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Canadian Credit Union Perspectives on Marketplace Lending: New Approaches from Day One

Debt-based crowd-funding platforms, also known as marketplace lending in Canada, have attracted engagement from a number of credit unions that are investing in these platforms. This report provides background for credit unions to help them engage with and shape the development of the marketplace lending sector.

Executive Summary

In Canada, online crowdfunding platforms have focused on donations, pre- purchases, and rewards for most of the twenty- first century. However, with recent regulatory changes creating space for debt- based crowdfunding, known more commonly as marketplace lending, the Canadian credit union system can expect a shift in its competitive landscape for a number of services. 

Launched in 2005 in the United Kingdom (UK), Zopa is considered the world’s first platform for peer- to-peer (P2P) lending, but over time the market, and with it the associated terminology, has shifted from P2P lending to “marketplace lending” to better reflect the increasing involvement of institutional investors in these platforms. While in the UK and the United States marketplace lending is well established, the Canadian marketplace lending industry is still new. This provides Canadian credit unions with a window of opportunity to determine how they will engage with and shape the development of the marketplace lending sector.

In this report, we investigate how Canadian credit union leaders perceive marketplace lending and highlight how different credit unions are engaging with this industry. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 15 credit union leaders from across Canada (excluding Quebec) and two affiliated community organization leaders to inform this work.


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