Peer-to-Peer Lending: The Good, the Bad and the Unknown
Sometimes it can be really hard to start your own business or even expand the existing one. The reasons are many, but it mostly happens because of lack of money.
Why would that be a problem, you might think? We can just go to the bank and get some loans, right?
Well, not exactly. It really depends on a lot of reasons.
Banks are often very reluctant when it comes to giving the loans.
You have to meet a lot of requirements they set, such as to have a good credit rating, a good salary, and several other things.
When all of those requirements are not met, banks often tend to reject your request for a loan, which can be very demotivating to a lot of people who intended to start their own businesses.
But, don’t worry! There are other ways to get the money you need.
One of those ways is peer-to-peer lending (P2P), which is a form of funding by using the internet.
We are here today to show you what P2P lending is, what are its good sides, bad sides and the unknown.
Without any further due, stay tuned and let’s begin!
WHAT IS PEER-TO-PEER LENDING?
P2P lending is a type of lending where individuals or businesses are able to get the money directly from the lender, without the participation of any 3rd party.
This system is generally very useful and very easy to use since it is mostly done through the online platforms specifically designed for this purpose.
On these platforms, both borrowers and lenders are able to register and the platform allows them to communicate with each other and do business, or shall we say money trading.
When it comes to specific types of loans, P2P lending has secured and unsecured loans. Most of those loans are unsecured though.
Secured loans are very rare and, apart from that, they are almost always backed up by some luxuries, which makes them much harder to find.
P2P lending can be considered to be an alternative funding source because it has several very distinctive characteristics, which are very useful when it comes to getting some fast and easy money for your business.
HOW DOES PEER-TO-PEER LENDING WORK?
As mentioned above, the P2P lending process is very easy to memorize and follow.
Everything related to getting a loan goes through the online platform specifically created for this purpose, making it very accessible wherever you are and allowing you to find the right loan for you.
As the picture shows, it is a very straightforward process, so let’s get into more details and explain the entire system step by step.
1. Registration on the Platform
Before you start collecting coins, you will have to register on the P2P platform.
There are several trustworthy platforms, so you will have to do some research on which one would be the best for you and also check if P2P lending is even allowed in your state because it is not considered legal everywhere.
Once you have found the desired platform you are free to register by entering data they ask you and providing certain information that might be necessary for the process to be completed.
2. Assessing the Application
After registration is completed, the platform will have to either approve or reject your application, so there will be certain requirements you will have to meet, but not as nearly strict as it is the case with banks.
The platform will check your application and choose your credit rating and risk level in order for it to be able to present the right interest rate to you.
Once that is completed, you will be able to see all the interest rates and loans available to you.
3. Getting the Available Options
If your credit rating is good enough and you meet all other requirements, your application will be approved and your interest rates will be accounted for in order for you to start searching for the loan you need for your business.
Comparing all the data and information you provided during your registration, the platform will determine your interest rates and by having all that in mind, it will present to you the list of available investors or lenders in this case, from which you would be able to borrow the money you so desperately need to start your own business.
4. Choosing the Right Option
Once the platform presents all loans that are available to you at a given moment, you will have to try to find the one that suits you the most and choose it from the list.
Then you will be taken to the page where you will be able to get more information about the loan and lender.
When you are satisfied enough, you can start the lending process and pick one of the loans from the list.
As mentioned above, the system is very simple and everything is done electronically via P2P platform.
And lastly, once you picked your loan and started the process of getting the money, your installments and interest rate will be calculated and you will be ready to use the money.
Installments are usually paid periodically, per month, depending on the type of loan and general terms.
That part of the puzzle is completely the same as in banks, with the addition that interest rates are much lower in P2P system and that credit risks are way higher, especially if you are an investor looking to invest in something.
Though credit risk is higher, with that also comes higher return on investment, which could be appealing to some investors who are not afraid to take risks.
THE GOOD SIDE OF PEER-TO-PEER LENDING
As with everything, there are good and bad sides of P2P lending as well.
Let us first see what the advantages of this system are and why it is so popular amongst smaller businesses and individuals.
1. It is Easier and Faster
Since peer-to-peer lending is a form of online lending, the entire process happens on the internet, thus making every action digital action, which, of course, takes much less time to complete the entire process.
