Interview with Evaldas Remeikis, Chairman of the board at UAB NEO Finance, Marketplace Paskoluklubas

What is Paskoluklubas about?

NEO Finance is the leading P2P lending platform „Paskolų klubas“ in Lithuania. The platform is an intermediary for consumer loans connecting lenders directly with borrowers. We believe that fintech company should be not only innovative, but also professional. This is why we gathered a strong team of senior experts from the banking sector with the expertise in consumer lending, bank management and risk control. Currently all of “NEO Finance” activities are supervised by the Bank of Lithuania due to obtained e-money license, P2P license and as a consumer lender status, to ensure that responsible lending criteria is enforced.

We have a unique platform that we developed our self to fit the needs of our investors. NEO Finance offers buyback and provision fund services, which minimizes risk for lenders. Moreover, partnership with Legal Balance, UAB enables platform’s users to experience the benefits of 7+ years of delinquent loans recovery know-how.

By transferring money to “Paskolu klubas” account investors deposit it into e-money IBAN account under their own name and hold all of the money under their control till the investment is made.

Our main goal is to ensure a sufficient supply of loans are listed in the primary market, so that our investors can cherry-pick the loans adequate to their investment strategy.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  1. Provision fund service. By voluntarily paying a provision fund fee, more conservative investors can be secured from delinquent or defaulted loans. If a borrower is late with the installment, provision fund immediately covers that installment. The fund holds largest amount of proceeds to cover late payments in the Baltics and holds more than 100 000 EUR at the moment.
  1. Buybacks. Investors, who did not choose the provision fund service, can sell defaulted investments to “Paskolu klubas” for 50-80% of its face value. Instead of waiting for a relatively long recovery process they can reinvest their money into other loans.
  1. Higher interests rates of return. In Lithuania, we operate in market of higher interest rate. Currently our average interest rates are as fallowed for each of the credit rating: A – 13 % B – 17% C – 20%. This creates opportunity for investors from all over the Europe to receive higher returns.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  1. Lower fees for borrowers. As our fees are one of the lowest for borrowers, therefore half of the borrowers choose “Paskolu klubas” loan as an alternative for a bank loan.
  2. Possibility to get an instant loan. Since we developed in-house state-of-the-art IT platform ourselves we can offer unique features for borrowers and investors. One of them is instant loan service. Investors can set up their automatic investment tool and borrowers can see what amount they can borrow at what rates, as the system collects all automatic investment orders starting with the lowest rate and building it up to meet the needs of a borrower. This feature enables investors to invest their capital faster.
  1. No upfront fees. Unlike other platforms Paskolu klubas does not charge upfront fee from borrowers. Borrowers do receive the exact amount they borrow. Platform fee is deducted from the payments, this way we take the risk together with investors and are able to offer barrows flexible barrowing.

What ROI can investors expect?

10-18% after taxes. One investor did an experiment with 4000 EUR initial deposit. Half of the investments were made using a provision fund service, 5 defaulted investments were sold to NEO Finance and some investments were sold in the secondary market with premium. ROI after exactly 1 year was 14% after taxes.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes, this allows us to add various new features and to fit the needs of both – investors and borrowers. We are not only the peer to peer platform, but also a fully licensed e-money institution. This enables us to operate as an online bank with IBAN account numbers and SEPA MMS payments.

Evaldas RemeikisHow is the company financed? Is it profitable?

The company is financed from shareholder’s equity. It is not profitable yet, but we are in operation for only one and a half year. Our current goal is market penetration and market share.

What were/are the main challenges in the Lithuanian market?

When preparing for the launch, we spent a lot of time carefully analyzing Lithuanian and foreign markets. “Paskolu klubas” shareholders and employees have a lot of experience in the financial sector, we also cooperate with the best partners and agencies. This helped us to be prepared, therefore none of the challenges were unexpected.

One of the more significant challenge was financial literacy. Potential investors were not introduced to peer to peer lending before. Therefore, we started an event and training cycle where we educate investors about pros and cons of peer to peer lending.

You launched the company for residents of Lithuania quite some time ago. What prompted you to open up for international investors and launch an English version of the website right now?

