Betfair, the future of exchanges
Betfair is in my opinion a good example of the future of internet exchange sites. Not so much for the looks, but for the functionality.
After only 4 years in business it already has an approximate 15% of the on-line betting world market. It was was the first person-to-person betting exchange = a betting exchange allow players to bet on prices set by players themselves rather than by a bookmaker or a sportsbook; as a result the odds, therefore prices, are aproximately 20% better than bookmakers' starting prices. It has the potential to transform the online gambling industry, and also how exchanges operate. People are already “trading” options on Betfair; the same technology could very well used to trade futures on commodities.
For example, it could be used to provide an alternative stock exchange for the "little guy". The millions of small companies that cannot issue stock on the stock exchange could gain access to cheaper capital than what banks offer. Banks with their real state and large staffs, just like totalisators and bookies, have huge overhead compared to Betfair. Betfair could act as an intermediary between these companies and individuals that want to invest in small companies expecting higher returns than already well-established companies.
Large well-established companies, for instance GE, provide investors with security but at the same time provide limited returns. These companies cannot grow 100% per annum for the next 5 years like a start-up could. These start-ups could back the value of the raised capital with assets as collaterals. Because of the differential in overhead between Banks and “LoanFair.com”, the new company could offer better deals for these small companies and the many individuals building diversified portfolios consisting of many small promising startups. “LoanFair.com” would act as the receiver of the collateral provided by the small company as well as the receiver of the cash from individuals, profiting by charging commissions.
Betfair is already offering its users the possibility to place bet from mobile devices, starting a move towards becomming an "ubiquitous exchange". Ubiquity will change the way in which users see the marketspace allowing them to transact wherever, whenever and depending on how the Betfair concept evolves, probably whatever as well.