After launching in February as the first person-to-person lending site in the US, Prosper.com has seen a good deal of activity. Now that it’s been 6 months since they opened their doors, I used Google Blogsearch to see what people’s experiences were out there in the blogosphere.
I discovered that there were some very valid criticisms of Prosper. For example, the risk and time to manage these loans may not be worth the effort. Plus to further exacerbate the problem, uninformed lenders are setting lending rates at risk/return levels no intelligent investor would touch. It can also sometimes be difficult to find loans for borrowers in states that set rate limits.
Despite these valid criticisms though, I found mostly positive reviews. Since loans on Prosper are amortized over 3 years, it will take some time to see the full impact of the site on the internet community, but looking 6 months out, things seem to be pretty positive. Here are the most interesting discussions I’ve found online:
- Claire at Tired but Happy writes about her good experiences 4 months and 14 loans later.
- Jane at Modern Mating has also had good experiences with her 20+ loans and writes about a particular breast implant she helped fund. She also wrote a piece on WSJ’s Startup Journal.
- Tricia at BloggingAwayDebt has a whole category in her blog about borrowing from Prosper. You’ll also want to see Tricia’s recent interview with a Prosper lender who gave some honest and mixed reviews of the lending process.
- A looming problem with the Prosper community is uninformed lenders who are offering rates that no sane investor would take.
- Jake at 10 trades or Bust explains that getting a loan can also be difficult if your circumstances are not ideal – same as with any other lending institution.
- A number of people are refining strategies for lending such as FJ at PluggedInFinance.
- CellarDoor at Prosperlicious.com, a Prosper-focused blog, writes an interesting series on how to handle default rates for lenders.
- Now that Prosper is building awareness of microloans for small business, some are comparing their alternatives to Prosper, such as Erica at PaperBride, who looks at the SBA’s microloan program among others.
- If you’re a borrower and Prosper isn’t working for you, perhaps you should take a look at this hilarious primer from Curtis Edmonds.
How Prosper Works
Prosper.com is the United States’ first person-to-person lending system. It matches individual borrowers with individual lenders, and allows lenders to receive better interest than they could in the bank, while allowing borrowers to face lower rates than loan providers. Proper.com claims to be highly secure, and provides collections services if the borrower defaults on their loans.
Each borrower is given a credit rating based on their Experian credit report, which lenders use to determine how much they would be willing to loan money. Lenders offer to fund part or all of a borrowers loan, and the loans with the lowest rates that meet the borrower’s target loan amount will be packaged by Prosper and transferred to the borrowers account.
As a side note, U.K.-based Zopa will soon be launching in the U.S. and offers a similar model.