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Even with venture investing down in recent months, peer-to-peer lending companies don’t seem to have any problem securing funding. Prosper, one of the first peer-to-peer lending companies, today announced it a fourth round of funding for $14.5 million led by TomorrowVentures, the firm financed by Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, and CompuCredit Holdings.
Just this week, competing peer-to-peer lending company Lending Club secured a third round of funding for $25 million. It has raised $53 million in total. Prosper has raised a total of $58 million. The funding activity is a strong indicator that investors see peer-to-peer lending as a solid investment and possibly a blossoming alternative to unstable banks for both borrowers and lenders.
Prosper is similar to most peer-to-peer marketplaces, but uses an auction-based format to connect lenders with borrowers. Those interested in a loan create a listing for themselves by highlighting the amount they wish to secure, the interest rate they can pay back and an option to tell their story of why they need the cash. Lenders bid on the listings and, once the auction is over, Prosper combines the ones with the lowest rates and alerts the winning lenders. The borrower is then notified and receives their loan amount.
The San Francisco-based company, founded in 2006, helped pioneer the idea of peer-to-peer lending, even after receiving a cease-and-desist order from the SEC in November of 2008. The company eventually relaunched in July of 2009 and claims close to 1 million users and $194 million in loans, according to it’s website.
Existing investors all participated in the fourth round of funding, including Accel Partners, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Meritech Capital Partners, Omidyar Network, QED Investors and Volition Capital.