Nov 12, 2013 WSJ: Google Ventures Backs LendUp to Rethink Payday Loans
Google Ventures Partner Blake Byers joined LendUp’s board of directors with his firm’s investment. The investor said he expects LendUp to make short-term lending reasonable and favorable for the “80 million people banks won’t give credit cards to,” and help reshape what had been “a pretty terrible industry.”
What sort of strategy is helping to drive that industry transformation?
How about doorway pages.
That in spite of last year Google going out of their way to say they were going to kill those sorts of strategies.
March 16, 2015 Google To Launch New Doorway Page Penalty Algorithm
Google does not want to rank doorway pages in their search results. The purpose behind many of these doorway pages is to maximize their search footprint by creating pages both externally on the web or internally on their existing web site, with the goal of ranking multiple pages in the search results, all leading to the same destination.
These sorts of doorway pages are still live to this day.
Simply look at the footer area of lendup.com/payday-loans
But the pages existing doesn’t mean they rank.
For that let’s head over to SEMrush and search for LendUp.com
(Click for enlarged image)
Hot damn, they rank for about 10,000 “payday” keywords.
And you know their search traffic is only going to increase now that competitors are getting scrubbed from the marketplace.
Today we get
journalists conduits for Google’s public relations efforts writing headlines like: Google: Payday Loans Are Too Harmful to Advertise.
Today those sorts of stories are literally everywhere.
Tomorrow the story will be over.
And when it is.
Precisely zero journalists will have covered the above contrasting behaviors.
As they weren’t in the press release.
Best yet, not only does Google maintain their investment in payday loans via LendUp, but there is also a bubble in the personal loans space, so Google will be able to show effectively the same ads for effectively the same service & by the time the P2P loan bubble pops some of the payday lenders will have followed LendUp’s lead in re-branding their offers as being something else in name.
A user comment on Google’s announcement blog post gets right to the point…
Are you disgusted by Google’s backing of LendUp, which lends money at rates of ~ 395% for short periods of time? Check it out. GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) has an investment in LendUp. They currently hold that position.
Oh, the former CIO and VP of Engineering of Google is the CEO of Zest Finance and Zest Cash. Zest Cash lends at an APR of 390%.
Meanwhile, off to revolutionize the next industry by claiming everyone else is greedy and scummy and there is a wholesome way to do the same thing leveraging new technology, when in reality the primary difference between the business models is simply a thin veneer of tech utopian PR misinformation.
Don’t expect to see a link to this blog post on TechCrunch.
There you’ll read some hard-hitting cutting edge tech news like:
Banks are so greedy that LendUp can undercut them, help people avoid debt, and still make a profit on its payday loans and credit card.
Update: Kudos to the Google Public Relations team, as it turns out the CFPB is clamping down on payday lenders, so all the positive PR Google got on this front was simply them front running a known regulatory issue in the near future & turning it into a public relations bonanza. Further, absolutely NOBODY (other than the above post) mentioned the doorway page issue, which remains in place to this day & is driving fantastic rankings for their LendUp investment.
Update 2: Record keeping requirements do not improve things if a company still intentionally violates the rules, knowing they will only have to pay a token slap on the wrist fine if and when they are finally caught. All it really does is drive the local businesses under.
The massive record-keeping and data requirements that Mr. Corday is foisting on the industry will have another effect: It will drive out the small, local players who have dominated the industry in favor of big firms and consolidators who can afford the regulatory overhead. It will also favor companies that can substitute big data for local knowledge like LendUp, the Google-backed venture that issued a statement Thursday applauding the CFPB rules. Google’s self-interest has become a recurrent theme in Obama policy making
Those records (along with the Google duplicity on doorway pages) however confirm that LendUp are not the good guys! They were outright scamming & over-charing their customers:
Onine lending start-up LendUp, which has billed itself as a better and more affordable alternative to traditional payday lenders, will pay $6.3 million in refunds and penalties after regulators uncovered widespread rule-breaking at the company.