Zopa are peer to peer
pioneers. Peer to peer is a form of lending that's becoming increasingly popular, like a cross between a bank or building society and crowdfunding. Zopa were the world's first supplier of peer to peer lending, and are Europe's largest peer to peer lender. Their services have won awards including the 2014 Moneywise Customer Service Award for most trusted personal loan
provider, and winning personal loan provider of the year at the 2014 Consumer Moneyfacts awards. They are based in London, and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The name Zopa is an acronym, and stands for 'Zone Of Possible Agreement', which is itself a nod to the way that peer to peer lending works by borrowers and lenders reaching an agreement with each other.
Zopa were founded in 2005, and many of the people involved in the launch had previously had connections with the online financial service provider Egg.
At the time it was a revolutionary concept and the media compared their service to eBay and Betfair, the peer to peer betting platform. They launched a similar service in the USA and Italy, but these are now run independently of the United Kingdom organisation.
Peer to peer lending brings a borrower together with a lender, and can lead to mutual benefits for both parties. The advantages to borrowers is that they can apply for loans that offer a lower rate than they could otherwise enjoy. They can apply to borrow an amount between £1,000 and £25,000 and the repayment period is similarly flexible.
Decisions are made within 24 hours, and do involve a credit check to ensure that potential borrowers meet Zopa's eligibility criteria. Both borrowers and lenders pay a small fee, but this is made clear at the time of a loan being taken.
They also plan to launch peer to peer ISAs in the future, another innovation.