Are direct payroll loans to plan participants a better alternative than having employees dip into their 401(k) savings?
Kashable, a start-up online lender, thinks so.
Calling itself an “alternative consumer lender,” Kashable offers loans to employees of participating employers that are backed by the company payroll system.
That means the loans are repaid via automatic payroll deductions.
Interest rates start at 6 percent, and loans are repaid over a six-month period. The size and rate of the loan are based on the size of a borrower’s paycheck.
The company claims it offers a “socially responsible” alternative to high-interest, short-term “pay-day” lending models, and a cheaper alternative to borrowing from 401(k) accounts.
The company’s Group Credit Benefit Program is already available to “thousands” of employees across the country, according to Einat Steklov, founder of the company.
This week, Kashable inked a deal with TriNet Marketplace, a provider of payroll services to small and mid-sized businesses. The deal means 250,000 new potential borrowers for Kashable.
Kashable is seeing over a 30 percent participation rate of employees taking loans within those companies that offer the benefit, Steklov said in an email interview.
The lowest amount borrowed has been $250, with an average of $1,000, but there is no cap on the terms. “It all depends on an employee’s compensation,” said Steklov.
A company news release said the model is premised, in part, on data from Aflac that shows 50 percent of employees said they would need to borrow from their 401(k) or use a credit card this year to pay for unexpected medical expenses.
The service is offered at no cost to employers. Nor is there an enrollment period.
Several representatives at the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit watchdog that has led the lobby against costly consumer payday loans, said they were unaware of Kashable, or any other voluntary lending benefit model.