Read a fair amount recently, that individuals are increasingly moving away from the financial institutions when it comes to borrowing for their personal projects.
Be it for a wedding, a new car, vet bills or business start-up. Individuals are turning more towards their peers. It is what it says, peer to peer lending (P2PL - since the jargonists have hi-jacked it). It first started to raise its head in the UK just under ten years ago with ‘not for profit’ lending between peers and since all good things must come to an end we have recently seen ‘for profit’ lenders coming onto the market.
It works by removing the intermediate players, in other words the banks, from the equation. Whereas in the traditional system you have an idea for a project, you go to your bank and they will decide whether to invest money that is held in the bank on behalf of others (your peers), in your project. P2PL turns that system on its head, cuts out the bank and puts the borrower and the lender together. The lender is then the sole person responsible for making the decision to invest their own cash.
In the traditional system, the bank assesses the risk and invests based on the outcome of the risk assessment. The risk assessment is the mechanism for protecting the money that you and I store away in the bank and in theory the bank should absorb any of its sour investments, thus leaving your money intact.
The minimisation of risk in P2PL is based around the interpersonal side of communities, with lending occurring in circles of people who know each other. The theory being that people will feel more obliged to pay back to people that they actually know. Failing that, there is a second tier of pressure which can be applied by the other members of that community. Lending is provided by mutual support and insurance provided by mutual pressure.
Is this the way forward, now that confidence is beginning to shake in the financial institutions?