Tag Archives: Peer-to-Peer Lending

Crowdfunding 101


As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The economy of the world is expanding even though it has passed through some turbulent waters since the start of the new century. Business must make progress and innovative business minds will discover how to survive and grow even during times when credit is tight.

There are many projects and opportunities out there.  Many are begging for the needed funds to enable them to see the light of day. The reality of the above gave birth to this child of necessity called crowdfunding.

The objective of this post is to explain the basics of crowdfunding. Is it a viable opportunity for investors? What are the merits as well as the shortcomings of the system?


Crowdfunding is the practice of raising money to fund a project through the collective efforts of many people whose resources are pulled together to fund the project. It derived its name from the many people that come together with their money to fund the project. It is a form of alternative investing.

The JOBS Act of 2012 has expanded the investment opportunities for small businesses to raise capital.  Prior to this bill, only Accredited Investors had access to this type of investing.  Following the JOBS Act of 2012, every American can now invest in new businesses or start-ups that were once only available to hedge funds or Venture Capital Firms.

In 2015, the total global sum invested in crowdfunding projects was put at $34 billion. That total also includes Peer-to-Peer Lending. That goes to show the strength and interest of this alternative method of raising capital.  There are different categories of crowdfunding:


In a sense, this is entrepreneurship on open display.  An entrepreneur has goals for their new venture, but limited funds. A brilliant new product or service is set to be launched, but to bring this idea to market, an entrepreneur needs funding.  A wise businessman knows to avoid high-interest rates.  Entrepreneurs do not want to incur debt, nor do they want to sell equities/shares at this early stage.  In such a scenario, the soft landing is to pre-sell their product or services. The payments are sourced from people ahead of actual delivery and it is called rewards funding.


This method of operation is one by which the backer pledges an amount of money and in return receives equity shares of the company. This is basically investing in a privately held company. This usually happens in the early stages of the venture.  It is a common form of funding for new real estate projects. There is a high potential for returns on investment in this system.  However, like with most securities, there are not any guarantees in place to protect principle.

Donation Crowdfunding

Just as its name implies, Donation Crowdfunding is a way to raise money for a cause.  There is not a return on investment.  The money is used to support a community project, pay for the medical expenses for someone who is in need, or support a cause.  This type of crowdfunding attracts resources from sources that tend to have an emotional attachment to a cause.

Lending Based Crowdfunding

Lending Based Crowdfunding is also known and Peer-to-Peer Lending or P2P Lending.  This is the practice of one individual lending money to another individual.  The lender acts as a bank normally would.  The individual who borrows money pays back the principle along with interest.  These transactions occur on online platforms.  Borrowers interest rates are based on their credit history.

Who Can Invest

Before you consider investing in a venture that is raising capital by way of crowdfunding, you first need to know some of the rules and qualifications:

  • An investor can invest $2,000 per year if both their annual income and net worth are less than $100,000.
  • An investor can invest up to 10% of their annual income or net worth per year if their net worth and annual income are equal to or greater than $100,000. An investor cannot exceed an annual investment of $100,000 per year.

How to Invest

There are many online crowdfunding platforms.

Below are some of the most popular:

  • Kickstarter.com: is a funding platform for various creative projects including new technology, gaming, artistic design, and films.
  • Gofundme.com: is a donation-based crowdfunding platform that allows people to raise money for various causes that include different life events.
  • RocketHub.com: uses its online platform to raise capital for scientists, technology-based projects, philanthropists, various artist projects, and business ventures.
  • Indiegogo.com: is an international crowdfunding platform that provides funding for films, start-ups, and charities.


You might be wondering what magic makes people support a cause with their financial resources even when they know next to nothing about a project.  Four main reasons can be attributed to this behavior in people:

  • The greater purpose of the campaign is a source of attraction. They feel an emotional connection.  This campaign can make a positive difference.
  • There is the physical aspect of the campaign. The people see the business wisdom in a campaign. People take a calculative look at the rewards and project an above average return on investment.  They feel convinced based on the potential for financial gains.
  • There is the aspect of the marketing campaign that is so compelling and convincing that people are attracted to the project or the idea.
  • Above all, people are aware that they can sit at the remotest corner of the world and conduct their business through online means. The world is now a global village where even the smallest of business endeavors are transacted online.


