Year-End Review of my Mintos Results in 2018 and Outlook for 2019

I started investing on the p2p lending marketplace Mintos in January 2015. Nearly 4 years have passed. Most of the time my strategy was buy-and-hold, that is I invested in loans with the intention to hold them till maturity. That’s also what I had been doing at the majority of other p2p lending platforms. In the beginning of the year I had a large chunk of high-interest, longer-term Mogo car loans, together with some mid/longer-term loans of other originators on Mintos. After many of the Mogo loans were bought back in summer I decided to switch to a completly different strategy on Mintos. Thereafter I concentrated on trading, that is buying loans on the secondary market and selling them at a higher price on the secondary market again, usually holding these loans only for a short time frame.

When Mintos introduced the Secondary Market Autoinvest Feature in October my strategy got a boost.

So how did it go?

Mintos Account Statement
Summary of my account statement for 4th quarter 2018 – click on image for larger view

As you can see in the screenshot above I made 712.80 EUR profit from trading (buying and selling) loans in the fourth quarter. Compare that to the 127.14 EUR (101.74+25.40) interest earned. Obviously trading has been much more profitable. I consider it not much riskier than my previous buy and hold strategy as I was able to maintain a reasonable level of diversification over several investors. But of course investing on Mintos is high risk anyway.

Which loans did I select for trading?

It all comes down to buying cheap and selling at a higher price. My experience is that this works best with mid-term, EUR BB loans. With short term or very long term loans the impact of premiums und discount is to high / to low on the YTM for a good turn-around of inventory.

Below is a snapshot of the loans currently in my Mintos portfolio today – of course the composition changes very frequently with this strategy. It can be observed that loan ranges between 18 and 42 months dominate my portfolio, which consists of 478 indiviudal loan parts. Also loans with 13% and higher interest rates are overweighted.

Mintos Account Statement

This trading strategy worked very well for me in the past quarter. It would probably not scale, if an investor tried to deploy much more capital, as loan supply that matches my criteria for buying is limited and competition is increasing.

The Net Annual Return (NAR value) Mintos displays for my return has been constantly increasing this quarter and today is at 14.74%. Remember this is calculated for the whole time since I started investing, so since January 2015. If I would calculate this figure only for this quarter results, it would be much higher.

Net annual return Mintos
Screenshot Dec. 28th, 2018

So what to expect in 2019?

Interest rates on Mintos have been fluctating over the past years. In the last months they have risen considerably. Possibly a seasonal effect. I have no idea whether they can rise a little further still, or have peaked and will fluctate back in the other direction for a few month. Also the economic cycle might turn.

I will stick to my buying and selling strategy for now and for this strategy supply and demand on the secondary market is much more important than whether the interest rates are 1 or 2% higher or lower as most of my result is generated from secondary market gains rather than interest earned.

Also I am acutely aware of the risk that the huge number of originators pose. Even if Mintos does a good job of vetting and monitoring the originators, the sheer number of originators statistically means that chances that one of them might get into financial trouble are not neglectabe. For indivual investors the only viable measure to have some protection (and to reduce losses in that case) is diversification across several originators.

I do hope that 2019 will be a very profitable year for Mintos investors!

New investors signing up via this link on Mintos, get 1% cashbark on all investments they make in the first 90 days after registration.

A Visit to Crowdestor in Riga

On invitation of Crowdestor I travelled to Riga and met the founders of Crowdestor Janis Timma and Gunars Udris. Crowdestor is a Latvian p2p lending platform for SME loans. They launched a year ago. Loans are typically for terms of up to 18 months and interest rates are quite high – the current loan offer by a transportation company seeking expansion capital carries 17% interest rate. The Crowdestor website is available in English, German and Portuguese language. Currently most investors on the platform are Germans, followed by Spanish investors.

We talked about their experiences in launching the platform and I asked how they acquire new clients requiring a loan. Janis explained that at the current stage it all comes down to networking in the business community of Riga. Latvia is a small country, about 2 million inhabitants, and Riga is the dominating city with about one million inhabitants in the larger urban area. He said chances are very good that he has a friend that learned that a company is looking for financing and know someone in the management of the company and can put him in contact.

Crowdestor then negotiates the loan terms with the business and checks their business records and background. Janis said they have been extra careful with their loans so far, turning down very many requests as the founders understand very well that a default of a loan at this very early stage could harm their fledging marketplace.

Gunars Janis Crowdestor
Gunars (left) and Janis in font of the luxury appartment complex they showed me.

Both are very proud of the projects  financed by the Crowdestor marketplace. They drove me around to show some of the projects. As one real estate project is at the moment only a piece of land, where construction has not yet been started, we went inside another apartment complex finished by the very same real estate developer, so I could experience the high quality of work and the attention to detail. It was an apartment complex with 3 buildings, themed Churchill, Hepburn and Dietrich, located directly on the shore at a popular beach. There is a spa in one of the buildings only for the residents and each building has a concierge.

Another project they were really enthusiastic about is INCH2 shoes a e-commerce venture that designs and sells fancy shoes online and is growing extremely fast. The shoes are produced in Portugal on their behalf. They had a smashing success selling shoes for 1 million EUR turnover on black Friday this year (overall turnover about 5 million EUR in 2018).

INCH shoes
I got a small tour of the INCH2 office and had a look at some of the fancy shoe designs

INCH2 got a 100K expansion loan through Crowdestor earlier this year at 17% interest. Janis explained to me that they actually were looking for a 500K loan, but it was clear that at the current stage of development of the platform Crowdestor would not be able to raise that much cpaital from investors, therefore it was agreed to start with a smaller loan. In 2019 there will be a second loan for INCH2 on the Crowdestor platform.

And that brings us to the current situation. Crowdestor has a pipeline of 7 projects they want to finance in the near future but are aware that they need more investors, to be in a position to fund all these projects. Over lunch at ‘The Catch’ restaurant – really great tasting food by the way I can very, very much recommend that restaurant – and they will open a location in Berlin too – in fact when we were there they had staff of the German restaurant there that was getting training – we discussed pro and cons of possible different marketing strategies and platform features that could help Crowdestor to accelerate growth or the platform.

During a small drive to the city, Gunars showed me where several of the many other p2p lending marketplaces that are headquartered in Riga (most well known is probably Mintos) are located. Crowdestor itself is currently moving office to have a more space. Gunars told me that they have a good working relationship with the founders of many of the other platforms and are exchanging experiences and thereby benefiting each other.

In fact he arranged a small visit for me at the Viainvest office where we had coffee with Simona the Viainvest CEO, who had wanted to meet in person when she learned that I would be in town. Simona answered my question and gave some details to the current situation of the Viainvest business and future plans (which I am not to divulge just yet, but the company plans to announce them very soon).

Viainvest
At the Viainvest office. The group occupies a two floors in the building.

The minimum investment amount on the Crowdestor marketplace is just 100 EUR, investors can sign up here and check it out.

I thank Crowdestor for the invitation, the time they took to guide me around and for paying the flights and the lunch.

International P2P Lending Volumes November 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 473 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 Debitum Network.
I removed Unilend, as the platform has closed and the company has gone into receivership.

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 statistics November 2018
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in November 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.

EDIT: The volume for Swaper was 2.0M EUR.

Notice to p2p lending services not listed: Continue reading