Swiss Private Banker: P2P Lending a Threat to Bank Balance Sheets

In an video interview in June, Konrad Hummler, managing partner at Swiss Bank Wegelin & Co, states how he sees p2p lending as a threat to banks.
P2P lending services could replace vital functions of banks. He says government influenced major banks are to inefficient. Established institutions will use calls for regulation to protect their business against newcomers.

(The interview is in German language)

Will P2P Lending be Disruptive?

In this – rather long – article I’ll examine if and why p2p lending has the potential to become disruptive and displace the “conventional” way banks hand out consumer loans.

A good read to get some opinions before continuing is reading these posts:

Zopa blog: ‘Why the banks need Zopa‘, which led to the post of
James Gardner,  ‘Zopa’s strategy is to be immaterial to banks‘, which was contradicted by
Chris Skinner,  ‘Why social finance and particulary Zopa matters‘, countered by
James Gardner: ‘Followup: Zopa isn’t disruptive

What is a disruptive innovation?

Wikipedia gives the definition that Clayton M. Christensen has coined in 1995:

Disruptive technology and disruptive innovation are terms used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improves a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by being lower priced or designed for a different set of consumers.

Disruptive innovations can be broadly classified into low-end and new-market disruptive innovations. A new-market disruptive innovation is often aimed at non-consumption (i.e., consumers who would not have used the products already on the market), whereas a lower-end disruptive innovation is aimed at mainstream customers for whom price is more important than quality.

Disruptive technologies are particularly threatening to the leaders of an existing market, because they are competition coming from an unexpected direction. …
In contrast to “disruptive innovation”, a “sustaining” innovation does not have an effect on existing markets. Sustaining innovations may be either discontinuous (i.e. “revolutionary”) or “continuous” (i.e. “evolutionary”). Revolutionary innovations are not always disruptive.

There are multiple examples in the Wikipedia article. I want to give two others here. The newspapers ignored or at least failed to adapt to what the internet meant to their classified ads business. As a result they were one of the first to loose offline business to totally new competitors (multiple ad sites, Ebay,  Craigslist and others). The music industry fought a downhill battle not to let CDs be replaced by replaced by (initially pirated) digital distribution.

In both cases the shift to the internet was inevitable, because the new technology offered a better process with superior customer experience at lower cost. The question here is if, had the dominant players faster reacted to the new medium, would they have retained (a larger part of) their dominant market position?

Cutting out the middleman?

One of the argument of p2p lending companies is that they are “cutting out the middleman”, meaning the bank out of the lending process. The way p2p lending works today, that is an argument open to attack. Continue reading

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.

Sobralaen brings p2p lending to Estonia

Today Sobralaen.ee, the first Estonian p2p lending service, has launched.

Sõbralaen’s borrowers fill in a loan application for up to 15,000 EEK (approx. 1,200 US$), specify the loan length (up to 2 years), maximum interest rate and sign the loan application. This application will start an auction, during which Sõbralaen’s investors can bid for the right to invest in that loan. When making a bid, Sõbralaen’s investors specify how much they are willing to invest and how high interest rate they are looking to earn. The investment amount can be between 100 and 15,000 EEK. Before making the investment, the investors can see the borrower’s credit score, history of previous Sõbralaen transactions and also personal details. Investors also have the possibility to ask various questions from the borrower. In the end of the auction, the system will automatically pick the best bids and combine them into one loan. Sõbralaen’s system will thereafter manage the rest of the loan process from the payment of loan to debt collection.

Estonians are fast in adapting new internet technologies. This is reflected in the process of Sobralaen’s sign-up, too. Users identification is done at the moment of sign-up electronically. This is possible, because users can only sign up using a government issued ID-card (currently 80% of Estonians had an active ID card – but only 20% make use of its functionalities so far) and a smart card reader or Mobile-ID. Furthermore banking transactions and court documents are signed with digital signatures.

