Zopa with New Look

zopa-logo-2016Today Zopa launched a new design for the website and introduced a new logo, which I find very simplistic.

Zopa says:

This fresh new identity will give us a springboard for our ambitious plans to bring our products to even more UK consumers, and create radically personalised services that will help people fully realise their financial potential.

While a lot has changed – a bold new logo, icons, and tone of voice – our products still work in exactly the same way.

A year in the making

We started on this journey 12 months ago. In partnership with, KBS Albion, we took stock of who we were and where we wanted to be. We wanted to capture and build on our customer-focussed culture: ensuring that our borrowers’ and investors’ interests remain at the heart of what we do.

Our Values

Since we were founded in 2005, we’ve cultivated a dynamic, customer-obsessed culture. As part of our partnership with Albion, we defined our seven core values that guide and influence our behaviour and decisions:

  • We are customer-obsessed.
  • We are positive.
  • We are results-focussed.
  • We do the right thing.
  • We are bold.
  • We work as a team.
  • We strive to be the best.

Our new look and tone of voice have grown out of, and continue to reflect, these values; underscoring our commitment to being open and honest in how we look and sound.

Very first opinions voiced by investors on the new design are mixed.

Earlier this month, Zopa was the first pp lender that said it will (temporary) stop to accept new lender money. With this unprecedented move Zopa reacted to lender demand that is much higher than matching borrower loan requests. Zopa described the reasons in its investor communication:

Continue reading

Interview: Wellesley Pitches to Raise 1.5M from the Crowd

UK marketplace Wellesley is currently pitching to raise 1.5M GBP in a convertible from the crowd.

Interview with Graham Wellesley, CEO, Wellesley

What is Wellesley about?

Wellesley is a lending business. It provides an alternative for borrowers than traditional high street lenders. Our business allows us to meet the needs of two key underserved markets:

  • experienced mid-sized property developers who are building homes in the UK
  • investors seeking higher returns that can be achieved in deposit accounts who are willing to take a level of additional risk through a range of different products.

What are the three main advantages for lenders?

  • Lenders can achieve higher risk adjusted returns than are available in traditional deposit accounts
  • Property development lending is asset backed
  • Funding is being put to good use, helping to build homes in the UK

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  • They are dealing with a lending firm who specialises in property development
  • We are committed to very high levels of service and quick decisions
  • Each individual borrower is important to us

Wellesley is quite established in the UK marketplace lending sector. Why do your raise capital via Seedrs through a convertible now?

We want to raise more capital to enable us to invest in acquiring new customers and developing our technology. All of our external funding is retail rather than institutional. Raising further equity through a retail route will help us to build a business where strong alignment of interests between investors and shareholders will build a stronger company for the long term.

To which extend (if any) are equity investors covering capital losses on loans to p2p lenders vs the mini bond holders?

  • So far the board has chosen that the company (shareholders / equity investors) will cover the losses incurred by all other investors. This is at the board’s discretion and investors are all aware that they are taking risk in relation to property development lending. Investors continue to carry the risk of losses on both P2P and mini-bonds.
  • Wellesley aims to use the funding to expand its business, its marketing, human resources and IT development.

Wellesley originated about 80M pound YTD. Did you experience any effect of Brexit and what is your outlook for 2017? How do you see the opportunity of the IFISA market?

  • In the run-up to the referendum and in its immediate aftermath property development across “middle Britain” took somewhat of a pause. There are signs now that growth is returning to the market and the outlook for 2017 is positive as the key driver – the demand for more housing – shows no sign of reducing.
  • We continue to develop a product that meets the technical requirements of the IFISA market and will provide an update as soon as there is more to say.
  • We specialise in multi-unit developments, our average unit size is less than £500k. As a result we believe that we are well-placed to face any challenges that the UK residential housing market may face post-Brexit.

Are there any plans for international expansion?

