Against the backdrop of a global financial crisis, consumers are beginning to look at alternatives such as Person-to-Person or social lending.
“This new Person-to-Person model of lending uses the Web to disrupt the financial services industry by directly linking people and groups who have cash to invest with people and even small businesses who want to borrow money,” says Sean Emery, co-founder and CEO of RainFin. “Consumers are able, as a result, to lend and borrow money at more competitive interest rates than they could get from the banks and without the excessive charges and fees.”
The rise of peer-to-peer lending
“We started to see the rise of the first major social lending marketplaces in Europe and the US around five or six years ago, and since then they have grown from tiny operations into a major force in the global financial services industry. Gartner predicts that Peer-to-Peer lending will account for 10% of all outstanding consumer personal loans by end 2013,” says Emery.
In the US, Peer-to-Peer loans have eclipsed more than $1 billion since 2006 and social loan volumes calculated by the two largest players in the US are around $50 million a month and growing, according to a report by TechCrunch. In the last 30 days, these two lending marketplaces issued 5 600 new loans totalling nearly $64 million with a borrower average interest rate of 15,81%.
Institutional investors are now pouring money into platforms like Lending Club and Prosper. With banking execs such as John Mack, former CEO of Morgan Stanley, joining social lending platform Lending Club, the industry is rapidly gaining credibility in North America. As Mack puts it: “When you think about what a bank does for customers, it takes deposits and makes personal loans. You don’t need to go to a bank to do that.”
A viable alternative
According to Emery, in the UK, the likes of the Bank of England and deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, are talking about Peer-to-Peer lenders as a viable alternative to high street banks in a world where credit is tight and expensive. “Small Peer-to-Peer lenders like Zopa and Funding Circle could in time replace high street banks,” Clegg said in an address to the UK parliament. Around the world, social lending is on the rise, and it can be expected to be big in South Africa, too.
So, what has caused social lending’s worldwide rise? The global economic crisis is certainly one factor. Trust is one of the biggest assets any bank owns and faith in the banking sector has been shaken to its roots by financial turmoil. Against this backdrop, people around the world are questioning why they should not take back a bit of the power they have traditionally given to the banks.
Another reason people are looking to social lending is that they are becoming more and more comfortable with social networks and crowd sourcing. From group buying to open-source software to social sharing of news and information, we count on the crowd for a range of needs. Why not social lending, provided it’s transparent and well-managed?
“Social lending is ultimately about people power,” says Emery. “Consumers are beginning to understand that there is something fundamentally flawed in a model where banks loan money out at prime plus two or three, take cash deposits on interest rates below prime, and essentially pocket the difference, in addition to a range of charges and fees.”
If the global growth numbers are any indicator, social lending is set to explode in South Africa, too. “If it does, expect to see some of the most exciting changes we have seen in the local banking sector for years as banks start to rethink their traditional approaches to cash loans.”
Top Sectors For SMEs In 2019
“As such, SMEs in the construction, communications and electrical fields are all likely to benefit from supply and sub-contracting agreements over the coming years.”
While the South African economy has been underperforming for a number of years, the first positive signs of turnaround started to become visible by the second quarter of 2018, and by the end of the third quarter, data supplied by Statistics South Africa showed that the economy had indeed grown by 2.2 percent, compared to the previous quarter. This uptick is expected to have a positive effect on business confidence in 2019.
This is according to Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that certain business sectors have already seen an increase in opportunities for small businesses and start-ups.
“While these sectors will not be without challenges, the following four industries are likely to offer the best opportunities for small and medium enterprise (SME) owners to grow their enterprises in the coming year.”
The World Travel and Tourism report 2018, revealed that the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to South Africa’s GDP has been projected to rise from R136bn in 2016 to R197.9bn by 2028 – set to make up a total of 3.3 percent of the country’s total GDP, says Lang.
“Although this sector experienced some setbacks in 2018, such as the drought in the Western Cape and stricter visa regulations for children entering the country, both the water restrictions and visa regulations have been relaxed and the sector is once again poised for growth,” he says.
Statistics South Africa has credited this industry with being the biggest driver of growth in the country’s GDP, having expanded by 7.5 percent in September 2018, says Lang. “To bolster this, Government has made a concerted effort to stimulate small business growth in this area with initiatives such as the Black Industrialist Programme and the SA Automotive Masterplan.”
