My Housers Experience – Quick Gains by Flipping Investments on Spanish Property Platform

Today I gained another 1,7% after selling an investment that I did held only a few days. I started using the Spanish property platform Housers in the beginning of August. On Housers investments into property in Spain and Italy are listed. Mostly the offered structure is that investors will benefit from rent income from the property and also capital gains achieved, if the property is sold at a higher price at the end of the investment period. The concept will sound familiar to those that are using the British platfrom Property Partner. But there are other offer types too, including fixed interest investments. The minimum investment is 50 Euro and terms range from 12 months to 5 years and longer.

There is a lot of information and statistical data about the properties and the property market in that town and neighborhood. The platform is easy to use. After signup, the investor needs to upload scans to verify identity and to connect a bank account. Deposits can be by bank transfer or credit card. I made a small withdrawal of 0.50 Euro via SEPA transfer to test withdrawal and the money arrived after 2 days in my bank account.

Current bonus: Sign up via this link and get 50 Euro bonus when you invest 50 Euro. Ends today (August 31st)! The bonus can only be invested, not withdrawn.
Additional cashback of 1% on all credit card investments (you see that after you select a property to invest into. Ends today (August 31st).

Housers has a secondary market. Only properties in the “Saving” category can be traded – with the “MP” logo style mark. Sellers can set a premium (or) a discount. When I started in the beginning of August I had 50 Euro invested in the Monec property (pictured right) and wanted to try out selling. So I listed that at 1.74% premium and was astonished that it sold quickly. I had exited that investment only 8 days after making the bid. Granted the absolute profit was not spectacular: 78 Cents (50.87 Euro sales price minus 0.09 Euro sales fee – Housers charges 10% of profits), but it was 1.56% profit in 8 days. Mathematically that is an (X)IRR of 102%, but of course one can not calculate it that way as a reinvestment without breaks will not be possible and not every time a buyer will snap the part that quickly.

Nevertheless I got curious, if I could scale that somewhat and employ a strategy of flipping, that is investing and then selling fast at a premium. I invested in more parts of an Italian property opportunity (“Breda” in Milan). Yesterday the secondary market for this opportunity opened, and today I sold the first 100 Euro part for a 1.89% premium. I have listed the next 100 Euro part for 1.99% premium now.

There are three main factors for selling in my view:

  • Premium (typically buyer will buy the part currently listed at the lowest premium)
  • Part size: only full parts can be bought. I would expect it to get harder the larger the part is (but the seller can list part of his total holding, as long as it is at least the 50 Euro minimum)
  • availability of other offers, especially on the primary market

I have yet to experience a time where there are no offers on the Housers primary market. It will be interesting to see how that effects demand on the secondary market.

The majority of investors is from Spain, but Housers says there is large demand from investors from Latin America, too. I like the platform interface, it is easy to use. The UI is available in Spanish, English and Italian language.

Another property investment platform in the Eurozone offering a bonus is Estateguru. If you register via this link, you get 0.5% cashback on all investments in the first 90 days. Investments on Estateguru are into secured loans, not equity.


One of the property investments listed on Housers in the past

Workinvoice Completes Securitization

In January 2017, Factor@Work (an Italy based portfolio manager) has completed the purchase of 5 million EUR of corporate receivables through a securitization vehicle. All the assets have been originated by Workinvoice, an Italian invoice trading platform.

A first for Italy’s securitisation market, the deal was arranged by Workinvoice, while Zenith Service acted as SPV provider and master servicer. The receivables being securitised were sold by Italian small and medium sized enterprises (‘SMEs’) through Workinvoice’s invoice trading platform, and were originated by Workinvoice.

As part of this new securitisation model, Italian SMEs utilize the platform offered by Workinvoice to offer for sale some of their trade receivables held against their clients; the investor may then enter into a credit insurance agreement with an insurance company.

