UK-based P2P lender Zopa made a surprising retreat from the U.S. market last week as it pulled up stakes on its lending service that launched here only 10 months ago with $15 million in VC backing. The company’s blog didn’t provide many details on what happened, (http://blog.zopa.com/archives/2008/10/09/zopa-us/) but Jim Breune’s NetBanker blog speculates that the interest in Zopa’s loan leads for its six credit union partners simply evaporated (unlike its UK parent, Zopa US did not use a direct P2P model linking borrowers and lenders).
The decision does not impact Zopa’s UK and Italy operations. The announcement to stop taking U.S. loan application came just a day after Zopa reported surging interest from borrowers and lenders globally because bank-based credit had been closed off to many consumers; Zopa touted an average of 3,700 new borrowers from July through September, vs. 2,500 a month in the prior quarter. The company notes it isn’t shutting the doors for a possible U.S. return “when conditions permit.”