Schibsted, the Swedish media company which owns French classified ad website Le Bon Coin (think “Craigslist for France”), announced today that it has invested €10 Million in peer-to-peer lending platform Pret d’Union in order accelerated their growth. The startup, which offers credit services similar to The Lending Club, provided €5 Million in loans in September 2013 alone, and that amount is growing at roughly 10% per month.
“In 7 years, our team grew from 2 to 200 people and leboncoin.fr became the 2nd most popular brand in France. In a quickly moving digital economy, we want Prêt d’Union to benefit from our support and experience in order to manage the challenges associated with their expected strong growth.” – Olivier Aizac, CEO at leboncoin.fr
Adding Schibsted as a shareholder will allow Pret d’Union to make use of leboncoin.fr’s local resources, support & experience as the company looks to build its brand up to the same level of notoriety.
While the fundraising may be indicative that the startup will remain inside of France for the time being (Leboncoin operates in France, and Schibsted has offices in France, Norway & Sweden), there is no doubt that peer-to-peer lending has a certain amount of local nationalism to it, as you are much more likely to loan money to your ‘neighbor’ than to someone who is somewhere else in the world.