By Peter Andrew
Last year, my sister and brother-in-law wanted to remodel their kitchen. They both have good, secure jobs and great credit scores, and could easily have raised the money they needed, even in this economic climate. However, at the same time my mom had quite a hefty balance in a high yield savings account. With bank rates running low, it didn't take them long to work out that my mother could earn more interest, and my sister pay less, if they cut out the bank, and worked out loan terms between themselves.
And that, in essence, is what peer-to-peer lending (a.k.a. person-to-person or P2P lending ) is all about. By eliminating the costly overheads and shareholder profits of banks (not to mention those bonuses), a loan between individuals can make both the borrower and lender better off. None of this is new. Families and friends have been helping each other out for millennia.
P2P lending web sites
What is new is the worldwide web. This allows strangers to lend and borrow through a middleman website that charges a small fraction of the mark-up that banks take for, in effect, brokering a loan. The first of these sites in America, Prosper, began in 2006, and by October 2010 had attracted more than a million members and had funded $205 million worth of loans.
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