A Revelation

I read a lot. Really a lot. I average about 100 to 150 books I read each year. Nevertheless I rarely blog about a book on this blog, since I want to keep this blog focussed on the topic.

I’ll make an exception today. For one of the best books written by a politican I ever did read.

It does not offer a vision. It is better. It is a profound, through analysis of the current state of society, the upcoming huge challenges we face, the likely consequences of these and a set of solutions that actually are logical, made sense to me and are financially feasible.

Most politicians seem to be doctoring with tiny steps on the symptoms, but in this book the author describes a clear path he would want to take forward.

The book is written by Andrew Young, running for US president in 2020. I have no idea what his chances are. And I actually do not care much about inner-American politics.

The point is: In my view this book is not (only) about America. It addresses the major questions most Western society will face in the next decade. In Europe the impact will be delayed a few years and softened by better social security systems, but many aspects are the same.
One of these challenges is the replacement of many, many jobs by algorithms (AI) or robots (did you watch ‘Humans need not Apply’?).

What does it mean for all of us if millions of job disappear in a very short time-frame?

As part of the answer he proposes Universal Basic Income (UBI). I have been very sceptical about UBI. It reminds me too much about the failed Eastern European economies of the last century. And I am still not convinced. But Yang lays out a very logical set of arguments that makes me more curious.

Rarely have I wanted so much to see the implementation of a political plan, to see if it works out and delivers the expected results. A lot would have to happen. It is one thing to lay it all out beautiful in a book and a totally different beast to win the majority to implement change.

The book gets rave reviews on Amazon.com and in my view they are well deserved. If you are looking for a really interesting book either to read yourself or as a gift, I highly recommend:

‘The war on normal people’. The book is available at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.de.

The title is the least fitting part of this book.

UK Property Platform Kuflink Opens To Investors in Europe (100 GBP Cashback)

British p2p property platform Kuflink has been in operation since 2016.  Previously accepting only UK residents as investors, the platform announced that they have enhanced their KYC/AML procedures and are now open to investors from anywhere in Europe. Interested investors can use a free UK bank account from Transferwise Borderless or Revolut (Smartphone required). And in exchanging money to GBP new TransferGo clients can get a 10 GBP bonus when exchanging/sending at least 150 GBP.

Kuflink offers short term property loans (usually 3 to 12 month), secured by a legal charge. They run a very generous 100 GBP cashback offer available by signing up through this this link. Note that the landing page says 50 GBP, but I have negotiated with Kuflink that clients referred by P2P-Banking get 100 GBP (doubling normal cashback). VERY IMPORTANT: Read T&C and strictly follow them. E.g. the minimum investment of 500 GBP must be reached within 24 hours of first investment. While it is possible to spread your investment over several loans, be sure that you are in line with the T&C terms.
You can find more cashback deals on this page.

Kuflink loans
Screenshot: Available Kuflink loans (selection).

Every loan offer comes with detailed information, including a valuation report. Since the start in 2016, Kuflink has originated more than 20 million GBP in loan volume.

Kuflink does not charge investors any fees. Interest is paid on the first day of each month (for manual investing). There is an autoinvest option, but conditions are less interesting than on manual investing. Two features Kuflink lacks are a secondary market and a detailed statistic page (there is some information in the FAQ).

In April I published an interview with the Kuflink CEO.

 

 

Configuring the new Mintos Secondary Market Autoinvest for a Test

Mintos has announced a new feature – the autoinvest can now be used to buy loan parts on the secondary market too. I am setting up a new autoinvest to test it and am curious how many loan parts I will be able to acquire with this new feature. Just like on the primary market there are many selections adjustable.

Mintos Auto Invest Secondary market
Screenshot Mintos Auto Invest Secondary Market

Mintos will roll out the new feature to all investors on Dec. 3rd. Only selected investors will be unlocked earlier. Mintos says investors can deposit an additional 5,000 EUR to add to their balance to get early access. Also investorswhich have invested at least 50,000 EUR will have early access.

Mintos Auto Invest Secondary Market Details
Screenshot: Further details of Mintos Auto Invest Secondary Market

For the further details of the test, I set the secondary market auto invest to buy loans with at least 10% YTM, a maximum loan term of 30 month and at least 0.5% discount. I left the interest rate open, as the restriction is not really necessary for me in this case in conjunction with the YTM and the discount.. For ‘Do you want to reinvest’ and ‘Include loans already invested in’ I choose ‘Yes’. I deselected ‘Diversify across loan originators’ as I want to buy all loans that match these conditions.


No surprise – no loans match my selection. Loans with these criteria selected by me have been bought up fast in the past, even before the introduction of this new autoinvest. I do wonder, which investor will get priority in case there will be autoinvests of multiple investors matching a new loan up for sale. I expect this new autoinvest will be a popular feature amongst Mintos investors.

Not many but a few other p2p lending platforms offer autoinvests for their secondary markets too.

 

 

International P2P Lending Volumes September 2018

The table lists the loan originations of p2p lending marketplaces for last month. Mintos leads ahead of Zopa and Ratesetter. The total volume for the reported marketplaces in the table adds up to 410 million Euro. I track the development of p2p lending volumes 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 platforms. This month I added Colectual and Landlordinvest.

Milestones achieved this month (total volume since launch):

  • Folk2Folk crossed 250M GBP
  • Loanbook Capital crossed 50M EUR

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

Edit Oct. 4th: Today an updated version of the table was published.

P2P Lending Stats September 2018
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in September 2018. Source: own research

Note that volumes have been converted from local currency to Euro for the purpose of comparison. Some figures are estimates/approximations.

Notice to p2p lending services not listed: Continue reading

How to Invest Into Equity of P2P Lending Marketplaces

One of the main developments in UK p2p lending this autumn is the IPO (initial public offering) of Funding Circle. It will be open for investors that commit at least £1,000 through an intermediary (see list of participating intermediaries). Investing at the IPO means investors will invest at a very late stage of the growth phase of a startup. This article and this article suggest that it might not be a good idea to invest in an IPO.

But is there really a chance to invest into equity of a p2p lending marketplace at an early stage, if you are not an employee, business angel or VC? Up to a few years ago the answer would have been NO. But crowdfunding for equity came into use a recently and a surprising number of p2p lending companies have used this route to raise funding.

In this article I will look at the p2p lending services that have used British equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs to raise money. Some of these p2p lending company funding rounds have taken place years ago, but the interesting point is that Seedrs has a secondary market and new investors can buy shares from existing investors that invested earlier through Seedrs. The secondary market opens every first Tuesday of a month (next on Oct. 2nd) and stays open for a week. Some of the shares on offer are in high demand and often sell out within an hour. If you’d like to buy on the secondary market you should open your Seedrs account now, as you’ll need time to verify it and deposit funds prior to the market opening.

P2P Lending Startups that raised funding rounds through Seedrs

Assetz logoAssetz Capital
Assetz Capital is a UK platform for SME loans. Assetz raised two rounds on Seedrs for an aggregate of 5.3 million GBP. The last round was in October 2017 at a pre-money valuation of 50M GBP. Shares of Assetz capital are usually in high demand on the Seedrs secondary market.

Brickowner logoBrickowner
Brickowner is a UK property investment platform. Brickowner raised four rounds for an aggregate of 0.4 million GBP. The last round was a converible in March 2018. The pre-money valuation in Nov. 2017 was 2.5M GBP. There is usually some availability of Brickowner shares on the secondary market.

Crowdlords
Crowdlords is UK property crowdfunding platform. Crowdlords raised one round for 0.2M GBP in Nov. 2014. The current pre-emption round is at a pre-money valuation of 3.2M GBP. There is usually limited availability of Crowdlords shares on the secondary market.

Crowdstacker
Crowdstaecker is a UK platform for SME loans. Crowdstacker is running a round right now for 0.8 million GBP at a pre-money valuation of 19.5M GBP.

Crowdproperty logoCrowdproperty
Crowdproperty is a UK platform for property development finance. Crowdproperty raised 0.9M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 5.9M GBP in November 2017. There is usually some availability of Crowdproperty shares on the secondary market.

Flender logoFlender
Flender runs a platform for Irish SME loans. Flender raised on Seedrs round of 0.5M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 4.5M GBP in January 2017. Supply of Flender shares on the secondary market is scarce.

Investly logoInvestly
Investly is a platform for invoice financing operating in the UK and Estonia. Investly raised on Seedrs round of 0.7M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 6.6M GBP in March 2018. Investly shares have been in high demand on the secondary market.

Landbay logoLandbay
Landbay is a UK platform for buy-to-let mortage lending. Landbay did multiple Seedrs rounds from 2013 till 2018. The last round was in March 2018 at a pre-money valuation of 28.9M GBP. There is usually good availability of Landbay shares on the secondary market.

Orca logoOrca Money
Orca is an aggregator for UK p2p lending investments. Orca is running a round right now for 0.5M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 1.8M GBP.

