International P2P Lending Volumes March 2019

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 582 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.

Milestones achieved this month (total volume since launch):

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 volume statistic March 2019
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in March 2019. 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

International P2P Lending Volumes February 2019

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 531 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 Bondster (use Bondster Promotion Code 5506 to get 1% cashback).

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 Volumes 02/2019
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in February 2019. 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

Auxmoney Now Stands for 0.5% of the Market of German Consumer Loans

German p2p lending marketplace Auxmoney announced that it has facilitated 551M EUR in consumer loans in the year 2018. Up 74% compared to 2017. Approximately 73,000 loans were financed. Figures published by the German Central Bank Bundesbank give the total volume of consumer loans in Germany in 2018 as 105.7 billion EUR (page 2, column 3). This figure does not include credit card debt and overdrafts. That would mean Auxmoney now stands for a market share of roughly 0.5% of the market.

CEO Raffael Johnen stated ‘While the major German banks are in crisis mode, the leading German fintechs are always setting new records, and with our continuously strong growth, we are the first p2p lending marketplace to catch up with medium-sized banks in Germany.’ (translated to English from the German original of the quote).

(Sources: Company press release, Finanz-Szene)

 

Why has the FCA Refused the Application of Mintos and has the Decision any Consequences?

The FCA, the Financial Conduct Authority, is the supervising regulatory body for p2p lending platforms in the UK. In Dec. 2018 it refused the application of Mintos or more precise of a separate legal entity within the Mintos group, established for operations within the UK.

The full notice of the FCA decision can be read here. Below I outline some of the aspects. I also reached out to the Mintos CEO, who kindly answered my questions on this matter.

Before we go into the details, I want to make it clear, that the FCA decision has no direct impact on the current operation of  Mintos platform, which is headquartered in Latvia.

Mintos Marketplace Limited applied for permission to conduct a specific regulated activity (“permission to operate an electronic system in relation to lending (Article 36H RAO)”).

Reading the FCA decision there are several points that led to the refusal:

a) the applying company does not currently meet the minimal funding requirements of 50K GBP as specified by the rules (paragraphs 49-50 of the notice)

b) the head office of the applying company is not currently in the UK (51-53)

c) the FCA has doubts that the Mintos business model will be adapted adaquately to comply with the UK regulation rules (paragraphs 29-33, 35-38, 40)

d) the FCA find Mintos wind-down plans are not specific enough (41-44)

e) the FCA is not satisfied with Mintos’ understanding of the UK rules (46-48)

The decision is interesting to read. Naturally it judges Mintos solely by the formal compliance regarding the UK rulebook. Any other non-UK marketplaces seeking FCA approval can certainly learn some things from this declined application. As I stated above, it does not have any consequences for the current operation of the Mintos marketplace. It only affects any potential plans Mintos had for the UK market.

That gets us to the more interesting point: why did Mintos strive to get FCA approval still in 2018 despite Brexit? I asked Martins Sulte, CEO of Mintos, and here are his answers:

1) What was the intention of Mintos to set up the seperate UK entity and apply for permission at the FCA. Was this related to offering IFISA products and possible tax advantages for UK investors?

The intention is to connect to our marketplace loan originators originating loans in GBP in the UK and offering those loans to investors from the UK. We believe that the UK can become a self-sustaining marketplace where local investors are able to fund loans originated locally in the UK.

2) Considering that the application was pursued still as recent as July 2018 (point 29), this is an interesting move in light of Brexit, with several UK fintechs going the other direction to secure a continued presence in the EU. Any comment?

We view the UK market as a separate market that has the UK specific regulatory environment when it comes to crowdlending. Our intention is to create a largely self-sustaining UK marketplace that serves both UK loan originators and UK investors. In that light uncertainty caused by Brexit plays less of a role. It is important to note that each and every country has their own approach to regulating crowdlending, which means that for instance having the FCA permissions for working in the UK would not really affect our operations in other countries, even in EU. Only when the European Commission’s proposal for a regulation on European crowdfunding services providers come into place we might see that licenses are passportable across the EU and then in that light, the Brexit certainly would more of a consideration. For now, we have to look at each country separately.

3) Is the announcement of the application for an e-money license a reaction to the upcoming decision by the FCA?

No. E-money licence and UK permissions are very different licenses.

4) Do you think that any of the assessments the FCA made, will be relevant for the Latvian regulator once the Latvian regulation is finalized?

I don’t think so. Each country has its own approach. The UK has a rather specific approach. When we talk about Latvian regulation we also have to take into account that it will cover only investors and loan originators in Latvia. Once the Latvian regulation is finalized we will still have to look at each country separately. Us having a necessary license in Latvia will play a little role when considering our operations in, for example, Mexico, South East Asia or Russia, or even in other countries of EU.

 

Martins added: ‘This was a formal Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) decision on Mintos’ application for operating in the United Kingdom submitted by the Mintos Marketplace Ltd (a separate legal entity within Mintos group that was established for operations in the UK). The application was submitted almost two years ago. In these two years, our business model has evolved, our team has expanded significantly and we have gained major business results on a European and global level that defined our position as a leader in the market of investments in loans. The application for necessary permissions to operate in the UK doesn’t affect our daily business and the future development of Mintos, and the rejection of the application is nothing that can, nor will, affect our business operations in other countries.

The UK has different and specific legislation, and the FCA notice serves us as valuable feedback for adjusting our processes and procedures to fit the UK specificities. At the moment, we are in no rush when it comes to entering the UK market, as we are all aware of the many uncertainties regarding the Brexit issue. Anyway, our growth and expansion goals are unwavering, and entering the UK market will remain in the scope of our interest. We will continue working with our legal and regulatory advisors and will take into account the FCA’s feedback when considering our next steps with respect to the UK.’

International P2P Lending Volumes January 2019

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 581 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.

Milestones achieved this month (total volume since launch):

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 January 2019
Table: P2P Lending Volumes in January 2019. Source: own research

EDIT: Correction- I reported a wrong number for January for Swaper in the table above. The correct figure is 2.6M EUR.

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

Bondora Website Now Available in 24 Language to Boost Pan-European Usage

Bondora logoBondora has announced that the p2p lending marketplace platform is now accessible in 24 European languages. Bondora says it already has more than 42,000 investors from 85+ countries worldwide, that have invested more than 150 million EUR in the consumer loans listed on the Bondora marketplace. Bondora gives investors the choice of different investment products: Bondora Go&Grow, Portfolio Manager, Portfolio Pro and API Investment.

The popular Go&Grow product carries a yield of 6.75% and offers high liquidity.

Now the Bondora website can be used in 24 languages ranging from Bulgarian to Swedish. Bondora says they have taken this step, because they want to open their doors to Europe and make the platform accessible for all. Investors feel much more comfortable using a site which is in their native language.

Map languages
Map of the local languages Bondora now supports

Want to start investing at Bondora now?

Use this link to sign up at Bondora, and the normal signup bonus will be doubled for you, meaning, if you invest, you get 10 EUR bonus that you can use for investing. This is a limited time special promotion (after which the signup bonus will be 5 EUR again).

International P2P Lending Volumes December 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 445 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.

Milestones achieved this month (total volume since launch):

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.


Table: P2P Lending Volumes in December 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

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