Updated to clarify Lending Club IPO pricing.
Peer-to-peer credit marketplace Lending Club is trading down 40% off its first day pop, but still well above its IPO price of $15. Further, on June 9, the company's float will increase to 371 million from 68 million shares as the lockup expires for many of its early shareholders. Yet, there is evidence that Lending Club, and a whole host of companies you're going to hear a lot about soon if you haven't already, are well-positioned to make a run for investors.
Lending Club a good buy right now?
LendIt, the big conference for the online lending industry, takes place in New York this week. It has ballooned in size to 1,600 attendees, up from 350 two years ago. Recent funding rounds for start-ups in FinTech (the new world of financial services technology), such as SoFi($200 million) and Prosper($165 million), also show huge growth.
Prosper, one of big three in marketplace lending, doubled its valuation last week, raising money from strategic investors like USAA. Some of increase represents a turnaround story by CEO Aaron Vermut, but also industry growth and performance. SoFi, the other big player in this industry, began as start-up focused on student loan refinance, closed a Series D recently that likewise rocketed its valuation into "unicorn" territory over $1 billion.
Is some of the hype getting ahead of the performance of these companies? Possibly, but both revenue growth and customer growth at these start-ups seem to be limited right now by inability to manage growth in demand.
New lenders can potentially help unlock future economic growth, as many of them pivot to start lending to small businesses, using technology and providing faster decision-making.
Just as Betterment, the so-called robo advisor, whose co-founder I recently interviewed, is not doing well, it's doing "good" by helping investors do the right thing, invest efficiently, and capture tax losses more easily.
Look for more of these companies to come your way, like Acorns, a well-designed mobile app to encourage savings and investments, or Behalf, an innovator and partner of MasterCard (MA) - Get Mastercard Incorporated Class A Report that helps small businesses pay vendors.
For the first giants of FinTech, like Lending Club and Prosper, keep in mind that these are not just upstarts, they're admired by many of the big banks and best-run institutions like USAA. The industry is growing, as events such as LendIt in New York show.
It's still early days in FinTech, so look at the bigger opportunity presented by the online lenders, and other FinTech players. There's an expected drag on a stock price as certain investors think about lock up expiration, but smart investors should recognize at the growth driving this industry, and expect growth in the stock price of leaders like Lending Club.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.