Here in Canuckistan (that’s what I call Canada as long as Harper is in charge, says a crazy person) we have a pretty sweet existence. Health care is both bountiful and free, and is sometimes administered by sexy nurses. Spring is here, which means we can temporarily forget about how winter crushes our soul for
nine ten fourteen months of the year. Lousy Smarsh weather indeed.
But there’s one thing that’s eluded Canadians for years, and I’m not talking about the pronunciation of aboot. We just haven’t been able to get into the peer-to-peer lending game.
Blame the feds, mostly. In the U.S., just about anyone with a pulse and a few extra bucks can scour the peer-to-peer websites looking for somebody who needs some cash. If the borrower writes a convincing enough sob story and/or offers a good enough interest rate, they’re in business. Most of the time, the lender even gets paid back. Finally, the system works!
In Canada, it’s not so simple. Here you need to be an accredited investor to get into the game, which means you have to either have a net worth of $1 million or an income of more than $200,000. And I know you personally are richer than an oil tycoon’s ex-wife, but not all of us are sitting on that kind of coin. So nobody has really gotten into the business, at least in a measurable way. It’s hard to do when the pool of investors is small.
That’s changing, thanks to a company called Grouplend, which is finally bringing peer-to-peer lending in Canada.
It’s a pretty easy process, at least from a borrower’s perspective. You head on over to the site, tell them how much you need (a minimum of $1,000 to $30,000), answer a few more questions, give a blood and urine sample (surprisingly easy to do over the internet), and the fancy software they have analyzes it all and spits out an interest rate, anywhere from 6.3 to 17.5%.
Next, they’ll ask you for some documents, which is really where I should have made the blood and urine sample joke. All you need to do is take a picture of them with your phone, and you’re in business. If you’re quick, you can have your cash in as little as 24 hours.
It’s not quite that simple, of course. You gotta earn at least $30,000, have a year’s worth of credit history, and a decent credit score to boot. Also, you’re outta luck if you live in Quebec, Nova Scotia, or Saskatchewan, but those places suck anyway. And I would know, I’ve been to two of them for approximately ten days.
It’s not really designed for somebody who’s getting a car loan or wants to buy a house. It’s more of a thing for someone paying off credit card debt or starting their own business without the ability to finance themselves.
That’s pretty much it. If that’s something that you might be interested in, go have a gander.
Can I invest in it?
In a word, maybe.
Even if you’re an accredited investor (and if you are, what are you doing here?), Grouplend has all the capital they need at this point. I know, I was disappointed too.
But they’ll probably need more capital in the future. If you head on over to their website, you can find out how to get put on a waiting list for when they need funding for future loans. I have no idea what interest rate they’d pay or anything like that–or, frankly, even if it’s a good idea–but I think it’s interesting enough to mention.
And that’s about it. I don’t usually do stuff like this, but I think the idea is pretty neat. And hey, it beats payday loans.