Canada Reports Rise in SME Loan Delinquencies

With all of the recent optimistic reports on the small business and SME lending front, it was inevitable that bad news would soon reveal itself.

Small- and medium-sized business commercial financing analyst PayNet revealed Thursday (Feb. 26) some dark statistics for the Canadian SME lending market. The company revealed that a shaky oil industry has at least partially caused SME business borrowing to drop in the nation for the fourth straight quarter.

Since the Bank of Canada slashed interest rates last month in the wake of falling oil prices and a burdened energy industry, PayNet has reduced its Canadian Busines Lending Index to a score of 204 for the fourth quarter, down 2.4 percent from 209 in the quarter prior.

The drop in small business lending rates follows a steady rise in SME borrowing in years prior, hitting a peak in Q42013. Present levels represent an 8 percent drop from that pinnacle.

PayNet President Bill Phalen told reporters that this trend is something to keep a close eye on. “this is a real correction going on, it’s not just a head fake,” he said. “There’s going to be more pain before growth, but we don’t see this signaling a recession.”

Perhaps some of the most concerning figures emerging from PayNet’s recent report are the rise in loan delinquencies from small businesses. According to the data, SMEs were moderately delinquent on their loan repayments more in December 2014 than in the month prior. PayNet found that the instance of moderate loan delinquencies – meaning companies were 30 days or more late to repay loans – climbed 2.2 percent, up from 2.1 percent in November.

Similarly, severe delinquencies – instances where SMEs were more than 90 days late in repaying loans – rose to 0.5 percent in December.

While analysts have recently released positive outlooks in SME lending overall, this is not the only bad news for Canadian small businesses in the B2B world. Thousands of small suppliers in the nation are currently embroiled in a legal battle with Target Canada, which went bankrupt in the nation and reportedly left suppliers with millions in unpaid bills.​