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Online Lending – An Environmentally-Friendly Solution

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Online Lending – An Environmentally-Friendly Solution

In the modern era, it’s important for companies to be both ethical and socially responsible. The last few decades have seen a major shift in the way that the general public, commerce, and industry see their role and interaction with the environment. With ample evidence of climate change all over the world, and the growing activism and calls to make serious changes in the way we impact our planet, there’s a meaningful role that companies can play to help improve our situation. Consumers can also play a role, not only in their everyday lives, but in their choices, and choosing to associate with companies who do the right thing; companies who take steps and make a commitment to be responsible stewards of the environment.

Online lending is one area that offers a number of benefits for consumers, in addition to being extremely environmentally-friendly. Choosing to utilize online lenders instead of brick-and-mortar equivalents can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. That’s on top of the already numerous benefits that save you time, money, and stress when you choose to borrow from an online lender. Likewise, online lenders themselves are often more environmentally-friendly than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, owing to the nature of their structure and how they do business.

Companies like iCASH, one of the leading online lenders in Canada, take that a step further, making conscious efforts to “go green” and promote environmentally-friendly policies and practices. In this article, we’ll tell you all about the environmentally-friendly aspects of online lending, from the standpoint of consumers as well as online lenders themselves. We’ll also highlight some of the steps that iCASH has taken to help minimize environmental impacts, and provide the most environmentally-friendly service possible to iCASH customers.

How Online Lending Works

First, let’s review what online lending is, and how it works, as this will help naturally illustrate some of the benefits that it can provide – both traditional benefits and environmental ones. Online lending allows for borrowers to apply for emergency loans, get quick approvals, and then get their funds digitally. There are no visits to an office or branch location required, no travel, no physical paperwork, no documentation requirements, and no long waits. Thanks to automation, online lenders allow borrowers to apply and instantly get funded any time, 24/7/365, and are much more convenient, fast, and consumer-focused than traditional banks or even brick-and-mortar private lenders.

The exact process of obtaining a loan from online lenders varies a bit depending on the company. However, using the process at iCASH as an example, it’s typically quite easy and straightforward.

  1. With your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or other Internet-connected device, navigate to https://icash.ca and fill out the online application. It takes just 5 to 10 minutes for most people, and doesn’t require any kind of documentation to be mailed, scanned, or faxed, either.
  2. After submitting your application, many tasks take place behind the scenes, as the automated iCASH approval process goes to work. A credit check is performed, your identity verified, and all of the application information is reviewed and cross-checked. In mere moments, you’ll have a lending decision and approved loan amount.
  3. Once approved, you’ll receive a loan agreement to review and digitally sign – it just takes a few clicks. Once you complete the digital signing, it is automatically returned to iCASH, triggering your funds release. If you’ve chosen e-mail money transfer (e-transfer) as your funding option, funds will be available in about 5 minutes. Or, if you prefer the direct deposit option, funds will be available either the same day or next business day in most cases.

It's also worth mentioning that online lenders typically have more easily-met eligibility requirements to qualify for their loans, too. That means more people can borrow money more quickly and easily than ever before, even with bad credit. iCASH also accepts government benefits, social assistance, pensions, retirement benefits, and other sources of income, not just traditional wages, meaning even more people can qualify for online loans through iCASH.

It really is that simple! From start to finish, the entire online lending process can take as little as 30 minutes to complete. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home, in the office, traveling, or are snuggled under a blanket enjoy a crisp autumn afternoon beside your fireplace – a short-term online cash loan from iCASH is easily within reach.

