European p2p lending services are growing. And yields of 10+% are achievable on some of the platforms. This attracts international investors. But if you are a US resident, you may have made the experience that you cannot register on some marketplaces. This is mainly due to KYC (know-your-customer) and AML (anti-money-laundering) requirements, which get more complicated if the client is outside Europe.
I have asked many of the European p2p lending marketplaces, whether they accecpt US residents and US companies as investors.
Here is an overview of 5 services (sorted aplphabetically) that do allow US investors. I have not provided a review for each of the service as the article would have gotten too long, but you can easily find news and reviews by entering the company name into the search box on the upper right of this blog.
On some platforms you need a bank account in the European Union. In most cases Transferwise* borderless or Revolut* will help (while technically e-money accounts, they function pretty similar to bank accounts) and do not charge any monthly fees. They are both very useful for currency conversion (Revolut is better). On Assetz Capital the currency is GBP. On the other marketplaces it is EUR. Mintos has additional currencies. Transferwise borderless is available in all US states except Hawaii and Nevada. Revolut* is currently rolling out the service in the US.
Mentioned new customer cashbacks were correct at the time of the publication of this article. If you are reading the article at a later time, it may have changed. A current list of cashback offers is here.
Assetz Capital* is a marketplace for UK SME and property development loans. The liquid ‘access’ products offer 4.1% to 5.75% interest. Other product types offer higher rates. US investors are welcome. UK bank is account required – see notes above. US companies are eligible, but verification might take longer than for individuals. Expect 1-10 days for company registration.
Assetz Capital cashback for new investors: 50-250 GBP (dependent on investment amount; minimum 1000 GBP). To get it just register using this link: Assetz Capital registration and start lending
Bondora* is an Estonian p2p lending marketplace for consumer loans. The highly liquid Go&Grow product offer yields 6.75%. With other products higher yields of 10+% are achievable. US investors need to be accredited investors to use Bondora. A bank account in the European Union is not necessary. US companies are eligible to invest. Bondora recommends that interested US investors and companies contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +44 1568 6300 06 (during business hours, Mo-Fr: 9–17 EET) to check eligibility and clear any questions concerning registration.
Bondora cashback for new investors: 5 EUR, to get it just register using this link: Bondora registration and start lending
Estateguru* is an Estonian marketplace for property loans. Typical interest rates are 10-12%. US residents are eligible, if they have a bank account in the EEA (European Economic Area) – see notes above. US companies can invest, if they have a bank account in the EEA.
Estateguru cashback for new investors: 0.5% (1% in October) cashback on all investments in the first 3 months. To get it just register using this link: Estateguru registration and start lending
Flender* is an Irish marketplace for SME loans. Typical interest rates are around 10%. US investors and US companies are eligible.
Flender cashback for new investors: 5% on all investments in the first 30 days after signup. Register using this link Flender registration and start lending
Mintos* is a Latvian p2p lending market place. A wide range of loan types is offered. The fairly liquid ‘Invest&Access’ product currently promotes around 8% rate. Yields of 10+% are possible with manual and autoinvest.
US investors and US companies are welcome. A bank account in the EEA (European Economic Area is required) – see notes above.
Mintos cashback for new investors: 1% cashback on all investments in the first 90 days. To get it just register using this link: Mintos registration and start lending
The article was updated on Nov. 21st as Estateguru has meanwhile changed its position saying that Revolut or Transferwise are sufficient now to satisfy the requirements on a bank account in the European Union.
P2P lending bears high risks, including total loss of investment. This article is not investment advice.
One of the main developments in UK p2p lending this autumn is the IPO (initial public offering) of Funding Circle. It will be open for investors that commit at least £1,000 through an intermediary (see list of participating intermediaries). Investing at the IPO means investors will invest at a very late stage of the growth phase of a startup. This article and this article suggest that it might not be a good idea to invest in an IPO.
But is there really a chance to invest into equity of a p2p lending marketplace at an early stage, if you are not an employee, business angel or VC? Up to a few years ago the answer would have been NO. But crowdfunding for equity came into use a recently and a surprising number of p2p lending companies have used this route to raise funding.
In this article I will look at the p2p lending services that have used British equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs* to raise money. Some of these p2p lending company funding rounds have taken place years ago, but the interesting point is that Seedrs has a secondary market and new investors can buy shares from existing investors that invested earlier through Seedrs. The secondary market opens every first Tuesday of a month (next on Oct. 2nd) and stays open for a week. Some of the shares on offer are in high demand and often sell out within an hour. If you’d like to buy on the secondary market you should open your Seedrs* account now, as you’ll need time to verify it and deposit funds prior to the market opening.