He adds that businesses in the manufacturing sphere could therefore likely see significant opportunities in the form of outsourcing contracts and new partnerships with large corporates.
“The debate around land expropriation has occupied most of the discussions surrounding the agricultural sector in 2018, with some questioning growth prospects of this sector. However, this industry has a lot of growth ahead of it, as demonstrated by its 6.5 percent growth over the last three months of 2018,” explains Lang.
“Further to this, the industry is also already taking significant advantage of seven climatic regions in South Africa, with the export of a wide variety of high quality fruit and vegetables increasing substantially,” he points out. The recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease that has resulted in the suspension of the country’s FMD-free status will however significantly impact meat exporters.
In terms of opportunities for SMEs, he says that these may most likely be found in the rural and underdeveloped regions, where the need for resources like efficient transport, state-of-the-art cold storage, better irrigation and private power generation will be key to making agriculture projects more productive and competitive in the export market.
Data and information technology
Connectivity and information technology infrastructure are both crucial to business and employment growth in South Africa, says Lang.
“With many municipalities and the Western Cape government committing to providing all of its residents with free data as part of a plan to expand public Wi-Fi network access, it is clear that this is also becoming a high priority on a state level.”
It has also been reported that South Africa is awaiting the arrival of three international data centres, and large players in the communications sphere, including Vodacom, Telkom and Vumatel, are making huge strides in drastically growing the country’s fibre optic backbone, he adds. “As such, SMEs in the construction, communications and electrical fields are all likely to benefit from supply and sub-contracting agreements over the coming years.”
In conclusion, Lang says that as South Africa’s economic growth has started to turn around, business owners should keep their ears to the ground as 2019 is highly likely to be a year of opportunity.
Herman Mashaba To Talk On City Of Jo’burg Job Creation Initiative
Herman Mashaba to talk on City of Jo’burg job creation initiative at 2019 Business Day TV SME Summit.
Leading organisations at the SME Summit
SME Insurance Checklist For New Year
Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers, advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies.
Business owners who are planning for the year ahead should not overlook the importance of reviewing their insurance policies to ensure they are adequately covered against insurable risks.
Malesela Maupa, Head of Product and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, every year businesses face unique challenges ranging from credit and market risks, technological disruptions, compliance, operational and regulatory risks, amongst others. As a matter of precaution, insurance policies should at least be reviewed or updated once a year.
He advises SMEs to consider the following factors when reviewing their policies:
- Employee movements – if there are any employees who have left or joined the company, ensure that your policy is updated accordingly.
This type of cover normally depends on the role and contribution of the employee to the business. For instance, directors may be covered for Key Person Insurance and Directors & Officers Liability insurance.
- Protest Actions – this year is the national election year and leading up to elections we can expect to see an increase in the frequency and severity of protest actions, riots and strikes. Thus, it is essential to ensure that adequate special risks cover is in place from the South African Special Risks Insurance Association (SASRIA).
SASRIA provides cover to both individuals and businesses against special risks like civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism at affordable premiums.
- Cyber risks – it is essential to communicate with your insurer or broker and find out if there are any new risks that your business should be protected against. Cyber incidents continue to be a major risk for businesses especially in the SME sector. Over the last couple of years there has been a major increase in the number of reported cyber incidences.
More businesses are now facing increased cyber threats due to their increased dependency on technology, relating to their internal and customer data being compromised by fraudsters. It is therefore essential to have some form of cyber risk insurance cover and/or enhancement of data security protocols.
- Regulatory changes – every year there are a number of regulatory changes that impact businesses directly or indirectly, which may result in fines and penalties for non-compliance.
- Natural catastrophes – the increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather conditions, coupled with intensifying natural catastrophes will continue to have a significant impact on businesses.
Businesses should ensure they are adequately protected against these risks to avoid incurring sever financial losses.
- Business changes – should a business consider moving to a new location, purchasing new premises or venture into new business activities, these types of changes could have a major impact on its risks profile. As a result, the policy needs to be updated accordingly.
- New and Enhanced products – An innovative culture has taken over the insurance industry and ever so often we see the introduction of new products or the enhancement of existing products. Get in touch with you broker to advise you on any new products that might add value to your existing insurance portfolio.
“Reviewing your policy regularly gives you peace of mind knowing that you can focus on running your business effectively, without worrying about unforeseen risks,” concludes Maupa.
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