Need a loan for your small business? Traditionally, that meant going to a bank and pleading your case. The paperwork and hoop-jumping involved in the application process would be tedious, requiring an average of about 30 hours to apply for the loan. And if your loan request got the cold shoulder, as is often the case, then you’d have to go through the process all over again. Business owners - especially those in operation less than two years or earning less than $100,000 in annual revenue - had few options. They were essentially at the mercy of the major banks and credit bureaus. Marketplaces offer modern solutions. Lending marketplaces have now arisen as a direct answer to many of these difficulties borrowers face. The financial crisis of 2008 served as a catalyst for marketplaces, as business owners found capital harder to come by than a mint-condition Honus Wagner baseball card. In the midst of those challenging times, mom-and-pop businesses discovered a friend in marketplaces that leveled the playing field. And the new approach, with its increased access and efficiency, has definitely taken hold. According to a report from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, marketplace lending is “a fast-growing sector that is continuously evolving.” The report goes on to say that while loans from traditional banks are only approved about half the time, 60-70% of loans are approved through a marketplace. Even if math’s not your strong suit, the disparity of those stats should be pretty easy to digest. How will marketplaces affect the future of lending? The financial gurus at Deloitte conducted an industry analysis to understand what these new lending options mean for banks. They concluded that while lending marketplaces may not “fully disrupt” the traditional banking model, they’ll remain a “permanent part of the landscape,” attracting business owners by providing loan options to those who’d likely get rebuffed by a big bank. And as lending marketplaces evolve, their offerings will become even more diverse and robust. It’s all part of the user-centric direction the industry is gravitating toward. Take, for example, SMART Box™. It’s an industry price comparison tool that helps small business owners understand and assess their finance options. Developed by some of the largest online small business lending platforms, in partnership with a leading national non-profit microfinance trade association, this tool will help borrowers cut through the clutter and make sharp decisions. It includes common sense pricing metrics, metric calculations, and metric explanations that help demystify the process and make the whole experience more pleasant.