This morning's Financial Times suggests that the time has come for peer-to-peer lending to shed the word 'alternative' and admit that it is thoroughly mainstream. The FT clearly doesn't share our understanding of the word, or the way that finance has developed in the last two years.
We agree with the writer, Emma Dunkley, when she says that when Zopa launched in 2005, nobody saw what was coming.
We're impressed by the evidences she cites, some of it taken from this week's report from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. Thousands of people are lending to and investing in small businesses directly. Institutions are providing capital and liqudity. We are seeing a wide range of innovation in business models. The taxman has welcomed peer-to-peer into the domain of ISAs and platforms are queuing up to brvome fully authorised.
Does this mean we're not alternative anymore? Perhaps, if you think 'alternative' means something arcane, or esoteric, that has to keep itself separate from the rest of the world, like the guitarist who had to leave the Sex Pistols because he liked The Beatles.
We prefer the original meaning of 'alternative': an additional possibility; a plan or a method you can use if you aren't satisfied with what you had before.
We are absolutely delighted, that in 2016, alternative finance is able to do that. After years of development, and two years of regulation, our sector is in a position to offer Britain's businesses and people a wide range new possibilities, genuine and practical alternatives to the kind of finance we used to have to put up with.