Interview with Gregor Gregersen, CEO of Silver Bullion

What is Silver Bullion about?

Silver Bullion buys, sells, authenticates and stores physical gold and silver. Since mid-2015 we also launched the option for customers to securely lend and borrow to each other using their bullion as collateral.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

Physical bullion buyers receive the best protection possible (in jurisdictional, counterparty and storage risk terms) against systemic crises by being owners of insured physical property under Singapore law rather than bank creditors exposed to financial crises. They also have a long position in gold / silver. They profit from a financial collapse, hyperinflation or foreign nationalizations.

Alternatively, as lenders they receive a safe return (very low risk) by lending their funds to owners of insured and authenticated bullion stored with us. Lender funds are collateralized by a minimum 200% worth of gold and silver and, should during the duration of the loan, the collateral fall to 125% the borrowers will get a margin call. At 110% we will liquidate (sell) the borrower’s silver and gold to ensure the lender’s funds are always fully covered by liquid collateral.

Lenders can offer their funds at an interest rate and duration of their choosing. Borrowers are then free to accept the best rates and vice versa, thereby creating a Bid/Ask exchange which lets lender and borrowers determine their own interest rates. The system is also inexpensive (0.5% fee) and easy to use as borrowers do not need to be rated or scored due to their collateral.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

Because the loans involve so little risk (due to collateral) lenders are willing to accept comparatively low interest rates. Therefore borrowers can borrow cheaply (e.g. 4% p.a.) and unlock their bullion liquidity without selling it. The low rates allow for arbitrage opportunities vs. customer in high interest countries.

Because we have an abundance of lenders Borrowers can quickly and easily get a loan whenever they need it, without any usage restrictions and minimal additional paperwork.

Borrowers can choose to easily roll-over /refinance a loan before maturity. So they could roll-over as needed, giving them flexibility and a source of optional liquidity when needed.

Investors are required to open a storage account first. Doesn’t that deter those that only want to invest?

A storage account is required to do our AML and KYC checks and an account number is the pre-requisite to do P2P transactions. A customer / lender does not need to buy or store bullion and there is no cost associated with opening an account. So there is no downside.

Gregor GregersenWhat ROI can investors expect?

P2P Lenders have received secure returns ranging from 3.5% to 7% p.a. depending on currency, duration and borrower/lender demand. The nature of the bullion collateral also means are also well protected against both a borrower default and systemic defaults in a crisis.

It depends on the lender whether and how he values this risk diversification.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes. It is highly specialized platform that is integrated with our bullion storage system which stores around 120 million SGD worth of physical bullion.

A word about the people who designed this P2P system might be in order. Gregor Gregersen (primary architect) was a senior data architect for Commerzbank (the second largest German bank), Otbert de Jong headed the global risk advisory department at ABN AMRO Bank and was a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers and Simon Black is the founder of Sovereign Man, which is one of the best resources on internationalisation and spreading your risk. Continue reading

International P2P Lending Loan Volumes January 2016

The following table lists the loan originations for January. This month Ratesetter led, followed by Zopa and Funding Circle. I added one more marketplace to the list. I do monitor development of p2p lending statistics for many markets. Since I already have most of the data on file I can publish statistics on the monthly loan originations for selected p2p lending services.
Investors living in markets with no or limited choice of local p2p lending services can check this list of marketplaces open to international investors. Investors can also learn how to make use of p2p lending cashback offers available.
Last month these companies crossed significant milestones:
Marketplace Lending Statistics 01/2016
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in January 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

Crosslend: Cashback and Dutch loans

Crosslend LogoP2P Lending Marketplace Crosslend launched last September. The unsecured loans are open for investment for investors in Germany, Spain, UK and the Netherlands.
I gave a short overview in my Crosslend review for investors. So far the couple of Crosslend loans, I invested in, are all current.

In mid-January Crosslend added Dutch loans and I made a bid on the first Dutch loan listing. The majority of loans are still sought by Spanish borrowers. Currently there are over 50 Spanish loan listings available and also a few German or Dutch ones.