Traditional Benefits of Online Lending for Consumers

The unique way that online lenders work creates some fairly substantial consumer benefits. Many of the traditional (non-environmental) benefits to borrowers are an extension of how the online lending process works, utilizing technology and connectivity to bring lending in line with the pace and convenience of modern digital life. In no particular order, the primary traditional benefits of online lending for consumers include:

• A much shorter time commitment to obtain your loan. By cutting out travel to an office, laborious physical paperwork, documentation (which you may not have on you, requiring yet another trip to and from the office), and lengthy waiting for approval and funding, online lending can save consumers hours of their precious time, not to mention a lot of stress and hassle, too.
• No need to travel, which is especially beneficial during harsh Canadian winters.
• Always-on availability, so that you can borrow on your schedule, not only during the limited hours of a bank or brick-and-mortar lender.
• Convenience and familiarity for the digital age – we do everything else online, why not borrow money that way, too?
• No physical paperwork on old-fashioned carbon-copy paper, and no documentation requirements.
• Extremely fast express funding via e-mail money transfer.
• Safer and more secure than visiting a loan store or bank branch and walking out with a handful of cash.
• Automated repayment based on your chosen schedule and options, making it easy to manage your loan without adding to your “To Do” list.
• Flexible repayment options, including multiple installment payments.
• Online loans have more easily-met eligibility requirements, meaning more people can get approved and have positive outcomes with online lenders.

Many of these traditional benefits present fairly obvious environmental benefits as well, both from the standpoint of borrowers and from the standpoint of online lenders. There are also a lot of hidden or less-obvious benefits that people don’t necessarily recognize, but are worth considering. They further help to illustrate the environmentally-friendly nature of online lending, and why it’s a better, greener option when you need to borrow money. We’ll explore both of these categories in greater detail in the next section below.

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The Environmental Benefits of Online Lending

In order to best understand the environmental benefits of online lending, let’s take a critical look at the online lending process, and compare it against a traditional lending experience. That way, we can more easily see and highlight the energy savings, reduced emissions, less waste, and other positive environmental benefits associated with online lending at each step of the way.

To obtain a traditional loan from a brick-and-mortar lender, borrowers have to drive to the branch office or loan store. This step is eliminated when using online lenders. Cutting out the travel (at a minimum, 1 trip to and from the loan store, and sometimes more than 1 round trip), both petroleum usage and vehicle emissions are eliminated. Assuming an average vehicle, a round-trip distance of 20 km, and borrowing 3 times in a year, that’s around:

  • 40 kg of CO2 emissions prevented
  • 5.4 l of petrol saved
  • That’s about the equivalent CO2 that it would take a full-grown tree one year to absorb out of the atmosphere.

The fact that online lenders don’t maintain branch offices all around the country results in incalculable savings. An online lender’s only office, offering customer service, servers and data processing equipment, management and administration, and so on, can help 100s or 1000s of times more people than each individual branch office for a bank. This:

  • Saves significant energy (heating, cooling, and electricity needs at each branch office)
  • Cuts down on natural resource depletion needed to sustain offices and equipment (fewer people to serve more employees means less water, food, building materials, electronics, and so on)
  • Massively reduces emissions and petrol usage (all those employee miles driven every day to and from work, for example)
  • Cuts down on solid waste by many hundreds of tons as well (all the paper, cardboard, office supplies, and other consumables not needed)
  • Reduces e-waste substantially (all the laptops, workstations, individual servers, copiers, fax machines, calculators, and other electronics at each and every branch office)

With online lending, there are no paper-based applications required – no physical paperwork of any kind, in fact. There are also no traditional, paper-based mailings or documents – everything is done electronically. No customer documents need to be mailed, faxed, or scanned, either, reducing further the potential for waste. No loan agreement paperwork is provided – it’s delivered electronically, signed electronically, and returned electronically. For a single customer, this saves several kilos of paper and cardboard, consumer waste, ink, energy for making and transporting all of those things, and much more through the supply chains for all of those items. For the online lender, scaled to their full business operation, that can be a massive environmental savings. A lender servicing just 100,000 people online instead of in-person:

  • Prevents around 300 to 400 tons of waste being created annually, with as much as 70% of that being paper-based goods
  • As paper requires more than just trees, and trees require other resources to grow, that equates to around:
  • 6,000 mature trees (735 tons of lumber)
  • Over 3.5 million liters of water
  • 2.45 GWh of electricity (enough to power 220 average Canadian homes for an entire year)
  • 630,000 liters of oil (used in the paper production process)

There are also considerable environmental savings when it comes to the electronic transfer of funds, rather than utilizing cash or checks, which have their own requirements for production, use, and circulation. While this is virtually impossible to quantify directly, similar paper production and consumption reductions are likely as outlined above. It is also safe to say this increases the useful lifespan of paper money that is in circulation, further reducing the environmental impact of lending activities.

