French Bank Takes on Active Role in P2P Space

By Ryan Weeks on Wednesday 21 January 2015

Alternative Lending

For the first time in history, a partnership has been struck between a French P2P Lender and a major French bank.

Unilend – the leading French peer-to-business marketplace – has hooked up with Groupama Banque in order to offer increased support to the nation’s SMEs. The bank will lend a staggering €100m through the platform over the next 4 years. The arrangement stands to markedly bump up Unilend's volumes. Since its inception in December 2013, the platform has advanced €7.5m to small businesses, and reportedly has 3,000 registered lenders.

Bernard Pouy, CEO of Groupama Banque, commented:

“This ambitious partnership will allow Groupama Banque to sustain the growth of French businesses all across the country.”

This is not only the first time that a French bank and platform have been in any way associated, it’s also the first European example of a bank channeling funding through a peer-to-peer lender – an accolade that many might have assumed would go to a UK operator. The French alternative finance market, whilst at an earlier stage in its development than its UK or US equivalents, is coming along nicely. Robust platforms have emerged in the SME lending (Unilend), consumer lending (Pret d’Union) and invoice finance (Finexkap) sectors.

Groupama Banque, which is a subsidiary of mutual benefit insurance company Groupama, boasts around 536,000 clients across France. The Unilend partnership chimes well with the bank’s core areas of focus: social responsibility, proximity and solidarity.

Nicolas Lesur, CEO and Co-Founder of Unilend, summed up the development rather nicely:

“This is a key milestone for Unilend, the marketplace lending industry and the financial sector more generally.”

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