Monday, June 22, 2009

Dating Web Site Seeks P2P Loans Via Virgin Money USA

New York-based dating Web site GetSteady.com is seeking peer to peer loans for growth of its US business operations.

I interviewed its’ founder and President Michael Zuyus via email this week to learn more about the company’s plans for growth and how they are applying peer-to-peer lending to their business plan.

GetSteady.com is a dating web site which caters to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual (GLBT) community. The company is seeking loan proposals via Virgin Money’s “Business Builder” product, which is a promissory-note negotiated between the lender and the borrower, and then enforced and managed by Virgin Money USA. GetSteady.com promises interest rates better than traditional investments including savings accounts, CDs and blue-chip stocks.

Mr. Zuyus prefers not to disclose the amount of capital he hopes that this effort will raise, but is seeking minimum loans of $1,000. He has also declined to comment as to if anyone has elected to fund one of these loans.

The company makes an interesting differentiation between peer-to-peer loans as investments. I asked Mr. Zuyus if investors are guaranteed in any way to receive repayment, and he replied “I would like to stress that we do not have investors. If a bank granted my company a loan, they would not be an investor, it’s simply a business loan. In this case, it is a peer business loan.” I found this an interesting re-branding of peer-to-peer loans after hearing the term “investment” thrown around so frequently in reference to peer lending. (I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see this nomenclature adopted more broadly across the industry as a result of regulation?)

I questioned Zuyus about the decision to use peer-to-peer loans in lieu of traditional banking and he cited the recent decline of credibility in the banking community, later saying “Peer to peer lending has become a trusted and viable alternative [to traditional lending], furthering economic growth until banks begin to lend more freely to small business again."

A company press release from June 8, 2009 quotes Zuyus as saying “Using these funds, we aim to expand our marketing and advertising efforts responsibly, quickly capitalizing on the current online dating boom.”

Getsteady.com was founded in 2009 to provide low-cost connections within the GLBT community. The company focuses on serious-minded friendships and relationships based on trust. Members must be verified including their profile photos (Zuyus cites ongoing troubles with users on dating sites supplying false photos).

Jessica Ward is a freelance writer based in the Seattle area. She writes on peer to peer finance, family and more. She also blogs at www.pennywisefamily.blogspot.com.

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