The leading peer-to-peer platforms compared

0
Written by:
05/11/2015
How do the major players in this fledgling industry fare against one another?

Peer-to-peer lending (P2P) is a relatively new way for savers to get better returns on their savings compared with rates offered by mainstream savings accounts. The sector celebrated its 10th birthday earlier this year.

The sector has grown significantly since its creation. Two years ago, it became regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In the July Budget, Chancellor Osborne announced P2P loans would become eligible for inclusion in a dedicated ‘Innovation Finance’ ISA as of April 2016.

Despite these developments, P2P remains on the fringes of the financial sector. According to figures published by the P2P Finance Association, the industry lent a relatively small £1.2bn last year overall.

This is almost certainly attributable to saver wariness of the sector. Investments are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, meaning you will lose all your money if a firm goes bust. Unless a firm has its own compensation structure, there is little way of getting any money lost to a defaulting borrower back.

As a result, for anyone looking to get involved with peer-to-peer lending, choosing the right platform is crucial. At the moment there are 72 officially mandated P2P lenders in the UK, with a further nine awaiting FCA license.

Here, YourMoney.com compares the features and risks of the industry’s three largest platforms.

Funding Circle

Stats

Launched: 2010
Total lent: £897m
Lends to: Businesses

Duration

Six months – five years

Min/max lend

£20/unlimited

Returns

Average annualised return (after defaults and before tax) is 7 per cent, although returns vary based on borrower risk rating (companies are ranked A+ to E).

Fees

Lenders pay an annual fee of 1 per cent.

If a lender sells any part of their loan to another investor, they incur a 0.25 fee.

Protections

None.

The platform’s average default rate has ranged from 0.6 per cent for A+ companies to 11.2 per cent for D companies.

Lenders can diversify by splitting their investments across businesses to reduce risk. Investors in the firm’s ‘100 Club’ do this by investing in 100 companies overall, with no more than 1 per cent of their money invested in any one company.

Ratesetter

Stats

Launched: 2010
Total lent: £865m
Lends to: Individuals (70 per cent) and businesses (30 per cent)

Duration

One month to five years

Min/max lend

£10/unlimited

Returns

Lenders select the rates at which they wish to lend.

Average rates on a one-month rolling loan are 3.1 per, one-year 3.7 per, three-year 5.6 per, five-year 6.2 per cent.

Fees

None

Protections

Restricted lending

Only creditworthy applicants can borrow, with four in five applications declined. The firm utilises the same credit checks as major banks and runs affordability assessments.

Compensation

RateSetter pioneered the ‘provision fund’, which reimburses lenders in the event of a missed payment or outright default. The fund is subsidised via risk-weighted mandatory contributions from borrowers, and currently holds £16m.

While lender recompense is not guaranteed, to date no lender has lost money using the platform, unique among P2P platforms.

The platform has had an average default rate of 1.2 per cent over the past five years.

RateSetter is the first P2P platform to be risk rated by ratings agency FE. It was given a risk score of 1, placing it just above cash’s risk rating of 0.

Zopa

Stats

Launched: 2005
Total lent: £1.14bn
Lends to: Individuals

Duration

Two to five years

Min/max lend

£10/unlimited

Returns

Average annualised return (after defaults and before tax) is 5 per cent. Prospective lenders can use the firm’s online calculator to roughly estimate returns in advance.

Fees

Lenders pay 1 per cent of the money they lend in fees annually, with a 1 per cent charge also levied if you want your money back before the end of the term. Another lender must also be found to replace you.

Income can be withdrawn without charge.

Protections

Strict lending criteria

Physical underwriting and assessment team, equipped with constantly updated credit data sourced from credit bureaux and banks. Only 20 per cent of applicants are accepted.

High diversification

Lender money split is between borrowers, with no more than two per cent of a lender’s investment lent to a single borrower. Only a fraction of an investment will be lost in the event of a default.

Compensation

Zopa operates a ‘safeguard fund’. Any loan four months in arrears is assigned to the fund, which can pay affected lenders outstanding loan amounts with interest.

Compensation is not guaranteed, but since its launch the fund has paid all lenders affected by defaults. Currently the fund holds £11m for reimbursement.

The platform has had an average default rate of 0.6 per cent over the past five years.

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

The savings accounts paying the most interest

If one of your jobs this month is to get your finances in order, moving your savings to a higher paying deal i...

Coronavirus and your finances: what help can you get?

News and updates on everything to do with coronavirus and your personal finances.

Everything you need to know about being furloughed

If you’ve been ‘furloughed’ by your company, here’s what it means…

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

Having a baby and your finances: seven top tips

We’re guessing the Duchess of Cambridge won’t be fretting about maternity pay or whether she’ll still be...

Protecting family wealth: 10 tips for cutting inheritance tax

Inheritance tax - sometimes known as 'death tax' - can cause even more heartache for bereaved families. But th...

Travel insurance: Five tips to ensure a successful claim

Ahead of your summer holiday, it’s important to make sure you have the right level of travel cover or you co...

Money Tips of the Week

Read previous post:
The three main factors driving asset allocation

October on the whole was a stellar month for markets, particularly for investors in the US equity market, who will...

Close