Imagine getting a loan at a decent rate and never having to deal with a bank. That’s the business model behind Lending Club, the leading online peer-to-peer credit marketplace. The San Francisco-based company allows users to borrow up to $35,000 for a personal loan ($100,000 for a business loan) and have access to the money within days.
Customers aren’t folks who have been turned down by banks, but rather smart consumers who want to use the money to pay down more expensive debt. Here’s how it works: Instead of getting funds from a bank, the money comes from investors (individuals as well as institutions) who decide which loans to invest in. These investors then earn a monthly return.
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Since it started, the company has facilitated more than $4 billion in loans and has paid out close to $380 million in interest to investors. And now, with the April acquisition of Springstone Financial, Lending Club will be able to offer parents financing for private education and elective medical procedures, such as braces.
Before starting Lending Club, CEO Renaud Laplanche founded an enterprise software company that he later sold to Oracle. Long-term he envisions Lending Club as the place to go for credit cards, auto loans and even mortgages.