P2P Lending Marketplace Prosper Gets Off The Bench, Debuts Open Market Initiative

prosper-logo.pngProsper, the people-to-people lending service that launched way back in May 2006, has found itself on a rocky road so far. Last October, Prosper suspended new lending in order to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission to create a secondary marketplace for the loans on its site (the SEC wanted to evaluate whether the company should register as a securities broker, as evidenced later when it formally issued its cease-and-desist letter).

But now Prosper is back despite the fact that the SEC hasn’t yet approved its operations, and while they have respected the requested silence up during the six-month hiatus, they haven’t exactly stalled development of the service. The company relaunched its lending services yesterday for the State of California (borrowing can be done throughout the U.S.), and is hoping to take the whole thing nationwide soon.

There are new features, too. Prosper announced its Open Market initiative, which will allow other financial institutions (e.g. auto lenders, small business lenders and community development lenders) to place their already funded loans the Prosper website for auction. The company will vet lenders and require three payments to have already been made on any loan up for sale.

Prosper has raised $40 million in capital to date from Accel Partners and Benchmark Capital, among others. It’s up against well-funded competitors such as Zopa and Lending Club.