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Banks are one of those things people take for granted, whether they understand them or not . Their systems and inner workings are unknown to most of their customers. Their influence has, to some extent, shaped the modern world. Strength, rigidity and, until recently, stability have been the common attributes for banks.
Change rarely, if ever, happens in the banking sector. When it does, it’s usually for the worse. Recently, however, something seems to have been shaking its very foundation: the evolution of electronic markets and peer to peer cooperation.
Commerce has been liberalized by the likes of eBay, Amazon and AliBaba. These companies are responsible for shortening the supply chain from manufacturer to the end consumers. As recent developments show, the banking sector is next. Who knows, maybe the companies that changed retail will also be those able to change banking.
Although just recently launched, some new companies have been taking the banking world by storm. These companies match lenders and borrowers, through a common marketplace platform, usually using auctions.
Zopa, UK’s leading P2P lending company, offers a 5% return to lenders and charges 5,6% on personal loans. Apparently it works great as overall acceptance has been steadily rising. In the past 6 months alone the company has lend 100 million pounds, 25% of the total lend since it was founded in 2005.
Among the things responsible for a growth in P2P lending acceptance was the fact that traditional banks’ risk aversion that slowed lending to a halt. Savers have also been ignored by banks so they had no other choice but to turn to new methods of growing their savings. “UK savers seem to have been forgotten by the banking establishment, so it is not surprising more people are giving Zopa a try”, says Giles Andrews, CEO of Zopa.
It’s not just the UK or the western world that seems to have an appetite for P2P lending. IsePankur, an Estonian based P2P banking startup, has just added lending options to investors outside Estonia. The company was accepted quickly as an reliable financial player and now it lends money to 60 000 people. Although it tackled the acceptance issue, it still has to deal with higher risks than UK-based Zopa. It manages this issue with the help of a high return on investments (aprox. 22%) that seems to be enough for everyone willing to lend against a default rate of 3%.
Google itself is pretty interested in the P2P area as it purchased a share of Lending Club, valuating it at $1.55 billion. The company, based in San Francisco, is boastful about providing loans in 43 states and earning its investors more than $300 mil so far.
Lending Club was founded in 2007, 2 years after Zopa, by Renaud Laplanche and it has lend more than $2 billions in 2013.
AliBaba.com, China’s main digital company, the biggest online retailer in the world has joined the banking digital revolution. It has recently launched the Yu’e Bao (“Remnant treasure”) fund , that allows its customers to capitalize on AliPay’s growth by depositing money in this fund.
Customers will use money parked in their accounts. Their funds can thus increase with the company’s development. Although it is taking on some of the largest and richest banks in the world, it shows an outlandish growth rate. “Yu’E Bao fund reached 4.24 billion yuan (USD 693 million) in Q2 2013, growing by 1211.33% in Q3” it is reported.