Ecomodo Builds Swapping Marketplace Through Trust

Launched in March 2010, Ecomodo is an online marketplace, helping users lend or borrow everyday items, skills and space.  The service is primarily offered in London, but is available throughout the UK.  As of today, the site has more than 740 items available to borrow, from power tools to costumes, and recreational equipment to electronics.  The lender and borrower network is built around Trust Circles, or lending circles, "that use existing community connections to help feel more confident" about transactions.  These circles could be based on church groups, neighborhoods, schools or office parks.  Bridging the trust gap is a huge hurdle for the success of collaborative consumption models.  Additionally, the company offers optional insurance or deposits for any item through Royal Sun Alliance.
Source: www.redpepper.org.uk
Ecomodo aims to create "good returns for all", both financially and in kind.  Lenders make money through borrowing charges, pocketing some extra cash for underutilized assets.  Borrowers save money, time, and space.  And Ecomodo raises money to keep the company running through small service fees.  Financial transactions are all securely completed through PayPal.  

Being a UK-only service for the moment, I cannot personally comment on any customer experience.  However, the fundamental elements of Ecomodo suggest a strong degree of trust with customers.  For example, the use of PayPal, along with the optional insurance and deposit system, offer lenders a trustworthy service where the value of the lended item is preserved, regardless of anything happening to it.  Second, trust circles let users create comfortable networks to lend and share items. 

A unique addition to this service is the integration of charitable giving.  Lenders can choose to donate portions or all of their lending revenue to a specific charity.  The addition of this option created a three-pronged value proposition - free, fee, or charity - that Ecomodo believes has the potential for the widest reach to drive motivation within diverse communities.  Currently Ecomodo lists 40 causes to donate revenue.

Of course, Ecomodo is not the only borrowing and lending online marketplace.  Some others in this market niche are: SnapGoods, Swap for Good (another charity-inspired service), NeighborGoods, and ShareSomeSugar.

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