The linked dangers of an inverted yield curve and a slowing economy have hammered banks stocks in recent months, and profit margins are already compressing. But the banks’ worries pale in comparison to challenges confronting the peer-to-peer or “market place” lenders — the start-ups that have set out, over the past decade or so, to upturn the banking industry.

A few years ago, start-up lenders on both sides of the Atlantic looked set to reveal that banks were little more than commodity businesses with high fixed costs. Money is money, after all, and the peer-to-peer platforms intended to provide it at a better price by becoming an internet middleman between borrower and lender — ditching all that expensive physical and human infrastructure in the process...

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