If the attendance records at the third annual LendIt USA event are any indication, the online lending market has grown at a rapid pace. There were about 2,500 attendees at the US event this year, compared to 1,000 last year and about 300 at the inaugural event in 2013. Peter Renton, the founder of Lend Academy and host of LendIt events, made a presentation that underlined this growth.
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The conference attendees were excited about these prospects, the mood was downright jovial. Ron Suber, the president of San Francisco-based Prosper, gave an impassioned closing keynote at the end of the first day touting the growth and success of the industry. “There is one word to describe what’s happening here now: wow. We can feel the excitement,” he said.
OnDeck and Prosper announced a partnership in tandem with the event, whereby they will reference clients to one another. OnDeck also announced expansion into Australia, while sources confirmed to PDI that Estonia’s Bondora will establish a business in the US.
For investors financing the space as well as naturally skeptical journalists, including those at PDI, there is a question looming: is the industry growing too fast and where will the cracks appear? The operators behind the platforms are thinking about the same issue, looking toward the next credit crisis, regulation, risk and underwriting standards.
For online lenders, the challenge is to evolve to maturity quickly and without any nasty hiccup along the way.