Thin Cats Calls it a Day For Retail Investors – Puts Loans in Run-Off

British p2p lending marketplace Thin Cats* announced that it will cease to offer new loans to retail investors. Thin Cats had facilitated about 556 million loans to UK business clients on its marketplace.

UPDATE: The headline has been edited compared to an earlier version to clarify that the company only stopped to offer retail p2p loans. This confusion resulted from the fact that the announcement below made no mention that the company will focus on institutional clients in future.

The Thin Cats announcement reads:

You have probably noticed that the number of new loans for investment
on the P2P platform operated by Business Loan Network Limited (BLN),
one of the ThinCats Group companies, has fallen significantly over the
last two years.

Following a thorough review, we have concluded it is no longer cost
effective and practicable to raise funds in this way, so have decided to
close the P2P platform to new business and initiate a run-off process
for existing investors.

This proposal has been discussed with the Financial Conduct Authority
(FCA) and we have made a voluntary request to the FCA that the
permissions to operate an electronic platform be closed to new business.

Our decision to initiate the ThinCats P2P Platform run-off has had the
following impacts which became effective at 12.01am on 9 December 2019.

No new loans will be offered on the ThinCats P2P Platform
The secondary market has closed and any loan parts listed for sale at the time of closure have been cancelled
No new accounts, including ISA accounts, can be opened
No new lender deposits can be accepted

Please note that investors can continue to log in to their account(s) in
the usual way until such time as their account closes as part of the
run-off process.

Crucially all of our existing systems and controls will remain in place
to ensure investors’ interest and capital is collected when due or
otherwise actively recovered. Investors can continue to withdraw any
cash balances to their nominated bank account following the usual lender
withdrawal request process. It is no longer possible to add new funds
to your account(s), although loan repayments collected on your behalf
will continue in the normal way.

The effect on different categories of investor is detailed below:

1. Lenders holding performing loans

Lenders with status “A” loans that are performing as expected will
continue to receive interest and capital repayments in line with the
original loan schedule. We would encourage you to withdraw your cash
balances periodically.

Following the closure of the secondary market, you can no longer buy or
sell any loan parts and any loan parts currently listed for sale will be
cancelled.

For any performing loans that may subsequently become non-performing, these will be treated as described in section 2 below.

2. Lenders holding non-performing loans

For lenders with loans that are not performing in line with the original
loan schedule, we will continue to endeavour to maximise the returns to
lenders through our normal monitoring and recovery process. There will
be no additional impact from the introduction of a run-off period and we
will continue to email you with updates on specific non-performing
loans.

Once we have secured the maximum value from non-performing loans,
lenders will be asked to withdraw any remaining cash balances and close
their account.

3. Investors in Diversified Loan Portfolios (DLPs)

DLPs have a minimum Target Term, typically two years, during which it is
not possible to sell underlying loan parts. Following the closure of
the secondary market, performing loans within DLPs will no longer be
offered for sale via the secondary market towards the end of the Target
Term. Payments from these loans will, instead, continue until the loan
matures.

We will contact you separately with the proposed run off schedule for
each DLP that you hold and you will continue to receive DLP statements
on a quarterly basis.

Any non-performing loans within a DLP will be treated as described in section 2 above.

4. Registered investors with funded accounts but not holding loan parts

For investors that have cash balances in their ThinCats account(s) but
do not hold any loan parts, we encourage you to withdraw your cash to
your nominated bank account as soon as possible in the usual manner.

Once your account has a zero balance we will close your account. If you
do not withdraw any remaining cash balances, we will contact you again
to remind you of the need to transfer all monies out of your account.

5. ISAs

If you hold a loan or DLP within a ThinCats ISA, we will contact you
separately with details of the options open to you. It is no longer
possible to open a ThinCats ISA for the current tax year.

6. ThinCats Lending Clubs (“TLC”)

All TLCs have now come to the end of their term and those that remain
open are still to receive future realisations from non-performing loans
in each portfolio.

Once all possible realisations have been achieved the respective TLC will be closed and you will be notified accordingly.

In summary

The main impact of the platform run-off process is that no new loans
will be offered on the ThinCats P2P Platform and it is no longer
possible to open a new account.

In most other aspects, other than the closing of the secondary market,
the platform will continue very much as now: you will continue to
receive interest and capital repayments for performing loans and we will
continue to monitor loans and invoke recovery procedures in the normal
way. You will be able to log in to your account in exactly the same way.

