Hargreaves Lansdown is poised to make a play for the UK’s peer-to-peer sector.
The UK’s top fund supermarket has begun work building out its own peer-to-peer lending platform. According to the FT, the platform has a due date of between 18 to 24 months – and will initially seek to entice its existing customers into trialing the new service. A vague plan to ultimately branch out into external customers and small businesses has also been mooted.
Ian Gorham, Chief Executive of the online investment specialist, feels pretty optimistic about the platform-to-be’s potential to scale rapidly:
“This is a market that is a very good idea but it’s very sub-scale and if there’s one thing Hargreaves can bring, it’s scale.”
“If only a small proportion of our customers take part, that could still make us the largest peer-to-peer lender by some considerable way.”
In Decemeber, Danny Cox, Head of Financial Planning at Hargreaves, pointed to a distinct and potentially valuable commonality between Hargreaves’ customer base and typical peer-to-peer lenders:
“It’s people who have money to invest, private client investors – very much the same types of people who are using Hargreaves’ Vantage platform.”
In early December it was revealed that Hargreaves was actively considering allowing its 662,000 investors to deposit funds with a peer-to-peer lender. The investment hub reportedly remains open to the idea – and a potential tie-up with RateSetter has been mentioned in the past. But there’s now a fair degree of skepticism over whether such a deal will materialize – given that Hargreaves is busily constructing a potential competitor to the likes of RateSetter.
Danny Cox declared in early December that the company was engaged in a “fact-finding” phase. At that stage the company still harboured some concerns about the sector – particularly on the matter of provision funds. Evidently, Hargreaves has since decided that the best way to proceed is to construct a platform of its own, in an attempt to secure a slice of the UK’s rapidly expanding alternative finance sector.