Workinvoice states that based on the receivables that have a low default risk and a high turnover, invoices securitization is a multistep process of providing a financing source by transforming illiquid assets into securities, resulting in the liquidation of the assets and the creation of new financing sources. Continue reading

Interview with Ivan Pellegrini, CEO of Borsadelcredito

Ivan Pellegrini is co-founder & Group CEO at Borsadelcredito.it.

What is BorsadelCredito.it about?

BorsadelCredito.it is the first Italian p2p lending platform. We help creditworthy SMEs to obtain credit in just three working days while promising 5-7% return to our investors. So far, we disbursed loans for 4.3M EUR (as reported on our statistics page) boosting the savings of hundreds of lenders.

In a market context where about five million SME’s are facing strong difficulties in approaching traditional credit channels, P2P lending represents a breath of fresh air for both investors and entrepreneurs.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

For investors, accessing a digital marketplace represents an unprecedented way to obtain strong returns while supporting Italian SME’s. Overall, expected average returns range from 5 to 7% and, thanks to a strong diversification level (funds are divided among hundreds of firms) the risk of losses arising from defaults is strongly contained.

With BorsadelCredito.it our lenders invest in the Real Economy. The digital marketplace is the most efficient and attractive way for credit operations in the Italian enterprise framework: loan fund and SMEs financing opportunities represent one of the easiest investment options in the whole market.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

For the applying companies, forwarding a request is very easy: as for the lender, the experience is completely digital and way faster than the traditional credit channels. From BorsadelCredito.it it takes only 5 minutes to complete a loan request: in order to be evaluated, firms must have at least one year of activity, 50.000 EUR stream of gross revenue and no sign of adverse events from Credit Bureaus.

Funding requests are handled by our neuronal algorithms in a few hours and then forwarded to an experienced team of credit analysts, who overlook the firm’s statements and overall performance in 24 hours to send a final response: if the evaluation is positive, credit can be disbursed in just two working days, without the need to open a bank account or provide any guarantees.

Ivan Pellegrini, BorsadelcreditoWhat ROI can investors expect?

The ROI our investors can expect is very high and it’s around 5/7%.

Currently the average is 5.71% after bad debts and fees, much higher than what they would earn with the other traditional tools for investments. Last but not least we have a credit protection for our investors payed directly by borrowers.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes, the platform is completely self-developed, as for our valuation models. We invest most of our resources (both in terms of time and money) in the development of efficient processes, workflows and credit scoring models (for example, we are now building a more complex Web-scoring model, which uses big data from the internet to give us a clear overview on how the web sees the evaluated company). Continue reading

BLender Begins International Expansion and Offers Cross-Border Peer-to-Peer Lending

Blender LogoBLender, a p2p lending company from Israel, today announced its global expansion, beginning with new offices in Milan, Italy and Vilnius, Lithuania that will serve customers in Italy and the Baltics. The Israeli-based company delivers a P2P lending platform with a proprietary consumer credit rating system designed for territories without credit bureaus or traditional consumer credit information. BLender is a cloud-based platform that was built to work in a wide range of markets and languages.

In Italy the platform charges borrowers a 4.5% origination fee and investors 1.5% of each repayment (principal and repayment). Compared to other marketplaces these fees are in the higher price range. The fee for selling a loan on the secondary market is 0.45%.

BLender has experienced exponential growth since its launch in 2014 and has already provided approximately 12 million USD in loans. The company will continue expanding its global operations into territories that are craving consumer credit. In 2017, BLender plans to launch operations in Africa, Latin America and other European Union (EU) countries.

“Offering multi-national P2P lending has been our vision since BLender’s establishment,” said Dr. Gal Aviv, CEO, BLender.Since our Israeli launch in 2014, we have built the foundation, infrastructure and technology to enable BLender to operate in the global market, so we will be able to face operating, cultural, technological, regulatory and taxation challenges.”

With the expansion into Italy and the Baltics, BLender is enabling users to lend and/or borrow across countries, making financial borders a thing of a the past, says the service.

“BLender identified a credit gap in countries where the supply of consumer credit is insufficient for the populations’ needs and is priced very high, and a gap in other countries where the savings options have very low or even negative yield,” said David Blumberg, founder and managing partner, Blumberg Capital, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that led BLender’s last funding round. “BLender’s multi-national lending options mediate this credit gap by creating a meeting ground between borrowers from countries that lack consumer credit, to lenders from countries where the yield on their savings in insufficient. We support and strongly believe in the vision, management capabilities and business potential of the BLender team.”

Investors on the BLender platform will earn predicted interest rates of 5-6% annually. The safeguard fund acts as an additional layer of protection to the lenders in case of a default. BLender’s default rate is approximately 1% before activating the safeguard fund. Thanks to the SafeGuard fund, the effective default rate is 0% says the service. BLender also offers ReBlendTM, BLender’s secondary market that offers the lenders the option the trade their loan portfolios and enjoy liquidity.

Recently BLender was chosen to participate in the exclusive ELITE program of the UK Stock Exchange that finds and nurtures companies with the potential for an IPO. As part of the program, BLender receives the guidance of the program’s experts for two years that help promote the company’s activity.

Furthermore, the company was selected as one of the most promising Fin-Tech companies in the world for 2015 by the accounting firm – KPMG, and also by the United Kingdom Trade and Investment Department.

The multi-national expansion was done in collaboration with KPMG.

BLender's founders
BLender’s founders

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

International P2P Lending Marketplace Table – Loan Volumes April 2016

The following table lists the loan originations of p2p lending marketplaces in April. Lendinvest leads ahead of Ratesetter and Funding Circle UK. 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 markets with no or limited choice of local p2p lending services can check this list of marketplaces open to international investors. Investors can also check how to make use of current p2p lending cashback offers available.

Last month Younited Credit (formerly Prêt d’Union) originated first loans in Italy. Geoffroy Guigou told P2P-Banking.com, Younited Credit had a great start, with 416,500 Euro loans originated.

P2P Lending Statistic April 2016
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in April 2016. Source: own research
Note that volumes have been converted from local currency to Euro for the sake of comparison. Some figures are estimates/approximations.
*Prosper and Lending Club no longer publish origination data for the most recent month.

Notice to p2p lending services not listed: Continue reading

Interview with Maurizio Sella, CEO of Smartika Spa

What is Smartika about?

Smartika is a fully licensed Payment Intermediary (IP) authorized to operate in the P2P field by the Bank of Italy and is the leading Italian P2P platform, with over 3,085 loans granted to individuals for  16.5 million EUR, lent by 5,445 lenders.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

Lend money in an innovative and ethical way and take control of how your own money is invested.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

Simple process, fast response and good rates (about 3% lower APR than industry)

maurizio-sellaWhat ROI can investors expect?

Lenders have had returns of approximately 6% after fees and defaults.

You originally started as Zopa Italy. Can you share the story with our readers?

We arrived in Italy too early (in 2008) when the P2P business was not understood and “boycotted” by banks and institutions in general. It then took over 2 years to work with the regulators in order to find the best solution for framing the P2P business. The European Directive 2009/110/CE came to our rescue and we were finally granted the license as an IP in 2012.

And what is the situation for p2p lending in Italy now?

Italy is a country of 60 million people, with a consumer market that has finally bottomed (at a still respectable 19 billion EUR) and P2P has the potential to grow exponentially. Time works every day in our favour in terms of trust, reputation, and market penetration at a time when banks and financial institutions are slowly pulling out of the personal loan market. Continue reading

Trustbuddy Acquires Geldvoorelkaar and Prestiamoci

Trustbuddy has entered into an agreement to acquire Italian Prestiamoci, a long-term Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lender, for a total of EUR 5.3 million in order to strengthen its offering of business loans to small and medium-sized enterprises and consumer credit in most European countries.

