Thu, Aug 30th 2007 12:08pm
Will all of the turmoil in conventional credit markets spur greater interest upstart peer-to-peer lending exchanges? It seems possible, since, in a way, sites like Prosper and Zopa are the antithesis of the highly impersonal, securitized industry that's facing so many problems right now. From the outset, these P2P lending sites have emphasized diversification, manageable risks and direct relationships between lenders and and borrowers. Whereas traditional loan brokers are closing their doors left and right, these sites continue to do brisk business. Lenders aren't seeing mass defaults, because the standards have been high since the beginning. Of course, the scale is different. You still can't finance a house through one of these sites, but for other needs, they may work just fine. Between the lack of available credit to consumers and a desire to diversify investments on the part of individuals, this moment in the business cycle offers these sites an excellent chance to really prove their worth. Update: A number of commenters make some interesting points about default rates, suggesting that they may be higher than these sites would have you believe. Also, it's pointed out that there are a number of users playing both sides of the game -- borrowing at one rate only to lend out at a higher rate, which is not so different than traditional financial institutions.
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