Social lending is coming to Canada. Founded more than a year ago by Michael Garrity and Colin Henderson and following the successful model of Zopa in the UK and Prosper in the U.S., CommunityLend will be launching a P2P lending service in Canada.
P2P lending works like this. Borrowers provide their details to CommunityLend, including a public profile and reason for the loan. CommunityLend performs a credit check on the borrowers and then posts the borrower’s story, profile and credit rating to a community of prospective lenders/investors in an eBay-like interface. Investors then bid on pieces of the loan (each loan is typically divided up among many lenders which mitigates everyone’s risk). After the bidding process the loan is then issued at the minimum rate required to satisfy enough lenders to fund the full amount.
The company will be offering, at first, one standard type of loan – 3 years, fixed rates to a maximum of 25k. Judging by other services like Prosper.com, social lending seems to fill a gap in the product offering of a traditional bank. Rates are typically in the 10-18% range, which fits above bank rates for unsecured lines of credit and below that of high interest credit cards. CommunityLend makes money by charging a small spread to both the borrower and the lender.
With the current “sub-prime” troubles in global credit markets, the timing may be perfect for CommunityLend. Banks in Canada and the US have been tightening their credit policies making borrowing more difficult, especially for marginal creditors. The transparent, market-based P2P model may well prove to be a solution than can judge and price loans in this segment better than the big institutions.
In addition to the funding announcement (of mostly non-Canadian investment dollars btw), CommunityLend is also announcing a new slate of directors including Barry Campbell, former MP and Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Jim Jones CEO of GMAC Residential Capital [100B lending portfolio].
Congratulations to the team for reaching this milestone. We look forward to providing a more thorough review of the lending service once it goes live (we’re told early to mid next year).
For the time being you can get more info at the company’s newly launched website: CommunityLend.com.