Wells Fargo (WFC) has forbidden its employees from participating in peer-to-peer lending, according to a Monday report in the Financial Times.
Citing a potential conflict of interest, Wells announced the policy to a group of employees with peer-to-peer lending accounts in a late 2013 email, according to the newspaper.
"Going forward, please refrain from making any new P2P investments/loans," the message said, according to the Financial Times. "If possible, exit existing investments as soon as practical (without forcing a loss) or when the loans are paid off."
The news suggests that Wells is taking its online lending competition seriously. High-profile startups such as Lending Club and Prosper offer borrowers low-interest loans while giving lenders higher returns on their investments a model that some banks see as a threat.
Wells Fargo did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The bank did not confirm the email message to the FT. A spokeswoman told the paper that Wells Fargo's code of ethics bars staff members from investing in private businesses that compete with the bank.