p2p lender

RateSetter’s fourth loan data release spells a push for transparency

In its latest push for increased data sharing and market transparency, P2P lender RateSetter has published the latest update to its loan book data.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is global, and as with many fintech markets, the influence of ideas and innovation from overseas influences the development of companies, markets and regulations. One feature of overseas marketplace lending is the transparency of data.

Australian P2P lender RateSetter was the first to release its full loan book data in Australia, which according to RateSetter's head of marketing Ben Milsom, is part of its commitment to transparency.

"Real transparency is the cornerstone of peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. It helps set P2P lenders apart from traditional lenders and demonstrates our commitment to developing real trust with our borrowers and lenders" he said.

P2P lending is relatively new in Australia, with the first provider being introduced in 2012. At the rate at which new providers are opening their doors and how quickly the market is gaining traction, it won't be called "new" for much longer. However, we still have far to go when it comes to being on par with overseas markets.

P2P lenders in the UK, specifically RateSetter (the original UK branch), Zopa and Funding Circle, have published extensive loan book data that has been used to provide a comprehensive view of the market. The "open data" approach has been taken since 2010, but it has yet to be adopted here in Australia.

RateSetter first published its loan data in October 2015.

"This level of transparency is unheard of in Australia," said Milsom. "Information currently shared by traditional lenders to regulators and the public is often at a high level and designed for a highly sophisticated audience. We take the opposite approach. RateSetter publishes both summary and detailed information on our website that is designed to help everyday investors understand the platform and its risks and benefits."

The Government has not only acknowledged the importance of data, but has made a commitment to address more open access to it. Specifically, to refer the progress of comprehensive credit reporting (CCR) to the Productivity Commission and explore more open access to financial data. According to Milsom, CCR will be a game changer for consumers.

"It will boost competition between lenders and allow borrowers to be rewarded for their good credit behaviour through easier access to credit and a better, fairer deal. We think it's passed time that traditional lenders embraced this form of data sharing."

Elizabeth Barry

Elizabeth is a senior writer for finder.com.au specialising in personal finance. She enjoys reading PDSs so you don’t have to.

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