Glossary

A

Accredited Investors
Accredited investors, or sophisticated investors, are individuals or legal entities with a special status under financial regulation laws. They typically include banks, hedge funds, and other large corporations as well as high-net-worth individuals who have surpassed a certain level of income, wealth and/or financial instrument portfolio size as dictated by relevant financial regulation. Some P2P platforms remain open only for accredited investors or offer special deals or VIP treatment to them.
Agricultural Loan
An agricultural loan is a type of business credit extended to farmers to fund seasonal agricultural operations (plant, harvest) or other activities (e.g., purchase of farmland, machinery or livestock, real estate improvements, etc.).
Alternative Investments
Alternative investments are any investments outside the three traditional asset classes: stocks, bonds and cash. They can include tangible assets such as wine, art or precious metals, and financial assets such as hedge funds, private equity, cryptocurrencies and… P2P loans!
Anti-Money Laundering (AML)
Anti-Money Laundering (AML) refers to the rules and regulations put in place to prevent criminals from concealing illegally obtained funds as legitimate income. P2P lending platforms comply with those rules by: (1) customer due diligence – verifying the identity of investors (see KYC), and (2) transaction monitoring – screening activity on the platform for suspicious transactions, transactions from high-risk countries, customers subject to international sanctions or those classified as politically exposed persons (PEP).
Appropriateness Test
An appropriateness test enables the financial service providers to assess whether the customer has the necessary experience and knowledge to understand the risks involved with the investment product offered. Platforms in the EU and UK are obliged only to accept clients who have passed the test, so before you can start investing, you might have to answer several questions to prove your familiarity with basic financial concepts.
Auto-invest
Auto-invest, or automatic investing, is a platform feature that will invest your funds in P2P loans according to your set predefined criteria. You can usually choose your preferred risk or interest rate band, loan originators, countries of origination, loan term, maximum investment amount per loan, security type, etc. The auto-invest tool will invest your idle capital in projects matching your criteria as soon as they are listed.

B

Bad Debt
Bad debt refers to outstanding loans, which are unlikely to be repaid or recovered and should be treated as a loss. Most P2P platforms regard unpaid loans as bad debt after a certain period of payment delay has been exceeded (e.g., if the loan is more than 90 days late).
Balance Sheet Lending
Balance sheet lending is a type of marketplace lending with an increased platform role, which acts more like an informal bank (or a non-bank credit intermediary). The platform originates and actively funds loans, fully or partially,  and retains them on their balance sheet (hence the name). If a loan defaults, the risk of financial loss lies with the platform operator too, and not solely with the lender as in the “pure” P2P lending model Learn more about balance sheet lending and how it differs from peer-to-peer lending in our explanatory guide to balance sheet lending.
Blockchain
Blockchain is a system of recording information based on a decentralised digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on the blockchain, rather than a single controlling authority. In (alternative) finance, blockchain holds the promise of providing a faster, more trustworthy, and impossible to change, hack, or cheat system for recording financial transactions. Although it can serve multiple purposes, it is mainly associated with cryptocurrencies and crypto lending. Read more on blockchain in P2P in our article on how to earn interest with cryptocurrencies
Bridge Loan
A bridge loan, also known as a bridging loan or bridge financing, is a short-term loan used to provide immediate cash flow until a borrower secures permanent financing, obtains the next financing stage, or removes an existing obligation. Such loans usually come with relatively high interest rates and some form of collateral.
Bullet Loan
A bullet loan, or a balloon loan, is a loan that requires a lump sum payment (a “bullet” payment) at the end of the term. Bullet loan borrowers make periodical interest-only payments along the way and pay back the whole principal at maturity. A full bullet loan involves repayment of both the principal and the interest at the end of the term – but the interest will still accrue according to the loan terms (e.g., monthly or annually). Bullet loans are typically used only under certain circumstances, most often in real estate lending.
Business Investing
Business investing is one of the main investment crowdfunding sectors, next to real estate, consumer, and crypto. It involves lending to enterprises, usually small or medium-sized (SMEs) and investing in start-up equity.
Business Loan
A business loan is a loan to an enterprise, usually small or medium (an SME), rather than an individual. Business loans can serve a variety of purposes, including investment in physical equipment, market expansion, or the introduction of a new product or service. Find out more about lending to companies or financing your business in our business lending guide
Buy-to-let
Buy-to-let is a type of loan you may come across in real estate lending. Buy-to-let projects aim to generate profit by investing in property and leasing it to tenants. As an investor, you will earn profit from monthly rents from tenants and the potential appreciation of property value. Such deals tend to be long-term (usually 5+ years), low-risk and low-return. Find out more about investment types in real estate crowdfunding.
Buy-to-sell
Buy-to-sell, sometimes referred to as house flipping, is another kind of project in real estate lending. As the name suggests, buy-to-sell involves an investment in a property, its renovation, and a subsequent sale. Such projects tend to be relatively short-term (about 12 months) and structured as bullet loans, i.e., the borrower doesn’t pay monthly instalments but fully repays the loan after they sell the property. Find out more about investment types in real estate crowdfunding
Buyback Guarantee Read More

A buyback guarantee is a form of investor protection and will usually allow you to recover your capital in case of a borrower default. It is essentially a promise of the loan originator to repurchase your investment into a loan, should the repayment of the loan exceed a certain number of days overdue (usually 30, 60 or 90). A buyback guarantee can cover only the loan principal or the principal plus the accrued interest. Note that a buyback guarantee doesn’t eliminate risk; it simply moves it to the loan originator. It’s also usually just a promise and not a legal obligation. Even though loan originators tend to hold on to it under “normal market conditions”, they might cease to honour their promise if some crisis hits and the number of defaults increases beyond their capacity to repurchase them all.

C

Car Loan
A car loan (or an auto loan) is a type of consumer loan taken exclusively to purchase a vehicle (unlike a personal loan, which can be used for whatever purpose the borrower wishes – including buying a car). The car serves as collateral, meaning the lender has the right to seize it if the borrower fails to repay the loan.
Cash Drag
Cash drag is when a part of your capital is not invested and sits idle, not earning any interest. In P2P lending, it usually happens when the demand for investments exceeds the supply – there are too few investable loans on a platform. But it can also be the case that your auto-invest criteria are too strict, and the platform has no loans on offer that match those criteria.
Collateral
Collateral is an asset pledged by the borrower and accepted by the lender as security for loan repayment. In the case of default, the lender will have the right to seize and sell the asset to recover their losses. Collateral is usually linked to the loan purpose (underlying property for a real estate loan, a car for a car loan, etc.) but doesn’t have to be (e.g., a property-backed business loan). You can find out more about collateral types in our guide to understanding collateral in real estate crowdfunding
Combating The Financing Of Terrorism
Combating the Financing of Terrorism, or Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT), is a set of government laws, regulations, and practices intended to restrict access to funding and financial services for those designated as terrorists. It is closely related to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules.
Compound Interest
Compound interest, or compounding interest, is basically “interest on interest” – the amount you will earn by reinvesting your capital gains. For example, if in the first year you make 10% on your €1,000 savings, in the second year you’ll earn 10% on €1,100. Compounding is essential for P2P investments – as you usually receive both interest and loan instalments monthly, the compounding rate is relatively high, which increases your profits.
Consumer Investing
Consumer investing is one of the main investment crowdfunding types, next to real estate, business and crypto. It covers a variety of individual loans (usually unsecured, short-term instalment loans), including car, student, and pawn loans.
Credit Rating
Credit rating (also credit score, risk rating or risk score) is a quantified evaluation of the credit risk of a prospective borrower. Credit rating conveys the information on the borrower’s predicted ability to pay back the loan and, conversely, the borrower’s likelihood of default. In P2P lending, platforms might rate individual borrowers. Still, the risk score is more often assigned to loan originators and/or individual loans (e.g., two loans for the same borrower might have different credit ratings depending on the risk/ feasibility of the exact endeavour). Credit ratings are usually quantified on a 5-star scale or denominated with letters (A or A+ being the least risky).
Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is the practice of raising small amounts of money from many people to finance a project or venture. Crowdfunding can be a charitable activity (donation-based crowdfunding), support for an idea or product with the expectation to receive a non-financial reward in return (reward-based crowdfunding), or an investment (debt- and equity-based crowdfunding). Read more about crowdfunding types and global stats in our article on crowdfunding statistics worldwide and explore its origins in crowdfunding history.
Crypto Investing
Crypto investing, in the crowdfunding context, refers to lending money with cryptocurrency as collateral (crypto loans) or investing in initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Crypto Loan
A crypto loan involves lending money with a cryptocurrency as collateral. Cryptocurrency-backed loans allow borrowers to access fiat currencies without selling their crypto assets. Due to the high volatility of crypto prices, loans are almost always overcollateralized – this means the collateral value is (much) higher than the loan amount to provide sufficient protection for the lender in case the price of crypto drops. Find out how to use crypto to lend or borrow in our crypto P2P lending guide.
Crypto Marketplace Lending

Crypto marketplace lending involves the use of blockchain technology to facilitate debt investments in the crypto world. It can involve investing in loans in fiat currencies, secured by cryptocurrency collateral (centralised crypto lending - Ce-Fi) or pooling assets in an application governed by code (smart contracts), which generates loans and automates yield payments (decentralised crypto lending - De-Fi). Both models, in principle, serve the same purpose - to provide borrowers with liquidity without requiring them to sell off their underlying crypto assets. Read more about crypto lending models in our Ce-Fi vs De-Fi comparison.

Currency Risk
Currency risk, or exchange rate risk, refers to the exposure to unpredictable gains or losses due to changes in the value of one currency in relation to another. The profit or loss will depend on the exchange rate difference between the moment of investment and cash-out.

D

Decentralised Finance (DeFi)
Decentralised finance (DeFi) is a collective term for a variety of financial products and services based on public decentralised blockchain networks, and thus creating a parallel system to the traditional “centralised finance” (CeFi), supervised by central banks and managed mainly by middlemen like banks or brokerages. Read more about both systems’ features, pros, and cons in the P2P investment context in our CeFi vs DeFi comparison.
Default
Default is the failure to meet the legal loan obligations, i.e., the borrower’s failure to repay the debt. Defaults occur when borrowers are unable (or avoid) to make timely repayments. They usually cause a decrease in returns for investors, although defaulted loans can be recovered (see collateral) or the resulting losses shifted onto the lending company (see buyback guarantee).
Default Rate
A default rate is the share of defaulted loans in the total loan portfolio value: the lower the default rate, the better for investors.
Development Loan
A development loan is a type of real estate loan, which finances the purchase costs and build costs associated with a development project (be it a new build, conversion or refurbishment). They are usually short- to medium-term bullet loans.
Direct Marketplace Lending
Direct marketplace lending (also known as peer-to-peer (P2P) lending) is the “traditional” or “pure” type of marketplace lending, in which the platform serves as an online space where borrowers can apply for loans and investors can fund projects (direct lending structure). The platform usually performs credit checks on the borrowers, handles administrative issues (e.g., loan contracts), and processes payments.
Direct Structure
A direct structure, in P2P lending, refers to an investment structure involving three parties – a borrower, a lender and a platform. The lender buys a claim directly against the borrower. The platform serves only as a facilitator, providing virtual space for borrowers and lenders to “meet”, enter loan contracts and transfer money. It’s opposed to indirect lending, where a fourth party is involved – a loan originator, who “owns” the loans and re-sells them to investors via a platform. Explore more differences between the two lending structures and find out what it means for your investments in our indirect vs direct investment structure explainer.
Distribution
Distribution (can be monthly, quarterly, annual, or lump-sum) refers to the disbursement of payments according to the loan agreement and payment schedule. Most loans are repaid in monthly instalments, but some can be distributed quarterly or annually or paid in a lump sum at maturity (see a bullet loan).
Diversification
Diversification is a risk management strategy commonly associated with the phrase “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” The idea is to spread your capital across many different assets to limit your exposure to any single asset. In P2P lending, you can diversify your investments by channelling your money into various platforms, investment types (e.g., business, personal, real estate), risk profiles (low-risk, low-return vs high-risk, high-return), loan originators, markets, and currencies, and by investing small amounts in many loans rather than more considerable sums in a limited number of loans.
Donation Crowdfunding
Donation crowdfunding refers to donors providing funding to individuals, projects or companies based on philanthropic or civic motivations with no expectation of monetary or material reward.
Due Diligence

Due diligence is an investigation into the financial records before entering into a transaction with a party. In P2P lending, platforms usually perform due diligence on loan originators upon accepting them on the site or during periodical reviews (in indirect lending structures) or on borrowers and/or their projects before making deals available to investors (direct lending). Read more about how the process is conducted in our guest post on due diligence in peer-to-peer lending.

E

Education Loan
An education loan, or a student loan, is a loan taken to help a student finance his/her post-secondary education and the associated expenses (such as tuition fees, books, supplies, and living expenses). A key distinctive feature is that the repayment schedule may often be deferred until the student graduates.
Equity Crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding relates to activities where individuals or institutions invest in an unlisted early-stage business (typically a start-up) or a business venture (such as a buy-to-let real estate project or a litigation process) in exchange for shares in that company or venture. Explore our complete equity crowdfunding guide to find out more.

F

Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA)
The Financial Conduct Authority (the FCA) is the UK’s regulatory body of the financial services industry, responsible for the functioning of the British financial markets. The FCA governs regulations concerning consumer protection, market stability, and the promotion of fair competition, among other responsibilities.
Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)
Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) is the UK’s protection scheme for customers of authorised financial services firms. Customers can receive monetary compensation to cover their losses if their financial provider is unable, or likely to be unable, to pay its claims (e.g., it went bust or proved to be a scam). FSCS covers a few crowdfunding platforms.
Financial Technology
Financial Technology (fintech or FinTech) is an umbrella term for technology used to augment, streamline, digitise or disrupt traditional financial services. Generally, it’s supposed to make financial services more efficient, convenient and accessible to the users. It can cover an endless array of financial and tech innovations from mobile banking to open and digital banks, investment apps, peer-to-peer lending, and cryptocurrency. 
First-rank Mortgage Read More
First-rank mortgage (also first-rank, first-lien or senior debt) refers to the most secure available form of loan security. Senior debt takes priority over other more “junior” debt (such as mezzanine debt or equity). In practice, this means that lenders of the first-rank mortgage will be the first in line to reclaim money from the sale of collateral in case the borrower defaults, while junior debt owners will only receive their share if there’s enough capital left. Explore debt seniority and other real estate loan types in our review of investment types in real estate crowdfunding.
Funding Volume

Funding volume is the amount of distributed investments during a given period. The funding volume covers investments made by investors and paid out to fundraisers & borrowers, which means only fully funded and paid out project volumes count. Funds committed by investors to projects still open or not paid out to the fundraisers are not included. At P2PMarketData, we track total funding volumes for the online alternative investment and fundraising industry. We track the volumes on individual platform level to provide volumes per investment type, funding model, currency, and many other metrics.

G

Grace Period
Grace period is the agreed time window after a borrower misses a payment that the lender/ loan originator will allow without classifying the loan as delayed and, often, accruing related penalties (e.g., a late fee). A grace period usually lasts a few days (with three being the most common in P2P lending). So, your loan will be only marked as delayed after three days have passed after the initial repayment date.
Green Loan
A green loan (or simply a green loan) is a loan extended to individuals or businesses for financing or refinancing a green project, such as improving the energy efficiency of a home or business premise or installing green energy sources (e.g., solar panels).
Green Stock
A green stock (also a green chip stock or simply a green stock) is a share of an environmentally friendly company, likely operating in areas such as alternative energy, pollution control, carbon abatement, or recycling. 
Group Guarantee
A group guarantee is an additional investor protection measure, most often provided by larger loan providers (financial groups) that associate several loan originators on top of a buyback guarantee offered by the loan originator. It holds the promise that if the loan originator cannot honour its buyback guarantee, the parent company will step in and cover this obligation. It usually has much larger financial resources and can, for example, redirect profits from its other loan originators.

H

Hands-off Investing
Hands-off investing is an approach that involves investing money and letting it accumulate over time rather than actively managing it. A hands-off investor prefers to set an investment portfolio and make only minor changes for a long time rather than spending time monitoring and researching each asset in their portfolio. In traditional financial markets, index funds are a popular hands-off product (instead of actively trading individual stocks). In P2P lending, a hands-off investor would usually set up an auto-invest strategy and let the algorithms select suitable loans.
Hands-on Investing
Hands-on investing is an investment strategy where the investor actively assesses, selects and often trades each asset in their portfolio. Hands-on investors spend considerable time on research and due diligence to “beat the market”, i.e., achieve above-average returns. In P2P lending, this is usually associated with manual investing – selecting individual loans that seem to hold the best risk/return ratio.
House Flipping
House flipping – see buy-to-sell projects in real estate lending.

