For Debate: A Flaw in Current P2P Lending Models?

P2P lending holds great promise: more transparency, purposeful direction of investments and economic advantages for borrowers and lenders. Some even talk of democratization of financial processes.

But are advantages and risks evenly balanced between borrowers and lenders?

For the borrower p2p lending fulfills most promises and the only risk is that the desired loan goes unfunded. Most services have a simple fee structure with no hidden fees and the borrower only pays fees when he does receive the wanted loan. And within a time frame of a few weeks after sign-up the borrower reaches his goal – once his loan is funded and the money is transferred to his account. Platforms with auction mechanisms can even benefit the borrower further in supplying the loan at a lower interest rate then the maximum he set.

The lender on the other side is promised an attractive return on investment but faces multiple risks:

  • borrower fails to repay the loan
  • (identity) fraud
  • p2p lending company fails and ceases to service loans (e.g. Boober Netherlands)
  • unreliable forecasts of ROI and default rates
  • on some services: open/undefined tax and legal issues
  • on some microfinance services: currency exchange risks
  • on some microfinance services: risk of MFI failure

There is also an information asymmetry. The borrower usually has most of the information he needs in advance and the information he has is accurate. Should the information be not accurate (e.g. wrong information on at what interest rates he can be funded) then he can retry at no additional costs only incurring a delay. The lender has information, which is partly based on estimates or forecasts that might prove unreliable and other parts of the information might be untrue (e.g. borrower reported income or borrower description of purpose of the loan). For privacy reasons it might also be a subset of the information the p2p lending service itself has on the borrower (e.g. town of residence omitted, or income or jobs listed only in categories instead of values).

The lending experience of the lender is further hindered by the timeline. The problems may impact him at any point in time of a several year loan term. And he either has no way to terminate his investment immediately or if there is a secondary market he might be only able to do so by accepting economic disadvantages in return for the option to selling off.

The situation of the lenders in this comparison to the borrowers is worsened by the alignment of interests of the p2p lending service company with the borrowers. This is due to several factors:

  • in most models borrowers pay the larger part of the fees and are thereby important for the revenues
  • in some markets attracting borrowers is the limiting factor for growth
  • for obvious image and marketing reasons the p2p lending company is not eager to share information on fraud and (in some cases) default details
  • for the same reasons companies are slow to react and change their lender information when real default levels are much higher then fore-casted (or even advertised) default levels (examples are Prosper, MYC4)

This imparity results in different levels of satisfaction with the p2p lending service for lenders and borrowers. While those p2p lending services that offer (unmoderated) discussion forums have only few unsatisfied borrowers voicing their opinion (and then mostly on technical issues) lender concern and critic rises over time on some of these services (to the extend that Prosper even deleted it’s forum at one point in time).

Continue reading

Globefunder opens for borrower’s loan applications

Globefunder is now open for loan request by borrowers (minimum credit score of 640 required). The signup for individual lenders at Globefunder is still "coming soon". 

A Columbus Business First newspaper article gave more details a few days ago: 

Interest rates for borrowers on GlobeFunder range from 8 percent to 20 percent. GlobeFunder makes its money by charging a onetime 1.75 percent fee to borrowers on their loans, and charging lenders 50 to 100 basis points of their investment over the 24- to 60-month loan term, Decio said.

A basis point is one-100th of a percent.

GlobeFunder is responsible for servicing, collecting and, if necessary, selling nonperforming loans to debt collection firms, Decio said. Continue reading

Borrowers – tight-lipped or talking one’s head off?

When analysing data it is possible to find out all kind of things. E.g if there are regional differences to how talkative Prosper borrowers are when writing listings.

Prosper's most talkative borrowers live in:


as compared to:

Now, while that was fun, it is not really useful in any way or is it?

When looking at the length of funded listings, that became loans, by credit grade it gets more interesting.

Apparently the lower the credit grade the more detailed the description has to be to convince the lenders to bid to fund the loan.

Looking at the development of the description length of funded Prosper listings on the time scale  this chart is the result:

There are several possible causes that contribute to listings getting lenghtier:

  • Borrowers take other listings as example and add on top of this
  • Group leaders (or others) provide templates
  • Competition for lender attention is getting tougher
  • Borrowers detected that longer descriptions will increase chances (see HRs in table above) – unlikely


New signature tool with prosper data available

Yesterday the new lender signatures were introduced by Based on an idea from  nonattender this new tool allows to transform key lender stats figures into an image, which can be used in a posters signature at the prosper forum.

Example of the image (size decreased, original is larger):

wiseclerk prosper lender stats image example

The image shows the amount invested, the current number of loans, the roles and, if the lender is in the top 500 the rank by money invested.

Once created the images will update daily automatically.

The discussion thread on this new tool was a hot topic. After several suggestions, a couple of hours later a further signature tool, this time for the borrowers was offered.

Example of borrower signature (size decreased, original is larger):

Wiseclerk prosper borrower signature image

We will see how this further develops.