Post Brexit: Bondora Plans European Office in Germany Instead of London

bondora-logo-2016bEstonian p2p lending marketplace Bondora will open a new European office in Germany, saying that post brexit London is no longer attractive as a Fintech hub. Bondora formerly planned to move to London but stopped the plan after the brexit vote. ‘There is too much uncertainty, the UK lost its attractiveness as a fintech hub’ explains Bondora CEO Pärtel Tomberg the decision. Now he has Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich on the short-list. The head office will stay in Tallinn

For the Bondora business model very good access to the European market is crucial says Tomberg. He sees uncertainty how long London might be able to provide this.

After informal tals with German regulator Bafin, Bondora CFO Rein Ojavere got a positive view on the perspective for fintechs in Germany: ‘German’s regulators open up more and more to innvations in the financial sector to attract fintechs and seminal start-ups.’. Continue reading

Bondora Removes Primary Marketplace From User Interface

bondora-logo-2016bP2P lending marketplace Bondora announced that it will pull the primary marketplace from the user interface effective November 1st. This removes the chance for investors to manually invest on selected loans, leaving the options to either use the automated portfolio manager or to use the API.

Earlier this week Bondora provided this statistic showing that the majority of investments is done through the portfolio manager. This is another of the many changes the Bondora marketplace underwent in the past years.

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The announcement email sent today, reads:

On November 1, 2016 we will remove the Primary Market view from the user interface.

What does this mean?

In recent months it has become clear that the Portfolio Manager offers greater efficiency through automation compared to manually investing. The increasing benefits of Portfolio Manager are the result of recent updates to the funding process, which optimize speed. Moving forward we will continue to focus efforts on further improving Portfolio Manager, Bondora API, Secondary Market and the reporting features available on the platform.

Why is Bondora removing the Primary Market from the user interface?

Bondora is removing the Primary Market from the UI because the speed of our popular automated option meets the investing and borrowing needs before manual investing can take effect. Our process improvements have created an environment where almost all loans are funded before they become visible in the UI. As a result, the Primary Market is most of the time empty.

This scarcity is due to the fact that when a loan enters the market it is open to bids for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes expire the loan is closed. Our internal analysis and reporting shows that almost 100% of loans are funded within this brief window of time. Therefore, there is little reason to hold loans open any longer, as doing so would create unnecessary delays.

What should API users do?

Removing the primary market from the user interface does not change anything for Bondora API users. However, API users should review their settings for polling loans from primary market and reconfigure their settings to match the changes to the current funding process. We recommend that the polling of new loans be set to once a minute. Our API allows for speeds up to one query per second, however such rapid polling is also not recommended.

A Look At My Current Bondora Portfolio

In October 2012 I started to invest into p2p lending at Bondora. I periodically blog about my experiences – you can read my update from Dec. 2015 here. Over the total time I did deposit 14,000 Euro and withdrew 13,380 Euro.  So as you see I cashed out an amount almost equal to the amounts I deposited. The good news is that I still own 705 loan parts with an outstanding principal of 10,362 Euro at an average interest rate of 23.74%. Of these 6,355 Euro are in current loans, 1,004 Euro in overdue loans and 3,003 Euro in 60+ days overdue loans. The reason that I still have such a large loan book despite cashing out nearly as much as I paid in, is that I reinvested nearly all interest and principal repayments from 2012 till 2015.

Bondora shows a net return of 24.6% for my portfolio. In my own calculations, using XIRR in Excel, assuming that 30% of my 60+days overdue and 15% of my overdue loans will not be recovered, my ROI calculations result in 17.0% return.

