Year-End Review of Peer to Peer Lending in 2009

As the end of 2009 approaches here is a selection of main news and developments covered by P2P-Banking.com:


Off to new shores (Photo credit: Nattu)

Boober Failure Hurts Lenders

As reported earlier Dutch site Boober.nl failed. Richard van den Toorn, speaking for the association of lenders PIVN, estimates that about 1,200 lenders are affected. While part of the total loan volume of 1.65 million Euro had been repayed over the loan term before the failure, overall borrower’s willingness to pay dwindled after the failure. Still PIVN hopes to recover 50-80% of the outstanding amounts on behalf of the lenders.

(Source: ANP via Nu.nl)

List of P2P Lending Forums

Peer to peer lending is innovative and new. New users usually have lots of questions when grasping the marketplace mechanisms. Beyond the FAQ of the p2p lending service, a great place to learn is usually a forum, where users (mostly lenders) exchange experiences and post and answer questions.

There are “official” forums provided by the lending services and independent ones. One of the first ones, the official Prosper forum, became one of the most notorious ones. After Prosper “moderated” negative and critical posts it later deleted the initial forum in total. When a copied version of the forum’s archive was made available on seperate internet site Prosper tried to  shut the site down, but failed.

But this is an extreme example. I found that on nearly all other forums a very helpful and supportive attitude rules.

List of p2p lending forums

General

Focus on one p2p lending service

If I have missed any great p2p lending forum, please comment with the URL and I will add it to the above list. Thank you.

(Photo credit: wili_hybrid)

Dutch P2P Lending Site Boober Fails

In the Netherlands p2p lending service Boober apparently has ceased operations. The website Boober.nl has been inaccessible for days and no one was available for comment as the phone went unanswered.

There are reports by lenders, who complain that loans are not serviced as usual. Even one borrower is seeking help, because he cannot get the monthly payment through to Boober.

As of the moment it was not possible to determine how outstanding loans will be dealt with.

Which sites do offer p2p lending statistics?

When analysing numbers on p2p lending activity, users can rely on independent third party sites gathering statistics for many p2p lending services. These services either obtain the raw data via an interface provided by the service or they do parse the web pages of the service to collect the data.

Most of the statistic sites offer reports and tools to analyse and graph the overall development of the marketplace as well as the status of an individual lender’s investments.

The majority of the users are lenders, as the borrower usually needs the information only once – before applying for a loan – to determine what interest rate is appropriate.

Tools for Prosper:

Tools for Lending Club:

Tools for MyC4:

Tools for Zopa UK:

Tools for Smava:

Tools for Auxmoney:

Tools for Boober NL:

Feel free to copy this list, but please do set a link citing this page as source. If you know another social lending / p2p lending stats site, please let me know.

Long term readers may remember that the Wiseclerk.com domain initially started as a report site on Prosper.com. It was in fact together with Savagenumber.com the first service of this kind.

(Photo credit: ArtemFinland)

Demand at Boober NL slows

Demand at Boober.nl is slowing. When I checked today only two loan listings were open. The following curve showing unique loan requests definitly shapes in the wrong direction. Boober lenders discus this development in this forum thread.


(Source Booberwatch.nl)

Since the launch 15 months ago, about 2.4 million Euro (about 3.8M US$) loan volume has been funded through Boober.

German Smava.de has funded about the same volume (2.3 million Euro) but after a slower start 14 months ago, lately the volume growth accelerated moderately.

Smava loan volume
(Smava loan volume, Source: Smava loan stats at Wiseclerk.com).

On Smava as well as on Boober average borrower interest rates have risen considerably since the start. This reduces the attractiveness for borrowers.

Boober director Guus Drijver leaves company

Guus Drijver, director of Dutch p2p lending service Boober.nl, will leave the company on April 1st. The new director Ilse Smulders cited different opinions on how to further develop the company as cause for the departure.
According to unconfirmed blog sources, Boober failed to reach the forecast numbers in 2007.

Unrelated: Recently Boober searched to fill the position 'Financial Manager'.

First anniversary of Boober

A year ago Boober.nl launched as first peer to peer lending service in the Netherlands. While Boober faced some hardship (especially on regulation issues) the first year of Boober can be called a success for the company. So far Boober has funded over 2 million Euro in loans in the Netherlands. Compare this to the 1 million Euro Smava.de has loaned in the much larger German market in the last 10 months.

But not all lenders are satisfied with the results. The PIVN an association of lenders, on Jan. 14th called for an investment stop. The main cause are fee changes. Richard van den Toorn, Secretary of PIVN, told P2P-Banking.com:

It's not going very well with Boober, although they claim otherwise. The
PIVN (association of investors) has indeed given an advice not to invest
in new loans until some of her demands have been met. Reason for giving
such an advice is that Boober changed their payment-policy for the
investors radically, without consulting the PIVN first. It's so much the
height of their fee …, but that they are making sure the
benefits are going to Boober first, leaving the investors [lenders] with the risk of
remaining payments from the borrower. Continue reading

P2P lending trends to expect in 2008

2007 was a year of launch and growth for most players. What trends in peer to peer lending can be expected in 2008?

More competition and entering more national markets (probability 100%)
In many markets multiple p2p lending services will compete for the attention of lenders and borrowers, especially in the largest market: In the United States Globefunder.com and Loanio.com will launch. In other markets, where there is no national p2p lending service established yet (e.g. Canada, New Zealand, Spain), p2p lending will be introduced by the launch of a service.

Insurance against defaults (probability 75%)
Not totally new, since Boober.nl and Smava.de already offer some protection of the loan principal. Insurance can be implemented as a classical insurance product (supplied by an insurance company) or as a market mechanism, spreading the risk over multiple loans.

Secondary market (probability 25%)
One of the disadvantages for lenders currently is that on all p2p lending platforms, the invested money i locked in for the duration of the loan term. Prosper.com has allready announced that it plans a secondary market, enabling lenders to sell and buy loans any time. Depending on the market there are huge regulatory hurdles to allow trading of loans. For example German executives told P2P-Banking.com that on the German market a secondary market is unlikely for years to come.

Cross-market lending (probability <25%)
Aside form the social lending approaches (Kiva, MyC4, Microplace) so far all service are open only for lenders and borrowers that live in the same market. If lenders could lend to borrowers in markets with higher key interest rate than the market the lender lives in, the advantages could outweight the risks. In the European Union due to the Euro zone there would be no currency exchange risk. Again there are steep regulatory hurdles to be taken.

Variable interest loans (probability ?)
So far all loans are for fixed terms (prepayment allowed) with fixed interest rates. Variable interest loans could add flexibility. The interest rate could rise or decline following an indicator (e.g. market prime rate). Another possibility would be a mechanism where the variable interest rate would rise or fall as a result of the level of defaults of the credit grade. This could protect lenders, if the actual default ratio is higher then the forecasted default ratio.

Third party bidding management (probability?)
Just a thought. Lenders could allow a third party to manage their portfolio. Like an investment funds the lender would invest an amount of money, while the funds manager does the actual selection of loans. This could possibly be done by a sophisticated software (would you trust this?) selecting loans by statistical analysis of performance of loans with similiar parameters or by a fonds manager. The later is unlikely because the amount of time needed for each loan is too high to be covered by fees.

I'll check at the end of 2008 to see how these trends developed.