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'.
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
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.
2007 was an exciting and eventful year in the development of peer to peer lending. Looking back these were the highlights:
- February: Boober.nl launches the first p2p lending service in the Netherlands.
Prosper.com raises required borrower credit score to 520 and introduces other major changes
- March: Smava.de launches German p2p lending service
- April: Fairrates.dk offers person to person lending in Denmark
- May: Lendingclub.com launch in the US, initially limited to Facebook members
- June: Prosper raises another 20M US$ VC. PPdai p2p lending launch in China
- July: Globefunder raises 1.5M US$ VC
- August: Boober is temporarily forced to stop lending by financial authorities. MyC4, which allows lenders to fund microloans to African entrepreneurs, grows steadily while still in private beta
- September: Kiva sold out after extensive media coverage.
- October: Microplace launches with microlending. Microplace is an Ebay company. Australia gets peer to peer lending through iGrin. Zopa UK launches 'Zopa Listings'. Prosper portfolio plans introduced. A Prosper SEC filing is the first step towards a secondary market for Prosper loans
- November: Boober and Zopa launch in Italy. Prosper reaches 100 million US$ loan volume.
- December: Zopa US launch. Lendingclub goes nationwide. Canadian Communitylend receives 2.5M VC. In Sweden Loanland is the first p2p lending service.
I will write another article on which trends to expect in p2p lending in 2008.
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.