Let’s look how my remaining portfolio is distributed by several criteria

Bondora portfolio by country

Chart 1: My portfolio by country

Bondora Portfolio by rating

Chart 2: My portfolio by rating

Bondora portfolio ditribution by loan purpose

Chart 3: My portfolio by loan purpose

Recent developments

A lot has changed in the past four months. With the introduction of new regulation in Estonia, Bondora now prefunds all loans and also keeps a stake in the loans (‘skin in the game‘). Manual bidding on loans is not as straightforward as previously because now investors can make bids, which are not binding until allocation happens. This leads to situations were say 155% of the loan amount has been bid for, but the allocation has not happened yet, because some of the bidding investors have not enough cash in their account to match their bids and those bids that are sufficiently funded don’t add up to 100%. Furthermore Bondora gives bid preference to bids with larger amounts. If at allocation time bids with enough cash add up to more than 100%, then the bids for higher amounts will succeed, while the smaller amount bids will be rejected.

Continue reading

Bondora Enhances Reporting Feature

Bondora logoAfter what felt like a drought period, Bondora seems to focus again on working to improve functionality for investors. This week they released a new version of the cash flow report, with the following upgrades:

1) Historic payments will be split between current loans and loans in default as per the status active at the date of the payment
2) We will introduce day-level information that shows cash flow categorized per each investment
3) Forecast settings can be defined also for historic schedules so you can use cash flow based adjustments for predicting future payments
4) You can adjust your net return calculation based on the probability settings defined in the cash flow report
5) Cash flow report will show the opening cash balance and closing cash balance for each period
6) You will be able to define which data series to show on the chart
7) Historic planned schedules will be split between current loans and loans in default
8) Cash flow table results can be exported to Excel
9) You will be able to define which data series to show in the cash flow table
10) Live data from the current day (currently under Account statement for the last 24 hours) will be incorporated into the cash flow report
11) All data is in one table
12) You will be also able to filter to a specific loan in the Investments list straight through the cash flow report so you can quickly take loans off secondary market or put them there based on the information visible in the cash flow report

I have experimented a bit and like the way this report page gives me a quick visual representation of what is happing in my account and that it is very customisable. Plus it lets me set my personal values for expected loss rates and use that to calculate net return displayed in the dashboard. Read also what investor Oktaeder blogged about this feature.

If you are not investing at Bondora, this Bondora video will give you a good overview of the functionality.

Year End Review of My Bondora Portfolio

In October 2012 I started p2p lending at Bondora. Since the start I did deposit 14,000 Euro. Since then I periodically wrote on my experiences – you can read my last review published in August here. In the 4 months since then, many changes happened at Bondora: New portfolio manager, new dashboard view, new collection procedures, a first version of an API in production, no more transaction fees for buying and selling on the secondary market and Bondora now allows investors to sell and buy defaulted loan parts (60+days overdue). I used this change to sell my overdue Slovakian loans at 87% discount.  I also sold my remaining Spanish loan parts. I did not have much of either of these in my portfolio anyway.

I also reduced my overall portfolio position at Bondora and transferred 11,022 Euro back to my bank account. I managed to sell many of my Estonian loans at a premium. My perception is that the liquidity on the secondary market increased after the transaction fees were removed. Still it is hard to effectively navigate on the secondary market.

I find it hard to price 60+days overdue loans I want to sell on the secondary market. The site Bondpicking.com has charts with recent transactions for defaulted loan sales on the secondary market that can help as guidance.

Currently I still have loan parts with the value of 11,428 Euro outstanding principal. Of these 1,441 Euro are in loans that are overdue and 2,076 Euro are in loans that are 60+ days overdue.

At the moment I have 280 Euro cash available.

My Bondora Portfolio 12/2015
Chart 1: Screenshot of account balance

My interim conclusions after 3 years

I am very satisfied with my Bondora investment. Of the 14,000 Euro investment I already withdrew over 11,000 Euro, meaning my remaining risk (concerning the initial investment) is very limited and I still have a huge portfolio of loans. Currently Bondora shows my ROI to be 25.0%. In my own calculations, using XIRR in Excel, assuming that 30% of my 60+days overdue and 15% of my overdue loans will not be recovered, my ROI calculations result in 16.3%. Even in a very pessimistic scenario adding up only withdrawals (approx 11,000 Euro), current loans (about 8,200 Euro) and cash (280 Euro), the initial 14.000 Euro grew in three years to a value of 19,500 Euro. Continue reading

Crowdfunding – Dutch investors – where to go?!