I

ICO Token
An ICO token is a product of an initial coin offering. It’s a cryptocurrency token issued by a company. The token can have some utility in using the company’s product or service, or it may just represent a stake in the company or a project.
Indirect Structure
An indirect structure refers to an investment structure where the investor purchases a pre-funded loan from a lending company – a loan originator. Unlike the direct lending model, where three parties are involved (borrower - platform - lender), indirect lending involves an additional middleman – a loan originator. The loan originator lends money to the borrower and then refinances the loan by selling it to the investor via a platform or marketplace (borrower - loan originator - platform - lender). Explore more differences between the two lending structures and find out what it means for your investments in our indirect vs direct investment structure explainer.
Initial Coin Offering (ICO)
An initial coin offering (ICO), or an initialcurrency offering, is a fundraising method based on blockchain technology used primarily by start-ups. It’s a cryptocurrency equivalent to an initial public offering (IPO) – a company’s entry into the stock market. ICOs can serve two purposes: they primarily provide a source of funding for the start-up, but, unlike stocks, they can also present some utility for the coin buyer – e.g., in P2P lending, the possibility to reinvest the bought “tokens”. Several P2P lending sites have raised funds this way. However, since ICOs are little regulated, caution is advised.
Initial Public Offering (IPO)
An initial public offering (IPO) is a private company’s first sale of stock on the stock market to the general public (thus sometimes referred to as “going public”). After the IPO, its shares are traded freely in the open market. Companies can choose to transit from a private to a public company to realise gains from the investment (an “exit” strategy) or access a larger pool of investors and raise more capital.
Innovative Finance Individual Savings Account (IFISA)
Innovative Finance Individual Savings Account (IFISA) is a tax-free lending account for UK residents, which focuses on alternative investment products such as peer-to-peer lending. This means that any interest earned up to a certain threshold won’t be taxed. In 2021/22, the allowance stood at £20,000, which you can either fully invest in IFISA or spread across the different types of ISA (e.g., cash or stock).
Instalment Loan
An instalment loan is a loan repaid through a set number of scheduled payments (instalments). Unlike bullet loans, which are returned in full at maturity, instalment loans provide investors with a steady inflow of money, usually every month. Most P2P loans, especially personal and business loans, are repaid in instalments.
Institutional Investor

An institutional investor, or an institutional lender, is an entity that invests large amounts of pooled money on behalf of its clients, customers, members, or shareholders. Endowment funds, commercial banks, mutual funds, hedge funds, pension funds, and insurance companies are institutional investors. They tend to enjoy fewer protective regulations than retail investors (it is assumed they are more knowledgeable and better able to protect themselves) and, often, preferential treatment (e.g., lower transaction fees). They are the “big fish” of financial markets, and the large transactions they make can have a notable effect on the financial markets as a whole. An increasing number of P2P lending sites, especially those focused on business lending, are either dominated by institutional investors or entirely unavailable for retail investors.

Interest Rate
An interest rate is a percentage of the principal (the amount loaned) that a lender charges a borrower. It’s how much you can expect to make on your initial investment. Interest rates are usually calculated annually (sometimes referred to as the annual percentage rate – APR).
Investment Fund
An investment fund refers to the pooling of capital from numerous investors used to collectively purchase investment assets, usually managed by a professional company for a fee. In an investment fund, each investor retains ownership and control of their shares.
Invoice
An invoice can be an investment asset – a product of investing in invoice trading. Investors buy pending invoices from businesses at a discount, i.e., the difference between the selling price and the value of the outstanding invoice. Explore our guide to invoice trading to find out more.
Invoice Trading
Invoice trading is the practice of buying pending invoices from businesses (usually SMEs). It helps the company improve short-term liquidity and offset the often-long periods between invoice generation (delivery of service or good) and invoice payment by the customer. Investors’ profit is the discount – the difference between the selling price and the value of the outstanding invoice. Explore our guide to invoice trading to find out more.

K

Know Your Customer (KYC)
Know Your Customer (KYC), also Know Your Client, is a set of guidelines and regulations within the broader scope of a financial provider’s anti-money laundering (AML) policy. It stipulates that the company is responsible for the verification of its clients’ identities. It ensures you are who you claim to be and have no illegal intentions towards the relationship with the financial institution. In practice, it means that most P2P lending sites will ask you to verify your identity before you can start investing. They usually use an external verification app to upload a scan of your ID and take a selfie.

