Losses narrow at LendingClub, but warns of ‘uncertainty’ ahead

By Roger Baird on Wednesday 20 February 2019

Alternative Lending

The US online lender says cost cutting should produce a profit in the second half of this year.

LendingClub posted narrowing full-year losses, with the US consumer marketplace lender aiming to make a profit in the second half of this year as it cut costs.

The San Francisco-based firm reported a net loss of $128.2m in 2018, compared to $154m the year before.

But it added its loan originations jumped 21 per cent over the period to $10.9bn, with loan applications up 35 per cent.

LendingClub, founded in 2006, is one of the largest online platforms that connects consumers looking for loans with individuals or institutions, such as banks.

However, US consumer confidence is fragile with official figures last week revealing that retail sales fell by 1.2% in December, the largest fall since September 2009. America is also in the middle of a trade war with China that has seen both sides impose tariffs on imported goods.

LendingClub chief executive Scott Sanborn said: "There is a lot of uncertainty both globally and domestically."

Like other online lenders, the business faces concerns from investors who fear companies in the growing digital lending sector will struggle to maintain their fast grow while keeping up the quality of their loans.

However, LendingClub’s chief financial officer Thomas Casey said the company’s administrative and tech costs grew more slowly last year than its net revenue.

He added: “In 2019 we are taking further action to simplify the company, putting us on the path to GAAP [generally accepted accounting principles] profitability.”

The business has been working to boost investor confidence since May 2016 when an internal investigation into loan malpractices led to the departure of then-chief executive and founder Renaud Laplanche.


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