Interview with Terry Fisher, Founder at Huddle Capital

What is Huddle Capital about?

Huddle Capital is a P2P lender specialising in high quality, high yielding business loans. In an already crowded space, Huddle is differentiating itself by it high quality origination and a focus on educating its lenders to help them make better decisions. Unlike many other Huddle Capital is backed by a parent company that has been lending its own money for a long time, which they will continue to lend though the Huddle platform – really putting our money where our mouth is!

The parent company underwrites each deal, which means that all borrowers will 100% get funded through our platform.  In addition, we offer investors instant returns – in other words, investors start earning as soon as they make a commitment to invest in a loan, regardless of how long it takes for a loan and get fully funded.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

The main advantage for lenders on Huddle is that we are owned and managed by Access Commercial Finance which is an FCA regulated, balance sheet lender. Our belief is that most fintech businesses in the marketplace are too much ‘tech’ and not enough ‘fin’ so we are looking to correct that balance on Huddle. There is no point having a fancy website & tech if the underlying loans are of poor quality and the collection process has holes in it. We are an existing finance business that has all the processes and knowledge in place already – we are simply bolting on the p2p tech to allow investors the opportunity to invest alongside us.

Investors benefit in 3 ways:

  1. We aim to provide higher returns compared with average returns in P2P market, by leveraging our loan management expertise. Naturally investors must balance risk versus reward.
  2. We provide instant returns to investors, as explained above; and
  3. We believe in empowering investors to make educated investment decisions, especially in this new asset class. We educate and provide a platform for investors to network with each other.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

The main advantage to borrowers is getting speedy access to funding for strong business cases that have been unable to achieve satisfactory funding elsewhere. This could be due to slow processing timescales by more mainstream lenders, or the fact that the borrower can’t find a lender who like their particular case / asset class etc.

At Huddle we share many of the same management team of Access Finance and therefore have a wealth of commercial business experience as owners as well as lenders, allowing us to understand borrowers needs better and quicker than most other lenders.

What ROI can investors expect?

As always, reward increases with perceived risk so individual lenders are free to choose the loans and risk profile that suits them. Currently we have loans that pay lenders from 8% to 16% per annum, depending on their risk appetite.

Naturally, ROI increases with the ability of the platform to manage bad debts.  Our parent, Access Commercial Finance, has only ever had minor default since they started lending.  We deploy the same credit management team who is proactive in chasing down late payments.

Why did Access Commercial Finance decide to start Huddle Capital?

At Access we have been originating a stream of good quality loans for many years and have had great success funding them from our own balance sheet. But we don’t have unlimited funds and often come across loans which we would like to be involved with but they need pricing more competitively than we are able to. So with Huddle we are looking to open up our origination channel to P2P investors, allowing us to write more business and not have to pass up great opportunities just because our own funding capabilities don’t allow it.

Terry FisherHuddle Capital is using technology supplied by Ablrate. What factors led to the choice of this solution and how satisfied are you with the software?

At Access we have had a fantastic working relationship with Ablrate for the last couple of years. We have originated a lot of high quality loans that Ablrate have funded through their investor base. We actually looked at a lot of software providers in the market and were not 100% happy with any of them. Then we thought ‘hang on a minute! Why aren’t we working with Ablrate on this?!’. 10 weeks later we were live! David at Ablrate is a very good operator and very commercial to work with, so the process was a breeze.

The Ablrate platform is proven – having gone through a stringent review by the FCA as part of the approval process.  We leverage their practical experience to ensure that we avoid mistakes made by the pioneering P2P industry.

Huddle Capital Limited is an Appointed Representative of Rebuildingsociety. What does that mean and why did you choose that structure?

In simple terms this mean Rebuildingsociety provide us our regulatory permissions whilst we await our own from the FCA. Getting directly authorised from the FCA is a long and laborious process. Becoming an Appointed Representative allows us to get up and running in a matter of weeks as opposed to potentially well over a year. It makes no differences to our lenders or borrowers, we are still governed by the same rules as everyone else for their protection. We will look to get our own permissions in the fullness of time, but right now we are concentrating on building the business.

What were the main challenges launching your platform in a competitive (crowded?) market?

Once your tech works there are only 2 real challenges in this business – attracting lenders and finding borrowers. Fortunately we have got plenty of borrowers both existing and in the pipeline – so our challenge is getting out there in front of more lenders so they can learn about our platform and the benefits of lending through Huddle. Hopefully this interview will help with that!

We had support from a progressive consultancy, Vedanvi, who helped us develop the strategy, build the business, operate it and then transfer it to our own internal team.  They have significant experience in this market space and we leveraged their expertise to ensure a smooth and successful launch.

Is Huddle Capital open to international investors?

International investors are welcome to invest through Huddle Capital.  As required by law, they have to undergo additional anti money laundering checks before they are allowed to invest on our platform.  Investors need to realise though that their loan contracts and their contract with us are governed by UK law.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors and borrowers?

Currently all our borrowers are generated via Access, our parent company. We have no shortage of quality businesses looking to borrow money!

We are marketing to investors through the usual channels of PPC & SEO, but the primary channel we use is content led marketing, providing educational led content, empowering potential lenders to understand the lending business better and be in a position to make informed lending decision.

