Big news in the Toronto startup community today. John Philip Green, one of the founders of LearnHub.com, has joined CommunityLend.com as CTO. We have covered CommunityLend in the past as they have worked around regulatory hurdles to become the first provider of peer-to-peer financing in Canada. They have raised over $2.5 million to date.
John has helped to advise CommunityLend from the very beginning, so this seems like a natural fit. I am a bit disappointed that he won’t be working on a new startup of his own, but it is great to see him end up at such a high-potential Toronto startup.
Savvica, which John founded with his wife Malgosia, has been growing quickly and is back primarily by Shantanu Prakash, the founder of Educomp Solutions. John and Malgosia have developed significant operations in India, with over 60 employees there at present, and a headquarters in Toronto. Savvica and its sister sites have evolved significantly in the last few years and now includes Learnhub, JumboTests, Nuvvo, Studyplaces and EduIgnite.
CommunityLend, who announced John’s joining today, is the only provider of peer-to-peer financing in Canada.
After a few years and a handful of blog posts, I am at a loss for words other than to say I am glad things are finally rolling and CommunityLend is open for business in Ontario (for accredited investors).
Similar services have both thrived and suffered in the United States in the last 2 years. They have been occasionally targeted by regulators. Prosper.com for example is currently in a “quiet period“,
CommunityLend has taken a much different tact here in Canada however, and they chose to work with regulators rather than taking a litigious approach. In the end the hope is that this will mean a more stable and compliant environment for peer-to-peer lending in Canada.
Social lending is coming to Canada. Founded more than a year ago by Michael Garrity and Colin Henderson and following the successful model of Zopa in the UK and Prosper in the U.S., CommunityLend will be launching a P2P lending service in Canada.
P2P lending works like this. Borrowers provide their details to CommunityLend, including a public profile and reason for the loan. CommunityLend performs a credit check on the borrowers and then posts the borrower’s story, profile and credit rating to a community of prospective lenders/investors in an eBay-like interface. Investors then bid on pieces of the loan (each loan is typically divided up among many lenders which mitigates everyone’s risk). After the bidding process the loan is then issued at the minimum rate required to satisfy enough lenders to fund the full amount.
The company will be offering, at first, one standard type of loan – 3 years, fixed rates to a maximum of 25k. Judging by other services like Prosper.com, social lending seems to fill a gap in the product offering of a traditional bank. Rates are typically in the 10-18% range, which fits above bank rates for unsecured lines of credit and below that of high interest credit cards. CommunityLend makes money by charging a small spread to both the borrower and the lender.
With the current “sub-prime” troubles in global credit markets, the timing may be perfect for CommunityLend. Banks in Canada and the US have been tightening their credit policies making borrowing more difficult, especially for marginal creditors. The transparent, market-based P2P model may well prove to be a solution than can judge and price loans in this segment better than the big institutions.
In addition to the funding announcement (of mostly non-Canadian investment dollars btw), CommunityLend is also announcing a new slate of directors including Barry Campbell, former MP and Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Jim Jones CEO of GMAC Residential Capital [100B lending portfolio].
Congratulations to the team for reaching this milestone. We look forward to providing a more thorough review of the lending service once it goes live (we’re told early to mid next year).
For the time being you can get more info at the company’s newly launched website: CommunityLend.com.