Peer-to-peer lender Harmoney launches, officially, with $100 million to lend

Harmoney "officially" launches today with its CEO saying New Zealand's first licenced peer-to-peer lender has $100 million to lend.

CEO and founder Neil Roberts said Harmoney has secured $100 million in lending capital from four funders including Heartland Bank. He declined to name the other three, but described them as specialist peer-to-peer investment funds with some of the money coming from overseas.

"The facilities are mandated so that we can follow retail investment. This means that the majority of the funding is fractionalised," Roberts said. "Our system offers secured and unsecured, joint borrowing, SME loans and auto payout of debts for debt consolidation."

"There are four funders within the $100 million lending capital. No other consumer peer-to-peer platform, that I know of, has achieved institutional support of any scale prior to opening for business. This is a world first by Harmoney," said Roberts.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is where an online service provider acts as an intermediary matching borrowers and lenders, receiving fees for doing so. People who borrow through Harmoney can borrow between $1,000 and $35,000 for three or five years. Investors will receive monthly repayments, as they are made by borrowers, for the duration of a loan.

Here's our story on Harmoney going live.

Here's a video interview with Harmoney CEO Neil Roberts.

Here's a video interview with FMA director of compliance Elaine Campbell on P2P lending.

Here's a detailed look at P2P lending globally.

And all of our stories on P2P lending can be found here.

Here's Harmoney's full statement

New Zealand’s first peer to peer lender Harmoney today launched its online lending marketplace with $100m lending capital, bringing the world’s fastest growing form of lending to the Kiwi public.

CEO Neil Roberts says that Harmoney will turn lending upside down and compete head-to-head with the banks in the personal loan and term investment categories.

“With our transparent low margin model, investors, for the first time, can access retail rates of return and a brand new asset class. Designed for investors seeking fixed rate/fixed term returns from the banks and ‘prime’ credit worthy borrowers looking for sharper interest rates, our mission is to shake up the market and offer better value to both sides of the lending transaction.

“We are proud to have received $100 million of funding from expert international and local investors prior to launch. That’s a first for any P2P marketplace anywhere in the world, and testament to the quality of Harmoney’s product, processes and people. “

Internationally, peer to peer lending is an established form of investment, currently growing at more than 200% per annum, and has been described as “banking without the banks1”. It is an increasingly popular form of crowd funding that is changing the way that people borrow and invest. In the United Kingdom, the UK Government is the largest funder of P2P loans.

Regulated by the Financial Markets Authority, Harmoney’s fully compliant online platform automates the process of investing and borrowing. The system is fast, easy to use and offers a marketplace in which to transact with Bank Grade Security. A lower cost structure means that savings can be passed on to borrowers and investors.

Roberts says that financial institutions have been spreading risk for hundreds of years and this is at the heart of Harmoney’s offer.

"Investors' funds are broken into $25 fractionalised units, reducing exposure to any particular borrower. In addition, investors are in total control, deciding on the level of risk they are willing to accept. Net returns are typically in the 12% range, far outstripping even the best term deposit or online saver rate. The risk to investors lending via the platform is greater than that of a bank term deposit but Harmoney believes the risk is manageable and predictable and the 12% is after Harmoney costs and a provision for any credit loss.

“With automated processes and no branch network to maintain, peer-to-peer lenders can pass savings on and still maintain a healthy operating margin.

“New Zealanders have the potential to benefit enormously from this asset class, which for the first time is available to retailer investors. We couldn’t be more excited to lead the charge, shaking up the market with a competitive and technologically advanced investment and lending platform,” says Roberts.

Harmoney has an experienced management team, and a Board and Advisory Board with outstanding financial experience and entrepreneurial credentials that will help to guide the company’s performance as it builds awareness of peer to peer lending in New Zealand and launches internationally.

1 The Economist, March 2014

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