There has been a “noticeable shift” in dealer attitudes towards online motor finance emerging so far in 2018, with an increasing realisation that it can open up a whole new used car market, says Startline Motor Finance.

CEO Paul Burgess explained that more dealers now believed that online motor finance could potentially attract a whole new group of customers who were not necessarily the same ones who would buy a used car from them anyway.

“The difference we have seen is that, a year ago, most dealers who offered an online finance option believed that they were simply shifting some of their showroom business online, so tended to offer fairly rudimentary motor finance options through their website, offering perhaps one lender with a basic HP product,” he said.

“Now, there is an understanding emerging that this is frequently new and incremental business, that customers who want to finance their car online are often quite different. They are experienced and web savvy and, as such, are expecting a choice of dealer finance options to be offered. That means both different products and different lenders.

“Certainly, we are seeing a situation where many of the dealers with which we work are rapidly increasing the sophistication of their online motor finance, with a noticeable shift since the start of the year.”

Paul added that this change had benefited Startline because they were often included in a panel as a lender that offered a different option to other prime providers.

“Dealers are looking increasingly to offer a range of risk and rate options online and, because of our positioning offering greater flexibility alongside their main prime lender, we make sense as part of the spectrum of borrowing choices,” he said.

Startline had been investing heavily in IT in recent months, Paul said, partially in response to this shift in dealer attitudes.

“We’ve introduced new decisioning software designed to process a higher percentage of customer applications automatically alongside e-agreement technology that allows customers to e-sign motor finance agreements,” he added.

“These, along with other developments, mean that we are well-prepared to meet dealer needs when it comes to being part of fast and efficient online lending panels.”