Do you plan an IFISA product offer?

Yes we certainly do but realistically it will be a few months down the line. We have lots of additions to the platform & the technology over the coming months and it is a matter of getting our priorities in order. We have launched, we have tech that works and now we are starting to get a flow of strong and high yielding loans. We are currently concentrating on brining on new investors so we can ensure strong liquidity in both the primary and secondary markets. Then we will move on to getting the IFISA launched. It’s keeping us busy!

Where do you see Huddle Capital in 3 years?

Hopefully as a highly recognised brand name in the P2P space. We should have a large base of happy lenders who come to us time and again to deploy their money in to high yielding, secure opportunities. Just doing more of what we do now, and listening to our lenders and borrowers to keep improving!

P2P-Banking.com thanks Terry Fischer for the interview.

Interview with Loit Linnupõld, CEO of Crowdestate

What is Crowdestate about?

Crowdestate is a leading Nordic real estate crowdfunding marketplace offering high-quality, pre-vetted real estate investment opportunities. Only the best investment opportunities survive our rigorous due diligence process, and these are the ones we open for investing on our platform.
With each project, we present our investors with extensive background information, risk level, SWOT, business plans and financial models. Combine it with Crowdestate’s low, just 100 euro minimum investment – all of this makes investing into real estate quick, easy and affordable to everyone.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

Pre-vetted real estate investment opportunities – Our experienced real estate and finance team evaluates thoroughly each aspect of every project and picks the best investment opportunities to be published for crowdfunding.
Low minimum investment amount – the minimum investment on our platform is just 100 euros, meaning basically anyone can afford to invest into real estate with Crowdestate.
Everyone can invest – Crowdestate is open to all investors all around the world, provided that they have a way to make an international bank transfer to their virtual investment account previously created on our platform.

As an additional advantage, we charge no fees from our investors.

There are many different types of investment opportunities on Crowdestate. Debt, equity, secured, unsecured… Why did you decide to use so many different types for the offers?

If we look at the real estate industry, any real estate project needs different types of capital – from senior loans to mezzanine debt to preferred or common equity. Crowdestate’s aim is to become a full capital stack provider so we can address our Sponsors’ needs properly. This is the reason why we have not limited us to a single capital type.

If we look the real estate projects from investors’ perspective, investors have different investment preferences (e.g. time horizon, risk tolerance etc) and therefore they are looking for different types of investment. Young and aggressive investors might like high-risk equity deals while some other investors might prefer lower risk-lower return senior loans.

What ROI can investors expect?

The historical money-weighted average internal rate of return on our exited investment currently at 29.59%. However, as the fast-increasing money supply is driving the expected returns down, the investors’ annual returns are probably going to remain between 10-20%. The return rate is a reflection of project’s riskiness – a mortgage-backed senior loan might yield around 10% per annum while riskier mezzanine or equity investments may offer much higher yield.

How did you start Crowdestate? Is the company funded with venture capital?

During my few decades in the banking industry, I have met hundreds, maybe even thousands of clients, who are unhappy with the investments offered by their banks and they have clearly expressed their preferences to invest in real estate. Unfortunately, for most of these people investing into real estate never became a reality. They simply could not afford it due to the high entry costs and significant individual investment ticket.

At the same time, funding real estate projects had become a challenge for developers as banks became more and more picky.

I founded Crowdestate in 2014 to match the needs of the investors to the needs of real estate companies.

Is the company profitable now?

Yes, Crowdestate has been profitable from its very first year, and we have reinvested all the profits to developing the business.

Loit Linnupõld, CrowdestateIs the technical platform self-developed?

Yes, our platform was developed from scratch, and we are constantly working on improving it.

Are there any new features for the platform your team is working on? What about a secondary market?

We are currently finishing updating our mortgage-back loans offering and we will have very quick and automated approach there. We are also introducing a reverse interest auction to determine a true market rate for a specific project and an autoinvest feature.

We are also considering opening a Secondary Market for investments within this year allowing our investors to buy and sell their investments to other Crowdestate’s investors.

Currently there are usually one or two new investment opportunities per month. Can investors expect more deals in the second half of this year?

Our thorough vetting process eliminates most of the original investment ideas and therefore limits the number of investment opportunities we can present o our investors each month. Our Estonia and Latvia based teams are working hard to identify high-quality investment opportunities in the region.

We are also testing the interest for crowdfunded corporate finance deals and we are launching a new mortgage-backed loans solution soon. We expect those new solutions to increase the variety of investment opportunities on the platform.

Crowdestate is open to international investors. Can you please share from which countries the majority of your investors come?

Crowdestate is visited from all over the world and our investors come from South-East Asia to North-America.

As Crowdestate was founded in Estonia, Estonians are still the largest investor group, but the fast-growing number of international investors will bypass them probably quite soon.

Do you plan to cooperate with institutional investors? In which way?

Crowdfunding is about crowd and investment democracy and we prefer to serve a large number of small investors to serving a small number of large investors.

What is the current state of the real estate market in Estonia?

We believe the overall health of the market is good as the economy is doing well, interest rates are low and real wages are growing fast. At the same time, we have some suspicions on the health of specific sectors, namely offices and retail spaces – there is a lot of speculative developments in those sectors and we will probably see some changes there.