Furthermore TrustBuddy has agreed to acquire Dutch Geldvoorelkaar for a consideration of EUR10.6m. The consideration comprises EUR 3 million cash, EUR 4 million through the issue of new shares at a 20% premium to the pre-announcement share price and a EUR 3.6 million vendor loan of which 50% is redeemed in January 2016 and 50% redeemed in January 2017. Shares issued as part of the consideration will be subject to lock-up restrictions which expire in January 2016 in respect of 50% of the shares and January 2017 for the remainder.

Both acquisitions remain subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions. In particular, the acquisition of Prestiamoci is conditional upon Prestiamoci receiving a payment services, PSD, license. The Company is currently considering various financing options, including a potential equity fundraising, to part finance the acquisitions.

Geldvoorelkaar (see earlier coverage)

Geldvoorelkaar is the first P2P lending platform with a credit licence issued by the Dutch Financial uthority (AFM).  Geldvoorelkaar offers a professional and established alternative source of financing for SMEs.

  • Geldvoorelkaar opens up European SME market opportunities to TrustBuddy. Management believes there to be substantial demand for alternative lending sources in the Nordic market in particular in P2P lending in the Netherlands.
  • Geldvoorelkaar has been fully operational since 2012 and has a c60-65% estimated market share.
  • Year to date, Geldovoorelkaar has funded EUR 20 million of SME loans with an average revenue margin approaching 6% with no active marketing.
  • Geldvoorelkaar is a strong SME platform with EUR 1.6 million expected revenue for 2014 and growth in the Netherlands expected at an average of 80% in the following two years.*
  • Geldvoorelkaar is already profitable with an expected earnings before interest and tax for 2014 of EUR 0.7 million
  • Subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, TrustBuddy has agreed to acquire Geldvoorelkaar for a consideration of EUR10.6m. The consideration comprises EUR 3 million cash, EUR 4 million through the issue of new shares at a 20% premium to the pre-announcement share price and a EUR 3.6 million vendor loan of which 50% is redeemed in January 2016 and 50% redeemed in January 2017. Shares issued as part of the consideration will be subject to lock-up restrictions which expire in January 2016 in respect of 50% of the shares and January 2017 for the remainder.

Prestiamoci (see earlier coverage)

Prestiamoci is an Italian private P2P lending company focussing on long term consumer loans.

  • Prestiamoci has established a licenced P2P platform in the highly regulated Italian market. The acquisition is conditional on Prestiamoci obtaining EEA-wide PSD license approval, enabling European roll-out.
  • Prestiamoci re-launched its platform in May 2014 and has since funded EUR 175k with and average revenue margin of 4%.
  • Acquisition adds diversification to TrustBuddy’s existing offering into a product with lower regulatory risk and increased revenue visibility.
  • Prestiamoci’s seasoned management team joining TrustBuddy management will bring significant experience within credit risk assessment.
  • TrustBuddy expects to rollout a consumer instalment loan product in new markets in 2015, and envisages 80% of revenue from this new product from the Nordic markets.

In September 2014 Prestiamoci had concluded a financing round of 450K EUR and in October 2013 a previous capital increase of 550K EUR. According to sources, Digital Magics Angel Network ,which invested just a year ago and provided strategic support in refocusing Prestiamoci, achieves a gain of about 300% on the transaction. Continue reading

Smava Raises 4 Million; Gets Share in Prestiamoci

German p2p lending service Smava has raised 4 million Euro in a new round. New investor in this round is the largest Italian private bank “Banca Sella”. Smava also joins in on Italian p2p lending service Prestiamoci saying that Smava aims to grow to a leading European p2p lending service.

This is actually the second start Smava undertakes for European expansion. Smava Poland was merged after a rather short time in operation with another Polish service.

After this round VC Earlybird holds 54%, VC Neuhaus Partner holds 20%, Banca Sella holds 10% and the founder team holds 4% of Smava shartes.

In its press release Smava stresses its successful growth. However in the past year Smava had to deal with a significant decline in new loan volume funded per month.