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Nancy Feig
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Zopa Brings Social Lending to the United States

U.K. peer-to-peer lender, Zopa, enlists the help of credit unions for its U.S. expansion.

Zopa.com, a social lending site founded in Britain in March 2005, plans to launch in the United States this week, according to a company spokeswoman. The site would join the likes of Virgin Money, Prosper and Facebook's Lending Club in managing loans between individuals in the United States. Such sites have gained popularity in recent years as alternatives to banks for providing capital to those in need, and can often provide better rates, or loans to those that may not qualify through a bank.

The U.S. launch of Zopa.com is no surprise given the growing popularity of peer-to-peer lending in the United States," said Christine Barry, Aite Group research director. "The current U.S. credit crunch is driving less credit- worthy borrowers who are now finding it more difficult to acquire a loan, as well as opportunistic lenders, toward this new median through which they can more easily borrow money and earn higher returns. In addition to the growing interest in this type of lending by U.S. consumers and small business owners, there are also very low barriers to entry and limited competition, creating an ideal environment for companies like Zopa.com to test the waters."

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