FINANCE is seldom romantic. But the idea of peer-to-peer lending comes close. This is an industry that brings together individual savers and lenders on online platforms. Those that want to borrow are matched with those that want to lend. Banks and credit-card firms are kept out of the picture. Talk to enough people in the field and someone is bound to mention the “democratisation of finance”.
But as the industry matures, it is moving away from its roots of relying on individual lenders alone for its supply of capital. Institutional money is flowing onto the platforms as well. That is particularly true in America—partly because money managers there are more used to investing in credit, partly because retail investors have more regulatory hoops to jump through.