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Abstract

The online peer-to-peer lending marketplace has experienced rapid growth since its inception in 2005. It has played a significant role in helping small and micro-enterprises resolve financing problems. However, this marketplace is still in its infant stage. To better understand the lending activities associated with peer-to-peer lending, we need theoretically grounded empirical research. In this study, we investigate the perceptual drivers of online lending from the perspective of lenders. We empirically test our research model with survey data collected from 217 lenders in a major online peer-to-peer lending website in China. Our results reveal that trust was the most critical determinant of willingness to lend. Perceived information quality was important in mitigating perceived risk and enhancing trust, and perceived social capital impacted trust in borrowers. Furthermore, perceived risk did not significantly influence lending willingness, but had a negative impact on trust. These findings indicate that transaction behaviors in the peer-to-peer market may not be the same as that in the purchase-oriented e-commerce settings. We conclude by discussing the study’s implications for research and practice along with the its limitations.

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