Auctions website Trade Me invests in P2P lending platform

Trade Me has taken a 15 percent stake in the only licensed P2P lender in New Zealand, Harmoney.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform Harmoney has won heavyweight backing for its $10 million capital raising, with auctions website Trade Me investing NZ$7.7 million for a 15 percent stake.

"The investment is a great endorsement for Harmoney, but, more importantly, we gain a strategic partner and distribution channel with deep domain knowledge of building and running an online marketplace," Harmoney CEO Neil Roberts said.

Trade Me operates New Zealand's most popular online marketplace, with more than 700,000 domestic browsers each day.

Banker Heartland New Zealand has also increased its stake in Harmoney, the first lender in New Zealand to be granted a P2P licence by the sector's regulator, the Financial Markets Authority.

Roberts said the decision to raise capital was in response to rapid month-on-month growth since the launch of the Harmoney platform in September.

"This recent capital raising, alongside the strategic partnership with Trade Me and the continued support of Heartland New Zealand, means we can rapidly scale our offering, develop new products, and gain exposure to a wider range of the New Zealand public," he said.

Trade Me CEO Jon Macdonald said that lending looks like an area that would undergo a long-term structural shift online.

"It is early days, but we think there's a lot of potential for P2P lending to work well in New Zealand, and of course consumer finance is a large and well-established industry here," Macdonald said.

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