Free-riders on the p2p lending bandwagon?

In Germany at least four companies developed an approach that makes use of the media hype on buzz words like peer-to-peer lending or social lending.

Under the headline peer-to-peer lending they offer kind of a "dating platform" for borrowers and potential lenders. To attract borrowers they offer hope – even borrowers with bad credit history have the chance to get a loan. To the lender they promise high rates. But a close examination of these services reveals that one could just as good publish a classified in a paper to seek or offer a loan. The services do nothing but store the requests in a database, match them and inform both sides by email once a match was made. It is then up to the borrower and the lender to negotiate the loan terms, a contract, handle the money transfer and the repayments. Since they are not handling the money, the services are not regulated by German regulator Bafin.
Oh I forgot, the services do something else: they (at least 3 of the 4 I am aware of) charge the borrower a registration fee of about 9.50 Euro (approx. 6.75 US$). Note that the fee is not tied to a successful loan match but payable upon registration.

No wonder a German consumer protection agency cautioned against the use of offers like these. Calling it peer-to-peer lending might not technically be a false claim, but these services are worlds apart from comprehensive services like Zopa, Prosper and Smava.

P.S.: No I did not name the companies here in order not to give them more free traffic. The media already did that enough, because they often do not research enough.

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