Prosper.com was the first big name in the person-to-person lending space. Things have been quiet recently, as they took a while getting SEC approval for their investment notes. In addition, the problems with “old” Prosper included the fact that they let just about anyone apply for a loan in the beginning, including people with horrible credit who had been basically turned down everywhere else. Many lenders thought charging a 35% interest rate was enough – it wasn’t. But as this recent Washington Post article outlines, things are picking up in the P2P space.
The way I see it, LendingClub (review, $25 bonus, performance update) basically looked at all the problems that Prosper had and tried their best to fix them. So now, Prosper is back, and in turn looks a lot like LendingClub. For example, LC requires a 660 minimum credit score to qualify for their lowest grade loan (amongst other things), and now Prosper requires a new borrower to have at least a 640 credit score with their new ratings system. With both, you can have them automatically construct a portfolio for you based on your risk/return preference, and you can buy/sell notes before maturity on a open trading market.
Prosper still has their “reverse auction” eBay-style method of determining the interest rate, but lenders are now are restricted to a specific range of interest rates. (LendingClub simply sets the interest rates for you.)
In order to stimulate lending activity, they have a few incentives going on. If you sign up as a lender and bid on two loans (minimum total investment of $50), they will provide you a free $50 bonus. Click here and on the orange “Invest Now” button and you’ll see it. You must reinvest this $50 by the end of 2009. On top of that, Prosper is also offering a 1% or 2% “rebate” back if you invest at least $1,000 or $5,000, which would help juice your returns. Details:
Starting on October 12 if you invest $1,000 – $4,999 you will receive a 1% cash rebate into your Prosper account or, invest $5,000 or more and receive a 2% cash rebate into your Prosper account. Lenders must invest the funds during the promotional period of October 12 through November 15 by being a winning bidder on loan listings that result in funded loans. Notes purchased through the trading platform are excluded from the promotion. Once you have bid and invested on the loan listings your 1% or 2% cash rebate will be deposited into your Prosper account by December 4.