The Rise of Fintech Lending to Small Businesses: Businesses’ Perspectives on Borrowing

43 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2020

See all articles by Brett Barkley

Brett Barkley

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Mark E. Schweitzer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: April 3, 2020


Online lending through fintech firms is a rapidly expanding segment of the financial market that is receiving much attention from investors and increasing scrutiny from regulators. Research is only beginning to assess how fintech firms’ entry is altering the choices and outcomes of small businesses that borrow from them. The Federal Reserve Small Business Credit Survey is a unique data source on the experiences of business owners with new and more traditional sources of credit. We find that the businesses using online lenders are not representative of small and medium-size enterprise in the US. Businesses borrowing online are younger, smaller, and less profitable. Through reaching borrowers less likely to be served by traditional lenders fintech lenders have substantially expanded the small business finance market. We apply treatment effects estimators to flexibly control for composition differences in the borrowers. After controlling for compositional differences between online and bank borrower, we find that loan application amounts are generally smaller with fintech lenders; businesses that receive fintech loans expect more revenue and employment growth than those receiving a bank loan; and businesses that borrow from banks are more satisfied than businesses that borrow online, which are still more satisfied than businesses who were denied credit. These results highlight issues that the financial industry and regulators should examine as fintech lending to small businesses continues to expand.

Keywords: small business lending, online alternative lenders, fintech, firm growth

JEL Classification: G21, G23, G28, C31

Suggested Citation

Barkley, Brett and Schweitzer, Mark E., The Rise of Fintech Lending to Small Businesses: Businesses’ Perspectives on Borrowing (April 3, 2020). FRB of Cleveland Working Paper No. 20-11, Available at SSRN:

Brett Barkley

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland ( email )

East 6th & Superior
Cleveland, OH 44101-1387
United States

Mark E. Schweitzer (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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