The biggest and best peer lending conference, LendIt 2014 took place this week in San Francisco. It was a great conference according to everyone I talked to that was there. I even got to scoop Prosper's new $70 million round of funding to the Twitterverse. Thanks Prosper!
I wanted to be there myself but I learned some good stuff by being the outsider looking in on our industry. Here are 4 things I learned by missing LendIt.
1. Peer to Peer Lending is become less Peer
Reports from attendees and investors there, as well as deals made with investors in numerous platforms helped to further confirm something we have already been seeing in the marketplace, that there is less of the peer in peer to peer lending. We are facing a market more like Peer to Direct Investor Lending or as I saw quoted during one of the LendIt presentations, Marketplace Lending.
I like this term as it shows what is really going on, that the marketplace is deciding what loans are worthy of being approved and funded, and not a very select few of bankers or other institutions. Many of these same institutions are the ones who are now investing in these lending platforms as well as putting client money in since many of these platforms require accredited investors, other high net worth individuals or Registered Investment Advisors for the investing/lending side.
Real true peer to peer lending is only done at Prosper, Kiva and Lending Club, where retail investors are truly peer to the borrowers who borrow our money and pay us back. While I am a retail investor and like to represent retail investors here, I don't see this as a big issue but it is making the name peer to peer lending into a misnomer. In fact, its a good thing overall as it is a sign of growth and acceptance in the market.
2. New Lending Platforms are popping up all over
One of the big things I noticed in the presentations and attendee list this year was all the new lending platforms. There's a peer to business lending platform that focuses on lending against Accounts Receivable (or A/R) from my friends at P2Bi and there's a peer lending platform for investing in mine assets from Red Rock Assets, just to name two. Car loans, mortgages and other lending platforms using this model are popping up or are not far behind.
It's great to see the wider acceptance of this new model of financing. Not all of these platforms will be successful but it's so early in the game, there is enough room for everyone to grow, plus the technological barriers to entry are very high so we won't have a zillion platforms just to find one or two that are successful in each market.
3. The Industry is Getting Bigger, Bolder and more widely accepted
Each passing month shows more activity, more loans, more platforms, more media coverage, more market acceptance. The tide is rising for our industry but there is still lots of room left to go.
4. I Can't Afford to Miss It Next Year
And if you are an active investor or want to be or need to see/meet/interact with the movers and shakers in this market, you shouldn't miss LendIt 2015 either. It will be in NY.