Lending Club

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LendingClub Corporation
Public
Traded as NYSELC
Russell 2000 Component
Industry Personal finance, Software
Founded 2006; 12 years ago (2006)
Headquarters San Francisco,[1] California, U.S.
Key people
Scott Sanborn, CEO & President
Products Peer-to-peer lending
Revenue

IncreaseUS$ 500.8 million (2016)[2]

IncreaseUS$574.5 million (2017)
DecreaseUS$ -153.4 million (2017)
DecreaseUS$ -153.8 million (2017)
Total assets DecreaseUS$4.641 billion (2017)
Total equity DecreaseUS$922.5 million (2017)
Number of employees

1,530 (2016)[2]

1,837 (2017)
Website lendingclub.com

LendingClub is a US peer-to-peer lending company, headquartered in San Francisco, California.[3] It was the first peer-to-peer lender to register its offerings as securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and to offer loan trading on a secondary market. Lending Club is the world's largest peer-to-peer lending platform.[4] The company claims that $15.98 billion in loans had been originated through its platform up to December 31, 2015.[5]

Lending Club enables borrowers to create unsecured personal loans between $1,000 and $40,000. The standard loan period is three years. Investors can search and browse the loan listings on Lending Club website and select loans that they want to invest in based on the information supplied about the borrower, amount of loan, loan grade, and loan purpose. Investors make money from interest. Lending Club makes money by charging borrowers an origination fee and investors a service fee.

Lending Club also makes traditional direct to consumer loans, including automobile refinance transactions, through WebBank, an FDIC-insured, state-chartered industrial bank that is headquartered in Salt Lake City Utah. The loans are not funded by investors but are assigned to other financial institutions.

The company raised $1 billion in what became the largest technology IPO of 2014 in the United States. Though viewed as a pioneer in the fintech industry and one of the largest such firms, Lending Club experienced problems in early 2016, with difficulties in attracting investors, a scandal over some of the firm's loans and concerns by the board over CEO Renaud Laplanche's disclosures leading to a large drop in its share price and Laplanche's resignation.

History[edit]

Lending Club was initially launched on Facebook as one of Facebook's first applications.[6][7] After receiving $10.26 million in a Series A funding round in August 2007, from venture capital investors Norwest Venture Partners and Canaan Partners, Lending Club was developed into a full-scale peer-to-peer lending company.[6][8]

On April 8, 2008, Lending Club temporarily suspended new lender registration, canceled its affiliate program and entered a "quiet period" while it awaited approval to issue promissory notes to lenders.[9] On June 20, 2008, Lending Club filed an S-1 statement[10] with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seeking the registration of $600 million in "Member Payment Dependent Notes" to be issued on its Web site.[11] On August 1, 2008, Lending Club filed an amendment to its Form S-1[12] outlining new interest rate formulas as well as more details on a "resale trading system".[13] On October 14, 2008, Lending Club announced its completion of the SEC registration process, posted the filed prospectus on its website, and resumed new lender registration. Notes issued on or after October 14, 2008 represent Lending Club securities rather than direct obligations of the ultimate borrower and are tradable (can be bought and sold) on the Foliofn trading platform.[14] In March 2009, Lending Club raised $12 million in a Series B funding round led by Morgenthaler Ventures.[15]

Pre-IPO growth[edit]

In April 2010, the company raised $24.5 million in a Series C funding led by Foundation Capital and joined by existing investors including Morgenthaler Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Canaan Partners.[16]

In August 2011, Lending Club raised an additional $25 million in venture capital from Union Square Ventures and Thomvest, owned by the Thomson family of Thomson-Reuters.[1][17] This led to Lending Club earning a $275 million post-money valuation and an increase of $80 million in valuation from the preceding year.[18] Thomson-Reuters founder Peter J. Thomson also invested an unspecified amount of his personal fortune into Lending Club.[19] In fall 2011, Lending Club's headquarters moved to downtown San Francisco; its earlier offices were located in Sunnyvale and Redwood City.[1] Co-founder Soul Htite moved to China to start Dianrong.com, a peer-to-peer lending company based in Shanghai.[20]

In 2012, the company employed about 80 people, with Renaud Laplanche continuing as the company CEO and chairman of the Board of Directors.[1][21][22] The company averaged about $1.5 million in loan originations daily, with a total of $600 million since its founding.[23] In April 2012, Lending Club's SEC registration from 2008 was renewed for $1 billion USD in Member Payment Dependent Notes and became effective on April 10, 2012.[24] In June 2012, the company received $15 million in new funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and $2.5 million of personal investments from John J. Mack. Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker joined Mack on Lending Club's board of directors.[25] This led to a $570 million valuation of the company.[26] In November 2012, Lending Club surpassed $1 billion in loans issued since inception and announced they were now cash flow positive.[27]

