Regular readers have heard me wax lyrically many times about the fantastic growth being experienced by both Lending Club and Prosper. But this month we are experiencing something truly extraordinary. I didn’t want to wait until my end of month report before sharing this with you.
According to their statistics page, as of this morning Prosper’s loan volume is at $43.4 million so far in October. This is already up 31% over last month and we still have three days left in the month.
I have been following this fast growing industry closely now for over three years and I have never seen growth numbers like this before from any company. So, I reached out to Prosper’s president Aaron Vermut to find out what is behind this extraordinary growth.
Lend Academy: You have been growing rapidly since March but never at the incredible pace experienced this month. How are you managing to grow so fast right now?
Aaron Vermut: There are a couple of different factors. We have better and more accurate pricing for borrowers that we implemented as part of our switch to FICO in September. But the main reason is that we made some major improvements to the borrower funnel on our site. More people are getting through the online application now and finding a loan they like.
Lend Academy: Is this growth rate sustainable?
Aaron Vermut: Before I talk about the sustainability of this growth let me say this. Our goal is to list and originate loans as they fund on the platform and not to manage each month to a specific origination or growth number. We feel that this approach will best serve both borrowers and lenders by reducing the lag between the creation of a listing and the time the borrower gets his/her money.
As to the growth rate, it is important to remember that each month has a different number of business days, we call them origination days. This month there are 23 origination days, versus 20 in September and just 19 in November. When we think about growth at Prosper, we are focused on the average daily origination amounts rather than just topline originations. As a result you may see uneven growth when looking at monthly originations based on the number of origination days in a month and some seasonal factors. In answer to your question, though, yes, this growth is sustainable. We are on a fast growth curve right now. We expect to do close to $50 million this month, and that number should increase considerably starting in January. Our goal is to do more than $1 billion in new loan originations in 2014.
Lend Academy: Are borrowers still receiving the same level of service that they did in September?
Aaron Vermut: Yes. We ramped up our verification team in advance of this month and we now have 30 people in our Texas office focused purely on borrower customer service. Loans are being issued at a similar speed to last month. So, doing $50 million this month was not a scramble.
Lend Academy: Do you have enough investors to meet the borrower demand?
Aaron Vermut: Most definitely. As many people know investor demand at Prosper is heaviest for grades B and below. We are working on bringing in more AA and A investors on to the platform in order to create a more balanced marketplace. In fact, we just recently signed some community banks as investors.
The other point Vermut wanted to make is that borrowers today are being obtained far more profitably than before. So, this is not growth for growth’s sake, this is growth that puts Prosper well down the path towards profitability. You will start to see the impact on Prosper’s bottom line this quarter.
So, there you have it. Prosper is taking their loan volume to a new level. On Thursday, as I do at the end of every month, I will be doing my monthly breakdown for both Lending Club and Prosper. We are going to see a very large spike in Prosper’s chart this month. The new management team there continues to execute at a very high level, which I think is great for the industry.