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Zopa. Neither a borrower nor a lender be!
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# 1
MSE Martin
Old 07-03-2005, 6:31 PM
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Smile Zopa. Neither a borrower nor a lender be!

Update Note 2 March 2006

Well zopa has now been around a long time and finally its rates, in some limited circumstances, have got competitive ( see updated cheapest loans)

The fact that this is possible, is rather worrying in some ways. Why people are willing to lend at 4.6% when they could put it in a savings account and earn more, i don't quite understand. However the fact that they are means cheap borrowing is now available and thus moneysavers should grab it.

I have left my original notes from when Zopa launched for info on how things have changed:
__________________________________



'Neither a borrower nor a lender be' (with Zopa anyway)


Today Zopa the new 'freeform' borrowing organisation has launched with a leap of hype over product.

The idea seems simple, its calling itself the 'ebay' of financial services - "we'll find someone who wants to lend money and a borrow and put them together and charge just 1% for it."

The logic behind 'cutting out the middleman' may seem good, but with cold hard rationale, there are currently no circumstances where any consumer could benefit from it either as investor or borrower!

What you need to make it worth being a lender?

The top saving account with instant access pays 5.35%. So you would need to at least be earning more than this before it is worth putting your money with Zopa and as Zopa is much riskier, actually you'd want substantially more.

What you need to make it worth being a borrower?

Zopa is currently only lending to individuals with high credit scorers.

The cheapest personal loan on the market is 5.7% by Barclaycard (see cheapest loans article), though this is rate for risk, yet Zopa's customers should be fine. Yet Zopa's big sell is ''unstructured lending.

For that the real equivalent is a credit card, and by playing the credit card system you can get long term permanent debt at 3.9% (see half price precision plastic loans article) via the Texaco credit card (though you have to play a little to get it there). Whilst this may take more of a play, Texaco is backed by Lloyds TSB, who certainly are 'safer' than a new company.

Some have also said "Zopa is suitable for short term borrowing" and this is its real strength. Again I would simply say there are better ways to get a loan in the short term (see short term loans completely interest free

It doesn't add up

This means no borrowers should be paying more than 3.9% and the very least a lender should want in return is 5.35%.

.... and there's more

Yes there's more that's not mentioned. You won't see anywhere on the main bit of the site an answer about 'tax'. If you are a lender (or investor as i prefer to think of it) then you will be taxed on your extra income - apaprently this tax is not at the savings rate (20% for basic rate taxpayers and 40% for higher) but at the income tax rate (22% and 40%).

Plus the regulation of this is interest. The fact it'll use debt collectors to get unpaid debt.

Frankly at the moment Zopa wins my BARGEPOLE WARNING as in don't touch it with.

Martin
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Last edited by MSE Martin; 27-04-2006 at 10:10 AM.
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# 2
Debt_Free_Chick
Old 07-03-2005, 6:38 PM
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And if the borrower defaults, the debt is sold to a debt collector. The good news is you get share of what the debt collector pays. The bad news is that debts are sold on for about 20% of the outstanding amount!
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# 3
deemy2004
Old 07-03-2005, 6:54 PM
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If only it was possible to borrow from the banks at say 6% and lend the zopa clients at say 8% would be pennies from heaven ...........

Unfortunately Zopa has the makings of hell for the lenders.........

If people want to up their return with some extra risk, then why not lend to companies ?, i.e. corporate bonds.

Last edited by deemy2004; 07-03-2005 at 7:13 PM.
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# 4
Lakeuk
Old 07-03-2005, 9:42 PM
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You would also have to lend well above the return you wish to achieve as very.

Example below is very crude be demonstrates my point :-

Say you lend 1200 @ 6% over 12 months, at the end of each month you get one twelth of 6% of the outstanding balance plus that months instalment - so instead of the 72, you actually get 33. You need to re-lend your received instalments to get the 72, but then you're in a tied in circle.
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# 5
peterfleet
Old 07-03-2005, 10:56 PM
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Default Zopa puff

I think the Zopa, we are like the ebay of the lending and borrowing world, newspaper article in the Times, was just kite flying. And very successful at grabbing attention it has been.

As the detail emerges it seems worthless IMO to potential lenders.
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# 6
MarkyMarkD
Old 07-03-2005, 11:41 PM
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I can't believe the number of apparently sensible people they have on their board - they should all know better.

The idea of person-to-person lending, apart from in a personal capacity, is nonsense.
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# 7
Reestit Mutton
Old 08-03-2005, 2:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSE Martin
'Neither a borrower nor a lender be' (with Zopa anyway)

Today Zopa the new 'freeform' borrowing organisation has launched with a leap of hype over product.

