Alternative Finance Continues Its Steady March to Mainstream

 

P2P (peer-to-peer) lender Zopa has announced it will partner with Saffron Building Society effectively allowing customers to apply for its loans via the Society’s 11 brick-and-mortar branches. 

 

The new tie-up will enable borrowers to apply for a P2P loan at any of Saffron Building Society’s 11 branches across Hertfordshire, Essex and Suffolk and via Saffron’s website.

 

Zopa is looking to correct the imbalance between borrowers and lenders on its platform, it recently suspended application from new lenders after being overwhelmed by people looking for a better return on their cash.

 

 

The UK’s financial sector has undergone huge changes in the past seven years as a result of alternative finance providers, but until recently they have been mobile-focused, eschewing the old regime of needing a branch presence. However, as many of the P2P lenders struggle to find borrowers and expand their customer base they have been increasingly looking at partnerships.

 

Deals between the likes of Santander and Funding Circle or Metro Bank and Zopa (for lending) suggested a more nuanced, symbiotic model but in recent years this line between incumbents and upstarts has blurred even further with alternative providers taking the leap and turning into banks in all but name.

 

Many analysts predict that tech companies, retailers and price comparison websites could soon become major banking brands. 

 

AltFi’s, David Stevenson says “I know anecdotally of at least half a dozen fintech movers and shakers exploring a banking license. I also wouldn’t be remotely surprised if digital payment outfits such as Revolut turn into a bank in the not too distant near future. Banks aren’t going anywhere very soon and I think most sensible altfi businesses now need to give serious consideration to becoming a bank. Any altfi or fintech platform engaged in consumer lending will, by my estimation, probably be forced to turn into a bank at some stage in the not too distant future.” 

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