From our experience, we knew that establishing consumer loan brand in a market takes at least a year. We focused our effort on becoming the number one platform in Lithuania for the past 18 months, but had strategic plans to open our platform to international investors from the beginning. Currently we can supply enough of quality loans for international investors.

Another reason was it took time to acquire full e-money license. For this we had to make sure we meet international anti-money laundering requirements and international identification requirements. Only after establishing processes, developing the system and meeting those international requirements we are ready to offer opportunity for international investors.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors and borrowers?

For investors, we mostly use educational channels where we try not only to advertise, but also to educate people about investment opportunities. In 2016 we organized over 30 events for our investors. We also use partnership of different financing experts who can provide feedback on our platform and receive bonuses for the investors they bring in.

Moreover, word of mouth perfectly works for us, because we have many satisfied investors, who are sharing their experiences and helping us grow.

For the borrowers, we have fully integrated marketing campaign. We use all traditional and digital channels. We invest in brand building and acquiring quality borrowers. This helps us to acquire valuable borrowers, who are worth to invest in.

Where do you see Paskoluklubas in 3 years?

We see Paskolu klubas as a global player in P2P lending sector. We may establish borrowing sites in other countries, but we will localize it as we did with Paskolu klubas in Lithuania. We see advantages of strong brand in each country we operate for borrowers. We are currently on a path of fast growth and we are not looking to slow it down. Our goal for next few years is to be the number one platform for investors in the Baltic states.

Investors can use the Paskoluklubas referral code P2PBANKING when registering and get 10 Euro for their first investments. thanks Evaldas Remeikis for the interview.

Proplend IFISA Offer Launches Next Week

proplend logoProperty based p2p lending marketplace Proplend will launch its IFISA offer on May 30th at 9am. Initially the IFISA product will only be made available to those existing investors that had signed up to Proplend until May 26th. The new IFISA investors will have the same choice of loans secured by income producing UK commercial property and the same 1,000 GBP minimum investment opportunities as non-ISA investors. Depending on selected tranche, which differ by LTV, the interest rates range from 6.3% to 9.3%. The Proplend IF ISA will be flexible and allow tranfers in and out.

Since launching in 2014 Proplend has facilitated 11.7 million GBP in loans and has experienced no defaults so far.

There are currently 19 providers listed on the P2P-Banking IFISA comparison table.

Zopa To Retire Safeguard Fund

P2P lending marketplace Zopa announed the plan to roll out the new IF ISA from June 15th to existing customers with target rates of up to 6.1% and also that from December 2017 new lending will not be subject to the Safeguard Fund.

Investors in Zopa Core will lend in the same risk markets as Access and Classic (A*-C) but will not be covered by the Safeguard fund. Zopa Core will offer a higher target return of 3.9% after fees and expected credit losses, as compared to 3.7% and 2.9% for Classic and Access.

The Classic and Access product offers will no longer be available for new customers, but existing customers can continue to lend through these products until 1st December, when they will be retired.

The Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) will be launched in four phases:
1. The first stage (from 15th June) will be focused on existing customers who want to open a new IFISA (limit of 20,000 GBP) and lend through Core and Plus.
2. The second stage (1st July 2017 to 31st July 2017) will enable existing customers to sell their current loans and re-purchase similar loans in an IFISA wrapper. This will allow investors to retain Safeguarded loans in the IFISA. Any investing through new lending, or relending as capital is returned, will be onto Plus or Core only.
3. The third stage (from August 2017, but dependent on meeting demand for new IFISAs) will allow existing customers to transfer existing ISA investments with other providers to Zopa.
4. And finally, once we have met demands of existing customers, we will welcome investments from new customers.

From December 2017, new lending will not be subject to Safeguard. All loans that currently have this coverage will continue to receive it.

Zopa today says it initially introduced Safeguard in 2013 to deal with a tax anomaly that unfairly penalised peer-to-peer lenders. The fund was designed to ensure that investors only paid taxes on the net income they received from Zopa borrowers: and not bad debt. In 2015 the tax laws were updated enabling investors to claim for relief on losses from bad debt. As a result, the primary reason for Safeguard was removed.
However in 2013 the Zopa website claim differed: ‘Zopa has created the Safeguard in order for you to get back all your money plus interest – without having to worry about a borrower paying you back. The Zopa Safeguard was created to step in and give you back all the money owed to you.’

