Lending Club expands online loan service to businesses

Moving beyond personal lending services with a $35,000 limit, peer-to-peer loan site Lending Club has expanded to small-business customers looking to borrow between $15,000 and $100,000.

Chief Executive Renaud Laplanche promised Lending Club's business-loan move in December. It's a major move for the company but likely not the last, since Laplanche also plans to expand into home mortgages, student loans, and other areas.

"Bigger businesses can get large loans from banks, but smaller businesses are not well served by existing banking products from traditional banks," Laplanche said in a statement Thursday. "We … Read more

Not tonight, darling, I'm online shopping

I know that Nancy Reagan always encouraged us to "just say no."

But it's not easy, is it? Some people can be terribly insistent, nagging even. Some can sulk or get aggressive.

Thankfully, it seems that Americans have found a new way to tell their significant others that they don't have a significant mood for sex: they say they're busy online shopping.

You might think I'm making it up. And I might think that people who create these surveys are making it up too.

All I can tell you is that the cashback rewards … Read more

Icahn pushes eBay to sell 20% of Paypal via IPO

Carl Icahn won't give up on nagging eBay over selling PayPal (among many other things), but a new suggestion demonstrates he might be backing down -- albeit slightly.

The American business magnate published yet another open letter to eBay shareholders on Wednesday, outlining a scheme in which eBay sells off 20 percent of PayPal through an initial public offering.

As described by Icahn, the online marketplace conglomerate would then be able to keep the majority of PayPal.

Aside from the rather lengthy proposal, Icahn reiterated his disappointment (to put it lightly) in eBay's leadership:

Over the last few … Read more

Mt. Gox update lets users see their Bitcoin balances

Mt. Gox, the embattled Bitcoin exchange, has updated its Web site to allow its users to see account balances.

The Japan-based company opened user accounts for inquiry on Tuesday, but cautioned that the amount of bitcoins they seemingly have would not "constitute a filing of rehabilitation claims." The wording on the Mt. Gox web site is in place to protect Mt. Gox in its ongoing bankruptcy procedures and to ensure that its users don't misconstrue the balance as the actual amount they may or may not be owed.

The balances are based on data collected shortly before … Read more

New Bitcoin glitch: Blockchain suffers hours-long outage

A database problem has knocked Blockchain's Bitcoin wallet service offline for hours.

With the high-profile collapse of Bitcoin exchange site Mt. Gox in February and then Flexcoin's failure earlier in March, Bitcoin backers could be forgiven for fretting about the fate of their virtual currency. Blockchain servers house nearly 1.4 million bitcoin wallets, but the company says the access problem is only a temporary glitch -- albeit one that's lasted more than 16 hours so far.

Blockchain Limited Chief Security Officer Andreas M. Antonopoulos said in a blog post Monday:

Blockchain is experiencing a technical issue … Read more

Dorian Nakamoto: Bitcoin was not my baby, period

Did Newsweek finger the wrong person when it tagged Dorian Nakamoto as the father of Bitcoin? Nakamoto continues to deny any involvement in the virtual currency.

In a statement sent to Reuters writer Felix Salmon, Nakamoto again denied Newsweek's report, claiming that he did not create, invent, or work on Bitcoin. The 64-year-old Temple City, Calif., resident said that he never even heard of the virtual currency until last month when his son called him after being contacted by a reporter.

Earlier this month, Newsweek published a story contending that Nakamoto created Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto has been in play … Read more

Alibaba confirms plans to offer IPO in US

China e-commerce giant Alibaba Group confirmed early Sunday that it plans to become a public company in the US.

Rumored to be near for months, a US IPO would "make us a more global company and enhance the company's transparency," the company said in a brief note on its Web site. The statement did not indicate which stock exchange the company would choose for its listing.

Alibaba, which controls nearly 80 percent of China's Internet shopping market, is expected to raise more than $15 billion, giving it a $130 billion valuation. That lofty target would challenge … Read more

ShopRunner: Amazon Prime fee hike will 'drive' away customers

Amazon rival ShopRunner is hoping to lure away Amazon Prime members by throwing a few barbs at the Internet retail giant and offering its own subscription service for free.

Following Amazon's announcement of a fee increase for Prime on Thursday, ShopRunner, which offers a two-day free shipping membership for various retail brands for $79 a year, took the opportunity to promote its service, while basically saying that Amazon is wasting money on its video-streaming service.

ShopRunner is offering a one-year free trial that specifically targets Prime users. The site's brands include Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers, PetSmart, and Blue … Read more

Amazon's Prime fee hike: Is this just the beginning?

It took Amazon nine years to raise the fee for its Prime premium membership. It won't take nearly as long for the next price hike to show up.

Amazon's $20 increase in its fee sets a precedent for the company to raise its fees in the future, with the company having laid out the argument that it is facing rising fuel and transportation costs. It won't come without benefits, as Amazon races to add services and other perks to justify the increases. And the company will likely tread cautiously, sensitive to upsetting its most loyal of customers. … Read more

Amazon Prime at $99. Poll says it's a turnoff for many

Amazon's new $99 subscription rate could cause it to lose a fair number of Prime subscribers, at least based on the results of a new poll.

On Thursday, the retail giant announced that it's raising the annual cost of its Prime subscription service to $99 from $79. Prime offers several benefits, including free two-day shipping, a large Instant Video library, and free e-book lending. To defend its first-ever price jump in nine years, Amazon cited increased fuel and transportation costs.

But will Prime subscribers swallow the higher price when it comes time to renew?

In a poll taken … Read more