By Gareth Vaughan
Harmoney CEO Neil Roberts says the country's sole licenced peer-to-peer lender has so far lent about $2 million and is rejecting 70-80% of the applications it receives for loans.
Roberts also told interest.co.nz Harmoney's aiming to lend more than $100 million in its first year of operation.
Harmoney officially launched on September 10 with $100 million of institutional money onboard to lend, including some from its 10% shareholder Heartland Bank. Roberts said Harmoney was attracting strong interest on both the borrowing and investing sides.
Many of the "hundreds" of retail investors so far are very well informed, understand peer-to-peer lending, and are being quite strategic about how they invest, he said.
"They're active, involved and engaged, all are New Zealanders but quite a few are New Zealanders that are based overseas. (There are) quite a few that are based in London and New York, and I think they've experienced the Prosper and the Lending Club models and therefore they're very well informed," Roberts said.
"On the borrower side we have a very strong plan we believe. We've already lent $2 million and in peer-to-peer terms that is one of the better, if not the best, consumer first couple of weeks in the world."
Roberts said the average loan size so far is $14,000. Debt consolidation represents about half Harmoney's lending, which is what Roberts said he had expected.
"And the other key category is a little bit of motor vehicle purchase, some holidays and some life events and home improvements."
"We target a prime bank grade customer that has got good credit and can afford to repay the loan, so we are declining probably 70-80% of applications right now," Roberts said.
People who borrow through Harmoney can borrow between $1,000 and $35,000 for three or five years. Interest rates range from 9.99% to 39.99%. Harmoney does both secured and unsecured lending.
Investors will receive monthly repayments, as they are made by borrowers, for the duration of a loan. Harmoney has said investors' net returns, net of defaults and Harmoney's fees, will range from 10% through to 24%.
Roberts' previous roles include head of sales and business development at Flexigroup, general manager at Pacific Retail Finance, which was bought by GE Finance and Insurance in 2006, and sales manager at AGC Finance. Some of his team worked with him at both Flexigroup and Pacific Retail Finance.
"We have a roll out plan (and) we have been successful at driving volume before," Roberts said. "We aspire to operate at around the volumes of our last launch and in our last launch we did $114 million (of lending) in the first 12 months. So we'd like to build up to that."
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