New Investment Fund Focussing on Investing in Global P2P Lending

P2P Income Partners‘ is a new investment fund by Symfonie Capital that will invest capital in p2p loans. The founder, Michael Sonenshine, an ex-investment banker, told P2P-Banking.com that he plans the first tranche to be 25 million Euro. He says: “Initially we will invest in loans issued by sites such as Prosper, Lending club, Funding Circle, Zopa, Isepankur and we will add fonds to the mix as we see fit. The P2P market is not only web-based.  There are opportunities to make direct loan across Europe.  The key to success is spreading the risk and doing careful due diligence.”. The fund is open to qualified investors. Minimum investment is stated as 100,000 US$.

P2P Lending Year-End Review 2010

As the end of 2010 approaches here is a selection of main peer-to-peer-lending news and developments covered by P2P-Banking.com:

(Photo by paul (dex))

Gimmick – App for P2P Lenders

I just saw the first iPhone App that is to support lenders in using p2p lending services. It aims to help them keeping up to date with the latest listings at Prosper, Lending Club and Kiva.

The features of this app are rather basic, but with the number of people lending at p2p services there could be a market for a sophisticated app that really helps lenders select loans while on the move.

Update: There are in fact two other free apps to browse Kiva loan listings.

Annualized Default Rate

I just watched the recorded webcast. It’s great that Lending Club uses these to communicate to the users. However I found the way some information were presented to the lenders to be controversial. About 11 minutes into the presentation the company advertises the Annualized Default Rate of 2.36%.  Looking at the slide at 0:13:29 the company states “Less than Three Loans out of the 100 Default”. Is that right – does the percentage of Annualized Default Rate figure match the percentage of loans that default?

This does not match Lendingclub’s own definition of Annualized Default Rate, which is:

Annualized Default Rate is calculated by dividing the total amount of loans in default by the total amount of loans issued for more than 120 days, divided by the number of months loans in default have been outstanding and multiplied by twelve. The loans issued for less than 120 days are excluded from the calculation because loans are unlikely to default during the first 120 days.

I’ll create the following example to illustrate what Annualized Default Rate means to lenders. Imagine a bad-lucked lender that loaned 10 loans with 100 US$ each 12 months ago. First all went well, but after 10 months suddenly 5 of his borrowers failed to pay and defaulted. Colloquially that lender might swear: “That sucks, 50% of my loans defaulted”

Under the formula this gives us an annualized default rate of 8.3%. That sounds much better, doesn’t it? The important difference is that the annualized default rate figure is just a snapshot taken right now. It will rise over the time until the loans mature (if the lender does not invest in new loans). So after 36 months it will be much higher while the figure “50% of my loans defaulted” will not have changed after 36 months (if the other 5 loans continue to be paid on time).
You may want to ask, if the figure could fall instead of rise? No, for a given portfolio the annualized default rate can only go up over time – no loan can return form a default but addituionally further loans could default.

So what does that mean?

First: An annualized default rate of 2,36% does not match the message “Less than Three Loans out of the 100 Default”.
Second: Most of Lending Club’s loans are very young and the overall loan volume is growing. So even if – due to growth – the annualized default rate stays at 2,36% overall, it will rise higher for given loan portfolios orginated in the past. (Compare: ‘Lending Club Default Rates Much Higher than Initially Expected?‘).

Note that the same effects impact the Net Annualized Return rate.

US P2P Lending Regulation Might Ease

The House of Representatives yesterday passed a bill that will move regulation of p2p lending services from the SEC to the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) in Spring 2010, provided the Senate and President Obama approve the new legislation.

Oversight by the SEC meant that Prosper, Lending Club and other p2p lending companies in the US had to go through an arduous registration process in the past, which forced them to close for new business for several months. Zopa even decided to exit the US market.

Prosper CEO Chris Larsen welcomed this development, saying: “In terms of how the Bill relates to peer-to-peer lending, we’ve always believed that the industry should be regulated as a bank-like sector by a strong, holistic regulator focused on providing robust protections for both lenders and borrowers…”.

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.

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.

P2P Lending Companies Show Strong Growth – Aug. 09

P2P lending services continue to grow. In some markets the speed of growth has even accelerated.

P2P-Banking.com has created the following overview table listing services in operation and ranked them by loan volume funded in the past 6 months.

This image may be reprinted on other internet sites, provided it is not altered or resized and the following text (including the direct link to this article) is given as source directly below the image:
Source: P2P-Banking.com

For some service like the Korean Moneyauction and Popfunding no figures were available. Also omitted are some services that did not reply to information requests.

Note that Prosper.com was closed for most of the observed time span and did not make the minimum cutoff for the table. Also note that Zopa Italy is currently closed.

For a table listing more p2p lending companies check previous P2P Lending Companies by Loan Volume – Jan. 09.

Especially british Zopa and the German services show strong growth lately. Smava nearly doubled loan volume in July compared to June (chart), whereas Auxmoney tripled it (chart). At Smava currently even 25,000 Euro loans (approx. 35,750 US$) are funded with bids in only 4 minutes (!) bidding time (example loan).

On the other hand MYC4‘s growth slowed in the last months (chart) due to problems with the providers loan picks.