The San Francisco bank’s ban was enacted back in January and attracted international attention. Many saw it as a sign that alternative finance, and p2p lending specifically, had matured to the point that it posed a direct challenge to the banks. Wells Fargo told employees that p2p sites raised conflicts of interest since they compete against the banks in the business of lending money. Now this short-lived but notorious ban has been lifted.
Wells Fargo spokesperson Ruben Pulido explained that the ban was not designed to prohibit investing via p2p lending platforms – but rather to forbid investments in the platforms for an equity stake:
"The original guidance given to team members was based on investing in the equity of a P2P lending company.
"After conducting a careful review of the current P2P market, we do not view our team members making P2P debt security investments as inconsistent with our code of ethics.
"The P2P market is not uniform, and is evolving and expanding rapidly. We will continue to review our guidance as the market evolves."
A hasty retreat from January’s edict. Whatever Wells Fargo’s original intentions, it is unlikely that the p2p sector will soon relinquish the idea of the ban as a eminently defensive measure.