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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Strong community relationships have always been the forte of credit unions, but a new type of company may soon be jockeying for the role of friendly financier. Enter the United Kingdom’s peer-to-peer (P2P) lending marketplace, Zopa.

Zopa emerged in March 2005 as a means of connecting mom-and-pop lenders to consumers seeking small, unsecured loans. It functions on the eBay philosophy: match buyers and sellers in a controlled environment, and everybody wins, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc.

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