Lending Club opens referral program while Prosper shuts their program down

For a little more than a year, Prosper managed a referral program which rewarded new lenders with a $25 bonus and the referring party with bonuses as high as $50. Over time the program experienced many changes but remained a valuable means to drive new business to Prosper. Last week Prosper entered a quiet period and yesterday they sent the following message to members of their affiliate program:

We are writing to inform you that the Prosper Referral Program has been shut down and is no longer in effect. Our lender activity is limited. Click here to learn more.

As a result we request you take down any reference to Prosper immediately.

Thank you for your immediate attention in this matter.

It is uncertain what "any reference to Propser" includes. Presumable it only refers to advertisements. While we have typically used referral links when linking to Prosper we have not served Prosper ads for quite some time.

Websites which rely on referral income can now turn to Lending Club. Lending Club started a referral program with Commission Junction earlier this month. Here are the details of the program:

Description: Lending Club is a social lending network where members lend and borrow money from each other at better rates, bypassing the banks.

We have already issued more than $20,000,000 in loans at better rates than banks' and we are looking to spread the word of this great alternative.

We will reward publishers for every user they refer that fill out the loan application form, independent of the loan issuing or not.

Lending Club accepts only US-based credit worthy borrowers with 640+ FICO score and no current delinquencies.

Here are some answers you may be looking for before you advertise for us:

What will you pay for?
We will reward publishers for sending us qualified traffic:
$35 for first 10 applications/month
$40 for each additional loan application

What is your conversion rate?
Our current conversion rates are very high (upwards of 60%) if the user is looking for a loan and has good credit.

Do you have a dedicated affiliate manager?
Yes. We have asked CJ to manage the program initially, and in addition, we have a dedicated SEM resource on board.

What is your average order amount?
Typical order amount is between $80-$150(fees charged once a loan is issued). We don't charge a fee for application, and about 80% of the applications actually become loans.

Is your website attractive and easy to navigate?
Very much. We won the Webby award 2008 as best banking and payments site as well as a 2008 WebAward for Outstanding financial services site.

How does your commission structure compare with other advertisers in your category?
We feel we are very competitive and in most cases, we pay higher than other advertisers.

If a publisher consistently performs, will you increase their commission?
YES. We are willing to discuss better pay-offs based on performance, quality of borrowers and volume.

Based on my own experience with various referral programs I'm optimistic towards Lending Club's new referral program. With Prosper, hundreds of new members have joined Prosper after clicking on links from this site but very few have become borrowers or lenders. Prosper did not pay a referral bonus until the borrower made their first payment so, even if the borrower converted, it was still several months until a payment occurred.

Lending Club pays immediately after a person fills out a loan application, so their referral program is much more likely to result in referral bonuses and much more likely to result in payments. Hopefully Lending Club will expand their program to lenders as well as borrowers in the near future.

Here is an example of one of Lending Club's new ads available through Commission Junction. Click through for the improved landing page.