From time to time, I like to feature other companies involved in the peer to peer lending space. Orchard Platform is one of many companies involved in investing money in peer to peer lending for institutional investors. I spoke to Matt Burton from Orchard to learn more about Orchard and get his insight into the p2p lending industry.
Orchard is made up of a diverse team which includes people from traditional financial and high tech companies such as Google and Twitter. This is a unique group and shows that there are people excited enough about this industry to join startups such as Orchard. Last fall, Orchard received $2.7 million in venture capital funding from Canaan Partners and Spark Capital. They service institutional investors such as banks, hedge funds, and managed RIAs. Orchard is located in New York City and is expanding rapidly.
Matt got started in 2010 investing both in Prosper and Lending Club. Originally, he heard about the new industry through a friend and thought it looked very similar to the ad network space. Orchard was started as the founders realized that institutional investors require a vastly different set of tools than retail investors in order to deploy capital and manage portfolios. They believed that they could provide this added value.
Orchard currently invests with both Lending Club and Prosper using a fully automated system. They have a couple of other companies they are currently in the process of integrating. Matt mentioned that they are interested in working with all sorts of originators involved in other areas of lending such as small business, real estate, student loans, etc. When asked about the interaction that a client has with their account, Matt responded that it varies from customer to customer. Some are hands on and some are more passive to get an index of what loans are being released. I believe this is also true when it comes to retail investors.
Matt mentioned that there was a lot of interest from institutional investors all through last year. Interest has accelerated since Q4 of 2013 and has continued through the new year. They are looking to deploy capital and learn as much as possible. They look to Lending Club and Prosper, but as mentioned above – they are now looking at a larger ecosystem when it comes to p2p lending. Matt stressed that education is the key and I couldn’t agree more.
Matt stated 4 ways that Orchard brings value to their institutional customers.
1. Customized reporting – ability to track their portfolio and look at it through whatever lens they want to
2. Data visualization
3. Hosting of sophisticated investment strategies
4. Order routing and execution
A lot of the technology around Orchard comes from their experience and background from companies like Google. Orchard built the platform with the concept from day one that it needs to scale efficiently. It took an enormous amount of effort to get the technology and infrastructure that they are currently operating. They claim to have the most sophisticated systems, and clients have been satisfied.
The Future of Peer to Peer Lending – 5 years
Matt believes that peer to peer lending will be recognized as a legitimate asset class globally. He also sees a bright future for p2p lending as shown by recent growth rates. At this point in time, Matt mentioned that people are dismissive of it because of its relatively small size at 4-5 billion. In 5 years, he thinks it has the potential to be 100 billion or more.
Matt sees the excitement that is growing in this space. He believes all of the systems and technology we are building is extending credit to the right people with better products. People are working on the infrastructure and the key is for Lending Club and Prosper to be able to scale to underwrite and originate large volumes of loans. If you step back, people are able to get access to credit faster and easier. Like others have mentioned, he believes that funding an auto loan from your phone isn’t out of the question for the future. The goal is for Orchard to help institutional investors invest capital without friction.
If you want to learn more about Orchard Platform, check them out here:
I also recommend their blog: