Ron Shevlin, Ben Rogers, and Tim McAlpine are writing about P2P lending. For those new to the P2P lending concept, know that it is already well-established, and growing rapidly. I will repeat: If Prosper keeps on its current pace of membership growth, by the fourth quarter of this year, it will have a membership north of one million people. That would make it the third largest credit union in the United States, if it were a credit union. This is happening NOW. I will write more about why P2P lending is so powerful, and what Zopa needs to do to have a chance against the Prosper juggernaut in a future post. But now I turn to rock and roll.
It’s time for credit unions to stop playing copycat and come up with completely new avenues of awareness and revenue generation. As Tim mentioned in his post, in the music world disrupted by sharing technology available to the millions of people, innovation came in the form of iTunes, Rhapsody, etc. Did you know that iTunes has sold 4 BILLION songs? At 99 cents per song, you do the math on total sales. I don’t know how much money the record studios ever made, but I’m guessing Apple would have a seat at the table at the least.
However, we don’t need another iTunes. Wal-Mart tried to copy with a lower price competition, and that effort has failed to put a dent in the Apple behemoth. What credit unions need to do is invent the financial equivalent of the video game Rock Band. Did you know that 2.5 million add-on songs were sold in the first 8 weeks of the games release? That’s double platinum, baby! This is a classic example of a razor and blade business model. And in this case, the razor isn’t even being given away for free, it’s at a reasonable price. (Side note – I recently learned that Guitar Hero and Rock Band come out of research into better learning methods at MIT’s Media Lab.)
Because of the runaway success of Rock Band, real bands are now clamoring to get their songs included. Not only for the notoriety, but I would wager that sales of included songs are significantly increasing. I just bought a great song (I’m So Sick by Flyleaf) from iTunes last night that I was not aware of until playing it in Rock Band.
Let’s find the financial services equivalent of this new phenomenon. We have all the ingredients. We just need a new recipe. Srsly.