Lending Club Default Rates Higher than Initially Expected?

Back in January I received an email from a Lendingclub employee in reaction to this article, where I wrote:

“… Several .. p2p lending services show clear signs that default levels will (or have) surpassed the initially published percentages of defaults to be expected based on external data. … The one exception from the rule is Zopa UK, which successfully manages to keep defaults low…”.

The email questioned why Lending Club was not mentioned along Zopa for keeping defaults low and invited me to discuss this. On Jan. 21st I replied with the following (based on numbers which I compiled from Lendingclubstats.com – these will have changed slightly since then by now):

As sample let’s look at the loans Lending Club issued in Dec. 2007. Total loan amount is 1,322,850 US$.

The status of these is:
a) Current 823,800 (62,3%)
b) Fully Paid 168,150 (12,7%)
c) Late 82,500 (6,2%)
d) Defaulted 248,400 (18,8%)

These loans were approx. 2 years old (in January) and will run about 1 year more.

Is it a fair assumption that in Jan 2010 22% (or more) of the loans issued will have defaulted? I know I did not take the final step to split these numbers by credit grade, but if I would have done that, are you arguing that the default levels are low (or at least lower than the scoring predicted in Dec 2007)? If Dec. 2007 is for some reason a bad performing month, feel free to do the above with any other month from 2007 for the discussion and we continue with these numbers.

Though I was promised a detailed answer and I did follow-up several times, so far there has been no reply. I am not saying that Lending Club defaults are too high for lenders to make a profit. My points are:

  • Default levels at Lending Club are likely higher than initially expected
  • The published default rates on Lending Club and other p2p lending platforms are often averages in relation to all running loans (including recently funded ones). This figure is skewed, if the service is growing fast and lenders might misinterpret it. A better  evaluation is based on taking a sample of older loans (e.g. based on one month of origination)
  • ROIs for Lending Club lenders will be, once their investments mature, likely lower than the average shown at the moment at the Lending Club statistic page.

MYC4 Reduces Staff Due to Lack of Capital

MYC4 has redefined it’s strategy and budget plans after it was unable to attract new funding from business angels as originally planned. Mads Kjaer, CEO and main shareholder has announced that he will invest 1.4 million Euro (approx. 2.1M US$) into the company in 2010. To reduces costs MYC4’s management has decided to conduct a collective termination of all employees’ contracts on Monday November 30 in order to renegotiate employment with all employees and give them the possibility of deciding what to do in the current situation with a three-month notice period.

Some employees have already decided to stay on board, just as the CEO and deputy CEO yesterday had their terminations withdrawn by the Board of Directors, which means that MYC4 will continue under the management of Mads Kjaer and Svend Toettrup.

For MYC4 2009 was an extremely difficult year as default rates of the loans of nearly all local providers peaked. Volume of new loans slowed to about a quarter of the high reached in mid-2008 as several providers were paused to evaluate/clear the situation.

The conflict with Ebony Capital Ltd., a provider in Kenya, reached new extremes. The legal battle led to a search of Ebony’s premises by the Criminal Investigation Department, Nairobi on Dec. 1st.

Furthermore MYC4 placed information adverts in a regional newspaper to encourage borrowers to make repayments on their loans directly to a MYC4 account instead to Ebony Capital Ltd. (picture of newspaper ad).

MYC4 even set up an information page directed at Ebony borrowers and linked it on its home page.

Given the circumstances 2010 will not be an easy year for MYC4, too.