The race for the loan: here are the best companies

The race for the loan: here are the best companies

The rate hike decided by the European Central Bank inevitably brought with it an increase in the cost of consumer loans. Households, for their part, caught between galloping inflation and stable wages, are increasingly inclined to resort to this financing instrument. In this difficult context, a guide that indicates to the consumer the financial companies and banks with the best offers, not only in terms of cost but also in terms of the quality of the service offered, is very useful. It is provided by theGerman Institute for Quality and Financewhose report on the consumer credit market in Italy has now reached its ninth edition and which, starting this year, has expanded its investigation to the solution called Buy now pay later, which is overwhelmingly gaining ground thanks to operators of the Fintech.

It's about short-term financing, usually interest-free, which - as the name implies - allows you to buy now and pay for it in the future. The service is offered by specialized companies that manage the transaction on behalf of merchants (online or physical) and offers advantages to both sellers and buyers. The former reduce the rate of interruption of online purchasing processes, the so-called cart abandonment; the latter have the opportunity to spread their spending over time. And it is precisely these two factors that determine its growing success.

"2022 saw a double-digit recovery in consumer credit with an overall increase in requests of 18.9% compared to 2021; more specifically, there was a growth of 22.9% for personal loan requests and the 16.7% for loans aimed at the purchase of goods and services - takes stock of the situation Christian Bieker, director of the German Quality and Finance Institute - The prudence of the Italian consumer is also reflected in the cross-section of the two technical forms examined: 75.1% of requests for finalized loans have a debt repayment of no more than three years; while personal loans, which often represent a particularly onerous commitment for households, tend to be concentrated in the range of duration exceeding five years for 43% of the total".

On the front of rates applied, however, the race has been going on for three years now, or since the outbreak of the pandemic when the Taeg, the average global effective rate, had fallen below 7%. In the latest survey carried out by Bank of Italy and contained in the document "Banks and money: national series" this value broke through the 10% threshold in March - to be precise it reached 10.12% - up from 9.88% in February. A race that still seems far from over if, as many analysts expect, the European Central Bank does not abandon its policy of tightening monetary policy also in the next meetings.

In these circumstances, which institution responds best to the needs of Italians? Who looks after their customers best? Which lender minimizes red tape? Who offers the best products and the best value for money? "These are some of the questions we have tried to answer - continues the number one of the German institute - Overall, the aspects related to quality that we have analyzed are 40 and concern 24 operators divided as follows: eight banks, nine financial companies and seven operators specialized in Bnpl. This year we also included the latter in our survey for the simple reason that they represent one of the fastest growing solutions in the field of digital payments".

In order to select the best realities, theGerman Institute for Quality and Finance conducted a representative survey of the entire Italian population last April methodically Cawi (Computer assisted web interview), in collaboration with the research institute ServiceValue Of Colony. The participants, obviously all consumer credit customers, were asked for their opinion on numerous aspects of quality, such as product offerings, customer service, value for money, salary-backed loans, communication with customers, digitization and innovation. Each aspect includes several "sub-categories" for a total of 40 questions for each interviewee.

From the aggregation of the scores assigned for the different categories analysed, Itqf has calculated the final assessment of customer satisfaction. Operators who achieved a score above the market average were awarded the "Top" rating. The "Excellent" judgment instead went to those who achieved a score higher than the average in the "Top" category.

"It cannot generally be said that Italians prefer to turn to one type of financial partner or the other - concludes the director of the German Quality and Finance Institute - Customer satisfaction occurs when expectations meet with the service experienced. It is conceivable that a customer of a bank, by virtue of his long relationship with it, expects the approval of a loan and is less positively surprised by it. However, both types of operators work very well. And now a compass is available to navigate among the many offerings."

The German Institute that Measures Market Value

L'German Institute for Quality and Finance belongs to the German publishing group Burda, number one in market surveys in Europe, which has been cooperating with statistical centers and universities for its studies for decades. The institute conducts market surveys on the quality and convenience of numerous products and services. The goal is to promote transparency for the benefit of consumers and, at the same time, provide companies with a tool to demonstrate their value. There Republic A&F is the Italian media partner of Itqf.

The seven categories that form the judgment

The categories considered by the Itqf survey are seven: customer assistance, communication with customers, value for money, innovation, offer of products and services, salary assignment, online. Each is in turn divided into "sub-categories": for example, factors such as "competence and kindness of employees", "bureaucracy", "accessibility of personnel", "transparency of prices" have been scrutinized , the "convenience of rates". Respondents had to rate each "sub-category" between 1 and 5, with 1 representing the best judgment and 5 the worst. The final score of an operator is given by the unweighted average value of the votes cast. For ease of consultation, however, this data does not appear in the final Itqf ranking, but a judgment that can be "Top" or "Optimal". The first is assigned, with relative seal, to those operators who have achieved a score above the market average; the second to those who have achieved a score higher than the average of the "Top" category.

Thus the "Buy now pay later" formula takes off

If until recently the choice to obtain a consumer loan was reduced to two possibilities, banks or financial, now a third option has overwhelmingly imposed itself, that of the Buy now pay later (Bnpl). This is great news for consumers, because the more competition, the better the service (and the lower the costs). The operators specialized in the Bnpl come among others from the Fintech field, which is making its way thanks to highly user-friendly solutions and at very low costs thanks to the digitization of each process. There super classification created by Itqfthat is, the one that translates the appreciation (or otherwise) obtained by a specific operator in the 40 sub-categories into an overall judgment, clearly reflects this state of affairs with a large representation of the Bnpl.

In this sector they have been PayPal And Pagodil to obtain the rating "Excellent", while Scalapay, Klarna And Soisy received the “Top” seal. The performance of PayPal it was notable as it achieved an “excellent” rating on nearly every metric, customer service, customer communication, innovation, and product and service offering. Paradoxically, the only "Top" rating was obtained in its "core business", "online&app". No other operator, not even looking at banks and finance companies, has managed to do so well.

The choice for the consumer is in any case very wide and of the highest level also as regards the financial ones. Two, August And Cofidiscan boast the "Excellent" rating, while three others were "Top": Findomestic, Compass Bank And Sella Personal Credit. Finally, in the banking field, the names of Bnl And Intesa Sanpaoloboth “Excellent”, e Unicredit And Bcc Credit Consumptionboth “Top”.

In the particular category of salary assignment, the best addresses are August And Findomestic as far as finances are concerned Bpm bank And Unicredit as for the banks. Bnpl operators are obviously not included in this category due to the simple fact that their business model only provides for the financing of a specific purchase and not the opening of a wider credit line.

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