How do you think the property development market will be impacted by p2p lending in Estonia / in Europe in the future?

One of the leading Scandinavian banks stated recently, that the residential developments should be funded by equity, prepayments and crowdfunding. As the credit is quite tight in most of CEE countries, crowdfunding will play a significant role in funding the real estate development market.

Where do you see Crowdestate in 3 years?

I hope that Crowdestate is present outside our current domestic markets and we can help hundreds of thousands of investors in turning their savings into earnings.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Loit Linnupõld for the interview.

Interview with Joerg Bartussek, Co-Founder of Finnest.com

What is Finnest.com about?

Finnest.com is the only platform successfully providing modern corporate finance for well-established Mittelstand companies (no start-ups). Borrowers are mostly AAA-like rated brands and industry leaders that have been on the market for years (often decades) and are able to demonstrate a sustainable and profitable growth path.

These top-companies are actively seeking alternatives to their traditional bank loans and want to diversify their finance mix. For the first time, Finnest.com gives these Mittelstand champions access to the capital market. The platform is a 21century version of a classic corporate bond bookbuilding process and provides end-to-end financing solutions.

Currently, Finnest.com is licensed and active in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Slovakia.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

1.) Investors get access to a completely new class of investments, previously reserved for a handful of professional investors.
2.) On Finnest.com, investors select the interest rate of their choice! Only if the company agrees to pay this annual rate (or more), will a deal be closed.
3.) Investors can invest in local and regional companies that create jobs and income in their area.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

1.) For the first time, Finnest.com provides this segment of well-to-do Mittelstand borrowers with access to the capital market previously reserved for large corporations.
2.) Mezzanine financing as provided via Finnest.com strengthens these companies’ balance sheets.
3.) An enormous PR & loyalty effect – when customers invest into “their” brand, the term “brand messenger” gets a rich new meaning.

What ROI can investors expect?

On Finnest.com, investors select their interest rate of choice. On average, companies have paid out 5.5% annually fixed interest rates. The concept works: a Finnest investor invests about 7.000 Euro per transaction, that is roughly 20 times higher than on other online platforms.

Finnest charges investors a fee of 1% (minimum 25 Euro). Doesn’t a high fee hinder diversification?

We are one of the few (the only?) platform that charges an investor fee. It’s 1% of the invested amount. That means if an investor invests 7.000 Euros, she/he is charged 70 Euros once. That’s it. We haven’t learned of any investor who would not invest because of this small fee.

Finnest.com uses subordinated loans (‘qualifiziertes Nachrangdarlehen’). An Austrian court recently ruled that this structure severely disadvantages investors. Why did you choose this structure rather than standard loans?

Headquartered in Austria, Finnest.com is licensed by the Austrian AlternativfinanzierungsGesetz (alternative financing law). This law (just like its German counterpart, the Schwarmfinanzierungsprivileg) actually requires us to use subordinated loans. It’s the tool the law selected.
The court ruling you refer to, addressed one specific contract by one single issuer who did not use any legally checked platform, but decided to do this financing on his own. Apparently, that was not such a smart idea – that contract must have been quite bad and the court ruled accordingly. Our contracts are thoroughly checked by leading law firms in each jurisdiction and have been presented to the financial authorities, of course.

How did you start Finnest.com?

For many years, Günther Lindenlaub, my co-founder, had been in charge of capital market transactions for one of Europe’s leading banks. While he saw, that large corporates keep using tools like corporate bonds to diversify their finance mix, the banks we not able (or willing) to offer something similar to the Mittelstand. But bonds are too complex and costly for the Manners and Almdudlers of this world. So, he decided to create his own platform – Finnest.com.

Joerg BartussekIs the technical platform self-developed?

Yes. It was built by a team that had previously built part of ING-Diba and AustroControl, the Austrian flight control agency. These guys know everything about stability, security and usability. We like to joke that we did not build a Tesla but one of those 80s’ Volvos with the iron bars in the doors. Very safe, very stable, drives, and drives, and drives.

Was the company funded with venture capital? Is the company profitable now?

We were lucky to attract Speedinvest, the largest Austrian VC, as our seed investor. And we have added a carefully selected group of international angels and VCs since. As we are still growing fast, we are not profitable, yet. But we are doing very good business.

Are there any new features for the platform your team is working on? What about a secondary market?

We are expanding: As we are speaking, our team is in the last phases of building a new, second platform. It will provide a similar service as Finnest.com does, but it will address a different market segment: large corporations on the one hand and professional as well as institutional investors on the other hand. Modern corporate finance XL, so to say.

Which country are you most successfully attracting investors in?

Even though we originate in Austria, Germany is our prime market. Already today, the majority of our investors comes from Germany and we have just hired new team members focusing mainly on the German market.

You plan an expansion beyond Germany, Austria and Switzerland. What can you tell us about your next market(s)?

Our industry is a highly regulated one, governed by national rules and regulations. But with the new platform, we will be able to provide a pan-European service. That will open a completely new scale of opportunities for us.

Do you plan to cooperate with institutional investors? In which way?

Yes, definitely. The new platform will be customized for their interests and needs.

What is the current state of the market in Austria?

With the passing of the AlternativfinanzierungsGesetz, (alternative financing law), the online financing market grew at a rapid pace. We have now more than a dozen platforms and high 2-digit number growth rates. But of course, business in Austria is always only a fraction of that in Germany. Germany is the main market we are focusing on.

Where do you see Finnest in 3 years?

We believe, that in 2020 there will be three main platforms financing larger, successful companies across Europe. Finnest.com should be one of them.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Joerg Bartussek for the interview.

Interview with Evaldas Remeikis, Chairman of the board at UAB NEO Finance, Marketplace Paskoluklubas

What is Paskoluklubas about?

NEO Finance is the leading P2P lending platform „Paskolų klubas“ in Lithuania. The platform is an intermediary for consumer loans connecting lenders directly with borrowers. We believe that fintech company should be not only innovative, but also professional. This is why we gathered a strong team of senior experts from the banking sector with the expertise in consumer lending, bank management and risk control. Currently all of “NEO Finance” activities are supervised by the Bank of Lithuania due to obtained e-money license, P2P license and as a consumer lender status, to ensure that responsible lending criteria is enforced.

We have a unique platform that we developed our self to fit the needs of our investors. NEO Finance offers buyback and provision fund services, which minimizes risk for lenders. Moreover, partnership with Legal Balance, UAB enables platform’s users to experience the benefits of 7+ years of delinquent loans recovery know-how.

By transferring money to “Paskolu klubas” account investors deposit it into e-money IBAN account under their own name and hold all of the money under their control till the investment is made.

Our main goal is to ensure a sufficient supply of loans are listed in the primary market, so that our investors can cherry-pick the loans adequate to their investment strategy.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  1. Provision fund service. By voluntarily paying a provision fund fee, more conservative investors can be secured from delinquent or defaulted loans. If a borrower is late with the installment, provision fund immediately covers that installment. The fund holds largest amount of proceeds to cover late payments in the Baltics and holds more than 100 000 EUR at the moment.
  1. Buybacks. Investors, who did not choose the provision fund service, can sell defaulted investments to “Paskolu klubas” for 50-80% of its face value. Instead of waiting for a relatively long recovery process they can reinvest their money into other loans.
  1. Higher interests rates of return. In Lithuania, we operate in market of higher interest rate. Currently our average interest rates are as fallowed for each of the credit rating: A – 13 % B – 17% C – 20%. This creates opportunity for investors from all over the Europe to receive higher returns.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  1. Lower fees for borrowers. As our fees are one of the lowest for borrowers, therefore half of the borrowers choose “Paskolu klubas” loan as an alternative for a bank loan.
  2. Possibility to get an instant loan. Since we developed in-house state-of-the-art IT platform ourselves we can offer unique features for borrowers and investors. One of them is instant loan service. Investors can set up their automatic investment tool and borrowers can see what amount they can borrow at what rates, as the system collects all automatic investment orders starting with the lowest rate and building it up to meet the needs of a borrower. This feature enables investors to invest their capital faster.
  1. No upfront fees. Unlike other platforms Paskolu klubas does not charge upfront fee from borrowers. Borrowers do receive the exact amount they borrow. Platform fee is deducted from the payments, this way we take the risk together with investors and are able to offer barrows flexible barrowing.

What ROI can investors expect?

10-18% after taxes. One investor did an experiment with 4000 EUR initial deposit. Half of the investments were made using a provision fund service, 5 defaulted investments were sold to NEO Finance and some investments were sold in the secondary market with premium. ROI after exactly 1 year was 14% after taxes.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes, this allows us to add various new features and to fit the needs of both – investors and borrowers. We are not only the peer to peer platform, but also a fully licensed e-money institution. This enables us to operate as an online bank with IBAN account numbers and SEPA MMS payments.

Evaldas RemeikisHow is the company financed? Is it profitable?

The company is financed from shareholder’s equity. It is not profitable yet, but we are in operation for only one and a half year. Our current goal is market penetration and market share.

What were/are the main challenges in the Lithuanian market?

When preparing for the launch, we spent a lot of time carefully analyzing Lithuanian and foreign markets. “Paskolu klubas” shareholders and employees have a lot of experience in the financial sector, we also cooperate with the best partners and agencies. This helped us to be prepared, therefore none of the challenges were unexpected.

One of the more significant challenge was financial literacy. Potential investors were not introduced to peer to peer lending before. Therefore, we started an event and training cycle where we educate investors about pros and cons of peer to peer lending.

You launched the company for residents of Lithuania quite some time ago. What prompted you to open up for international investors and launch an English version of the website right now?

From our experience, we knew that establishing consumer loan brand in a market takes at least a year. We focused our effort on becoming the number one platform in Lithuania for the past 18 months, but had strategic plans to open our platform to international investors from the beginning. Currently we can supply enough of quality loans for international investors.

Another reason was it took time to acquire full e-money license. For this we had to make sure we meet international anti-money laundering requirements and international identification requirements. Only after establishing processes, developing the system and meeting those international requirements we are ready to offer opportunity for international investors.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors and borrowers?

