If you missed last weekend’s Bank Transfer Day, but you’re still dissatisfied and distrustful of the big banks, there is a new place to shift your money to beyond credit unions or local banks. CivilisedMoney, a European startup that launched in October, is aiming to become the ultimate alternative to banks by offering any service you would need out of a bank, but fueled entirely by citizens.
While here in the U.S. startups like Prosper and Kickstarter have chipped away at pieces of the banking pie, CivilisedMoney is attempting to pull all these services—person-to-person lending, crowdfunding, and equity crowdfunding for startups—under one roof. Says CivilisedMoney cofounder Neil Crofts, a former head of Razorfish Europe’s strategy division, "Our big-picture vision is to really transform banking by creating a seriously global player in P2P finance. PayPal has 230 million registered customers globally. We see ourselves at that scale."
CivilisedMoney is now putting its own hypothesis to the test. On November 1, the startup began a 10-day campaign to crowdfund 100,000 pounds for its own business in return for a 10% equity stake. If the CivilisedMoney achieves its goal—so far it’s only raised 5% of that number—it will be one of the U.K.’s largest crowdfunded businesses and its only crowdfunded financial services business. (Those with U.K. registered addresses can contribute as little as 10 pounds here, until November 11.)
While its service is not yet available in the U.S., CivilisedMoney’s plans are to expand from the U.K. to greater Europe, and then eventually to Africa and the U.S. (CivilisedMoney’s services offered will depend on region, since, for example, crowdfunding equity stakes for startups isn’t yet legal in the U.S.) While some might write off person-to-person banking platforms like CivilisedMoney as a fringe movement, Crofts compares its disruptive potential to the banking industry to that of the music industry in the late '90s. "If you remember the dot-com days, the whole point was about businesses being digitized. The banks never did it, they just put up Internet storefronts," says Crofts. "Banking has yet to have its Amazon moment."