As reported earlier this week in this blog, small business lending could be down due to SMB owners using personal lines of credit for necessary expenditures. That could also explain a recent report that suggests while late payments are down, credit card debt is on the rise.
According to the Associated Press, the average credit card borrower debt rose 6 percent last quarter from the second quarter of 2011. This could be seen as a positive sign for the economy, as consumer confidence could be growing and, given the fact that many small businesses are turning to personal lines of credit, SMB spending could also be on the rise.
Additional signs for optimism include the fact that overdue payments are on the decline. According to the AP, the rate of payments at least 90 days overdue last quarter was 0.63 percent. This is the lowest it has been since hitting 0.61 percent in 1994.
During the recession, highlighted by the financial crisis of 2008, small businesses found themselves strapped for cash and spending decreased. Rather than increasing their debt, these companies opted to preserve their credit, focus on paying off loans and stay afloat by cutting costs. However, businesses can only survive for so long on this platform. Companies need money to grow and to innovate, and if manageable debt is increasing, that is a good sign for the immediate future.
However, some suggest that banks may be falling back into old habits by making similar mistakes. Ezra Becker, VP at TransUntion's financial services business unit, told the AP that non-prime borrowers are receiving inappropriate lines of credit, as they did in the early 2000s, and that history could repeat itself again.
"The credit pie is bigger and non-prime consumers are getting a bigger slice of that pie," Becker said.
Either way, merchants must be prepared for increased business spending. Regardless of the financial responsibility of those receiving increased credit lines, statistics show that buyers are being more responsible with their credit and expect efficient payment processing in order to keep up improving credit scores. Working with a B2B payments consultant can allow merchants to gain the tools needed for fast and easy processing.
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