For investors, we mostly use educational channels where we try not only to advertise, but also to educate people about investment opportunities. In 2016 we organized over 30 events for our investors. We also use partnership of different financing experts who can provide feedback on our platform and receive bonuses for the investors they bring in.

Moreover, word of mouth perfectly works for us, because we have many satisfied investors, who are sharing their experiences and helping us grow.

For the borrowers, we have fully integrated marketing campaign. We use all traditional and digital channels. We invest in brand building and acquiring quality borrowers. This helps us to acquire valuable borrowers, who are worth to invest in.

Where do you see Paskoluklubas in 3 years?

We see Paskolu klubas as a global player in P2P lending sector. We may establish borrowing sites in other countries, but we will localize it as we did with Paskolu klubas in Lithuania. We see advantages of strong brand in each country we operate for borrowers. We are currently on a path of fast growth and we are not looking to slow it down. Our goal for next few years is to be the number one platform for investors in the Baltic states.

Investors can use the Paskoluklubas referral code P2PBANKING when registering and get 10 Euro for their first investments.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Evaldas Remeikis for the interview.

Relendex launches its Innovative Finance ISA

P2P lending platform Relendex today launches its Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA). Relendex is fully-authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).  The UK Government introduced the IFISA in April 2016 and was created to sit alongside existing Cash, Stocks & Shares and Lifetime ISA products.

The Relendex ISA will work in a similar way to its regular accounts.  Lenders will decide which loans to invest in and can build their own diversified portfolio of loans. Through this IFISA, lenders will enjoy tax-free returns on loans secured against UK property.

The Relendex IFISA product has been added to the P2P-Banking ISIFA comparison database today.

Michael Lynn, founder and CEO of Relendex explains why the Relendex IFISA is a viable alternative to other ISA products on the market: “Many people have built up a significant nest-egg in their tax-free ISA but in the low-interest environment Cash ISAs are only earning around 0.5% pa and Stocks & Share ISAs are potentially quite volatile and therefore investors’ capital is at risk.  A secured lending P2P ISA is the best of both worlds.  The yield is good at between 6 and 10% pa, tax-free and there is considerable capital protection in the form of security over independently-valued UK property assets.  Of course property values can fall, but since our average Loan-to-Value is around 60%, the property concerned would need to fall 40% on average before any loss would result.

So if ISA investors are thinking of using this year’s Annual ISA Allowance or transferring existing ISA funds to a Relendex IFISA Account, they can build a diversified portfolio of good quality loans and achieve a good yield.  They can also reinvest the gross interest, to achieve compound growth and build their capital.”

The Relendex ISA is a non-flexible ISA. This means that all new subscriptions made during a tax year will count towards your subscription limit for such tax Year and cannot be replaced. Michael Lynn, explains:

“Our lenders see us as a longer term investment, although we do provide a secondary market if they decide to sell on early.  A non-flexible ISA recognises this longer-term demand and allows us to offer the ISA without any fees. Also, ISA holders are responsible for adhering to the HMRC annual ISA Allowance, so we track their subscriptions so they don’t inadvertently exceed their annual allowance with us.”

While there is an annual limit for new ISA subscriptions of £20,000 (for 2017-18 tax year), there is no maximum statutory limit to the amount that exitsing ISA money can be transferred across to a Relendex IFISA account (although we set a £10,000 minimum transfer value).  Transferring ISA investors will need to complete a Transfer Authority Form.  There is no need to get in contact with your existing ISA Manager as the Relendex specialist team will handle the entire process for you.”

Asked by P2P-Banking.com about the sales expectations regarding the IFISA product Lynn replied: ‘We will be disappointed if we don’t bring in at least 1 million GBP in the first month subject to how fast transfer-ins of existing ISAs will flow through from ceding managers.  Longer term it’s difficult to put a hard number on it but our conservative target is at least 10 to 15 million GBP in the first year.

Further questiones whether he expects deposits to come mainly using this tax year’s allowance or rather as transfers from amounts from the previous years, Lynn answered ‘The high base of existing ISAs (with over £200 billion sitting in Cash ISAs alone) strongly favours transfers.   But we also expect all transferring holders to utilise their current year annual allowance.’.

P2P-Banking also asked: ‘Should investors consider moving money from an S&S ISA to the Relendex IFISA?’. Lynn said: ‘We are not in the position to advise on individual portfolio allocations but do believe that we offer an attractive product on a risk/return basis.  Obviously secured lending at relatively conservative Loan to Value and diversification does provide a good degree of capital protection for investors and a good yield. The good news is that S&S ISAs and IFISA are not mutually exclusive, so investors may consider allocating to both.’

To date Relendex states it has experienced no defaults and has maintained an average yield of 8.78% pa.

 

Interview with the Founders of DoFinance Janis and Viesturs Kulikovoskis

What is DoFinance about?

DoFinance is a P2P platform for private individuals to invest in consumer loans.

