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The anonymous King Canute

I remember so well when I first phoned the then Chief Executive of the ABB about Betfair. Naive young chap that I was, 29 years old and excited about the new product I was calling to talk about, I thought that it might be of interest to him that we do some kind of a deal together.

“And why would I want to do a deal with you?” he asked me. “When first of all you’re illegal, and second, you won’t be around in a couple of years?”

It was a short conversation which might have been easily forgotten. But I was reminded of it when I read the piece just published in the FT. It mentions how, talking earlier this week, a “senior British banker” has apparently poured cold water on the concept of peer-to-peer finance, describing it as “a product of its time”. He says it will collapse when interest rates and defaults start to rise.

“Will chummy peers,” he asks, with astonishing pomposity, “pay for legal action [against borrowers]? Who will take over [bad debt] and manage it?”

I don’t know if the Open Data Institute is right in saying that investors in P2P might provide £1bn of finance by 2016. Perhaps it is punchy in its predictions; or maybe it’s conservative. What I am pretty confident of is that the industry has a bright future.

So come on, “senior British banker”… Let us know who you are! It would be a shame not to be able to poke fun at you in the years ahead.

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