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"Now might as well hang yourself ...": The pandemic has covered microcredit organizations and their borrowers
11 April 2020, 11:37
"Now might as well hang yourself ...": The pandemic has covered microcredit organizations and their borrowers
Who remembers the golden time? “Loans of 25 000 rubles even to homeless people! Without the refusal and verification”.

An MFI advertisement with a name in tune with the simple Russian word “zamanukha” - that means the lure - still hangs on the Internet, but it’s from the past life, just like this organization itself. The pandemic has strongly crippled the ranks and business of microcredit organizations.

Lyudmila Butuzova

Since mid-March, the offices of microcredit organizations located in crowded shopping centers began to quietly stop, a week later, due to the aggravation of the epidemiological situation, the governors of several regions deprived them of the opportunity to work. Microcredit companies in the Tula and Saratov regions, Crimea, Udmurtia, and Krasnoyarsk Territory have faced this problem. To this day in the regions you will not find a point that gives loans from hand to hand. In Moscow, according to official figures, all MFI offices are closed. Unofficially, I can confirm: there were 7 of them on the metro station on Ryazan Avenue - shoulder to shoulder on a tiny patch - now they are inactive, the windows are dusty with a finger thick and the ads are shabby with life, “There is no money. There is no crown. ”

The same fate befell the pawnshops, although they lasted longer. As of March 28, about 80% of pawnshops worked, by April 2, no more than 10% remained, ”the chairman of the Association of Pawnshops Development Association Sergei Sokovnikov told the media. The Association sent a letter to the Central Bank with a request to prepare a document allowing pawnshops to carry out ongoing activities - to finance citizens for urgent needs.

In the meantime, the Pervouralsk city court imposed sanctions on Fianit-Lombard at the suit of Rospotrebnadzor. “We have a flurry of inspections and instructions from the Rospotrebnadzor, the police, the Russian Guard and representatives of local administrations,” said Stanislav Boronin, general director of the network.

In short, as long as the country has a pandemic, we will not see loans. By the end of it, it seems, the ranks of the “national breadwinners” will also become much thinner. The existence of such a problem is recognized in the SRO MiR (self-regulatory organization of microfinance organizations). At continuous meetings, the same thing is said: despite the increase in demand for loans, the work of MFIs during the quarantine period is under threat. The organization intends to seek clarification from the regional authorities. True, no one has the headache that the authorities have a headache for the survival of MFIs. “They are not up to us now,” said Elman Mehdiyev, chairman of the board of the SRO MiR. However, he insists that the decision to close or reduce the number of operating field offices should be made by the heads of the MFIs themselves: “Where the epidemiological situation allows, work should be continued. But, I repeat, only in those regions where the special regime has not been introduced, ”Mehdiyev said.

Market experts consider the current difficulties to be a continuation of the tests that fell to the share of MFIs last year (limiting interest rates on loans, the prohibition on granting loans secured by real estate, debt collection through the courts, etc.).

“Small players are still unlikely to be able to completely reorganize and adapt to the regulatory requirements of last year,” says Nadezhda Dimchenko, Director for Regional Development, Client Products and Services at IFC MigCredit. “The requirements of the Central Bank have bracketed about 30% of MFIs, now the forecast can only worsen. I have concerns that another third of organizations will not pass the coronavirus check.”

Financial analyst Roman Makarov has a tougher forecast: "The decrease in players in the register will accelerate sharply - about 40% of MFIs will leave it, and by the beginning of next year, less than 1000 companies may remain on the legal market."

According to statistics from the Central Bank, as of March 27, 1733 microfinance organizations were operating in Russia. In 2019, 63% of loans were issued at MFI branches. Feel the difference if less than 1000 campaigns survive.

True, not everything is as sad as it might seem at first glance. There are also advantages. In particular, for the online segment. All, without exception, predict its growth. Moreover, dynamic and substantial. Andrey Ponomarev, CEO of Webbank financial online platform, is satisfied with the prospects: “Previously, such a service was convenient for the client. Now she has become safe too. ”

We can agree with this: remote transfer of money prevents the spread of infection and allows you to "more carefully approach the assessment of borrowers" - i.e. upon refusal-online 100% guarantee that the client will not get into a fight.

