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Peer-to-Peer Lending: A New Era for Indian Investors?

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Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has emerged as a fascinating asset class in India, offering an alternative for both borrowers and investors. But what exactly is it, and how does it work as an investment option?

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Understanding P2P Lending

P2P lending cuts out the middleman (traditionally banks) by connecting borrowers directly with lenders through online platforms. This allows borrowers, especially those who might not qualify for traditional loans, to access credit. For lenders, it offers the potential for attractive returns on their investment.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulates P2P platforms, ensuring a secure environment. These platforms act as facilitators, handling borrower verification, loan listing, and transaction processing. As of May 2024, there are 26 registered NBFC-P2P exist.

Brief History of P2P Lending in India

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) formally issued a consultation paper on peer-to-peer (P2P) lending in 2016. Subsequently, in 2017, Faircent became the first platform in India to receive a certificate for operating as a P2P lending platform under the RBI’s regulations. It’s important to note that Faircent operated in the P2P space prior to 2016, but in an unregulated environment.

Fund Flow in P2P Lending and the Role of the P2P Platform

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms act as facilitators, orchestrating the flow of funds between lenders and borrowers. Here’s a breakdown of the typical fund flow and the crucial role the platform plays:

From Lender to Borrower

  1. Investor Deposits: The journey starts with lenders depositing their investment funds into the P2P platform. This is typically done through secure online payment gateways linked to the investor’s bank account.

  2. Platform Escrow Account: The P2P platform holds these deposited funds in a secure escrow account. This account separates investor money from the platform’s operational funds, ensuring investor protection.

  3. Manual Loan Selection: Investors browse through borrower profiles and loan listings on the platform. They can choose loans based on factors like interest rates, loan terms, borrower creditworthiness, and risk tolerance.

  4. Auto Invest: Selecting individual borrowers can be tedious and time-consuming. Fortunately, most P2P platforms offer an automatic investment option. This route distributes your investment funds across multiple borrowers based on your pre-set criteria, saving you valuable time and effort.

  5. Loan Funding: Once investors select a loan, they commit their desired investment amount. The platform facilitates the transfer of these funds from the escrow account to a specific loan pool.

From Borrower to Repayment

  1. Loan Disbursement: After successful loan funding, the P2P platform disburses the loan amount directly to the borrower’s bank account from escrow account.

  2. Monthly Payments: Borrowers make fixed monthly payments (principal + interest) throughout the loan term. These payments are collected by the platform in to the escrow account.

  3. Distribution to Investors: The P2P platform automatically distributes these borrower repayments to investors in proportion to their investment in the loan. Investors receive their principal amount back in installments, along with the accrued interest.

The Role of the P2P Platform

  • Matching Engine: The platform acts as a matching engine, connecting borrowers seeking funds with lenders seeking investment opportunities.

  • Risk Management: P2P platforms typically employ risk assessment tools to evaluate borrower creditworthiness. This helps mitigate risk for investors. Some platforms might offer features like portfolio diversification tools to further spread risk.

  • Escrow Account Management: Holding investor funds in a secure escrow account safeguards them from misuse by the platform.

  • Transaction Processing: The platform facilitates secure online transactions between lenders and borrowers, ensuring smooth fund flow throughout the loan cycle.

  • Loan Servicing: The platform handles loan servicing tasks like collecting borrower repayments and managing defaults (if any).

  • Investor Communication: Platforms provide investors with regular updates on their investments, including loan performance and repayment schedules.

Potential Benefits of P2P Lending as an Investment

  • High Returns: P2P loans typically offer higher interest rates compared to fixed deposits or savings accounts. This can be attractive for investors seeking better returns.

  • Portfolio Diversification: P2P lending adds a new dimension to your portfolio, potentially reducing overall risk through diversification. Unlike stocks and bonds, P2P returns are not directly tied to market fluctuations.

  • Regular Income: P2P loans allow you to earn interest on a regular basis, providing a steady stream of income. Some platforms offer auto-invest options for hassle-free investing.

Understanding the Risks Involved

  • Credit Risk: A key risk in P2P lending is the possibility of borrowers defaulting on their loans. Investors may lose a portion or even all of their principal amount.

  • Platform Risk: The health and credibility of the P2P platform you choose is crucial. Research the platform’s track record, regulatory compliance, and borrower screening processes.

  • Liquidity Risk: P2P investments are typically less liquid than traditional assets like stocks. Exiting your investment before the loan term ends may be difficult and could incur penalties.

Who Can Invest in P2P

  • Any Indian citizen (18 years old or above) including NRI
  • HUF
  • Corporate (Incorporated under Indian Companies Act or RBI Listed Finance Companies)
  • Partnership Firm
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
  • Body of Individuals
  • Society
  • Artificial Body

Prominant P2P Platforms

Here is list of the major P2P platforms:

  • Faircent (Fairassets Private Ltd)
  • Uni P2P (UNI P2P Private Ltd)
  • Lenden Club (Innofin Solutions Private Ltd)
  • India P2P (Trickle Flood Technologies Pvt Ltd)
  • Liquiloans (NDX P2P Private Ltd)
  • i2i (i2i Ventures Private Ltd)
  • Finzy (Bridge Fintech Solutions Private Ltd)
  • Financepeer (Visionary Financepeer Private Ltd)
  • Lendbox (Transactree Technologies Private Ltd)
  • Rupeecircle (Fintelligence Data Science Private Ltd)

Recently these major P2P came together to form association to proactively adopt high standards of governance, to evolve industry best practices, privacy and data protection norms which is in sync with the laws of the land, set standards to avoid mis-selling, promote ethical business practices, transparency of pricing.

Investing in P2P Lending: What to Consider

  • Choose a Reputable Platform: Do thorough research to select a platform with a strong track record, robust security measures, and transparent processes.

  • Understand Borrower Profiles: Carefully analyze borrower profiles, including creditworthiness and loan purposes. Diversify your investments across multiple borrowers to mitigate risk.

  • Start Small: Begin with a small investment to understand the platform and P2P lending in general before committing larger sums.


P2P lending presents a promising avenue for investors seeking higher returns and portfolio diversification. However, careful consideration of the inherent risks is essential. By understanding the P2P landscape, choosing the right platform, and employing a measured approach, investors can potentially leverage this new asset class for their financial goals.

(Updated: )

Tushar Seasoned Financial Companion | Mutual Fund Distributor | Providing Expert Guidance to Help Clients Achieve Their Financial Goals 📈💼 | Ex- Software Developer
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