Fellow Finance Adds Invoice Financing

Finnish p2p lending service Fellow Finance has opened a new invoice finance service for companies, which allows businesses to convert their trade receivables into cash immediately. In the new invoice finance service, a company gets funding against its invoice receivables directly from investors.

Fellow Finance says the opening of the new invoice finance service by Fellow Finance ensures that small and medium-sized companies will receive a new flexible funding channel alongside traditional business loans. In Fellow Finance a company only uploads its invoice receivables in to the service and receives a funding offer immediately. When the funding offer has been accepted, the company receives the money immediately against the invoice receivable. This will make the pay of working capital needs easier for companies suffering from long invoicing periods up to 60 days.

“Financing a trade receivable is one of the easiest and most reasonable ways for companies to acquire working capital. By financing an invoice, a firm immediately receives its money, which accelerates money circulation and supports the growth of the business. The invoice finance service by Fellow Finance is technologically a forerunner compared to traditional services and operators in Europe, “says Jouni Hintikka, CEO of Fellow Finance.

With new invoice finance functionality investors have now the opportunity to invest in companies’ short-term invoices. Basically, this means that a company offers its invoice to the marketplace of Fellow Finance to be funded by investors. Fellow Finance always does a credit rating for the invoice entered for financing based on the receiver and payer of the invoice contract. In addition, the credit risk is not transferred to the investors, but it is retained by the company that finances the invoice. The annual interest rates of invoice financing for investors are on average between 6-10%.

In adjacent Estonia p2p lending marketplace Investly, which specializes on invoice financing for Estonian and UK SMEs, is growing. The last figures we reported for them show 78% month on month and 319% y-o-y growth.

Fellow Finance P2P Lending – My Portfolio and Strategy

Fellow Finance is a p2p lending marketplace in Finland. It started 2013 with loans to Finnish consumers, and later added Polish consumer loans and loans to Finnish SME’s. Since launch more than 100 million EUR in loans were funded. See earlier blog coverage on Fellow Finance by P2P-Banking.com.

The basics are:

  • minimum bid is 25 EUR
  • no investor fees (except for 1% fee for selling on secondary market)
  • loans rated from 1 star to 5 stars, interest rates depend largely on this rating, terms up to 7 years
  • underbidding auctions, but in practise most bidding is done by allocator (autoinvest) at a ‘market rate’

I started a small test investment early in 2016, but really started building my portfolio from autumn 2016. Since then I have deposited 4,000 Euro. I currently invest only in Finnish consumer loans and concentrate on 3 and 4 star loans for which the market rates are currently 13% and 15%. The Finnish consumer loans are covered by a buyback guarantee of 70%, meaning in case they are 90 days overdue, they will be sold for 70% of outstanding principal to a collection agency.

My investment on Fellow Finance is conducted solely through the allocator (the autoinvest) function.

Allocator settings
My current Fellow Finance allocator settings – click to enlarge

Basically for me Fellow Finance is a mostly hands-off investment running on autopilot. I do log in at least bi-weekly to check if the market rates have changed. The market rates do fluctate sometimes at +/- 1%, and I felt it necessary to tweak the rate of my allocator then to keep it bidding (at the best possible rate). Fellow Finance is one of the very few platforms, where investors can configure the autoinvest to buy on the secondary market, but I have not used that. Also so far I feel no need to use the secondary market for selling. While several of my loans have gone late, they all catched up and none have defaulted. But my portfolio is still very young so it is bound to happen sometime in the future. The Fellow Finance statistics page gives figures for past loss rates by credit grades. It also shows that interest rate levels have sunk sharply in the end of 2015, beginning of 2016 – I guess I should have started to use this marketplace earlier.

Getting money deployed can take a while, as a lot of the bids (loan reservations) are cancelled. I started with 25 EUR bids by the allocator but to speed deployment up, I increased my maximum bid size to 60 Euro.

Overall the website – which is available in english language – is good, only sometimes a tad slow to respond. A mobile is needed to receive SMS codes to confirm some actions.

My plan it to increase my portfolio by another 1,000 Euro, bringing it to 5,000 and then to reinvest proceeds and see how it develops over time.

What are your Fellow Finance experiences? There are over 150 posts on the German investor’s Fellow Finance forum thread. Reviews there are mostly positive in tone.

Fellow Finance portfolio dashboard
My Fellow Finance portfolio dashboard

 

New European Alternative Finance Industry Report – Sustaining Momentum

The European online alternative finance market, including crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, grew by 92 per cent in 2015 to €5.431 billion, according to the results of the 2nd Annual European Alternative Finance Industry Survey conducted by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at University of Cambridge Judge Business School, in partnership with KPMG and supported by CME Group Foundation.

The report released today, titled “Sustaining Momentum”, had the support of 17 major European industry associations and research partners, and was based on data from 367 crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and other alternative finance intermediaries from 32 European countries – capturing an estimated 90 per cent of the visible market. P2P-Banking.com is one of the research partners.

The United Kingdom was by far the largest in Europe at €4.4 billion, followed by France at €319 million, Germany at €249 million and the Netherlands, €111 million. Other large European markets include Finland with €64 million, Spain at €50 million, Belgium at €37 million and Italy at €32 million. The Nordic countries collectively accounted for €104 million, while Central and Eastern European countries registered a total of €89 million.