P2P Lending Startups that raised funding rounds through Seedrs
Assetz Capital Assetz Capital* is a UK platform for SME loans. Assetz raised two rounds on Seedrs for an aggregate of 5.3 million GBP. The last round was in October 2017 at a pre-money valuation of 50M GBP. Shares of Assetz capital are usually in high demand on the Seedrs secondary market.
Brickowner Brickowner is a UK property investment platform. Brickowner raised four rounds for an aggregate of 0.4 million GBP. The last round was a converible in March 2018. The pre-money valuation in Nov. 2017 was 2.5M GBP. There is usually some availability of Brickowner shares on the secondary market.
Crowdlords Crowdlords is UK property crowdfunding platform. Crowdlords raised one round for 0.2M GBP in Nov. 2014. The current pre-emption round is at a pre-money valuation of 3.2M GBP. There is usually limited availability of Crowdlords shares on the secondary market.
Crowdstacker Crowdstaecker is a UK platform for SME loans. Crowdstacker is running a round right now for 0.8 million GBP at a pre-money valuation of 19.5M GBP.
Crowdproperty Crowdproperty is a UK platform for property development finance. Crowdproperty raised 0.9M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 5.9M GBP in November 2017. There is usually some availability of Crowdproperty shares on the secondary market.
Flender Flender* runs a platform for Irish SME loans. Flender raised on Seedrs round of 0.5M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 4.5M GBP in January 2017. Supply of Flender shares on the secondary market is scarce.
Investly Investly* is a platform for invoice financing operating in the UK and Estonia. Investly raised on Seedrs round of 0.7M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 6.6M GBP in March 2018. Investly shares have been in high demand on the secondary market.
Landbay Landbay* is a UK platform for buy-to-let mortage lending. Landbay did multiple Seedrs rounds from 2013 till 2018. The last round was in March 2018 at a pre-money valuation of 28.9M GBP. There is usually good availability of Landbay shares on the secondary market.
Orca Money Orca is an aggregator for UK p2p lending investments. Orca is running a round right now for 0.5M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 1.8M GBP.
Welendus Welendus is a UK platform for short-term loans. Welendus raised 1.3M GBP GBP through 3 Seedrs campaigns including the currently running round at a pre-money vaulation of 6.0M GBP.
There are shares of mulitple other interesting fintechs available on the Seedrs* secondary market, including Commuter Club which has an interesting connection to p2p lending: The loans for the transport tickets were financed first by Ratesetter lenders and now by Zopa lenders. There is usually good availability of Commuter Club shares on the secondary market.
P2P-Banking has a pre-launch notification service for upcoming new Seedrs campaigns. Sign up and you get a head start on new campaigns which might potentially include Assetz Exchange, a new Brickowner round and p2p lending startup Neo Finance.
Summing up: While there are other sources for shares in p2p lending companies, Seedrs is a good place to start looking.
This article is not an investment advice. Investing in startups bears significant risks, including total loss of investment.
Assetz Capital has launched the IFISA offer allowing UK taxpayers to use the 20,000 GBP tax-free allowance while investing on the p2p lending platform.
New and existing Assetz Capital investors can open an IFISA wrapper on the platform and then invest into any automated Assetz investment account in December. The IFISA is also set to include the popular Manual Loan Investment Account (MLIA) in the New Year.
The IFISA is flexible and offers investments into p2p lons with interest rates ranging from 3.75% to 12%.
Stuart Law, CEO at Assetz Capital said: “Our IFISA …[is] great new tax-free investment choice for those that are new to peer-to-peer lending, but we also feel strongly about delivering a product that caters for our thousands of long-standing investors who prefer to choose their own loan investments within the Manual Loan Investment Account. That’s why we were determined to ensure that the MLIA will be allowed in our IFISA shortly after launch. … We will also shortly be releasing a queuing system in case we have excess demand for the IFISA that will allow our existing and faithful investors priority access to the tax free returns.”
Assetz Capital is now the UK’s second-largest peer-to-peer business and property lender and also the second largest in Europe. Since 2014, we have been providing competitive loans to credit-worthy SMEs and attractive returns to investors. We provide fairer and more accessible business lending to small and medium sized businesses and property developers throughout the UK.
Since our launch, we have lent more than 350 million GBP to credit worthy businesses whilst providing returns of 30m GBP to our investors using a number of automated investment accounts that earn gross rates of return between 3.75% – 7% per annum and also permitting manual lending at rates often above that. Almost all funding to date has come from retail investors and maintaining support for retail investment is one of our business aims.
What are the three main advantages for investors?
Firstly, we only lend to businesses who we assess as credit worthy businesses with tangible assets. Tangible security is taken for each and every loan – which is unusual for peer-to-peer lenders – in order to reduce the risk of capital losses for investors, while also lowering the cost of borrowing for businesses. We also deploy traditional credit assessment techniques rather than rely solely computer-based borrower assessments, meaning our processes are fast, meticulous and human. As a result of our processes, Assetz Capital’s expected loss rates are amongst the lowest in the industry (currently standing at just 0.35% across our live loan book).
Secondly, we cater for all types of investors. In the past four years, we have experienced strong annual growth year on year, and have attracted a wide set of sophisticated and consumer retail investors, as well as attracting family office and institutional investment. We believe it is because we have demonstrated excellent credit skills and loan performance, while delivering strong net yields.
Thirdly, we are also the only major UK P2P platform to still offer a manual investment option. This allows investors to choose exactly which borrowers to lend to, allowing them to cultivate a bespoke investment portfolio and choose appropriate levels of risk in their investments. For those wanting automated accounts, we offer a wide selection ranging from our Access Accounts to a Green Energy Account, all of which cater to those with less time to invest. This combination of accounts offers the type of control that an individual investor may require, allowing people to pick and choose from a wide range of individual loan opportunities, and also the ability to automatically lend if they are time-poor.
What are the three main advantages for borrowers?
Assetz Capital has been providing small and mid-sized businesses with flexible and quick access to funding for future business and employment growth with competitive rates.
Rather than being just a website with automated credit assessments, Assetz Capital is run by finance, banking, credit and lending professionals with huge industry experience, alongside our large UK-wide network of employed Regional Relationship Directors who visit potential borrowers and help structure the loans. I believe that this is unique to the P2P industry, and is reassuring to both business borrowers and lenders that behind the technology and website there are actual, qualified humans with relevant experience to help structure good quality transactions. Borrowers really appreciate the ability to structure their loan requirements face to face with experienced professionals instead of encountering the “computer-says-no” problem of today’s banking industry.
We’re also a lean business, and as such we have lower overheads than traditional lending institutions. Coupled with the fact that we only lend to credit worthy businesses holding tangible assets, this means our cost of borrowing for businesses is kept low.
With the uncertainty that has come with Brexit, we have found that our platform is overcoming some of the issues which many UK businesses are currently facing. We believe that fixed rate loans offer businesses a stable way to predict part of their finances, regardless of external market conditions. Brexit may put pressure on banks to reduce loan availability or raise rates substantially, but alternative finance providers such as Assetz Capital are continuing to offer fixed rate loans.
What ROI have investors made on average on the platform in the past?
As a business, we are totally transparent with our top-line numbers, and these are updated live in a prominent position on our website. In just over four years, investors on Assetz Capital have collectively earned gross returns of around 30 million GBP on their investments, relating to more than 350 million GBP in loans to date. We have a big announcement at the beginning of November that further endorses these results.
Assetz Capital has succeeded in growing loan originations sharply in the past 12 months. How did you achieve that and were intermediaries like brokers a major factor?
While much of our loan origination is organic, brokers have also played a vital role in referring many small and medium sized businesses to us. To date, more than 350 successfully funded projects have come through brokers, and we predict that this will grow to approaching 1,000 by the end of the 2018 year. In fact, this has been so successful, we are actively working to increase our broker network significantly in the next two years, and have recently revealed a strategy to further support brokers through a number of methods.
For example, our network of nationwide Regional Relationship Directors is supporting more brokers locally. We are also offering new product and pricing improvements to further build our relationships with brokers. Our face to face approach is very much liked by brokers and their borrowers alike and this is also a factor in our success, as is the experience of our team.
What will the soon to be launched Assetz Capital IFISA offer? Will it offer the same range of investments and interest rates as currently? Will the IFISA be flexible?
Now that we have achieved full authorisation from the UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), we are preparing to launch our Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA), which should be ready by the end of 2017. While I can’t reveal all the details at time of writing, it will be highly flexible as it is an extension of our very successful model. There is no intention to have any ISA fees for normal transactions and we also intend for our main lending investment accounts to also be available at the same rates in the ISA. We also intend to release our next generation investment dashboard that we believe will keep it at the forefront of the industry.
Will you soft launch it to existing investors first or will it be open to all from day one?
We will open the account to all comers straight away, not just existing investors.
I heard Assetz Capital is profitable? Can you walk me through some of the key facts of the financial side of the company, please?
Very few FinTech businesses are even close to breaking even, so it was a momentous day this year when we proudly claimed we made a seven-figure profit (GBP) for the last financial year to March 31st 2017. I believe that this is a testimony to our business model where we refuse to believe fast growth should be at the cost of profit and cashflow. While several others built their loan books up quickly with a more lenient approach to credit and very substantial levels of outside investment to cover trading losses, we took a more cautious approach to credit risk and built our entire business on an initial seed funding round of 1m GBP and Series A equity raising of just 5m GBP more. We have now lent similar levels to the whole of 2016/17 year in the first six months of this year and also booked profits of around the same as last year in this period. We have a healthy balance sheet and have just announced a new Series B equity raise that will bolster it further.