The idea seems simple, its calling itself the 'ebay' of financial services - "we'll find someone who wants to lend money and a borrow and put them together and charge just 1% for it."

The logic behind 'cutting out the middleman' may seem good, but with cold hard rationale, there are currently no circumstances where any consumer could benefit from it either as investor or borrower!

What you need to make it worth being a lender?

The top saving account with instant access pays 5.35%. So you would need to at least be earning more than this before it is worth putting your money with Zopa and as Zopa is much riskier, actually you'd want substantially more.

What you need to make it worth being a borrower?

Zopa is currently only lending to individuals with high credit scorers.

The cheapest personal loan on the market is 5.7% by Barclaycard, though this is rate for risk, yet Zopa's customers should be fine. Yet Zopa's big sell is ''unstructured lending.

For that the real equivalent is a credit card, and by playing the credit card system you can get long term permanent debt at 3.9% via the Texaco credit card (though you have to play a little to get it there). Whilst this may take more of a play, Texaco is backed by Lloyds TSB, who certainly are 'safer' than a new company.

It doesn't add up

This means no borrowers should be paying more than 3.9% and the very least a lender should want in return is 5.35%.

.... and there's more

Yes there's more that's not mentioned. You won't see anywhere on the main bit of the site an answer about 'tax'. If you are a lender (or investor as i prefer to think of it) then you will be taxed on your extra income - apaprently this tax is not at the savings rate (20% for basic rate taxpayers and 40% for higher) but at the income tax rate (22% and 40%).

Plus the regulation of this is interest. The fact it'll use debt collectors to get unpaid debt.

Frankly at the moment Zopa wins my BARGEPOLE WARNING as in don't touch it with.

Martin
Martin,

I'd like to comment on your post from the viewpoint of a potential lender...

We all know that, despite there being cheap (often free) credit available on credit cards, there will always be plenty of people who will borrow from a company such as Zopa as it will inevitably beat the prices on offer on high-street loans and, despite your valliant efforts to educate the masses, there will always be a significant minority of people unaware of the benefits of a good low interest/interest free period on their credit card.

Anyway, the 5.7% loan rate you quoted in your post is very unlikely to be offered on a sub-5000 loan over a short period of time - c.f. Alliance & Leicester who quote a headline rate of 5.9% on loans of more than 5000 but 12.5% on a 4000 loan and as much as 17% on a 1000 loan. This is where I see the market for Zopa - sub-5000 sums at reasonable rates for those unaware of how to use credit card offers effectively.

Furthermore, Zopa allows the borrower to pay off their loan early if they wish - something that the average high-street lender doesn't allow.

Anyway, even taking the above into consideration there is one very worrying aspect of Zopa for lenders...you must have the funds in your Zopa account before you can make an offer to lend and Zopa will not pay you any interest for money lodged with them while it's waiting to be lent out. With your money having to be split among a minimum of 50 borrowers you could be waiting a long time before it's lent out and, what's more, as it gets repaid to you month by month you will continually (on a month by month basis) have to reoffer it on their lenders market if you want the money to continue to work for you.

Seems a lot of work for money that will probably end up being unutilised for anything up to 20% of the time (infact probably longer in the early days while they build up their customer base) - whatever returns you may be able to estimate for your money you will inevitably have to scale them down by up to 20% to factor in this dead-time thus increasing the minimum rate of return required to make it a worthwile alternative to a savings account.

In short - I agree with your sentiments (from a lender's point of view) but for reasons not mentioned in your post.

RM
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Last edited by Reestit Mutton; 08-03-2005 at 2:20 AM.
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# 8
CTT
Old 08-03-2005, 9:22 AM
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Default Zopa - Equifax Credit Score

Out of interest I registered last night with Zopa and after a few questions regarding my credit file they came back and said I have a score of 486.
Does anyone know whether this is good or what. I then applied for a loan but could not get anything higher than 1000 pounds stg.
With thanks,
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# 9
Reestit Mutton
Old 08-03-2005, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTT
Out of interest I registered last night with Zopa and after a few questions regarding my credit file they came back and said I have a score of 486.
Does anyone know whether this is good or what. I then applied for a loan but could not get anything higher than 1000 pounds stg.
With thanks,
Yes...486 is good.

If you read their FAQs, it says that 50% of the population are above 400 and 30% of those people are above 470. I think that means that you are in what they consider to be the top slice of the population.

As for only being able to borrow 1000 this is only because the market is young. As everyone has to spread their money between at least 50 borrowers there is a maximum that each person can lend you based on their offer - if their offer is for 1000 then only 20 of that is available for you to borrow.

