The European online alternative finance market, including crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, grew by 92 per cent in 2015 to €5.431 billion, according to the results of the 2nd Annual European Alternative Finance Industry Survey conducted by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at University of Cambridge Judge Business School, in partnership with KPMG and supported by CME Group Foundation.
The report released today, titled “Sustaining Momentum”, had the support of 17 major European industry associations and research partners, and was based on data from 367 crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and other alternative finance intermediaries from 32 European countries – capturing an estimated 90 per cent of the visible market. P2P-Banking.com is one of the research partners.
The United Kingdom was by far the largest in Europe at €4.4 billion, followed by France at €319 million, Germany at €249 million and the Netherlands, €111 million. Other large European markets include Finland with €64 million, Spain at €50 million, Belgium at €37 million and Italy at €32 million. The Nordic countries collectively accounted for €104 million, while Central and Eastern European countries registered a total of €89 million.
Excluding the UK, the European alternative finance market grew by 72 per cent from €594 million in 2014 to €1.019 billion in 2015.
“Although the absolute year-on-year growth rate slowed by 10 per cent” (from the 82 per cent growth excluding the UK between 2013 and 2014) the industry is still sustaining momentum with substantive expansion in transaction volumes recorded across almost all online alternative finance models,” the report said.
Peer-to-peer consumer lending is the largest market segment of alternative finance, with €366 million in Europe in 2015. Peer-to-peer business lending is the second largest segment with €212 million, with equity-based crowdfunding in third with €159 million and reward-based crowdfunding fourth at €139 million.
Table: Figure 11, page 31 of ‘Sustaining Momentum’, volumes by market segment in Europe 2015 (outside UK)
Among other findings:
Estonia ranked first in Europe in alternative finance volume per capita at €24, followed by Finland at €12 and Monaco at €10 outside of the UK.
Online alternative business funding increased by 167 per cent year-on-year to €536 million raised for over 9,400 start-ups and SMEs across Europe.
Institutionalisation took off in mainland Europe in 2015, with 26 per cent of peer-to-peer consumer lending and 24 per cent of peer-to-peer business lending funded by institutions such as pension funds, mutual funds, asset management firms and banks.
Across Europe, perceptions of existing national regulations in alternative finance are divided. About 38 per cent of surveyed platforms felt their national regulations for crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending were adequate and appropriate, 28 per cent perceived their national regulations to be excessive, and a further 10 per cent said current regulations were too relaxed.
The biggest risks perceived by the alternative finance industry are increasing loan defaults or business failure rates, fraudulent activities or the collapse of platforms due to malpractice.
Chart: Figure 28, page 47 of ‘Sustaining Momentum’, risks to the industry as perceived by the polled platforms
Robert Wardrop, Executive Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, said: “European alternative finance transaction volume increased to more than €5 billion in 2015, with volume outside of the UK market exceeding €1 billion for the first time. The European alternative finance industry is still small, however, and the slowing rate of growth during the year is a reminder of the risks the industry must contend with in order to transition from a start-up to a sustainable funding channel within the European financial services ecosystem.”
Irene Pitter, Global Executive, Banking & Capital Markets and member of the FinTech Leadership Team at KPMG, said: “This report shows that the alternative finance sector is set to continue to grow and mature. 2016 marks a significant year for ‘alternative finance’ in Europe as the market demonstrates clear signs of continued strong growth and increased maturation in the sector as a whole. European activity, excluding the UK, showed solid growth of 72 percent last year and demonstrated client demand for alternative finance solutions even in the smaller EU countries.”
Rumi Morales, Executive Director, CME Ventures, said: “The prominent feature of financial technology is that it is truly borderless. No one country is harnessing alternative financial markets or business models to the exclusion of any other. Rather, from the UK to Estonia and from Finland to Monaco, the entire European continent is experimenting and expanding upon innovations that can provide greater access to capital and financial services to more people than ever before.”
This is a guest post by Pawee Jenweeranon, a graduate school student of the program for leading graduate schools – cross border legal institution design, Nagoya University, Japan. Pawee is a former legal officer of the Supreme Court of Thailand. His research interests include internet finance and patent law in the IT industry.
In the recent years, it is inevitable that the financial technology or Fintech takes the significant role toward the evolution of financial services industry in this region. In other words, Fintech normally be used to improve the financial industry services.
In 2015, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (hereinafter referred to as “MAS”) has committed two hundred twenty five million Singapore Dollar (around 166 million USD) to support the development of Fintech industry for the startup ecosystem in the upcoming years. This is a good reflection of the significance of the financial technology or Fintech development in Singapore.
From the economic perspective, Small and Medium Enterprises (hereinafter referred to as “SMEs”) are important part of Singapore’s economy. SMEs account for 99 percent of all registered enterprises in Singapore. From this reason, enhancing the competitive capacity of Singapore SMEs is essential for Singapore economy development. Even almost all of the SMEs in Singapore are supported by the Governmental Enterprise Development Agency and Centers, (more than 100,000 SMEs got funding support by the Singapore government); however, internet financial technology was also proposed as an alternative mechanism for enhancing the competitiveness of Singapore SMEs in the recent years.
2. Regarding Peer to Peer Lending
2.1 Background Generally, there are many peer to peer lending platforms in Singapore; however, they normally lend money to businesses rather than individuals due to the strict regulation for money lenders. The additional limitation on lending to low-income borrowers who are Singaporean citizens or permanent residents which is another requirement should be considered by the lenders.
In general, money lending in Singapore is mainly regulated by the Moneylenders Act 2010 and the Moneylenders Rules 2009. For the Moneylenders Act 2010, due to the main purpose of this act is to develop consumer protection mechanism to protect borrowers of small amount loans, this is the reason why the act provides stringent limitation for moneylenders to operate their business. This is another key different of money lending law of Singapore compared to other countries in Asia such as Hong Kong which focusing more on lending activity. Briefly, the act requires moneylenders to hold the Moneylenders license with obligations and limitations for licensee.
In Singapore, even there are strict regulations in the existing law relating to a money lending business; however, there is the legislative effort of the Singapore government to address the issue regarding Securities-based Crowdfunding, which can reflect the understanding of the Singapore government toward the development of Financial Technology (Fintech) and the supporting regulatory framework.
2.2 TheRegulatory Framework for Peer to Peer Lending Business
From the document published by the MAS on Lending-based Crowdfunding – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), generally, the operation of P2P lending is restricted by MAS under the Securities and Futures Act (Cap. 289) (SFA) and the Financial Advisers Act (Cap. 110) (FFA).
Specifically, the P2P lending business needs to prepare and register a prospectus with MAS in accordance with Section 239(3) of the SFA. In addition, not only the registration of the prospectus but also the P2P lending platform need to follow the licensing requirements, particularly, the P2P lending business which fall within the scope provided by MAS needs to hold a Capital Market Services (CMS) license. Continue reading →
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. 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.
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:
Geldvoorelkaar.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).
Oneplanetcrowd 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.
KapitaalOpMaatand 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.
Bondorais 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 →
Seedrs, one of the tow biggest equity crowdfunding platforms in the UK (and probably in the world), has announced that it will open a new campaign offering shares to the crowd on Friday. To bid in the pitch and become a shareholder, interested investors need to register at the Seedrs website first and then wait for the campaign to open on Friday.
Jeff Lynn, CEO of Seedrs said:
Last month Seedrs announced its £10 million Series A round led by Woodford Patient Capital Trust and Augmentum Capital. As we explained, we have set aside £2.5 million of that round for existing shareholders and new investors to invest through a campaign on the Seedrs platform. …
The campaign will go live to members of our Leedrs Club (the group of our most active investors) at 9:00 am this Friday, 21st August, and it will then go live to all investment-authorised members at 12:00 pm the same day. … Investments will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, and although you will have several days to make payment after investing, we would suggest [investors] transfer any funds [they] wish to invest sooner rather than later.
Please note that by the time the campaign opens on Friday, a significant proportion of the £2.5 million will already have been taken up by existing shareholders exercising their pre-emption rights. We expect, however, that there will still be a good bit of room for new investors, and it is our hope that we will be able to use this opportunity to expand our investor base meaningfully.
I expect that this offer will fill very quickly. The last comparable offer by Crowdcube, Seedrs main competitor, was filled within minutes.
Thanks to Companies House filings of British Companies are available to the public fee-free now (previously there was a small fee to access documents). This is a huge plus for equity crowdfunding as interested investors can check past filings of the pitching companies (provided the company was not founded very recently).
This also allows anybody interested to check how many shares the founders, employees and investors of the top UK equity crowdfunding platforms Crowdcube and Seedrs hold. And in order to save you the time to search yourself, P2P-Banking.com provides the direct links to the documents below:
Prof. Dr. Andreas Dietrich of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Simon Amrein, Reto Wernli and Dr. Falk Kohlmann have published the study ‘Crowdfunding Monitoring Switzerland 2015‘. It analyses the development of crowdfunding in Switzerland giving special attention to the development of p2p lending.
The Swiss market is growing fast; albeit on low absolute numbers compared to other European countries. The market is in a very early development stage. As the following chart shows the volume is mainly generated by crowdsupporting/crowddonating.
Source: Crowdfunding Monitoring Switzerland 2015 study
The total market for new loans to consumers in Switzerland in 2014 was 3.9 billion CHF. Via p2p lending 3.5 million CHF were originated in 2014, so that equals a market share of only 0.1%. But the p2p lending volume has nearly doubled compared to 2013 (1.8 million CHF). The authors state:
The crowdlending market has experienced the strongest year-on-year growth of all crowdfunding segments. … The number of campaigns rose from 116 to 214, and all of them were successfully funded. The current challenge of crowdlending platforms is not finding funders. On the contrary, it is (more) difficult to get borrowers on the platforms. Crowdlending campaign funders invested an average of CHF 1,100, which is substantially different from the figures in reward-based crowdfunding & crowddonating as well as in crowdinvesting. The average campaign amount was CHF 16,200, which was slightly higher than in the past year (CHF 15,000). The average loan amount in crowdlending is very similar to the average consumer loan as of the end of 2014. The crowdlending market is, however, still niche market.
Source: Crowdfunding Monitoring Switzerland 2015 study
Regulation limits that a private consumer loan cannot be financed by more than 20 different individual lenders.
The authors analysed loan data of the Cashare marketplace. Examining who uses p2p lending as a borrower the study finds:
The average borrower age is 38. One fifth had at least one child under the age of 16 at the time the loan was raised. At 37 percent, married people were proportionally under-represented, although they make up 54 percent of the permanent resident population. 19 Homeowners (19 percent) and women (24 percent) are also under-represented. The distribution of nationalities is slightly more representative of the Swiss population. 71 percent of the borrowers were Swiss, while 29 percent of the borrowers were not in possession of a Swiss passport. The average proportion of the foreign-born resident population in Switzerland was 22 percent between 2008 and 2013. The age distribution of the borrowers leads to the conclusion that crowdlending is currently still primarily used by the tech-savvy Generation Y. 60 percent of all loans raised since 2008 went to people under the age of 40. Only 4 percent of the borrowers for successful projects were over 60 years of age.
Also the borrowers regional distribution shows that use is much more common in the German speaking areas of Switzerland.
Source: Crowdfunding Monitoring Switzerland 2015 study