Last year, based on customer demand, the company introduced Zopa Plus product without Safeguard coverage. Plus has proven popular and since March 2017 Zopa have been operating a waiting list for new investors due to the very high levels of demand. Zopa says that retiring Safeguard will allow the platform to provide greater target returns than Access or Classic (2.9% and 3.7% respectively, versus 3.9% in Core and 6.1% in Plus).

Andrew Lawson, Zopa’s Chief Product Officer, said: “We’re proud of our 12-year track record of prudent lending and have always provided positive returns to our customers. Safeguard was introduced in 2013 to deal with a tax anomaly that had led to peer-to-peer lenders being unfairly penalised. Since winning our campaign to change the tax rules, we no longer need Safeguard – as customers have proved by flocking to Zopa Plus. Now it’s done its job, retiring Safeguard, allows us to provide greater expected returns to our investors (because on average we over-fund Safeguard) whilst making the investor products even easier to understand. We’ll continue to maintain Safeguard for the rest of its life, and continue to build on our reputation for world-leading credit risk management.”

Relendex launches its Innovative Finance ISA

P2P lending platform Relendex today launches its Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA). Relendex is fully-authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).  The UK Government introduced the IFISA in April 2016 and was created to sit alongside existing Cash, Stocks & Shares and Lifetime ISA products.

The Relendex ISA will work in a similar way to its regular accounts.  Lenders will decide which loans to invest in and can build their own diversified portfolio of loans. Through this IFISA, lenders will enjoy tax-free returns on loans secured against UK property.

The Relendex IFISA product has been added to the P2P-Banking ISIFA comparison database today.

Michael Lynn, founder and CEO of Relendex explains why the Relendex IFISA is a viable alternative to other ISA products on the market: “Many people have built up a significant nest-egg in their tax-free ISA but in the low-interest environment Cash ISAs are only earning around 0.5% pa and Stocks & Share ISAs are potentially quite volatile and therefore investors’ capital is at risk.  A secured lending P2P ISA is the best of both worlds.  The yield is good at between 6 and 10% pa, tax-free and there is considerable capital protection in the form of security over independently-valued UK property assets.  Of course property values can fall, but since our average Loan-to-Value is around 60%, the property concerned would need to fall 40% on average before any loss would result.

So if ISA investors are thinking of using this year’s Annual ISA Allowance or transferring existing ISA funds to a Relendex IFISA Account, they can build a diversified portfolio of good quality loans and achieve a good yield.  They can also reinvest the gross interest, to achieve compound growth and build their capital.”

The Relendex ISA is a non-flexible ISA. This means that all new subscriptions made during a tax year will count towards your subscription limit for such tax Year and cannot be replaced. Michael Lynn, explains:

“Our lenders see us as a longer term investment, although we do provide a secondary market if they decide to sell on early.  A non-flexible ISA recognises this longer-term demand and allows us to offer the ISA without any fees. Also, ISA holders are responsible for adhering to the HMRC annual ISA Allowance, so we track their subscriptions so they don’t inadvertently exceed their annual allowance with us.”

While there is an annual limit for new ISA subscriptions of £20,000 (for 2017-18 tax year), there is no maximum statutory limit to the amount that exitsing ISA money can be transferred across to a Relendex IFISA account (although we set a £10,000 minimum transfer value).  Transferring ISA investors will need to complete a Transfer Authority Form.  There is no need to get in contact with your existing ISA Manager as the Relendex specialist team will handle the entire process for you.”

Asked by about the sales expectations regarding the IFISA product Lynn replied: ‘We will be disappointed if we don’t bring in at least 1 million GBP in the first month subject to how fast transfer-ins of existing ISAs will flow through from ceding managers.  Longer term it’s difficult to put a hard number on it but our conservative target is at least 10 to 15 million GBP in the first year.

Further questiones whether he expects deposits to come mainly using this tax year’s allowance or rather as transfers from amounts from the previous years, Lynn answered ‘The high base of existing ISAs (with over £200 billion sitting in Cash ISAs alone) strongly favours transfers.   But we also expect all transferring holders to utilise their current year annual allowance.’.