This is a guest post by Dutch lawyer Coen Barneveld Binkhuysen (see full bio at the end of the article)

Crowdfunding is growing exponentially in the Netherlands. Although the Dutch market has not yet reached the astronomical levels of the United States and the United Kingdom, many people have heard about the phenomenon and are intrigued by this potential alternative investment opportunity. While the Dutch market speaks a lot about crowdfunding, it is less familiar with the term p2p-lending (it is commonly available though). As this article covers investments in loans, convertible subordinated loans and equity, I will use the general term crowdfunding instead of p2p-lending.

In the first 6 months of 2015, almost 50 million Euro was raised via crowdfunding, which is double the amount raised in 2014. There are over 80 crowdfunding platforms active in the Netherlands, which makes it difficult for potential investors to gain an overview of the viable available investment opportunities. This article provides a general overview of the most important platforms active in the Dutch market. Furthermore, I will discuss some relevant topics in relation to crowdfunding, such as: diversification options, costs, default risks, cash flow, types of investment and the added value of a properly managed crowdfunding platform.

Overview investment options

In general, crowdfunding platforms in the Netherlands offer the option to invest in loans, subordinated convertible loans and equity (besides donations and the purchase of products). Each of these different investment options has benefits and drawbacks in terms of cash flow, risk and the potential upside can vary significantly:

Loans provide a direct cash flow to the investor as loans are usually repaid in monthly instalments. Loans only have a limited potential upside, maximized at the offered interest rate. Due to the monthly repayments, the risk decreases every month. Most crowdfunding platforms determine the interest rate based on the envisaged risk. As far as I am aware, there are no platforms active in the Netherlands that provide the option to “bid” on loans in auctions.

Convertible subordinated loans (also called convertibles) are considered to entail more risk than normal loans as convertibles are subordinated to (normal) loans and other claims. Investors generally expect a higher return in exchange for a higher risk. Instead of offering a higher interest rate, companies issuing convertibles via crowdfunding offer the option to convert these loans into certificates of shares.[1] The option to convert may be restricted by certain conditions such as (i) a specific period in which conversion must take place and/or (ii) the condition that a sophisticated investor invests at least amount “X” during the term of the loan. For an investor it is important to identify any conversion conditions that may apply. If the loan is not converted into certificates of shares during its term, the investor will receive the principal plus interest payments at the end of the term of the loan. These investments might not be interesting for investors looking for a steady cash flow, but they can be interesting for those who want to have a shot at a serious return.

Equity is normally being offered in the form of certificates of shares (equal to the convertibles described above). Again, investing in equity does not create a steady cash flow for the investor. The terms and conditions related to the certificates of shares may (and normally will) restrict the option to sell them. Therefore, investors are expected to wait for the moment the entire company is being sold to an investor, which can take a long time. Investing in equity might only be interesting for investors looking for long-term investments. Then again, these investments do have the largest potential upside as the investor will profit from every increase in value once the company is being sold.

Balancing risks

Each investor takes, or at least should take, the risk of default into account, especially when investing in high-risk companies such as start-ups. Business cases of start-ups have not yet been properly tested and most do not, or hardly have, any financial buffers. Should the financed company go bankrupt, practice shows that only in rare cases (only part of) the loan can be recovered. Normally, preferred creditors such as banks and the tax authorities will receive the benefit of all assets left in the company and there is nothing left for others. Some platforms try to reduce the risk by requesting a personal guarantee of the entrepreneur, but this is of little use if the person does not have any assets.

The actual difference between investments in loans, convertibles and equity from a risk perspective is small. Investors having certificates of shares have a larger potential upside than the holders of loans. One could say that investors almost bear the same risk, but with different potential upsides. In my opinion the most important reasons to choose for normal loans are the fixed term and monthly repayments. If you are not in a hurry to make a profit and are going for the highest potential return, convertibles and equity might be a more interesting option.