We believe in finance for human –  DoFinance aims to become the most user-friendly, secure and accessible P2P lending marketplace possible, so that anyone can participate in seemingly complex processes and become his or her own financial director.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  • Potential investment risks for investors are well-balanced and brought to minimum: all loans are secured with a BuyBack guarantee. If the borrower doesn’t pay back the loan, you don’t have to wait for an extra 30 days (after the investment due date) to get your funds back – your money is available right away;
  • You have access to your money at any timeif you decide to withdraw invested money before the due date, you can receive your money starting from 14 to 28 days after your request with (or without) accumulated interest, depending on your chosen investment plan and preferred withdrawal term;
  • Your money never sits still; it is always earning. Auto Invest program on DoFinance reinvests funds the moment the borrower returns the loan and the investor’s money becomes available.

What ROI can investors expect?

Depending on the chosen investment plan, investors earn up to 12% annual return.

DoFinance was founded by the Alfa Finance Group. Can you please describe what Alfa Finance Group does and why it decided to set up the DoFinance marketplace?

The Alfa Finance Group is an online lending and investment management company operating with consumer loans in Poland, Georgia and Indonesia. We are proud that in less than two years – since its launch in 2015 –  the Alfa Finance Group has attracted more than 150,000 registered clients and over €16 million in loans issued as financing loans.

Launching [the] P2P platform is just one of the steps toward expanding the list of available financial services of Alfa Finance Group. Our goal is to continue developing and offer more financial services in the investment management sector.

Janis KulikovskisAccording to the press release Alfa Finance Group has invested 2 million Euro in launching DoFinance. Can you please describe what the money was used for?

The money was invested in technologies to create the platform and in building our loan portfolio.

The best warranty for the safety of investors’ funds, we believe, is effective risk management when it comes to the borrowers thereof big part of the money was invested in developing risk assessment tools that allow us to evaluate borrower’s behavior to detect their willingness to repay as precisely as possible. Our risk assessment tools as well as expertise in risk management permits us to evaluate the behavior of each potential borrower, hence minimizing the risk of failure to repay the loan and making the investment process as safe as possible.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes. The technical platform is built on two pillars – creating a more secure and user-friendly P2P lending platform.  During the development stage, we focused on smart risk assessment and platform that is handy, accessible and easy to use.
We consider customer feedback carefully and, although a lot has been done already, we are still at the very beginning of our journey – the next challenge is to work on the planned improvements.

Viesturs KulikovskisWhat was the greatest challenge so far in the course of launching DoFinance?

Obviously, the fierce competition in the industry challenges us to work faster and bring innovations to the marketplace, but it would be just fair to call it motivation and not challenge.

DoFinance is a marketplace, and it is vital for us to make sure the products we offer are entirely safe.

The greatest challenge was to develop a risk assessment tool that would minimize the risk of failure to repay the loan, be effective and secure. Risk assessment and management is our strength, and all our loans are secured with a BuyBack guarantee. If the borrower doesn’t pay back the loan, you don’t have to wait for an extra 30 days (after the investment due date) to get your funds back – your money is available right away.

Another challenge was becoming available also to Asian investors. DoFinance is the first European-based P2P lending platform to open customer center in Indonesia, bringing together European customer centered approach and Asian investors. We are happy to be the first ones to offer such individual approach to all our customers and give the chance to Asian investors to invest in Europe.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors?

Technology innovations are at the heart of our products hence we mainly use the opportunities digital marketing channels offer. It is a great channel to also reach important players in the industry – opinion leaders, investors, experts etc.

Finance for human stands behind everything we do, which means we look for creative ways to reach our audiences – not only fintech professionals, but also investors without a professional background in financial and investment management. Anybody who is at least 18 years old and holds a bank account can register at DoFinance and, by investing as little as 10 EUR per loan, become his own financial director.

Is DoFinance open to international investors?

Yes, DoFinance is available to private individuals holding a bank account in EU, EEA countries as well as Asian countries which are not included in the lists of high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions and international sanctions (Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam etc.).

What is your opinion on the planned upcoming regulation in Latvia for p2p lending?

It is important that the Ministry of Finance includes industry representatives, when developing regulations on p2p lending platforms. Regulations developed without a throughout understanding of the industry can harm both investors and businesses.

Fintech industry has a potential to become Latvia’s success story which would contribute to both image and prosperity of the country, thus there must be healthy balance between industry regulation and its self-regulation. The entire financial industry and eventually the consumer will benefit from the development of FinTech as banks and FinTech companies will start cooperating when it comes down to providing financial services, customer service etc. Therefore, it is the state’s responsibility to create environment where these companies will stand and where intellectual capacity of labor will increase and taxes will be paid. At the same time, the regulation must ensure transparency and monitoring – simply because then dishonest entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to harm investors.

Where do you see DoFinance in 3 years?

DoFinance will definitely expand geographically and continue working on developing new financial products for international markets. Our services just became available to Asian investors and now DoFinance looks even further – we don’t want to limit ourselves when it comes to geographical borders.

As we already mentioned, DoFinance is just the first step toward expanding the list of available financial services of the Alfa Finance Group. Most importantly, with every new development we make sure to keep our core principle – finance for human.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Janis Kulikovoskis and Viesturs Kulikovoskis for the interview.

 

Interview with Filip Karadaghi, Managing Director of LandlordInvest

What is LandlordInvest about?