Add up the maximum that each person in that market can lend to you and you will probably reach a figure somewhere between 1000 & 2000. As more people enter the market, the maximum available to any one person will rise. However, this will take time.

Nonetheless, as Martin says, there are better ways to borrow the money e.g. Sainsburys platinum credit card gives you 0% on purchases for 12 months and a guaranteed minimum credit limit of 3000. You can apply for it as long as you have an income of more than 15K p.a.

RM
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# 10
MSE Martin
Old 08-03-2005, 11:40 AM
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Hi Reestit, while i agree with your points I think this was covered in my argument. Zopa's big strength is 'unstructured lending' as such a better analogy is with credit cards than with loans. Hence why 'short term loans interest free' or the half price plastic loans article which i detail above are better comparitors and Zopa does even worse against them

martin
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# 11
CTT
Old 08-03-2005, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTT
Out of interest I registered last night with Zopa and after a few questions regarding my credit file they came back and said I have a score of 486.
Does anyone know whether this is good or what. I then applied for a loan but could not get anything higher than 1000 pounds stg.
With thanks,
Thanks for reply and it has saved me aready saved me 6.75. I applied for my Equifax credit file for 2.00 and they said I could obtain my credit score for 6.75, so by signing up with Zopa it has saved me that money.

Also would not take a loan from Zopa (as other contributors have already noted) there are a lot better deals to be sought elsewhere.
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# 12
Marigold123
Old 08-03-2005, 12:56 PM
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Can you be sure that the credit score they are giving you is accurate? I'd be interested to know if this is this their own score, or is it based on your 'real' credit score with the main credit reference agencies?

Do you know whether they use Experian or Equifax? I gather that most potential lenders will use one or the other of these, and information held on one will not necessarily be the same as info held on the other.

I was also wondering how impartial the information they give you would be, given that they want to encourage you to use their services.

Also, just to remind people, there are quite often ways to obtain a credit report with both Experian and Equifax for free, if you search around a bit. I don't know about obtaining an actual credit score, but Experian are currently offering a free 30-day trial with access to credit reports. And I'm sure I saw something similar mentioned for Equifax somewhere recently. I suspect that in both cases your credit score would cost extra though.

---------------------------------
EDIT: Just been and had a look at their site and it SAYS they use the credti rating supplied by Equifax.

Have to say the whole site looks a bit too 'chatty' for my liking. Certainly wouldn't use it to borrow or lend - might use it for credit rating, though, if I thought it wouldn't reflect badly on my rating to have the check done. I'm not too sure about that side of things; can anyone enlighten me?

Interestingly, it also looks as though they don't even let you see their T&Cs until you give them your email address.
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Last edited by Marigold123; 08-03-2005 at 1:08 PM.
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# 13
Reestit Mutton
Old 08-03-2005, 1:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSE Martin
Hi Reestit, while i agree with your points I think this was covered in my argument. Zopa's big strength is 'unstructured lending' as such a better analogy is with credit cards than with loans. Hence why 'short term loans interest free' or the half price plastic loans article which i detail above are better comparitors and Zopa does even worse against them

martin
Hi Martin,

I think we might be at cross-purposes here - it was the "dead-time" and "money recycling" aspects of Zopa that I was saying wasn't covered in your post. Both of these aspects of the system make it difficult to justify using Zopa as a lender unless the achieveable loan rate is very high.

I also find it rather underhand of Zopa to explicitly claim that it's free for lenders to use - the fact (buried deep in their T&Cs) that they pay no interest on money deposited is, in itself, a levy on lenders that they stand to gain financially from.

regards,
RM
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# 14
Rafter
Old 08-03-2005, 1:42 PM
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Martin,

While I share your nervousness about the system in its infancy, the concept does seem sound if it is bypassing banks who are making high profits in parts of the lending and saving market.

Unfortunately your money saving ideals that people should earn more on savings than they can borrow for (ie stoozing or chasing 0% or near 0% offers) is not sustainable in the wider banking system and would lead to a collapse in the banking system if everyone followed it.

If at some point, normality returns and savings rates are lower than borrowing rates then if the 1% that zopa charges is less than the wider banking system, and their credit risk management is sound then it sounds like an interesting concept and could be good value for both savers and borrowers.

How zopa can succeed while zero % deals persist and while banks are conducting a bit of a savings war I don't quite know.

However, their may be some people who have overstretched themselves on credit cards and who are paying 20% APR who will find a zopa lender willing to accept say 10% and halve their borrowing costs which has to be better than paying huge fees to a secured lender or loan shark.