Overview largest platforms in the Netherlands

After selecting the preferred investment instrument, it is important to select one or more of the available crowdfunding platforms. Without aiming to be complete, I list the largest and most active platforms active in the Netherlands below:

nl-geldvoorelkaarGeldvoorelkaar.nl is the national market leader and funded over 825 projects, with a total sum of over 66,000,000 Euro. The platform focusses on p2p-lending and only provides investors the opportunity to invest in loans. Interest rates range from 4% to 9% depending on the risk score determined by Geldvoorelkaar.nl. All loans are being repaid in monthly instalments as of the first month. By investing in projects via this platform, it is fairly easy to generate a decent cash flow. Up to now, 3.5% of my investments on the platform have defaulted. As the principal of one of the defaulted projects was almost fully paid back, my average ROI still accounts for about 6.5% per year. The other defaulted project was probably a case of bankruptcy fraud, which I expect to happen more often in the future. The platform opens several dozen new projects every week, which creates sufficient opportunities to diversify your portfolio and reinvest your money. An investor must pay a fee equal to 0.3% * loan duration (in years) * invested amount (which amount will be refunded if the project defaults).

nl-oneplanetcrowdOneplanetcrowd claims to be Europe’s leading sustainable crowdfunding platform. Since launching in 2012 it raised over € 6 million in funding for more than 100 projects. Oneplanetcrowd operates in Germany and the Netherlands and is planning to open in other European countries soon. It provides investors the option to invest in loans and convertibles (apart from donations and presale options) and offers some of the most interesting investment opportunities, such as Snappcar and Wakawaka Power. Various projects offer the opportunity to co-invest with sophisticated venture capital firms as these firms invest simultaneously with the crowdfunding campaign. In my opinion, this is a huge advantage for investors as VCs tend to do a thorough due diligence before choosing to invest. The platform only allows companies with a sustainable philosophy to start a campaign on the platform. Their goal is to provide high quality investments with a decent return to investors. Although this is a good niche market, the strategy makes diversification opportunities fairly difficult. Investors do not pay a fee on Oneplanetcrowd.

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KapitaalOpMaat and Collin Crowdfund are some of the main competitors of Geldvoorelkaar.nl as these platforms focus solely on loans with loan periods ranging from 6 up to 120 months and interest rates of 5.5% up to 9% depending on the calculated risk. Almost 6.5 million Euro and 13 million Euro have been funded via these platforms, respectively. Investors on KapitaalOpMaat pay a one-time transaction fee of 0.9% and a yearly fee of 0.85% on Collin Crowdfunding. Both platforms provide discounts to investors investing more than certain thresholds.

Bondora is a European platform offering the opportunity to invest in loans on a European level. Although this is by far the most sophisticated (international) platform available to Dutch investors, its presence is fairly unknown to most Dutch investors. Already more than 35 million Euro has been financed via Bondora. Investors are allowed to choose their own investments on the primary market, but most loans are filled in advance by a bot. Therefore, it will be necessary to invest automatically via the provided bot in order to obtain sufficient loans. This enables the investor to invest in literally thousands of loans differing in purpose, country and risk. All loans are repaid in monthly instalments on a virtual account. Bondora also offers the option to purchase/sell investments to other investors on its secondary market (with a premium/discount) against a fee of 1.5%. Investors do not pay any fees on the primary market. Although Bondora claims an average ROI of 18.75%, many investors complain about the large number of defaults. As the minimum investment is only 5 Euro, the threshold is low.

Symbid is one of the established Dutch crowdfunding platforms and focuses on equity (certificates of shares) and loans. Although Symbid seems to suggest that already more than 300 million Euro has been invested via their crowdfunding platform, the actual amount funded by the crowd is closer to 6 million Euro. One of the advantages of Symbid is that it offers the option to sell your equity to other investors on the platform. Continue reading