Most of the time, your loan could be either rejected or approved in less than 72 hours.
Apart from that, it also requires a lot less documentation in order to be completed.
In general, you are asked to give your ID and related documents, bank statement and proof of salary, otherwise called salary slips. All documents should be submitted digitally.
Once that is done, the next step is registering on the platform and searching for your potential creditor.
When you make up your mind, the next step is contacting the lenders you are interested in.
As you can see, it is a very simple method, with much fewer requirements needed, which is why it is a very popular financing method nowadays, preferred by a large number of businesses and individuals.
2. Eligibility Criteria is Much Lower
Another very useful feature of peer-to-peer lending is that it is much easier to get approved than it is the case in banks.
All banks have a large number of set criteria that you would have to meet in order to be eligible for getting a loan.
For instance, if you have a lower salary and not so good credit score, then you shouldn’t even try to apply for a bank loan because you would get rejected immediately.
However, things are different when it comes to P2P lending. Requirements are much lower, so even if your salary and credit score are lower than usual, you could be able to get a loan.
Another very useful information is that if you are a person who is borrowing the money for the first time, platforms can use your social media profiles instead of asking for your credit score.
That means you can connect your social media profiles, which would, in return be checked and according to them, you would either be approved or not, thus making it easier for you to decide whether to try to take the loan or not.
3. Interest Rates are Lower
It is known that interest rates for bank loans can vary from bank to bank, but the fact is that personal loans often come with a very high interest rate, which drives off a lot of people from getting the loan they so desperately need.
Now, since P2P lending is not 100% secure lending, and then the interest rates are obviously much lower than in banks.
That, combined with lower criteria for getting approval, means that loans received via P2P lending are much cheaper than their bank counterparts.
The reason for that is higher competition between lenders, and lower loan origination fees.
This is very important for people who have a lower salary and aren’t able to afford to spend a lot of money on repaying high-interest rates and expensive loans.
4. There are No Hidden Fees and Charges
If you have ever taken the bank loan, you will probably know that getting it is neither cheap, nor easy, but rather expensive and hard.
In order for the bank to process your bank loan request, you have to pay several fees, which is not stated clearly before you begin the process of getting the loan itself.
And that is not all! There are hidden charges at almost every corner, which definitely makes this process even more expensive.
A good thing about P2P lending is that there are no hidden fees and charges lurking at you behind every corner, so you can be relaxed when it comes to that.
There are two things you need to pay, which are the registration fee and the commission on the loan, once you begin your registration.
When it comes to getting the loan, you don’t have to pay anything, except for maybe the cancellation fee on some platforms, which is the usual thing.
That means you can really focus on spending the money you get on fulfilling a real goal, instead of wasting your money on certain fees.
5. There is No Penalty for Repaying the Loan Before the Stated Time
One very tricky thing about repaying the bank loans is that it is not recommended to repay it before the maturity period, or the period the loan will end.
It is the case because the bank would ask you to also pay certain charges for the premature ending of the agreement, which usually includes not so small amount of money to be paid.
For some reason, giving the bank their money back earlier is not a good thing, which is probably the case because they want to collect the money from interest rates.
On the other hand, online lending platforms do not charge this. You are free to repay your loan with almost no penalties.
Most of the P2P platforms charge an only small nominal penalty for paying prematurely, which is not nearly as hefty sum as in banks.
6. Investors Get Higher Returns
Most of the previous advantages of P2P lending were related to people who want to take a loan.
But what about the people who want to invest their money?
Well, there are some benefits to them too!
P2P lending is a relatively good place to invest your money in.
The reason for that is that the return on investment (ROI) is much higher compared to other types of investment, which is a great deal for everyone who is looking to invest some money and be sure to make some more by expecting higher ROI.
THE BAD SIDE OF PEER-TO-PEER LENDING
Now that we went over what are the advantages of P2P lending, let’s go a step further and check the bad sides of it.
1. Small Loans Only
The first major disadvantage of P2P lending is that small loans are mostly allowed.
Loans gotten by using P2P platforms are usually limited to $35,000, but the amount can vary from platform to platform.
This amount could be considered enough for personal use and stuff, but it is nowhere near enough to satisfy the needs of entrepreneurs who intend to start their own business.
