Little Progress in MYC4’s Recovery Attempts

As reported in the past MYC4.com has serious operational problems making it an investment with negative ROI for the vast majority of lenders. MYC4 has taken measures to recover as much of the outstanding loan amounts as possible, but progress is very slow.

This is a quick update on the situation

Kenya / Provider Ebony:
The receivership has been in place for two months now, but has recovered only a small amount. The court case against Ebony Capital Ltd. is ongoing still awaiting a ruling. (see details)

Ivory Coast / Former providers Ivoire Credit and Notre Nation
The responsibility for collecting these loans has been turned over to TRIUM International in September 2009. In the 5 months since then TRIUM International collected 17,848 Euro. TRIUM has asked to be relieved of the contract as soon as possible (see details)

Senegal / Provider Birima
Repayments have been delayed. Birima cites technical problems and a bad economic situation in Senegal.

Uganda / Provider FED/CMC
FED seems to have the worst status. MYC4 reports that collections nearly stopped due to a lack of staff and  working capital. Borrowers are said towithhold repayments in speculation on a collapse of FED/CMC.
MYC4 has defined 10 action steps for March and April. (see details)

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MYC4 providers react on high default rates

Over the last months it became clear that MYC4.com loans default at a much higher percentage then expected. MYC4 management states several growth and quality problems that led to the situation. Better training of the local providers, partner ratings, spot audits and a license system are measures that shall improve the quality in loan selection and management in the future.

Currently one challenge is to deal with the failing loans issued in the past. The earlier problems with Ivory coast loans continue. About half of the issued loans were insured by the organisation MISCOCI against defaults. MISCOCI failed today and is reported to be bankrupt. MYC4 has announced a few minutes ago, that they will publish until March 20th, what this means for the lenders on the defaulted Ivory Coast loans (MISCOCI covered 242 loans with an outstanding balance of 388,644 Euro).

NotreNation, one of the providers in Ivory Coast, yesterday named poor selection of borrowers by inexperienced credit agents and the difficult economic situation in Ivory Coast as reasons for high default rates.

GrowthAfrica, a provider in Kenya with a high portfolio at risk rate (PAR) has announced yesterday that it will buy back 65 very poorly performing loans at 95 percent of the balance from the lenders. This step was taken as GrowthAfrica felt they share responsibility for the poorly performing loan portfolio. GrowthAfrica expects to buy back loans for more then 125,000 Euro in total.

Checking on MyC4 late loans

Lenders at MyC4.com do not have an easy task, when trying to check which of their loans are late on the repayments. The account page does not offer a comprehensive overview page. If a lender really wanted to check in detail he has to click through to the detail page of each loan he invested into.

Officially only one loan has the status ‘defaulted’ so far. However MyC4 so far has no standard policy when a late loan is to be declared defaulted. MyC4 has stated that there will be a default policy by the end of August.

Researching the situation, there are more than 320 loans that are late (fully or partly) with at least one repayment. Of these 72 loans are 3 payments late, 64 loans are 4 payments late, 30 are 5 payments late and 22 are 6 or more payments late.

Another issue that raised some concerns are the first impacts of the changed rules regarding currency risks.

… as some of you might have noticed already the first repayments are now posted on the investors accounts from Kenian investments where we investors are now taking the risk of currency fluctuations.

Within the first period from disbursement to the first repayment the KES has devalued from 97 to 104.5 = 7.2% already. … (Source: see discussion here)

To help lenders selecting loans to invest in, a column with the information whether a loan open for bidding is issued in local currency or in Euro was added to the wiseclerk MyC4 statistic pages.

(Source: uses information from Status der … MyC4 Kredite)

Insuring p2p lending borrowers against hazards

German p2p lending service Smava.de yesterday introduced an optional insurance for borrowers. Borrowers can take out an insurance together with their loan. In the case of death, disability or unemployment (through no fault of one's own), the insurance will pay the repayments. To offer the residual debt insurance (see a definition of residual debt insurance), Smava partnered with an insurance company. The costs for the insurance paid by the borrower are:

  • death hazard only: approx. 0.5% of loan amount
  • death and disability: approx. 2.5% of loan amount
  • all three: approx 4.7% of loan amount

It will be interesting to see how many borrowers are willing to opt in to the insurance.

Lenders profit because this lowers the default risk. Unfortunately at the moment lenders can not on a borrower's loan listing whether the borrower selected insurance or not.
11 months after launch defaults at Smava are still rare. Only 3 of 368 loans have defaulted and only 2 are currently late. A chart shows the development of the Smava interest rates since start.

P2P lending trends to expect in 2008

2007 was a year of launch and growth for most players. What trends in peer to peer lending can be expected in 2008?

More competition and entering more national markets (probability 100%)
In many markets multiple p2p lending services will compete for the attention of lenders and borrowers, especially in the largest market: In the United States Globefunder.com and Loanio.com will launch. In other markets, where there is no national p2p lending service established yet (e.g. Canada, New Zealand, Spain), p2p lending will be introduced by the launch of a service.

Insurance against defaults (probability 75%)
Not totally new, since Boober.nl and Smava.de already offer some protection of the loan principal. Insurance can be implemented as a classical insurance product (supplied by an insurance company) or as a market mechanism, spreading the risk over multiple loans.

Secondary market (probability 25%)
One of the disadvantages for lenders currently is that on all p2p lending platforms, the invested money i locked in for the duration of the loan term. Prosper.com has allready announced that it plans a secondary market, enabling lenders to sell and buy loans any time. Depending on the market there are huge regulatory hurdles to allow trading of loans. For example German executives told P2P-Banking.com that on the German market a secondary market is unlikely for years to come.

Cross-market lending (probability <25%)
Aside form the social lending approaches (Kiva, MyC4, Microplace) so far all service are open only for lenders and borrowers that live in the same market. If lenders could lend to borrowers in markets with higher key interest rate than the market the lender lives in, the advantages could outweight the risks. In the European Union due to the Euro zone there would be no currency exchange risk. Again there are steep regulatory hurdles to be taken.

Variable interest loans (probability ?)
So far all loans are for fixed terms (prepayment allowed) with fixed interest rates. Variable interest loans could add flexibility. The interest rate could rise or decline following an indicator (e.g. market prime rate). Another possibility would be a mechanism where the variable interest rate would rise or fall as a result of the level of defaults of the credit grade. This could protect lenders, if the actual default ratio is higher then the forecasted default ratio.

Third party bidding management (probability?)
Just a thought. Lenders could allow a third party to manage their portfolio. Like an investment funds the lender would invest an amount of money, while the funds manager does the actual selection of loans. This could possibly be done by a sophisticated software (would you trust this?) selecting loans by statistical analysis of performance of loans with similiar parameters or by a fonds manager. The later is unlikely because the amount of time needed for each loan is too high to be covered by fees.

I'll check at the end of 2008 to see how these trends developed.