Zopa with New Look

zopa-logo-2016Today Zopa launched a new design for the website and introduced a new logo, which I find very simplistic.

Zopa says:

This fresh new identity will give us a springboard for our ambitious plans to bring our products to even more UK consumers, and create radically personalised services that will help people fully realise their financial potential.

While a lot has changed – a bold new logo, icons, and tone of voice – our products still work in exactly the same way.

A year in the making

We started on this journey 12 months ago. In partnership with, KBS Albion, we took stock of who we were and where we wanted to be. We wanted to capture and build on our customer-focussed culture: ensuring that our borrowers’ and investors’ interests remain at the heart of what we do.

Our Values

Since we were founded in 2005, we’ve cultivated a dynamic, customer-obsessed culture. As part of our partnership with Albion, we defined our seven core values that guide and influence our behaviour and decisions:

  • We are customer-obsessed.
  • We are positive.
  • We are results-focussed.
  • We do the right thing.
  • We are bold.
  • We work as a team.
  • We strive to be the best.

Our new look and tone of voice have grown out of, and continue to reflect, these values; underscoring our commitment to being open and honest in how we look and sound.

Very first opinions voiced by investors on the new design are mixed.

Earlier this month, Zopa was the first pp lender that said it will (temporary) stop to accept new lender money. With this unprecedented move Zopa reacted to lender demand that is much higher than matching borrower loan requests. Zopa described the reasons in its investor communication:

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Investly Unveils New Investor Dashboard Design

Invoice discounting marketplace Investly released a new version of the website today offering a redesigned investor interface. Investly allows investors to finance invoices sold by British and Estonian SMEs. Since the launch 11 months ago the number and volume of invoices financed has steadily increased. On the other hand rising investor demand pushed down the interest rates during the auctions to the minimum rate of 8% often during the past weeks.

New Investly Dashboard
New Investly dashboard. View of my portfolio page. Click to enlarge

At the moment I don’t have any overdue payments – however in the past some payments were delayed for a few days. None of the invoices financed on Investly have defaulted so far.

Overall the new interface is a nice improvement and offers a better overview than the old layout. But there is still room for improvement. I would have liked it, if the tables were sortable for example. Continue reading

Feeding Creatures of Habit

Many Fintech startups compete with banks and other incumbents by offering easy to use and attractive user interfaces. They appeal to users because they offer a modern packaging for processes and at the same time work hard to make these core processes they concentrated on more efficient  (unbundling).

User interfaces are an important aspect for p2p lending marketplaces too. While a very innovative user interface might have contributed in winning the investor, once he registered he not only wants an easy to use user interface he also likes constancy. Sounds paradox?

Fact is, that some p2p lending marketplaces are not that easy to use and offer complex functionality e.g. auctions, secondary markets with discounts and premiums. The investor spends considerable time to learn how to use the functions efficiently. Once he has mastered to efficiently use all the features and reports to achieve good results he will dislike any major changes the marketplace introduces since these force him to “relearn” his way around and render his previously acquired level of experience worthless.

I have experienced this several times on multiple marketplaces. But you don’t have to take my word for it, just look at a forum after a major redesign and you won’t have to search hard to find lots of investors venting their negative opinions rather strongly.

Now knowing that p2p investors are creatures of habit, what could a p2p lending marketplace do to ‘feed’ those? Freezing in standstill is not an option. Even the most conservative investor expects the marketplace to evolve and offer new features.

My suggestions are:

  • The platform should decide early on for a main navigation structure and stick with that. Changes and optimizations should subordinate to that structure and not change this main navigation
  • Development of new features should take wishes of investors into account (do surveys) but not be driven by them entirely
  • Test extensively before releasing. I am repeatedly surprised how many bugs there are in main features after a release (that is they show in main processes and not only in special constellations)
  • Measure, measure, measure. It is sensible to do A/B testing for all larger changes measuring the performance of previously defined KPIs (e.g. bounce rate). If the new version performs worse than the previous version the team should be brave enough to scrap the new developed version even if that means time and cost spent for developing it is lost without an output
  • If URLs change or cease to exist do an automatic redirect to the new URL
  • Even if the marketplace does not encourage the use of tools and automation, it should not ignore the fact that some investors will develop tools and workflows that helps them to speed up their monitoring and investment. The marketplace should consider how the changed impact and process might impact these. The very least that can be done, is to inform investors in advance of an upcoming major change.

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Interview: 2 Years Zidisha – Part II

Read part one of the interview first

This is the second part of an interview with Julia Kurnia, Director and Founder of Zidisha Microfinance.

Does the Euro crisis in any way impact Zidisha’s business?

The Euro is the home currency of many of our lenders. To the extent that the Euro crisis causes it to depreciate against the US dollar (in which Zidisha account balances are denominated) and against the borrowers’ currencies in which loan values are fixed, it will increase financial returns when these funds are converted back to Euros.
That said, lending with Zidisha is intended to be a philanthropic activity, and most of our members seek to generate social benefits in a way that is financially sustainable. Zidisha loans typically allow economically disadvantaged households to expand their cash businesses to the point where incomes are increased by 150% to 200%. The additional cash is very often invested in the children’s education – both by providing sufficient living income so that teenagers do not need to drop out of school to support their families, and by covering the costs of continued schooling. The return to society from this kind of investment in education of the next generation of the rural poor in developing countries is impossible to quantify. This will continue to be true regardless of currency fluctuations.

A week ago Zidisha got a new design. What is new?

Our new design reflects feedback from the Zidisha community, and the growth of our organization. We opted for a clean, modern style and an uncluttered, simple layout that is in keeping with our values of directness and transparency. The new site is more effortless to navigate, easier to learn and read about Zidisha entrepreneurs, and simpler than ever to make a loan. We’ve also included more social media buttons so that visitors can conveniently share Zidisha with friends and family, and connect with us via Facebook and Twitter.

Zidisha is doing direct p2p lending. Do you think it is likely that there will be a substantial shift from indirect p2p lending (like Kiva does) to a direct model without MFIs in the future?
Yes, I think that is the future of online microlending. As Zidisha has proven that the concept is viable, I’m sure that we will inspire many similar initiatives. I expect to see other organizations – both new start-ups and established platforms – experiment with direct P2P lending across the international wealth divide. This will be a welcome development, generating positive social impact beyond the reach of our organization, valuable learning opportunities for P2P lending and microfinance practitioners, and useful variety for our clients. Continue reading