LandlordInvest is a UK-based peer-to-peer lending platform for residential and commercial mortgages. We launched in December last year after becoming fully FCA authorised. In January this year, we made bit of P2P history as we launched the first residential mortgage backed Innovative Finance ISA, ahead of major players such as LendInvest and Funding Circle.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  1. Security – we believe that loans should be asset-backed as it creates a form of security for investors if a borrower defaults. I personally would not invest in unsecured loans given the risks and the potentially very lengthy enforcement process to reclaim part of the capital, if any at all.
  2. Returns – We offer returns of up to 12%, although we recently funded a loan with a rate of 19% to investors. The loan was arranged with a trusted bridging lending partner and is secured over a flat in Chelsea, one of London’s most prestigious areas.
  3. Diversification – We offer investors the possibility to invest in both relatively low-risk buy-to-let mortgages and more risky bridging loans. Investors can build their portfolio according to their risk appetite and other considerations.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  1. Manual underwriting – we are more pragmatic in our underwriting than most high-street lenders and assess each loan on its merits. For us, the most important part of our assessment is that the borrower has a verifiable track-record and that the security is enforceable in the event of the default.
  2. Speed – we recently assessed a loan, had it fully funded and completed in two days. It was for a borrower that was let down by his exiting lender for an obscure reason at the last minute and approached us.
  3. Online application with a simple online control panel – A borrower may apply for a loan through a simple online form and keep track of the status of their application, loan schedule, loan payments in a easy to use control panel.

What ROI can investors expect?

We aim to offer returns between 5-12% per annum, depending on the product.

You recently launched an IFISA product. How has the investor uptake been so far and was it a big advantage to be in the forefront of approved providers?

The demand for our IFISA has been good. IFISA account holders, although only around 20% of the total registered investors, account for 50% of all funds on the platform. As such, IFISA account holders usually deposit more than non-IFISA account holders and also invest more.

I believe that the main advantage of being one of the first platforms able to offer the IFISA is that we have managed to establish a presence in the industry. If it was not for the IFISA, we would probably be less known than we currently are, given our relatively recent launch.

It remains to be seen what happens when the major players are able to offer the IFISA, but I believe it will be a benefit for us as it will make the IFISA a more mainstream product, benefiting everyone in the P2P industry.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Filip KaradaghiA prototype of the platform was developed overseas, but the final platform in use today was developed in-house by our tech team, led by our co-founder and CTO Joe Vallender. We continue to make all further developments in house, and are releasing new features regularly.

What was the biggest challenge in launching LandlordInvest and what have been challenges since?

The biggest challenge has been operating under a “real” P2P model, i.e. no pre-funding of loans. As we were one of the first platforms operating under this model, some investors did not fully understand how it works, as many were used to the pre-funding model operated by many players within our niche. One of the drawbacks with a “real” P2P model is that a loan does not start to accrue interest until a loan is complete. This means that there is a certain cash drag. However, one of the benefits with a “real” P2P model is that lenders lend directly to the borrower(s) and the servicing fee charged by us is usually lower than what platforms that operate a pre-funding model charge. This means that we pass on more interest to the lenders.

How is the company financed? What background does your team have?

LandlordInvest was initially entirely financed by the founding team and have recently raised financing from business angels. We’re currently in discussion with several private and intuitional investors to raise another round, which will help us to further ramp up our capacity.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors and borrowers?

We use a multichannel approach including, establishing good relations with the press, having an interactive presence on various forums and blogs, affiliate marketing programs and social media presence.

We still believe that the best marketing is doing what we set out to do as the best marketing channel is always word-of-mouth. If we are able to satisfy the platform investors, then there is a high chance that they might recommend us to someone else.

Is LandlordInvest open to international investors?

LandlordInvest does accept overseas residents, subject to KYC and AML checks.

However, it is a requirement that investors must have a UK bank or building society account to be able to invest on our platform.

I hear you are planning a secondary market? Will that work with premium and discounts or at par? What other features do you plan to roll out this year?

We are indeed developing a secondary market and expect to launch it in the beginning of May this year. Investors will only be able to sell loan or loan parts at par. Investors will also be able to sell parts of loans.

We are always developing the platform as we want to deliver the best experience investors can have when investing our platform.

We welcome feedback from investors and have implemented a number of features following direct conversations with investors, and will continue to do so.

Where do you see LandlordInvest in 3 years?

We have established ourselves as one of the leading platforms within our niche and delivering good risk adjusted returns to the platform investors. This has also been our aim since we founded the company and we will do our utmost to reach that aim.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Filip Karadaghi for the interview.

Interview with Dimitri Kouchnirenko, Founder of Incomlend

What is Incomlend about?

Incomlend is a unique invoice exchange connecting businesses and private funders on a global level. The Incomlend platform serves as a marketplace where funders with capital can purchase trade receivables from suppliers at a discount. As a result, Funders get profit from the discount, while the Supplier get cash on the spot.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  1. Security.
    1. We are the first platform in operation to fully insure the capital of our funders against Buyer payment default on all of our trades. Our Credit insurance is provided by a world leading insurer specialized in international Trade finance.
    2. Furthermore, funds are secured on a segregated account managed by an independent trustee, limiting the risk of funds misuse by the platform.
  1. Global scope. We are the first platform to offer funders an unprecedented worldwide diversification opportunity allowing them to be positioned on multiple countries and currencies.
  1. Profitability. By accessing our invoice discounting trades, funders benefit from superior return levels as compared to current options for short term liquidity placements. The invoice repayment cycles are short (up to 120 days) allowing investors to accelerate capital rotation and profit, while keeping liquidity accessible in the short term.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers (Suppliers)?

