Analysis Featured

Predicting Default Rates for Online Lending

Clarity Services

According to data from Experian’s Clarity Services, online consumer lending has grown over 350 percent from 2013 to 2017. Funded single-pay volume rose 72 percent while installment loan volume went up nearly 500 percent. The single-pay loan volume actually shot up 106 percent through 2016 but fell slightly the following year. Still, these numbers indicate a growth in online alternative finance lending, and with governments around the world cracking down on traditional payday lending, this spells a huge opportunity for further growth in the years to come.

In 2013, the average online installment loan amount was just below $800. In 2017, it was just over $1,400. And the average loan term rose from six months in 2013 to almost 10 months in 2017.

This growth may have something to do with how online installment loan providers are marketing their services. The number of lenders using direct marketing in 2015 was indexed to 100, but in 2018 (through July), that number was 275, representing growth on pace to reach 550 percent by year end. The number of pre-screened mailed names went up from an indexed amount of 100 in 2015 to 988 through July of this year.

Marketing isn’t the only factor affecting growth in this segment of online lending. There is also a growing number of lenders tapping into the market, and the fact that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), several U.S. states, the United Kingdom, and other government entities are beginning to target traditional brick-and-mortar payday lenders is contributing to the growth of the online installment loan segment.

The growth of this segment highlights the importance of credit risk evaluation. The need for effective credit risk solutions that identify potential defaulters and is capable of separating the good borrowers from the bad is also growing.

The Importance of Predicting Defaults Before Issuing Online Loans

One of the most important tasks for any lender is predicting the likelihood of default. A higher than expected default rate can lead to huge losses. On the other hand, mitigating delinquencies can lead to greater profits and allow the lender to issue more loans. It is particularly important to predict whether a borrower will default on the first payment of an installment loan. After all, defaulting on the first installment means the lender will not recoup any of its investment, and defaulting on the first payment is a clear sign that the borrower should have been flagged as a high credit risk and will likely default on subsequent payments.

Alternative finance lending is inherently risky. Lenders must fight a higher default rate than banks (20 percent vs. 3 percent) right off the bat. That alone makes predictive credit risk modeling a necessity in today’s installment loan market.

In recent years, online lending leaders have seen greater than expected default rates, which means these online providers must be extra diligent about predicting delinquencies in order to watch their bottom lines. For this reason, the tools that lenders use to make such predictions must be carefully chosen so that default rates decline and profits increase over time.

3 Ways to Identify Good Credit Risks Before Issuing a Loan

Some defaults are to be expected. Profitable lenders understand that the interest on the good loans will pay for the losses on the bad loans. Nevertheless, mitigating those losses is paramount to maintaining solvency and being able to service future borrowers. An online installment loan lender can use credit risk scoring to decrease default rates and increase profits simply by identifying the good and bad credit risks. Here are three ways a lender can ensure they are focusing on the good credit risks:

  1. Prescreen your potential borrowers – Credit risk evaluation should begin before you make initial contact with potential borrowers. If you are involved in direct marketing, prescreen potential borrowers before sending them your marketing collateral. Not only can this lower your default rate, but it will also lower your marketing expenses.
  2. Use an effective credit risk scoring solution – Today’s lenders do not just rely on FICO scores and payment histories. They collect alternative data that identifies how potential borrowers spend their money and handle their debts. Much of this data is out of sight from traditional credit scoring agencies, but it is essential to getting a complete picture of the borrower.
  3. Make your offer based on the borrower’s credit risk profile – First, build a credit risk profile on the borrower and use the predictive score to make your loan offer. It is best when lenders are able to structure a loan based on a consumer’s risk level. For example, a higher risk customer might warrant a smaller loan amount to control the lender’s risk.

Assessing Credit Risk: The Perfect Solution for Online Installment Loan Providers

The most important factors in underwriting the subprime consumer involve credit risk assessment and fraud detection. New solutions that combine the largest visibility into the industry’s alternative credit data and traditional bureau data ensure lenders are fully equipped to assess and mitigate risks. These solutions are offered by Experian’s Clarity Services and Experian, and include:

  • Clear Credit Risk
  • Clear Advanced Attributes

These solutions are designed to assess a borrower’s creditworthiness or to determine credit eligibility. Lenders receive an actionable score with adverse action codes to help them determine whether a potential borrower is a solid credit risk and to help determine a reasonable loan structure.

Clear Credit Risk is Clarity’s trademarked credit risk product designed to predict the likelihood of a borrower’s default on the first payment. It includes an effective score and is built on data that has proven most predictive for subprime consumers.

Experian’s Clarity Services is a credit reporting agency founded in 2008 and acquired by Experian in 2017. As the leading alternative credit data provider, the company services a wide variety of alternative finance lenders such as auto finance companies, check cashing services, prepaid credit card issuers, short-term installment lenders, small-dollar credit lenders, telecommunications providers, and more.

Authors:

Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor

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