Alternative finance marketplace Lending Club has entered into an agreement with the U.S. branch of Alibaba to offer financing to American businesses to buy parts from Chinese manufacturers through the Alibaba marketplace.
The lines of credit for business purchases will range from $5,000 to $300,000 for up to six months, with monthly loan rates of 0.5% to 2.4%. Capital will be provided by Salt Lake City's WebBank, a longtime partner of Lending Club, while the online marketplace lender will underwrite the loans. Alibaba had previously offered loans as low as 1% per month for business purchases.
These loans will be available only to U.S.-based buyers of Chinese-made goods. According to Lending Club founder and chief executive officer Renaud Laplanche, the firm has no immediate plans to expand overseas. "We continue to be really focused on the U.S. right now."
Alibaba spent months evaluating potential partners for its short-term credit lines. "Alibaba was very deliberate about choosing the best partners," Laplanche said, calling the process "competitive."
Since its initial public offering in December, Lending Club has sought to grow its small business lending business, which is currently seen as the largest slice of the alternative lending pie. Laplanche did not give specific projections for how many loans, or how much money, Lending Club hoped to make from its partnership with Alibaba, but deals such as this and Lending Club's captive finance partnership with Google are a step toward fulfilling that strategic goal.