Zopa US launch next week

According to the Wall Street Journal p2p lending service Zopa will launch in the US next week. Zopa has been established in the UK since 2005. The long announced US start had been postponed several times due to regulation issues.

In the US Zopa will partner with six credit unions. Lenders will benefit since they can be sure to get their principal back – deposits are insured up to $100,000 per member. This is new for p2p lending, where lenders usually carry the default risk (only Dutch p2p lending service Boober.nl guarantees for certain credit grades the bulk of the pricipal via insurance against default.
According to the WSJ article neither lenders nor borrowers will have to pay fees to use Zopa but have to sign up with one of the six participating credit unions.

An article on Netbanker.com already spoke of congestion, since Globefunder and Loanio will launch at a later stage and Prosper, Lending Club and Virgin Money are active in the market.

What's your opinion on this? Post your thoughts in the wiseclerk forum!

New MyC4 release

Today a new MyC4 release went online. The new version allows multiple standing orders which can be targeted by country, provider and/or industry of the borrower. There are several small improvements in usability, e.g. display of borrower APR.

MyC4 users have transfered 507,000 Euro in funds, but so far only 214,000 Euro of those have been loaned. Demand in loan opportunities is lagging behind investor's cash looking for investments. The majority of lenders (investors) still is Danish – MyC4 is located in Denmark, but the number of investors in other countries is rising.

So far I am satisfied with MyC4. I have invested in more than 50 active loans – true microloans – sometimes my share is as low 10 Euro – and so far everything is going smooth. Another 16 bids are on open listing opportunities.

Evolving Wiseclerk to a p2p lending information exchange

As some of you might have noticed, the main page of Wiseclerk.com changed today and now offers a p2p lending discussion forum. I believe there is a huge need for information on the developing p2p lending services. In this spirit I started Wiseclerk.com in April 2006 to create useful overview reports on Prosper. While it was not the first site of this kind (some oldtimers may remember Savagenumber.com by atlantageek) it did grow quickly and built a loyal userbase among Prosper lenders.

Prosper did from the beginning support the efforts of developers by providing data publicly and later offering data export interfaces and APIs.

Both the Wiseclerk reports and the later added blog were started with a focus on Prosper. That was appropriate at that point in time but now I think a broader view is needed. Lenders can choose between several p2p lending services and the flow of information needs to be taken to a meta platform level. Lenders that lend on several platforms will not want to check several forums – each one tied to the single platform.

The new forum will also serve as a feedback and discussion location for ideas and news published in the p2p-banking blog. Later today I will add a display into the blog that shows the latest discussion threads from the forum.

Continue reading

Latest changes at Lendingclub

Lendingclub.com now enables members to be a borrower AND a lender. Borrowers can have multiple loans, credit policy guidelines permitting. Lendingclub also added a Q&A feature and improved statistics. The new referral program enables this offer:

$25 bonus for you, when you sign up as a lender here (bonus credited after you funded your account)
$25 bonus for you, when you sign up as a borrower here (bonus credited after loan application)

Boober Italy launched yesterday

In Italy peer to peer lending service Boober.it launched yesterday. Boober Italy is a joint venture between Centax and Boober International which operates it's service in the Netherlands since February. Boober Italy charges borrowers 19.95 Euro to obtain their credit grade.
So far I could not check all details. The FAQ still has some bugs – some sections still refer to the situation of lending in the Netherlands ("I don't live in the Netherlands – may I still invest")

The launch is almost simultaneous to the launch of Zopa Italy.

Microplace advertising at Technorati

I noticed prominently displayed Microplace ads on Technorati.com today. Not sure if it is really keyword-targeted or rather context targeted. When I did searches on Technorati on Globefunder or Kiva I was shown Microplace ads.

Technorati is an interesting choice for the campaign (if it runs only there – I did not check). Technorati is mainly used by bloggers and journalists. The ads would therefore target not the individual investor but the multiplier who might write about Microplace.
I noted that the ad display is NOT using geotargeting meaning it is not only shown to US residents but to viewer worldwide (only US residents can use Microplace at the moment).

(Sample screenshot after search for globefunder)

(Another sample ad, original is larger and flash animated)

Do not use second loan to pay off first

Prosper.com recently allowed borrowers to take out a second loan while the first is still active.

Now Prosper changed the Borrower's Agreement and included the following rule: "You may not obtain a Loan from the Prosper marketplace to pay off an existing Prosper Loan."

The discussion on this change is lively, with many lenders wondering about the reason behind this and how Prosper will enforce this rule. Prosper allows prepayments with no penalty. How will Prosper know where the money for the repayment came from?

A possibility is that Prosper added this clause to benefit from servicing fees longer.