P2P-Banking also asked: ‘Should investors consider moving money from an S&S ISA to the Relendex IFISA?’. Lynn said: ‘We are not in the position to advise on individual portfolio allocations but do believe that we offer an attractive product on a risk/return basis.  Obviously secured lending at relatively conservative Loan to Value and diversification does provide a good degree of capital protection for investors and a good yield. The good news is that S&S ISAs and IFISA are not mutually exclusive, so investors may consider allocating to both.’

To date Relendex states it has experienced no defaults and has maintained an average yield of 8.78% pa.


Transferwise Borderless Accounts Allows To Set Up Free UK Account and Free EUR Account

I have written several times about how useful it would be for international p2p lending investors if they can setup a free UK bank account or a free EUR account in the SEPA zone. My last article on this topic was here. Now it seems the final solution has arrived. Transferwise just announced that they offer a new Transferwise borderless account which will hold up to 15 currencies and offers local bank accounts in GBP, EUR and USD. The account is advertised as free (no setup fee) and without any monthly fees. See below though.

This is a viable solution for p2p lending investors that are investing on p2p lending marketplaces outside their home currency and seek an account to withdraw money to in order to transfer it to a different p2p lending marketplace without converting the money in the process.

Transferwise borderless account

Screenshot: Transferwise borderless account

Transferwise does charge fees per local transfer. 0.50GBP or 0.60EUR for each transfer.

Irish Linked Finance secures full approval from UK regulator FCA

Linked Finance announced yesterday that it secured full approval from UK regulator:

I’m delighted to announce that we recently gained full authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. This approval is the culmination of a rigorous 2-year application process and a lot of hard work.

In the absence of any regulatory framework in Ireland, we originally began this process as a way to demonstrate our commitment to operating Linked Finance in line with best practice from the much more developed UK market.

This UK approval also opens several exciting avenues to us in terms of our plans for future expansion. It gives us the opportunity to attract lenders form the UK to support Irish SMEs. It would also allow us to start supporting SMEs north of the border, as well as paving the way for a full UK roll-out.

The P2P industry in the UK is the largest in the world on a per capita basis and platforms there are originating more than €1 billion in lending each quarter. It would be a logical next step in our evolution.

That said, our primary focus remains on Ireland and helping to grow the sector here as market leaders.

This authorisation in the UK won’t have any major impact on how you use Linked Finance but you may see some slight changes and modifications on the site, as we look to implement some of the various requirements, such as warnings and disclaimers, that would be required when operating in the UK.

The fact that we have gained full authorisation from the FCA should simply serve to underline that Linked Finance has developed the type of management processes and controls that are in line with industry best practice.

The timing couldn’t be better too.

This announcement comes as the Irish government have launched a public consultation in relation to regulating the sector here.

It’s a move that we wholeheartedly welcome. We believe that all platforms who want to operate in Ireland should be required to operate to the same high standards as Linked Finance.

Obviously, this approval from the FCA demonstrates that we are well ahead of the curve in the Irish market and we are encouraged that the Department of Finance is now considering a similar set of rules here.

We recognise that the development of P2P lending in the UK owes a lot to the introduction of government initiatives that promote the industry, including tax-free Innovative Finance ISAs and direct government lending to SMEs, via the British Business Bank, on platforms such as Funding Circle and RateSetter.

We would love to see the same type of support here and we will be using the current public consultation as an opportunity to promote similar initiatives in Ireland.

For our Irish lenders, this approval from the FCA in the UK should serve as further evidence of our commitment to developing a strong and stable platform that will continue to deliver healthy returns while providing much need credit to great local businesses.

Interview with the Founders of DoFinance Janis and Viesturs Kulikovoskis

What is DoFinance about?

DoFinance is a P2P platform for private individuals to invest in consumer loans.

