Izabela Sienkiewicz has been the Country Manager of the TWINO Group in Poland since March 2020. Her professional experience in the loan sector dates back to 2012 when Izabela started working at Wonga. She joined TWINO in 2015 as a Customer Service Manager, and in 2017 was promoted to the position of COO, expanding the scope of her responsibilities to Debt Collection and IT. Izabela holds Bachelor’s degree in Financial Management from Oxford Brookes University and currently is undertaking a Master’s degree course in strategic management at Koźminski University (ending June 2021).
Now Izabela is responsible for implementing the TWINO Group’s Poland strategy, where TWINO operates under the Net Credit (a broker for loan originators in the country) and InCredit brands. Following Izabela’s leadership, TWINO has become one of the larger players in the Polish consumer loan market.
Izabela certainly is the one to ask for insight into the Polish consumer loan sector. We invited her to share how the country’s consumer loan market dealt with the COVID-19 crisis, what the industry looks like now, and what TWINO’s plans for the future in Poland are.
Poland’s consumer loan sector faces COVID-19
According to various sources, Poland’s non-banking consumer loan sector shrank by 24-35% during 2020. Izabela says that COVID-19 restrictions played a significant part in decreasing overall spending in the country. Polish customers most often obtain loans to buy household appliances, home electronics, renovate or furnish an apartment, and purchase a vehicle or a gadget. And as seen in 2020 consumption statistics, such needs can be postponed, leading to fewer consumer loans.
Another factor indicating Poland’s consumer loan sector’s shrinkage was the decrease in issued creditworthiness checks on potential borrowers. Credit bureaus that supply lenders with such inspections shared that the most significant requests drop was recorded in April 2020, when the demand was only half of the amount recorded in April 2019. Luckily, in the remaining months of 2020, the demand rose by about 20%.
Izabela also tells us that in April 2020, the Polish government adopted the so-called “Anti-Crisis Shield” – provisions to protect borrowers and Polish companies. The shield determined that a loan originator could charge a commission at a maximum level of 21% within a year’s scope. That made operating in the loan sector a lot less profitable for some market players.
As Izabela explains – to this day, the shield’s limit inhibits the supply of loans and restricts Polish lenders’ activities. The limit will be in place until the 30th of June 2021, when expected to return to pre-pandemic levels. It’s predicted that Poland’s supply of loans will likely rise after calling off the imposed limit. Izabela adds that there’s also a chance that some loan originators may attempt to adjust their lending rules to accept riskier clients to increase the overall number of borrowers.
2021 shines a hopeful light onto the industry
How is the Polish consumer loan industry doing in 2021? Izabela says that even though the industry is on its way to recovery, it will undoubtedly take some time to reach a complete revival. Official statistics agree that the Polish non-banking consumer loan sector’s output is currently much lower than last year.
Izabela explains that loan sales in January 2021 were only 80% of the sales recorded in January 2020. However, December 2020 saw an increase in the number of requested creditworthiness checkups from the Polish Credit Bureau. As Izabela clarifies – it hints at the Christmas season’s positive effect on the consumer loan market despite the pandemic.
In January 2021, the number of the inquired checkups to the Credit Bureau by lenders operating in Poland was smaller than in January 2020. However, the industry saw a positive boost, and the negative year-over-year dynamics kept decreasing. The number of Credit Bureau’s reports in the first week of March 2021 was 6.9% higher than in the corresponding week of 2020 – when Poland had its first case of COVID-19.
According to Izabela, the consumer loan sector in Poland is moving forward in a positive trajectory. She adds that currently, the country’s loan originators review each loan application carefully, especially brand new clients, to maintain originators’ portfolio quality. And as a result, the majority of loans are now being issued to well-known clients.
TWINO Group in Poland
Izabela proudly tells us that, despite the events of 2020, the TWINO Group in Poland is successfully growing its sales volume while maintaining reasonable acquisition costs. The Polish market is seeing increasing demand for financial solutions that are easy to use, transparent, quickly accessible, and most importantly, flexible. Asked for the Group’s plans for the Polish market in 2021, Izabela says:
Since we managed to achieve pre-COVID sales levels, our goal for 2021 is further growth in Poland and maintaining our originator’s portfolio performance. We’re also concentrating on developing a new product – credit line – that will soon be available to Polish customers.
To conclude the insight into Poland’s consumer loan market, it’s worth mentioning that according to public information, by the end of 2026, Poland will receive 23.9 billion EUR as non-repayable subsidies and 34.2 billion EUR as potential loans, both from the EU. The country plans to use these funds to implement Poland’s National Reconstruction Plan, which involves restoring Poland’s economic competitiveness after COVID-19. According to economists, Poland’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth in 2022-2023 may reach up to 5%, thanks to the EU subsidies and loans.