Social lending hits Australia and New Zealand

Social lending hits Australia and New Zealand

The growth of Web 2.0-based peer-to-peer social lending services is continuing with the launch of new facilities in Australia and New Zealand.

IGrin, Australia's first peer-to-peer platform, allows customers state how much they want to borrow and the interest rate they are prepared to pay. Lenders then bid on the loan at a rate they choose.

The privately-funded platform has been launched by Phil Hopper, a former executive manager at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).

The service, which is aimed at customers looking for alternatives to personal loans from the banks, is open to any Australian resident and facilitates loans of between A$2000 and A$25,000.

Meanwhile Nexx, which is still in development, says it will be New Zealand's first social lending site and styles itself as an 'online money matchmaking service' that lets borrowers list financial projects online. Lenders then pledge funds at an interest rate acceptable to them.

Research released earlier this year by the Social Futures Observatory found that peer-to-peer social lending networks represented a serious threat to the traditional banking industry. The UK study found that 74% of Brits would consider borrowing or lending through an online "social lending" community, and that as many as 61% don't trust their banks.

UK outfit Zopa is a pioneer in the social lending field and launched its platform two years ago. The service has been followed by American offering Prosper, whilst a site targeting the Canadian market, called CommunityLend, is also in development.

Zopa currently claims more 135,000 members and a default rate of 0.2% on total loan values running into the hundreds of thousands pounds.

The firm has now launched a new 'personalised' facility - Zopa Listings - that enables users to pitch for the loan they want and allows lenders to choose which individuals thay want to offer loans to.

Each Zopa Listings can include photographs and eventually a video, and will tell "the borrower's story in terms of what they want to borrow for and why, says Zopa.

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