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LendMe at LendIt

14 April 2016 | Marcus Morrison reports from San Francisco

LendIt is the world’s largest peer to peer conference and held annually in San Francisco. After being here for 24 hours, my feet have only just touched the ground.

Started by early adopters four years ago, attendance at the conference has grown from 100 to 4,000 and its success is proof that peer to peer (increasingly called ‘marketplace’ lending) will continue to play an increasingly important role in how we lend and borrow.

Similar conferences are held in China and the UK, and I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we have something downunder.

Being Kiwi is Great

In true stars and stripes fashion, sessions are upbeat, energising and engaging. And there’s no shortage of interested people to chat to – networking opportunities galore.

Our geographical isolation, which may be perceived as a weakness, is in fact a point of difference – which of course we’ve known for some time. I’m not the only Kiwi here, but being one is a great conversation starter.

Peer to Peer’s big opportunity

I found Renaud Laplanche's (head of the largest peer to peer lender in the US, Lending Club) opening address inspiring. In 2015 there was almost $US20 billion of peer to peer lending in the US, which constituted 24% of all personal loans in the market.

One survey found that 79% of people describe their relationship with their bank as purely transactional. And almost 18% of all 20 - 35 year olds switched banks during the year. Consumer loyalty and trust towards banks is quickly eroding which represents a massive opportunity for LendMe.

I won't bore you with detail from every session, but I was blown away by the size and sophistication of the Chinese peer to peer market place. Excluding China, the entire world's peer to peer lending in 2015 is less than the Chinese market!

I also attended a two-hour session where eight start-ups pitched their companies to a panel of judges. I was hugely impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit, focus on the customer experience and amazing use of technology across all of the companies.

Day One Done

Day One has been a tremendous experience. It’s reinforced the huge confidence I have in what LendMe is doing and more importantly how we’re doing it. Everyone I spoke to about secured lending has been ‘blown away’ at how we’ve developed our platform and our approach. This is great feedback to get from some of the world’s leading lending experts.

Despite our size, we continue to show why kiwis excel, because we do things 'our way', resisting the urge to just mimic the 'big boys' in the US or elsewhere. We’re committed to providing a secure and exciting new way for kiwis to borrow and lend money.

Let's see what day two has in store.