The Demise of Virgin Money US

It appears that earlier this month the Virgin Money US web site (www.virginmoneyus.com) shut down. It has been clear for some time that Virgin’s foray into peer to peer lending in the US was not working out the way it expected. But now it looks like they have completely pulled the plug in the US. Their web site has been down for several days now and a link to Virgin Money US has been deleted from the main Virgin Money site.

The consequences of this move for borrowers and lenders is minimal. Unlike leading peer to peer lenders such as Lending Club or Prosper, Virgin Money specialized in organizing loans between people who already had an existing relationship (such as friends or family). This is what I call direct peer to peer lending (direct p2p). You couldn’t apply for a loan with Virgin Money, they merely served as an intermediary between people who had already agreed to participate in a loan. These people can continue paying back the loans in the terms already agreed to in the Virgin Money paperwork.

While there is no information as to the reason the site was taken down, we are left to wonder what went wrong. After launching with great fanfare in 2007 (in typical Virgin style) by purchasing Circle Lending, it was expected that Virgin Money would become a significant player in financial services. But it was not to be.

Not to worry. For those people looking to use a service like Virgin Money there are plenty of other options available for direct p2p loans in the US:

[Update: A former executive of Virgin Money US has started National Family Mortgage to facilitate home loans between family members. You can read my review here.]

I expect the direct P2P lending industry to continue to thrive despite the demise of Virgin Money. People have been lending money to friends and family for thousands of years and will continue to do so. With online tools like the ones mentioned here the process is now easier and more secure for all parties.

Hat tip to @robgarciasj for the heads up on this one.

Peter Renton is the chairman and co-founder of LendIt Fintech, the world’s first and largest digital media and events company focused on fintech.

LendIt Fintech conducts three conferences a year for the leading fintech markets of the USA, Europe, and Latin America. LendIt also provides cutting-edge content all year long via audio, video, and written channels.

Peter has been writing about fintech since 2010 and he is the author and creator of the Fintech One-on-One Podcast, the first and longest-running fintech interview series.

Peter has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The New York Times, CNBC, CNN, Fortune, NPR, Fox Business News, the Financial Times, and dozens of other publications.

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Steve Rabago
Nov. 24, 2010 6:48 pm

If you are looking for a tool like VirginMoneyUS, then you should try out http://www.ZimpleMoney.com – their offering is is similar to CircleLending prior to the purchase by Sir Richard. ZimpleMoney does direct peer lending as you describe.