Another question is whether all MFIs are ready to “change scoring settings”. In the regions, it was not online users who took microcredits, but homeless people, pensioners and illiterate people, many of them did not know what a computer looked like, but they had a good idea of where people were sitting who could be borrowed. Where are they? Anna Kalugina, General Director of IFC Karmani LLC, said that a large proportion of the employees have been transferred to a remote location: “We have a wide geography of presence, which is not limited to Moscow, there is a large Operations Center in Orel, as well as in several other regions. In total, more than 400 people. Today 95% of employees work remotely. ”

- They just closed - and that’s it! For me, this is a disaster, ”Galina Kolmogorova, an individual entrepreneur from Orel, told NI. “I’ve been sitting for a month without a penny, - the quarantine market, us home.” Debt above the roof. They do not give credit at the bank — everyone who has previously dealt with MFIs does not inspire confidence. Tagged contingent. I have nowhere else to go, only in Quick Money. I would take it now at any interest. Well really - there is nothing to eat!

There are many such as Kolmogorov in Orel. Crowds go, she says, in the office on Komsomolskaya they even tear off the handle on the door - they demanded that at least someone come out to them. Friendly managers until recently now send only letters threatening to repay debts. There is no way to meet and explain your situation. To receive a loan in absentia there are also few chances.

“We cannot hide our heads in the sand and give out loans to everyone who asks.” - shared with “NI” Valentina Andreyevna, senior manager of the office, in which the door handle was torn off. - MFIs issue money on the principles of urgency and repayment. - Our regular customers have 3-4 overdue loans. And these are only those that we know about. The probability of their return is small. In conditions when many sectors of the economy feel the impact of the crisis, the requirements for borrowers will be tightened. What to do is difficult for everyone now.

MFIs, as it were, are no exception. All companies based in Orel, according to Valentina Andreevna, asked the owners of the premises to reduce their rent by 50%. The maximum that they managed to get -20% (10 thousand rubles) from April-Orel residents in April.

The maximum loan that MFIs can now immediately approve in the regions does not exceed 5,000 rubles. Before the epidemic, in a relatively “calm" February of this year. as explained by "NI" in the analytical department of Loko-Invest, the average loan amount was 10 thousand rubles. and remained virtually unchanged (10, 2 thousand) even from March 16 to March 23. Explosive demand for loans was not observed. Chairman of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina praised this as a good sign: "The Russians are not ready to go on loan quarantine." Later, the Central Bank predicted that "in quarantine, the Russians will not have time for loans."

“The situation was different from the ground,” said Sergey Dotsenko, financial expert at Premier Plus. - The Russians understand that it’s not the time to live on credit, but they don’t have another opportunity to solve even everyday consumer issues. Some consumer retardation was associated with an unexpected challenge: which is worse - coronavirus or financial crisis? The week of forced vacations, overwhelmingly, without payment, at one’s own expense, and a stupor passed - the demand for loans has grown. The support measures proposed by the government for small and medium-sized businesses turned out to be insufficient and delayed in time - in the fall. Entrepreneurs, self-employed, people without constant earnings - were generally out of the field. And this is neither more nor less than 30% of the population. To remain without a livelihood amid mandatory payments and taxes, costs of utilities, an increase in unavoidable expenses for medicine ...

The credit expansion of the population was a natural defensive reaction to risks. The regulator should have foreseen this and ensure public access to money by limiting the interest appetites of MFIs. However, the Central Bank does not see the need to remove the regulation of the consumer lending sector. Microfinance organizations were simply quarantined, like everyone else. How long it will last is unknown. The consequences are expected. The fate of microfinance organizations themselves is least of all worrying - the strongest will be rebuilt and will survive anyway. In social terms, everything is much worse. The share of refusals in a loan can be 15-30%, which is equivalent to two to three million contracts. In other words, 2-3 million people will not be able to intercept, albeit an expensive, but civilized “payday” loan. And then they have one road - to the "black" moneylenders. And with them only unpleasant conversations can not get rid of. There is a repertoire - from the Molotov cocktail at night through the window to the power pressing of the only housing. We are waiting for the heyday of looting. Shopping bags are already being pulled by customers, not far from raids on summer residences, shops ...

