Marlette Funding, an Internet marketplace lender, wants to figure out a way to accept online deposits so it can rely less on investors to finance its loans.
"Banks aren't lending, but boy do they have lots of deposits," CEO Jeffrey Meiler said. "We would need to originate deposits with a bank partner, in the same way we originate assets."
Banks have not been keen on the idea, though some have expressed "meaningful interest," he said, declining to name those firms.
"FDIC-insured is important. There's no way we could do this without a bank partner."
Marlette has a funding line with Cross River Bank in Teaneck, N.J. As with Lending Club's relationship with WebBank, Cross River funds loans that sit on the bank's balance sheet for two or three days before they are transferred over to Marlette. The $295 million-asset bank, which did not respond to a request for comment, has similar arrangements with more than a dozen other marketplace lenders, according to Meiler.
His company has eight end-buyers to purchase its loans, including asset managers, family offices, and banks, Meiler said. Those parties have purchased 100% of Marlette's loans.
"We will start retaining loans in the second quarter," Meiler said. "Our assumption, for every dollar, it takes 20 cents of equity. We will need to take on some more equity to become a balance sheet lender. We need to raise more equity over time."
Marlette, which offers institutional investors only the chance to buy its unsecured three- and five-year loans of up to $35,000, has a run rate that if maintained would bring full-year 2015 originations to $800 million. The firm made $215 million in loans in the fourth quarter. That origination rate is accelerating, though, Meiler said.