P2P lending trends to expect in 2009

As last year I’ll again attempt some predictions on what trends and developments can be expected in peer-to-peer lending 2009.

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. In other markets, where there is no national p2p lending service active yet (e.g. Canada, New Zealand), p2p lending will be introduced by the launch of a service. Possible candidates include Communitylend and Nexx.
It is hard to predict when the dormant US players (e.g. Prosper, Loanio) will overcome the regulatory hurdles and if that step is lasting.
The British market which has (compared to other markets) rather low regulatory barriers so far is dominated by a single player –  Zopa. I wonder if we’ll see the launch of a competitor there.

Boom of social lending services/p2p microfinance (probability 100%)
2008 saw the launch of Babyloan, Veecus and Wokai. Kiva funded more the 1 million US$ new loans in a single week in the end of December. The steep growth of Kiva, MyC4 and other services will continue and new p2p microfinance platforms will launch.

First Banks experiment with own p2p lending applications (probability 50%)
While p2p lending volumes are far from being a business threat to banks – banks do watch the developments. Possibly in 2009 a bank will launch its own p2p lending application. The principal aim will not be to generate revenue, but rather to collect experience and to gauge acceptance by the bank’s customers. It will be interesting to see banks testing the water on their path to implement a p2p lending concept that supplements their core business.

Cross-market lending (probability <25%)
Carried over from last year – was not implemented
Aside form the social lending approaches 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 outweigh 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 ?)
Carried over from last year – was not widely implemented
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 fore-casted default ratio.

I’ll check at the end of 2009 to see how these predictions fared.

(Photo credit: jpovey)

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