On September 17th the industry moved one step closer to a consumer controlled social network based lead generation process. It was more of a baby step, but none the less a step forward.

On Septmeber 17th a company named SmartHippo released their public beta version. SmartHippo allows users to compare rates and feedback with other users that have a similar criteria.

“SmartHippo allows any individual to post information and feedback on the rate they received, and to compare rates with other members of the community with similar profiles. This lessens the chance of consumers with the same lending and risk profile getting different rates on the same loan, which can happen currently.”

“Consumers need services like the one SmartHippo has developed,” said Gary Lewis Evans, President & CEO at Bank of Internet USA. “Competition is always good, and SmartHippo’s social network will allow banks to promote products while providing consumers with the opportunity to validate and or challenge the offerings by pointing out the hidden negatives.”

The rates on SmartHippo are posted by its users and participating banks like Quicken Loans and Bank of Internet. The site gives you the ability to input your specific situation, such as credit score, equity, loan amount, etc and compare your offered rate to users rates with the same criteria. SmartHippo is also a lead generation company and if user choose they can also have up to four brokers call them. I have put in a few calls and once I receive a call back I will pass along the information to you, as far as pricing. I will also try to extract more information about their user base on the call.

As a broker you are able to post your own rates, similar to BankRate, view what rates users are claiming to have received from you and also track your competitors.

What does everyone think about SmartHippo? Do any of you see pitfalls or benefits of a platform like this?