Prosper reaches $5 billion mark, makes key acquisition

Itzik Cohen

Itzik Cohen

Pioneering peer-to-peer platform Prosper celebrated the $5 billion borrowed mark this week.

The march to the milestone has accelerated the closer it came into view, growth pleasing to its Chief Business Officer Itzik Cohen.

“It took us eight years to reach our first $1 billion. We just had our first $1 billion quarter.”

Mr. Cohen added Prosper reached $5 billion ahead of schedule, an achievement he credits to a “great market, execution, and a talented team.”

“They increased our capacity and created new channels which are effective and scaleable.”

Mr. Cohen said the makeup of the typical Prosper borrower has changed as move further away from the recession. Their product is great for paying off debt, which served them well in their early years, when many struggled with that.

While debt elimination remains a popular reason people apply at Prosper, other trends are becoming common, including big purchases, elective surgeries, home improvements and vacations.

As those trends are identified, Prosper develops marketing channels to reach those borrowers, Mr. Cohen explained.

Prosper recently acquired Israel-based startup BillGuard for $30 million. BillGuard is an app which uses crowdsourcing to identify financial fraud occurring from double transactions, extra fees, unauthorized charges, data breaches and other reasons.

The BillGuard acquisition serves several purposes, Mr. Cohen said.

One is talent acquisition. The competition for top tech talent in Silicon Valley is intense, Mr. Cohen said. Israel’s tech sector is one of the world’s best.

“Israel has always been a startup nation – vibrant and active,” Mr. Cohen said. “Its talent is comparable to Silicon Valley’s.”

BillGuard’s service provides continuous value, which helps keep Prosper point of mind after they receive a loan and before they need the next one.

“Their great combination of controlling fraud and improving financial well-being fits well with Prosper’s mission,” Mr. Cohen added.

Prosper will continue to search for ways to provide added value to customers through education, fraud prevention and other means, Mr. Cohen said.