We are committed to treating all customers fairly during the run-off
process and recognise it may raise a number of questions with investors.

Platform Moneything In Wind-Down

Moneything logoThis morning british p2p lending platform Moneything announced that it will wind-down operations citing difficulties to compete in current market conditions. The platform facilitated 92.3 million GBP in loans since launch in 2015. 20.3 million GBP of the loans are still outstanding.

The full announcement sent to investors reads:

We have taken the decision to place MoneyThing into orderly wind-down and we are no longer taking any new investments or new customers.

We have found it is increasingly difficult to compete in the current market conditions and we expect there is a tougher economic environment to come.

During wind-down the business will continue to be managed and administered by the existing directors and our aim will be to minimise any disruption to our customers and ensure the safe return of funds.

We have provided detailed information on the platform on why we have taken this decision and how it affects our lender customers. Please log in to view.

We would like to thank all of our lenders for their support over the past few years. We made a commitment to lenders to provide a service and we would like to reassure lenders that that commitment will continue until the wind-down has been completed.

We have not been able to make MoneyThing a success. We will however aim to exit the market quietly with minimum disruption to our customers and the industry as a whole.

Please contact us at support@moneything.com if you have any questions or comments.

Moneything further states

Over the past few years there have been significant changes in the lending markets in the UK. The huge influx of institutional capital into the market has caused a reduction in lending rates, which is good for borrowers, but not for lenders.

The current economic uncertainty and likely future uncertainty means that there are less potential borrowers committing to projects and growth in borrowing is slowing. This means there is greater competition for borrowers and this places increased pressure on lenders to further reduce rates and perhaps to relax risk criteria or accept lower margins.

More recently the collapse of Lendy and then Funding Secure has had a big impact on lender confidence. Having spoken with a number of our lenders in recent weeks, it is clear that while the vast majority remain confident in MoneyThing as a platform, most also expect to reduce their investments across P2P or to continue to lend at a much lower level.

As a small, self-select P2P platform entirely funded by retail money, we cannot be certain that we can fund new loans with the current low level of lender confidence. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for us to compete and we expect those market conditions to continue.

As such we have taken the decision to wind-down.

Moneything will continue to manage the existing loan book and aims to wind down the existing loan-book within 12 months.

 

Collateral UK in Adminstration – a Summary for Investors

Yesterday evening investors on the Collateral p2p lending marketplace were informed via email by a letter by Gordon Craig that he was appointed administrator for Collateral (UK) Ltd, the company running the marketplace.

The company is continuing to trade under his supervision, but will not be facilitating any new loans and the secondary market is closed at the moment. Reason for the company going into administration is given as ‘The Company was operating in the belief that it was authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under interim permission. It has transpired that this is not the case and consequently the Company has ceased lending‘.

Most reassuring for investors into loans is, that he states: ‘Please note that your investment is safe and this is a procedural and compliance issue. … ‘

Investors into loans do not need to take any immediate action. ‘I have lent money via the Collateral platform do I need to do anything? No. Subject to the borrower continuing to make payments of interest and capital those will be returned to you in accordance with the Collateral terms and conditions.’

At a later point it was clarified that uninvested cash and money invested in loans without drawdown is also safe:’ I can confirm however that any monies that are sat on the platform and are not invested are ring fenced in a separate client account and the intention is for these to be returned to all investors after the Administrator has obtained control of the bank account and carried out a reconciliation.

As P2P-Banking has learned, the individual loans are bankruptcy remote, with security held by a separate security trustee – Collateral Security Trustee Ltd.

Collateral has lent about 17 million GBP since the start, most loans were secured by property.

So that are the positive points.

It remains unclear to me how Collateral could have misjudged the regulatory status? The interim permission seems to have lapsed on January 29th. Again it is unclear whether it was actively revoked by the FCA. Investors analyzed yesterday that Collateral had quitely removed references to FCA authorisation (e.g. from email footer) after January 30th. Worse yet the company seems to have changed T&C materially and investors complain they were not notified about any change of T&Cs.

There is also the question why it was allowed to continue to operate from January 29th to February 28th, if it did not have the necessary regulatory approval (anymore). And the lack of communication (prior to the letter of the administrator which is comprehensive) is a disaster (see my previous article). Putting up a server maintenance note for two days, when you are going into administration is not the right way to do it in my opinion.

