By Guglielmo de Stefano on Wednesday 6 January 2016
Private and institutional investors include Innogest SGR, Banca Sella Holding S.p.A. and Club Italia Investimenti 2.
Milan-based P2P platform Prestiamoci (owned by Agata S.p.A.) has announced the closure of a €2m investment round, led by a mix of private and institutional Italian investors, including the likes of Innogest SGR – one of the main Italian venture capital funds, Banca Sella Holding S.p.A. and Club Italia Investimenti 2.
I caught up with Stefano Miari, partner at Digital Magic – key equity investors in Agata S.p.A – to find out more about the fundraising.
According to Stefano, the fresh equity capital will help the platform to increase its loan origination volumes and to strengthen its strategic position within the Italian P2P space. Prestiamoci also aims to increase its brand awareness, launch new marketing campaigns, expand its team and continue to improve its technology.
Founded in 2009, Prestiamoci is one of the main peer-to-peer online lenders in Italy, together with Smartika and BorsadelCredito.it. The platform restructured its operations towards the end of 2013, introducing a fresh management team and a new website, and entering into something of a a new era in June 2014.
Six months later, Scandinavian P2P lender TrustBuddy announced the acquisition of Prestiamoci. Both platforms set out on their due diligence processes, but TrustBuddy was not especially cooperative, according to Stefano.
Everybody in the alternative finance knows what happened next. Despite the corporate meltdown, the team behind the Italian platform decided to soldier on alone and to satisfy the thirst for capital – as had been planned prior to negotiations with TrustBuddy – with new investors.
The funding round was followed by some important adjustments within the platform’s board. Indeed, Michele Novelli, former CEO of the platform, is now the President, whereas Daniele Loro, former President, is now the new CEO.
Prestiamoci aims to become Italy's leading P2P platform and is currently following the Lending Club business model. According to Stefano, the main goal of the platform at the moment is to improve the quality of borrowers. In other words, small amounts and good credit scores are better than huge loans and bad borrowers. However, the platform is looking to increase the maximum amount of money users might borrow – from the current €15.000 to €20.000 – and to focus more on institutional investors.
It’s common knowledge that the Italian P2P lending space is not as well developed as many of its European peers, as we highlighted in a recent EuroWiew report. However, the potential for future growth is potentially much bigger. The Italian consumer credit market is worth approximately €46 billion, of which €25 billion is comprised of personal loans. But only approximately 5% (€1.3 billion) of those loans are researched and purchased online. Given the low market penetration to date, Italy will likely be one of the more interesting developmental markets to watch going forwards.