Similar to other micro-financing organizations such as Kiva or Zopa that facilitate making small and very specific loans, Richard Branson has launched Virgin Money. The company aims to formalize lending from family and friends by removing the complications and awkwardness from an otherwise lucrative and efficient way of obtaining start up capital – even Dickey needed to borrow money from his aunt to get his little company going.

Essentially, all they do is act as a mediary between private parties. They help lenders feel confident that they will get their money back and help borrowers stay on track with their payments. The service is designed to work with small personal loans, business loans, and even complicated mortgages. The specifics of their service vary depending on the plan you enroll in, but essentially, the company’s main role is to document the loan and set up a repayment schedule between the parties. They also help with the transferring of payments and send email reminders to the borrowers. They even keep tabs on everything and send year-end reports for tax deductions. And all the while, users get to establish their own repayment schedules and interest rates. The price for their “Handshake Basic” personal loan service starts at $99 and goes up to $199 for “Handshake Plus” which includes some of the more formal features. The business loans cost between $199 and $299.

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