or guarantee from their borrowers.

Besides individuals, these new platforms also cater to businesses, mostly for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME). Companies need to have been operating for at least a year, to ensure that they can run the business well. However, a number of aspects should be considered. They are five things that both individuals and business owners need to know before applying for online loans.

First are the fees. There are many kinds of fees, such as the platform fee, service fee, administration fee for the fintech, which range between 3 percent and 5 percent of the loan amount. There are also other fees, such as the insurance fee, late charges and the collecting fee. Fintech companies use these fees to cover operational costs and maintain their platform.

Second is the interest rate. Fintech companies generally apply an annual or monthly interest rate. You can ask them what effective interest rate they charge for borrowing money using their platform. For example, there is one platform that provides individual loans with a daily interest rate of 1 percent, with loans ranging from Rp 1 million to Rp 3 million. This loan will have to be paid back plus interest within 10 to 30 days. The interest will accumulate depending on the length of the loan. For example, if the consumer borrows money for 30 days, then the compounding interest rate will reach 34.8 percent. So if a consumer borrows Rp 1 million for 30 days, they would need to repay Rp 1.34 million.

If we compare this to non-online loan services, such as Cash Advance loans from a credit card, for which the interest rate is 26.95 percent per annum or 2.95 percent per month, we can see that the interest rate charged by fintech companies is way beyond normal. Fintech firms claim that the higher interest reflects the higher risk they bear. Also as a comparison, we can look at other non-online loan products, such as non-collateral loans (KTA) which carry interest rates ranging between 24 and 28 percent per annum.

Third is the process itself. How long does it take for a new loan to be processed? Some fintech startups claim they can process loans in just six hours, some need days or even weeks to process them. The larger the loan requested, the longer it might need. Or if your loan request is assessed to be in the high risk category, then more time might be needed to convince the financer to invest in you. Each fintech company has their own mechanism.

Fourth is the loan limit. This is the maximum amount a consumer can borrow. Currently, limits vary from Rp 100,000 to Rp 2 billion. The larger amounts usually go to MSME owners. One thing that consumers must pay attention to is the nature of the fintech company, some only serve businesses, some serve only individuals and some serve both. They have their own limit to match their own segment. Some fintech companies, which focus on individuals, limit loan amounts to just Rp 3 million, while others, which focus on MSMEs, set the limit at Rp 2 billion.

The fifth thing to consider is loan tenor – for how long do you need to borrow money? Some fintech companies can provide loans for between one day and two years. The longer the loan tenor, the higher the interest you must pay. P2P lending for syariah is also available in some fintech start-ups, it depends on the consumer’s preference.

The emergence of the online borrowing mechanism does not only give customers easier access to loans, but also frees them from complicated procedures imposed by banks. However, consumers must be aware that the high interest rates charged by fintech companies can make online loans too costly for them.


The writer is an independent financial partner of the Rizal Planner & Rekan. The views are his own

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