Fintechs increase exposure to gig economy workers as inflation increases demand for loans

Fintechs and payday lenders are aggressively lending to gig economy workers even as banks and large non-bank financial corporations (NBFCs) become more conservative in the space. Fintech lenders saw demand for food and grocery delivery managers with various app-based platforms jump up to 40% in Q4FY22, industry executives said. Higher demand, in turn, is fueled by high inflation, which drives delivery managers to borrow more to bridge cash flow mismatches.

Lenders active in the segment believe demand stems from improving consumer trends as the pandemic recedes. Bhavin Patel, co-founder and CEO of LenDenClub, said that with an increase in consumption, the need for delivery frameworks has grown across industries for various app-based platforms.

Additionally, as the size of the workforce increases, many delivery managers are looking for small loans or payday advances and payday loans to meet their operating expenses. The increase in demand is also due to the targeting of the product to the segment, Patel said. There isn’t enough data to determine whether a surge in inflation has anything to do with rising demand, according to Patel.

Others, however, take a gloomier view of the situation. They point out that even though the prices of fuel and other essentials have jumped, there has not been a concomitant increase in wages earned by delivery executives. To make matters worse, the increase in 10-minute deliveries has led to an increase in traffic violations and fines paid by delivery officials.

A delivery executive can be loaned up to 30-40% of their monthly income and terms range from one month to three months. Interest rates vary between 18% and 30%. LenDen Club’s Patel says there is little reason to worry about indebtedness in the segment, as loans are only approved after reviewing borrower’s credit bureau data and assessing their ability reimbursement.

Yet concerns about high leverage remain. “The money they’re borrowing now is basically bridge financing. By its very nature, it’s prone to high churn, which means the guy keeps taking out loans from new apps to pay off old ones,” an industry executive said on condition of anonymity. .

Given how precarious the finances of gig workers are, major lenders have recently backed off from funding them. Abhishek Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of CreditVidya, said banks and big NBFCS are getting cautious in the segment. “The risk perception of the segment has increased significantly over the past few months, as the cost of living has increased for them without any concomitant increase in their income. However, some fintechs and payday lenders continue to lend to gig economy workers and the interest rates on these loans are quite high,” Agarwal said.