We had a very successful raise of 3.2m GBP on Seedrs in 2015, and now we are looking to fund a number of short-term capital expenditure projects, which are aimed to help the company continue its substantial growth. We believe that this may well be the last one prior to an institutional investment round or IPO but we will keep this under review and are really pleased to have not just delivered thousands of people great levels of interest through our platform but also delivered hundreds of investors a strong equity growth also as a result of the Series B being priced at 250% approximately of Series A carried out two and a half years ago..
What are your views on Brexit, the impact on UK fintech in general and on p2p lending in particular?
With the many political, regulatory and economic twists and turns of 2017, uncertainty continues. While many of those involved in business and investment are nervous, there are others benefiting and seizing on opportunities. Since the Brexit vote, no one is really sure of what the longer-term impact will be on businesses, investors or the UK market in general, however from the P2P market perspective, this has been an important year to further solidify its stature and firmly place it as a viable alternative to banks for both investors and borrowers.
We see that Brexit has actually had a positive effect on P2P, and all indications signal that the industry will benefit further in 2018 as a result of banks seeming to entrench somewhat ahead of the outcome being more visible. The impact on wider Fintech is more varied and we see a disincentive to set up in London to some degree for some businesses but for those here I expect they will take a wait and see approach. The possible loss of the ability to ‘Passport’ UK regulatory permissions across Europe or vice versa could be the major loss for companies intending to operate both here and in Europe.
The main issue is that the result of the Brexit vote is still some way off and indeed it is entirely possible we could see a continuation of the recent economic strength if Brexit turns out well economically and some real challenges if it does not. It is too early to call but the former would be my expectation on balance.
Where do you see Assetz Capital in 3 years?
Assetz Capital will continue to grow, to offer new and innovative products to investors and borrowers, and to hold true to our founding principles of fairness to all our stakeholders including investors, borrowers, shareholders and staff. We have already seen growth of around 100 percent year on year since 2014, and we believe that this rate will continue. We have very ambitious plans for the business, and certainly we see ourselves in three years as becoming one of the leading secured lenders to creditworthy businesses looking for additional funding as well as one of the top few P2P platforms for investors looking for choice, flexibility and fair, risk-adjusted returns.
We want to be recognised as being a real contributor to the economic success of the country, on several levels including helping house building volumes increase to address the housing shortage, helping businesses grow and increase employment, helping private investors earn more from their hard-earned capital, helping institutions deploy capital on market-leading risk return ratios and finally helping incentivise and contribute to a greater quality and breadth of financial education in today’s society.
P2P Lending marketplace Assetz Capital today announced the launch of another account type. The Property Secured Investment Account (PSIA) is marketed as a way to invest exclusively in property backed loans with automatic diversification intended to help investors spread their risk across a diverse range of lending. Every single loan considered for this account is automatically selected or rejected upon the basis of the level of property security that it offers. The loans automatically selected for investment by this account are only those that have no expected loss in the case of that loan defaulting in the future, even after any estimated recovery costs.
The target rate for the Assetz PSIA account is 5.5%. (Interest is quoted gross at the target rate, although actual returns could be lower)
Recently I opened an account at p2p lending marketplace Assetz Capital to gain some first hand experiences. Assetz Capital offers secured business loans to small and medium British SMEs. I decided to start with the 30 days access account as it is mostly hands off and deposited a tiny amount, which was credited within an hour. It currently offers a promotional target rate of 4.75% (instead of 4.25%) and allows to withdraw funds with 30 days notice in normal market conditions. Investors, who want to benefit from the promotional rate need to act now, as it is only applicable for deposits made until 11.59am on 6th June 2017 and is valid for a maximum of 90 days from the date of the deposit.
Assetz Capital has a minimum investment amount of 1 GBP. Assetz is open to international investors, but a UK bank account is required. If you do not have one, I suggest opening one at Transferwise. (UPDATE: but do check comment below this article, also see my Transferwise Borderless account article). All Assetz Capital (except the MLIA) investment accounts are protected by a provision fund. There are no fees for investors.
Assetz Capital says the 30 days access account is extremly popular with investors. Since the promotion offer was launched 7 weeks ago, 23 million GBP have been deposited in this account. Assetz also offers a quick access account with 3.75% target rate, designed to provide immediate access to cash, in normal market conditions, for investors. Currently 19 million GBP are invested in this account. Further account types are the ‘Great British Business Account’ (GBBA) with 7% target rate, the ‘Green Energy Income Account’ (GEIA) with 7% target rate and the ‘Manual Loan Investment Account’ (MLIA) with 5.5% to 18% gross rate. See comparison of Assetz accounts. Assetz also features a secondary market without fees providing liquidity.