When peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms were getting off the ground in India in 2015, Ashish Bansal was among the first people to get on board. Like investors in countries like the US and China, he saw promise in these platforms’ premise. They paired willing lenders—usually high-income individuals such as Bansal—with borrowers that banks and other financial institutions didn’t want to touch.

In exchange for taking on risky borrowers, lenders got to charge higher rates of interest, potentially enjoying returns of over 25%. For Bansal, an angel investor in his own right and a high-ranking corporate executive for the last decade, it seemed like a no-brainer. 

The way Bansal tells it, he was among the biggest lenders on India’s most prominent P2P platforms in the early days. This was a time when P2P lending was akin to the Wild West. Little regulation, lots of action, and the heady lure of massive bounties to be had for those brave enough to take the plunge.

Bansal was presented with borrower information that had been collated by platforms, and allowed to pick who he would lend to. All told, he invested a small fortune—more than Rs 70 lakh ($95,808)—across platforms like Faircent, Lendbox, i2iFunding, and LenDenClub. 

A lot of that money never made it back to Bansal. A few years into embracing P2P lending, the cracks began to show. Borrowers began to default, and with lenders, not platforms, liable for losses, Bansal was left carrying the can. As he began looking into defaulters, systemic shortcomings became apparent. Bansal claims that the personal details given by borrowers were incorrect. In other instances, he told The Ken, borrower payments were not recorded by the platforms.

Stung, Bansal stopped his P2P lending altogether. The defaults, though, kept adding up. He claims they’ve eaten up close to half his investment. Today, he is fighting numerous court cases against defaulters in the hope of recouping some losses.

Bansal is no outlier. We’d written in 2018 written in 2018 The Ken Some of the biggest lenders on peer-to-peer lending marketplaces were staring at defaults from 20% all the way up to 50%. Read more  about growing anger amongst lenders on P2P lending platforms, all of whom had similar stories to Bansal. It was enough to make the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)—the country’s central bank—sit up and take notice. In 2017, regulations were put in place, limiting individual exposure to any one borrower to Rs 50,000 ($684), and also putting a cap on how much a lender could offer across P2P platforms—Rs 10 lakh ($13,686).


Pranav Balakrishnan

Pranav writes about the business of moving people and things around, i.e, mobility and e-commerce. Over the past two years, he has written about Ola, Tesla, Flipkart, Amazon, and the increasing role played by Reliance Industries in the Indian technology story. Pranav joined The Ken from Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, specialising in business journalism.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at support@the-ken.com detailing the error or queries.