Dear all, Today we took live a change that had been previously announced: from now on, new members in all countries except Burkina Faso must verify their online identity by linking a valid Facebook account and by securing endorsements from several other online-identity-verified acquaintances, in order to join Zidisha. The change affects new applicants in Benin, Guinea and Niger, as well as any new countries in which we will offer loans going forward. The online identity verification requirement has already been applied for the past six months in Kenya, Senegal and Indonesia. The purpose of the online identity verification requirement is to help protect our community as we work to scale up our pilot programs in these new countries. We have learned with experience that non-computer-users who depend on others to interact with Zidisha tend to pose greater credit risk, especially in locations where we do not have staff in place to supervise each new member's application process. The introduction of online identity verification in our largest country, Kenya, has substantially improved the on-time repayment rate of members who have joined since this requirement was introduced. We are not yet requiring online identity verification in Burkina Faso for these reasons: The computer-using population in Burkina Faso is one of the lowest in the world. We have a long-term volunteer staff member who is located in Burkina Faso and is personally supervising the lending program and interviewing new members. The total number of members in Burkina Faso is still small enough for one person to monitor. The on-time repayment rate of loans in Burkina Faso is very healthy. We are pioneering a concept that has never been tried before - using direct person-to-person lending over the internet to bridge vast distances of geography and circumstance. There is no established set of best practices: we are developing them in response to experience. We will monitor the performance of the loans issued under this new criteria, and continue to make adjustments and improvements as needed.