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We have already seen the unpredict- able nature of the pandemic, in par- ticular when a new variant of the virus led to infection rates sky-rocketing in December, thus leading to another strict national lockdown and a longer roadmap to ease restrictions than we have seen before. This unpredictability has led to the aforementioned chang- ing predictions, with even the NIESR

- Britain's oldest independent econom- ic research institute - first forecasting a 2021 growth of 5.9% in November and then recently making a U-turn and slashing that figure to only 3.4%. With predictions changing as quickly as the weather, it's becoming increasingly difficult to know what to expect. What happens next, then, could depend on a

variety of factors, such as whether the current roadmap is adhered to and how quickly the majority of the population are vaccinated against the virus. The current vaccine program is already moving at an astonishing pace, with the vaccine now being offered to those aged 50 and above, or with underlying health conditions.

As the Government aims to offer the vaccine to everyone in priority groups 5-9 by the 15 th of April, if this goal is met we can surely expect the current restrictions to be lifted as planned and a gradual return to normality. Mr Wylie predicts that this could be likely by June or July, and, as a result, demand for credit will be particularly strong for point-of-sale and specialist finance , as consumers rush to book holidays and rapidly re-start the spend- ing that they put on hold during the pan- demic. However, some credit providers may not be ready for the huge upsurge

in applications that this will bring, and in preparation should be testing their exist- ing systems to ensure they can contend with the sudden boost in spending. Oneway for lenders to brace themselves for this upsurge is to look into automat- ing their credit decisions, and utilising initiatives such as Open Banking to precisely see what customers earn and spend, in real time. The ability to paint an accurate affordability picture quickly will be essential in lenders dealing with the expected increase in applications. Without such platforms in place ahead of the boost in consumer spending,

lenders risk either turning away too many relevant applications, or adopting a "yes to all" attitude, which could be equally as damaging in the long run. LendingMetrics provides both automat- ed decisioning technology and Open Banking software, as well as free con- sultations for lenders to ensure they are best prepared for the predicted spend- ing spree. To find out more, get in touch with our dedicated team of expert ana- lysts on +44 (0) 2394 211010 or send us an email today.

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