The adminstrator has not decided if the website will go live again ‘We are currently looking into the website and the possibility of this being reopened in order for investors to view the balance of their investments, however this isn’t something that will be dealt with until next week at the earliest.’

Several other UK platforms have emailed investors and informed them about procedures in place to reassure them that they have taken all the necessary precautions to be prepared in case of a situation like this.

To sum it up, while it is very unfortunate that a platform goes into adminstration with a chance that eventually it will go out of business, it looks like investors into loans will get off fairly lightly.

According to the FT the FCA commented it was ‘aware of the issue and working with the firm‘. The role of the FCA in this happening leaves some questions open for debate at the moment.

 

International P2P Lending Services – Loan Volumes December 2013

December was a month with mixed developments. While the US services and selected other services continued to grow, other services – especially the UK ones – had a slow month with decreasing volume. Of course this is influenced by the Christmas holidays. I do monitor development of p2p lending figures 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 services.

Table: P2P Lending Volumes in December 2013. Source: own research
Note that volumes have been converted from local currency to US$ for the sake of comparison. Some figures are estimates/approximations.

Notice to p2p lending services not listed:
If you want to be included in this chart in future, please email the following figures on the first working day of a month: total loan volume originated since inception, loan volume originated in previous month, number of loans originated in previous month, average nominal interest rate of loans originated in previous month.

This month I added 3 more UK services to the table and removed Squirrl, Continue reading

Why Friendsclear Closed

Friendsclear, a french p2p lending service, has been operating for more than 3 years. When I learned in the end of May that the company is closing down, I contacted the founders to find out why. Nicolas Guillaume, co-founder of Friendsclear, told P2P-Banking.com:

The key points are the following:
– We have been in a quiet period following french regulator’s remarks for about 8 month (april to dec 2012) and we relaunched our platform in a new model compliant with regulator’s remarks in december 2012
– Regulator’s remarks were mainly on a better risk management for client and the capacity for the bank to refuse any loan without explication (“discretionary”)
– We modified our crowdfunding model with a project mitigation model and a guarantee in capital by our banking partner (Credit Agricole)
– We had a very progressive and slow restart due to extended legal process with our banking partner (regulator’s remarks made them very meticulous)
– We considered regulator’s remarks as non legaly based  but our banking partner was not ready to discuss with the regulator.
– French regulator has published a guide for crowdfunding not friendly with crowdfunding platform and has received complaints about (money collect need a emoney licence, equity need an extensive broker licence,…)
Regulation is planned to be changed in September 2013
– With capital guarantee by our banking partner we had 2 selection processes, one by internauts and the other through traditional banking process. Theses 2 processes were divergent in criteria, timing and objectives and resulted in a very weak pipe channel.
– Althought diagnostic was clear, we took time to give up and convince all our stackholders and partner to stop.
For more details I recommend Nicolas’ blog post (original in french; english by Google translate)

Communitylend Closes – Company Focuses on FinanceIt instead

Today Canadian p2p lending site Communitylend announced that it will close the p2p lending marketplace to focus on its consumer lending business. Communitylend will continue to service existing loans; there will just be no new ones.

Quote from the announcement:

If you have been following the CommunityLend Peer to Peer (P2P) Lending story over the years you might have been wondering why we have been so quiet here here recently.   The short answer is that we have been trying to decide how much more time to spend on our P2P Lending site in light of a larger and faster growing consumer lending business we also operate called Financeit™.

We have now made the decision that we will be suspending the operations of our P2P lending site so that our team can focus solely on Financeit™.

This has not been an easy decision for us but one which has come about over time because of our observation that P2P Lending, as it needs to operate within the Canadian regulatory system today, has enough headwinds blowing against it that getting to a significant scale was going to be both expensive and difficult.   As we searched for solutions to these challenges as a P2P Lending operator, we kept our focus on our desired goal, to create a lending product for Canadians that gave them a less expensive and more convenient way to get an instalment loan.

We realized that we needed to get closer to where the borrowing “transaction”’ occurred instead of recruiting the borrower after the fact.  People buy things in a store location (offline and online) and too often just use their credit cards and then carry balances with high interest rates.  We realized that helping people at this transaction moment was the key to driving interest in our lending product.  This conclusion led us quickly to focus on sales finance and starting in late 2010 we launched a market leading sales finance platform called Financeit™. Continue reading