Lending Club Calls It Quits On Underwriting Small Business Loans

| By:

Scott Sanborn, Lending Club CEO

The company is the latest fintech player to exit small business lending.

Lending Club will no longer be underwriting small business loans, according to Lending Club Head of Communication VP Anuj Nayar. The company will still accept applications for them, but will direct them instead to Opportunity Fund and Funding Circle in exchange for referral fees. Less established businesses, or those with lesser credit, will be sent to Opportunity Fund, while more established businesses with better credit will go to Funding Circle.

According to Nayar, there will be no layoffs. Some employees who had worked in small business underwriting will move elsewhere within Lending Club while others will become contractors for Opportunity Fund. Opportunity Fund is a non-profit with the mission of investing in small businesses that have been shut out of the financial mainstream. It is backed by major financial institutions including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and the JP Morgan Chase and Knight Foundations. In fiscal year 2017, Opportunity Fund made over $92.5 million in loans to more than 2,900 small business owners.

“[These two partnerships] enables us to both deliver greater value to our applicants and capture a new revenue stream for Lending Club, while further simplifying our business and setting the stage for more partnerships and innovations for Club Members,”  said Lending Club CEO Scott Sanborn.

The new revenue stream Sanborn refers to is the referral fees Lending Club will get from its new funding partners when they fund loans sent to them from Lending Club. And Lending Club’s business will be streamlined as it jettisons small business lending backend operations. They will now focus exclusively on consumer loans, which has been the company’s primary business since it was founded in 2006.

Lending Club expanded into small business lending several years ago, but this component of its business never really took off, and was declining over the last few years. At the end of December 2016, Lending Club’s non-consumer loan originations (including small business loans) accounted for 10% of its business. In December 2017, it was 9%. And in the fourth quarter of 2018, it was 7%.

Nayar said that these new partnerships will allow Lending Club to focus even more on consumer lending. Headquartered in San Francisco, Lending Club has lent more than $44 billion to 2.5 million customers.

Last modified: April 23, 2019
Todd Stone


Category: Business Lending

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