Major bank tightens serviceability requirements

by Otiena Ellwand28 Dec 2017

Consumers who use digital credit platforms like AfterPay and ZipPay will now have to disclose what they owe on these transactions if they apply for a home loan through Westpac.

Westpac announced in a broker note on 11 December that it would require borrowers to disclose these short-term buy-now, pay-later loans so the bank could better assess borrowers’ loan serviceability.

AfterPay and ZipPay allow customers to make and immediately receive goods and services purchased at a retail store or online without having to pay for it upfront. The digital credit companies pay on the customer’s behalf. The customer then has to make repayments, usually in installments over a short period of time with fees and charges incurred if they fail to do so. 

“In the scenario above, the customer has created a liability which must be captured in the loan application along with the monthly repayment,” the Westpac note said.

“Where evidence is held to confirm the liability will be cleared in full before settlement or drawdown, a $1 repayment is acceptable to be entered against the liability.”

The bank said it expects detailed comments to be included in the application with evidence confirming the amount owing and the required repayments.

Banks are starting to zero in on borrowers’ spending habits and expenses, going above and beyond just looking into their credit and debit card charges.

In September, ANZ and CBA added extra checks to their application processes. ANZ’s updated customer questionnaire prompts brokers to ask prospective borrowers about their Netflix and Spotify subscriptions and whether they’re planning to start a family. CBA introduced a simulator to show interest-only borrowers how their repayments would change and affect their lifestyle. Customers wanting to proceed have to fill in an acknowledgement form.