This year I had an idea about using P2P (peer-to-peer) concepts within the finance world, so of course the first thing I did was to see what exists out their in the realm of p2p lending. I first came across Kiva.org, an organization which helps developing nations entreprenuers out with small business loans. Instead of donating money to a charity and having no idea how each of my dollars was used, I could see that I was helping out an individual and her family to help grow her business. After she repays her loan, I can help out someone else with those funds--
I also came across Prosper.com, which tends to have a bit more of a capitalistic vs humanitarian approach of allowing us to choose who to lend to and the rate they hope to see in return -- the credit checks are part of the profile, and with lower credit borrowers you can expect a higher return, although you assume more risk. The best rates/bids for the borrower are the ones that win.
Recently, I found a company that focuses on the student loan market -- Fynanz, and I think going forward this kind of alternative student loan may become more attractive to people. It also allows for family/friends to loan money to someone they know while adding a layer of accountability instead of having a paper- IOU written.
All interesting concepts, especially in todays world of large bank mistrust -- any thoughts on which one if any you would consider putting some of your hard-earned money towards?