The Growth of ‘Niche’ Peer-to-Peer Lending

[avatar user=”Tom Mitchell” /]

The advent of the peer-to-peer model has brought fundamental change to the lending industry; change which has seen platforms such as ArchOver move with the zeitgeist and embrace the internet as a medium through which to fund loans to businesses and individuals. But as the peer-to-peer space has begun to mature and take root, much change has begun to occur within the sector itself, with many platforms emerging with their own specific applications for the peer-to-peer model.

One interesting entrant which certainly captures the ‘forward-looking’ character of the sector is Abundance Generation, a platform which provides funding to eco-friendly projects throughout the UK. Investors buy debentures in the projects listed on the platform, which have included wind farms and solar energy initiatives, with different projects carrying different rates of return. The platform seems to have successfully tapped into modern sensitivities surrounding global warming and the viability of fossil-fuel use in the longer term, with investors having pledged just over £8m on the platform at the time of writing.

Another entrant whose focus is equally timely is Bitbond. This German platform, mentioned by James in his recent blog, is a peer-to-peer business lender that solely uses the digital currency Bitcoin. The platform takes the concept of ‘disintermediation’ and the diminishing role of the banks in finance a stage further than most, for even a bank account is not required to lend and borrow on the platform. Indeed, Bitbond’s website carries the tagline “banking is necessary, banks are not,” which neatly illustrates the ethos driving their unusual platform and its use of a digital cryptocurrency.

Bitbond’s belief in the potential of digital technology is mirrored in the offering of Pollen vc, a platform with offices in both the UK and US. Pollen seeks to address the financing problems faced by developers creating apps for Google Play and Apple’s App Store. These developers not only face fierce competition for the attention of consumers, but also a long delay between making sales in the marketplaces and receiving payment. Pollen aims to alleviate the cash flow problems that this can cause by monitoring sales data and advancing a percentage of their clients’ earned revenue to allow them to continue developing their apps. To complement this service, Pollen’s management also aim to consult with them to offer advice on exactly how they should move forward with their products.

Taken together, these three platforms serve as an excellent illustration of the growing diversity found within the peer-to-peer space. And in the author’s opinion, this can only bode well for the sector at large.

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