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For the rich: Fast, online borrowing

Need to borrow up to $1 million fast?

An online lender – don’t call it a pawn shop – says it can make the funds available within 24 hours as long as borrowers have enough “collateral.”

The company, borro, isn’t interested in traditional assets like real estate, stocks or bank CDs but rather personal assets such as high-end jewelry, classic cars, antiques, fine wine and even Grammy Awards.

“We’re just a lender. We call it personal asset lending,” said Paul Aitken, founder and CEO of the online company that opened a location in New York this year. “We provide people with very fast access to money. Our customers have net worths of a half-million to $6 million, but we also have people who are worth more.”

“The biggest characteristic of people we deal with are those who have their own businesses,” he said. “Lots of them are in retail or trading businesses, and often they have an opportunity that requires quick money or the opportunity will elapse.

“We get lots of fine art – Andy Warhols and Picassos. Lots of sporting and musical memorabilia and classic cars.”

Founded in the United Kingdom in 2008 during the height of the global lending and credit crisis, the company was designed to attract customers who found traditional sources of credit suddenly unavailable.

As financial institutions shut off the pipeline, more alternative lenders entered the credit industry, including peer-to-peer lending sites and other online lenders.

“Borro is unique in that we are not a bank or pawn broker and will not come after personal assets or assume ownership of the collateral if the loan defaults,” Aitken said. “We take possession of the collateral and sell it and give back what’s left to customers.

Aitken explained that if a customer owned a gold Rolex watch valued at $35,000, for example, borro would loan up to $25,000 using the watch as collateral.

It works like this: Customers fill out an application with detailed information about the asset.

The company arranges to get the asset to New York, where it is appraised and a loan offer is made within 24 hours.