Lending Club has partnered with Alibaba Group, one of China’s biggest Internet companies. The partnership aims to provide financing for US businesses to buy from Chinese suppliers through the marketplace Alibaba.com.
Companies using the platforms can apply for credit from $5,000 to $300,000 for each purchase order. The monthly interest rate will start at 0.5%, about half what a traditional lender could provide. The move is designed to replace traditional supply-chain borrowing for small-to-medium sized businesses that look to Alibaba for a portion of their manufacturing.
Renaud Laplanche, the CEO of Lending Club, commented:
“Our small business lending platform strategy is to form a number of partnerships with companies that have millions of small business customers. The Alibaba platform is the perfect partner . . . they have millions of US-based small businesses that are buying on Alibaba.com.”
“This partnership is going to make a pretty big difference in terms of U.S. business’ ability to buy goods from China.”
“They were looking for a technology-aware platform and also a partner that can operate at a low cost, so that the cost of credit for U.S. buyers would be lower.”
The loans created for this partnership, the “Alibaba.com e-Credit Line, Powered by Lending Club”, have much lower interest rates than would be available elsewhere.
Michael Lee, Alibaba.com’s global marketing and business development director, commented on why they chose to partner with Lending Club:
“First of all, they are also a platform business. They are also very transparent with their rate and the way they do business. And they got good feedback from their own users.” He added that customers had asked for a simple financing solution for some time.
This move will help Lending Club to diversify its product offering and branch out into different types of lending. And it fits in with Alibaba’s plan of expanding into the US by connecting American sellers with increasingly affluent Chinese buyers. The partnership pairs two very high profile online companies. Both experienced highly successful IPOs and are continuing to keep everyone guessing as to what their next moves will be.
It is telling that, after searching for a lending partner for several months, Alibaba ultimately opted to go with Lending Club – instead of a traditional lending institution. It shows that Asian internet giant is focused on the future of finance and is a credit to the Lending Club model and its flexibility.
Renaud Laplanche explained:
“It’s showcasing Lending Club’s unique ability to provide financing for the new economy.”
Lending Club has entered into a string of partnerships this year, the most high profile being with Google. This is similar to the partnership with Alibaba in that Lending Club now offers cheaper financing to Google partners.
“Lending Club’s partnership with Google further legitimizes marketplace lending and shows that the addressable market for the space is massive.”
This sentiment is applicable to the partnership with Alibaba. It has been reported that Alibaba is looking for similar partners in other major markets such as Britain, Australia, Germany and Canada in order to extend financing beyond the US. We will be watching to see if Alibaba partners with another peer-to-peer lender and continues to help legitimize and boost this sector.