最有看点的互联网金融门户

最有看点的互联网金融门户
专栏全新的互联网金融模式国际资讯基于互联网平台的金融业务

数字借贷反致部分贫民深陷困境,回归普惠金融本质迫在眉睫

专栏全新的互联网金融模式国际资讯基于互联网平台的金融业务

数字借贷反致部分贫民深陷困境,回归普惠金融本质迫在眉睫

移动货币对于有手机的人来说就相当于银行基本账号,一直被认为有助于推动普惠金融发展。然而最近却有研究显示,通过手机实现的数字信贷正导致某些地方出现借贷过多和经济困境,甚至甚至让当地社会朝着与普惠金融相反的方向发展,这不免让人有些意外和失望。

最严重的情况是在东非。肯尼亚是移动货币和借贷等移动金融服务领域的先锋,其最大的移动货币服务平台M-PESA拥有2000多万用户。事实证据表明,肯尼亚目前的滥用情况愈演愈烈,许多年轻人借钱去在线赌博网站挥霍。三年前,肯尼亚国家信贷局黑名单中禁止借贷的人数为15万人,现在已增加到了50万人。50多家借贷机构提供的移动信贷发展迅猛是造成这类上涨的主要原因。贷款大部分只是几美元或几十美元,为期几天或几周,但带来的伤害却持续很久。

最近针对借款人和借贷机构进行的两项调查表明,情况还在继续恶化。其中一项调查是由世界银行下属扶贫协商小组(CGAP)负责,该机构通过电话访问了数千名肯尼亚和坦桑尼亚手机用户,并分析了2000多万笔数字贷款的数据。调查发现,有35%的肯尼亚受访者和21%的坦桑尼亚受访者获得过数字贷款,在这些人中,有47%(肯尼亚)和21%(坦桑尼亚)的人有过延迟还款,12%(肯尼亚)和31%(坦桑尼亚)的人有过违约行为,还有少数人承认自己参与赌博。但就违约和延迟还款人数而言,实际人数可能更多,深夜时分的借款人更有可能违约。

另一项调查是伦敦智囊团金融创新研究中心(CSFI)自2008年开始的系列调查中的第七次调查,这项调查访问了全球小额贷款信贷机构和类似机构,了解他们的主要忧虑。今年,"技术"首次成为排名第一的风险。对此,CSFI总结认为"有助于推动发展,但也可能导致更多风险,特别是会鼓励人们借入过多。"

当然,数字借贷机构的优势就在于借贷非常便捷。例如缅甸的Mother Finance网站,号称"无需纸质文件或抵押"。位于巴基斯坦的SimSim是一款由金融科技公司FINJA和小额信贷提供商运营的数字钱包,提供"纳米贷款",借款人按时还款后,额度会进一步提高。

令人担忧的是,东非出现的问题可能也会在移动货币尚未普及的其他市场出现。有两大措施可以防止这种情况发生。第一是更好的监管。智囊团Accion普惠金融中心的Deborah Drake认为"监管速度很难跟上金融科技的发展速度。"例如,东非大部分数字借贷实际都处于无监管状态。但在巴基斯坦,由于小额信贷公司的资金不可借出用于消费,因此SimSim的纳米借贷已经中止了一段时间。

第二项措施是更好的信贷评估。通过分析客户手机上的付款和其他数据,算法可向银行拒绝借款的群体提供贷款。随着数据积累,小额信贷机构的判断准确度也会随之提高。如果这些机构必须向信贷局报告各类消息(通常来说,目前还没有强制要求),那他们应该停止成为新型金融排斥的工具。

与此同时,肯尼亚许多小额贷款的年利率达到几个百分点,说明借贷机构实际针对违约率的定价过高,这也强调了普惠金融领域的紧张局面。普惠金融许多领头机构的社会使命在于缓解贫困,但这也需要商业借贷机构参与其中。能够享受数字平台所带来的新机遇的机构,不仅包括本意良好的小额信贷机构,也包括谋求暴利的发薪日贷款机构。

MOBILE MONEY, which offers the equivalent of a basic bank account to almost anyone with any sort of phone, has long been seen as a boon for financial inclusion. So recent evidence that it is leaving problems in its wake is causing dismay. Digital credit through mobile phones is leading in some places to overborrowing, hardship and-horror of horrors-even more financial exclusion.

The starkest evidence is in east Africa. Thanks to M-PESA, its largest mobile-money service, with over 20m users, Kenya has been a pioneer in both mobile money and mobile financial services, such as lending. Anecdotal evidence is mounting of abuses-most notoriously of young Kenyans borrowing to splurge on online betting sites. The number of Kenyans blacklisted by the country's credit bureaus, and so unable to borrow, has risen to more than 500,000, up from 150,000 three years ago. The proliferation of mobile credit, offered by over 50 competing lenders, is blamed for the increase. The loans are mostly a few dollars and the maturities a matter of days or weeks. But the damage could be lasting.

Two recent surveys, one of borrowers, one of lenders, suggest the scale of the problem. One, by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a consortium of donors affiliated to the World Bank, used telephone calls to thousands of mobile-phone users in Kenya and Tanzania and analysis of data from over 20m digital loans. It found that 35% of respondents in Kenya and 21% in Tanzania had taken out digital loans. Of these, 47% in Kenya and 56% in Tanzania reported having made late repayments, and 12% and 31%, respectively, had defaulted. Less than 40% said they were borrowing for business needs. Few admitted to gambling. But, as with the default and late-payment numbers, self-reporting may make this an understatement. Late-night borrowers are more likely to default.

The second survey is the seventh in a series started in 2008 by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI), a London-based think-tank. It asks microcredit-lenders and the like around the world about their main worries. This year, for the first time, the number-one risk was "technology". This, the CSFI concluded, "is facilitating growth but making excessive risk-taking more likely, particularly by encouraging people to overborrow."

Certainly, the appeal of new digital lenders is that they make it easy to borrow. "No paperwork or collateral required" boasts, for example, the website of Mother Finance in Myanmar. SimSim, a digital wallet in Pakistan run by a fintech company, FINJA, and a microcredit provider, offers "nanoloans" that can get bigger as the borrower establishes a repayment history.

The fear is that the problems seen in east Africa herald similar ones in other markets, where mobile money has not yet made such inroads. Two factors could help prevent this. One is better regulation. "Fintech", says Deborah Drake of the Centre for Financial Inclusion at Accion, a think-tank, "is evolving quicker than regulation can keep up." Much digital lending in east Africa, for example, is in effect unregulated. But in Pakistan SimSim's nanoloans were halted for a while, since the funds came from a microfinance firm not authorised to lend for consumption.

The second measure is better credit assessment. By analysing payments and other data on a client's phone, algorithms can be used to lend to borrowers to whom banks would never lend. As data pile up, microlenders' judgments should improve-and if they have to give credit bureaus good news as well as bad (often, now, they are not so obliged), they should stop being vehicles for new financial exclusion.

In the meantime, the annualised interest rate on many microloans in Kenya is several hundred percent, suggesting that lenders are, in effect, pricing in high rates of default. And that highlights a tension in the financial-inclusion business. Many of its pioneers have a social mission, namely to alleviate poverty. But they also rely on commercial lenders to carry it out. Digital platforms offer new opportunities for do-gooding microfinanciers, but also for cut-throat payday lenders.

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