Peer to peer (P2P) lending was introduced to Australia in 2012 after proving popular in the United Kingdom and United States. P2P lending is both a way to get a loan, and a way to invest money. One person or business borrows money for an amount of interest, and another person supplies the money, getting some interest in return.
With savings account interest rates in the doldrums, and the stock market seemingly up and down like a fiddler’s elbow, it can be tempting to either borrow or invest through such a platform, despite being inherently riskier than a savings account. So, who offers peer to peer lending in Australia? Right now, there are quite a few P2P lenders in Australia.
In the market for a personal loan? The table below features unsecured personal loans with some of the lowest interest rates on the market.
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Low Rate Personal Loan Unsecured (Excellent Credit)
Low Rate Personal Loan Unsecured (Excellent Credit)
- Simplified Borrowing - 100% online process makes it easy to apply for a loan anytime, anywhere
- Personalised Rates - Get a fair interest rate that’s personalised to you
- More than a loan - Behind the scenes is a friendly and dedicated team ready to answer your questions
Bigstone was founded in 2014 and caters towards business lending. If you’re not a business, you can probably skip ahead. Bigstone can loan amounts anywhere from $10,000 to $5 million. The finance can be used for anything from equipment purchases to office fitouts. The only stipulation is that you must have an ABN and have been trading for two or more years. For investors, the minimum initial investment amount is $1,000.
Jumping onto the scene in 2015, MarketLend is another peer to peer SME (small-medium-enterprise) lender. MarketLend is distinct in that it aims to reduce lender risk by taking a stake in each loan itself. On top of that, the P2P provider takes a ‘mezzanine’ type of stake, which means it is used as a buffer to shield investors should the loan pool start defaulting. Borrowers can take out a loan anywhere from $100,000 to $10 million, depending on credit history and other factors.
MoneyPlace is a consumer-focused P2P lender, with a minimum borrowing amount of $5,000, and a maximum of $80,000. There are also no monthly fees to use the platform. Borrowers can get started and fill out a form in as little as two minutes to find out their specialised rate. MoneyPlace says it can deliver the loan as soon as the next business day, sometimes sooner. Loan durations last for either three, five or seven years.
OurMoneyMarket, like many lenders, offers a tiered interest rates system based on the borrower’s credit score. ‘OMM’ as it’s known claims to be Australia’s “go-to” personal loan provider. Borrowers can borrow anywhere from $2,001 to $75,000, on terms as long as seven years. The application process is 100% online. On the website there is a handy interest rate calculator guide to see how much interest you could pay. For investors, funds are held by a ‘trusted custodiation’, and investments may be subject to a service fee.
Formerly known as RateSetter, Plenti was founded in the United Kingdom in 2010 and arrived in Australia in 2014. Arguably one of the more well-known P2P providers, Plenti offers personal loans from $5,000 up to $50,000 on terms from six months to five years. The initial query process can take as little as a minute. On the investment side, Plenti arguably offers the least opaque process. Investors can get started with as little as $10 and can choose between a fixed income fund, ethical investing fund, or a provision fund. Interest payments are usually made monthly - the interest margin fee is 10% of the gross interest at the time of writing.
Another well-known P2P provider, SocietyOne was Australia’s first P2P lender, founded back in 2012. Borrowers can access anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 over two, three or five years. Applicants can have a rate allocated in as little as two minutes, with funds delivered in as little as one business day. Investors can register their interest on the SocietyOne website, and the brand says 90% of current investors on the platform are individuals or self-managed super funds. Investors should note there is a receivables management fee, as well as a trust expenses charge.
By far the funkiest name on this list, ThinCats was established in the UK in 2010. It’s another SME P2P lender, offering secured loans from $50,000 up to $300,000, for loan terms of up to five years. For investors, there are monthly repayments of both principal and interest. Loans are secured by business assets, second mortgages and directors' guarantees. Investing with ThinCats is SMSF compatible. In addition, ThinCats claims to have no fees for investors, with membership being free, on top of no loan management fees.
Savings.com.au’s two cents
As with any loan - or investment - it’s important you do all the checks and balances. If you’re a borrower, consider any fees before choosing a P2P lender. Establishment fees are common, and some lenders also charge other fees, such as monthly account keeping, early repayment and other fees. Also consider the interest rate. With record low interest rates, it’s tempting to just get the first loan you see or are approved for. However, if you shop around, you might be able to find a better deal. Just be wary of applying for too many loans, because it could hurt your credit score.
For investors, consider the risks involved with P2P lending. Consider the type of person or business borrowing what’s essentially your money. Loans are often collateralised and diverisified to mitigate risk, but P2P lending is generally a much more risky environment for your money than a savings account or term deposit. And as always, check the fees involved. Some lenders like to take a clipping off your investment return. The main message for investor and borrower is to read up, and shop around.
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