L

Liquidity
Liquidity refers to the ease with which you can convert your investment assets into ready cash. Having a degree of liquidity helps handle unforeseen circumstances, a financial setback, or seizing an emerging investment opportunity. Cash is the most liquid asset, but you can also sell publicly traded stocks or gold pretty much on the spot. Equity and real estate are considered much less liquid. The liquidity of peer-to-peer loans varies a lot, from loans with 5+ years maturity with no early exit options (low liquidity), through short-term loans or loans sellable on a secondary market, to P2P-based investment products that offer instant withdrawals (high liquidity).
Litigation Equity
Litigation equity (also legal financing, a legal stock or a lawsuit stock) refers to the capital invested in a litigation crowdfunding project (a lawsuit). Investors provide capital to a plaintiff in litigation in exchange for a portion of the plaintiff’s settlement. Plaintiffs can use that money to pay attorney’s fees, expert witness fees, and court expenses. Litigation equity is a high-risk (if the claimant loses the case, investors might lose all of their invested capital) and illiquid investment (depending on the duration of the court case). Read more in our article dedicated to litigation crowdfunding.
Loan Agreement
A loan agreement, or a lending agreement, is a formal contract between a lender and a borrower, which regulates the mutual obligations of each party. An agreement usually spells out all the loan details, such as the principal amount, interest rate, term, fees, payment terms, or the lender’s rights to collect payment in case of a default. On most P2P lending sites, you automatically enter a loan agreement every time you invest in a loan.
Loan Originator
A loan originator, or a (loan) broker, in P2P lending refers to a lending company that issues loans to borrowers. It acts as a fourth party in the indirect lending structure (the other three being the lender, the borrower and the platform). The loan originator focuses on acquiring and managing borrowers, while the platform directs its efforts into attracting and serving lenders. Explore in detail how loan origination works in our what is a loan originator explainer. 
Loan-to-value (LTV)
Loan-to-value (LTV) is the ratio of a loan amount to the value of an asset pledged as collateral. Generally, LTV is used to evaluate how much collateral coverage a loan will have – the lower the LTV ratio, the higher the coverage, and thus, the lower the risk. For example, a real estate loan for €750,000 on a €1m property would mean an LTV ratio of 75%. The discrepancy between the loan amount and the asset value provides a cushion in case of default. Even if the asset value depreciates, the original value proves an overestimate, or additional costs of chasing the borrower occur, the lender should be able to recover (most of) the capital. Most real estate lending sites offer LTVs between 50% and 80%.

M

Manual Investing
Manual investing is an investment strategy that involves the lender evaluating and choosing each loan in their portfolio. It’s the opposite of automatic investing, where your capital is allocated automatically based on your pre-defined criteria.
Maritime Investing
Maritime investing (or maritime crowdinvesting) involves investments in shipbuilding or shipping operations. It can be both equity (ship co-ownership) and debt-based (lending to a shipowner). In equity-based maritime investing, you receive dividends from the profits generated by the ship and participate in the possible increase (or decrease) in ship value when it is sold. Loan-based maritime investing works like any business loan, but often it comes with the ship as collateral.
Marketplace Lending

Marketplace lending (also referred to as debt crowdfunding, crowdlending, or FinTech credit) is the practice of lending money to individuals or businesses through online services (marketplace lending platforms) that match lenders with borrowers. This form of lending allows individuals to borrow directly from other individuals, cutting out the financial institution as the middleman. The platform provides an online space where investors and borrowers meet, offers secure payment channels, and conducts some due diligence on borrowers, loans, and/or loan originators. It operates at much lower costs than a traditional bank (with its physical branches and assets, a large crowd of employees, and high reporting and regulatory burden). This cost-saving enables the lenders to earn higher returns, while borrowers can (in some cases) borrow money at lower interest rates than traditional bank offerings. The platform sustains its business operations and profits from small fees charged on borrowers and, less often, on lenders.

Maturity
Maturity is the agreed-upon date on which a borrower must repay a loan in full, including the principal and all the accrued interest. In other words, it’s when the investment ends.
Mezzanine Loan
A mezzanine loan, or mezzanine debt, is a form of junior debt sometimes used in real estate lending. A mezzanine loan can blend debt and equity. It’s ranked below senior debt but above equity in the debt recovery process. Investors in mezzanine debt will recover their money only after all senior debt owners have been repaid in full. This elevated risk comes with relatively high interest rates and, often, flexible repayment terms. Explore debt seniority and other real estate loan types in our review of investment types in real estate crowdfunding
Microloan
A microloan is a small loan amount of money that an individual borrows from a microfinance institution. Microfinance usually reaches populations excluded from traditional banking and credit, and microloans tend to be issued in less developed countries, often, but not exclusively, to start small businesses.
Municipal
A municipalloan (also referred to as municipal or civic crowdfunding) is a loan to a local government (municipality) to fund local projects such as events, green spaces, buildings or maintenance of leisure facilities, etc.

