Back in 2004, a group of businessmen sat in a barn in Buckinghamshire throwing around ideas. Was there a way to create some kind of bond market for consumers? Since most armchair investors might not understand the bond markets, could it be simplified into an eBay-like model with the added twist of a social return?
Just over 10 years later, Zopa, the pioneering peer-to-peer lender that resulted, is about to process its billionth pound in consumer loans. Of that original team, the founder, Richard Duvall — who also dreamt up the online bank Egg — died suddenly from cancer while Zopa was at a nascent stage. Three more directors left the company as it struggled to build momentum. But Giles Andrews, now Zopa’s chief executive, has stayed the course from barn to billion.