Peer-to-Peer Lending Headline Potpourri

Deutsche Bank Research released a new e-banking snapshot focusing on p2p lending. Notable trend is a shift to automated bidding (vs. manual selection of single loans). Interesting results are the findings that loans with longer loan descriptions have a higher default risk (at Lending Club) and that lower cost are not the only motivation for borrowers to use p2p lending services (offers by banks might actually be cheaper).

MYC4 is still struggling with the situation of it’s local provider Ebony in Kenia.  After some issues raised questions, MYC4 attempted to investigate Ebony’s portfolio. However when MYC4 attempted to perform an announced audit at Ebony’s premises in Nakuru accompanied by 4 auditors of KPMG, they were denied access. MYC4 filed an application in court in order to get access to the files. However on October 30th the court postponed the case until December.
Kiva had paused Ebony last year after unsatisfactory results and defaulted all Ebony loans last month.

In Germany p2p lending usually received positive to enthusiastic press coverage in the past. Today’s article in Handelsblatt (a financial newspaper) online edition has a more critical tone, pointing at fee structures of one service and wondering why the German Bafin (the regulation authority) sees no need to monitor activities of p2p lending companies more closely. The article does also cite positive recommendations of consumer advocates for Smava.

The New York Times picks up the story of an earlier blog post by David Rodman (‘Kiva is not quite what it seems‘) that started a discussion on transparency and marketing messages of Kiva around the question if Kiva lenders are really aware that they do not lend to the entrepreneur pictured but rather to the MFI which may/will use the money to fund other loans.
Since the blog post Kiva has changed it’s tagline on the homepage from “Kiva lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur, empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty.” to “Kiva connects people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Kiva Loans Surpass 100,000,000 USD

Congratulations to Kiva. They have tackled another impressive milestone: more then 100 million US$ total loans funded since inception. And the growth curve is pointing straight upwards. 60 million US$ were funded in the last 12 months.

Quoting today’s numbers from Kiva’s statistics page:

Total value of all loans made through Kiva:$100,223,910
Number of Kiva Lenders:585,070
Number of countries represented by Kiva Lenders:185
Number of entrepreneurs that have received a loan through Kiva:249,619
Number of loans that have been funded through Kiva:142,801
Percentage of Kiva loans which have been made to women entrepreneurs:82.72%
Number of Kiva Field Partners (microfinance institutions Kiva partners with):106
Number of countries Kiva Field Partners are located in:49
Current repayment rate (all partners):97.88%
Average loan size (This is the average amount loaned to an individual Kiva Entrepreneur. Some loans – group loans – are divided between a group of borrowers.):$404.87
Average total amount loaned per Kiva Lender (includes reloaned funds):$171.34
Average number of loans per Kiva Lender:4.91

Will Kiva run out of goals now? Definitly not:

But we believe this is only the beginning . . .

Kiva is about dreaming big. The entrepreneurs on the website dream about big business; our Field Partners dream about financially including all of the poor; Kiva Lenders dream about ending poverty.

Kiva was a big dream before the idea of lending to someone on the other side of the world became a reality. Now we have big dreams about making Kiva the world’s hub for alleviating poverty.

This is a quote from a Kiva blogpost from October, which also give the strategic goals for the next 5 years:

  1. Raise 1,000 million US$ in loans over the internet
  2. Reach 2 million entrepreneurs around the world
  3. Realize our own self-sufficiency in the process.

Kiva has my support. Let me know, if I can do anything to win your support for Kiva.

Kiva Conference Call Notes

Live from the Kiva Conference Call:

  • Defaults: FSME and Health Africa ceased to exist. Ebony Foundation loans were defaulted because Ebony failed to repay
  • There are payment problems with 2 providers
  • Eastern Europe portfolios are hard hit by economic downturn. 3 partners are problematic
  • Future plans for research project on alternative ways to display loans on the site (e.g. dashboard) – see related ‘popularity issue‘ discussion here
  • MFIs are working on updates on the impacts of recent Tsunamis (Samoa, Philippines) – will come in the next weeks.
  • Q&A touched transparency – one question was how much can be revealed on the homepage and how much needs to be one click away on the help page (e.g. descriptions on processes like net billing)

Working Paper of the Federal Reserve Bank San Francisco on P2P Lending

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has just published a 19 page working paper by Ian J. Galloway on “Peer-to-Peer Lending and Community Development Finance“. It examines Kiva, Zopa, Prosper, MicroPlace and Lending Club.

Quote from the conclusion of the article:

While online platforms may never replace conventional lending institutions, such as banks, it is important that the community development finance industry be aware of this emerging technology. Moreover, P2P finance platforms will continue to evolve—allowing for third-party issued loan sales, for example—which may fundamentally alter the way credit is allocated in the future. In either case, the potential community development finance implications are too significant to ignore.

Topics on the Kiva Conference Call

Today was another conference call by Kiva with its lenders.

Kiva informed about the situation of Fundación San Miguel Arcángel (FSMA), a field partner in the Dominican Republic, who is unable to repay lenders and will soon cease operations.

On the question, why Kiva does provide fewer translations, Kiva explained that they have a hard time to find enough volunteers to translate all texts. Another factor is the limited availability of engineering time to improve features related to translation.

Kiva decided in August to not provide translations to English for some loans. In this “non-translation experiment” Kiva will try to measure the effect of omitting the translation on the funding rate and speed.

In the discussion on the currency risk Kiva asked for feedback from the lenders on which information should be presented. One suggestion was to make the information that a currency risk may occur more eye-catching in the loan selection. Consensus was that currency risk information is more important for “power” lenders than occasional, infrequent lenders.

One third of the time of the engineers is spend on MFI and volunteer related issues. One third is spent on lender related (interface, features) issues. One third is spend on maintenance, bug-fixing, system issues.

Conversion rate: Of 100 people visiting the website, 8 make a loan.
40 percent of the people who put something (loans) in the basket, do not complete the check-out.