We believe in finance for human –  DoFinance aims to become the most user-friendly, secure and accessible P2P lending marketplace possible, so that anyone can participate in seemingly complex processes and become his or her own financial director.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  • Potential investment risks for investors are well-balanced and brought to minimum: all loans are secured with a BuyBack guarantee. If the borrower doesn’t pay back the loan, you don’t have to wait for an extra 30 days (after the investment due date) to get your funds back – your money is available right away;
  • You have access to your money at any timeif you decide to withdraw invested money before the due date, you can receive your money starting from 14 to 28 days after your request with (or without) accumulated interest, depending on your chosen investment plan and preferred withdrawal term;
  • Your money never sits still; it is always earning. Auto Invest program on DoFinance reinvests funds the moment the borrower returns the loan and the investor’s money becomes available.

What ROI can investors expect?

Depending on the chosen investment plan, investors earn up to 12% annual return.

DoFinance was founded by the Alfa Finance Group. Can you please describe what Alfa Finance Group does and why it decided to set up the DoFinance marketplace?

The Alfa Finance Group is an online lending and investment management company operating with consumer loans in Poland, Georgia and Indonesia. We are proud that in less than two years – since its launch in 2015 –  the Alfa Finance Group has attracted more than 150,000 registered clients and over €16 million in loans issued as financing loans.

Launching [the] P2P platform is just one of the steps toward expanding the list of available financial services of Alfa Finance Group. Our goal is to continue developing and offer more financial services in the investment management sector.

Janis KulikovskisAccording to the press release Alfa Finance Group has invested 2 million Euro in launching DoFinance. Can you please describe what the money was used for?

The money was invested in technologies to create the platform and in building our loan portfolio.

The best warranty for the safety of investors’ funds, we believe, is effective risk management when it comes to the borrowers thereof big part of the money was invested in developing risk assessment tools that allow us to evaluate borrower’s behavior to detect their willingness to repay as precisely as possible. Our risk assessment tools as well as expertise in risk management permits us to evaluate the behavior of each potential borrower, hence minimizing the risk of failure to repay the loan and making the investment process as safe as possible.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes. The technical platform is built on two pillars – creating a more secure and user-friendly P2P lending platform.  During the development stage, we focused on smart risk assessment and platform that is handy, accessible and easy to use.
We consider customer feedback carefully and, although a lot has been done already, we are still at the very beginning of our journey – the next challenge is to work on the planned improvements.

Viesturs KulikovskisWhat was the greatest challenge so far in the course of launching DoFinance?

Obviously, the fierce competition in the industry challenges us to work faster and bring innovations to the marketplace, but it would be just fair to call it motivation and not challenge.

DoFinance is a marketplace, and it is vital for us to make sure the products we offer are entirely safe.

The greatest challenge was to develop a risk assessment tool that would minimize the risk of failure to repay the loan, be effective and secure. Risk assessment and management is our strength, and all our loans are secured with a BuyBack guarantee. If the borrower doesn’t pay back the loan, you don’t have to wait for an extra 30 days (after the investment due date) to get your funds back – your money is available right away.

Another challenge was becoming available also to Asian investors. DoFinance is the first European-based P2P lending platform to open customer center in Indonesia, bringing together European customer centered approach and Asian investors. We are happy to be the first ones to offer such individual approach to all our customers and give the chance to Asian investors to invest in Europe.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors?

Technology innovations are at the heart of our products hence we mainly use the opportunities digital marketing channels offer. It is a great channel to also reach important players in the industry – opinion leaders, investors, experts etc.

Finance for human stands behind everything we do, which means we look for creative ways to reach our audiences – not only fintech professionals, but also investors without a professional background in financial and investment management. Anybody who is at least 18 years old and holds a bank account can register at DoFinance and, by investing as little as 10 EUR per loan, become his own financial director.

Is DoFinance open to international investors?

Yes, DoFinance is available to private individuals holding a bank account in EU, EEA countries as well as Asian countries which are not included in the lists of high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions and international sanctions (Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam etc.).

What is your opinion on the planned upcoming regulation in Latvia for p2p lending?

It is important that the Ministry of Finance includes industry representatives, when developing regulations on p2p lending platforms. Regulations developed without a throughout understanding of the industry can harm both investors and businesses.

Fintech industry has a potential to become Latvia’s success story which would contribute to both image and prosperity of the country, thus there must be healthy balance between industry regulation and its self-regulation. The entire financial industry and eventually the consumer will benefit from the development of FinTech as banks and FinTech companies will start cooperating when it comes down to providing financial services, customer service etc. Therefore, it is the state’s responsibility to create environment where these companies will stand and where intellectual capacity of labor will increase and taxes will be paid. At the same time, the regulation must ensure transparency and monitoring – simply because then dishonest entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to harm investors.