For a successful crowdfunding campaign, there must be great preparation before results are achieved.  The marketing must be well structured for a campaign to get off the ground and pull together the needed capital for the project.  The preparations should include:

  • Social media is a vital marketing tool. This is where the market is. You will get the crowd that you want and bring them together online. Maintaining a strong and aggressive campaign online is important to success.
  • Before the project is launched, there is the need for the creation of an email distribution list. Members on the list are those that will form the mainstream of the needed crowd.
  • The local media also has a role to play in the scheme of things. They can be helpful for promoting the publicity of the campaign. They can bring about local buy-in.  This can help with the project going the distance. 


  • Potential for High Returns (above market averages)
  • Adds diversification to an investors asset allocation (beyond equities & fixed income)
  • Access to investments that were once only available to high net worth investors
  • The satisfaction of being able to contribute to a cause, project, or start-up 


  • Loss of capital (riskier than micro-cap stocks)
  • Liquidity (capital can be tied up for many years)
  • Lack of transparency in financial records (who audited the books?)
  • The project team is creative but has limited management skills


Based on the amount of capital that Crowdfunding has attracted, it appears that it has come to stay.  While there are benefits for both the creator and investor, this is a highly risky type of investment.  Equity crowdfunding is as speculative as investing in penny stocks.  If an individual investor decided to invest in a venture that is being funded by way of equity crowdfunding, they should consider limiting their exposure to 3% or less of their asset allocation.  That rule also applies to lending or rewards-based crowdfunding.  Donation-based crowdfunding is not an investment.  Limit the funds that you contribute to any crowdfunding cause to as much as you normally tithe or donate to charity.  That is a prudent rule of thumb for investing in any type of alternative investment.

Please remember to check with a financial professional and to read the Disclaimer Page before you make any financial decisions.

How the Mob Influenced My Asset Allocation

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime”.  – Honore de Balzac

I have recently been doing a good amount of research on Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P) and have written about it in a recent blog post.  Yes, Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P) is legal in most states, but is it ethical?   While I was researching more about Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P), I felt a strange nostalgia.  This type of investing caused me to reflect on the town I grew up in and the people I once knew.

I grew up in a small town located in Northeastern, Pennsylvania.  Like myself, most of the population was made up of people who were Irish, Italian, Polish, and from other Western European heritage.  Many of my friends would say that their grandparents were “right off the boat” at Ellis Island.  These were hard-working people, some might say salt-of-the-earth.  Many of those first-generation Americans performed back-breaking labor.  The men worked in coal mines and the women worked in dress factories.

Not everyone in this region shared the Protestant work ethic.  Like my parents, most of my friend’s parents also had square jobs.  Some, however, did not seem to work at all, yet lived very well.

This had me perplexed.  I remember asking my friend Sal what his dad did for a living since he always seemed to be home and never at work.  He told me that he worked as a billiards supply salesman and spent his evenings working at pool halls.

I asked my father if he knew how lucrative being a billiards supply salesman was.  He frowned at me and explained that even though it was socially acceptable in our town, Sal’s dad was not a billiards supply salesman.  He explained that Sal’s dad was a loan shark, bookmaker, and organized illegal high-stakes card games.  It was even rumored that people lost the deed to their house at these card games.

My dad was not being judgmental.  Sal’s dad was a legitimate criminal.  He did time at the Allenwood Federal Prison Camp for racketeering.

My parents raised me with high morals.  Never the less, I was young and impressionable.  I just saw that Sal’s dad seemed to live a great life.  He had a big house with a kidney-shaped swimming pool.  He drove a brand-new black Jaguar.  The whole family had the best of the best.  Plus, they were always nice to me and a very popular family in the community.