P

Pawn Loan
A pawn loan (or a pawnbroking loan) is a type of consumer loan secured against a personal asset (e.g., jewellery, gold, electronics, etc.), which serves as loan collateral.
Payday Loan
A payday loan (also referred to as cash advance or check advance) is a small, short-term unsecured loan. Its repayment is usually linked to the borrower’s next paycheck, but the term can be used to describe any short-term personal loan. It typically helps individual borrowers with covering sudden unexpected expenses before they regain financial stability.
Payment Guarantee
A payment guarantee is an additional investor protection measure, usually used on top of a buyback guarantee. While a buyback guarantee holds a promise to repurchase bad debt after a certain delay period (e.g., 60 days), with a payment guarantee, the loan originator offers to cover the monthly loan repayments, even if the borrower is unable to pay back on time. This means you will have a secured and stable inflow of instalments and, effectively, no late loans in your portfolio. The payment guarantee is relatively rare compared to the quite common buyback option.
Payment Schedule
A payment schedule details the amounts to be paid on specific dates by the borrower to the lender. The end of the payment schedule marks the loan’s maturity.
Peer-to-peer (P2P) Lending
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, also known as social lending or crowdlending, involves lending money to individuals or businesses through online services (P2P lending platforms) that match lenders with borrowers. Understood broadly, it can involve any online platform mediating between lenders and borrowers online. At P2PMarketData, we follow a narrower definition of P2P lending, which only includes the “pure” P2P lending model with a limited role of the platform itself (see: direct marketplace lending).
Personal Guarantee
A personal guarantee is a form of loan security, albeit much less solid than collateral. It is a borrower’s legal promise to repay the debt issued to a business they serve as an executive or partner. Should the company be unable to repay the debt from its resources, the debt obligation falls onto the individual and their assets. However, a personal guarantee is not considered “proper” security as it’s often impossible to force borrowers to give away their property, money, or other wealth, thus limiting the capacity to recover bad debt.
Personal Loan
A personal loan is a loan to an individual that can be used for a variety of purposes (to refinance, cover emergency expenses, pay for home renovations, buy a car, throw a wedding, or similar). They are usually unsecured, short-term instalment loans.
Primary Market
A primary market is a market where loans are first issued and purchased by investors. It’s different from a secondary market where investors can re-sell loans bought on the primary market to other investors.  
Principal
A principal is the original amount of money borrowed in a loan or put into an investment. Your earned interest, or return on investment, is calculated based on your invested principal and the set interest rate. 
Provision Fund
A provision fund is a type of investor protection measure. It consists of money that a P2P lending platform sets aside to cover potential future losses and works as a buffer to smooth out investors’ earnings. A provision fund usually holds cash collected from borrowers or investors as a share of the project value. This way, the size of the fund grows proportionally to the growth of the overall portfolio. Once your loan defaults, you can count on the platform to cover a part of the loss from the provision fund. Read more about how provision funds protect your investments in our guide to provision funds in P2P lending.

R

Real Estate Equity
Real estate equity (or a real estate stock) is usually offered in buy-to-let projects and involves partial ownership of a property in exchange for participation in the proceeds from the rent collected from tenants as well as capital gains from the appreciation of the property value.
Real Estate Investing
Real estate investing (or property investing)is one of the main investment crowdfunding sectors, next to business, consumer, and crypto. It involves lending to property developers or acquiring equity in real estate projects.
Real Estate Loan
A real estate loan (or a property loan)is a loan to property developers for real estate investments. The exact loan purposes may vary and can include development loans (building or renovating property), buy-to-sell (also known as house-flipping), or business loans with real estate as collateral.
Real Estate Token

A real estate token is like real estate equity in the way that it represents a share of the SPV or company owning the property, with a crucial difference that it’s encoded on a blockchain.