Where do you see DoFinance in 3 years?

DoFinance will definitely expand geographically and continue working on developing new financial products for international markets. Our services just became available to Asian investors and now DoFinance looks even further – we don’t want to limit ourselves when it comes to geographical borders.

As we already mentioned, DoFinance is just the first step toward expanding the list of available financial services of the Alfa Finance Group. Most importantly, with every new development we make sure to keep our core principle – finance for human. thanks Janis Kulikovoskis and Viesturs Kulikovoskis for the interview.


Bitbond Gets 5M Euro Debt Commitment to Boost Sales

Bitbond logoBitcoin based SME marketplace lender Bitbond has received a commitment from Obotritia Capital to fund loans worth 5 million Euro through its platform. Additionally, Obotritia invested an undisclosed amount of equity to acquire a stake in Bitbond.

With the debt commitment, SME loans from European prime borrowers will be funded instantaneously on Bitbond. This will reduce the time it takes for business owners to apply and receive a loan to 30 minutes.

The equity investment from Potsdam based Obitritia will be used by Bitbond for further product development and marketing. Bitbond plans to continue growing its user base with online sellers and small businesses who need working capital financing.

Over 1,700 loans worth 1.4 million Euro were originated through Bitbond since its launch in 2013. 90,000 users from 120 countries registered with the service to date.

Founder & CEO of Bitbond Radoslav Albrecht said: ‘The debt commitment by Obotritia brings Bitbond to the next level in our efforts to provide universal SME financing. The next step is to work with partners. Such partners could be online marketplaces who want to add value to their platforms by giving their merchants access to instant cash through Bitbond.’ Continue reading

Interview with Filip Karadaghi, Managing Director of LandlordInvest

What is LandlordInvest about?

LandlordInvest is a UK-based peer-to-peer lending platform for residential and commercial mortgages. We launched in December last year after becoming fully FCA authorised. In January this year, we made bit of P2P history as we launched the first residential mortgage backed Innovative Finance ISA, ahead of major players such as LendInvest and Funding Circle.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  1. Security – we believe that loans should be asset-backed as it creates a form of security for investors if a borrower defaults. I personally would not invest in unsecured loans given the risks and the potentially very lengthy enforcement process to reclaim part of the capital, if any at all.
  2. Returns – We offer returns of up to 12%, although we recently funded a loan with a rate of 19% to investors. The loan was arranged with a trusted bridging lending partner and is secured over a flat in Chelsea, one of London’s most prestigious areas.
  3. Diversification – We offer investors the possibility to invest in both relatively low-risk buy-to-let mortgages and more risky bridging loans. Investors can build their portfolio according to their risk appetite and other considerations.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  1. Manual underwriting – we are more pragmatic in our underwriting than most high-street lenders and assess each loan on its merits. For us, the most important part of our assessment is that the borrower has a verifiable track-record and that the security is enforceable in the event of the default.
  2. Speed – we recently assessed a loan, had it fully funded and completed in two days. It was for a borrower that was let down by his exiting lender for an obscure reason at the last minute and approached us.
  3. Online application with a simple online control panel – A borrower may apply for a loan through a simple online form and keep track of the status of their application, loan schedule, loan payments in a easy to use control panel.

What ROI can investors expect?

We aim to offer returns between 5-12% per annum, depending on the product.

You recently launched an IFISA product. How has the investor uptake been so far and was it a big advantage to be in the forefront of approved providers?

The demand for our IFISA has been good. IFISA account holders, although only around 20% of the total registered investors, account for 50% of all funds on the platform. As such, IFISA account holders usually deposit more than non-IFISA account holders and also invest more.

I believe that the main advantage of being one of the first platforms able to offer the IFISA is that we have managed to establish a presence in the industry. If it was not for the IFISA, we would probably be less known than we currently are, given our relatively recent launch.