At this stage, quite the opposite. We had started doing some lending in Majorca, Spain and decided back in the first half of 2015 that we would be better able to serve our customers through the economic cycle if we focused on our core expertise and competency in the UK market. Continue reading

International P2P Lending Volumes November 2016

The following table lists the loan originations of p2p lending marketplaces in November. This month I added Swaper. Funding Circle had a record month, for the first time crossing 100M GBP in new monthly volume, ahead of Zopa and Ratesetter. The total volume for the reported marketplaces adds up to 438 million Euro. I track the development of p2p lending volumes for many countries. Since I already have most of the data on file I can publish statistics on the monthly loan originations for selected p2p lending platforms.

Investors living in national markets with no or limited selection of local p2p lending services can check this list of marketplaces open to international investors. Investors can also explore how to make use of current p2p lending cashback offers available.

P2P Lending Statistic 11/2016

Table: P2P Lending Volumes in November 2016. Source: own research
Note that volumes have been converted from local currency to Euro for the sake of comparison. Some figures are estimates/approximations.
*Prosper and Lending Club no longer publish origination data for the most recent month.

Notice to p2p lending services not listed: Continue reading

Interview: Flender Pitches to Raise 500K

Flender is a UK startup (with background in Ireland) currently pitching to raise 500K GBP from the crowd.

Interview with Kristjan Koik, CEO of Flender

What is Flender about?

Flender is a peer to peer finance platform which helps businesses and consumers to borrow and lend money through their existing networks.

Businesses can leverage their customer base and strengthen loyalty; while friends become part of each other’s’ success. Flender does this while adding a new element of trust via social network connections.

Flender emphasizes the social relationships between borrowers and lenders. Don’t you think borrowers are hesitant to ask friends and connections for money?

The social lending market among friends, family and connections has never been formalized, which is crazy when you consider that this is a market worth over 3 billion EUR a year in Ireland and the UK based on independent research performed in September 2016.

Asking people that you know for money – and lending to them – is an awkward thing to do and is certainly an unreliable means of finance. Whether it’s to fund further study, grow a business or to fund home improvements, Flender will let you borrow from and lend to people with whom you have a connection much more easily.

For individuals, there is the satisfaction of helping others while earning more interest than a standard savings account while businesses can have access to funds faster and at the interest rate they prefer. Everyone wins.

P2P lending has evolved a lot over the past 10 years. Your model has a back to the roots touch to me. Do you see your model as a reinvention of the true spirit of p2p lending?

I believe p2p lending and the sharing economy is the future of finance.

We have all lent or borrowed money at some stage of our lives and will use some sort of finance in the future – be it mortgage, car leasing, credit card, deposit account or investments. Similarly, we all have people in our social circles and professional networks who have money to lend or are looking for finance. It makes no sense that rather than doing these transactions with people who you know and trust we would do these with complete strangers with whom we know little or nothing.

Flender is not trying to create a new marketplace. We are simply formalising existing massive social lending market and by providing a seamless user experience and having first- mover advantage we feel we can dominate this sector.

The pitch video

Flender positions itself as different to other p2p lending marketplaces. Yet you take these as benchmarks for valuations in an exit. Furthermore your expected margin is much higher than those of other UK p2p lending marketplaces. What is the reasoning behind this?

Yes, we are very different to other p2p platforms, but investors will initially want to benchmark against something with which they are familiar, hence our comparison to existing platforms. Continue reading

Former Lending Club CEO Founds Credify Finance

Renauld Laplance, former CEO of Lending Club plans to reenter the p2p lending space. According to corporate filings he set up Credify Finance Corp. Credify Finance hopes to launch in 2017. Credify Finance was registered in Delaware on May 31 according to state records. According to the Wall Street Journal Credify is being funded with Laplanche’s money and that of outside investors. The company’s office is in San Franciso. Recently Credify sought senior developers offering a base salary of 136K US$.

Breaking: Zopa will Launch a Bank

P2P lending marketplace Zopa, the first p2p lending platform, established in 2005, announced today that it will launch a bank in 2018, offering FSCS protected saving deposits. This will not replace the p2p lending product, which will continue to operate.

