Linked Finance, an Irish p2p lending marketplace for SME loans active since spring 2013 , announced it has secured backing from French investment group, Eiffel Investment Group, who will contribute up to 20% of funding for new loans listed on the platform. Eiffelâ€™s dedicated online lending team has been involved in the space since 2011. It currently manages close to 200 million EUR on behalf of several multi-billion institutional investors across a range of leading P2P platforms, including Lendix in France and Funding Circle in the UK.
The agreement will further boost liquidity on Linked Financeâ€™s platform, which has already provided loans to more than 700 SME since its launch. With plans to further accelerate lending in 2017, Linked Financeâ€™s ultimate goal is to become the countryâ€™s biggest source of non-bank SME finance.
Commenting on the news, Niall Dorrian Chief Executive Officer of Linked Finance, said:
â€œThis agreement with Eiffel is a vote of confidence in Linked Financeâ€™s business model and recognises our strong growth trajectory. Eiffel monitors over 100 lending platforms worldwide. They know the industry well and what it takes to succeed.Â A diverse funding mix is important for our long-term development. Eiffelâ€™s support will complement our existing lenders, ordinary members of the Irish public, who will still continue to play a crucial role in helping us to fulfil our mission of providing fast and affordable finance for Irelandâ€™s SME sector.â€
Etienne Boillot, CEO and co-founder of Eiffel eCapital, said:
â€œWe are experienced investors in online lending platforms and believe they are transforming borrowing opportunities for small businesses around the world, and reducing reliance on traditional bank financing. In Linked Finance, we have identified a leading player in the Irish market and a business that we are confident will deliver on its ambitious expansion plans. As institutional investors, we not only bring more liquidity to the market, but also more confidence in this method of fundraising, which should help attract more SMEs to borrow and more retail investors to lend, a win-win for all involved.â€
Eiffelâ€™s online lending activity is backed by several large insurance companies including Aviva France, AG2R La Mondiale. One of their key objectives is to finance loans for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) via lending platforms in France and Europe;Â they are one of the leading players in Europe in this market.
Linked Finance recently completed Irelandâ€™s biggest ever P2P loan, raising 250,000 EUR in two tranches for serviced office and flexible workspace provider, Iconic Offices. The loan was funded by Eiffel eCapital alongside more than 400 individual lenders; just some of the over 14,000 investors on the marketplace.
In 2016, Linked Finance saw a 132% increase in lending activity over the second half of the year. In total Linked Finance has funded over 700 loans since launch. Key sectors using the SME loans include retail, food, agriculture, manufacturing, professional services, education, construction and distribution
The P2P lending platform is already in talks with other leading institutional investors, in Ireland and internationally, and they are actively looking for further funding partners who want to deploy capital via the site.