No bank required: how peer-to-peer is changing the lending landscape

Can peer-to-peer lending transform banking?
Can peer-to-peer lending transform banking?

    JUST WATCHED

    Can peer-to-peer lending transform banking?

MUST WATCH

Can peer-to-peer lending transform banking? 01:46

Story highlights

  • Acting as a broker between lenders and borrowers, peer-to-peer lenders say they can offer a better rate to both sides
  • China is home to the biggest rise in peer-to-peer lending. One company claims to be growing at a massive 20% each month.
  • In the US, P2P groups such as LendingClub and Prosper allow borrowers to apply for loans of as much as US$35,000

(CNN)It's said that lending to friends is a good way to lose them, but how about lending to a complete stranger?

Since the world economies went into a tailspin in 2008, getting a bank loan has gotten harder. But it's also opened up the market for others to step in.
    Welcome to peer-to-peer lending, a platform where people lend money to each other over the internet.
    "You can get actually a better deal by looking at people around you, looking at your community," says Soul Htite, the founder and CEO at Dianrong, a peer-to-peer lending company based in Shanghai.
    Acting as a broker between lenders and borrowers, peer-to-peer lenders say they can offer a better rate to both sides without the weight of regulation and the expensive branches that typically make high street banks so cautious.
    For many, these platforms are shaping up as the future of banking.
    "I doubt that people born today are ever going to have a bank account the same way you and I have a bank account," Htite told CNN. "I think we're going to see the banking world completely transform."
    China is home to the biggest rise in peer-to-peer lending and Dianrong claims to be growing at a massive 20% each month. It fits well in China where people will typically first approach relatives for any large-scale loan.
    China's state lenders are also notoriously regulation-bound and cumbersome, meaning that for many 'shadow banking' and, now, peer-to-peer platforms are the only way to get small and medium-sized businesses off the ground.
    Peter Renton, a peer-to-peer blogger who recently made a foray into investing raising $28 million this year for Lend Academy Investments LLC, regularly writes for an audience of 20,000 on his website that provides news and advice on peer-to-peer lending.
    In the United States, peer-to-peer groups such as LendingClub and Prosper allow borrowers to apply for loans of as much as US$35,000 payable over three or five years. The companies use technology to do due diligence.
    When a borrower is accepted, the loans are listed on the websites calling on institutions and individuals to back them.
    Initially, the P2P platforms attracted retail investors, but increasingly big institutions and hedge funds have become interested in the platform. Companies such as have LendingClub currently projects returns of between 5.4% and 9.4%.
    "It's funny because it's sort of come full circle," Renton said. "Banks are now participating in P2P lending.
    "It's very simple, it's very fast. Really, you can do it in your pajamas at two in the morning. That is the beauty from the borrower perspective.
    "From the investor perspective, it's for the first time ever, people have been able to invest money in their fellow citizens."