I recently attended an excellent conference in London, on Facebook marketing. Somebody, I can’t remember who, made the claim that “Facebook will at some point become the world’s biggest bank”. I didn’t know whether to believe that. However, I did hear many presentations at that event from entrepreneurs apparently earning serious money through Facebook and other online resources.

What I didn’t hear that day, but I know now, was that hundreds of individuals now lend money to each other through Facebook. “Cutting out the middleman”, we used to say; and Facebook is facilitating it. I came across this interesting fact while trawling through my “newspaper cuttings awaiting reading” pile and found an article by Maryrose Fison in The Independent. It was a couple of months ago but no matter.

Debt rescheduling / consolidation / relocation?

People who are concerned about their debts often ask advisers if they should look for ways to move the debt elsewhere, for example through a debt consolidation loan. The pros and cons of that route have been discussed many times so I won’t go into it here, except to say that the general advice is always to avoid this kind of loan if it has to be secured against your home.

A zero percent balance transfer is another way of getting “free” credit. Even allowing for the fact that there’s always a fee of around 3%, it’s cheap money, provided your credit record is clean enough to get it.

Borrowing money from individuals, however, is something that was new to me; except, of course, for friends and family, who are often a source of funds from which debtors make offers to their creditors for “full and final settlement”. However, this new trend is borrowing from individuals who are total strangers.

Here’s an extract from what Ms Fison said:

“As hundreds of thousands of Britons struggle to get a foot on the property ladder, with banks continuing to crack down on new lending, social networking applications have become a lifeline. Who would willingly choose to pay through the roof for an unattractive loan package when there are millions of social network users gagging to lend you their money for less?

“The average rate of interest on a loan at the Lending Club over the past 36 months has been 9.22 per cent. On Zopa, the typical APR on a loan of £5,000 over three years is 8.3 per cent, and on Funding Circle a £15,000, three-year loan has an APR of 9 per cent -well below the 12 per cent a typical bank would charge.”

That sounds attractive, although there are lending offers on the market nearer 9% than 12%; some of them were listed on the same page of the paper under “best buys”. The issue, again, would be whether one’s credit record would be good enough to qualify. A private lender would also need reassurance but might be more flexible than a bank, as they are getting a relatively high return (much better than the high street, anyway) on their money.

Facebook apps

You’ll note that Ms Fison (excuse my formal mode of address: I’m old-fashioned and I’ve never spoken to her, though I shall be following her on Twitter from now on) mentioned The Lending Club; she says it was one of the first applications to be added to Facebook in 2007. She also mentions Zopa:

“UK-based social lending service Zopa is another provider, and the number of communal lending and borrowing sites with applications on social networks is growing at a staggering rate.”

Ms Fison concludes:

“Social networking applications may still be in their infancy, but given the popularity of personal finance and online peer lending, their influence on our day-to-day activities looks set to take off this year.”

Well, there is nothing to be lost and lots to be gained by investigating this further. I’ll certainly be doing some research into peer lending sites: watch this space!


For a copy of the full article in The Independent by Maryrose Fison:

For a free sample of my book, “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”, go to:


Other e-formats, including .pdf:

You can follow me on Twitter: @michaelmac43, or Facebook: Michael James MacMahon.


I know that many Londoners complain about their public transport. The overcrowding is a problem, of course, and one that I have recently experienced. I’ve seen how often people don’t even try to get on to a Tube or Overground train because there is not even any standing room; not even “room for a small one?”

However, I’d suggest that one thing they could do, in order to feel better about the transport where they live, is to spend a few months outside the capital and then go back to London to see the difference. OK, compared with most other European capitals London’s system could be improved, but let’s judge by British standards. We have many unique qualities but, as we all know, we are not world-famous for efficient public transport.

Last week I was “up in town”, as we yokels say, for a Facebook marketing seminar at the Thistle Marble Arch. The Thursday session finished just before 18:45 and I had to get up to my daughter’s flat in Haringey; some considerable distance, which would require at least one change, whether I went by bus or train. I knew I needed to go east, then north, and I didn’t want to take a bus along Oxford Street as I know how slow that can be on a Thursday, i.e. late-shopping night. As I left the hotel into a side-street, three buses pulled up, all going north; wonderful! One was going to The Angel so I figured that would do as a first leg. Sure enough it got me to Camden Town within 20 mins. Leaping out there, I found a 29 heading north for Haringey, right behind it. So I got on board and was soon at my destination.

I waited less than 30 seconds for both buses. Luck of the Irish, you might say. Maybe, but at that time of the evening you might have had to wait 30 minutes in the city where I live, not 30 seconds. I got a seat both times, I might add.

The next morning, I used trains just for variety. Leaving my daughter’s at 08:00, I was at Haringey Station at 08:02; a southbound train arrived 2 mins later. Changing at Highbury, I walked across the platform to a Victoria Line train two minutes later and then changed at Oxford Circus. I was at Marble Arch station at 08:30. That was less than 30 mins after setting out from Haringey station. Look at the map and you’ll see that was something.

You might like or dislike Ken Livingston’s politics; like or dislike his talent for self-promotion that led to the slogan “Mayor of London” being so ubiquitous. As a non-Londoner, however, I am impressed with how efficiently the capital’s public transport functions. Strikes permitting, Transport for London gets my vote.

Please, please, Ken, now you have some spare time I beg you to come and fix the public transport here!