Zopa Partnerships Bring in New P2P Lending Borrowers

British p2p lending company Zopa has recently entered two partnerships.

Zopa Prime

Zopa partners with the Charity PRIME to offer loans to entrepreneurs over 50 starting or running a business. The loan is not a loan to the business but a personal loan of up to 15,000 GBP (approx 24,125 US$). PRIME is the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise. The charity’s role is to vet the business plan of the applicant.

Lenders benefit because all Zopa prime loan listings are 50% guaranteed by PRIME. More details on how to obtain a loan.

Zopa and Good Energy

Zopa also partnered with Good Energy, a 100% renewable electricity supplier. Customers of Good Energy can use a Zopa loan listing to fund the initial installation cost of solar panels or wind turbines. In this partnership Zopa uses affiliate links with a branded landing page:

Benefits for Zopa from the partnerships are:

  1. More borrowers
  2. More quality without more costs – borrowers are vetted/screened by partners
  3. 50% of loan amount secured for PRIME loans
  4. Possibly earning referral fees from the affiliate link to Good Energy
  5. Great story for press coverage and marketing (catchwords:  “Prince Charles”, “renewable energy”, “credit crunch”, “older age”, …)

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Zopa UK plans Young Market to target young borrowers

Zopa UK said it will introduce 'Young Markets' (Young36 and Young60) specifically for borrowers aged 20 to 25. The need for this arises from the fact that currently many applications are turned down – not because the borrowers have any negative marks on their credit history – rather they don't have sufficient history of debt.

Zopa will still check borrowers in this age group (identity, fraud, affordability, adress and employment). As long as they have no history of bad debt they will be approved for borrowing on the Young Market. 

The new young market segment will allow Zopa to advertise the service focussed on young borrowers, which are internet savvy and open to the p2p lending concept.


Zopa UK reshapes markets

Zopa UK has announced that it will remove the options to lend for 12, 24 or 48 months and concentrate on lending terms of 36 and 60 months. The changes apply only to money lend through Zopa markets not to Zopa listings.

Why are we making these changes?
– Since Zopa began more than three years ago, more than 95% of your loans have been taken for a period of 3 years or less.
– The popularity of larger loans repaid over 5 years is increasing, particularly since we introduced the new fixed borrower fee.
– Almost half of our new lenders who sign up to Zopa do not become active and our hypothesis is that it is just too time consuming for them to make offers to all of our markets.
– This allows us to simplify the marketplace considerably, while still allowing borrowers to repay their loan early with no penalty.
– Because listings still enables all loan terms from 1 to 5 years, Zopa will continue to offer a wide variety of borrowing and lending options.
– By structuring repayments over at least 36 months, we aim to encourage fewer borrowers to repay their loan early, maximising the interest you earn from each loan and reducing the period your money might spend in your holding account. This is because the loans that have been repaid early to date were mostly taken for 12 and 24 months in the first instance, so that borrowers had paid back a good proportion of their loan after just a few months.
– We’re not envisaging that there will be any significant financial impact for Zopa from these changes. At most, we would earn 0.5% of the outstanding capital for a little longer if we can dissuade early repayment, but since we would hope that lenders would relend any funds repaid early anyway, we’re unlikely to earn anything more significant. These changes are purely aimed at simplifying our offer.

Lender reactions in the forums (19 pages of comments) are mostly negative.
Some lenders speculate that this move is a necessary result of the new flat fee which was introduced earlier. Borrowers pay 94.25 GBP of the loan amount. For short term loans the impact of this fee on the APR is higher then for long term loans.