Before you sign the dotted line for finance for your small business, consider comparing the differences between finance products and lenders.
Lenders that provide you with a SMART Box™ allow you to easily compare different lenders and/or products in a standardised language.
How SMART Box™ will help you get the best business loan
Finding the right business loan isn’t easy.
One of the biggest challenges is the lack of transparency when it comes to borrowing money – all too often, lenders hide details of their costs deep inside the small print. What looks like a great deal can turn out to be the most expensive of the lot, once you find out about the monthly management fees, or that admin fee they charge to process every single repayment you make...
And then there’s the problem that lenders use different methods to calculate interest on their products, so all too often you can find yourself trying to compare apples with oranges, coconuts and even blocks of cheese!
Lend exists to help you find and compare business loan products, making it much easier to find the best deal. We work with all of Australia’s top fintech lenders, saving you time and hassle of trawling through scores of websites trying to figure out your options.
But the problem of those hidden costs still remained
We’re delighted to welcome the launch of SMART Box™, a new tool that will disclose the cost of business loans in a standardised way from Australia’s leading fintechs;
This is excellent news for Australian SMEs, and an important step forward for the fintech industry.
What is SMART Box™ and where did it come from?
The lack of regulation in the fintech industry is one of the biggest drawbacks of alternative lending, as many online lenders can be unscrupulous in their treatment of small business owners.
But back in 2016, the fintech industry in the US decided to smarten up their act. It began when the three largest online small business lenders came together to develop a new code of ethics for their industry.
Their goal was to make sure that finance providers lend responsibly and that small businesses get treated fairly. Above all, they wanted to make it easier for small business owners to understand and assess their options, by making sure they get ‘clear, consistent, and accurate information’ about the finance products on offer.
The launch of the code of ethics was followed by several months’ consultation with lenders, trade associations and business owners to develop a tool that would truly meet borrowers’ needs. The result was SMART Box™, which stands for ‘Straightforward Metrics Around Rate and Total cost’. Its purpose is to help borrowers answer these three vital questions:
- "Is this the right product for my needs?"
- "Do I know exactly what it is going to cost?"
- "Do I know that I can’t get a better deal elsewhere?"
SMART Box™ has been available to US business borrowers since 2016 – and now, at last, Australian businesses can benefit too.
Last year, Australia’s leading online small business lenders came together to develop our own Code of best practice lending principles, with support from the Australian Finance Industry Association (AFIA), Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, theBankDoctor.org and FinTech Australia. And now, they’ve also launched SMART Box™ here in Australia.
By 31 December 2018 seven lenders – Capify, GetCapital, Lumi, Moula, OnDeck, Prospa and Spotcap – had been certified as compliant with the new code. This means that, as well as giving you peace of mind that they will treat you fairly, they’ll provide you with full and consistent information about their loan products using the SMART Box™ tool.
So what information will SMART Box™ give you?
There are three versions of SMART Box to cater for the following three different types of small business financing: Term Loan, MCA (Merchant Cash Advance), and Line of Credit.
As you can see, it will tell you the following:
|Loan amount||The sum you’re borrowing, before fees and interest.|
|Disbursement amount||The sum you’ll receive from the lender, which will be the loan amount minus any set-up fees.|
|Repayment amount||The total amount you’ll have to repay, including interest and fees.|
|Term||How long you’ll be borrowing for, and how frequently you’ll be making repayments.|
|Total cost of credit||How much you’ll pay for your finance, including interest and all unavoidable costs (but not fees such as late payment penalties that you’ll only pay if you don’t meet your obligations).|
|Average monthly payment||This will be the total repayment amount, divided by the number of months in the borrowing term. It’s provided to help you compare your monthly cost, even if you’ll actually be paying daily, weekly or fortnightly (or on a schedule to suit your business needs).|
|Total interest percentage||The amount of interest (excluding fees) as a percentage of the amount you’re borrowing.|
|Annual percentage rate (APR)||The full amount of interest you’ll pay, divided by the number of years in your loan term – assuming that you repay your loan (and reduce your outstanding principal) on the agreed schedule.|
|Cents on the dollar||The amount of interest and fees you’ll pay per dollar you borrow (this excludes any set-up (‘origination’) fees though.|
|Factor rate||The total amount you’ll repay as a multiple of the amount you’re borrowing. e.g. if you borrow $100,000 and your repayment amount is $130,000, your factor rate is 1.3.|
|Prepayment||Whether you’ll have to pay fees or penalties if you repay the loan early, and whether early repayment will save you any interest or fees.|
You can also use our Factor Rate to APR calculator here.
Why SMART Box™ is important for you
If you’re looking for business finance, it really is crucial that you compare your options before taking the plunge. Finance can be a major expense and if you’re using it to help you grow or expand, you need to be certain that the benefits of your loan will outweigh the costs.
After all, if you use finance to buy a new piece of equipment so you can sell more products, but the cost of your loan eats up all the profits of your extra sales and more, you could quickly end up in financial trouble. But a more affordable loan might make the purchase viable and help you take your business to the next level.
SMART Box™ will give you all the information you need to evaluate your options properly, create an accurate business case for your borrowing and make a fully informed decision about whether to borrow, how much, and from whom. So if the lender you’ve chosen is compliant with the new Code, be sure to ask for the SMART Box™ information before you apply.
Of course, you still have to find the products you want to explore…
That’s where Lend comes in.
How to compare business loans
We work with all of Australia’s major lenders, bringing together information about small business loans in one place. From unsecured business loans, invoice finance to merchant cash; Lend makes it easy for you to find out what products are available to your business, and compare interest rates or factor rates to help you identify and narrow down your options.
Then, once you’ve found products that look promising, you can contact the lenders for the full SMART BoxTM disclosure and find out exactly what you’ll pay for your finance before you make your finanl decision.