The new year has brought big changes for online innovators Harmoney and PledgeMe, which announced major moves today.

Lending start-up Harmoney said it is quitting the peer-to-peer lending market, and will stop taking retail lending applications from today, and halt all retail investment at the end of March. Instead, the money will come from the wholesale market.

Harmoney was the first in New Zealand to obtain a peer-to-peer licence and says leaving that market was a decision it had made over time.

"While a move we make reluctantly, it is necessary to free up resources so that Harmoney can continue to innovate, enhance value and create a better user experience for borrowers.


"Harmoney was established to create better opportunities for Kiwis – and then Australians. Our aim was always to bring much better choice for consumers, along with unprecedented transparency to the financial services industry," chief executive David Stevens said.

The company had been in dispute with the Commerce Commission over its credit fees, as the regulator had claimed it charged too much. In November the Court of Appeal said it would hear Harmoney's appeal against a High Court decision that went mostly in the regulator's favour.

It recently received investment from Australian boutique private equity firm Kirwood Capital which paid $15 million for a 13.4 per cent stake, making it the largest shareholder ahead of Heartland Bank, which bought a 10 per cent stake in 2014 and TradeMe, which owns 11.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, fellow tech company PledgeMe has appointed a new chief executive, Claire McGowan. She replaces Mel Templeton who came in as interim chief executive when co-founder Anna Guenther stepped down from the role last year.

McGowan was previously chief executive of New Zealand business incubator Soda.

"I'm personally so excited that PledgeMe will continue to have a woman at the helm, and hope it will encourage other companies to do the same," said Guenther.