10% Cashback

Crosslend currently offers a cashback promotion. New and existing investors get 10% cashback on all successful investments made until March, 31th 2016 (up to a maximum bonus amount of 1,000 Euro per investor; further conditions apply, e.g. minimum investment of 250 Euro during promotion period). Investors contemplating to test Crosslend should consider making use of this cashback offer now.

Update Jan 31th: was informed that this offer runs currently only in the German market; other markets will follow later

Unbolted Partners with H&H Classics

Unbolted logoBritish p2p lending marketplace Unbolted has announced a partnership with car auctioneer H&H Classics. The finance deal will allow auction consignors to access a significant portion of the value of their car or motorcycle well in advance of sale. The supply agreement creates a sale advance facility providing up to 70% of the low-estimate valuation to the consignor where an agreement is struck.

Unbolted lets individuals plus small and medium enterprises borrow against their assets.

The two partners in the project are also developing a new financing solution for buyers to help them capitalise on new opportunities at auction.

Nick Delaney, Business Development Manager of H&H Classics, says: ‘Both types of facility are safe and reliable methods designed to bring liquidity to asset-rich collectors and entrepreneurs, allowing them to move quickly on opportunities rather than missing the boat while negotiating cumbersome and costly credit facilities with banks.’

Continue reading

Investly Launches Invoice Finance for UK SMEs; Raised 600K from Speedinvest

Tallinn based p2p lending marketplace Investly, which recently launched an invoice finance product in Estonia announced the launch of the service for UK SMEs. The invoice finance option will give UK businesses almost instant access to much needed working capital to aid growth.

The launch comes after a successful European launch of the platform in Estonia 18 months ago, and a subsequent investment of 600,000 Euro from Venture Capital group, SpeedInvest.

Until now, invoice finance options – whether through traditional channels or via other peer-to-peer platforms – have been complex and laden with fees and charges.

Investly says it has simplified the product so that, once credit checks have been cleared, SMEs can sell invoices to investors within two days. And therefore assign the money to aid growth, enabling them to be the best they can possibly be without the cash flow worries. Initially, the invoice finance product will be available to any UK SME who passes the platforms sign-up criteria, which includes credit checks and confirming their identity. Further safeguards are put in place such as directors’ checks and potential guarantee.

Ruth Chamberlain, Investly’s UK Country Manager, said: “Long payment terms are crippling for UK SMEs. They are dependent on cash to sustain and grow their business, but as they invest in products and people, they may not get money on work completed a month or even 120 days after issuing their invoice. This is putting many businesses at risk – especially smaller ones and those that depend on payments from one or two key customers.” Continue reading

Mintos – My P2P Lending Portfolio After Year One

I started investing in loans on the Latvian p2p lending marketplace Mintos right after it launched 12 months ago. At that time Mintos offered real-estate secure loans only. The service has evolved hugely with a much wider range of loan types on offer now. Mintos now serves as a platform to enable the transactions while partnering with loan originators, who actually originate loans and are responsible for vetting the borrowers.

Overview of the current main parameters for investors:

  • Different loan types
  • Typical interest rates range from about 8% to about 14%
  • 0% fees for investors on the primary market (1% seller fee on the secondary market)
  • All loans prefunded; investors earn interest from the day they invest money into a loan
  • Depending on the provider, some of the loans offer buyback guarantees; that means if the loan becomes more than 60 days overdue the provider will pay the principal and the interest of that loan to the investor
  • Open to international investors

Mintos account statement

During the past year in several installments I deposited 11,000 Euro into the account via SEPA transfer (actually I deposited 12,041 Euro; but I also withdrew 1,041 Euro). Deposits are fast and reliable; they usually took less than 1 business day for me. Most of the time, I reinvested all repayments and interest earned.

Mintos loan portfolio

My portfolio yielded 14% ROI so far

Currently I have 12.069 Euro invested in 161 different loans. Over 70% of the amount is in Mogo secured car loans (with buyback guarantee). Over 20% is in mortgage loan (without buyback guarantee). The remainder is in business loans and invoice finance loans (mostly without buyback guarantees). I stayed clear of the personal loans Creamfinance originated in Georgia. The shown 14.01% are an accurate reflection of the actual ROI, I believe. Continue reading

Interview with Craig Moore, CEO of Beehive

What is Beehive about?

