JPMorgan’s head of new technologies hired by Lending Club

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s head of new technologies has been hired by Lending Club Corp. as the peer-to-peer lending pioneer seeks to rebuild business following a scandal over its corporate controls.

Santiago Suarez will join the San Francisco-based company as head of strategy and mergers and acquisitions, he said on Twitter.

He was previously JPMorgan’s head of new product development and emerging technologies, a group he co-founded and which has helped the biggest U.S. bank experiment with the digital ledger known as blockchain as well as machine-learning techniques. Before that, he worked in JPMorgan’s corporate-strategy group — described by some bankers as a SWAT team deployed by Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon to take care of pressing issues in the business.

The high-profile hire is the latest by Lending Club, whose stock has tumbled by almost two-thirds from its listing price of $15 a share after the company found abuses tied to the sale of some of its loans, which led to the departure of its founder and former CEO Renaud Laplanche. It also comes as peer-to-peer lending grows more enmeshed with the Wall Street institutions its champions once eschewed, with the launch of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s own proprietary offering being but one example.

Suarez declined to comment publicly when contacted by Bloomberg. He joins the company after taking a sabbatical from the bank. On LinkedIn, he said that currently he was “on leave traveling around the world on a bit of an adventure climbing mountains, rock faces, and the occasional ice sheet.” Lending Club didn’t immediately reply to a request for confirmation submitted after normal business hours.

Lending Club, which uses an online platform to directly connect borrowers with lenders, has been seeking to restore its funding sources by selling bonds and re-establishing relationships with banks. Last month Scott Sanborn, the new CEO, said the company still intends to expand abroad and has “accomplished the foundational work required to prepare Lending Club for the growth to come.”

Bloomberg News