Sobralaen was founded by Pärtel Tomberg, Mikhel Tasa and Martin Rask.
I was invited to test-drive the platform in summer 2008 while it was still under development. The usability was good and I liked the detailed FAQs that explained everything to the point.

Continue reading

P2P lending companies by loan volume – Jan 09

P2P lending is spreading internationally. While the biggest loan volumes are generated in the US market, many p2p lending websites have been established in other international markets.

P2P-Banking.com has created the following overview table listing services that are in operation and ranked them by loan volume. The loan volumes are not directly comparable for they are cumulative since launch of each service and represent different time spans.

In total approx. 740 million US$ have been funded through peer to peer lending/social lending services so far worldwide.


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

Since the previous version of this table especially Zopa (UK), Lending Club and Kiva thrived. With Prosper, Loanio and Fynanz halted, Lending Club profits from the situation.


This image may be reprinted under the same conditions as the first one.

Exclusive Interview: Smava expands p2p lending to Poland

Starting Jan. 7th, the German p2p lending service Smava will launch it’s p2p lending platform in Poland. I interviewed Smava CEO Alexander Artopé.

The following interview was originally conducted in German language. Possible translation errors are mine.

P2P-Blanking.com: Mr. Artopé, why has Smava chosen Poland as target market for the international expansion?

Smava: For several reasons. Poland is a fast growing economy with approx. 40 million residents. In Poland the span between deposit rate and base rate is very high – approx. 15 percent. Therefore the smava marketplace will be very attractive for polish customers right from the beginning. And regulation in Poland does not require a bank for the p2p lending model. This keeps transaction costs very low.

P2P-Banking.com: There are already 3 p2p lending services established in Poland. How does  Smava plan to win market share as newcomer?

Smava: Compared to the active services smava is much more secure. Like in Germany it is a central product feature, that the risk for the lenders is transparently evaluated and can be factored into the calculation . To achieve this we cooperate with the polish credit rating agency (BIK).

P2P-Banking.com: How did you organize the operations? Does Smava have a branch or a subsidiary in Poland? Or do you operate from Berlin?

Smava: We have a subsidiary in Wroclaw, Poland, with a polish management team.

P2P-Banking.com: Where are the biggest challenges in international expansion: technical, legal/regulatory, marketing or recruiting team members?

Smava: On all fields, in the following order: legal/regulatory, recruiting and then marketing.

P2P-Banking.com: Which differences does the polish version of Smava have compared to the german Smava version?

Smava: Firstly we will start in Poland without the ‘Anleger-Pools’ (P2P-Banking: an insurance feature), because p2p loans are mostly short term there. Secondly all loan contracts will be directly between lenders and borrowers  – not like in Germany with the biw bank as intermediary.

P2P-Banking.com: What will be the maximum loan amount that can be borrowed at Smava Poland?

Smava: A polish borrower can use smava.pl for loans up to 100,000 Zloty. Each lender can invest up to a maximum of 200,000 Zloty. (P2P-Banking.com: 100,000 Zloty equal approx.  34,000 US$)

P2P-Banking.com: Which credit rating information will Smava.pl supply for the lenders?

Smava: Like in Germany smava will supply a credit score (BIK) as well as a debt/income ratio.

P2P-Banking.com: Which fee structure does Smava.pl have?

Smava: Lenders can invest fee-free, borrowers pay 1%  of the loan amount. Continue reading

Noba to offer p2p lending in Hungary

Guest article by Peter Petrovics, co-founder of Noba

First of all, let me thank Wiseclerk for the opportunity to post this guest piece on his blog.
I am excited to announce the January launch of the first Hungarian p2p lending service:

www.noba.hu

Also, as a regular reader of Wiseclerk’s posts, I am hoping to be able to draw on the wisdom of his readership in a particular legal problem we have run into while setting up our initiative.

My name is Peter Petrovics, and I have some modest experience working with online communities, while Charlie Szabo, my partner in Noba, is an accomplished former banker. We both have been deeply interested in the entire concept of p2p lending since we first heard of it. We  started our project in our native Hungary last summer .

