Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bid Data No Longer Available


Prosper has decided to stop making bid information available.  Currently all of the information I have about lenders is deduced from bids.  Lenders are tied to bids, bids are tied to listings, and listings that get funded are tied to loans.  Without the bid data this association falls apart and it will be impossible to track lender investments going forward.

Prosper has stated that they are doing this for privacy reasons.  I can respect the fact that some lenders feel that to much information was being divulged   However, I have to strongly disagree with the choice Prosper has made to address these lenders' privacy concerns.  There were other approaches that could have been taken that would have struck a better balance between the desire for data transparency of some lenders with the desire for increased privacy of other lenders.  First off, Prosper could simply have removed the linkage between lenders and bids and published anonymous bid data.  Doing this would still have allowed better transparency of listing availability. Lenders could use this anonymous bid data to properly take into account timing constraints on their bidding strategies (because lets be realistic, with the current volume of listings, timing is critical since listings go quickly) as well as allowing retail investors to see if they even have a chance of investing in the current environment by knowing if loans are being eaten up in 1 or 2 bids.  Taking this one step further, Prosper could have created an opt-out mechanism so only lenders who choose to opt-out would have their bid data published anonymously.  This would have allowed for data analysis just like we have today (using tools such as those that my site currently provides) for a sizable portion of the Prosper data set, while still allowing privacy for those lenders who want it.  Both of these options were presented to Prosper months ago, yet with no notice to their user community, they just started removing the availability of bid data.  I find this to be a rather upsetting turn of events and wish that Prosper had handled it differently.


Now that my personal opinion is out of the way, let me clarify how this will impact my site in the short term:

Top Lenders will become more and more out of sync with reality as time goes on since no new loan information will get incorporated into lender portfolios.  I will probably just remove this section of the site after awhile.

The Lender Activity page is still partially working since bids have only been removed from the data export at this time and the open/closed listing information is pulled from the API.  However the API is supposed to be changed shortly as well.  This will effectively render this page useless and I will delete it some time after the API is changed.

Previously Late Loans will continue to let you track loans that I know about, however no new loans will show up and you will have to go back to whatever your previous system was for tracking late loans (good luck with this one!).

Loan Analysis searches that use screen names and note size filters will only return results for older loans where I have bid data.


Now to address how this will impact my site long term:

I don't know what I am going to do!  There is another major change that is supposed to come out shortly.  Prosper is updating their API to have additional data elements for all listings.  This change is not going to be incorporated into the data export.  This means I have two options.

Option 1 is to leave my site mostly as is, which means half of it will have outdated information and the Loan Analysis will only support a subset of the data elements that Prosper will have available (i.e. those available in the data export).

Option 2 is to rewrite portions of my site to pull all the data from the API and allow searching on all available data elements.  As part of this I would abandon the Top Lenders and Lender Activity pages.  Using the new API I should theoretically be able to write new portfolio management tools as well (i.e. tools similar to the Previously Late Loans tool, as well as new ones) by allowing people to register their new API credentials and querying their personal note portfolio through the new API methods.

My availability of free time will be a major deciding factor on what happens going forward.  I have some personal matters going on that are taking up a lot more of my time now then I did when I originally put this site together, so it is a wait and see for me as much as it is for everyone else.

P.S. I have been in touch with Prosper and have access to a beta version of the API and have started to plan out how I will change the site if time permits...

6 comments:

  1. As someone developing an app to perform data analysis and visualization on the Prosper data set, the loss of bid data is a huge blow to my specification. Have you made your displeasure known and, if so, received any response?

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  2. There's no doubt that this was done for reasons other than privacy. In the interest of full disclosure, Prosper wants to make data appear to be available,but really, the average person is probably just going to look at letter ratings (A, HR, etc.) and decide to buy or not. Most people also don't have the time or ability to design a site like yours using developer tools. I don't.

    It's also in Prosper's best interest for lenders to trade frequently, too. Restricting info may make me less inclined to sell more often because I don't know as easily what I am going to get next. So, that would go against their business model.

    Keep up the good work.

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  3. This is really a bummer. I am a lender and am relying heavily on your site. I just wrote an email to Prosper, pleading them to make the bid data available again. Otherwise I will have to take my business to Lending Club. They should understand that they should do anything to make the lenders happy.

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  4. Much appreciated for all of your work to date. Your site specifically was the reason for me to become a lender on Prosper.com. The ability to analyze the data to decision which loans to fund was key. My profession over the past 21 years has been in commercial lending (small business to syndicated nine figure facilities). Being able to obtain the level of granularity previously provided, made lending more attractive and quite frankly an offset to my concerns for Prosper.com's future financial uncertainty. Prosper.com needs to understand open access to data was a large draw to many of us individual lenders, and catering to the Institutional investors is a bad decision. The institutional investors already have access to secondary markets to purchase loans or invest in private equity firms that do so. What made Prosper.com attractive is for individuals to have access to an investment vehicle that balances an above average market return with clarity on what one is investing in---something that was truly unprecedented before the Prosper.coms of the world came along. Will be interesting to see how their move to eliminate sharing data will impacts its future success. I for one will consider other investment options going forward.

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  5. "Privacy reason", Prosper pull your head out! Where is the privacy invasion when we're dealing with make up user names? If Prosper was serious about privacy then they ought to shut down sites such as this. I used the list of bidders in two ways: 1. As I analyze a loan, amoung other things, I gained confidence by looking at the list of bidders. 2. When I'm analyzing a Folio note I check the list of bidders to insure I'm not already invested in a note. Prosper, please return the list of bidders feature . . . it is a useful tool. Cheers.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your views. Great blog here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you. I would like to thank for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. Visit medicine shoppe canada edmonton

    ReplyDelete