LENDING volumes among the UK’s major peer-to-peer lending platforms increased by two thirds in 2016, pushing the cumulative total above £7bn, industry data reveals.
Figures from trade body the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA), show its eight members collectively lent £843m in the fourth quarter of 2016, taking lending for the whole year to £2.9bn.
This means that cumulative lending across P2PFA members Zopa, RateSetter, LendingWorks, LendInvest, Landbay, MarketInvoice, Funding Circle and ThinCats, has risen to £7.3bn, a 67 per cent increase on the £4.3bn lent by the end of 2015.
Most of the funds, £4.3bn, have been lent to businesses, with £2.9bn going to individuals.
As of the end of 2016 there were 169,747 current lenders and 392,111 borrowers using the platforms, of which 360,410 were individuals and 31,701 were businesses.
That is up from 121,355 lenders and 273,587 borrowers in 2015.
“2016 has been another year of impressive growth in P2P lending in the UK: further consolidating the sector’s position in the future of financial services,” said Robert Pettigrew, director of the P2PFA.
“While uncertainties in the broader economy attract much comment, it is clear from the robust growth in levels of peer-to-peer lending that P2PFA platforms and their investors are positive about the future.
“Levels of lending to businesses through P2PFA platforms has gained considerable momentum over the course of recent quarters, and as investors focus on what might emerge from the post-referendum uncertainty, the position of P2P lending as a major part of the solution in a post-Brexit world is unquestionable.”
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ThinCats founder Kevin Caley said the figures show P2P continues to provide a real alternative for UK businesses in need of funding.
“While the UK’s traditional lenders reported a decline in demand for loans from SMEs in the fourth quarter, the P2P sector saw the value of new loans to businesses rise 27 per cent quarter-on-quarter,” Caley said.
“The sector also saw 4,000 more businesses turn to P2P for finance in the fourth quarter. This 16 per cent rise was the biggest jump in 2016.
“SMEs employ the majority of people in the UK, and their performance has a profound effect on the health of the economy. By giving thousands more small businesses vital access to funding, the P2P sector has a crucial role to play in the UK in 2017.”