Beehive is the first and only P2P financing platform in the UAE (United Arab Emirates). Otherwise known as marketplace lending, peer-to-peer finance is the practice of lending money to unrelated individuals, or “peers”, without going through a traditional financial intermediary such as a bank or other traditional financial institution. Beehive bridges a significant funding gap that currently exists in the UAE market. Our platform applies the innovative technology of crowdfunding to eliminate the cost and complexity of conventional finance. Businesses bypass conventional intermediaries and receive financing directly from the crowd. This enables them to get faster access to lower cost finance, while investors get better returns. Beehive is a facilitator that enables businesses to secure the funding they need by creating the organizational framework and infrastructure required for community and financial support to materialize.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

The three main advantages for investors are:

  1. No Barrier to Entry: Individual investors can invest from as little as AED 100 into each business listed on the platform and receive monthly repayments currently averaging 12% per annum with reinvested returns. Investors get money transferred into their account in as little as two days.
  2. Diverse Portfolio: By investing on the Beehive platform, investors can diversify their risk across a number of products offered to a variety of companies operating across diverse sectors, with new companies listing on the platform every week. They are able to directly invest in a business they believe in. Investors are also able to buy or sell their finance parts to other investors on the platform through Beehive’s secondary market. This gives investors access to a market place where they can trade finance parts and allows greater access to liquidity and diversification.
  3. Sharia Compliant Structure: Beehive allows investors to ethically invest in some of the most innovative SMEs in the UAE. Beehive supports Dubai’s ambition to be a Global Financial Capital with its innovative Sharia-compliant platform, which helps Islamic finance customers to achieve their financial goals in a more ethical structure, and helps compliant SMEs tap sources of Islamic finance liquidity. Beehive was certified by the Shariyah Review Bureau (SRB) as a Sharia-compliant P2P finance platform in September 2015, making it the first P2P platform in the world to independently confirm its processes are compliant with Sharia principles.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

The three main advantages for borrowers are:

  1. Cost of finance: The platform offers considerable savings to businesses that need it: Businesses using Beehive save on average 30% on their financing costs. The average bank borrowing rate (unsecured) for SMEs in the UAE is over 18%, often much higher. Because investors compete for rates in a reverse auction process, business receive the lowest possible average rate from investors.
  2. Time to finance: The Beehive online marketplace facilitates faster, more flexible funding, with companies typically getting a decision on their finance requests in 3 days. The application process is completed online, and businesses receive funding in 14 days or less.
  3. Invoice Financing: Beehive’s SME invoice financing tool is designed to serve SMEs and help them manage their cashflows by closing the gap between the issue of an invoice and the receipt of actual payment. By unlocking the value of their accounts-receivable, they are able to tackle the dual challenges of rising inflation and late payments. These products give SMEs more options to plug invoice gaps, giving them greater control over their business and finances, and thus a greater opportunity for security and growth.

Craig Moore, BeehiveWhat ROI can investors expect?

The average return for investors is 12% per annum with reinvested returns

Please tell me more about Islamic Finance and Sharia Compliance. Is that a main factor for attracting clients?

One of the things we are very proud of is receiving our Sharia Certification. Globally we’re the first platform to be certified sharia compliant. It was our plan from the beginning to make a sharia P2P platform, because it hadn’t been done before and it would open a new asset class to Islamic investors. About 80-90% of businesses on the platform are Sharia compliant. What we find is that if the listing is sharia compliant, then investors will engage with the business whether they are conventional or Islamic, so it is a very attractive feature for both investors and businesses across the board.

How did you start Beehive? Is the company funded with venture capital?

Beehive has so far received two rounds of external funding in addition to founding investment.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

All the technology on the Beehive platform has been developed using in-house capabilities. Our in-house IT development, design and creative teams allow us to be agile and responsive to market needs. Continue reading

Saving Stream – My Loan Portfolio after Year One

I started investing at the UK p2p lending marketplace Saving Stream in December 2014. The last Saving Stream review I wrote was 9 months ago, therefore time is right to post an update on how my portfolio is developing.