Your right though about tax. If someone has 3000 to invest they would probably be better taking a cash ISA than using this system. However, if they have used their ISA limit, have up to 25000 to invest, don't like the stock market, think the banks are screwing them on savings rate and are prepared to take the same risk that banks do about bad debts then it may be a good investments. A lot of caveats there!

Looking at the major bank results though, over half their costs are bad debts. So Zopa lenders should always expect to get less than they bid that is unless Zopa performs better than the major banks at collecting and chasing defaulting customers.

I for one will not be signing up. What would make me reconsider is if Zopa was part of the co-op bank and was providing a credit union type service to people who would otherwise go to doorstep lenders or who are being ripped off by the conventional banking system.

R.
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# 15
CTT
Old 08-03-2005, 2:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marigold123
Can you be sure that the credit score they are giving you is accurate? I'd be interested to know if this is this their own score, or is it based on your 'real' credit score with the main credit reference agencies?

Do you know whether they use Experian or Equifax? I gather that most potential lenders will use one or the other of these, and information held on one will not necessarily be the same as info held on the other.

I was also wondering how impartial the information they give you would be, given that they want to encourage you to use their services.

Also, just to remind people, there are quite often ways to obtain a credit report with both Experian and Equifax for free, if you search around a bit. I don't know about obtaining an actual credit score, but Experian are currently offering a free 30-day trial with access to credit reports. And I'm sure I saw something similar mentioned for Equifax somewhere recently. I suspect that in both cases your credit score would cost extra though.

---------------------------------
EDIT: Just been and had a look at their site and it SAYS they use the credti rating supplied by Equifax.

Have to say the whole site looks a bit too 'chatty' for my liking. Certainly wouldn't use it to borrow or lend - might use it for credit rating, though, if I thought it wouldn't reflect badly on my rating to have the check done. I'm not too sure about that side of things; can anyone enlighten me?

Interestingly, it also looks as though they don't even let you see their T&Cs until you give them your email address.
I know it is Equifax'sscore because it transferrred me to their site and asked my for senitive information relating to my credit file.
Thanks
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# 16
Marigold123
Old 08-03-2005, 2:15 PM
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Ah, I see. Thanks.
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# 17
MSE Martin
Old 08-03-2005, 2:35 PM
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Rafter

I couldn't agree more. My assessment is on the current marketplace. I have no problem with the Zopa concept on the whole.

The only thing I disagree with is

"However, their may be some people who have overstretched themselves on credit cards and who are paying 20% APR who will find a zopa lender willing to accept say 10% and halve their borrowing costs which has to be better than paying huge fees to a secured lender or loan shark."


Currently they are only going for high credit scorers so this won't happen. When i spoke to it on the phone, I said 'when you open it up to people with lower scores' i think it may become interesting - so do let me know. However at the moment in the words of family fortunes

Uh Urrr
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# 18
MarkyMarkD
Old 08-03-2005, 9:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafter
However, their may be some people who have overstretched themselves on credit cards and who are paying 20% APR who will find a zopa lender willing to accept say 10% and halve their borrowing costs which has to be better than paying huge fees to a secured lender or loan shark.

-snipped-

Looking at the major bank results though, over half their costs are bad debts. So Zopa lenders should always expect to get less than they bid that is unless Zopa performs better than the major banks at collecting and chasing defaulting customers.

I for one will not be signing up. What would make me reconsider is if Zopa was part of the co-op bank and was providing a credit union type service to people who would otherwise go to doorstep lenders or who are being ripped off by the conventional banking system.
OK taking those in turn:

(1) If a ZOPA lender charges 10% APR to someone who would otherwise be paying 20% APR, that ZOPA lender is on average going to lose a lot of money. Fact.

(2) "Over half the banks' costs are bad debts"? Rubbish. The majority of bank costs, like any service business, is STAFF. Bad debt costs are tiny at this point in the economic cycle.

(3) Credit unions are all economically unsound, because they are lending at unsustainably low rates and only "making money" through subsidies. The banks are not "ripping off" these customers - they are charging a rate which reflects the risk of default - which is very high.
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# 19
deemy2004
Old 08-03-2005, 9:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTT
Out of interest I registered last night with Zopa and after a few questions regarding my credit file they came back and said I have a score of 486.
Does anyone know whether this is good or what. I then applied for a loan but could not get anything higher than 1000 pounds stg.
With thanks,
486 good ?

They must be using their own scoring scale..
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# 20
deemy2004
Old 08-03-2005, 10:38 PM
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Just signed up ! and I get a credit score of 488

I can lend to A-B and borrow from A.

From their website - Presently 97k in total is on offer as loans
With a total of 35 lending offers available

So very small scale at the moment.

Will see what else I can dig up

Maybe I'll give it a whirl with a small amount of cash... looks like fun
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