We opted on a dual system: one is dedicated to the P2P lending model, where we hope to see micro projects raising money through friends, family, social network and eventually anyone interested enough in the given venture.

The other section is dedicated to channel loans to the high number of people living in deep and prolonged poverty around the country. We call these “charity” loans, and this part of noba.hu is similar to Kiva.org with the difference that it is limited to Hungary. Applicants for these loans are assisted by a mentor, who is typically an NGO or social worker, in managing their loan applications and projects.

We hope, that noba.hu will not only allow a flow of funds, but will eventually create synergies between lenders and borrowers in terms of know-how, contacts, partnerships.

Both types of loans are intended to allow lenders to make real profit, hoping on the long run to attract a larger community of private and institutional lenders.

This is however the part where we run into a very tenacious obstacle: under Hungarian law, lending (on interest) is a privilege strictly reserved to banks – private individuals are allowed to give a single loan per year, the second loan would be considered as providing commercial banking services without legal authorization. This means that the people who are willing to participate in a P2P loan project as lenders are only allowed to lend the money with a 0% interest, unless these natural persons are founding registered financial institutions.

I would be grateful for any input regarding this problem. We have made some research, and found that similar regulatory restrictions have been overcome by other initiatives in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, but I would be interested to hear any new ideas from you.

Does anybody have any idea if the whole issue could not be approached from an EU regulatory side? Could prove to be an easier path, than pursuing separate battles against the local legal systems.

Thank you for your attention, and looking forward to your comments.

Peter

Loanland update – p2p lending in Sweden

Loanland launched last December as the first p2p lending company in the swedish market (see ‘Loanland launches peer to peer lending in Sweden‘). Since then about 5.7 million SEK (approx. 0.75 million US$) loan volume has been funded .

Ville Vesterinen has published more information about Loanland in the ArcticStartup blog:

The company is currently providing unsecured loans to the Swedish market. The Swedish market for unsecured loans to households amount to around 160 billion SEK (around 16 billion EUR or 20 billion USD) at present and with unsecured loans to SMEs the figure is about 500 billion SEK (around 50 billion EUR or 63 billion USD). The market has grown 15% annually during the last few years.

Loanland is using an open source platform that it has developed, automating most of the processes. The technology is based on Java, J2EE, MySQL, Tomcat, Spring and Hibernate. The platform and auction engine allows individual and automatic bidding, electronic signatures, integrated credit scoring and efficient payments.

The company … has already over 10 000 members and 5 000 registered borrowers and lenders. They have 6 million SEK (600K EUR or 750K USD) deposited out of which 95 percent is lend out as loans. Quite significant number considering that the startup operates currently only in Sweden.

P2P lending companies by loan volume

P2P lending is spreading internationally. While the biggest loan volumes are generated in the US market, many p2p lending websites have been established in other international markets.

The services can be divided in three categories:

  1. p2p lending marketplaces (e.g. Prosper, Zopa, Lending Club, Smava) – participants driven mainly by economic motives
  2. social lending services enabling micro financing (e.g. Kiva, MyC4) – participants driven mainly by social motives
  3. other concepts (e.g. Virginmoney which is special in the way that it does not do the matchmaking between borrowers and lenders, but supports the process between persons that already had offline relations- slogan “We manage loans between family and friends“)

Sites funding student loans can fall into any of these three categories or combine motivations.

P2P-Banking.com has created the following overview table listing services that are in operation and ranked them by loan volume. The loan volumes are not directly comparable for they are cumulative since launch of each service and represent different time spans.

Asked for a figure, a Microplace spokesman pointed out “…it is important to note that MicroPlace is not a P2P site.  We are a platform that offers investments to the retail public.“. No loan volume was quoted, but he stated “investments purchased on our site have enabled over 26,000 microfinance loans.

In total approx. 685 million US$ have been funded through peer to peer lending/social lending services so far worldwide.

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

If you are a representative of a p2p lending service and want your service to be included in the next update of this table, please send me an email with information about your company.