Last week, three colleagues and I attended LendIt in San Francisco. It was a great way to connect with 4,000 other people working in online lending and fintech across the U.S. and overseas, as well as service providers. It covered all flavors of balance sheet and marketplace lending across the commercial and consumer landscapes from auto to mortgage, and student loans to small business loans.

 

1. Collect it

There was a joke going around the conference that in two years the event name would change from LendIt to “CollectIt,” as the focus shifts from loaning money to collecting money. Hopefully all of the growth we are seeing across the space is measured, disciplined, and well within reason.

 

2. Be the last one standing

Peter Thiel gave the morning keynote on the final day of the conference. One of the themes he discussed was being both a first mover in an industry, as well as the last one standing after other new entrants come and go. Being “just” a first mover, which is often emphasized when innovating and launching new companies, is simply not good enough and does not create long term value.

He reflected on his time founding PayPal and being the first mover to enable people to make a payment from their email. He talked about how banks were not positioned to launch such an innovation, yet this team saw an opportunity in the market and capitalized on it.

PayPal has been around for 18 years because it has continued to innovate, acquire competitors, such as Venmo, and stay relevant decades later. It is still standing. As fintech and online lending companies become more mainstream offerings, it will be interesting to see who is still standing five, ten, twenty years from now.

 

3. The consumerization of finance

The prevalence of online lenders and fintech companies providing all types of personal and commercial loan products signals a tipping point of consumers and business owners wanting their finance experiences to be as seamless and automated as the other technologies they use in their daily lives.

People seek financial tools that sync with their existing online accounts and expedite the formerly arduous process of filling out a stack of forms. People previously waited days/weeks/months for a response to the stack of forms, and now they expect to receive responses in a matter of hours or minutes.

Online lenders and fintech companies must continue to anticipate what customers want and how to make these processes, such as loan applications, simple and expedited.