In February Thomas Power the founder of eCademy wrote a blog entitled ‘What happens when Facebook becomes a bank?’. It sparked a huge debate around the role of social media in banking something that was firmly on the agenda at SXSWi last week with Smartypig, CreditKarma, Mint and Lending Club sitting on the panel, however while SXSWi was running Power followed his blog up with a clarification of his position on video.
His argument runs that when subscription levels to Facebook hit a billion - as predicted by the end of 2012 - that it will hit a scale and organisational maturity that will not only facilitate the sales of simple products such as loans, insurance and savings, but will mean groups of individuals will be in a position to come together to execute group purchases and lending on a huge scale. It would be a simple task for Facebook to integrate a facility such as Zopa onto it’s platform and then users have access to all the tools they need.
If we work on the basis that Facebook's 2008 poll has some validity then 13% of users would be happy to use the platform as a bank. If we then assume an average £1,000 deposit with the bank of Facebook then at a billion users that's a £130 billion business, something financial institutions would have to sit up and take notice of.
Mark Zuckerberg is an ambitious man. Scale is his goal. The product will develop itself and as Power says the person with the biggest number of names wins the game. Financial institutions need to take note.