In May 2013, Google Capital purchased a stake in Lending Club.[26] Lending Club also began partnering with smaller banks in order to help streamline their small loans operations. In June 2013 the company partnered with Titan Bank in Texas and Congressional Bank in Maryland in order to help them facilitate loans that would have been otherwise unprofitable for them.[28][29]

Initial Public Offering (IPO)[edit]

In March 2014, Lending Club began providing loans to small businesses.[30] In April 2014 Lending Club acquired Springstone Financial.[31] In May 2014 Lending Club formed a partnership with Union Bank.[32] On August 27, 2014, Lending Club filed for an IPO with the SEC,[33] the offering taking place in December 2014.[34] On December 10, 2014, the company raised almost $900 million in the largest U.S. tech IPO of 2014. The stock ended the first trading day up 56%, valuing the company at $8.5bn.[35]

Stevenson Place, San Francisco, the location of Lending Club headquarters

Car loans and mortgages[edit]

Laplanche told Forbes in April 2015 that Lending Club would expand into car loans and mortgages.[36] Lending Club also announced a partnership with Google to extend credit to smaller companies that use Google's business services.[37] The company signed partnerships with Google, Alibaba.com, BancAlliance, and HomeAdvisor, including vetting community bank lenders for BancAlliance (a group of 200 banks), in order to send people on its platform to various community finance institutions.[38] That year Lending Club partnered with Opportunity Fund, announced by former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative. The partnership intended to provide $10 million to small businesses in areas of California that are underserved by lenders.[39] Lending Club and other small business lenders partnered with Sam’s Club to deliver its “business lending center” product.[40] In August 2015 the company created Lending Club Open Integration (LCOI).[41] In October, the company launched a multi-draw line of credit product for small businesses.[42]

2016[edit]

Like other peer-to-peer lenders including Prosper, Sofi and Khutzpa.com, Lending Club experienced increasing difficulty attracting investors during early 2016. This led the firm to increase the interest rate it charges borrowers on three occasions during the first months of the year.[43] The increase in interest rates and concerns over the impact of the slowing United States economy caused a large drop in Lending Club's share price.[44]

In April 2016, a Lending Club employee reported to Laplanche that the dates on approximately $US 3 million in the firm's loans appeared to have been altered.[43] Lending Club's internal auditor engaged an outside firm to investigate the report.[45] This investigation found additional problems with loans, including that $US 22 million in loans which had been sold to the Jefferies investment bank did not in fact meet the bank's investment criteria. Lending Club bought these loans back from the bank and resold them.[43][46]

The New York Times reported that the investigation found that Laplanche had not disclosed to the board that he owned part of an investment fund which Lending Club was considering purchasing.[43] The Wall Street Journal also stated that Laplanche was found to have not fully disclosed what he knew about the problematic loans.[46]

On 6 May Lending Club's board made it clear to Laplanche that he no longer had their confidence, leading to his resignation on 9 May.[43] The Wall Street Journal reported that Laplanche had been fired by the board. Three of the firm's other managers had also been fired or had resigned by that time as a result of the problematic loans.[46] Lending Club's stock price fell by a further 34 percent after Laplanche's departure was announced.[43] This placed the stock price at 70 percent of the price at the time of the firm's initial public offering.[45] As a result of the incident, the Securities and Exchange Commission was reported to be investigating Lending Club's disclosures to investors.[46]

In December 2017 the Financial Times reported that Lending Club "has struggled to overcome the effects of a governance scandal last May", and that the firm "has battled to keep big investors buying loans" despite improvements to its internal governance.[47] These challenges have led it to raise its loss estimate, and have led to further drops in its share price. At this time many other peer to peer lending companies were also experiencing difficulties.[47][48]

Business model[edit]

Overview[edit]

Lending Club enables borrowers to create loan listings on its website by supplying details about themselves and the loans that they would like to request. All loans are unsecured personal loans and can be between $1,000 - $40,000. On the basis of the borrower’s credit score, credit history, desired loan amount and the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, Lending Club determines whether the borrower is credit worthy and assigns to its approved loans a credit grade that determines payable interest rate and fees. The standard loan period is three years; a five-year period is available at a higher interest rate and additional fees. The loans can be repaid at any time without penalty.