Welendus logoWelendus
Welendus is a UK platform for short-term loans. Welendus raised 1.3M GBP GBP through 3 Seedrs campaigns including the currently running round at a pre-money vaulation of 6.0M GBP.

There are shares of mulitple other interesting fintechs available on the Seedrs secondary market, including Commuter Club which has an interesting connection to p2p lending: The loans for the transport tickets were financed first by Ratesetter lenders and now by Zopa lenders. There is usually good availability of Commuter Club shares on the secondary market.

P2P-Banking has a pre-launch notification service for upcoming new Seedrs campaigns. Sign up and you get a head start on new campaigns which might potentially include Assetz Exchange, a new Brickowner round and p2p lending startup Neo Finance.

Summing up: While there are other sources for shares in p2p lending companies, Seedrs is a good place to start looking.

This article is not an investment advice. Investing in startups bears significant risks, including total loss of investment.

Fellow Finance Plans IPO at Nasdaq Helsinki

LogoFinnish p2p lending marketplace Fellow Finance plans an IPO at Nasdaq Helsinki. Established in 2013 and launching operations in 2014, Fellow Finance is an internationally active and growth-oriented FinTech group that provides crowdfunding services. The Company has facilitated peer-to-peer loans to consumers as well as loan-based crowdfunding and invoice financing to businesses in a total amount of more than EUR 295 million, serving nearly 430,000 users from around 50 different countries. Fellow Finance’s net sales consist mainly of commissions and interest income. Taaleri Plc is the largest owner of the Company, with an ownership of 45.7 percent before the IPO.

In 2017 Fellow Finance’s net sales was EUR 8.7 million, growing by 55 percent from the previous year. The good development continued in the first half of 2018, as the Company’s net sales grew by 43 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.

The objective of the planned IPO and Listing is to finance international growth and expansion of operations. Further objectives for the Listing are to increase the number of share-holders, give the Company access to capital markets, and in-crease the liquidity of the Company share and awareness of the Company. The Listing will also allow the more efficient use of shares as e.g. means of payment in eventual corporate acquisitions and in the remuneration of employees. The gross proceeds that the Company will receive from the Share Issue are estimated to amount to a total of approximately EUR 10.0 million, before IPO related fees and expenses.

Institutional investors consisting of certain funds managed by OP Fund Management Company Ltd and Sp-Fund Management Company Ltd as well as Prior&Nilsson Fund and Asset Management Ltd have given their pre-commitments to subscribe for shares and agreed to become cornerstone investors in the IPO. Additionally, the Company’s Chairman Kai Myllyneva, and members of the Board of Directors Esa Laurila and Jorma Alanne given their pre-commitments to subscribe for shares in the IPO. Total subscription commitments amount to approximately EUR 4.6 million.

Fellow Finance’s CEO Jouni Hintikka says:
“We have created an advanced marketplace where we unite businesses and individuals looking for financing in Finland, Sweden, Germany and Poland with a global pool of investors looking for returns. Borrower customers are provided with peer-to-peer loans, business loans and invoice financing at market terms. For investor customers our services enable diversification of assets into an alternative asset class with minimum need of time and effort.”

Growth of Investor Numbers on P2P Lending Marketplaces

Today I take a look at the recent development of investor numbers on several p2p lending marketplaces. I chart relative numbers with the index set to 100 for June 1st, 2018. The advantage of using indexed numbers for this comparison is that platforms use very different definitions for their investor base size. Some count registered investors, some count investors with deposits, some count active investors, some count recently active investors, … .

The disadvantage of showing indexed numbers for growth is that it gives smaller, younger an advantage as their percentage increase of investor base is likely still higher because they come from smaller absolut numbers. An example for this effect is Peerberry where percentage growth of investors is rapid, but the absolute number as of Sep, 1st has reached only 2468 investors as it is a very young marketplace.

P2P Lending Investor Statistic
Indexed investor numbers (with June 1st, 2018 = 100). Peerberry exceeds the choosen display scale – value for Apr. is 66 and value for Sep. is 183
Reading example: On Sep 1st the index value for Mintos was 123, meaning Mintos had 23% more investors than on Jun. 1st

Orca Money to Raise 500K via Equity Crowdfunding – Interview with CEO Iain Niblock

Orca Money is currently running an equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to raise 500K GBP at a premoney valuation of 1.7M GBP. Anybody can invest in Orca Money shares with a minimum investment amount of 10 GBP applicable. I interviewed the Orca CEO Iain Niblock

What is Orca Money about?

