If you're looking to borrow from a non-traditional lender, then you may be wondering if a peer to peer provider could be a good alternative. But what exactly is peer to peer lending and is it the right option for you?
Let our quick P2P lowdown answer all those tricky questions to help you decide:
What is P2P lending?
What happens when you remove the banks from the borrowing equation and connect investors directly with borrowers? Well, according to the peer to peer movement you'll get a better personal loan deal with lower rates and fees. Peer to peer platforms aren't just limited to the personal loan world either but include all sorts of services including car-sharing, house swaps, clothes swaps and more...
For instance, house swapping platforms like AirBnB allow homeowners to rent out their property to holiday goers for a short stint. The homeowner gets some much-needed cash and the holiday-goer benefits from paying a cheaper amount for their overseas accommodation.
Traditional peer to peer lending and borrowing works in the same way, as an individual investor uses the P2P platform to lend directly to a borrower. The investor benefits from earning a profit through the interest charged and also gets that good feeling of helping out a stranger, whilst the borrower receives a more competitive rate and lower fees than what is offered by the big banks.
Learn more about peer to peer lenders by reading our tell-all guide here.
Who are the major peer to peer players?
In Australia there are only a few main players (so far) for personal lending:
SocietyOne: As the first peer to peer platform to launch in Australia back in 2011, SocietyOne has a slightly different lending model to the traditional peer to peer platforms overseas because instead of connecting individual investors with strangers, the platform connects wholesale investors with borrowers.
Plenti: Originating in the UK, Plenti was brought to Australian shores in 2014 and was the first peer to peer platform to offer investment opportunities to everyday Aussies and is also known for introducing the concept of a provision fund aimed at protecting lenders if the borrower defaults on the personal loan.
MoneyPlace: The newest player to enter the game of peer to peer lending in Australia is Melbourne start-up MoneyPlace. Like SocietyOne and Plenti, this P2P provider offers competitive rates to creditworthy borrowers. In 2015, MoneyPlace entered into a five year $60 million strategic partnership with Auswide Bank, which will support the P2P lender during its initial growth stage.
You can compare the P2P providers side by side in the comparison table at the top of this page by interest rate, comparison rate (a calculation that shows the cost of both the rate and fees) and the features.
How can a P2P lender give me a better deal?
By removing the banks from the borrowing equation, peer to peer lenders have vastly lower overheads, as they don't have to pay dividends back to shareholders. Plus, they are run entirely online, which means they don't have to pay the high cost of branches and managers either.
What's the difference between a P2P lender and a credit union?
Just like peer to peer lenders, credit unions are also part of the strangers helping strangers social movement, as they are completely customer owned and run by the philosophy of passing profits back to customers not shareholders.
However, there is a distinct difference between the two, as credit unions don't offer the option of becoming an investor like with a P2P player.
As a borrower though, your experience should be the same whether you go for a P2P lender or credit union - you apply for the personal loan and once approved you pay it back in set instalments over an agreed period of time (usually between 1 to 5 years). So if you're trying to choose between going for a P2P lender or credit union, the decision breaker should really be the better deal.
Am I eligible for a peer to peer loan?
As long as you meet the conditions of the P2P provider - e.g over 18 years old and are an Australian resident - you'll be eligible for a peer to peer loan. But keep in mind if you have a poor credit rating you'll have to pay more in interest, as peer to peer lenders use a tier based pricing system reserving their best interest rates for creditworthy borrowers.
For instance at the time of writing, one of the peer to peer players we looked at was offering a low 8.95% interest rate if you had an "excellent" Veda Credit Grade but if your credit rating was "below average" you would receive a high 17.23% interest rate.
Is a peer to peer loan right for me?
If you're a creditworthy borrower looking for a loan under $35,000 for a term of 1 to 5 years then a peer to peer loan could be for you, as peer to peer providers generally have smaller borrowing amounts and shorter timeframes compared to the major bank providers, whose loans can reach up to $100,000 and stretch over a 10 year period.
It's also perfect for borrowers who don't have any security like a car or house to secure a loan with, as peer to peer loans are usually unsecured. Plus if you're on a strict budget, you'll love the fact that P2P loans generally have fixed interest rates that are locked in for the life of the loan.
But if this doesn't sound like you, compare the personal loan market here
, to find the right borrowing match for your needs.
What features should I look for?
Just like any other personal loan, it's important to look for flexible features to make the loan work for you. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
Extra repayments facility: When you get some extra cash in your pocket, you'll be thankful if the P2P loan you signed up with allows you to make extra repayments, as a little bit extra can go a long way in the long run. For instance, if you take out a $30,000 loan over 5 years with a 9% interest rate and make an extra repayment of $200 each month you will save $2,187 in interest and slash your personal loan by 1 year and 5 months.
Redraw facility: While paying off your personal loan early should be your ultimate goal, if you need some money for unexpected bills or a new family car down the track, the option of dipping into those extra repayments you've made could come in handy.
Flexible repayment frequency: Another feature that can help you pay down your loan sooner is setting up your repayments over a fortnightly cycle rather than monthly. With 26 fortnights in the year, compared to just 12 months this will mean you will pay an extra month every year of the life of the loan. For example, if your fortnightly repayments are $500 you will pay off $13,000 in a year, whereas if your monthly repayments are $1,000 you will only pay off $12,000.
Does a peer to peer provider sound like the right match for your borrowing needs? Scroll to the top of the page to start your comparison. Or alternatively use our personal loan comparison tool to search Mozo's personal loan database that covers over 100 loans in the market today.