Even raw electricity usage for online lenders is less than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. While they more heavily rely on servers and Internet technology, the number of devices used and power drawn for an online lender, as opposed to one with multiple branch offices, is only marginally more than a few branch offices of similar size combined. The net result is that there is far less electricity used per customer serviced by online lenders, in amounts that are hard to quantify but substantial and meaningful, especially compared to larger brick-and-mortar lenders.

Customer electricity use is only marginally increased, as the entire online interaction process takes no more than a half hour – meaning about 50 wH on average to complete the transaction process from the customer end. That’s orders of magnitude less additional power used than the savings from paper production highlighted above – in fact, with our 100,000 customer example, that’s only 0.005 GWh more power used, vs. 2.45 GWh saved vs. paper use alone.

The further down the supply chain you go, there are doubtless additional environmental impact savings and carbon footprint reductions to be had. One of the challenges in assessing environmental sustainability and impact is it is very hard to analyze complex systems, supply chains, and organizations – a single computer monitor, for example, has so many parts and materials in it, that it’s very hard to trace where each came from, how many miles of transport were needed, how many watt hours of electricity, their raw material impacts, etc. Scaling that up to the size of a company with multiple branch offices, different equipment, utilities, and so on becomes extremely challenging.

However, just on the first level, fairly obvious environmental benefits we’ve discussed here, it’s clear that online lending is simply a greener choice than conventional lending operations, both for the lenders and consumers. It’s a way for consumers to help reduce their carbon footprint, while making their life more convenient, saving time, reducing stress, and increasing their access to fast cash. That’s a win on all fronts!

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How Top Online Lender iCASH is Taking Steps to Be Even More Environmentally-Friendly

iCASH isn’t content simply to be satisfied with these environmental benefits, however. As part of our commitment to corporate responsibility, we’ve taken numerous additional steps in our operations to be even more environmentally-friendly wherever possible. These include:

• Utilizing energy-efficient appliances, lighting, and HVAC systems in our office.
• Recycling work-related products and consumables, as well as employee waste (cans, bottles, paper goods, glass, aluminum, and so on).
• Ensuring appliances, IT equipment, plumbing fixtures, and similar are periodically maintained and audited to perform at their rated environmental levels, reducing energy and natural resource waste.
• Reducing or eliminating the use of paper and printed items internally within our office, and only buying and using recycled paper products when we do use paper.
• Conducting regular energy audits through third-party firms, to help spot any waste and provide remediation to eliminate it.
• Encouraging our employees to utilize public transportation or carpool when possible.
• Getting all of our electricity from renewable sources, primarily hydroelectric power, eliminating fossil fuel use and emissions associated with the electricity we use to power our operations.

Concluding Thoughts

As we move forward and grow, iCASH is ever-mindful of the environmental impact of our operations, and seeks to continue our record of responsible environmental stewardship and environmentally-friendly practices even further. We’re always open to new ideas and new initiatives, both from our employees and management team, as well as from customers and outside stakeholders. Part of what it means for us, being a Canadian company, is to embody Canadian values – ethics, honesty, integrity, transparency, and responsibility. This includes taking responsibility for our environmental impact, and doing everything we can to minimize or offset it. We encourage our competitors to do the same – after all, we only have one planet that we all share.

Likewise, we encourage consumers to choose online lenders like iCASH for all their borrowing needs. There are so many functional benefits that make online lending a better choice, from the convenience and speed to greater ease of access to funds, no long and stressful waits for loan approval, no paperwork...the list goes on and on. On top of all of that, it’s a much better choice from the standpoint of environmental impact. It’s a simple decision that you can make in your everyday life, that will help reduce your carbon footprint, so that you and future generations can enjoy our marvellous planet Earth, our beautiful country of Canada, and all of the amazing things that it has to offer.

Ramona Glanville

Ramona has been a regular contributor to some of Canada's top wealth-management editorials for over 30 years. She strongly believes in good saving habits, reducing financial clutter, and red wine.