Orca is an aggregation platform, allowing investors to invest across a range of peer to peer lending (P2P) platforms, lending sub sectors and a large number of borrowers. We further offer independent investment research, providing confidence to investors when making decisions.

Currently investors are investing directly on P2P platforms. This makes building and managing a diversified portfolio frustrating. We centralise this process by allowing investors to research, build and manage their portfolio from the Orca platform. We provide the P2P platforms with a source of retail investors.

Investors can review the performance of their portfolio, diversify their risk and earn the attractive returns that the sector offers.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

Risk adjusted returns: We offer an investment return to our users which is reduced in risk through diversification. By allowing investors to invest across multiple P2P platforms, lending sectors and a large number of borrowers, we facilitate easy diversification.

Reduced admin burden: Orca manages all fund deployment, email communication and performance data aggregation. Investors can login to their personal Orca dashboard and view a breakdown of their portfolio, as well as an aggregated view of their investment performance.

Automatic portfolio build: Orca has been producing independent analysis on the market for the past three years. We have conducted due diligence in the market and curated a portfolio for investors to invest through. This removes the hassle from P2P investing.

Iain NiblockYou are currently raising money. Who are you raising from and what do you plan to use the capital for?

Our investment is open to the public on the Seedrs equity crowdfunding platform. Investors across the EU can register and invest in the Orca business. The proceeds will allow us to expand our userbase, integrate with more lenders and to further develop the functionality of our platform.

Prior to launching the crowdfunding campaign, we secured a portion of this investment from two institutional funds based in Northern Ireland and a number of leading angel investors. It’s great to be combining these investors with crowd investors.

Why have you selected Seedrs for your equity crowdfunding campaign?

A number of our customers mentioned that they would like to invest in Orca’s business. We’ve gained incredibly valuable feedback from these customers and, ultimately, we wanted to give them an opportunity to own shares in the business. We hope that this campaign will attract further investors and customers to do the same.

Personally, I’ve tracked the equity crowdfunding market closely for many years and I’m now genuinely excited to be leading a campaign. Seedrs was an obvious choice as they have facilitated funding for a number of other P2P platforms.

One benefit of Seedrs is that investors invest through a nominee structure. The Seedrs nominee structure holds and manages the shares on the behalf of the underlying investor. For the investor, this means the nominee can track and monitor shareholder rights as a collective. For the company, this reduces the administrative burden of having a large shareholder base.

Where do you see Orca Money in 3 years?

We aim to evolve into the hub for P2P investment research, investing and portfolio management. Investors will be given access to credit investments across the EU, originated by P2P platforms and other non-bank lenders. The functionality of our platform will increase, delivering a fully functioning investment aggregation platform.

Orca is a differentiated product in a rapidly growing market.

Name one fact that makes your pitch a better investment than any other pitch on Seedrs.

In comparison to other Seedrs pitches we believe our valuation is very good value. This was set by institutional investors based in Northern Ireland where valuations are generally lower than other parts of the UK and in particular London. I’d expect the valuation to rise substantially during any subsequent rounds.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Iain Niblock for the interview.

International P2P Lending Volumes August 2018

The table lists the loan originations of p2p lending marketplaces for last month. Mintos leads ahead of Zopa and Ratesetter. The total volume for the reported marketplaces in the table adds up to 420 million Euro. I track the development of p2p lending volumes 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 platforms. This month I added Soisy.

Milestones achieved this month (total volume since launch):

  • Mintos crossed one billion EUR

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

P2P Lending Statistic August 2018
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in August 2018. Source: own research

Note that volumes have been converted from local currency to Euro for the purpose of comparison. Some figures are estimates/approximations.

Notice to p2p lending services not listed: Continue reading

Up to 9% Interest Rate – How To Register as a Non-Resident Investor at Ratesetter Australia

Ratesetter is the brand name of one of the top 3 UK p2p lending marketplaces. Unfortunately only UK investors can invest on Ratesetter UK, otherwise I would have tried it out.

Ratesetter is also the brandname of Ratesetter Australia. While not rund by the same company this Australian p2p lending marketplace uses the same technology base and is offering similar products, consumer loans of up to 5 years. Since launching in 2014 Ratesetter Australia has originated more than 325 million AUD in loan.

The site does not feature it, but actually Ratesetter is open to non-resident investors. I recently found this out and went ahead and opened I account in the past week. The signup process for non-residents is not as straightforward as on other marketplaces. I post a detailed description of how I did it below.

But why send money that far away?

Because rates are attractive. Interest rates are currently up to 9.3% (compare that to around 6% that is achieveable for 5 year investments on Ratesetter UK).
And that rate is AFTER fees.

