Insight on the Alternative Finance Market in Australia

Online peer to peer lending began some 10 years ago with Zopa (United Kingdom’s largest peer-to-peer platform till now) to fill the credit gap banks left behind them after the Global Financial Crisis. Since then, the sector has boomed globally especially in even in other parts of the world like Australia, Asia and Africa.

Australia’s revolution in alternative financing seems to have started much later in 2012 with SocietyOne, created by Matt Symons and Greg Symons being the first compliant P2P platform. The others just emerging in recent times; Ratesetters, ThinCats, DirectMoney and MoneyPlace came operational in 2014.

According to Glen Hodgeman, a local expert on marketplace lending it is worth putting into perspective that the four Australian banks enjoy a dominant market share in the lending space. He observes that Australia isn’t like the US where there are 260 million people or Europe where they are many countries to target. Australia is a country of only 23 million people (with approximately just 450,000 high net worth individuals) and market awareness needs to be boosted before P2P products really take off.”

However the Australian  market is experiencing regulatory issues. “Many argue that the current equity crowdfunding regulation in Australia is too restrictive and it is likely to choke the sector’s growth. While a number of markets such as the United States, Italy and New Zealand have welcomed the arrival of crowdfunding by quickly regulating the sector, Australia seems to be lagging behind.

 In 2012, the ASIC indicated that equity crowdfunding may fall within the framework contained in chapter 6D of the Corporations Act, which is very restrictive and obliges corporations to present significant amounts of documentation in support of fundraising rounds.”

Africa is not left behind with several platforms in South Africa like Rainfin, Kenya with Zidisha and many others and Ovamba, which is based in Cameroon and operating in the CEMAC region.