Arnon Grunberg



A couple of months ago I wrote in my daily column in a Dutch newspaper something about peer-to-peer lending, an experiment that was worth supporting in my view. I announced that I was willing to lend 5000 euros; in the hope of course that other people would be willing to lend money to the readers of this newspaper as well.
Two or three readers (that's not exactly clear yet) were willing to each lend 5000 euros as well. About 30 readers expressed serious interest in borrowing 5000 euros, a few of them informed me that they needed less than that amount.
I could of course have started a lottery, but I thought that it would be more interesting, albeit also more time-consuming, to talk to the prospective borrowers to make an informed and ethical choice. (The interest rate will be 6%, with a maturity of 10 years.)
Today I talked to 9 prospective borrowers. Each of the conversations, which took place in my hotel in Amsterdam, lasted for approximately 30 minutes. On Sunday and Monday there will be other sessions, and then probably one more session on December 14.
The prospective borrowers were diverse, a woman who was looking for money to start a study Trimming and Grooming Pets. A man with a knitting factory, a couple with too much credit cards debts, an artist who does performances that quite often involve nudity, and a furniture maker who is running out of clients because of the crisis.
To my surprise, the risk or absence of risk didn’t interest me at all. I tilted towards those people who touched me with their stories. Definitely, my decision will be based on emotions. Perhaps that’s the future: emotional banking. It may be banking for the happy few, but it’s worth a try.

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