Peer-to-peer lender Harmoney has been fined $292,5000 for misleading consumers into thinking they had been pre-approved for a personal loan.

The Commerce Commission filed six charges against Harmoney under the Fair Trading Act relating to 27 versions of a pre-approval letter.

The letter was sent to over half a million Kiwis between October 2014 and April 2015 inviting people to visit the Harmoney website to find out how much money they had been approved to borrow.

But in reality they still had to go through an approval process.


Anna Rawlings, a commissioner for the consumer watchdog, said Harmoney's campaign was personalised and gave people the direct impression they had been pre-approved for a personal loan.

"Our concern with this practice was that it relied on misrepresentations to draw consumers into a sales process, giving Harmoney an advantage in the market it would not have otherwise have had," Rawlings said.

"It also had the potential to harm consumers who responded to the letter. Believing that they were guaranteed a loan, they may have been encouraged to sign up with Harmoney without first checking whether the terms offered were the best available to them in the market."

Harmoney was the first company to gain a peer-to-peer lending license in New Zealand in 2014.

According to its website the company has matched borrowers and lenders for loans worth $370 million.

For the year to 31 March 2016, Harmoney recorded a loss of $14.2 million before tax on revenues of $8.6 million.