Squirrl Launch – Secured Loans to Suppliers

Exclusive breaking news: In the UK Squirrl.com launches today. Squirrl provides an online finance platform for well established commercial organisations (Suppliers) that have a business model where assets are provided to their customers and paid for over a period of time through Pay for Use Agreements.  Examples are the motor industry, industrial machinery, office equipment etc….  If this type of organisation has no other financial arrangements it must pay for the assets at the start of the contract, and only receive its money back over the life of the agreement.  Few commercial organisations can suffer the impact of this negative cash flow, yet customer demand for this service model is growing.  Investors using the Squirrl.com platform can lend money to this type of Supplier in return for higher interest rates than they would get from the high street banks and have their loans secured.

Lend as little as 25 GBP

Lenders can lend as little as 25 GBP (approx 40 US$). Aside from a one time identification fee, Squirrl currently does not charge lenders any fees (but in the T&C there are terms for fee structures, so fees may be coming later). Loan terms range from 3 to 5 years with repayments are conducted quarterly. Squirrl has a secondary market allowing lenders to sell of their loan parts to other lenders.

Two auction models

Supplier offers are auctioned with lenders bidding either on auctions that close on 100% funding or time auctions where the interest rates are falling if more bids come in than the asked loan amount.

Multiple measures to reduce risks

Aside from the fact that loans are secured by assets, Squirrl has multiple further measures to reduce risks for lenders. For example lenders do not bid on loans that finance one single asset but rather on loans that finance 20 similar assets. An example could be a loan to a supplier that finances 20 printers for 20 government schools. Each portfolio is given a risk rating which ranges from 1 for low risk (such as schools, health care and other public sector agreements) through to 7 for higher risk (such as small businesses agreements). Squirrl.com initially accepts only the lowest risk levels (1, Public Sector and 2, Major Listed Public Companies). The risk rating of the portfolio, rather than the Supplier, enables lenders to make an informed decision as to how secure invested money is.  A feature of Squirrl.com is the ability to select an “interest group” to support.  These are linked to the risk rating so for example a portfolio may be based on education or health, or any other defined interest group. Continue reading

Fundingcircle’s First Month Figures

Fundingcircle.com launched on Friday August, 13th. According to figures the company released, the p2c lending service had a good start. Apparently many lenders took advantage of the cashback offer, and immediately after lending sold loan parts to other lenders on the secondary market. Review the following numbers reported by Funding Circle:

  • 11 small businesses have fully accepted loans from Funding Circle lenders totalling 317,000 GBP
  • Funded businesses range from environmental consultancies and recyclers, to restaurants and retailers, and manufacturing and engineering companies
  • Over 1,000 lenders and borrowers have joined
  • 20 loan requests from small businesses have been listed on Funding Circle, with a good number of businesses in the credit underwriting process
  • Monthly interest rates for borrowers range from 7.4% to 10.7%
  • ~10,000 bids have been placed on loan requests
  • ~500 loan parts have been successfully transferred from one lender to another

Funding Circle (Fundingcircle.com) P2C Lending Launch in UK

Funding Circle has launched it’s peer to company lending service in Britain. As reported by P2P-Banking.com in February the startup received 1.1 million US$. Any UK resident can lend either by individually selecting businesses or by using the autobid feature and spreading the investment over several matching businesses. While loans last for 1 to 3 years FundingCircle – unlike other p2p lending sites – allows lenders to access their money easily: Selling of parts of loans funded to other lenders is possible (secondary market).

In 2010 lenders are not charged any fees to use Funding Circle (in 2011 there will be a 1% annual servicing fee and a 1% sales fee).

All businesses applying for loans are screened by Funding Circle’s underwriters using data supplied by Experian to ensure they are creditworthy. A business may apply for a Funding Circle loan amount between 5,000 and 50,000 GBP. Continue reading

Funding Circle Raises 1.1M to do P2C Lending

London based Funding Circle has announced that it has raised 1.1 million US$ form undisclosed private investors and will launch it’s p2c lending service Fundingcircle.com in Q2 2010.

Director and co-founder James Meekings informed P2P-Banking.com:

When the platform launches later this year, people will lend small amounts to a range of different, creditworthy businesses to spread their risk. In turn, those businesses will be borrowing from a multitude of people to get a lower interest rate. … Funding Circle will also empower people to support their local community, by allowing lenders to target businesses with characteristics, such as locale, that are valued by them.

Small businesses will initially be able to apply for unsecured loans of 5,000 to 50,000 GBP. The businesses are checked for fraud and must meet a number of minimum credit requirements verified by the UK’s leading credit agency. Experienced underwriters then further analyse and screen businesses before allowing them onto the Funding Circle platform.

