A visit to Australia over the New Year was purely pleasure, but professional interest meant I couldn't resist taking a quick look at what is happening in the alternative finance scene down-under.
What I found was something fairly nascent. The dominant name is personal loan provider, SocietyOne, which launched in 2012. Rupert Murdoch has recently taken a stake in it, as has WestPac (so there's a clue there if we need one). RateSetter launched in November and ThinCats opened in December. But there is not much else - particularly for business loans.
The Australian banking system is reputed to be the most profitable in the world. As in the UK, it is built on 4 main pillars: NAB, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and WestPac. The combined value of unsecured personal loans, credit card balances and small business loans is said to be more than $200 billion. Bank loans grew 7% last year according to a report by PWC Australia.
As we've seen in the UK, demand is building for more competition. A recent official enquiry into the sector, the Murray review, recognised the “highly concentrated” nature of the industry and the potential of P2P lending to inject new blood. The report's recommendations fell short of the bold policy measures that we've seen used to accelerate P2P in the UK - perhaps because the system is seen as less systemically broken - but there is every reason to think that P2P lending will take off in Australia in the same way as it has done in the US and UK.
More UK platforms should take a look. The economy is stable, if slowing slightly, the language is English and the law is significantly based on the UK system. Add to that the sun shines and they drive on the left - what's not to like?!
If any platforms want an experienced P2P marketing partner to work with down under, our thongs are packed, the eskie is full and we're ready to go.