SAN FRANCISCO (12/4/07)--Six credit unions have partnered with Zopa, an online peer-to-peer lending initiative that has recently begun operations in the U.S. Zopa, or Zone of Possible Agreement, originated in the United Kingdom several years ago. It seeks to help those in need of small loans by matching them with lenders. The credit unions that have partnered with Zopa include: Addison Avenue FCU, Palo Alto, Calif.; Affinity Plus FCU, St. Paul, Minn.; FirstTech CU, Beaverton, Ore.; FORUM CU, Indianapolis; Provident CU, Redwood City, Calif.; and USA FCU, San Diego (Net Banker Dec. 2). Using Zopa, borrowers can apply for loans that have terms of up to five years, with interest rates varying from 8.7% to 16.99%, depending on credit scores. When a loan is approved, borrowers can receive the money immediately (Wall Street Journal Nov. 28). Lenders purchase Zopa certificates of deposit (CDs) to fund the loans. Interest rates are capped at 5.1% on the CDs, the newspaper said. Borrowers create profiles describing themselves and their needs to attract lenders. Lenders and borrowers sign legally-binding contracts. Borrowers are required to pay the loans back monthly by direct debit, according to Zopa’s website. Similar to the credit union motto, social lending is “like borrowing and lending with your friends and family--except there are thousands of people you can lend and borrow with,” the website stated.