One of my Junto friends sent me a link about Zopa, a new UK-based company backed by Benchmark Capital (a top tier VC fund–check out the Benchmark Portfolio). Zopa apparently allows individuals to lend money to other individuals with good credit ratings–from 2,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds. Zopa takes a 1% transaction fee. There are insurance provisions and a spreading of risk among 50 borrowers so the lenders money should be safe.
I think this is a great concept. Who wants to put their money in a bank anymore to earn a lower interest rate than inflation? Meanwhile, the credit card companies rack up fortunes by charging high interest rates. I think Zopa could disintermediate the credit card companies. I love this idea. I hope it comes to the U.S. soon so I can try it out.
Every time I find a new cool web service I have to try it so that I can see and feel how it works and then more easily predict how quickly it will be adopted. I used to challenge all our Ancestry.com employees to do online banking, online stock trading, use eBay, sign up for PayPal, book travel online, buy books online, and do everything they could online so they could learn what sites delivered a great user experience. I still think that is good advice for anyone involved in an internet business.