Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lending Club improves referral program

Update (Oct 2008): Lending Club changed their referral program again.

Back in July we wrote about Lending Club's $5 referral bonus. Today Lending Club announced a new referral program that provides lenders with a bonus of up to $50 for referring friends to Lending Club. Lending Club's Rob Garcia answered a few questions about the program on the P2P No Bank forums. Here's an excerpt:

What are the terms of the program?

The referral program was initially introduced back in July as a $5 prize for any friend who joined. We quietly revamped it on Oct 25 to increase the prize to $25 for any friend who became a borrower OR lender. This was a test to see how users will receive it, and we noticed users liked this idea better. Today, we officially launched the program and the rules are:

When you refer friends to Lending Club and they become borrowers or lenders, we will deposit a bonus into both your and your friend's accounts:

  • $25 when your friend successfully submits a loan application

  • $25 when your friend opens a lender account with $1-$999

  • $50 when your friend opens a lender account with $1,000 or more

Can I point my referrals to a different page?

Yes. You can use 2 different links.

This one drops referrals on our home page, and if the user creates an account within the same session, you get the bonus. Use this for friends that still may need to read more on the concept before signing up:

This one drops referrals on the sign-up form. Use this for friends you think are ready to sign.

Does the referred user have to sign up immediately or is the referral stored?

The information is stored in the session, so the referred user has to sign up while in the session. Information is not saved in our back end or a cookie. The session will "expire" if the user closes the browser. This means that if the user closes the window, and comes back next day to sign-up, and types up "", the system will not recognize the referral.

In addition to changes in the referral program Lending Club announced several other improvements and changes which you can read about on the blog. They include:

Disclosure: I currently blog for Lending Club. Read my Lending Club posts here.

Update (12/13): Lending Club has produced the following image for websites to use:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Blogging for Lending Club

I'm happy to announce I have joined the blogging team at Lending Club. Read my first post here:

Gambling Away Wealth

Four months ago Matt and I started this blog to share our fascination with peer to peer lending. It’s been an exciting time and a great learning experience. When we started the blog in late June we thought it would be a blog strictly about Prosper. That explains the current title - Prosper Lending Review.

At first we didn’t realize the explosive growth in the peer to peer lending community. A new peer to peer start-up, Lending Club, was only a couple weeks old. Our first post about Lending Club announced they had just passed the $100,000 mark in loans.

Lending Club has quickly become a popular topic on this blog. We covered their video contest extensively. The most enjoyable posts for me were these interviews with contestants in the contest:

In addition to the video contest, we announced milestones and news such as their expansion beyond Facebook, new features and a $10 million dollar infusion of venture capital. Sometimes I have been critical of Lending Club like when I (accurately) predicted they would have problems using page views as a metric in their video contest or when I (inaccurately) complained that TechCrunch seemed to favor Lending Club over Prosper (on this more recent TechCrunch post about Prosper and P2P lending they don't even mention Lending Club).

All in all, I have been very impressed with Lending Club and their team. They have done a great job of engaging their community and have grown rapidly. I’m impressed how they used the buzz around Facebook to publicize their launch. I’m equally impressed with how quickly they launched beyond Facebook. Too often peer to peer lending users have to wait longer than expected to see announcements come to fruition (think Zopa’s launch in the USA, Globefunder’s missed launch date, Loanio’s unknown launch date, numerous Prosper controversies, and slow state-by-state expansion). I know that Lending Club is not exempt from the regulatory and other hurdles that stymie peer to peer lending but it was refreshing to see a launch outside of Facebook so soon.

Although I haven’t actually met any Lending Club employees, I’ve interacted with Renaud Laplanche, Rex Dixon, Merry Richter and Patrick Gannon on Facebook, their blog, and via email. They have a top notch team and I’m excited to work with them. I look forward to getting to know more of their other 20+ employees.

They also have a great blogging team – DebtKid, Mike Smith, Maneesh Sethi, Andre Nosalsky and Julian Ramirez. Back in July I made these comments as I reviewed Lending Club’s blog:

Lending Club is challenging Prosper to become the leading peer to peer loan marketplace in the United States. They have been online since May 26th - just six weeks. I have not signed up as a lender or borrower yet, but I've been watching their blog pretty close. I've been very impressed with their communication with their community through the blog. Of course they have the normal things you would expect on a corporate blog such as Lending Club announcements, but they also make a genuine effort to educate users on sound financial principles (mostly the perils of credit card debt). The posts are not overly technical or complicated. Most seem to be written for the average college age person. Someone who might be applying for their first credit card or taking out their first loan.

My posts on Lending Club will be similar and cover mostly personal finance topics. Will this blog (Prosper Lending Review) change? Well, to be honest, I’ve been pretty busy. I have a full time day job that includes lots of travel and sometimes my blogging time is very limited. As regular readers have probably noticed, our posts have dropped from a daily in July and August to weekly or less recently. Splitting my time between this blog and Lending Club will likely further reduce the frequency of posts. I will, however, continue to write about P2P lending here. I realize that my position as a blogger for Lending Club may introduce a natural bias to my writing. I will fully disclose my position as a Lending Club blogger on all future posts.

I think it’s appropriate to end with a quote from my new blogging boss – Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche. As competition in the peer to peer lending market is heating up and several new companies are poised to enter the market he told CenterNetworks, "Prosper is really the only other person-to-person lending marketplace available in the US at this point, but we do not feel competitive with them at all. Both Prosper and Lending Club can be very successful, and the success of both companies will be much more dependent on how fast we can grow the p2p lending space together rather than how well we compete against each other. With 2.4 trillion dollar in personal consumer debt (other than mortgages), it is a big market out there."

I think he is right. The potential market in the P2P lending space is huge. Hopefully my participation in Lending Club’s blog will help grow that space.

Read my Lending Club posts here and subscribe.