Alternative finance firm LendingCrowd is planning to launch its own ISA within weeks on the back of a record year.
The Edinburgh-based company, established in 2014 by chief executive Stuart Lunn and chairman Bill Dobbie, said the launch of a tax-free savings vehicle would be one of the first in the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sector.
LendingCrowd connects investors with small and medium-sized companies typically seeking loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 and recently said it had achieved a return of 8.1 per cent over the past 12 months.
Lunn said: “While we are not the biggest P2P platform in the UK, the investment made in our people and technology combined with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approval has positioned LendingCrowd right at the front of the market when it comes to alternative financing of UK SMEs.
“We intend to build on this position of strength in 2017, continue to innovate for the benefit of our clients and will be updating the market on plans to launch our ISA during Q1.”
Since launching in 2014, LendingCrowd has facilitated loans totalling more than £9 million and has some 2,000 investors signed up to its platform. Deals range in size from £20,000 to in excess of £1m and in 2015 LendingCrowd helped DietChef complete one of the largest ever P2P deals seen in the UK in a £1.5m debt finance transaction.
In November, LendingCrowd became the first P2P lender to SMEs to move from interim to full authorisation from the FCA. The move paved the way for the launch of the ISA product.
LendingCrowd recently partnered with the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, in an initiative that will see £2.75m invested in Scottish SMEs across the LendingCrowd platform. It is expected that the move will stimulate loans of up to £35m for SMEs while leveraging significant private sector investment.
Latest figures show the UK alternative finance sector provided £3.2 billion worth of funding in 2015, up 84 per cent on 2014.