Zopa CEO Jaidev Jardana says “We launched in 2005 to create a richer life for everyone by making money simple and fair. We have lent over 1.8 billion GBP and inspired a 100 billion GBP global industry. We have built a profitable, scalable and viable business. Yet we’ve only just begun. We want to launch a next generation bank to drive greater choice for borrowers, savers and investors, which is good for consumers and good for the economy. We are uniquely placed to re-define customer expectations of what a bank should deliver in the 21st century. Over the last 11 years we have delivered great value to borrowers and investors whilst prudently managing credit risk. Combining our pioneering data and tech-led culture with an obsession with fairness and customer experience, we are best placed to shape the future of personal finance in the UK.”

An announcement sent via email to investors reads:

I wanted to write to you, on behalf of everyone at Zopa, to share some important news.

We launched Zopa in 2005 to create a richer life for everyone by making money simple and fair. Since then, we have lent over 1.8 billion GBP, inspired a 100 billion GBP global industry and helped our lenders earn over 75M GBP of interest. We have built a profitable, scalable and viable business. Yet we’ve only just begun.

We want to offer consumers even more choice, which is why, subject to regulatory approval, we are planning to launch a next generation bank to complement our existing peer-to-peer products.

We will continue to offer our peer-to-peer investment products.

Launching a bank, to sit alongside our existing peer-to-peer business, will allow us to create new and innovative savings and borrowing products. At launch, Zopa will offer FSCS protected deposit accounts to savers and overdraft alternatives to borrowers.

As an existing Zopa customer, we will give you the first opportunity to try out our new products. We will also actively welcome your input as we shape them.

The application process should take about 15-24 months, and we will keep you updated when we have news to share.

We believe we are uniquely placed to re-define what you should be able to expect from personal finance products in the 21st century.

Over the last 11 years, we have built an innovative, profitable and well-managed business. We have proven that we can deliver great value to borrowers and investors whilst prudently managing credit risk.

We know how to originate quality loans seamlessly online and meet our risk expectations. No new bank has that track record, and no incumbent bank has the digital expertise that we do.

We put our customers at the heart of all our decisions and obsess over how we can use technology to offer you simple, smart choices. We are looking forward to offering more products to even more people in the UK.

For now, thank you for investing through Zopa. I look forward to sharing this exciting journey towards the next generation banking we all deserve

Investly Unveils New Investor Dashboard Design

Invoice discounting marketplace Investly released a new version of the website today offering a redesigned investor interface. Investly allows investors to finance invoices sold by British and Estonian SMEs. Since the launch 11 months ago the number and volume of invoices financed has steadily increased. On the other hand rising investor demand pushed down the interest rates during the auctions to the minimum rate of 8% often during the past weeks.

New Investly Dashboard
New Investly dashboard. View of my portfolio page. Click to enlarge

At the moment I don’t have any overdue payments – however in the past some payments were delayed for a few days. None of the invoices financed on Investly have defaulted so far.

Overall the new interface is a nice improvement and offers a better overview than the old layout. But there is still room for improvement. I would have liked it, if the tables were sortable for example. Continue reading

Fundedbyme is now a recognized p2p lending operator in Malaysia

Scandinavia’s equity crowdfunding platform, Fundedbyme, today received recognition as one of six operators  for Peer-to-Peer crowdfunding by the Malaysian Securities Commission in the Asian region. This announcement positions Fundedbyme as the only European operator in the Asian region. The award was awarded to Fundedbyme Malaysia at the third annual SCxSC Digital Finance hosted by the Securities Commission Malaysia. Malaysian Minister of Finance, Najib Razak and SC chairman Ranjit Ajit Singh handed over the award to Fundedbyme Malaysia’s COO, Angelld Quah, and CEO Daniel Geottfert.

fundedbyme-malaysiaThe Asian region is seeing an explosion in peer-to-peer activity, particularly, and crowdfunding in general,” says Daniel Daboczy, CEO and co-founder of Fundedbyme. “Fundedbyme is strategically positioned as the bridge between Scandinavia and Asia as we early-on saw the trend of cross-border investments – in the first equity crowdfunding campaign from Malaysia,
Halal Speed Dating, we saw that 40% of investors came from Europe, which is very exciting for both Asian and European entrepreneurs,” Daboczy continues. The latest equity crowdfunding campaign from Malaysia currently on the platform, iTalent, has registered interest to join from investors in 73 different countries.

