Peer to peer lending has seen dramatic growth in Canada over the last few months, and a lot of activity within Ma RS' Fin Tech hub.David Orzel, Chief Commercial Officer at the TMX, gave the opening address before the discussion panel, made up of this amazing group of speakers: Charaka Kithulegoda, CIO at Tangerine Jimmy Dinh, Executive Director, Alternative Solutions Group at CIBC Eva Wong, COO of Borrowell Steve Uster, CEO of Fund Through Troy Wright, CEO of Lendified Kevin Sandhu, CEO of Grouplend Jeff Mitelman, CEO of Thinking Capital Adam Nanjee, Head of Financial Technology at Ma RS (moderator) Coming from the perspectives of Fin Tech startups as well as big banks, the panel addressed the growth in the P2P lending sector, the evolution of the Fin Tech ecosystem, and the stigma of alternative lending.“I had other resources available, but I didn’t want to access them and tie up other credit facilities,” he says, declining to allow his name to be used in this article because, well, he owns diamonds and (reasonably) prefers that people not be able to connect them to him.The businessman has been buying diamonds for 20 years–25 years “as an investment” but “you can’t take diamonds to a bank to use as collateral.” He didn’t want to sell them, and they “were worth more than I needed to borrow.” However, he had heard about asset-based financing and contacted fellow Canadian Steven Uster, who founded Zillidy, an online finance company designed “to help small-business owners who need short-term bridge loans.” Today, with credit for small businesses still relatively tight, and with many small-business people already having taken equity out of their homes to finance their businesses (a source of capital that was heavily leveraged during the late, lamented housing boom), traditional routes to obtaining funding for cash flow needs can be bumpy and time-consuming, if they’re accessible at all.Each month the firm deducts 2.9% of interest (34.8% APR) by debiting the borrower’s account, charging no other costs or fees.The borrower can keep the loan going as long as he or she wants.
Eva Wong said it best with her quote, "online lending in 2015 is what online dating was 4-5 years ago." While the industry has gained a foothold in the popular consciousness, it is still working for general acceptance.
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Currently, the industry is largely self-regulating, as financial regulations have yet to catch up with the technology, so they don't anticipate many hurdles from regulation, and some, such as Kevin Sandhu of Grouplend, welcomed the clarity and protection for consumers that increased regulation would bring to the industry.
While all of the panel agreed that the growth of the P2P lending ecosystem was a positive feature, they stressed that the real challenge was keeping focussed on the consumer experience and not just developing technology for the sake of it.