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.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract invested and borrowers? Can you share the acquisition costs per customer?

Smartika only investment at the moment is through the leading Italian Loan comparator, Prestiti online, which has an acquisition cost of 2% of the loan granted (with a minimum of 100 EUR). It however represents less than 30% of our borrowers market, all others are attracted organically (effectively at zero cost).

Smartika is however about to go through a sizeble capital increase, so it will finally be able to invest heavily in PR and advertising and build brand awareness and dramatically increase customer acquisition.

Where do you see Smartika in 3 years?

Conservatively, over 100 million loans per annum. thanks Maurizio Sella for the interview.


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