Photo: Malaysian Minister of Finance, Najib Razak and Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani handing over the award to Fundedbyme Malaysia’s COO, Angelld Quah (Source: Fundedbyme)

International P2P Lending Volumes October 2016

The following chart lists the loan originations of p2p lending marketplaces in October. Funding Circle had a record month ahead of Zopa and Ratesetter. Lendinvest has strong results too and Assetz Capital makes a big leap forward. The total volume for the reported marketplaces adds up to 443 million Euro. I track the development of p2p lending volumes for many countries. Since I already have most of the data on file I can publish statistics on the monthly loan originations for selected p2p lending platforms. Thincats crossed the 200M GBP funded this inception milestone.

Investors living in national markets with no or limited selection of local p2p lending services can check this list of marketplaces open to international investors. Investors can also explore how to make use of current p2p lending cashback offers available.

P2P Loan volume October 2016
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in October 2016. Source: own research
Note that volumes have been converted from local currency to Euro for the sake of comparison. Some figures are estimates/approximations.
*Prosper and Lending Club no longer publish origination data for the most recent month.

Notice to p2p lending services not listed: Continue reading

Interview with Ivan Pellegrini, CEO of Borsadelcredito

Ivan Pellegrini is co-founder & Group CEO at Borsadelcredito.it.

What is BorsadelCredito.it about?

BorsadelCredito.it is the first Italian p2p lending platform. We help creditworthy SMEs to obtain credit in just three working days while promising 5-7% return to our investors. So far, we disbursed loans for 4.3M EUR (as reported on our statistics page) boosting the savings of hundreds of lenders.

In a market context where about five million SME’s are facing strong difficulties in approaching traditional credit channels, P2P lending represents a breath of fresh air for both investors and entrepreneurs.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

For investors, accessing a digital marketplace represents an unprecedented way to obtain strong returns while supporting Italian SME’s. Overall, expected average returns range from 5 to 7% and, thanks to a strong diversification level (funds are divided among hundreds of firms) the risk of losses arising from defaults is strongly contained.

With BorsadelCredito.it our lenders invest in the Real Economy. The digital marketplace is the most efficient and attractive way for credit operations in the Italian enterprise framework: loan fund and SMEs financing opportunities represent one of the easiest investment options in the whole market.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

For the applying companies, forwarding a request is very easy: as for the lender, the experience is completely digital and way faster than the traditional credit channels. From BorsadelCredito.it it takes only 5 minutes to complete a loan request: in order to be evaluated, firms must have at least one year of activity, 50.000 EUR stream of gross revenue and no sign of adverse events from Credit Bureaus.

Funding requests are handled by our neuronal algorithms in a few hours and then forwarded to an experienced team of credit analysts, who overlook the firm’s statements and overall performance in 24 hours to send a final response: if the evaluation is positive, credit can be disbursed in just two working days, without the need to open a bank account or provide any guarantees.

Ivan Pellegrini, BorsadelcreditoWhat ROI can investors expect?

The ROI our investors can expect is very high and it’s around 5/7%.

Currently the average is 5.71% after bad debts and fees, much higher than what they would earn with the other traditional tools for investments. Last but not least we have a credit protection for our investors payed directly by borrowers.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes, the platform is completely self-developed, as for our valuation models. We invest most of our resources (both in terms of time and money) in the development of efficient processes, workflows and credit scoring models (for example, we are now building a more complex Web-scoring model, which uses big data from the internet to give us a clear overview on how the web sees the evaluated company). Continue reading