Payday loan alternative could save Aussies thousands


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Cash-strapped Australians now have a new alternative to predatory payday loans and sky-high interest rates after Good Shepherd Microfinance launched Speckle, a short-term cash loan.

One in five Australian households have used payday loans in the past three years as an increasingly casual workforce, rising cost of living and low wage growth pushes more families into financial stress.

Speckle is an online cash loan backed by the National Australia Bank for amounts up to $2000.

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Adam Mooney, CEO of Good Shepherd Microfinance, one of Australia's largest microfinance organisations, says it is a low-cost alternative to traditional payday loans.

"In most cases, Speckle loans are up to 50% cheaper than other small cash loans. Most lenders charge the maximum fees allowed by law," Mooney says.

Speckle fees include a 10% establishment fee and 2% monthly fee compared to the market norm of 20% and 4%.

Repayment options range from just three months up to one year, and can be repaid early with no extra fees, says Mooney.

Loan applicants must be over the age of 18, earn more than $30,000 a year (not inclusive of government benefits), and can't have had two or more small amount credit contracts in the past 90 days.

Applicants who are ineligible are referred to other financial support.

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Effie Zahos is editor-at-large at Canstar and a financial commentator. She is the author of A Real Girl's Guide to Money: From Converse to Louboutins, and a regular money commentator on TV and radio across Australia. In 1999, a background in banking Effie helped kickstart Money, which she edited until 2019. Effie holds a Bachelor's degree in economics.