On the sites of miserable borrowers, of which a great many have now divorced, their own analysts: “MFIs were afraid that all debts would be irrecoverable and covered the shop. In economics, it’s a matter of seams, there’s nothing to take from people, creditors will quickly go broke. What shall we do? We already…"

By the way, according to Loko-Invest, overdue loans to households are now at about the same level as on the eve of the 2014–2015 crisis, about 4.5%. Not critical yet. According to experts, the level of non-payments will increase amid the spread of coronavirus and falling oil prices. The news about the credit holidays announced by the President led many people astray: people stopped fulfilling debt obligations, not realizing that they were doing themselves a “disservice”. Indeed, in fact, the new conditions do not apply to all credit organizations. In particular, microfinance companies at the moment simply do not have the legal ability to provide their customers with free deferment. It turns out that violating the terms of the loan agreement, the borrowers inflict great damage on themselves: People have a different sense of self.

“Once again, we are irresponsible, we are pulling ourselves into the funnel,” Vera, an individual entrepreneur from Bryansk, shares with her unfortunate comrades. - And our state is good, and always to do with it. Enterprises closed up, there is no place to work, but IPs bred. Oh middle class! Live on your own. We live on loans. I have 6 of them since the new year. Before that, too, they were, but I tried to give them back as quickly as possible - then there was less interest and more trust. Traded in the market, at the kiosk. Underwear. Once a month I bring three bags of underpants from the Sadovod and stand with them until they turn blue. People already don’t have money for cowards ... Every week I run to “Bystrodengi” as to my home: “Girls, give me some bread, on the weekend I’ll give it away.” Then it became really bad: my business decreased from three bags to one - already the road to Moscow was not justified. That's how I gained 137 thousand from them. With interest already 163 thousand. In March, the market was quarantined. Everyone was home, but no one forgave us the rent, they didn’t even give a delay. We, as a whole crowd, a hundred people, rushed to the MFI. The queue stood throughout the street. Not everyone has already been given. I asked for a ten .. They said: "That's it, Faith, the last time." A week later they themselves closed ... Now at least hang yourself.

No matter how wild it sounds, it is easiest to get a loan from an MFI to those affected by coronavirus infection. A terrific story from Victor from the Tula region: “My crown was suspected, my tests were taken. He sat there for five days, waiting for the result. He could not stand it and went to the clinic himself, by car. I haven’t achieved anything, I go out - there’s no car, they took me to a parking lot. If you pick up immediately, you need 2.5 thousand. Zero in your pocket. Salaries are not expected, I am self-employed, according to friends to collect - quickly fail, isolation is everything. Purely insolently called the MFI, I have five loans on trifles there, I don’t remember already. I thought they would send it away, but they: is there any help on passing tests? Photographed, forwarded - they threw 5 thousand on my card. The rate is divine - 1% per day. But at least he took the car. At the parking lot more would have run for her. ...

As Lime-Zaym told Novye Izvestia, the story of Tula is true: “We try to minimize charges to those clients who have suffered from coronavirus infection.” Of course, when confirming that a person has become infected or is being treated. The most remarkable thing in this monologue is "We are not animals, we understand everything." Often the reason for contacting MFIs is a real need, an emergency situation, only partially related to coronavirus. On the same "bitter" site a lot of similar stories. Here is one of them. The son of a third-grader fell ill in the family, unsuccessfully fell in physical education. Operation, rehabilitation for six months. Bank loan. In January, it turned out that another operation was needed, otherwise the boy would remain lame. Credit again. And then the husband could not stand it and left, and the mother stayed with her son and with a debt of half a million rubles. Microloans were used. At the height of the epidemic, they were written off. “They understood that I would not return, felt sorry for the child,” the woman writes.

Here is such a holy story ... Even if it is one for all microfinance organizations, they will be counted in another life. Unless, of course, they get out.