Virgin eyes US peer-to-peer loan market

Virgin eyes US peer-to-peer loan market

Richard Branson's Virgin Group has taken a majority stake in Massachusetts-based CircleLending, a provider of loan administration services that specialises in managing loans between relatives and friends. The investment will form the foundation for a new Virgin-branded financial services offering in the US.

In a statement Frances Farrow, CEO of Virgin USA, says the investment "will form the foundation for a major new Virgin-branded financial services offering in the US".

"Our investment in CircleLending is consistent with Virgin's focus on developing fresh approaches to consumer issues and challenging the status quo," says Farrow. "Financial consumers are increasingly self-directed, empowered and seeking the kinds of innovative alternatives offered by CircleLending."

Established in 2001 CircleLending provides services for managing private loans and mortgages, including loan documentation, payment processing and loan servicing.

CircleLending says it will work with Virgin USA to rebrand the company and expand financial service products for consumers and small-business owners.

"This investment will allow us to grow our business and develop new financial products on our own and in partnership with banks and other financial institutions," says Asheesh Advani, president and CEO of CircleLending.

This is expected to include the development of mortgage products and student loans that blend the peer-to-peer model with secondary funding from the financial markets.

Virgin already provides personal financial services in Australia, South Africa, and UK through its Virgin Money subsidiary.

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