I always enjoy speculating what p2p lending developments might happen in the year to come and then look back in December to see how I did. I don’t dare call it forecast, because these are just my personal guesses, though in some cases it’s an educated guess based on what I know individual p2p lending services are working on at the moment.
More competition and entering more national markets (probability 100%)
This is a fairly easy bet. There are many, especially European markets, where no p2p lending service is operating yet. Even accounting for the fact that laws and regulation in some national markets make it hard or impossible to establish a service, there is still plenty of room. Looking at an individual country, it is much harder to tell. I still wonder that there are no competitors to Zopa in the British market (yet).
More products (probability 100%)
Currently nearly all p2p lending platforms only offer one product: unsecured, fixed term loans. The differences are more in the details of loan funding (bidding, no bidding, markets, listings) but not in the offered product. In 2010 we will see additional products (e.g. secured loans).
A bank will acquire an existing p2p lending service (probability <25%)
While last year’s prediction was that there is the first bank experimenting with p2p lending (and there was), 2010 might see a bank (or other financial institution) buying a running p2p lending service.
Buying will be much faster, cheaper and risk-less than if the bank tries to build a new service.
An established peer-to-peer-lending service will fail (probability 50%)
While p2p lending as a whole is growing fast, some services face economic challenges. It is possible that one of them will fail in 2010 and close (This would not be the first time this has happened – remember Boober and Fairrates). The market it did operate in will likely experience slowed growth due to bad press. A major failure would also affect the funding chances of any service still in idea/planning phase.
Cross-market lending (probability low)
Carried over from last two years – was not implemented
Aside form the social lending approaches so far all services are open only for lenders and borrowers that live in the same market. If lenders could lend to borrowers in markets with higher key interest rate than the market the lender lives in, the advantages could outweigh the risks. In the European Union due to the Euro zone there would be no currency exchange risk. With SEPA the mechanism for facilitating payments is in place. There are steep regulatory hurdles to be taken.
There will be social-network data used for risk assessment (probability 25%)
So far p2p lending services trying to use “groups ” or “communities” to reduce default risks have failed (not in microfinance like Kiva does it!). Therefore p2p lending services rely on existing scoring models – the same scores banks use. So where is the innovation? And worse – defaults are usually higher than these scoring models initially suggested. Might the use of data retrieved from social networks be a solution? Look out for a longer article on this topic which I’ll post to start a discussion shortly.
I’ll check at the end of 2010 to see how these predictions fared.
(Photo credit: jpovey)