Although some people might not be happy about this information, it does seem to be logical.
Just imagine yourself as an investor who put their own money in P2P lending system.
Though there are several verification processes, this type of lending is a bit riskier than taking a loan from the bank.
Which is why it is understandable that the upper limit is so low.
Though it might not be enough money to fully invest in a business, it could still be used to cover some of the expenses and be a part of a larger capital.
2. Require Personal Information
Most lending platforms are not made to give money directly to small firms, but rather to individuals.
That’s why when registering and asking for a loan, you have to give personal information, including certain financial statements and credit reports.
Since everything is done digitally, there is always a risk of identity theft and similar issues, which is why some people are reluctant to give their personal information and register on this type of websites.
This also stops smaller firms for getting the money directly to their accounts, and sometimes people are not so keen to share their personal information just so they could get money for their business via the internet.
3. Legal Issue
And of course, there is a question of whether this type of funding is even legal?
Well, in most countries yes, it is perfectly legal to use P2P lending to fund your business, but there are states that do not allow this type of funding.
Why is that, you might ask? It is because this might seem like an intruder in the already set up financial system, which is true.
But, we have to ask ourselves how the things would be without it.
Some businesses wouldn’t be able to function properly without it and that would probably have other negative influence on the entire system.
Before you decide whether you should even try to apply for P2P loans, you should probably check if the system is legal in your state, because the P2P lending map is always on a move and changing, depending on the political decisions.
4. Decentralized Network
The entire P2P network system is a decentralized system, which is why it is very hard to administer and control.
Since it is impossible for one person to manage the whole ship, it is almost impossible for one or a small group of people to determine the accessibility setting regarding the entire network.
This opens the network to possible virus, spyware and Trojans attacks, which can all be easily transmitted through the P2P system, thus making the entire network unsafe for use.
Another related fact is that it is very hard to create a general data recovery storage, where all the data would be safe in case of a breakdown.
However, it is almost impossible, which means that every individual computer device should create their own backups just in case since it would be the main way to bring back your P2P data.
Adding to everything, P2P network is also used for sharing a lot of copyrighted (illegal in some countries) material, such as e-books, movies, TV shows or other torrents, which increases the risk of getting a virus on your computer.
5. High Credit Risk
Previously mentioned higher ROI comes with a price.
Since P2P lending lowers the criteria for getting the loans, allowing people with lower salaries and lower credit ratings to take loans, which means credit risk is much higher than usual, which is understandable.
Higher credit risk comes with a higher ROI, so the investors with higher risk aversion would probably not invest in P2P lending, while those who don’t have high-risk aversion would weigh their chances and risk losing their money, but getting a very good return on investment in case they win.
It is a gamble, but a gamble with very nice winnings.
6. There is No Insurance or Government Protection
One thing that glorifies banks so much is that they are functioning all together with state’s legal system, which means that they are able to offer some type of insurance and government protection to some extent in case something goes wrong.
When we talk about P2P lending, there is no such thing as government protection or personal insurance, since the system is all digital and, as already mentioned, due to its decentralized nature, it is very hard to control everything.
This might sound bad to potential lenders, who would definitely not be happy if they would lose all the money they invested because people who borrowed the money didn’t return it.
THE UNKNOWN SIDE OF PEER-TO-PEER LENDING
Now that we covered good and bad sides of P2P lending, let’s try to meet the unknown side of it and see what future could bring to this system.
First of all, one very important thing to note is that the P2P lending industry was booming back in 2018.
Data shows that it reached around $3 billion in the United States market only, and further rise is also expected.
The problem is, that P2P lending is completely unregulated, which might cause some issues if the numbers continue to grow.
Some speculate that it would be entirely possible that the Fed will try to act and pose certain regulations in order to prevent the further rise of the P2P market.
If that happened, the entire P2P system would have to change, making the system less accessible to people who are basically the most dependent on it.
That would probably lead to a large number of smaller companies going completely bankrupt and closed due to lack of funds.
And that would also be a bit bad for the entire economy.
Now that you know everything about P2P lending, go do some digging and decide whether you want to start that business or not, by raising enough money via this system.
Or if you are an investor, check the terms and see if you are ready to invest some of your money in P2P lending, and get some nice ROI.
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