P2P boat rentals and crypto lending get boosts, a major roadblock in India, & more

The cryptocurrency peer-to-peer market continues to grow. In August, P2P crypto lender BlockFi raised $18 million in its most recent Series A funding round as it continues to build its business. The round was led by Valar Ventures, a fund headed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

Representatives from both BlockFi and Valar are excited at the prospects of the future P2P crypto market:

“Outside of all the hype and volatility of the crypto trading markets, there are teams, like BlockFi, that are building the infrastructure to allow investing in digital assets to become mainstream. We are excited to help BlockFi build robust “picks and shovels” for this emerging asset class,” said James Fitzgerald, general partner at Valar Ventures.

“We’re excited to continue development at BlockFi that will bring us closer to our vision of a world where access to wealth-building financial products and services are not limited by geography or an individual’s net worth. Our talented team and strategic backers will continue to drive the crypto financial services infrastructure forward to facilitate adoption and value creation in the crypto ecosystem,” stated BlockFi CEO & Founder Zac Prince.

P2P lenders in India are calling for the country’s central bank to relax its regulations against the industry. All told, 16 P2P lenders banded together to write a letter to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in an attempt to have the regulatory body relax its restrictions on lending and borrowing limits, which is currently capped at Rs. 1 million ($14,000).

The letter highlights how difficult it is for lenders in the industry to obtain funding and grow their business because of these restrictions:

“In the last 18 months since the guidelines were announced, the biggest challenge being faced by the nascent industry is the lender limit of Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. 1 million). This single issue…is threatening the very existence of the industry,” wrote Rajiv M Ranjan, secretary, Association of NBFC Peer to Peer Lending Platforms, in the letter.

“Today, VCs are wary of investing in the P2P platforms in India, primarily because of the Rs 10 lakh limit per lender,” the association said in the letter. “In contrast, other similar platforms which are originating loans and getting these funded through NBFCs and banks are operating without any other regulatory oversight and have no such obligations.”

Due to regulations by the RBI, peer-to-peer lenders must first register with the government before conducting any business. As a result, there are already a variety of sizable peer-to-peer lenders who are registered with RBI, including i2ifunding, Faircent, and Lenden among others.

Cars aren’t the only form of transportation getting the peer-to-peer treatment. P2P boat rental company Boatsetter just raised $10 million as it looks to grow its business as the go-to service for boat rentals. With Boatsetter, customers can choose from boats for fishing, cruising, sailing, and more. At the same time, boat owners are able to rent their boat while not in use, making money from their assets in the process.

Along with the fundraising, Boatsetter has struck a strategic partnership with GEICO to offer P2P boat insurance in the United States.

In a press release, GEICO highlighted how this new business is set to grow:

“Boatsetter has proven to be the leading player in the boat sharing space during a time when younger demographics are driven by experiences rather than material possessions,” said Bill Roberts, CEO of GEICO. “We are excited to continue our partnership with Boatsetter as the marketplace continues to expand its presence and product offerings that are making boating more accessible to new demographics including younger consumers.”

After buying its competitor Boatbound in 2017, Boatsetter quickly became the go-to option for P2P boat rentals. This has been great news for boat owners, who on average made more than $4,600 from P2P boat rentals in 2018.

Blockchain could significantly accelerate P2P electricity trading. According to market research firm Technavio, the industry’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for 2019-2023 is expected to be 10%. This growth will be significantly fueled by the Asia-Pacific region, which is estimated to contribute to 44% of this growth. 

A large factor in this growth is being attributed to advances in blockchain technology, which allows consumers to sell surplus energy to each other, thus creating a more efficient energy market:

At present, blockchain has attracted the attention of the power industry with its potential to start an energy revolution in which both consumers and utilities will generate and sell electricity. For instance, in August 2018, with the support of Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the P2P trading of solar electricity started in White Gum Valley, a residential apartment in Western Australia. This apartment has rooftop PV for P2P trading comprising of 63.6 kilowatts (kW) of solar PV system with 160 kW lithium-ion battery energy storage system. It will use Power Ledger, a blockchain-based technology that will enable residents to sell their surplus energy to each other. Using blockchain technology for P2P energy trading will thus benefit the producers as well as consumers and drive the growth of the global electricity trading market during the forecast period.

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