OnDeck Australia targets young and unsecured

OnDeck Australia chief Cameron Poolman says there is a big opportunity for the new business lender to satisfy demand from emerging entrepreneurs who cannot offer up a home as security for a bank loan.

Cameron Poolman, local chief executive of US online business lender OnDeck, says it wants to be a mainstream business lender, not just a small alternative.
Cameron Poolman, local chief executive of US online business lender OnDeck, says it wants to be a mainstream business lender, not just a small alternative.CREDIT:LOUIE DOUVIS

The local arm of one of the biggest of the new online business lenders, OnDeck Capital, quietly began lending in Australia two weeks ago, seven months after establishing its third office outside the United States.

In Australia, banks don’t lend to small business without security – usually the family home. But Mr Poolman said apart from the existing 2.1 million small businesses, there is emerging demand from an increasingly entrepreneurial younger generation who have no home to offer as security.

OnDeck claims to have created 73,000 jobs in the US, via its loans, since it began lending just before the global financial crisis in 2007. OnDeck Australia has 15 staff but after a US-based sales team has finished training new recruits, it will look to increase that to about 40 by the end of 2016.

Mr Poolman said the company is at the very early stages – so much so they still ring a bell in their Martin Place, Sydney, office each time they get a new customer – after writing its first loan in Australia on November 18.

Accounting software company MYOB is a 30 per cent shareholder in OnDeck Australia and its 1.2 million-strong small-business customer base will be a crucial distribution channel for OnDeck.

But he wants to grow faster than its listed US parent, which recently clocked up $US3 billion in loans and on Wednesday signed its biggest partnership to date with giant investment bank JPMorgan Chase.

“We are about three years behind OnDeck in the US but hopefully, we can get to where they are now faster,” he said.

NSW Trade Minister Stuart Ayres was keen to point out he has been lobbying OnDeck to choose Sydney as one of the first places to launch outside the US due to its high profile.

“OnDeck is a bit of a disrupter in that space and bringing them [here] adds some diversity into the small-business loans market,” he said.

“Having a high-profile organisation like OnDeck is also a really strong brand positioner; that we’re not just an established financial services city but prepared to promote new business models.”

OnDeck has started out with unsecured term loans of $10,000 to $150,000, from six to 24 months. Unlike many rivals that have set up recently, it has set a minimum threshhold of $100,000 in revenue for the businesses it will lend to – which means it is more directly competing with the banks, albeit on an unsecured basis.

Interest rates start near 17 per cent and will probably go up to more than 40 per cent. But rates are “risk based”, meaning they are tailored to the borrower’s risk.

After establishing itself just before the GFC in 2007, OnDeck in the US is now lending up to $US500,000 for up to three years.

When it listed on the New York Stock Exchange just a year ago, its rates were19-99 per cent, but these are now down to 6 per cent on its longest-term loans.

OnDeck in the US now offers the full gamut of business loans, from working capital to term loans and lines of credit. In Canada, where it launched before Australia, it now offers a line of credit as well. Mr Poolman said the company wants to be a full service lender in Australia as well.



This article is from the SMH, you can read the full article here: