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

Loanland Sweden Will Close

Loanland, the only p2p lending service in Sweden, will discontinue it’s operation.

The Board of Loanland has decided to liquidate Loanland.

The reason for the decision to liquidate Loanland is that Loanland has not reached the critical mass of members needed to be a success. The company stated that today Loanland approximately has 20,000 members and requires approximately 200,000 members before becoming profitable. The Board believes that it is not realistic that Loanland reaches this volume within reasonable time. Loanland’s site will however be open until the operation is discontinued and customer service will continue as usual.

During the liquidation period, which can take up to three years, Loanland will take care of the existing loan portfolio and ensure that all loans are repaid according to the payment plans. All members’ money is at Handelsbanken in a trust account.

Polish P2P Lending Site Monetto Goes Under

In e-mail newsletter sent to its users on January 20th the operator of Polish peer-to-peer lending site Monetto.pl informed that the website will be accessible only until the end of February. Lenders are urged to update the loan contracts and to change the number of bank account set up for repayments. Monetto will no longer intermediate in processing repayments and loans should be repaid to lenders’ accounts directly.

Monetto was one of the early entrants to Polish social lending market. The company was financially backed by venture capital fund IIF. From the beginning the market was plagued by the influx of unfair borrowers, partly due to the insufficient verification procedures. Lukasz Banach, CEO of Prender Ltd. – the company behind Monetto project, reflected in the interview for finnovation.pl in September 2009, that what attracted crooks might be higher (than on other P2P lending markets in Poland) initial limit of loan amount. He also said: “In USA, UK (also Germany) there are central, accessible and trustworthy databases of credit history. As long as there is no such thing in Poland, I don’t believe that social lending will be successful here. When this barrier is removed, the percentage of bad debts on P2P markets will fall down significantly. ”

Things started to get worse in the end of 2008, when VC investor decided to stop financing the project. Since January of 2009 Monetto was in “coma” – there were no new loan listings, repayments were forwarded to lenders infrequently and there were significant problems with customer service. The investors made an effort to sell the service (although it was never announced officially) but no interested buyer was found.

The announcement is viewed by many as the last act of the drama which lasted far too long. In few articles that were published in press, the negative consequences for the credibility of social lending model in Poland are stressed. In other opinions there is a little bit of optimistic tone – failure of Monetto shows that market weeds out the weaker and less secure players.