CHINA’S peer-to-peer lending platforms transacted another record high 97.5 billion yuan (US$15.3 billion) in August, lifting the total volume of the sector to 863.5 billion yuan so far this year, amid an interest rate cut and a stock market rout, according to a survey released yesterday.

The monthly transactions were nearly doubled the amount in March, and were up 3.9 times from a year earlier, Online Lending House, a web portal that tracks the sector, said.

“A relatively high return rate of P2P platforms attracted investors in the last two months as the central bank’s interest rate cut led to lower deposit rates while the new round of the stock market rout saw uncertainty on investment return,” said Ma Jun, chief research officer at Shanghai Ying Can Investment Management Consulting Co.

The P2P websites are estimated to transact over 1 trillion yuan annually this year on growing demand to raise funds, Online Lending House said.

P2P lending, which offers easier access and higher returns than bank deposits, appeals to Chinese individual investors. There are 2,283 P2P platforms in the country.

New rules unveiled by the People’s Bank of China on July 18 are set to lead to the biggest reshuffle in the second half of 2015. They require online sites to serve only as intermediaries between lenders and borrowers and ban them from “enhancing borrower creditworthiness” by raising funds of their own to lend.

There were 7.5 billion yuan in problematic loans in the January-August period, Online Lending House said.