It was not until many years later that I realized why my dad was so critical about Sal’s father.  Sure, I understood that he was not paying taxes, but I was in denial about the scale of corruption that infected this region.  I thought that nobody was getting hurt.  Two books and a documentary changed my whole outlook on the area where I grew up and some the people who I grew up with.

The first book that blew my mind was I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt.  This book is about Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran.  Sheeran was a hitman from Philadelphia who worked for Jimmy Hoffa.  He also worked for the mob boss Russel Bufalino who was from Kingston, Pa.  What was truly shocking about this book was that it states that the plan to murder President Kennedy was hatched at Brutico’s Bar & Grill in Old Forge, Pa.  I have eaten dinner at that restaurant on countless occasions.  This book was adapted into the movie The Irishman that will be released in 2018.  The movie stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and is directed by Martin Scorsese.

The second book that was shocking to me was The Quiet Don by Matt Birkbeck. The Quiet Don was about the history of organized crime in Pennsylvania and how powerful Russel Bufalino was with the New York crime families.  What floored me was that people who I knew as a teenager were mentioned in this book.  I used to casually talk to Frank Pavlico at Golds Gym in Scranton, Pa.  I did not know that he was the driver for mob boss William D’Elia.  He told me that he owned a car detailing business.  After William D’Elia was arrested, Frank was identified as an informant.  Shortly after that, Frank was found dead and his death was labeled as a mysterious suicide.

Thirdly, what truly was disturbing was the Kids for Cash Scandal in 2008 that was made into a documentary.  Kids for cash was a scandal involving a real estate developer who was also the owner of a for-profit juvenile correctional facility and two corrupt Luzerne County judges.  Basically, the owner of the for-profit jail was paying off Judge Marc Ciavarella and Judge Michael Conahan to send children to his jail for minor offenses such as not completely stopping at a stop sign or truancy.  The arrangement between the owner of the prison and the two judges was allegedly brokered by William D’Elia.

How does this tie into the ethics of Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P)?  Maybe I am just not anti-establishment, but I see Peer-to-Peer Lending as being very much like an online loan shark.  It seems as shady as the payday loan stores or cash-for-gold outfits that you see in strip malls.

Some might say that Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P) helps people who do not have the credit to get a traditional loan from a bank.  Some might even feel that they are sticking it to the man by taking business away from big banks.

In my opinion, it is not altruistic for an individual to loan money to other people and charge them a high-interest rate.  I would not do that to a friend or relative, so why is it alright for me to do in on an anonymous level?  Also, the lending practices of P2P companies are equally as manipulative as big banks based on advertising one rate and offering a higher one.

While I am socially conscious, I do not generally take on a socially conscious approach to investing.  My largest holding is an S&P 500 index fund.  Some of the stocks in the S&P 500 have questionable business ethics.   There are energy companies that pollute the environment and clothing manufactures that pay slave wages to employees in third world countries.  Yes, all of that might be true, but I do not feel like the pawnbroker who Raskolnikov murdered in Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky when I contribute to my Roth IRA.

Don’t get me wrong, I am an investor.  Never the less, I believe that is important to be honest to yourself and have principles.  If a business transaction or investment opportunity does not seem ethical, it should be examined further.

Just because I can use a sterile online platform to issue loans to people with shaky credit, am I not just shylocking?  Sure, nobody is going to get their finger broken or have the vigorish increased for defaulting and failing to pay back their loan on time.  It still feels like the same basic concept of taking advantage of people who are down on their luck.

For some time, I was considering opening an account and to participate as a lender. Upon further review, I have decided against opening a Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P) account.  I am comfortable with my balanced-growth portfolio and do not see the need to add alternative investments to my holdings.  There is no need to go beyond a portfolio of a few index funds and to make my investment portfolio more complex.

What is your opinion on Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P)?

Do you think that this type of investing is ethical?

Please remember to check with a financial professional before you ever buy an investment and to read my Disclaimer page.

Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P)


You cannot manage a household or do much of anything in this world without the input of money. There are so many people who lack the financial means to live and enjoy a high-quality life.  Money is what stands in the way of them acquiring their needs or wants. When there is a problem, various solutions will be thrown up. Welcome to the world of Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P).


Peer-to-peer lending is legal and recognized by the government. The use of official financial institutions as avenues to source for funds can be tricky, intricate, and cumbersome to some people who do not meet the required credit standards. Poor credit is the barrier between the borrower and the needed loan.  Credit Cards are an option for people who have poor credit, but they come with restrictive credit limits and high interest rates.   Most people are not comfortable with borrowing from sources other than insured financial institutions, yet they need access to financial capital. This scenario created the rise to the advent of Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P).

Clearly defined, therefore, this means of getting money is a method of debt financing whereby individuals can either borrow or lend money depending on the situation without recourse to any financial institution acting as an intermediary. The middleman is technically removed from the lending process. In some circles, it is known as social lending.


The borrowers and lenders are individuals. This mode of transaction is conducted online. The fact again must be laid bare here that most of the people that conduct their business through this method are those that have been rejected by established financial institutions. The reason for this is due to the fact of their inability to repay those loans.  Most financial institutions will not lend money out in such risky scenarios.

Despite all the odds, however, Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P) has come to stay as a means of getting needed cash to people who are desperate. There are instances of people who have taken advantage of this medium of borrowing.  The emergence of new intermediaries in this mode of borrowing money is also time-saving compared to traditional lending sources.


  • The transactions take place online.
  • There is room for intermediation by a peer-peer-lending company.
  • If the P2P offers total facility, the lender will more often make a choice between borrowers; they will choose the ones they will lend money.
  • Some (though not all) of the P2P platforms provide transfer facilities or what is referred to as free pricing choices. It applies to debt collection as well as to profits.
  • In this system of monetary transaction, there is no need for a prior knowledge/common bond between the lender and the borrower.
  • In most instances, it is conducted for profit.
  • The loans under this category can be secured or unsecured.


The initial concept is to do away with being forced to borrow from approved financial institutions:

  • A means of getting new lenders and borrowers.
  • The development of credit models meant for loan approvals and for pricing.
  • There is the need for some verification before each deal is sealed. Issues such as borrower identity; employment; bank account and income can be verified through the intermediaries.
  • It will enable the performance of a borrower credit check with the sole aim of separating and filtering out dubious and unqualified borrowers.
  • There is the need to process the financial transactions, borrowers will pay and same will be returned to those that lent out the money in the first instance. The processes need effective co-ordination which can be guaranteed by the intermediaries.
  • There is the aspect of tiding up the legal aspects and the reporting of such which are performed by the intermediaries.


In most countries of the world, the art of soliciting investments from the public is considered illegal. To get the legal cover; the language adopted is Crowdfunding. This is an arrangement whereby people are made to contribute money in exchange for potential profits based on mutual efforts of those in the group; it is known as securities.


  • It is two-way traffic; a sort of win/win situation for both the borrower and the lender. The borrowers will get access to funding otherwise not available from a traditional bank. On the part of the lender; they are guaranteed higher returns more than they would obtain elsewhere.
  • It assists people and is beneficial to the community.
  • It supports the efforts of individuals to break free from the burden of debt.
  • It discourages those that are involved in activities deemed immoral-the ones that are detrimental to the society.


  • Interest rates may be higher in other to cushion the effects of likely loss occasioned by defaulters.
  • Measures to enforce repayment of the loans through the government are not in place.
  • The default on repayment of the loans is very high.


If you are interested in learning more about peer to Peer lending (P2P) or participating in this practice, please see the below list of top rated (P2P) platforms:


There is the risk factor in any business or investment endeavor. But considering all factors, Peer-to-Peer lending (P2P) has come to stay and it is now a strong factor in the economies of most countries-the developed and underdeveloped alike.

Please remember to check with a financial professional before you ever buy an investment and to read my Disclaimer page.