There are a few countries / continents where innovation is rife.
In Africa, mobile payments are transforming the continent.
In Japan, mobile internet banking is changing their world.
And in Spain, social finance is top of the agenda.
Last year, I noted that BBVA had launched the first Web 2.0 banking application Tu Cuentas (You Count).
Now Caja Navarra (CAN) have launched the first bank-led social lending system.
Here's the video which is self-explanatory:
Just in case, here's my rough translation of the text that goes with it:
"Do you need to change your car, furnish your home, transform your business, save for schooling or just to make ends meet …?
"Tell us what you need, because there are people who can help you achieve your goals at with better and cheaper financing.
"People like your mother or your friend or your neighbour or co-worker or your boss or your sister or your cousin from the next village or the shopkeeper down the lane or even someone you don’t know now … but who will be able to help.
"You just need to use the Selection Warehouse and enter your application."
For the funders, the site offers these words of advice:
“Would you like to help your son, your brother, your mother, your colleague, your partner, your friend, your neighbour or a person you do not even know but who you know needs to get your loan?
“Now you can!
“With your support, they can get the best financial conditions for the loan they need.
“Choose who you support by asking for a Selection Deposit for the amount and terms of the person you want to support, and then visit a CAN office with the document and we will do the rest.”
What this demonstrates is innovative thinking about the challenges of social lending sites like Zopa and Prosper. Rather than ignoring these new business models, CAN have created a hybrid where the bank provides a secure social lending platform and manages the relationships between those who fund and those who need funds.
Oh yes, and in case you're asking, why would customers trust a bank to manage their social lending?
In CANs case, easy. They are not a bank but a civic bank.
In fact, they are "pioneers in civic banking".
They exist as a savings bank in the interests of their members and community, a bit like a community banks in the USA or mutuals in the UK or sparkassen in Germany.
In other words, they are very member and customer oriented. For example, CAN give 30% of their resources to charitable and community based projects.
That's why they are trusted to do this more than their larger, proprietary competitors.