|By Jim Bruene on December 9, 2008 7:24 PM | Comments|
Start-up activity in the financial technology sector has slowed dramatically since Sept./October when a dozen online finance startups launched (see previous post), not a surprising development given economic conditions and the time of year.
Still, a number of companies remain in the pipeline, and yesterday we saw the launch of an entrant into the battered P2P lending space. But ZimpleMoney is not entering into the newly SEC-regulated market occupied by Prosper, Lending Club, Loanio and other hopefuls. Instead, the Costa Mesa, CA-based startup is offering a platform with tools so that third parties can either build lending services on top of it, or use ZimpleMoney's processing capabilities to manage loans and financial transactions.
ZimpleMoney can also be used like Virgin Money USA or LoanBack to handle a single loan amongst friends and family, either for personal or business use. The introductory price for an individual loan is $39 plus $7.99/mo.
The site, which opened Monday, still looks more like a beta operation. The registration system wasn't fully functional yesterday, and I ran into several broken links today. But minor annoyances aside, it's an interesting development that should help drive social finance forward.
Given Prosper's recent woes, we are not likely to see new Prosper-like P2P exchanges using the ZimpleMoney platform any time soon. But it could be a good way for nonprofits, foundations, or microfinance organizations to launch Web-based loan operations with a minimal amount of development time and expense. Banks, credit unions, and other financial services companies could also private-label the service for their clients.
In his announcement email Monday, CEO (aka ZEO) Steven Rabago said they'd had interest from several nonprofits, a realty company, an investment management company, a student lender, and a large regional bank. Rabago started his career as a commercial banker at Bank of America. He left in 1983 to start National Corporate Finance (now called Archarios). In 2001, he co-founded a location-based services company Telogis, where he remains as a board member.
ZimpleMoney homepage (9 Dec 2008)
Note: For more info on the market, see our Online Banking Report on P2P Lending.
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