Social networks could supplant banks

27 November 2006
Online social networking sites could soon evolve into banking providers, according to research from the Social Futures Observatory (SFO) think-tank.

The new study finds that 74 per cent of Britons would consider borrowing or lending through an online "social lending" community, which puts would-be borrowers directly in touch with would-be lenders.

Peer-to-peer financial services are likely to evolve into a category "of genuine importance", according to the report's authors.

Professor Michael Hulme, who carried out the study, said: "For most people, banking does not provide any form of rewarding or valued experience, it is simply a necessity.

"In contrast, the community sites we looked at appeared to offer a much deeper appreciation of the individual far beyond the actual transaction."

As many as 61 per cent of respondents were suspicious of the motives of banks, which they claimed aimed principally to "to make money for themselves".

The study was commissioned and part-funded by Zopa, an online financial "exchange" regulated by the OFT and FSA which has accrued 105,000 members since launching in 2005.

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