P2P Finance Trade Association Launched in U.K.
The U.K. association, known simply as the Peer2Peer Finance Association, says on its website that it was setup to “primarily to ensure this innovative and fast growing sector maintains high minimum standards of protection for consumers and small business customers.” Specifically, the association plans to ensure that its member associations meet minimum capital requirements, segregate participant funds, have clear governing structures, effectively communicate with customers, have a reliable IT infrastructure and fairly handle complaints.
The Peer2PeerFinance association is an attempt from the U.K. peer-to-peer lending industry to self-regulate. It’s likely that the U.K. government will develop new rules to regulate the peer-to-peer lending and finance markets in that country during the next year or two and industries that do an effective job of self-regulation often face burdensome regulatory requirements. The association explicitly says that will “work hard to ensure that the new rules will include effective regulation for the peer-to-peer finance market.”
Not all U.K. peer-to-peer finance and peer-to-peer lending companies are welcome to join the association. Member companies must meet certain best practices laid out in the associations’ rules, by-laws and operating principles. The association has noted that other companies have expressed interest in being part of the association and may join if they meet the requirements in the future.
A trade-association specifically geared toward peer-to-peer lending is the latest in a series of innovations that the U.K. has brought to the peer-to-peer lending industry. Zopa was the first peer-to-peer lending company to launch in 2005 and there are a number of companies which offer peer-to-peer financing for small businesses and start-ups, a model that has yet to get off the ground in the United States. U.K. peer-to-peer lending companies now facilitate for more than £100 million ($164.2 million) in loans each year.
It’s unlikely that a peer-to-peer lending trade association will develop in the United States, since there are currently only two major players, both of which have launched close to five years ago. There are a few other fledgling companies, such as Peerform and National Family Mortgage, but there isn’t a third player that has traction similar to that of Prosper or Lending Club.