Swiss Invoice Finance Marketplace Advanon Hit by Fraud Case

Swiss invoice finance platform Advanon has to deal with a large fraud case. A client allegedly made up invoices for non-existing transactions and submitted forged invoices, bank records and emails. These invoices were then financed on the Advanon platform by 78 private investors. The fraud continued undiscovered for about a year racking up a total damage of 2.4 million CHF (approx 2.1M EUR).

2.4M CHF may not sound a very large absolute sum for a p2p lending company, but Advanon so far had financed invoices of only about 60M CHF in 2017, so the potential loss equals roughly 4% of the total yearly volume. And the exposure per investor is unusually high for a p2p lending marketplace as the affected investors could face a 30K CHF loss on average. Media speculation is that they might face a total loss. Advanon has about 3,000 registered investors, the majority from Switzerland with a few German investors. Advanon offers interest rates between 6-20%.

“We founded Advanon with the mission to help SMEs meet the ever-increasing payment deadlines and thus have a positive impact on the SME economy and its growth. It is frustrating and intolerable that this was being exploited by fraudsters with great criminal energy. We are mobilising all our efforts to fight for our investors and to recover the money they have invested.” Several lawyers and the entire management are working on the case. “We will adjust our strategic direction,” said Advanon CEO Lojacono. As a consequence, only institutional investors will soon be admitted to the platform. Advanon has always emphasized that investing in a high-risk asset class like factoring should only be considered as part of a diversified portfolio.

The case is now investigated by the public prosecution body.

Last November Advanon announced a pilot project for an invoice financing cooperation with insurance company AXA Wintherthur.

 

Lower Interest Rates on Mintos – How do Investors React?

Compared to the beginning of July the interest rates for newly issued EUR loans on Mintos are much lower now. While investors enjoyed interest rates of up to 13-14% for loans issued in the first half of the year, typical rates are 8-11% now, with a 12-13% for more exotic loans mixed in.

Cause of the change in market condition was that Mogo, one of the larger loan originators on Mintos, issued a bond worth EUR 50 million, with an annual interest rate of 9.5% (ISIN XS1831877755) on June 25, 2018 and Mogo announced that starting from July 13, 2018, Mogo would partially repurchase loans from investors on Mintos using their call option as stipulated in the assignment agreement. During July, Mogo plans to gradually repurchase in total up to EUR 16 million net of loans issued to borrowers in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.

Following the repurchase, the interest rates for newly issued EUR loans were sharply lower not only for Mogo loans but also for loans of the other originators on the Mintos platform.

This left most investors with a lot of cash in their accounts, as commonly 1/3 to 2/3 of all the Mogo loans in their portfolios had been repurchased and their previously configured autoinvests did not match any loans any more at their set interest rates.

To find out how investors reacted to the situation P2P-Kredite.com conducted a survey among German speaking Mintos investors. Here are the preliminary results (48 respondents):

  • 35% say they withdraw univested cash and invest it on other p2p lending platforms
  • 21% say they continue to invest on Mintos primary market
  • 17% say they just wait, the interest rates will rise again
  • 15% say they withdraw unimvested cash and invest it in other asset classes (e.g stock)
  • 12% say they buy on the Mintos secondary market now, instead of using the primary market

For continental European investors looking for high yield alternatives here are 5 platforms that survey respondents liked:

  1. Bondora
    Bondora is a long established Estonian company offering consumer loans in Estonia, Finland and Spain. Investors can choose between their new “Go&Grow” product (up to 6.75% interest) or the self-select autoinvest options with individual loans yielding much higher (nominal) interest rates
  2. Estateguru
    Estateguru is a marketplace for property secured loans mostly in the baltic countries. Typical interest rates are 10-12%. Investors pick individual loans or enable autoinvest
  3. Grupeer
    Grupeer is a young Latvian platform gaining popularity among the German investors. They list business and development loans in several countries (e.g. Latvia, Russia, Belarus, Norway, Poland). Typical interest rates are 14-15%
  4. Peerberry
    Peerberry is a young Latvian platform listing consumer and property loans in several countries (e.g. Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Ukraine). Typical interest rates are 11-13%
  5. Robocash
    Robocash is a Latvian platform listing consumer loans in Kazachstan and Spain. Typical interest rates are 14-14.5%.

This selection is based on the likings of German speaking investors that voted in August for best p2p lending platform in a P2P-Kredite.com survey:

Best p2p lending platforms by German investor survey
51 respondents, platforms that got no votes are not shown

The survey shows that Mintos is still rated number one in investor opinion among the queried audience, but the others are catching up (compared to similar surveys in the past).

My own Mintos portfolio shrank to less than 40% of its previous size as only  less than 1/3 of the Mogo loans I had in early July are still in my portfolio. I withdrew a lot of cash and have transfered it to other p2p lending market places. Of course I’ll hold on to the my remaining Mogo loans as nearly all of them are at 13-14% interest rate.

International P2P Lending Volumes July 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 listed in the table adds up to 449 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.

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 July 2018
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in July 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