Doug Lebda, chairman and CEO of LendingTree, apparently disclosed the plans during a presentation last week at Goldman Sachs & Co. headquarters in New York. Lebda reportedly said, “We expect to be marketing the Credit Karma product very soon.” These comments, initially interpreted to mean a partnership was in the works, do not mean that, according to two spokespeople from LendingTree, who commented after publication.
Instead, Lebda was “simply describing a LendingTree offering (“MyLendingTree”) that is similar to what [Credit] Karma offers in the form of free credit scores, etc. and that LendingTree would be putting more paid marketing against its own offering,” according to a LendingTree spokesman. A spokeswoman later clarified Lebda was “illustrating a parallel in the product offering of My LendingTree and Credit Karma.” She later added, when asked how similar the products were, that they are “similar products, yes — but with different functionalities and features,” a spokeswoman wrote. She also pointed out that Credit Karma worked primarily with Equifax while LendingTree works mostly with TransUnion — zing!
The move could bring two of fintech’s largest players into closer competition. Launched in 2007, Credit Karma now claims to have 75 million customers. Since its founding in 1996, LendingTree has facilitated more than 55 million loan requests, and has a market capitalization [NASDAQ: TREE] of more than $2.7 billion.
The LendingTree spokesman said that the competition between the two is not new, having been in play since 2014 or so, but given Lebda’s comments, that competition certainly seems to be sharpening.
This post has been updated to reflect comments from LendingTree. Credit Karma did not reply to a request for comment.