Saturday, August 8, 2009

“Trust” as service, or all about Benjamin?

As I tried to things to post here now, I have been gathering some materials for a month or so. I just couldn’t find a time to do that. The projects were killers. :(

I came across this Web 2.0 site called, Smartypig.com. Smartypig.com is a service site which users are able to set own saving amount. It’s a virtual piggy bank. At the same time, you can share your saving goal with others (family members too) so that they can contribute it if they wish. Since this is Web 2.0, it integrates with facebook and other social network sites.

I am little baffled with this service model and user behaviors. I maybe old school, but I don’t get the idea of sharing this kind of personal details. It’s a good behavior that can be recommended, especially in this tough economic time. Everyone wants to save some but I am not sure but doing this in public places.

Then I remember seeing other sites that are related to money lending sites a few years ago. Instead of getting load from banks, you ask from peers. The sites are even more popular now. Some college financial offices are even listing these sites as alternative way to get loans.

"Matching Borrower with Lender, Social-Network Style"
"Peer to Peer Education Loans"

Other sites are…
GreenNote.com
Lendingclub.com

Obviously, lenders and loaners are getting something out of this service. The needs for both parties are different but the service brings them together to provide what both user wants. To bring this service as legitimate, the service site has to create “trust” to users. I wondered how this kind of service would be started… Peer-to-Peer service is common, but the amount of money both users deal are completely different level. Would this be a common service in future? Is this part of cloud service?

3 comments:

  1. Wow, this is a first for me. I agree with you Hiro. I am not sure if I want my financial infomration shared with the public. Also, borrowing money from friends is a good way to lose them. With savings sites, does the user have to disclose the amount of money or do you only disclose that you put money in? Is there security liabilities involved? or is this an "at your own risk type of deal? This is amazing in that we are encouraging so much computer interaction; it seems human interaction is becoming non-existent. Why borrow from a friend online when you can call them? Is that how it works?

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  2. I just looked up smartypip..looks like it could be set up like paypal. Is this true?

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  3. Hiro, this reminds me of another site Kiva (http://www.kiva.org/) that pairs lenders and borrowers for micro-loans. It's a great program that's helping lots of people improve their overall quality of life. The trust factor is actually managed "off-line". I think they've really considered the entire service, and not just the web2.0 collaborative side. People need to meet face to face, and go through screening processes. A human being actually runs the overall funds distribution side.
    This ensures the overall success of the service, and thus builds up the trust overall as time goes on. Here's how it works (from their site):

    1) Lenders like you browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need, and choose someone to lend to. When they lend, using PayPal or their credit cards, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of our microfinance partners worldwide.

    2) Kiva's microfinance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur. Often, our partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur's chances of success.

    3) Over time, the entrepreneur repays their loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them.

    4) When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.

    Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entrepreneur on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.

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