The Australian marketplace lending platform Marketlend goes quietly about its business. The company has been open since December 2014, yet has taken a rather low key approach compared to many of its competitors and even those that are yet to launch. I decided to catch up for a coffee with Leo Tyndall the CEO and Founder of Marketlend and find out how his platform has been performing over the last 6 months.
Leo’s experience in the financial services sector is particularly extensive. He was the Head of Capital Markets Asia Pacific for UniCredit. Prior to founding Marketlend, Leo was engaged by a number of public companies to assist in raising capital to fund their financing of receivables. He has also been a director at National Australia Bank and part of the treasury team at RAMS Home Loans. In the legal field, Leo holds a Bachelor of Law (Hons.) and is a qualified barrister and I met him at his Law Chambers not far from the NSW Law Courts.
I have watched many new lending platforms come to the Australian market, some have opened and many are still dealing with regulatory and financing issues. But a number of those “waiting” to open have done very impressive jobs around raising their market profiles both domestically and internationally without ever having written a loan. Marketlend has chosen a slightly lower key approach, building their business, establishing a genuine customer base and loan book.
Marketlend is a peer-to-peer lender for small business loans, and it invests in every loan on the platform – i.e. it has “skin in the game”. They also offer certain investors who qualify, insurance on the loan. The platform currently has over $8.1m of loans available for investment. Their investors can buy parts of loans, and these loan parts can be traded on the Marketlend Note exchange. Around 10,000 loan parts have been settled and another 300 loan parts have traded so far. Recognising the early stages of the platform the average gross yield currently sits at an impressive 18% p.a.
Given Leo’s background in law and securitisation, Marketlend is the first P2P that I am aware of that secures every loan in a special purpose company or trust protected by an independent trustee, Australian Executors Trustee Limited. It means that the investor has a secured beneficial right in a special purpose company or a secured note with a trustee, an independent company controlling the assets and all monies.
Marketlend’s borrower and loan grading assessment systems are also supported by carefully structured insurance and loss protection policies. If a loan qualifies for insurance, the investor can take advantage of the protection for a fee.
My strong sense is that those platforms that are currently established here in Australia have significant first mover advantages. With other international SME lending platforms such as Spotcap (recently launched) and Kikka Capital/Kabbage and OnDeck to open up. Marketlend has done really well to be actively lending and trading ahead of this competition, a local platform with genuine Australian banking and legal experience. Marketlend is one to watch closely.