US person-to-person lending platform Prosper and business news provider Forbes have both developed virtual applications designed for users of online social networking site Facebook. Meanwhile in the UK the Cooperative Bank has launched its own profile on MySpace.
Prosper has built a virutal application, called Fantasy Banker, using Facebook Platform, a development system that enables companies to integrate applications and gain access to Facebook's 24 million users.
To play Fantasy Banker, users install the application on their Facebook profile. A mini scoreboard appears with a list of playing friends and each player starts with 100 points to bet on real-life, real-time loan listings on the Prosper Web site. When the listings players pick get funded, they earn points. If their picks don't fund, they lose their bet and points wagered.
Jonathan Russell, Prosper engineer and principal developer of Fantasy Banker, says: "It's a socially engaging and financially educational way for friends on Facebook to get acquainted with person-to-person lending."
Prosper's move comes as it faces competition from Californian start-up Lending Club, which has launched a new P2P service on Facebook. The company's Web site explains: "Lending Club is an online lending community where people can borrow and lend money, bypass the banks, and get better rates. By working together, members can borrow money more easily and at a better rate than they would get from a bank, or invest in a pool of loans at higher rates than those served by savings accounts or CDs."
Business news provider Forbes is also targeting Facebook users and has developed an application that enables members to track company stocks and access financial information and news.
Facebook members can use the Forbes application to track up to 10 company stocks by ticker symbol, view the three most recent news headlines on Forbes.com about each company, and access all relevant financial data. Facebook users can display stocks they track on their profile page.
Meanwhile earlier this week, the UK's Co-operative Bank launched a profile on MySpace to celebrate and highlight its ethical policies.
The Co-op's profile features television adverts, a 'Climate Care CO 2' calculator, a regular poll on topical environmental issues, plus downloadable screen savers and wallpaper.
David Newman, marketing director at The Co-operative Bank, says: "MySpace is rapidly becoming a 'green' networking place and is helping to cultivate a new generation of environmentally conscious individuals eager to make a 'tiny difference' in whatever way they can."
The bank says it will make a charitable donation for every new 'green' friend added to its profile.
Last year research group Gartner advised banks to monitor emerging Internet social networks for their potential for partnerships to offer services within the network or to create non-traditional distribution channels by dealing with customers one-to-one.