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Jakarta Post

Requests for loan restructuring on the rise as COVID-19 hits P2P borrowers

  • Eisya A. Eloksari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, April 21, 2020   /   04:00 pm
Requests for loan restructuring on the rise as COVID-19 hits P2P borrowers AFPI also reported that P2P lenders had experienced an average 5 percent decline in loan disbursements in April from March this year. (Shutterstock/Zapp2Photo)

Like conventional lenders, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms have also received a rising number of loan restructuring applications, as the emergency measures implemented by the government have also affected their clients.

According to a recent survey by the Indonesian Fintech Lenders Association (AFPI), about half of the association’s members have received loan restructuring applications from their clients. But the association said it had yet to receive information about the exact number of P2P lenders who have eased loan repayment rules.

The requests came after the Financial Service Authority (OJK) issued a regulation on countercyclical measures in early April to help borrowers, especially small and medium enterprises (SME), affected by the COVID-19.

“Fintech P2P lenders are platforms that facilitate lenders and borrowers. We are different from banks because we do not provide loans, so the restructuration process will be different,” said AFPI chairman Sunu Widyatmoko during a press conference on Monday.

Financial Services Authority (OJK) fintech director Hendrikus Passagi told The Jakarta Post that fintech lending platforms adhere to OJK Regulation (POJK) 77 and existing regulations such as the Criminal Code (KUHP), especially those related to contract agreements.

Therefore, he said there was no need to formulate any new regulations regarding loan restructuring in fintech lending during the pandemic.

“It is not unusual for borrowers to request for payment deferrals as long as they provide a valid reason. Such mechanisms should always be available in the contract between lenders and borrowers,” he said. 

AFPI spokesman Tumbur Pardede said some association members may agree to ease loan repayment rules, but it would be applied selectively and differently depending on the condition of each borrower.

As such, only borrowers whose businesses are negatively affected by the pandemic and those who have lenders’ permission would be allowed to restructure their loans, he said, adding that not all SMEs had suffered because many of them offer good businesses as they provide for hospitals or sell their goods in e-commerce.

AFPI also reported that P2P lenders had experienced an average 5 percent decline in loan disbursements in April from March this year.

“But we predict that there will be a rise in loan applications as needs are also increasing during Ramadan,” Tumbur said.

P2P lending platform Investree chief risk officer Amalia Safitri said 15 percent of its borrowers had been affected by the pandemic, such as those in the café, restaurant and retail business.

However, only 1 percent of the vulnerable sectors have asked for loan payment delays while 2 to 3 percent have only requested a loan restructuring.

“The challenge is contacting each lender individually because one portfolio can be funded by hundreds of people,” she told the press, adding that in April or May, the company was expecting more requests for loan restructuring because many of its corporate clients needed to pay Idul Fitri bonuses (THR) to their employees.

Amalia went on to say that the loan delays and interest cuts would increase Investree’s non-performing loan (NPL) rate by about 2 percent by the end of the year.

Another P2P lending fintech, Crowdo, reported that between 2 or 3 percent of its portfolio funding had been affected by the pandemic, but it also recorded a rise in loan applications from borrowers in the consumer goods and retail sectors.

The company’s chief operating offer, Nur Vitriani, said Crowdo was also contacting its lenders as well as doing reassessments on its borrowers before allowing them to get a facility to extend loan repayment periods. She said borrowers who had missed payments before March were not eligible for the loan restructuring facilities.

Meanwhile, sharia-based P2P lenders have been hit by the pandemic as Saudi Arabia halted all umrah (minor haj) and haj in March, according to Sharia P2P lender Amaana CEO Lutfi Ardiansyah.

“However, debt restructuring does not apply to sharia lending. We simply reduce the profit shares for lenders depending on how the borrowers’ business is doing,” he said.

Amid the growing trend of loan restructuring , micro P2P lending Tokomodal reported it had received more loan applications since the outbreak and none of its borrowers had asked for leeway in loan payments.

Tokomodal gives short-term loans, in days or weeks, to micro- and small shops such as warungs.

“Warungs sell daily needs such as staple foods and cleaning products and ever since the outbreak, people are shopping at warungs more than they do at shopping malls," he said. "That is why we have yet seen any restructuration requests [from them]."