Small Business Loan Approval Rates Dropped to Record Lows in April 2020: Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index™

PPP Lending Dominates Small Business Lending, but Some Companies Applied for Non-CARES Act Funding

Small business leading

Biz2Credit Small Business Leading IndexTM

Small Business Loan Approval Rates Dropped to Record Lows in April 2020

Big Banks

Big Banks

The approval percentage for small business loan applications at big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) plummeted below double digits to just 8.9%, down from 15.4% in March and an all-time high 28.3% in February 2020, according to the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index™ released today. The April 2020 figure was the lowest approval rate for big banks since the Index began in January 2011. The rates do not reflect PPP loan approval rates; the approvals for PPP loans are made by the government, rather than by the banks themselves.According to the Jobs Report issued on Friday, May 8, 2020, total non-farm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April. The unemployment rate, which was well below 4% for most of the past two years, rose to 14.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The changes in these measures reflect the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Employment fell sharply in all major industry sectors but was particularly heavy in the travel, leisure, and hospitality sectors. “These economic figures underscore the importance of getting capital into the hands of small business owners quickly,” Arora said. “There is limited time left to act to save America’s small businesses for the foreseeable future.”

March 2020
15.4%
April 2020
8.9%

Monthly Comparison

April 2019
27.5%
April 2020
8.9%

Yearly Comparison

“The decline was wholly expected, but still startling,” said Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Arora, who oversees the monthly research. “Until February, the economy was as strong as we had ever seen, and big banks were lending at unprecedented frequency. Now, unemployment is at Depression era-levels. The rapidity of this change is still hard to comprehend even two months later.”

Rohit Arora

Rohit Arora, Biz2Credit CEO

Small Banks

Small Banks

The approval rate at small banks has also plummeted, falling to 11.8% in April, down from 38.9% in March and 50.3% in February. Smaller institutions approved more than half (52%) of the small businesses receiving loans and a total of 47% of the PPP Second Round’s total loan volume of $88.91 billion, according to the latest figures from the SBA. In Round Two, smaller banks comprise over 95.7% of PPP-participating lenders (5,229 in total). Community lenders and smaller federally insured banks and credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets have processed almost 40% of all PPP loans (loan count 972,611) across both rounds of funding, the SBA reported.

march 2020
38.9%
april 2020
11.8%

Monthly Comparison

april 2019
49.8%
april 2020
11.8%

Yearly Comparison

“Smaller banks have been overwhelmed by a flood of PPP loan requests, but they have still had some non-PPP applications. The approvals for these loan applications are strikingly low,” Arora said. “Regional and community banks are being asked to play a large role in the recovery of small businesses. We can expect this to continue, particularly since the PPP loans come with government backing.”

Rohit Arora

Rohit Arora, Biz2Credit CEO

Institutional lenders

Institutional lenders

Institutional lenders’ approval percentages plummeted to 18.1% from 41.2% in March and a record high of 66.5% in February.

march 2020
41.2%
april 2020
18.1%

Monthly Comparison

April 2019
65.3%
April 2020
18.1%

Yearly Comparison

“Institutional lenders may be shying away from lending to small businesses at the moment. They became important players in the small business lending marketplace because of relatively high yields and low default rates. Unfortunately, this is not the case right now,” Arora said. “Looking long term, I do expect them to regain their strength and become important players again.”

Rohit Arora

Rohit Arora, Biz2Credit CEO

Alternative lenders

Alternative lenders

The fall of loan approval rates among alternative lenders dropped to just 15.2%, which fell from 30.4% in March and 55.9% in February.

March 2020
30.4%
April 2020
15.2%

Monthly Comparison

April 2019
57.2%
April 2020
15.2%

Yearly Comparison

“Because PPP loans come at just a 1% interest rate and, in many cases, will be forgivable, companies looked for other options besides funding from alternative lenders,” Arora said. “However, because of the speed at which they can make decisions and put money into the bank accounts of small businesses, they are likely to be some of the first to return to high levels of funding as the crisis eases. They may not again reach pre-coronavirus levels, but there will still be a place for them in the small business lending marketplace.”

Rohit Arora

Rohit Arora, Biz2Credit CEO

Credit unions

Credit unions

The approval percentage rate for credit unions hit another record low for the third straight month. Credit unions approved 18.1% of funding requests in April, following March’s approval percentage of 23.2%, and 39.6% in February.

March 2020
23.2%
April 2020
18.1%

Monthly Comparison

April 2019
40.1%
April 2020
18.1%

Yearly Comparison

“Credit unions struggled in the business lending marketplace for quite some time even before the coronavirus came along,” said Arora. “Many of them were shut out in the first round of PPP funding, and thus the businesses that applied with them for loans did not stand much of a chance. The Treasury Department and SBA made some changes, so the figure may rise next month. Credit unions that have their own digital loan application systems or that partnered with FinTech firms to enable online applications now have a big leg up on the competition.”

Rohit Arora

Rohit Arora, Biz2Credit CEO

View Past Months

Access Archives

March 2020

Small Business Loan Approval Rates Plummet in March 2020: Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index™

All Categories of small business lenders nosedive as coronavirus wreaks havoc on the economy

View Report
February 2020

Small Business Loan Approval Rates at Big Banks Remain at Record High in February 2020: Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index™

Small Banks and Alternative Lenders drop, and Credit Unions remain at all-time low

View Report
January 2020

Small Business Loan Approval Rates at Big Banks Reach New Record in January 2020: Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index™

Small banks drop slightly, while Credit Unions hit new bottom

View Report
December 2019

Banks’ Small Business Loan Approval Rates Hit Record High in December 2019: Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index™

Improvement seen at big banks, small banks, and institutional investors

View Report

About Biz2Credit Small Business Lending IndexTM

The Biz2Credit Small Business Lending IndexTM is an analysis of 1,000 monthly loan applications on the Biz2Credit website. The Index reports the loan approval rates of small business financing requests at Big Banks ($10 billion+ in assets), local and regional banks and non-bank lenders (credit unions, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), micro lenders, and others).

Unlike other surveys, the results are based on primary data submitted by more than 1,000 entrepreneurs who applied for funding on Biz2Credit's online lending platform, which connects small business borrowers with sources of capital.

Results of the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending IndexTM have been reported by The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur.com, Bloomberg Radio's "The Hays Advantage", SBA Radio, NY Daily News, Crain's NY Business, Michigan Banker, and other media.