With a lack of confidence in traditional banks mounting, could the non-bank lenders help Aussie businesses to keep their heads above water?
In a time of uncertainty, it’s hard to know who to rely on. This time last year, 33% of Aussies reported a loss of faith in the banks as a result of the Banking Royal Commission. As of 5 May 2020, Treasurer Josh Frydenburg announced that banking reforms recommended by the royal commission would be delayed to allow banks to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
It therefore goes without saying that many small business owners looking for assistance from the banks during the coronavirus outbreak might be fearing imminent disappointment - or have already been met by it. And while the Australian Government’s Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme seems like a guiding light amidst the current economic darkness, how much can we rely on the big banks to help our small businesses in this time of need?
With more customer-owner banks, non-bank and fintech lenders being approved for the scheme, is there a better option when it comes to acquiring business finance during COVID-19? In this article we discuss how the scheme works, which customer-owner or non-bank lenders are currently participating, and how you can make the best decision when applying for business finance.
The Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme explained
The Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme is a part of the government’s second-wave stimulus package aimed at helping Aussies survive the impact of COVID-19, announced on 22 March 2020.
Businesses struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are able to access government backed business loans via approved lenders. Loans under the scheme:
- Are available up to $250,000
- Do not require security
- Have terms of up to three years
- Require no repayments for the first six months
- Have no interest charged on unused funds
To qualify for finance for the scheme, businesses must have an annual turnover of less than $50million and be facing hardship as a direct result of the outbreak.
Which lenders are are participating in the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme?
Lenders participating in the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme consist of a combination of banks, customer-owned banks and non-bank lenders.
*All data was sourced from treasury.gov.au and was accurate as of 13/05/2020
What's a customer-owned bank?
Customer-owner banks, also known as credit unions or mutual banks, are banks of which the shareholders are its customers. Generally, customer-owned banks put their profits back into providing better rates and fees for their customers.
What's a non-bank lender?
The term ‘non-bank lender’ generally refers to lenders that are not ADIs (Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions). This means that they cannot accept deposits from members, e.g. current accounts or term deposits.
Banks vs non-banks - where should I apply?
Unfortunately, there's no cut and dry response to this question. This is because your answer will likely depend on the unique financial circumstances of your business.
However, business owners should be aware that while loans under the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme are designed to help businesses that are struggling as a result of pandemic, the bigger banks have stated that they are not available to businesses that may have been facing earlier financial issues.
Commonwealth Bank group executive of business and private banking Mike Vacy-Lyle stated on the subject:
“There are unfortunately going to be some businesses that we end up saying no to. For a business that was in difficulty pre-coronavirus, we cannot use a coronavirus guarantee to help that business.”
How a pre-existing difficulty will be determined by the banks is uncertain, but it may prove problematic for businesses in need of finance who naturally face factors such as seasonal cash flow fluctuation, or those who have less than perfect credit histories.