Peer-to-peer lender Grouplend has rebranded its online offering in anticipation of its expansion beyond the personal loan industry.
As of Wednesday, Grouplend has rebranded its company name to Grow and renamed the website to poweredbygrow.com.
"We were born from the spirit of peer-to-peer lending, and the name Grouplend served the purpose of describing what we did in a very literal way," chief executive officer Kevin Sandhu says. "We continue to deliver personal loans through an investor-backed model that lowers interest rates, but during our journey to this point, we discovered that our technology can be leveraged into many other areas of financial services as well."
Online lending, commonly known as peer-to-peer or marketplace lending, connects accredited investors with individuals looking to borrow. For borrowers, interest rates can range anywhere from 5.0 per cent to as high as the low 20s, with the average interest rate hovering around the mid-teen mark.
But now Grow is looking to expand beyond its primary offering of personal loans.
The product expansion is one of the key drivers behind the company's rebrand as they look to branch into non-lending products such as investment and insurance products. Mr. Sandhu is staying quiet on the specifics of the new product line-up, but says the company is working in partnership with a number of Canadian financial institutions to launch in the new year.
For the most part, financial technology companies, including Grouplend, have been reinventing traditional bank products, according to Mr. Sandhu. "By using a real technology approach we are able to develop products that no banks have offered before."
Earlier this year, Grouplend raised $10.2-million in financing that was led by Markus Frind, CEO of dating site PlentyofFish, and Lance Tracey, founder of cloud services company Peer 1 Hosting.
The additional capital allowed the company to develop its first non-bank product Ratetracker, an online and mobile application that notifies clients on the status of their credit score.
Although still linked to the lending side, Mr. Sandhu compares Ratetracker to the security that overdraft protection would offer a client, but with a transparency he says that banks cannot duplicate because of technology restraints.
"The trend we are really seeing is that consumers are demanding transparency in all things financially related and we want to be leading the charge in that," says Sean O'Connor, director of business development for Grow. "Obviously, we are seeing that demand the most in the investment world, but we think that all facets of the banking industry are ready for disruption with technology."
Ratetracker can e-mail or text monthly reports that show an individual's current credit rating score – as well as a lending rate that is guaranteed for 21 days. Users will see the guaranteed rate, the amount they are qualified to borrow and what monthly payments would be on that loan. Unlike other credit reporting, which can charge $15 to $25 a month, there is no fee for the service and it does not affect a user's credit rating.
"An unexpected car repair or a broken water pipe can really take people by surprise and if they already have a balance on their credit card, then that could put them in a bind," Mr. Sandhu says. "The last thing they want to do is try and refinance their credit card. For those individuals who want to be able to monitor their own creditworthiness they need more information than just a credit score when they are looking for alternative options."