Zopa: The Power of Peer-to-Peer Lending
Zopa, a U.K.-based peer-to-peer lending company, connected individual lenders and borrowers via an online interface. The company charged a small fee for completed loan transactions but has not turned a profit. Zopa offered two platforms, Markets and Listings. Markets was an automated system that assembled loans by combining lowest loan offers from different Zopa lenders. Zopa Listings allowed prospective borrowers to post eBay-like listings explaining who they were, how much money they needed, and how they would use it. Lenders then made offers specifying how much they were willing to lend and at what rate. Neither platform met with much success. In February 2009, the CEO of Zopa is considering withdrawing from Listings, and focusing on Markets, even though a company in the U.S., Prosper, had attracted many users with a product akin to Zopa Listings.