Bank Leumi (TASE:LUMI), Israel’s largest bank and part of Leumi Group, one of the top 100 banks in the world, is set to enter the P2P loan market according to Israeli sources. The Leumi Group has total assets under management of more than $314 billion and is a driving force behind Israel’s economic and industrial development.

“No retail bank anywhere in the world has ever entered the (P2P) sector, facilitating loans between its customers, while charging a fee,” said Globes.

Peer-to-peer lending, commonly abbreviated as P2P or P2PL is the practice of lending money to unrelated individuals, or “peers”, without going through a traditional financial intermediary such as a bank or other traditional financial institution. San Francisco-based LendingClub (NYSE:LC), the industry leader founded in 2007, has issued to date over $9 billion in loans, and has a market cap of $6.35 billion. Other industry leaders include Prosper Marketplace, Funding Circle, Upstart, Kiva and Zopa.

Yifat-Oron

LeumiTech CEO, Yifat Oron

Last month the bank launched LeumiTech in New York, headed by chairman, Prof. Daniel Tsiddon, and CEO, Yifat Oron. LeumiTech, through Bank Leumi USA, started offering financial products and services to Israeli high-tech companies operating in the US or those with an Israeli connection.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0rbkrovShI]Yifat Oron said that the main goal of LeumiTech services in the US is to position the Leumi Group as the financial home for the Israeli high-tech industry, both in Israel and the United States. “In a very short period of time, LeumiTech products and services have become the gold standard for growing tech companies. We are deeply rooted in the industry and understand the close relationship and cross-fertilization between Israeli and US high-tech. We believe that by offering a range of financing solutions suited to high-tech Israeli companies operating in the US and providing them with all the services and products they need, we will help them reach their business goals,” said Oron.

Meanwhile, last October, Blender, a cross-border Internet per-to-peer lending platform in which Bank Leumi serves as the P2P funds trustee, was launched in Israel by the Aviv Group, a leading Israeli real-estate company, with the participation of former Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT) CEO Giora Ofer.

Gal Aviv

Blender’s founder and CEO Dr. Gal Aviv

Ironically Blender’s founder and CEO Dr. Gal Aviv, who has a PhD in nanophysics from the University of Nottingham and an MsC and BsC from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said at the time, that Blender had “developed technology that renders bank workers, bonuses and bureaucracy obsolete.” Leumi’s efforts to acquire Blender reportedly have not come to fruition.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wItkBmfHejg]

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