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Small and Medium Business Access to Finance

Commission research


Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make up a substantial proportion of the economy. As at June 2020, there were over 2 million SMEs operating in Australia. In 2018-19, these businesses accounted for about 66 per cent of employment in Australia, and about 55 per cent of Australia’s value add.

Access to finance is the lifeblood of these businesses. Where a business is credit constrained, it is likely to be unable to grow and/or survive. Where this is widespread, it would have ramifications for Australia’s productivity and overall wellbeing.

In Australia, the market for finance is different to comparable overseas markets. Banks dominate the lending market in Australia to a much greater extent that overseas. The market for non-bank lending, such as private credit firms and fintech lenders, is relatively small, but is beginning to grow — which could have implications for the business lending market going forward.

Objectives of the study

This project would assess the credit available to Australian small and medium sized businesses, through the lens of non-bank lenders — including private credit and fintech lenders. The project will examine:

  • credit available to firms in Australia, relative to comparable firms in comparable countries
  • trends in non-bank lending in Australia, including the size of the market, who is receiving finance and the types of finance offered
  • the policy landscape for non-bank lending in Australia and overseas.

Expected release date

Late 2021


Sara Collard 03 9653 2163