I love this idea – Zopa – which facilitates direct loans between those who have money and those who want some without the intermediary of a bank. It’s a bit like a credit union for people who already have a credit rating, or Kiva for richer societies. They take a cut and you’re exposed to the risk of defaulters (although loans are spread over several agreements to minimize exposure), but if I had money to save/invest right now, I think this is where I’d put it. Well, here and Kiva, naturally.
I hope that when they get a bit better established they branch out into managed micro-credit for those without a good credit rating, so it’s not quite so elitist.