Excluding the UK, the European alternative finance market grew by 72 per cent from €594 million in 2014 to €1.019 billion in 2015.

“Although the absolute year-on-year growth rate slowed by 10 per cent” (from the 82 per cent growth excluding the UK between 2013 and 2014) the industry is still sustaining momentum with substantive expansion in transaction volumes recorded across almost all online alternative finance models,” the report said.

Peer-to-peer consumer lending is the largest market segment of alternative finance, with €366 million in Europe in 2015. Peer-to-peer business lending is the second largest segment with €212 million, with equity-based crowdfunding in third with €159 million and reward-based crowdfunding fourth at €139 million.

Sustaining Momentum Figure 11
Table: Figure 11, page 31 of ‘Sustaining Momentum’, volumes by market segment in Europe 2015 (outside UK)

Among other findings:

  • Estonia ranked first in Europe in alternative finance volume per capita at €24, followed by Finland at €12 and Monaco at €10 outside of the UK.
  • Online alternative business funding increased by 167 per cent year-on-year to €536 million raised for over 9,400 start-ups and SMEs across Europe.
  • Institutionalisation took off in mainland Europe in 2015, with 26 per cent of peer-to-peer consumer lending and 24 per cent of peer-to-peer business lending funded by institutions such as pension funds, mutual funds, asset management firms and banks.
  • Across Europe, perceptions of existing national regulations in alternative finance are divided. About 38 per cent of surveyed platforms felt their national regulations for crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending were adequate and appropriate, 28 per cent perceived their national regulations to be excessive, and a further 10 per cent said current regulations were too relaxed.
  • The biggest risks perceived by the alternative finance industry are increasing loan defaults or business failure rates, fraudulent activities or the collapse of platforms due to malpractice.

Perceived risks
Chart: Figure 28, page 47 of ‘Sustaining Momentum’, risks to the industry as perceived by the polled platforms

Robert Wardrop, Executive Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, said: “European alternative finance transaction volume increased to more than €5 billion in 2015, with volume outside of the UK market exceeding €1 billion for the first time. The European alternative finance industry is still small, however, and the slowing rate of growth during the year is a reminder of the risks the industry must contend with in order to transition from a start-up to a sustainable funding channel within the European financial services ecosystem.”

Irene Pitter, Global Executive, Banking & Capital Markets and member of the FinTech Leadership Team at KPMG, said: “This report shows that the alternative finance sector is set to continue to grow and mature. 2016 marks a significant year for ‘alternative finance’ in Europe as the market demonstrates clear signs of continued strong growth and increased maturation in the sector as a whole. European activity, excluding the UK, showed solid growth of 72 percent last year and demonstrated client demand for alternative finance solutions even in the smaller EU countries.”

Rumi Morales, Executive Director, CME Ventures, said: “The prominent feature of financial technology is that it is truly borderless. No one country is harnessing alternative financial markets or business models to the exclusion of any other. Rather, from the UK to Estonia and from Finland to Monaco, the entire European continent is experimenting and expanding upon innovations that can provide greater access to capital and financial services to more people than ever before.”

See the full report below. Continue reading

Fellow Finance Adds SME Loans

Fellow Finance logoFinnish p2p lending marketplace Fellow Finance now also offers SME loans.

In the service, companies can apply for financing for growth and investments from Fellow Finance’s investors.. Fellow Finance has intermediated loans for consumers through its service for 40 million EUR during a period of 12 months. Opening a financing service for companies stems from the needs of Fellow Finance customers and with the new Crowdfunding Act established legal framework for the operation has been established.

I checked the marketplace. Right now there is one loan request for 70,000 Euro at 11% interest rate, 60 month term listed.

‘We have already received requests and inquiries from our clientele for a long time about whether we could also start financing companies. Many of our customers are either current or former entrepreneurs who understand the financing challenges faced by Finnish SMEs in different phases of business. They have a strong desire to finance other entrepreneurs and offer promising projects the chance to really take off’, says Jouni Hintikka, CEO of Fellow Finance. Continue reading

Taaleritehdas becomes an owner of the P2P lending company Fellow Finance

Taaleritehdas invested 2 million EUR in the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending company Fellow Finance Oy and, at the same time, sold the entire stock of its Financing Company Lainaamo Ltd to Fellow Finance Oy as a share exchange. Lainaamo has a consumer credit portfolio of approximately 20 million EUR  with thousands of consumer customers. After the acquisition, Taaleritehdas owns 38.4% of Fellow Finance Oy. In addition, Taaleritehdas has an option to increase its holding in the company by 7.3%.
Fellow Finance’s founders, Jouni Hintikka and Teemu Nyholm, each own 18.4% of the company. In total, Fellow Finance key persons have a 57.3% holding in the company.

According to its vision, Taaleritehdas aims to develop the Finnish capital market. Taaleritehdas believes that increased direct financing will be one of the most significant changes in the finance industry in the future. The focus in financing will increasingly shift from the bank-centric approach towards direct financing. Another strong megatrend in the financing sector, as seen by Taaleritehdas, is digitalisation. Both Fellow Finance and Lainaamo offer their services completely online. Ownership of Fellow Finance enables Taaleritehdas to offer its customers a new investment form and to utilise digitalisation in its own activities, as well. The merger of Lainaamo and Fellow Finance will not affect the position of borrower
customers or investors. Continue reading