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Nov 15, 2021

How does P2P lending work in India? How safe is P2P lending? Deepak and Shray explore how the industry works, the risks involved and whether the returns are enough to justify the risks.


  • Banks keep a considerable spread between the interest they offer on a deposit and the interest they charge a borrower. So, some people think, why is the spread so big? Why can't I deal with the borrower directly and receive more interest on my money?
  • The problem is you don't know the person you are going to be lending money to. In comes the P2P lending company, which acts as a sort of intermediary between the lender and borrower.
  • When you give your money to a bank (as a deposit), the bank will guarantee that you will get your money back. But in the case of P2P lending, there is no such guarantee that you will get your money back.
  • Another problem with P2P lending is, no one outside knows the actual default rates, and they are often much higher than what these companies report, even though the whole operation is legal.
  • In P2P lending, you don’t see one of the three Cs of lending – you don't have collateral; you have capacity and creditworthiness.
  • One of the reasons why P2P companies have flourished is that banks, which should ideally lend money to people whose credit might be questionable, don't lend to them. But the answer is not to 'lend' them money. You can consider it as a form of charity, in which case, even if you don't get the money back, you don't mind losing it. And there are companies that work on this model.
  • An alternative could be microfinance. But there are problems there too. Often, multiple microfinance companies want to lend to the same borrower, who uses the money for purposes other than what they were intended for, with the result that they are not able to repay.
  • But microfinance companies can take this pressure because they are a company. A P2P lending firm is just an intermediary. They have no way to recover the money if a borrower refuses to pay, except send legal notices (because there is no collateral), which may not work.
  • So, the gist is, if you want to give loans through a P2P lending firm, only lend so much that you won't mind even if you lose the money. Give it for charitable purposes. Give it to people who are in such bad shape, they can't afford anything else.

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