P2P Lending Pioneer Zopa Closes $25m From Hedge Fund For UK Expansion

Zopa, at nine years the world’s oldest and largest peer-to-peer lending company, has closed a £15m ($25m) funding round from Arrowgrass Capital Partners, an alternative asset manager (more commonly known as a Hedge Fund). This is its third major funding since 2009. The company had previously raised $56.6 million in VC to date. Zopa will use the funds to scale up in its home UK market via a number of means, one of which may be a major marketing campaign, though that has yet to be determined.

Arrowgrass is HQ’d in London, with assets under management of approximately $4.6bn. Henry Kenner, CEO of Arrowgrass, has joined the Zopa board as a non-executive director.

Giles Andrews, CEO and Co-founder of Zopa, said growth accelerated markedly last year as Zopa’s longevity in the market meant that people could trust it, combined with the fact that the UK government lent money on the platform, plus other competitors appeared, adding validity to the market. Lending Works appeared in in January this year, for instance.

Zopa – the first lender in the world of its type – allows savers to beat the bank lending rates by lending money to people looking for low cost loans. Borrowers can cut their borrowing rates, and savers see their money grow at market-leading rates, hence the attraction.

The company says it lent £180 million in 2013 alone, and is projecting to reach £500 million lent in total, ahead of new regulations due in April 2014. Since 2005 its customers have lent over £455 million through the platform. Some estimates put the UK’s peer-to-peer lending industry at a £1 billion per annum by 2015.

This round follows a December 2012 investment, led by Augmentum Capital, which is backed by RIT Capital Partners PLC, the FTSE-listed £2bn investment trust in which Jacob Rothschild and family are substantial investors. Other major investors include Bessemer Venture Partners.