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Next gen: How fintech platforms are quietly transforming specialist lending

Yann-Murciano Blend network

Yann Murciano is CEO at Blend Network

 

The Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09 and the end of the ‘money for all’ era instigated unprecedented disruptions in the global financial sector and saw the birth of the alternative finance industry resulting from the lending market’s increased digitalization. A decade on, we are witnessing the emergence of lending 2.0, and P2P platforms are quietly disrupting the specialist lending market.

 

Financial technology, or fintech, one of the key buzzwords of the past decade, has its roots in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09, when traditional financial institutions suddenly stopped performing many of the roles they had traditionally performed, such as for example lending.

Two key elements, technology and regulation, led to the emergence of lending marketplaces, or what later became known as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms. By blending finance and technology, P2P lending platforms were able to connect lenders and borrowers and allow multiple investors to co-invest together and lend to one single borrower on a project.

This innovation turned out to be a game-changer for both SME entrepreneurs looking to fund their projects and for investors looking to earn a good return on their savings. Over the next decade, P2P lending soared. According to P2PMarketData, a platform that tracks P2P lending across several markets, P2P lending platforms in the UK have so far provided £16bn of funding to borrowers. According to this data, P2P property lending platform Blend Network saw the largest growth in lending on a 90-days comparison, an astonishing 438% increase, and seven out of the 14 platforms tracked saw growth rates above 100% over the past 90 days.

Over the past decade, P2P lending platforms have disrupted many sectors, yet one stands out: the property lending sector. After 2008-09, traditional lenders no longer had much appetite to fund property development projects, consequently leaving many small and medium construction companies and experienced property developers out in the cold and unable to borrow. P2P property lending platforms such as Blend Network emerged allowing lenders invest money to help finance housing projects and earn a good return in exchange.

A decade on, we witness the emergence of the next generation of lending with the COVID-19 pandemic having provided an opportunity for P2P lending platforms to show their worth.

FinTech platforms such as Blend Network, which sit at the intersection of personal finance, technology and social responsibility, are quietly transforming the specialist lending market by connecting property developers who build low-cost homes with people who want to invest. I strongly believe that the next generation of lending will focus on delivering social innovation to ensure significant change is created for individuals and communities.

Indeed, lending 2.0 will have blended values, social and collective impact at its heart – it will be focused on impact investing and social capital to achieve a positive social, cultural or environmental benefit while also aiming to deliver great returns for investors. For example, at Blend Network we support those who find themselves disconnected from traditional funding channels while helping those millions of savers who have been getting penalised by a decade of near-zero interest rates on cash deposits, even though savings accounts are FSCS protected and P2P is not and investing carries risk to invested capital. Borrowers are SME construction companies and experienced property developers who despite their experience and track record struggle to secure funding due to their size, too small for institutional lenders.

In summary, following a decade of fast growth and consolidation, we are witnessing the emergence of the next generation of lending, or lending 2.0, one that will build on the ongoing digitalisation of the sector but advance towards increased social responsibility.

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