The alternative lending market in continental Europe is still in its nascent stage but has been demonstrating strong growth. The European online alternative market, including the UK, grew by 92% in 2015 to €5.4 billion while, excluding the UK, the European alternative lending market reached approximately €1 billion in 2015. The average growth of the online alternative lending market between 2013 and 2015 was 73%.
Although the UK is the pioneer as far as alternative lending is concerned, continental Europe is catching up rapidly. In the first three quarters of 2016 the total market volume of the European alternative lending market stood at €623 million.
France’s Alternative Lending Market
After Brexit, France is battling Germany for the position as the biggest alternative lending market in Europe. The volume of French online lending market grew from a paltry €76 million in 2013 to €319 million in 2015. In 2016, the number of fintech companies in France stood at 55 with Younited Credit being one of the biggest with loan originations amounting to $600 million. In 2015, France Fintech Association was established in order to stimulate the fintech market.
Fintech lenders in France are growing aggressively owing to the measures taken by the French government and the regulatory authorities overseeing the alternative lending market. AMF (Financial Market Authority) and ACPR (Prudential Control Authority and Resolution) are the two regulators that regulate the French alternative lending market. These bodies launched the Fintech Forum, a joint initiative to gain a clear view of regulatory and supervisory challenges faced by fintech companies. After Brexit, they launched “Agility Program” to attract UK fintech companies to France. The program will guide financial firms through the French authorization process and will provide other such services to help UK’s financial firms to set up in France.
Top Alternative Lending Companies in France
The French market is buzzing with new lending startups, but there are some stalwarts who have created a strong position in the French market for themselves. Though the sector has currently seen no listing, there are many potential unicorns.
Founded in 2009, Younited Credit is one of the biggest fintech lenders in France. It was founded by Thomas Beylot, Charles Egly, and Geoffroy Guigou. The company operates as a peer-to-peer lending platform and is recognized by the French Central Bank. It allows investors to lend money to the borrower directly with the help of a secured bond market place. So far, the company has managed to raise US$122 million in funding and is currently working to expand across Europe. Since its launch, Younited Credit has helped fund almost 60,000 projects for a total origination of more than €433 million.
Lendix is a peer-to-peer lending platform founded in 2014 by Olivier Goy. It is an online marketplace for business loans where investors are allowed to lend money directly to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Lendix has raised approximately US$27 million to date. The company also bagged the 32nd position in the global ranking of the 2016 FINTECH 100.
Founded in 2013 by Nicolas Lesur, Unilend is the leader in participative financing for SMEs. It is the
first French site which allows anyone to lend money directly to SMEs. The startup has raised more than €10 million in funding. NewAlpha Asset Management led its latest funding round.
FinexKap is a web-based platform founded in 2012 by Cedric Teissier and Arthur de Catheu. The company provides short-term capital solutions to SMEs. SMEs can simply sell their receivables and gain access to short-term funds. FinexKap has raised €7 million in equity since inception. It recently raised €12 million in debt for further expansion.
Founded in 2014, Lendosphere is a niche platform dedicated to renewables and environment-friendly projects. Currently, the company has 70 projects under its ambit out of which 66 are completed while fundraising is going on for the remaining 4. Total loans originated by the company is more than €19 million.
French banks loaned out €2.169 trillion in 2016. Almost 50% of it went to households, and consumer credit accounted for €161 billion in outstanding loans. Outstanding loans to small businesses stood at almost €400 billion.
French banks accounted for 20% of overall bank credit in the Eurozone. These statistics highlight the tremendous market opportunity for alternative-lending entrepreneurs. It is one of the last developed markets that have not been tapped aggressively by online lenders and where regulators have been supportive of alternative financing. The sector is sure to see upheaval with the category maturing and Brexit creating an opportunity for startups to capture the trillion dollar French market as well as use Paris as a springboard for the entire European credit market.
Written by Heena Dhir.