So, through this lobby group, Prosper and Loanio are trying to pitch themselves as fresh-faced, clean alternatives to the big bad banks that have got us into a bit of a mess. These paragons of virtue now want the government to help them help ordinary folks
get a loan.
I'm a fan of the model but these companies should have checked the rules a bit more carefully before they started facilitating loans. It's their own fault they got
hit with fines and now face (Prosper at least)
Interestingly, UK-based Zopa spotted the problem and attempted a
different model in the US, working with credit unions. Tough market conditions meant it
quit the market but things appear to be going pretty well back in Blighty.
And now it's attempting a bit of lobbying itself, asking Westminster for a change in the tax laws.
Weighing in on a
blog by BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders about BofE governor Mervyn King's
controversial speech today, Zopa CEO Giles Andrews says: "Our lenders are currently disadvantaged in that unlike banks they can't offset bad debts against their income from lending at Zopa. This doesn't seem remotely reasonable and certainly doesn't do
anything to promote the growing P2P lending sector which offers a real alternative to the banks (for personal lending) without the pitfalls highlighted so clearly in Mervyn King's speech, and all without any taxpayer support."
The firm claims it has cross-party support for a tax change, even
posting a blog on its site bragging about MP fans - a dangerous group to align with at present.
Zopa loves to portray itself as the plucky underdog and has managed to garner an awful lot of
good publicity considering the tiny impact it has so far made on the lending market.
We just want a level playing field with those big bad banks is the cry, as
Giles asks people to e-mail the chancellor about its "tax campaign".
Personally, I'd back the call - anything to promote competition - but here's an alternative view from equitableinterest on the BBC blog worth noting, if only because it's startling these days to see someone who still thinks banks are a force for social good.
"@ zopagiles Do your lenders have the same business risks as banks? e.g. do they employ thousands of people, over hundreds of branches, using local services, creasting wealth for people other than themselves? If not why should the general taxpayer subsidice
their extra risk for what is undoubtedly an extra return?"