Lending Club, like most other workplace lenders, has only struck deals up to now with less recognizable companies, but a deal with Google could be a signal that workplace loans are primed for wider acceptance.
Neither Google nor Lending Club would comment on whether negotiations have taken place. Should a deal happen, workplace loans could become a common way for companies to lure new hires in 2014. Lending Club believes it will have a few signed contracts with more prominent corporations in early 2014, All Things D reports.
"The program we're putting in place gives the ability for large companies with lots of employees to make loans to their employees and use their treasury reserves, on which they are earning like one or two percent, and put them to work," Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche tells All Things D in an interview.
Workplace lenders have signed up relatively few companies, mainly businesses such as community banks, so far. If a critical mass of large, well-known companies adopt workplace loans, the practice could filter down to become standard at smaller companies looking to attract top talent. "It's really an HR benefit and recruiting tool," Laplanche says.
Lending Club, which is expecting around $100 million in revenue this year, says employees can use workplace loan to pay off credit card debt, student loans, or consolidate multiple kinds of debt at a much lower rate, around two to four percent. The companies offering the loans would then deduct payments straight from their employees' paychecks, like health benefits.
Companies can decide to either pass on Lending Club's "origination fee," which is around four percent, to the employees who take the loan, or pay it themselves.
Kevin Daum, an entrepreneur and Inc. contributor, warns businesses that there is a significant potential downside to offering loans to employees. "What seems on the surface like a good idea could become problematic for both the employer and employee if the relationship is terminated," he says. "Both sides need to seriously consider the implications of an agreement that is not specifically work-related."
WILL YAKOWICZ is a reporter at Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and politics at Patch.com, and his work has been published in Tablet Magazine and The Brooklyn Paper. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. @WillYakowicz