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Powerlenders are go!

We had a web site release yesterday – which I’ve said I won’t write about here any more (and talk about them on the discussion boards instead), but this was an important one.

For the first time at Zopa, it is possible to lend more than £25,000 to Zopa borrowers. This is a great thing – it means we can have larger lenders lending through Zopa, which means that more borrowers will get the loans they want – which has to be a good thing for all concerned.

It’s been a big job to get this live, and the reason why is principally to do with a piece of legislation known as the Consumer Credit Act (CCA).

Because people who lend more than £25,000 could be considered to be lending in the course of a business by the Office of Fair Trading (who are responsible for regulating unsecured lending in the UK), they need two things – 1) a consumer credit licence, and 2) to be lending in a way that is in line with the CCA.

The CCA sets out, in painful detail, exactly how a loan contract should be presented to borrowers, how both parties should sign it, and what document has to be available. It’s been designed with big banks in mind – where there is one lender and one borrower.

Zopa is of course slightly different. Lenders lend to at least 50 borrowers, in £10 contracts (£500 for CCA lenders, unless they ask us to change it). So a CCA lender (who are the only lenders who need to worry about this) can have hundreds of contracts to sign. Each one has be individually signed with a distinct action on the behalf of the lender (So a tick box that say’s "Sign all" won’t cut it), with it’s own time stamp. In additin, each contact has to be made available as a downloadable (and signable!) PDF document – all filled out with the amount of the contact, the lenders contact details (Their username, and Zopa’s Tipton address) and the time and date. Quite a task….

Anyway – after much work and input from just about everyone in the office (We’re an opinionated lot around here) we finally came up with a solution. It’s so clever, it’s patent pending, and because only CCA lenders will get to see it ‘in the wild’ I thought I’d show you a video of it here. (Can you tell we’ve got a YouTube account recently?)

(You can also download it here (Quicktime file) – slightly better quality than the YouTube version – and a snip at 9MB)

Besides this new signing screen, there has been a huge amount of work on the entire site to get this implemented, and I think it’s worth taking some time to thanks people individually – so here goes:

  • Tim – for managing the whole process and getting it delivered on time

  • Simon DJ – for legal input and creative thinking about how you sign contracts online

  • Ian @ BJSS – for leading the team there who have created a technical wonder – we really have no idea how it actually works

  • Sarah and Justin – for managing the design and usability work involved….with him being an Apple user is it any wonder we settled on 1 button?

  • Damon and Dan @ Pynk & Fluffy – for the early Flash mock ups and working up endless prototypes

  • Giles – for getting lenders to sign up to lend under the Zopa Powerlender scheme

  • Thomas B and Tom E – for HTML, deployment skills under pressure and lots of copy

  • Hilary, Ian and everyone else in Tipton – for testing the release over a hot and sweaty weekend, and making sure everything (pretty much) worked as it was supposed to

  • James – for pushing the whole damn thing into motion in the first place

Thank you everyone!