Funding Circle is doing so well it hasn’t touched the £97 million it raised in April
Funding Circle, the UK peer-to-peer small business lender, is on track to do over £35 million ($53.8 million) in revenues this year, Business Insider can reveal.
Funding Circle’s online platform lets savers lend directly to small businesses at more favourable interest rates than offered by traditional bank savings accounts.
Accounts filed with Companies House in the UK show Funding Circle Holdings, the parent company of both Funding Circle’s UK and US businesses, did revenues of £13.1 million ($20.1 million) in the year to December 31, 2014. That was up from £5.3 million ($8.1 million) in 2013.
But CEO and cofounder Samir Desai says the business is already well on its way to totally eclipsing this figure in 2015. He told Business Insider: “With businesses like ours where we’re growing so fast, the numbers become quite quickly out of date. We’re now actually run rating just shy of treble the revenue we achieved for all of last year.”
That would put revenues for the year somewhere slightly above £35 million ($53.8 million).
Desai says the business is currently lending around $100 million (£64.8 million) a month over its platform, with around $28 million (£18.2 million) of that coming from the US.
Since launch around $1.3 billion (£840 million) worth of loans have been made on the platform — a total the platform set to near enough match in lending this year, showing the crazy level of growth Funding Circle is seeing.
The 5-year-old company is one of a number of “alternative finance” businesses that have risen to prominence since the financial crisis. Their popularity has been driven by savers looking for better returns with interest rates at record lows, and both small businesses and consumers facing a drying up of credit from banks.
Zopa, a UK peer-to-peer lender in the consumer loans space, reported similar explosive growth recently. The company said it passed the £1 billion ($1.5 billion) lending mark but added it expected to do its 2nd £1 billion in just 18 month, mirroring Funding Circle’s growth.
But as well as surging revenues, Funding Circle’s 2014 accounts show mounting losses, rising from £5.3 million ($8.1 million) in 2013 to £19.4 million ($29.8 million) in 2014. Staffing costs jumped from £4 million ($6.1 million) to £11.1 million ($17 million).
Desai put this down expansion in the US, a market it entered at the end of 2013, and investment in technology.
He says: “If you actually look at the core business of doing loans in the UK — strip away the technology investment and all the other extra stuff we’re doing — the business is already profitable in the UK and is moving that way in the US as well. A lot of the investment we’re doing is investing in creating a global business.”
Funding Circle raised $150 million (£97 million) in April but, incredibly, Desai says the company hasn’t touched the money yet.
He says: “All of that money, plus a lot of the money from previous rounds, is still on our balance sheet.
“We didn’t really need the money but we thought it was prudent to take it. Obviously some of the investors we did bring on — BlackRock, Temasek, DST Global, Baillie Gifford, Sands Capital — don’t come along everyday. And as a financial services business, even though we don’t lend any money ourselves, we felt it was important to show the market we’re here to stay and we’re always going to have a very healthy cash balance.”
Funding Circle does plan to spend some of the money though. Desai says the company is looking at expanding into Europe and is planning to launch new small business funding products.