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Auctions for social lending: A theoretical analysis

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  • Chen, Ning
  • Ghosh, Arpita
  • Lambert, Nicolas S.

Abstract

Prosper, today the second largest social lending marketplace with nearly 1.5 million members and $380 million in funded loans, employed an auction mechanism amongst lenders to finance each borrower's loan until 2010. Given that a basic premise of social lending is cheap loans for borrowers, how does the Prosper auction do in terms of the borrower's payment, when lenders are strategic agents with private true interest rates? We first analyze the Prosper auction as a game of complete information and fully characterize its Nash equilibria, and show that the uniform-price Prosper mechanism, while simple, can lead to much larger payments for the borrower than the VCG mechanism. We next compare the Prosper mechanism against the borrower-optimal auction in an incomplete information setting, and conclude by examining the Prosper mechanism when modeled as a dynamic auction, and provide tight bounds on the price for a general class of bidding strategies.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Ning & Ghosh, Arpita & Lambert, Nicolas S., 2014. "Auctions for social lending: A theoretical analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 367-391.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:86:y:2014:i:c:p:367-391
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2013.05.004
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    Cited by:

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    2. Andreas Dietrich & Reto Wernli, 2020. "Determinants of Interest Rates in the P2P Consumer Lending Market: How Rational are Investors?," Papers 2003.11347, arXiv.org.
    3. Bertsch, Christoph & Hull, Isaiah & Zhang, Xin, 2016. "Fed Liftoff and Subprime Loan Interest Rates: Evidence from the Peer-to-Peer Lending Market," Working Paper Series 319, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    4. Dorfleitner, Gregor & Rad, Jacqueline & Weber, Martina, 2017. "Pricing in the online invoice trading market: First empirical evidence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 56-61.
    5. Soumajyoti Sarkar & Hamidreza Alvari, 2020. "Mitigating Bias in Online Microfinance Platforms: A Case Study on Kiva.org," Papers 2006.12995, arXiv.org.
    6. Zaiyan Wei & Mingfeng Lin, 2017. "Market Mechanisms in Online Peer-to-Peer Lending," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(12), pages 4236-4257, December.
    7. Dorfleitner, Gregor & Priberny, Christopher & Schuster, Stephanie & Stoiber, Johannes & Weber, Martina & de Castro, Ivan & Kammler, Julia, 2016. "Description-text related soft information in peer-to-peer lending – Evidence from two leading European platforms," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 169-187.
    8. Bertsch, Christoph & Hull, Isaiah & Qi, Yingjie & Zhang, Xin, 2020. "Bank misconduct and online lending," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social lending; Peer-to-peer lending; Auctions; Mechanism design;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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