Person-To-Person Lending: New Regulatory Challenges Could Emerge as the Industry Grows

GAO-11-613 Published: Jul 07, 2011. Publicly Released: Jul 07, 2011.
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Over the last decade, Internet-based platforms have emerged that allow individuals to lend money to other individuals in what has become known as person-to-person lending. These online platforms present a new source of credit for borrowers and a potential investment opportunity for those with capital to lend. Both for-profit and nonprofit options exist, allowing for income-generating and philanthropic lending to a variety of people and groups around the world. The Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act directed GAO to conduct a study of person-toperson lending. This report addresses (1) how the major person-to-person lending platforms operate and how lenders and borrowers use them; (2) the key benefits and risks to borrowers and lenders and the current system for overseeing these risks; and (3) the advantages and disadvantages of the current and alternative regulatory approaches. To do this work, GAO reviewed relevant literature, analyzed regulatory proceedings and filings, and interviewed federal and state officials and representatives of the three major person-to-person lending platforms currently operating in the United States. GAO assessed options for regulating person-to-person lending using a framework previously developed for evaluating proposals for financial regulatory reform. The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Securities and Exchange Commission provided written comments on the report, and they all noted the need to continue to monitor the development of the industry.

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