Accidents happen. However, when it comes to Alternative Finance, it seems the massed ranks of the financial media have almost been willing a catastrophe to spoil the happy scene.
This past month has seen their dreams come true. Sweden’s TrustBuddy, the world’s first listed P2P platform, reported financial irregularities so serious that it had to call a halt to operations and the share price was suspended. A few days prior to that – and after much rumour in the market – we heard that Trillion Fund had closed its books on new green energy loans following cutbacks in Government incentives. We’ve also seen 30 platforms withdraw from the regulation process (for all the right reasons, let it be said).
Certain newspapers have seized the opportunity to crow about these events and even to congratulate themselves on their predictions having come true. But what have these events really proved?
In my opinion, they have simply reminded us of what we knew all along – that while perfection may be something we should all strive for, it is an unrealistic expectation in a budding and rapidly-evolving market. There were always going to be casualties.
The danger is that a media that has so far been very supportive of alternative finance, could just as easily put off new borrowers and investors by focusing in on the inevitable bumps in the road.
Let us remember, this is a market that is so revolutionary and refreshing that, after only a few short years, it has brought about radical and beneficial change to the world’s financial landscape. By harnessing the power of ‘the crowd’, funds have been made available to deserving SMEs while, on the flip side, ordinary investors have been offered decent returns on their money in return for a modicum of extra risk. Is that so bad?
The Alternative Finance sector has no reason to apologise for anything, least of all for being successful. Time will sort the wheat from the chaff, but, for now, the industry should keep itself and the media focused on all the things it does brilliantly well: innovation, transparency, risk management and, yes, regulation.
As Harriett Baldwin MP, Economic Secretary, said in her address at Lendit Europe in the week: ‘You have the tools, you have the customers, you have the regulation and you have a Government who is keen to encourage competition’.
There is no reason to be anything other than proud and confident.