On the intersection of technology, culture, and everyday life: My semi-updated space to collect and link my thoughts about interesting things I spot.
Would you lend a stranger $10,000? How about $1,000? Prosper thinks people will (for a return). The site combines the concepts of social networking, online auctions, and microcredit. Borrowers set up personal profiles, that describe not just their financials, but also their interests, social habits, a short pitch on why they are a good bet, and, of course, a photo. Since its start in 2006, Prosper has gained more than 700K members and $140M in loans (like online campaign fundraising, most are small by many e.g. $5K funded by 50 people lending $100 each).
Unlike Kiva, Prosper is targeted for the developed world (see also UK based Zopa). How to monetize social capital is a multi-million dollar question in our 3.0 world. Aside from a hypothesis about efficiency (more of the spread going directly to lenders), I wonder how significantly human and social considerations play a role on Prosper (easing funding between friends/acquaintances or people with similar affinities) — there is also a Facebook app. In our increasingly de-humanized financial markets, is there a special appeal for returns that also have an emotional value? (Note: some bumps in performance data: renegade analysis + some official numbers)