Peer-To-Peer Lending (P2P)

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DEFINITION of 'Peer-To-Peer Lending (P2P)'

A method of debt financing that enables individuals to borrow and lend money - without the use of an official financial institution as an intermediary. Peer-to-peer lending removes the middleman from the process, but it also involves more time, effort and risk than the general brick-and-mortar lending scenarios.

Also known as "social lending".

BREAKING DOWN 'Peer-To-Peer Lending (P2P)'

The advantage to the lenders is that the loans generate income in the form of interest, which can often exceed the amount interest that can be earned by traditional means (such as from saving accounts and CDs). Plus P2P loans give borrowers access to financing that they may not have otherwise gotten approval for by standard financial intermediaries.

The method is not without its disadvantages as the lender has very little assurance that the borrower, who traditional financial intermediaries may have rejected due to a high likelihood of defaults, will repay their loan. Furthermore, depending on the lending system employed, in order to compensate lenders for the risk that they are taking, the amount of interest charged for peer to peer loans may be higher than traditional prime loans.

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