A recent Treasury Department request for information about the regulatory environment for online marketplace lenders like LendingClub Corp. is the latest indication that federal regulators are moving toward a new regulatory structure for the fast-growing industry.

Online marketplace lending has seen an explosion over the last few years, marked by blockbuster initial public offerings, hundreds of millions of dollars in investment and billions lent out to consumers and small businesses. And federal regulators have taken notice, with the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s July 16 request for information on the industry representing the most concrete example of the increased scrutiny.

“Anytime a government agency has decided to do some poking in an area, it’s got to be a cause of concern,” said Alan Kaplinsky, the head of Ballard Spahr LLP’s consumer financial services group. “Although the Treasury Department can't regulate, it's no secret that the CFPB and the FTC are going to take great interest in whatever comes out of the Treasury inquiry.”

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Consumer Financial Services