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Peer-to-Peer Lending

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Maya Brahmam's picture

This week, the Financial Times reported that Jacob Rothschild bought into a peer-to-peer lending (P2P) company, Zopa, which allows people to lend to each other directly over the Internet. The Lending Club, a US-based P2P company, has processed more than $1 billion in loans and is preparing for an initial public offering.

Why has this sort of lending taken off? According to Rothschild, “Savers are looking for a way to get enhanced yield and at the same time, borrowers are looking for options where banks aren’t lending.” A recent post on Bloomberg noted that “Lending online became popular in China after a tightening of bank credit in 2010 following two years of stimulus spending to fight the global financial crisis.” Furthermore, the total amount that circulates as loans among friends, families and companies is $1.3 trillion – an amount equal to last year’s US budget deficit.