Have some extra cash lying around?
MoneyAisle, an online service currently available in the United States, wants to help you find a home for it.
The service launched earlier in the year and was recently featured in a New York Times article.
I was interested enough to give MoneyAisle a spin.
The concept is simple – MoneyAisle has partnered with more than 100 banks across the US, who bid in real-time to offer MoneyAisle’s users competitive rates on certificates of deposit (CDs) and high-yield savings accounts.
MoneyAisle makes money when a participating bank acquires a customer through MoneyAisle.
For my test of MoneyAisle, I decided to see what type of deal I could get for a $25,000, 1 year CD.
After 13 rounds of live bidding involving over 80 banks, I was able to get an offer for a 4.35% APY.
Competitive but still not competitive enough (I was able to locate APYs of up to 5% elsewhere, including, ironically Washington Mutual).
Of course, the rates offered vary over time – the New York Times’ Anne Eisenberg noted that she was originally offered an APY of 4.20% for a $10,000, 6 month CD but a few weeks later was offered 4.02% for a CD of the same dollar amount and term.
It’s worth pointing out that both APYs were above the national average.
All in all, there’s a lot to like about the MoneyAisle concept. I found the service extremely easy to use and it certainly has the potential to provide a lot of value to its users - provided that its partner banks are consistently willing to bid to competitive rates.
None of this, of course, guarantees success.
Because of the ongoing economic crisis, lots of consumers aren’t feeling too secure about banks. There’s even a lot of talk about people pulling their money from their bank accounts and stuffing it under their mattresses.
Since MoneyAisle deals primarily with small and medium-sized banks without brand recognition (not that a brand really equals stability), it remains to be seen whether or not users will be confident enough to use MoneyAisle to park their money in CD and high-yield savings accounts at banks they’re not familiar with – despite the fact that MoneyAisle states all of its banks are FDIC insured.
That said, I think MoneyAisle demonstrates that there are still plenty of models for markets that connect prospective customers with businesses in new and interesting ways, and I suspect that similar markets will pop up, including outside of the United States.
Frankly, given all of the hype around Web 2.0 startups designed to “connect” people and businesses over the past several years, it’s disappointing that there haven’t been nearly as market-focused startups like MoneyAisle.
To be sure, there has been far more discussion of “conversation” and “engagement” than “commerce” and “value” despite the fact that not only is there usually more money in the latter, there’s usually more tangible value to both consumers and businesses.
While many startups creating new markets and market models won’t stick, I think there’s plenty of opportunity for entrepreneurs in this space and hope that we’ll see more activity – and innovation.
For those who are incredibly nimble, there’s an immediate opportunity that springs to mind: build an effective platform for the reverse auction of illiquid assets that are illiquid for good reason (i.e. nobody in his right mind would want to buy them). You may have a customer right off the bat if you move quickly enough.