Day 1 of LendIt USA kicked off for the fourth year with the CEO of Lending Club, Renaud Laplanche giving a keynote. This years LendIt was our largest yet, welcoming over 3,500 attendees from across the globe.
Renaud Laplanche’s presentation titled From Sapling to Ironwood, Marketplace Lending’s Next Phase of Growth talked about several of the headwinds the industry is facing such as venture capital funding, interest rates, economic cycles and regulatory landscape. He highlighted three themes for Lending Club which included prudent growth, operating efficiency and business continuity. While they didn’t announce their new lending product, we heard that it will be announced on June 13, 2016.
We heard from LendIt Co-Founder Peter Renton who provided his thoughts on the industry over the past year. It has been a mix of good and unfortunate news for the industry, but he highlighted that the fundamentals remain solid. After Peter spoke, the first comprehensive research study on alternative finance in the Americas was released by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.
Al Goldstein, the CEO of Avant spoke next on the main stage. His presentation titled Why the Time is Now for Marketplace Lending focused on Avant and lending to the middle income population.
Ning Tang, the CEO and Founder of CreditEase, one of the largest internet finance companies in China provided an update on the state of the industry in China. One of the interesting things about CreditEase is that they really pioneered p2p lending in China before it even had a name. He eventually found that this was starting to become a global trend. He expects more IPOs of Chinese companies in the US and that eventually the term fintech will disappear. Eventually, all finance will become tech driven.
The next panel touched on one of the hottest topics in the industry today which is the attitudes towards the public markets. In this panel, Ari Levy, a reporter from CNBC spoke to several companies who are most likely to go public in the near future. This included Anthony Hsieh from loanDepot, Al Goldstein from Avant, Rob Frohwein from Kabbage and Dr. Zane Wang from China Rapid Finance. Due to recent volatility, tech IPOs in general have slowed, but there were several interesting perspectives given by the panelists.
Rounding out the morning was Ron Suber, the President of Prosper. He provided an update of where the industry is at today and how far we’ve come from last years checkpoint. Although there were headwinds in 2015, he noted that platforms need to continue to educate the media and public by articulating the truth about our industry. Many skeptics of our industry have also been proven wrong over the last year, but there is still progress to made for marketplace lending to become mainstream.
Once we hit the afternoon, our agenda split in to many different tracks. Breakout tracks covered a broad array of topics related to marketplace lending. Our featured sessions were recorded and some are already available on the LendIt website for viewing. A highlight of the afternoon was watching 8 finalists pitch to a panel of venture capitalists in our second annual PitchIt @ LendIt competition. Tomorrow we will hear the PitchIt @ LendIt winners, both the peoples’ choice award as well as the winner selected from our VC judges. We look forward to more content and networking at day 2 of LendIt USA tomorrow.