Rocket Internet is filling the world with clones! Clone companies, that is.
The notorious Berlin-based incubator has launched a peer-to-peer lending platform called Lendico that connects borrowers with lenders.
Borrowers can request loans of between €1,000 and €25,000 from lenders on the site, with interest rates starting at 2.99%. Lendico uses algorithms to evaluate each borrower’s credit risk and set loan rates.
True to Rocket Internet’s form, Lendico is in no way a new or innovative concept. LendingClub, Prosper, and the UK’s Zopa have operated peer-to-peer lending platforms for years.
However the new launch does signal Rocket Internet’s growing interest in payments.
The firm’s portfolio includes Payleven and Paymill, which power mobile and Web payments for small businesses (Square and Stripe clones, respectively), as well as BillPay. Earlier this year Rocket’s venture arm, Global Founders Capital, invested in Kreditech, which uses big data to generate scores for credit and loans.
Platforms like Lending Club, Prosper, Zopa, and now Lendico let people bypass the banks. Borrowers can apply for a personal loan online and receive an instant rate quote. Lenders can fund these loans and automatically receive monthly payments on these loans into their bank accounts.
Since these businesses use technology to facilitate the process, they can operate more efficiently and offer better rates for borrowers and lenders, which is what makes them appealing to both.
Lending Club is on track to process $2 billion in loans this year and is now valued at $1.55 billion dollars.
Lendico will start in Germany but will soon embark upon “rapid international expansion.” The company’s cofounder Dr. Dominik Steinkühler, said that the volume of outstanding consumer loans and overdrafts in Germany stands at $270 billion (€200 billion), which represents a huge opportunity for a platform like Lendico.
Rocket Internet is known for launching “fast follow” companies, meaning it takes proven business models, plants them in different markets, and throws millions upon millions of dollars at the companies to gain dominance in the local market.
The firm has started more than 100 companies across five continents. Most of these companies are straightforward e-commerce clones — the “Amazon” or “Zappos” of Latin America, Africa, Asia, etc. Rocket Internet also has online food delivery and hotel booking sites.
It is not uncommon for its portfolio companies to raise upwards of $100 million, and they have collectively attracted over $800 million in financing in the past year alone. Rocket Internet itself raised a staggering $500 million in July 2013 to keep on launching and fueling its copycats around the world.
Cofounder Oliver Samwer said that the goal is to be the “world’s largest and most successful creator of high impact companies in the Internet space.” He started Rocket Internet with his brothers Alexander and Marc in 2007. The three are known for being aggressive businessmen and have built Rocket into an unrelenting startup machine.
Lendico already has more than 50 employees, and Steinkühler boasted that it has signed people away from “renowned companies and banking firms.” A large funding round will probably come along soon to support entering new markets.
As always, it will be interesting to see what comes next and where.
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