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Leonid Bershidsky

Lending Club's Brilliant Charade

Lending Club demonstrates that traditional banking can safely be split up into parts, most of which will not need to be regulated.
Renaud Laplanche, narrow banker.
Renaud Laplanche, narrow banker.

If you think the Lending Club is Silicon Valley's answer to banking or the financial world's Uber, the company's filing for its planned $500 million initial public offering should help disabuse you of that notion. That said, it might still be the bank of the future.

Lending Club's founder and chief executive, Renaud Laplanche, has repeatedly portrayed the business as a high-tech marketplace bringing together borrowers and lenders. As he put it in a 2013 interview, "We do the matchmaking and perform important risk management functions. We underwrite, price and service the loans on behalf of investors."