U.K.-based peer to peer lending startup Zopa is gearing up for their U.S. launch. Reports of the launch have been circulating for some time (WSJ), but now it seems only days away. The service will be available at us.zopa.com, but is currently under password protection.
Zopa’s peer to peer lending service differs from U.S. rivals by working with credit unions to offer person-to-person loans instead of a loans coming directly from lenders on the service like Prosper and Lending Club (works through Facebook). GlobalFunder.com is a yet-to-launch competitor. With Zopa, lenders will place their money in Zopa branded CDs that are then loaned out online. Borrowers apply for loans through their online community by posting their case for the loan and filling out relevant details about their credit risk. Interest rates on five year loans can range from 8.75% to 16.99%, depending on their credit risk.
It’s worth noting that Zopa’s investor, Benchmark also invested in Prosper. The lending market is anticipated to be very large. According to the research firm Online Banking Report, around $100 million in new P2P loans will be issued this year, mostly by Prosper, with new loans growing to as much as $1 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2017. Prosper already registered an S-1 with the SEC and reported $96.4 million in loans.