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PledgeMe dips toes into P2P pond

Crowdfunding platform PledgeMe has set out to offer peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, which will allow Kiwi organisations to fund bigger projects via their crowd. 

The New Zealand company has applied for a license from the Financial Markets Authority. 

“P2P, or debt crowdfunding as it’s also known, is another way for Kiwis to fund the things they care about,” explains PledgeMe CEO Anna Guenther.

“PledgeMe’s debt crowdfunding platform will allow organisations — from companies to co-ops — to reach out to their crowds so they can fund bigger and better campaigns,” she says. 

The new product is called PledgeMe.Debt and will be similar to PledgeMe’s existing products PledgeMe.Projects and PledgeMe.Equity.

“An organisation’s crowd will be able to lend it money and the organisation will pay their crowd back with interest,” says Guenther.

“It is a really simple way PledgeMe can further democratise what gets funded in New Zealand and offer an alternative to banks and selling shares,” she adds.

Guenther says the difference with PledgeMe.Debt over the company’s other crowdfunding products is that organisations will pay back the money plus interest accrued and offer potentially other rewards to their lending crowd.

“Organisations which can prove they can repay the loan will be able to offer a campaign on PledgeMe, their crowd will pledge, and if it is successful they’ll receive the money to go do the thing they said they were going to do,” she explains.

Guenther says PledgeMe.Debt will differ from current peer-to-peer options because it will be a transparent campaign-led platform. 

“Campaigners will be able to reach out directly to their crowds of friends, family, supporters, and customers,” she says.

“This means growth companies, social enterprises, not-for-profits, schools, co-operatives and communities — organisations wanting to involve those around them to achieve their purpose — will be able to borrow from their crowds,” Guenther explains.

“Unlike many peer-to-peer platforms, PledgeMe isn’t backed by a bank,” she adds. “This means borrowers will have a greater say over what, when and how they borrow and their crowds will be the decisive factor.

“This means the relationship campaigners will have with their lenders will be a lot different and, we believe, a lot more beneficial,” says Guenther.

Guenther says PledgeMe expects debt crowdfunding campaigns will be live on the site by the middle of 2016.