does an e-bay model of borrowing spell the end of traditional consumer finance?

The promise of Internet commerce has been easing matching, lowering search costs, and allowing new entrants access to larger markets by de-territorializing them.  While there are Internet banks, this model of consumer borrowing is new and perhaps the beginning of a real revolution in finance.

“This week saw the latest twist on what’s come to be known as the ‘eBay model’ with the launch of Zopa [in the UK] – an online loans service that works in a similar way. Anyone with some spare cash can offer it up for a loan, through Zopa. Lenders set their own interest rates and can choose which borrowers to lend to, based on their credit rating.

Borrowers, meanwhile, can pick a rate that’s right for them and because Zopa is simply assisting the transaction, not lending its own assets, it claims to take a smaller cut (1% of the amount borrowed) than a bank. Safeguards are built in to help prevent lenders being fleeced and the whole outfit is sanctioned by the FSA – Britain’s financial services watchdog.”