Chris Larsen, the originator of the online lending channel E-Loan, has a new idea about moving money around, only this one has a decidedly grassroots feel to it. His new venture, called "Prosper," is billed as "the online marketplace for people-to-people lending." It ambitiously promises participants that they can "borrow safely and securely from people just like you." The company facilitates borrowing and lending, mostly between what it calls "affinity groups," numbers of people with a common bond, similar to the first credit unions. An introspective, lean-thinker, Larsen's notion of lending might be familiar to an older generation -- or even a younger one, newly immigrated to the United States. The idea is neighbor helping neighbor, in a sense. That's right, just like the good old days when better-heeled people in the community would aid those less well-off. Or, when an older group firmly anchored in a new land would help those just coming in. When he speaks, it's clear that at l...
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