Rocket Internet is getting ready to launch peer-to-peer lending platform “Lendico”

The Samwer brothers are planning a new startup in Germany according to our sister magazine Gründerszene – “Lendico”, a peer-to-peer platform for loans.

Lendico will be led by Christoph Samwer, Philipp Petrescu, Dominik Steinkühler and Clemens Paschke. According to Linkedin, Petrescu recently became Vice President Corporate Finance at Rocket Internet after stints working at JP Morgan and McKinsey. Steinkühler, according to Xing, previously worked at the Boston Consulting Group. Both Paschke and Christoph Samwer previously worked at McKinsey.

Lendico – a Lending Club rival?

Lendico is understood to follow the model shared by Lending Club in the US and Zopa in the UK. Lending Club received a huge investment of $125m this year from Google, amongst others. The company’s valuation jumped accordingly to $1.5bn and speculation about an imminent IPO is rife. These are Samwer-sized dimensions.

Copying one of these companies would fit with Rocket Internet’s usual strategy – find a successful company and launch a similar business model in a number of different markets. Lendico already has offshoots in Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The companies are held under the roof of Luxembourg-based Lendico Holding, which is, indirectly, a daughter company of Rocket Internet.

One big difference from Rocket Internet’s usual tactics, as outlined by Marc Samwer at TechCrunch Disrupt on Monday: the incubator isn’t launching Lendico in emerging markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa but in Europe.

Existing lending platforms in Germany Auxmoney and Smava may struggle to come up with the capital to compete with a Samwer-backed rival. Last July, Rocket Internet announced it had secured $500m in recent funding.

Germany is ready for disruption

The finance sector is screaming for disruption in Germany. Lending platforms face one major challenge: the country’s legal framework. Lendico currently plans to offer only transactions that don’t require a bank licence (“Activities that require a license under the Banking Act or the Payment Services Supervisory Act are not provided.”)

Will Lendico need to partner with a bank? Both its potential German competitors, Auxmoney and Smava, are working with banks, while Hamburg-based Kredito left its original business model behind precisely because it didn’t have a bank license.

Kredito is now Kreditech, which offers credit checks for customers to banks, eCommerce shops and collection agencies. It offers “scoring as a service”, a rival service to Germany’s Schufa rating agency. Last December, Kreditech received a $4m funding round and in April another seven-figure investment from the Samwer brothers and others.

The brothers became involved in that company via their investment fund, Global Founders Capital. In September, Kreditech also announced €5m in credit from Kreos, a deal mediated by the Samwer fund.

How this fits into Rocket Internet’s model

With Kreditech, the Samwers already have a credit scoring system, which could be repurposed to check potential Lendico lenders’ credit history. A lending platform would also fit with Rocket’s various eCommerce offerings, including Home24 and Zalando – these customers could be potential loan takers and their payment behaviour could be analysed, which in turn allows reliable behaviour patterns to be mapped.

Rocket Internet is also involved in mobile and online payments via Payleven and Paymill. Through these companies, the group is in contact with online and mobile shoppers along with mCommerce or eCommerce providers outside the Samwers’ empire.

Aside from any strategic aspects, lending platforms have high potential. Lending Club has a $1bn valuation and investors that include Google. Experts forecast hedge funds will enter the market soon. A market with a lot of money and high exit potential? A very interesting concept for Rocket Internet.