Notice the headline of the article. I have chosen it, because I found it hard to describe what Fidorpay is. And Fidor itself meets the broad scope of questions, that the novelty service provokes, with a main FAQ of no less than 115 questions and answers. But I’ll try my best:
Fidorpay is a prepaid e-wallet that can be used via web or mobile apps (they currently have an iPhone app and are working on android). Once a user has transferred money into this account he can send money to other Fidor Pay users.
Sounds like Paypal? There are important differences:
- The Fidorpay system works nearly in real-time. That means money is credited to the receiver’s account within a very short time frame and can be used by him then. (Paypal offers fast notification, but it takes much longer for the money to be actually available in the recipient’s account for future transactions).
- Sending (and receiving) money is fee free
- Starting February, 1st 2011 Fidorpay users can now lend money via Fidorpay to ‘friends’
So how does the lending part work?
A Fidorpay user can ‘lend’ any amount between 5 and 500 Euro to anyone. This is possible even if the recipient does not (yet) have an account but his email-address or mobile phone number is know to the lender. Loans are interest-free. They do not have a fixed term, instead the lender can send the friend a request to repay anytime. Unlike sending money, lending is not fee-free; Fidorpay charges a one time fee of 0.49 EUR (approx. 0.68 US$).
Is this p2p lending then?
It is in a pure technical/infrastructural way, since it does enable one person to lend another person money (over a distance) via internet or mobile phone.
But it is not the p2p lending in the sense it is most commonly used in this blog for it lacks any marketplace and validation aspect. It only takes a lending process that would have offline taken place with cash handed over to a convenient online level. If the borrower refuses to repay the loan Fidorpay itself does not enforce the repayment in any way.
How is it relevant to p2p lending then?
Fidor with Fidorpay shows how an infrastructural footing for p2p lending could look that omits most of the conventional banking structure. Since Fidor has a banking license, some of the regulation requirements are solved. If all lenders and borrowers of a p2p marketplace would (mandatory) become Fidorpay users then all payments and repayments could take place inside the Fidorpay system. The process would become faster and transactions could possibly be cheaper.
Are we there yet?
Far from it. I think Fidorpay gives a glimpse of what mechanisms could be used in the p2p lending marketplace of the future. Since it is currently not a main banking connection of the customers, amounts in the wallets are small. And maximum transaction amounts are limited for security and regulation reasons.
But ‘conventional’ banks should watch out and p2p marketplaces should think and review what possibilities Fidorpay and potentially evolving similar services will offer them to advance their service.
Key data about Fidor and Fidorpay
Founded 2003 Fidor Bank AG commenced its banking activities in December 2009 and brands itself as a ‘community bank’ using web 2.0 instruments in combination with latest technology. Related video: Speech by Matthias Kröner at Finovate, London. Fidor Bank states 19,600 users at the end of 2010. The current number of users is approx. 23,000. It is unclear from the press statements if all users are paying customers.
Fidorpay is available to residents of Germany with a German bank account.