B2B Loans Introduced at Isepankur

IsePankur, the Estonian P2P banking site, this recently added three innovations to their platform:

  1. Loan auctions that end immediately when the loan request is 100 percent funded
  2. Business accounts enabling Business-to-Business, Consumer-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer lending and borrowing
  3. An arbitrage court that will be in charge of solving disagreements coming from the loans, incl. defaulting loans

isePankur decided to add a new auction type based on requests from the borrowers that allows the borrower to choose if the auctions ends after a set time period or when its fulfilled 100 per cent. The borrowers currently have an alternative to borrow from banks, pay-day loan companies or isePankur. The two former institutions provide the loan to the customer with-in 1 to 3 days from the application. Hence some of customers asked to implement a system by which they would be able to choose between a quick financing or a low interest rate in order for them to be more willing to use the peer-to-peer platform.

isePankur also launched an important new feature allowing legal entities to register, lend and borrow on the site. The maximum loan amounts (only for companies) have been increased to 150,000 EEK (approx. 13,175 US$), approx 15 times higher than the loan limit for individuals. There were three major reasons for the addition: (a) small companies lack financing opportunities as the banks have stopped providing credit whilst there are no official debt markets in Estonia; (b) companies with excess funds do not have simple investment opportunities that would provide them with returns of over 3-4 per cent per annum; and (c) there is a 0 per cent corporate tax in Estonia hence most of individuals with excess capital keep it in their companies’ accounts. isePankur aims to increase the loan volumes on the site multi-fold after the public and companies have had enough time to get familiar with the benefits provided by the business services.

Continue reading

P2P Lending for Small Businesses Reaches France

Finally! We all long waited for a genuine P2P lending service in France.

FriendsClear launched on February the first a platform that enables small businesses to advertise their projects and ask for a loan up to 15,000 Euro.

Lenders can then apply for the loan for an amount between 1,000 and 3,000 Euro. If a project is validated, once it receives enough loans propositions.

The rates are fixed to 5% for the lender and 6.25% for the borrower. The spread finances the platform and their Bank partner: Crédit Agricole.

To ensure the seriousness of the projects, it costs 15 Euro to advertise a project. Most of the project information is only available to registered lenders.

To launch this service, FriendsClear organized a project contest. After the public vote (over 10000 votes), a jury will choose the best project between the five finalists. The winner will be rewarded by a prize of 10,000 Euro.

This enables serious business growth for the small startup FriendsClear. In order to support it, they recently raised new funds and it seems that they are looking for new co-workers on this project – but I couln’t find precise information on their recruitment needs.

This is very encouraging sign for finance 2.0 in France, and we believe that more will follow soon, from other actors but also from FriendsClear, which have many projects for the future (P2P for individuals, open a branch in another European country).

An interview of Friendsclear founder Jean-Christophe Capelli [in French]

Bigcarrots – P2C Lending in the UK

Bigcarrots.com wants to bring business and lenders together. Peculiar name, isn’t it? Images from Bugs Bunny cartoons floated on my mind. Positive indeed – but not at all related to finance.

Bigcarrots applies the concept of peer to peer lending to funding companies. Lenders can lend in chunks of 25 GBP, and a company can apply for unsecured loans of up to 25,000 GBP for 3 to 36 months loan terms. Lenders even have the possibility to exit early by reselling portfolios on a reseller platform.

The level of information provided on the website is low, the FAQ is short. For example their is no description how the risk assessment of applying companies is done by Bigcarrots. The About section gives little information on the background of Bigcarrots. I used the contact form to ask for more information, but did not receive an answer.

New at Smava – business loans, larger amounts, longer terms

German p2p lending service Smava.de made some changes:

  • Borrowing for business purposes is now allowed. The borrower still is an individual person but is no longer limited on private purposes of the loan
  • Borrowers may borrow up to 25,000 Euro (approx 39,200 US$), previously the maximum was 10,000 Euro
  • Maximum amount any lender can invest in the marketplace is raised to 100,000 Euro (previously 25,000 Euro)
  • Loan terms are now selectable 36 or 60 months (previously only 36 months); the insurance pools (Anleger-Pools) are seperated by credit grade and term. This complicated construct will influence lenders when deciding to bid on loans that are otherwise comparable but differ in loan term, since the level reached in the insurance pools directly impacts each payment rate.
  • Bad debt sales rates have been lowered for lower credit grades (previously it was 22.5% to 25%, now it is 15% to 25% depending on credit grade)

(Source: P2P-Kredite.com)

Since it's launch in February 2007 Smava has funded 457 loans with 2 million Euro (approx 3.14 million US$) loan volume. 8 loans have defaulted and currently 9 loans are late.