Strategic information transmission in peer-to-peer lending markets

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Peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces, such as Uber, Airbnb, and Lending Club, have experienced massive growth in recent years. They now constitute a significant portion of the world’s economy and provide opportunities for people to transact directly with one another. However, such growth also challenges participants to cope with information asymmetry about the quality of the offerings in the marketplace. By conducting an analysis of a P2P lending market, the authors propose and test a theory in which countersignaling provides a mechanism to attenuate information asymmetry about financial products (loans) offered on the platform. Data from a P2P lending website reveal significant, nonmonotonic relationships among the transmission of nonverifiable information, loan funding, and ex post loan quality, consistent with the proposed theory. The results provide insights for platform owners who seek to manage the level of information asymmetry in their P2P environments to create more balanced marketplaces, as well as for P2P participants interested in improving their ability to process information about the goods and services they seek to transact online.