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A fee in our ear.

As you might have noticed, we’ve generated some passionate debate over at the discussion board about the introduction of fees.

You can read for yourself the pro’s and con’s in the lengthy thread (Our CEO, Richard Duvall, has also written a reply that’s worth reading), but I wanted to say a little bit about what we’ve learnt from this already.

I guess what we’ve been very forcefully reminded of is that fact that we have a community of members who have spent a lot of time learning about Zopa and how it all works. When we abruptly changed the way Zopa is going to work in the future, we upset a lot of people.

Thankfully, we had the discussion board up and running so we now know exactly how upset people are, and we’ll think carefully about how we move forward with the fee, taking on board everything people have said.

It’s interesting to think about how we’d have done it differently, with hindsight. I think it would work something like this: 1) Take several small groups of Zopa lenders and borrowers (particularly active lenders) to talk about possible fee models and the pro’s and con’s of each – aim to actually develop a working assumption about what model to use in conjunction with those members. 2) Open this up to the community on the discussion board, explain how we got to the fee model, offer up alternatives, and maybe ask people to discuss and vote. 3) When we have a clear answer, agreed by the community, give people a lot more warning about when we’d introduce the change, so that there is plenty of time for people to adjust to it coming. 4) Stay close to the community after the fee has been introduced, and make sure it’s what people expected.

To be fair to us, we did do some of 1) and we’re trying to do 4) as well as possible (although we failed on Friday afternoon), but 2) and 3) we missed out completely.

We’ve learnt a lesson about the importance of community – thank you for that.