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Funding Circle expands into Europe through purchase of Zencap

[LONDON] British peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle has expanded into Europe through the acquisition of Zencap, which lends to small businesses in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

Funding Circle, which has enabled 12,000 small businesses in Britain and the United States to borrow a total of more than US$1.5 billion since launching in 2010, said the acquisition would give it a greater international presence than rivals. "Our vision is to help millions of businesses across the world sidestep the outdated and inefficient banking system and borrow from investors," chief executive and co-founder Samir Desai said on Tuesday.

Peer-to-peer lending has grown rapidly in Britain since the 2007-09 financial crisis, providing an alternative source of finance for small firms as banks cut back on lending to strengthen their balance sheets and meet regulatory demands.

Zencap launched 18 months ago and has so far lent more than 30 million euros (S$47.4 million) to around 500 businesses. It will now operate as Funding Circle across Europe.

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Financial details were not disclosed.