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As Credit Card Rates Increase so does the Potential for P2P Lending 

A recent article in the Washington Post sheds insightful evidence that P2P lending may rapidly scale in the coming years.  What drives its potential for growth?  High rates on credit card debt. 

The article highlights several interesting facts:

  • Industry experts predict a twenty-fold increase in the amount of money lent via peer-to-peer lending sites from close to $282 million in 2006, to possibly $5.8 billion by 2010.
  • P2P officials state that increased traffic is due to increased credit card rates; about 50 percent of Prosper's loans goes to borrowers trying to consolidate credit card debt.
  • Credit card companies are increasing rates more aggressively now in part because of a new law that is expected to take effect in February, after which it will be difficult to increase rates.  
  • Credit card debt today can have interest of up to 20 percent and take more than 20 years to pay off.  Meanwhile, peer-to-peer loans generally have half the rates and are generally required to be paid off in three years.
  • Investors are also gaining—the rate of return is 12-13 percent and the average amount invested is $6,000 (diversified across many borrowers).

We have yet to see what will happen when 2010 comes and most P2P borrowers reach the end of their three-year loan term (most began borrowing in 2006).  Nevertheless, the numbers in this article speak to the fact that peer-to-peer lending is filling a growing demand and it appears that it may soon cross the chasm from a model for a minority niche to one that serves a more general population.  If it is able to do so, peer to peer lending could permanently establish itself as a genuine competitor to traditional banks and credit card companies. 

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