Netcycler swaps an old idea for a slightly better one

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Netcycler, the online swapping site, has seen its UK launch. Up until now the service, which is a European competitor to US-based Swap.com, has been available in Finland first in March 2010, followed by Germany a few months later.

As of this month, however, Brits can use the site to start recycling unwanted items for things they do want – and apparently we’re pretty good at doing the former. Citing its own research, Netcycler says that adults in the UK spend over £2.5 billion a year on items they do not use and over half of those polled say they would utlilise an online swap service if it saved them money. But enough of the PR-friendly survey. Besides, online swapping isn’t exactly a new idea and has seen varying degrees of success. However, this is where Netcycler thinks it’s got the model just right.

Instead of just facilitating 1-to-1 ‘swaps’, the service employs an algorithm to create what it calls “trade rings“, which work by linking up 3-4 participants in a trade who all want and have something that matches one of the others.

This, of course, significantly increases the likelihood of achieving a successful swap. It also sort of reminds me of being in a chain when buying a house but in a beneficial way and is something that is only made possible by moving swapping online and employing a mix of social networking and smart matching algorithm.

Since launching just over a year ago, Netcycler claims over 27,000 registered users, 10,000 items traded and over 28,000 items listed, while more than 39,000 “swap requests” have been made via the service.

In terms of funding, the Finnish startup, which was founded in February 2008, has raised €1m in seed/angel funding along with an additional €1m of public money.