Refinancing
Refinancing is the process of revising and replacing the existing credit agreement with another one that has more favourable terms. Refinancing can involve taking another loan (a refinancing loan) to pay back the original debt or renegotiating the existing loan terms and signing a new loan agreement with changes (favourable for the borrower) to the interest rate, payment schedule, and/or other terms. Borrowers often choose to refinance when the interest-rate environment changes, causing potential savings from a new agreement. But the lender might also agree to refinance if the borrower is under financial distress and is unlikely to repay the debt under existing conditions – easing the terms might decrease returns but increase the likelihood of a full repayment (this is often called debt restructuring).
Resale Marketplace Lending
Resale marketplace lending refers to platforms that operate the indirect lending structure, i.e., re-sell loans from loan originators to investors. It’s impossible to borrow directly via the platform – the loan originators are responsible for acquiring and managing borrowers, while the platform only serves lenders.
Retail Investor
A retail investor, or an individual investor, is a non-professional investor who purchases investment assets with their own money and for their own sake (e.g., to build up personal wealth). Individual investors trade in dramatically smaller amounts than institutional investors, who pool money from many clients and invest on their behalf.
Return On Investment (ROI)
Return on investment (ROI) is a metric used to evaluate the profitability of an investment. It’s calculated as a ratio between net income (or profit) and the costs of investment. It’s not synonymous with the interest rate. In P2P lending, your ROI will typically account for the received interest payments and other gains (such as bonuses, late fees, secondary market sale premiums, etc.) and losses (e.g., bad debt and platform fees). In short, ROI is a measure of what you get back compared to what you put in.
Reward Crowdfunding
Reward crowdfunding involves providing funding to individuals, projects or companies in exchange for non-monetary rewards or products. The reward can include early or otherwise “special” access to financed goods or services (e.g., pre-ordering a video game or a signed music album).
Ring-fence
A ring-fence (or ring-fencing) in P2P lending refers to the principle of segregating the investor funds from the platform’s assets. Its primary purpose is to ensure the investors’ full ownership over their funds so that, if the platform faces any financial issues or bankruptcy, investors’ assets won’t be seized or otherwise put at risk. Today, the UK and EU legislation requires all institutions that operate payment accounts to segregate non-used funds of their users. Find out more about how platforms secure your funds in our guide to ring-fence and protection of investor funds.

S

Secondary Market
A secondary market is a place where you can either sell your investments or buy loans from other registered users on the platform. You can use a secondary market to exit your investments early and achieve quick liquidity. This usually comes at a cost – small fees are often charged by platforms on sales, and you might have to sell at a discount (a price below the loan value) to attract buyers. Unlike the primary market where the loans are first issued, a secondary market is an “extra” platform feature, and not all P2P lending sites offer it. Learn how to navigate secondary markets in our what is a secondary market explainer. 
Secured Loan
A secured loan is a loan backed by collateral (security). In case of borrower default, the creditor can seize the asset used as collateral and sell it to retrieve some or all of the amount initially loaned to the borrower. It’s the opposite of an unsecured loan.
Skin-in-the-game
Skin-in-the-game refers to a situation in which the issuer of an investment vehicle has stakes in that investment. In peer-to-peer lending, it means that a loan originator will keep partial ownership of an issued loan re-sold to investors (usually between 5 and 15%). For lenders, it’s a reassurance that the loan originator vouches for the quality of the loan with their own money – if the loan defaults, the loan originator loses too. Read more in our quick guide to skin-in-the-game in P2P lending.
Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)
A special purpose vehicle (SPV), also called a special purpose entity (SPE), is a legal entity created within a parent company to isolate financial risk, including bankruptcy. If the SPV goes bankrupt, the parent company won’t be affected, and if the parent company goes bankrupt, the SPV will be protected. In P2P lending, SPVs are set up to house a loan, or multiple loans, on behalf of lenders, ring-fencing their funds from the platform’s assets.
Start-up Equity
Start-up equity (or a start-up stock) is a share issued by a start-up that isn’t listed on a stock exchange. Investing in start-up equity, just like with any other stock, you get to own a part of the business in exchange for participation in its future profits (or losses).

U

Unsecured Loan
An unsecured loan is a loan that, unlike a secured loan, isn’t backed by any collateral and relies only on the borrower’s creditworthiness. If the borrower defaults, there is no asset to seize and sell, and the only way to try to recoup (part of) the investment is through a lawsuit. Some P2P platforms sell defaulted unsecured loans to specialised debt recovery companies for a fraction of the outstanding value to recover a share of the capital in a relatively short time (legal proceedings may take years).

Y

Yield
Yield, in P2P lending, is the income earned on an investment before accounting for the costs incurred (see ROI). Yield is expressed as a percentage and can be calculated annually or as the lender’s expected total profit when the loan matures (yield-to-maturity). In most cases, the yield reflects the loan interest rate. Still, sometimes it’s used in other contexts – for example, in buy-to-let projects, the yield will equal the estimated income from rent plus the expected increase in the underlying property value.