Let’s have a look, if these microfinance models can fit under the definition of peer to peer lending. One aspect of p2p lending is, that the lender can select individual borrowers, which he wants to lend money to. Kiva and MyC4 offer this choice. A p2p lending platform usually allows search parameters to narrow the search for matching borrowers (e.g. by credit grade). Both have this function allowing to search by country, gender, industry and more.
A possible argument against classifying MyC4 and Kiva as p2p lending companies is the fact that they use local microfinance institutions as intermediaries acting between lender and borrower and charging fees. That is true, but several other p2p lending services (e.g. Prosper, Lending Club and Smava) use banks as intermediaries (for legal reasons).
So where exactly is the divide seperating MyC4 and Kiva from other p2p lending services. They differ especially on the factor that:
- Borrowers can not sign up themselves (so one side is really offline); borrowers are selected and screened by the MFIs
- Business model
- Lenders receive no interest at Kiva
- Lenders and borrowers do not reside in the same country.
I still think that MyC4 and Kiva can be defined as p2p lending services. With Microplace the case is different, because no individual borrowers can be identified; therefore Microplace could be excluded form p2p lending (Microplace states that it is not a p2p lending site).
(Photo credit: Stig Nygaard)