So, it’s 2015. You can basically order anything online and have it delivered to your home. Tesla makes amazing electric cars. You can order, pay and have your favourite pizza delivered in just one click, and if you're in India - drones will deliver it. (For real.)

Heck, it’s been almost 50 years since humans FLEW to the MOON, LANDED and WALKED ON IT!

So why is it so hard to do something basic like get a loan from your bank? Canadians are a tech-savvy bunch – more of our population uses the internet than even the US, and we were early adopters of Facebook and other social media. But the process of getting a loan from a bank is pretty Stone Age.

I decided to find out for myself what was needed to get a loan from a bank. I knew the process would be more drawn-out than borrowing from an online provider like Borrowell, but I was really surprised by how, apart from accessing information on a website, it’s the same as it would have been pre-internet.

Little info available online

I started off by looking at the personal loans page on my bank’s website. There was clear information on the different types of loans available (personal, lines of credit, auto loans etc.). I also liked the loan calculator, showing me the monthly payments at different terms and rates. But when I looked for an ‘Apply’ button, all I could see was one asking me to ‘Find a branch’.

Call to find out more

I was presented with a choice of going into a branch or calling the customer service line to find out more. I call up, asking what the steps would be to get a personal loan.

I have to do what?!

Here’s how it would work:

  1. First meeting at the branch to apply for loan;
  2. Application gets sent off to another department in the bank for approval;
  3. Informed a few days later if you qualify;
  4. Second meeting in branch to sign documents.

I wouldn’t know if I could get a loan in real time. And I would have to find the time to schedule two trips to the branch during the week.

I wondered if there would be another, easier process if I went through my online banking. When I checked though, I was also just directed to visit a branch.

Maybe it’s just MY bank?

Maybe my bank is behind the times and others do much better. I went to another four banks’ websites, and, although there was some difference in usability, they all in the end boiled down to having to call a representative and go into a branch. None offered real-time loan decisions.

Quite often a bank had a minimum loan amount - say $3,000 or $5,000, making the product unattractive if I wanted less.

Why is it so hard?

I can understand why this is the case with trying to get a personal loan from a bank: because they have such a wide range of lending products on offer, it is difficult to design a process that is optimized for each.

The problem is that financial products that should be simpler and more accessible - like unsecured personal loans - are stuck with the processes of more complicated ones - like mortgages. The banks make far more money from mortgages, and upgrading technology can be very expensive, so there is little incentive to make the personal loans experience more customer-friendly.

Is there a better way?

Steve Jobs said: “Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.” I think it’s an important lesson for companies trying to change the way customers use a service, whether that is buying music or taking out a loan.

We tend to see financial services as somehow separate from other products we use, expecting, and being OK with, less innovation. I think this is partly tied to the other expectation we have that financial services companies should be stable and predictable. But there is a middle ground, combining responsibility with innovation.

The future is here

That’s why we’re proud at Borrowell with how we’re helping make responsible borrowing fast, fair and friendly for Canadians. And we’re always looking for new ways to improve our service and keep pace with technology. Our personalized loan platform allows Canadians to fill out a form in less than a minute and find out instantly if they qualify and what their loan options are.

We’ve had customers get loans to pay off credit cards, consolidate other debt into one payment, fund their small business, pay for wedding expenses and renovate their home. What would you do if it wasn’t a pain to get a loan?

Get a quote for free. It only takes a minute and doesn’t affect your credit score.


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