A Revolution in Progress: Regulating P2P Lending Platforms
54 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2020 Last revised: 17 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 3, 2020
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, defined broadly as the use of non-bank online platforms that match borrowers with lenders, is arguably one of the most important innovations in the area of alternative finance. It changes the way lenders and borrowers interact, reconstructs the credit market by driving massive disintermediation, and reshapes our general understanding of financial systems.
This Article analyzes the current state of the P2P lending market with the goal of developing policy recommendations to facilitate the safe growth of this important market segment. It starts by providing an extensive overview of the P2P lending market from four different perspectives: the financial intermediary role of the platforms, the characteristics of the market, benefits and risks faced by market participants, and its regulation in leading jurisdictions. This descriptive analysis demonstrates how the P2P lending market has changed over time and identifies recent trends, risks, and challenges that require regulatory attention.
In light of this analysis, the Article then proceeds to develop three policy recommendations. First, it shows that P2P lending platforms, originally designed to serve as online marketplaces that only match lenders with borrowers, have gradually evolved into new financial intermediaries that perform various brokerage activities and provide tools intended to help lenders manage their credit risks. It then argues that regulation should be modified to better suit this new financial intermediary role and discusses key considerations. Second, the Article proposes imposing consistent disclosure standards tailored to the characteristics of different types of P2P lending platforms. It presents specific examples of such disclosure requirements and provides justifications for imposing them. Finally, the article outlines key concerns related to the increasing involvement of institutional actors in P2P lending platforms — adverse selection among different types of lenders and growing financial stability risks — and discusses their regulatory implications.
Keywords: Peer-to-peer (P2P) Lending, FinTech, Alternative Finance, Financial Intermediation, Regulation
JEL Classification: G23, G28, K22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation