Freedom Financial Network, a San Mateo, Calif., firm that lends to consumers seeking to consolidate their existing debt, announced that it has received a $125 million capital commitment to expand its operations.
The nonbank said that it plans to use some of the cash to launch an online lending platform early next year. The capital commitment comes from Vulcan Capital, which manages investments for billionaire investor and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Joseph Toms, a former executive at Prosper and Lending Club who has joined Freedom Financial as president and chief investment officer, said the company is aiming to improve on the peer-to-peer lending model.
"My experience in asset management and in the P2P industry clearly demonstrated the need to build a next generation, nonbank consumer lending model," he said in a news release.
Under the peer-to-peer model, institutional lenders bid on consumers' loan applications, Toms said in an interview. That means that prospective borrowers may need to wait some amount of time before learning whether they have been approved.
Under Freedom Financial's model, investors will buy a piece of an aggregation of loans, rather than an individual loan. That will allow borrowers to be approved quickly if they meet certain underwriting criteria. "We're saying: If you meet the right credit criteria, you'll get approved," Toms said.
Freedom Financial is looking to distinguish itself from the peer-to-peer lenders in two other ways, according to Toms.
The privately held company expects to go further down the credit spectrum than Lending Club and Prosper do, lending to consumers who have Fair Isaac credit scores between 600 and 720. And the firm plans to seek out investments directly from pension funds, endowments and other investors who often invest through hedge funds.
Freedom Financial plans to run its new online lending platform under the name FreedomPlus. The firm also operates Bills.com, a lead generator site for consumer-related loans.