Ratesetter Australia Returns

A further important feature is the provision fund. That is capital stored that is used to reimburse lenders of defaulted loans. While that is no insurance or guarantee, it is in my view a much stronger portection than the ‘buyback guarantee’ that some other market places promise.

There is currently 10.6 million AUD in the Ratesetter Australia provision fund. And since 2014 the provision fund has paid for every default without exception.

Ratesetter provision fund

Review of advantages

  • established platform
  • very high interest rates (displayed rates are after fees)
  • no default losses since 2014 for investors (due to the provision fund)
  • comprehensive statistics & loanbook download

Review of disadvantages

  • signup a little more effort than usual (see description below)
  • no secondary market. Investors investing in the secondary market should not expect to be in a situation were they might need that money earlier
  • 10% withholding Tax for German residents (for other countries check here – according to Ratesetter it is either 0% or 10% depending on country)
  • very volatile currency exchange rate
  • transaction fees for changing EUR -> AUD according to description below is 0.35%; to convert back AUD -> EUR the fee is 0.45%

My conclusion

Only investors that want to invest a larger amount for a long duration should consider this. Otherwise it is not worth the effort in my opinion.

Currency EUR AUD chart
Currency exchange rates EUR/AUD last five years (Source)

How I signed up as a a non-resident investor on Ratesetter Australia – step my step explanation

As the process is more effort than usual, I suggest you read the complete remainder of the article and decide if it is for you, instead of just diving into the registration process.

Step 1: Trigger Ratesetter registration process

Sign up via this link and the first 5 investors have a chance to get a cashback bonus of $75 AUD – see conditions below*

First there is a welcome page, click “Register Now” there and then this page is shown:

Ratesetter AUS Registration

Yes, you saw that right. After clicking Register, you STOP and do NOT proceed with the signup on the website as it can only handle Australian residents.

Step 2: Continue registration

After a few minutes I got an automated email asking me to complete my registration. I did NOT click on the link provided in the email, but rather send a reply email, stating that I am a German resident and would like to invest on Ratesetter and that I have an Australian bank account. I asked that they would please guide me through the process.

Step 3: Australian bank account

WTF? Sounds much more prohibiting than it actually is. I had a Transferwise account already and with a few clicks could open a free Transferwise borderless account in Australian dollar which comes complete with account number and BSB code (routing code). If you don’t have Transferwise you can open it for free, only plan a little time for verification.

The Australian Transferwise account later serves as reference bank account which is entered into the form in step 5.

Converting EUR in AUD costs 0.35% at Transferwise (how I saved that fees is written below). The current fee for later changing back AUD to EUR is 0.45%.

Step 4: Obtain scanned certified copies of documents for registration

While I waited for the answer from Ratesetter from Step 2, I went ahead and obtained scanned certified copies of documents. I could do that a the town hall (cost incurred 3.50 EUR). It will probably be different in other countries. Needed is
a) current driver licence OR current passport
b) proof of address no older then 60 days: utilities bill (such as an electricity bill or phone statement) OR bank statement or other bank correspondence OR correspondence from a local or central government department

Step 5:. Going on with registration

Meanwhile I got the reply from Ratesetter support. They are super helpful, but time zone difference means every back and forth takes a day. Ratesetter sent me a link of a web form to complete. I did that (entered ‘-‘ for SWIFT) and told them so via email, which I attached the requested certified document copies to.

Step 6: Registration is complete

One day later I got the confirmation that my registration was completed and I was ready to go.

Step 7: Deposit

One can now convert in the Transferwise account Euro to AUD wechseln and then send money from the Transferwise Australian currency account to Ratesetter. Ratesetter shows the necessary routing information under Transfer funds in > Transfer by Bank Transfer > Other

Saving in currency exchange when depositing

I could save the 0.35% Transferwise currency exchange fee for EUR > AUD by using a free Revolut account and exchanging between Monday and Friday EUR to AUD fee free. Then transfer the AUD either to the Transferwise AUD account or directly as a Ratesetter deposit payment.

I just started. I intend to lend for the 5 year market and experiment with setting my own desired rates slightly above market rate. Watch out for an update here on the blog after I have several month of experience or – probably more frequently on the dedicated thread on the German discussion forum.

*$75 AUD Cashback Bonus for the first 5 investors, that register thought the given link before 16.09.2018 and at least $2000 AUD  on the 3 or 5 year market. Precise terms and conditions on the Ratesetter site. To qualify I think swift action will be needed, given that the registration, deposit and lending will take some time.