Ex-ECB, Germany Official Asmussen Jumps Into Online Lending Boom

  • Funding Circle says Joerg Asmussen to join its board
  • Startup focuses on providing credit to small businesses

Joerg Asmussen, the former European Central Bank executive board member and senior German policymaker, is becoming the latest financial leader to join a technology startup seeking to reshape lending.

Funding Circle, which arranges loans online for small businesses in the U.S., U.K. and Europe, said Tuesday he will join its board. Asmussen served as deputy finance minister and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s troubleshooter during the euro-area debt crisis until she nominated him to the ECB in 2011. He later returned to government and served as a deputy labor minister.

“Joerg is one of Germany’s most respected economists and has spent a lifetime shaping government and central banking,” Matthias Knecht, co-founder and managing director of Funding Circle Continental Europe, said in a statement. “As we accelerate our growth across Europe, his experience in European regulation and unique insights into the challenges faced by small businesses will be an invaluable asset.”

Funding Circle is among startups trying to make borrowing more efficient. Often called marketplace lenders, the companies typically use Internet platforms to match consumers and small businesses with investors who want to fund them. As the ventures gain popularity, some are enlisting former government officials and banking executives to help navigate regulatory and business challenges.

Last month, former Deutsche Bank AG co-Chief Executive Officer Anshu Jain announced he was joining online lender Social Finance Inc. as an adviser. Lawrence Summers, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, sits on the board of LendingClub Corp., the first U.S. marketplace lender to sell shares to the public.

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