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Peer2Peer Finance News | September 20, 2017

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Is the P2P lending industry working with Bell Pottinger?

Is the P2P lending industry working with Bell Pottinger?
Suzie Neuwirth

EMBATTLED PR firm Bell Pottinger has been facing a client exodus in the wake of a racism scandal in South Africa.

The company, which is infamous for taking on controversial clients such as the Pinochet foundation, Asma Al-Assad and the Bahrain government, has been accused of stoking racial hatred for the benefit of the wealthy Gupta family.

Real estate investment trust NewRiver and packaging firm DS Smith are among the firms to have now severed ties with Bell Pottinger – but what about peer-to-peer lenders?

The P2P industry – and those linked to it – have a relatively small exposure to Bell Pottinger, with most firms opting for smaller PR agencies.

Basset & Gold, which advises and provides financing to P2P platforms and direct borrowers, is still a client of Bell Pottinger as of 6 September 2017, but is reviewing its relationship.

Read more: Basset & Gold unveils four-year marketplace lending bond

“We’ve been reviewing the situation and we are fully aware of all developments,” a Basset & Gold spokesperson told Peer2Peer Finance News.

“We’re using them for a range of strategic and consultancy services.”

P2P lender Wellesley & Co previously had a relationship with Bell Pottinger, but is no longer using them.

Graham Wellesley, the platform’s founder, told P2PFN that their contract ended in March 2017.

“We were on an ad-hoc contract with them but it was over some time ago,” he said.

Read more: Wellesley puts P2P product on “pause” and boosts transparency

Wellesley said the decision to leave Bell Pottinger back in March was not due to the South Africa scandal, but an issue with “bulge-bracket PR firms”.

“We’d need to be three or four times larger to justify that service,” he added.

MangoPay – which provides payment technology for P2P lenders – was still a client of Bell Pottinger as of 2 June 2017. Both MangoPay and Bell Pottinger sources did not respond to requests for comment about whether their contract is ongoing.

Read more: Opinion split on best P2P marketing techniques