We’re a little over a month into the New Year and already it’s shaping up to be another year of growth and momentum for both Prosper and the peer-to-peer finance industry. January was our biggest month ever, with a total of $67.06 million in loan originations. This momentum follows a very successful 2013, where we grew from just $9 million in loan originations when the new management team took over Prosper Marketplace in January, to $59 million in loan originations in December. Even more importantly in 2013, we focused on improving our customer experience for both borrowers and lenders, stabilizing the company, and setting ourselves up for continued growth in 2014.
Our goal since day one has been to provide a marketplace that disruptively changes the way borrowers and lenders gain access to personal lending and we remain steadfast to that goal as we head into 2014. To that end, we are investing heavily in product enhancements, great customer service, and an emphasis on our retail investors.
Commitment to All Investors
I have gotten a lot of questions and comments recently about the increase of institutional money in peer-to-peer lending. Over the past year, we essentially went from zero to 65% of the platform’s loans being sold to institutional lenders. Retail lenders are and always will be an indispensable component of our business. However, bringing on these institutional lenders was important to our ability to grow and scale. They added what we call “lender stability” to the platform and it allowed us to go out and market to borrowers with confidence that the loans would likely be funded quickly.
Despite that, we feel that the right balance between institutional and retail lender volume has not yet been achieved. In 2014, the goal is to enable retail lenders to get access to more loans in which to invest. Some of the ways that we are doing that is by limiting institutional access to the fractional loan pool and by simply not accepting new institutional money on the platform. I hope that as the year progresses, retail lending will invest in a meaningful percentage of the loans originated through the platform as we grow our overall volume.
We will continue to look at new ways to improve the retail lending experience and to grow loan volume and therefore make investing in loans easier. We are looking at new avenues to attract more borrowers to the site, including expanding our marketing channels with additional advertising and direct marketing. We are also exploring new partnerships that would give us valuable exposure to potential borrowers with innovative offers.
Finally, I want to address the removal of the Loan Description and Loan Details fields. In September, we addressed many of your questions and concerns on this topic. It’s something we were testing on the new borrower application and we hadn’t made any firm decision to permanently remove at that time. After an additional five months of testing, and the rapid growth we have seen since this change, we have decided to make the change permanent.
A look back at 2013
As I mentioned, 2013 was a great year for Prosper and the industry in general. We closed December with $59,775,615 in loans issued for the month, which is a 17.56% increase over November, 2013 and an astounding 522% increase over December, 2012. In 2013 a total of $357,437,811 in loans were originated through the platform, a 133% increase over 2012 and a 376% increase over 2011. You can see the growth demonstrated in the graph below.
We also made important changes to the business. Over the course of 2013, Steve, Ron and I recapitalized Prosper Marketplace, restructured the Board, and reorganized the management team into a group of focused professionals with a collective purpose. We also implemented customer-oriented solutions that helped to stabilize and legitimize the business. Some of the things we did include:
- Established protection for all of the platform’s lenders regardless of size, by forming a new legal entity called Prosper Funding LLCProsper which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Prosper Marketplace and is now the owner of all loans tied to Notes and the issuer of all Notes on the Prosper platform.
- Prosper Marketplace entered into an agreement to settle the class action lawsuit allowing us to move forward and focus on growing the business.
- Brought on Institutional class customers to the platform to provide lender stability.
- Improved the platform’s borrower experience and the technology infrastructure.
- Hired a new Chief Product Officer of Prosper Marketplace and reoriented into a product focused organization.
- Transitioned the platform over to the FICO 08® scoring model. This change more directly aligns Prosper with industry standards and enables us to better meet borrower expectations with rates and offers.
- Scaled Prosper’s customer service operation to better meet the needs of both sides of our platform.
As we look ahead, we’re extremely optimistic about our growth, and project that loan originations will average just above $100M per month. We look forward to bringing our customers even better products and services, and continue to value your feedback.
President, Prosper Funding LLC