Only investors in 39 US states are eligible to purchase notes on the Lending Club Platform.[49] However, eligibility differs when purchasing notes on the secondary market, FolioFN. Borrowers from all but 2 US states are eligible to apply for a loan.[49]

Investors can search and browse the loan listings on Lending Club website and select loans that they want to invest in based on the information supplied about the borrower, amount of loan, loan grade, and loan purpose. The loans can only be chosen at the interest rates assigned by Lending Club but investors can decide how much to fund each borrower, with the minimum investment of $25 per note.[50]

Investors make money from interest. Rates vary from 6.03% to 26.06%, depending on the credit grade assigned to the loan request.[51] The grades assigned to these requests range alphabetically from A to G, with A being the highest-grade, lowest-interest loan. Each of these letter grades has five finer-grain sub-grades, numbered 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest sub-grade.[citation needed] Lending Club makes money by charging borrowers an origination fee and investors a service fee. The size of the origination fee depends on the credit grade and ranges to be 1.1%-5.0% of the loan amount. The size of the service fee is 1% on all amounts the borrower pays.[52] The company facilitates interest rates that are better for lenders and borrowers than they would receive from most banks. It has averaged between a six and nine percent return to investors between its founding and 2013.[53] However, because lenders are making personal loans to individuals on the site, their gains are taxable as personal income instead of investment income. Therefore, income from Lending Club loans may be taxed at a higher rate than investments that are taxed at the capital gains rate.

Loan ownership[edit]

After the notes are issued, Lending Club purchases the loans from the issuing bank and notes become the obligations of Lending Club, and not of the ultimate borrower: Lending Club promises to pay the noteholder monies it receives from the borrower less its service fees, while the holders of Lending Club notes have the status of unsecured creditors of Lending Club. This means that there is a risk that the investor may lose all or part of the investment if Lending Club becomes insolvent or declares bankruptcy, even if the ultimate borrower continues to pay.[22]

The investors have the ability to put notes up for sale before the notes have reached maturity. This service is offered in a partnership with FOLIOfn Investments which charges a 1% fee on note sales, making Lending Club the first peer-to-peer lending network to offer a secondary market for peer-to-peer loans. Other peer to peer lending networks such as Khutzpa.com have subsequently also partnered with FOLIOfn Investments to offer a secondary market.[54][55]

As of 2016, a high proportion of funds for Lending Club-facilitated loans came from hedge funds. During May of that year Lending Club was seeking to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of loans as bonds as part of a strategy to overcome difficulties in accessing sufficient funding.[56]

Credit risk[edit]

When initially founded, Lending Club positioned itself as a social networking service and set up opportunities for members to identify group affinities, based on a theory that borrowers would be less likely to default to lenders with whom they had affinities and social relationships. It developed an algorithm called LendingMatch for identifying common relationship factors such as geographic location, educational and professional background, and connectedness within a given social network.[57][58][59]

After registering with the SEC, Lending Club stopped presenting itself as a social network and maintaining that social affinity will necessarily reduce the defaulting risk. It now presents the algorithm just as a search tool for investors to find Notes they would like to purchase, using borrower and loan attributes such as the length of a loan term, target weighted average interest rate, borrower credit score, employment tenure, home ownership status, and others.[60] To reduce default risk, Lending Club focuses on high-credit-worthy borrowers, declining approximately 90% of the loan applications it received as of 2012[61] and assigning higher interest rates to riskier borrowers within its credit criteria.[23] Only borrowers with FICO score of 660 or higher can be approved for loans.[51]

The statistics on Lending Club's website state that, as of December 31, 2016, 62.3 percent of borrowers report using their loans to refinance other loans or pay credit card debt.[62]

Loan performance statistics[edit]

As of June 30, 2015, the average Lending Club borrower has a FICO score of 699, 17.7% debt-to-income ratio (excluding mortgage), 16.2 years of credit history, $73,945 of personal income and takes out an average loan of $14,553 that s/he uses for debt consolidation or for paying off credit card debts. The investors had funded $11,217,348,156 in loans, with $1,911,759,192 coming from Q2 2015. The nominal average interest rate is 14.08%, default rate 3.39%, and an average net annualized return (net of defaults and service fees) of 8.93%.[23][63] The average returns of investment for Lending Club lenders are between 5.47% and 10.22%, with 23 straight quarters of positive returns as of the second quarter of 2013.[64]

Recognition[edit]

In 2011 and 2012 the company was named to as one of the AlwaysOn Global 250.[65][66] Lending Club is the winner of the World Economic Forum 2012 Technology Pioneer Award.[67] It has been recognized by Forbes as one of America’s 20 most promising companies in 2011[1] and 2012,[68] and by Fast Company as one of the ten most innovative financial companies in the world.[69] It was named one of the Disruptor 50 by CNBC in May 2013 and 2014, as a disruptive innovator in next generation financial services.[70][71] In 2014, Lending Club was recognized by Inc. as one of the 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America at #248.[72] Renaud Laplanche, the company’s founder and CEO, also received The Economist Innovation Award in 2014 for the consumer products category.[73]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  63. ^ Earn Solid Returns Lending Club; Accessed March 22, 2013
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  66. ^ "Announcing the 2012 AlwaysOn Global 250". July 25, 2012. Archived from the original on June 28, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
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  69. ^ The world's top 10 most innovative companies in finance Fastcompany.com February 11, 2013; Accessed March 22, 2013.
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Further reading[edit]