WestPac fund buys stake in Oz P2P lending platform SocietyOne

WestPac fund buys stake in Oz P2P lending platform SocietyOne

Westpac's new venture capital fund has taken a A$5 million stake in Australian peer-to-peer lending platform SocietyOne.

The Reinventure fund led an $8.5 million series a round joined by Global Founders Capital, Justin Reizes and existing investors.

WestPac launched the A$50 million Reinventure fund last month to invest in technology start-ups, with fintech staked out as one specific area of interest.

Launched in 2012, SocietyOne uses its proprietary ClearMatch technology platform to connect borrowers and investors. Currently it is not open to all lenders, only those defined by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission as "sophisticated investors".

According to the Australian Financial Review, it has only facilitated around 200 loans worth A$4 million so far but has seen its loan book double in the last six months.

Simon Cant, joint MD, Reinventure, says SocietyOne's "unique and proven P2P technology platform not only gives them a real advantage locally, it has significant licensing potential globally".

P2P lending initially presented itself as an alternative to traditional banking but there have recently been signs of the two sides cosying up.

Earlier this month Barclays Africa acquired a 49% stake in South African marketplace RainFin, while Capital One, Bank of Montreal and Deutsche Bank have each been buying up loans originated through P2P platforms.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo has reversed its decision to ban employees from lending their own money through P2P firms. The u-turn comes after the Financial Times revealed earlier this year that bank "ethics administrators" decided "that for-profit peer-to-peer lending is a competitive activity that poses a conflict of interest".

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