Lending Club Gets A $12 Million Credibility Boost

P2P money lending service Lending Club has closed a $12 million Series B round with Morgenthaler Ventures as the lead and joined by existing investors Norwest Venture Partners and Canaan Partners. The total capital invested in the company is now $30 million. (It raised $12 million in angel and Series A funding in 2007, and then another $6 million in a Series A extension in September, 2008).

The company, which started out as a Facebook application for social money lending, hasn’t had it easy so far. In April 2008, it put a hold on lending activities because of regulatory issues, and ultimately filed for SEC registration during the summer of that year. Then the economy collapsed and Lending Club along with other P2P lenders were heavily affected. The SEC suspended loan activities one of Lending Club’s main competitors, Prosper, at the end of last year, citing obvious reasons that these companies should be regulated by the SEC as a securities seller. Another P2P lender, Zopa, hightailed it out of the U.S. market at about the same time.

With some of its main competitors out of the battlefield (but others remaining), the company will no doubt use the new capital to push for dominance in the space. Lending Club says it’s growing quickly, doubling its user base over the past 5 months and handing out returns to users of over 9% net. It also announced a new chief marketing officer, Pamela Kramer, who joins from Etrade, where she held the same position.

If the company manages to weather the storm without too much damage, it will be very interesting to see how social lending evolves in the future – now that banks and other ways of loaning money have lost a lot of credibility across the board – and how vital the role of Lending Club in that story will be.