Betfair co-founder Ed Wray may be an investor in, and non-exec director of, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending start-up Funding Circle, but he doesn’t think peer-to-peer lending - or, indeed, crowdfunding - is going to do away with traditional bank financing, despite the fact that it's been touted as banks' biggest threat.
‘At the margins there’ll be competition and we’ll both be going for the same types of businesses, but it’s a long way away until P2P is funding BP’s next $7bn revolving loan,’ Wray told MT after a press conference for this summer’s International Festival for Business.
‘People are trying to say banks and P2P are very competitive and confrontational. I don’t see it like that. They’ll all be part of the financial spectrum,’ Wray said. The speed of getting a P2P loan as opposed to snail-paced bank financing made it a good funding option for smaller businesses, he added.
Funding Circle is pulling in cash at the moment - a £40m investment from the government-run British Business Bank was announced today, which will form part of £450m of loans to small businesses in the next 18 months. That comes on top of a £20m government investment back in December 2012. Not bank-big, but not exactly tiny either.
Small businesses are now thinking about going global from day one rather than a year or so down the line like when he founded Betfair in 1999, Wray said at the press conference. Angel investor Dale Murray said some companies reported exporting to the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China for those of you unfamiliar with the craze for acronyms) was ‘like taking candy from a baby’.
To add to MT’s list of things it didn’t know yesterday, Xavier Rolet, chief exec of the London Stock Exchange (where the event was held), was introduced as being a former rally driver. Apparently the Frenchman has even completed the infamous Paris-Dakar drive across the Sahara. He’d better roll up his sleeves if he’s going to get an oasis of publicly-listed tech companies blooming in London...