Do Fintech Lender Myths Hold Up? Not Exactly, TransUnion Says

EXCLUSIVE–Are fintech lenders really more risky, more desperate for customers, and more appealing to millennials? Not precisely, TransUnion told Bank Innovation.

As a credit reporting agency, TransUnion has a wealth of data on lenders, including fintechs, and put these rumors to the test with its newstudy, Fact or Fiction: Are Fintechs Different from Other Lenders?, released today.

Fintech lenderss are becoming a more established piece of the personal loan industry, according to the study, which noted that 30% of all personal loans in 2016 were issued by fintechs  (compared to the 28% they issued in 2016).

The study also looked to find the truth about several rumors fintechs might be facing.

“There’s specific narratives around, yes, the fintechs have been growing, but that’s really because they’re focusing on young millennials who don’t have access to credit anywhere else, they’re higher risk,” John Wirth, vice president of fintech strategy for TransUnion, told Bank Innovation. “What we wanted to do was take a look at what [TransUnion] data shows us about these fintechs.”

So what did the data show?

Firstly, fintechs were not shown to be more risky than other, traditional lenders, according to the TransUnion study. While fintechs do issue the largest loans “out of the risk spectrum,” they perform better on a portfolio basis, Wirth said.

Furthermore, despite industry perception, fintechs don’t focus their loans in the subprime category, according to Wirth.

“What’s really developing as a sweet spot for them is near-prime and prime,” Wirth said. “We see here that subprime is by far the smallest proportion of where they’re funding loans.”

Along with their loan category and risk tolerance, the study also showed that fintechs aren’t really more appealing to millennial customers. In fact, millennials are the lowest category of customers for fintech.

“One of the narratives out there is that the kids want [fintech lenders], that it’s really for millennials and no one else is interested,” Wirth said. “Actually, [fintechs] have the highest concentration of 30 to 64 year-olds.”

The full TransUnion study can be found here.