It remains to be seen what happens when the major players are able to offer the IFISA, but I believe it will be a benefit for us as it will make the IFISA a more mainstream product, benefiting everyone in the P2P industry.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Filip KaradaghiA prototype of the platform was developed overseas, but the final platform in use today was developed in-house by our tech team, led by our co-founder and CTO Joe Vallender. We continue to make all further developments in house, and are releasing new features regularly.

What was the biggest challenge in launching LandlordInvest and what have been challenges since?

The biggest challenge has been operating under a “real” P2P model, i.e. no pre-funding of loans. As we were one of the first platforms operating under this model, some investors did not fully understand how it works, as many were used to the pre-funding model operated by many players within our niche. One of the drawbacks with a “real” P2P model is that a loan does not start to accrue interest until a loan is complete. This means that there is a certain cash drag. However, one of the benefits with a “real” P2P model is that lenders lend directly to the borrower(s) and the servicing fee charged by us is usually lower than what platforms that operate a pre-funding model charge. This means that we pass on more interest to the lenders.

How is the company financed? What background does your team have?

LandlordInvest was initially entirely financed by the founding team and have recently raised financing from business angels. We’re currently in discussion with several private and intuitional investors to raise another round, which will help us to further ramp up our capacity.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors and borrowers?

We use a multichannel approach including, establishing good relations with the press, having an interactive presence on various forums and blogs, affiliate marketing programs and social media presence.

We still believe that the best marketing is doing what we set out to do as the best marketing channel is always word-of-mouth. If we are able to satisfy the platform investors, then there is a high chance that they might recommend us to someone else.

Is LandlordInvest open to international investors?

LandlordInvest does accept overseas residents, subject to KYC and AML checks.

However, it is a requirement that investors must have a UK bank or building society account to be able to invest on our platform.

I hear you are planning a secondary market? Will that work with premium and discounts or at par? What other features do you plan to roll out this year?

We are indeed developing a secondary market and expect to launch it in the beginning of May this year. Investors will only be able to sell loan or loan parts at par. Investors will also be able to sell parts of loans.

We are always developing the platform as we want to deliver the best experience investors can have when investing our platform.

We welcome feedback from investors and have implemented a number of features following direct conversations with investors, and will continue to do so.

Where do you see LandlordInvest in 3 years?

We have established ourselves as one of the leading platforms within our niche and delivering good risk adjusted returns to the platform investors. This has also been our aim since we founded the company and we will do our utmost to reach that aim. thanks Filip Karadaghi for the interview.

Flender – new p2p lending marketplace in Ireland

Flender, which recently soft launched a p2p lending marketplace in Ireland, received full FCA authorisation last week, saying it took two years of consultation with the FCA and the legal team to achieve approval. This will be needed for the launch in UK, planned for later this year.

Limited time offer: Cashback: 10% cashback on any investment over 1,000 GBP for P2P-Banking reader.  Sign up to use. (Update Aug. 2017: the cashback offer has been extended to August 31st, the minimum investment requirement is now 2,500 EUR)

Flender offers both SME and consumer loans on the marketplace. The main points for investors are:

  • no fees for investors
  • 50 Euro minimum bid
  • open to international investors (prerequisite is a bank account in the European Union)
  • interest rates of the currently listed loans range from 8.1% to 10.4%
  • reverse auction bidding (though at the moment, loan supply outstrips lender demand, therefore I don’t expect any underbidding soon). currently no autoinvest

Flender charges origination fees for business loans from the borrower. While there are no origination fees for borrowers for consumer loans, Flender does have a margin income on those (same with business loans).

Once the UK operation launches, investments can be made cross-border. An interesting aspect is that the borrower will take the FX charges.

Flender does have big plans. On the list are an IFISA offer, several features for investors and borrowers to customize the experience and mid term a secondary market. Flender currently has a team of 7 employees.

I published an interview with the CEO of Flender in the end of 2016, when they raised 500K GBP through equity crowdfunding on Seedrs. Flender will likely be back on Seedrs to raise another round later this year.

As my experiences with another Irish p2p lending marketplace are good so far (it has low default rates), I registered on Flender too. There are currently 4 business loans listed seeking a total amount of about 150K Euro.

Flender marketplace
Screenshot of Flender marketplace loan listings (excerpt)