For those p2p lending newbies that have not heard of Saving Stream so far here are the basics again:

  • Bridge loans, secured by commercial properties (first or second charges)
  • 12% interest (interest rate is the same on all loans on the platform)
  • 0% fees for investors (on primary and secondary market)
  • All loans prefunded; investors earn interest from the day they invest money into a loan
  • A provision fund shall provide a buffer against default losses
  • Open to international investors

To deposit money I used Transferwise and Currencyfair saving me bank fees and allowing me to know the currency exchange rate in advance.

I made 5 deposits over time totalling 5,441 GBP (7,403 EUR).

Saving Stream Loans
Screenshot: Top of the list of my Savingstream loan portfolio

My portfolio grew nicely and yields a very got ROI

As you can see in the image, my original 5,441 GBP grew to 5,967 GBP current portfolio value. I reinvested all repayments and interest earned. It sure is nice to earn 60 GBP interest per month (1% of live loan parts amount). My ROI is actually a bit over 12% so far as I profited from several cashback offers. I did not experience any defaults on my loans so far.

The new website

Late in 2015 Saving Stream overhauled the website. Major improvement is that this fixes the situation which frequently occured on the old website, where loan parts sold/bought on the secondary market might get stuck when a loan amount left on offer accidently ran into a negative value and needed manual operator intervention to clear. The new website also introduced the two step verification security option. I enabled this security feature for my account. Continue reading

Interview with Andris Rozenbahs, COO of Viventor

What is Viventor about?

Viventor is about providing sensible investment opportunities for investors from all over Europe. As we started considering the idea of Viventor less than a year ago, peer-to-peer financing was achieving remarkable success in the US and the UK. In contrary, the “old continent” was relatively underserved.

And so the goal was set – to build a peer-to-peer lending platform for European investors that is accessible, makes investing convenient, and offers high quality services, investment opportunities, and the product itself.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

Firstly, it is the investments themselves. All loans currently offered are secured by liquid real estate mortgages, as well as come with Buyback Guarantee. The weighted-average LTV ratio of our loan book is 28.45%, and we are proud to be the market leaders in terms of providing such low-risk opportunities.

Secondly, the investors receive fixed monthly interest payments. Relatively few platforms do this, but we see it as an advantage for the investors. Instead of diminishing interest and trying to crack advanced formulas, we offer straightforward logics and exactly the same payments every month. We want to make investing convenient also for people relatively unfamiliar with the world of finance and peer-to-peer lending.

Thirdly, it is the simplicity and convenience of investing. We are constantly making efforts towards removing the friction from the investment process itself by building the platform and its UI simple and intuitive for any user. Improvements based on everyday findings are constantly implemented, new languages are added, and educational material is made available. Our aim is to for investing to be simple and enjoyable.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

Viventor does not originate loans itself, and this is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

However, if we speak about the partner companies that have currently listed their loans on Viventor, there are a couple of things worth noting. The companies consist of professionals, possessing years of experience in non-bank lending and underwriting, and having their skin completely in the game. Also, access to financing for eligible borrowers is considerably faster than that offered by alternative creditors. This has been achieved by combining years of experience and knowledge with machine learning and other modern technologies.

Andris RozenbahsWhat ROI can investors expect?

Currently, investors can earn up to 7% p.a. fixed, and there are no fees withheld. The number will be going up though, as we will be adding other types of loans with higher levels of interest.

Prestamos Prima, the mother company of Viventor, operates in Spain? What led to the decision to incorporate Viventor SIA in Latvia?

We as professionals have been in the non-bank lending for many years, involved in other projects before Prestamos Prima. While Spain is one of the major markets at the moment, it is certainly not the only one, and you can expect loans from other European countries being added.

What concerns Viventor being incorporated in Latvia – we are Latvians, and prefer to stick to our origins whenever we are able to choose. There is a lot of untapped potential and hidden talent in the Baltics, but then again – I believe people familiar with the European peer-to-peer financing market are well aware of that already.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes, Viventor has been built in-house from the very first line of code, and we will keep the development of platform to ourselves. All in all, we believe the right approach for improving Viventor is by gathering feedback, applying our lessons learnt, constantly pivoting and optimising. And it is clearly much more efficient to achieve this with a dedicated engineering team in-house. Continue reading