Are online lenders safe?

By Niko Iliakis ·

Like other banks and financial institutions, online lenders must adhere to certain laws and regulations laid out by regulatory bodies. In particular, they have to take steps to ensure it’s not beyond a borrower’s means to pay off a loan, as well as provide borrowers with relevant information to make informed decisions along the way.

Online lenders that are also authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs) are regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). Some examples are 86 400, ING, and UBank. 

Many online lenders don’t have an ADI license however, as they’re not in the business of providing savings accounts or term deposits. These include Athena Home Loans, Homestar, and loans.com.au.

While non-bank lenders aren’t regulated by APRA, they’re still subject to strict credit legislation, and can be ruled on by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) if they’re found engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct.

What happens to my mortgage if an online lender goes bust?

In the off chance an online lender you signed up with goes under, there’s little chance you’ll suffer as a result. While it’s natural to worry about your mortgage, there are procedures in place to make sure borrowers emerge from a lender’s collapse unscathed.

What’s most likely to happen is your lender will be absorbed by a larger bank, or its loan book will simply be sold to another lender. In both scenarios, you’ll continue making your mortgage repayments as before (unless your rate changes, in which case refinancing is always an option).

As for any money held in an offset account, this will be covered by the Financial Claims Scheme, a government initiative which protects deposits of up to $250,000 in the event that a bank, building society or credit union goes under. 

If an online lender holds an ADI licence (and they legally can’t offer offset accounts without one), the government will activate the FCS and turn things over to APRA, which will be responsible for paying customers the money they’re owed.

What is an online lender’s responsibility to borrowers?

In recent months, the government has announced plans to reduce ASIC’s role in enforcing responsible lending obligations, arguing that a less restricted flow of credit is necessary to speed up the pace of economic recovery.

For borrowers, this means lenders will be a bit more easy-going when assessing their ability to service a mortgage. There will still be an obligation to inform customers of their rights and the contracts being offered to them, but applications will otherwise be a bit streamlined.

So if you’re thinking of going with an online lender, you should take extra care to ensure all the information in your application is accurate. Since credit providers aren’t as likely to face consequences for poor lending decisions (at least for the time being), the burden of responsibility falls on you.

For a look at what customers say about online lenders, visit our rate and review section. And to see how they compare to others in the market, browse our home loans comparison page, where you’ll be able to filter your search by rate and type.

Home loan comparisons on Mozo - last updated December 05, 2020

Search promoted home loans below or do a full Mozo database search. Advertiser disclosure.

I want to borrow

years

  • 1.99% p.a.variable for 12 months and then 2.48% p.a. variable

    2.47% p.a.

      Compare
    Details
  • mozo-experts-choice-2020

    2.19% p.a. variable

    2.19% p.a.

      Compare
    Details
  • mozo-experts-choice-2020

    2.34% p.a. variable

    2.34% p.a.

      Compare
    Details
  • 2.04% p.a.
    fixed 3 years

    2.73% p.a.

      Compare
    Details
  • 2.09% p.a.
    fixed 2 years

    2.56% p.a.

      Compare
    Details

Talk to a Mozo home loans expert

Buying your first home, refinancing your existing home or thinking of investing? Speak to Steve, our home loans expert today!

^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Home Loans Awards

Mozo provides general product information. We don't consider your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and we aren't recommending any specific product to you. You should make your own decision after reading the PDS or offer documentation, or seeking independent advice.

While we pride ourselves on covering a wide range of products, we don't cover every product in the market. If you decide to apply for a product through our website, you will be dealing directly with the provider of that product and not with Mozo.