  1. Global Scope. We are a natively international platform, offering Suppliers to fund their Export receivables in multiple countries and currencies, while also covering their domestic receivables.
  1. Funding flexibility: We provide Non Recourse funding and require No collateral. Suppliers can access funding without long-term contracts or obligation to channel all the sales through the platform are required. Funding is provided off balance sheet, allowing SME’s to keep their indebtedness intact.
  1. Funding efficiency: 100% of funding requests on the platform are filled, funding lasts less than a day on average.

What ROI can investors expect?

More than 10% return annualized, net of fees, if capital reinvested on an annual rolling basis.

How does Incomlend rate the creditworthiness of invoice sellers and invoice buyers?

Our main focus is on the Buyer payment risk, as funding is provided non-recourse to the Supplier. The Buyer payment risk is covered by a worldwide credit insurer, which applies its own internal rating to each Buyer prior to onboarding on the platform. Each Buyer must be rated between 1 to 5 (out of 10, 1 being no risk and 10 being high risk), as per our Credit Insurer’s classification.

Incomlend does not provide so far an internal rating on Suppliers, as the risk is not borne on them and as any type of internal rating would be considered as Financial advisory, requiring specific financial licences under the Singapore regulation.

Incomlend provides objective data on the features of the Buyer-Supplier relationship map, such as invoice confirmation, goods confirmation, length of buyer-supplier trade relationship, leaving room for jusdgement to the investors.

Dimitri Kouchnirenko, IncomlendCan you please describe how the integrated insurance works and the benefits it offers?

Our insurer covers up to 90% of the invoice face value, and Incomlend finances maximum 90% as well, which means that the capital invested by the funders into each invoice is 100% covered.

The insurance protects the investors against risk of default from the buyer (situation where the buyer does not pay the invoice at maturity).

At the onboarding stage, each Supplier is required to provide information on its buyers. Each buyer is then screened and financials analysed by Incomlend. Subsequently, should the Buyer satisfy our internal scoring matrix criteria, the Buyer is submitted for Insurance coverage approval to the Credit insurer.

If the Credit insurer accepts to cover the buyer, a maximal funding limit will be set by the Credit Insurer, which Incomlend monitors to prevent crossing the maximum allowed coverage mark. If the Credit Insurer refuses to cover the buyer, the Supplier’s invoices issued to that buyer will not be paid.

If there is a buyer default, the Credit Insurance is activated and funds are reimbursed starting from 60 days after default (maximum possible reimbursement limit is 270 days, depending on the specific situation of the buyer and recovery actions involved).

Is the technical platform self-developed?

The front end of the exchange platform has been developed based on a white label solution, while the back office systems have been customized in house based on a standard solution.

What was the greatest challenge so far in the course of launching Incomlend?

An important challenge was striking the deal with our Credit Insurer, which was reluctant at first to work with a fintech platform, a totally new framework for them.

Can you please describe the market environment and regulation in Singapore?

The market is quite competitive in Singapore in terms of peer to peer lending and invoice trading in particular. Demand for invoice trading is high from the investors, while companies progressively open up to the alternative finance channels

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is the financial local regulator. The MAS is strongly backing and promoting the fintech sector in Singapore, the ambition being to become a major international hub for fintechs. The MAS provides a flexible and advantageous environment for fintech, involving as well major financial instutions for the regulatory sandbox.

The MAS has been observing the fintech industry and so far has not regulated the sector as the FCA did in the UK. Howver, the MAS talks directly to different platforms and monitors activity to make sure investors are protected. Some platforms, for instance, have been required by the MAS to obtain a financial advisor licence due to their loan activities.

Under the MAS Securities act, a trade receivable is so far not considered as a security, while trading invoices at a discount is not considered as a loan provision activity, which involves interest accrual.

Incomlend applies international KYC/AML standards to all its clients while creating progressively a reserve capital by deducting a targeted percentage from each trade.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors and borrowers?

Introducers, Agents, Chambers of Commerce, Professional Associations, Forums and conferences, Business services networks (insurance, accounting, incorporations), Private business clubs, VC/BA clubs and associations, Private Wealth management networks, PR, SEO, targeted digital campaigns, social networks and other online media.

Is Incomlend open to international investors?

Absolutely, this is natively the Incomlend model.

Where do you see Incomlend in 3 years?

In 3 years, we see Incomlend crossing the 1 billion USD mark of funded invoices on the platform, world leader of invoice trading and supply chain based on the marketplace funding model.

We also see Incomlend in 3 years as a provider of a diversified range of trade finance instruments (including LCs, payables finance, guarantees), as well as a market reference in terms of digital invoice payments and exchange standard protocols.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Dimitri Kouchnirenko for the interview.

 

Interview with Frédéric Dujeux, Co-Founder of Mozzeno

What is mozzeno about?

mozzeno is a Belgian fintech founded in December 2015. We have just launched the first digital platform to enable private individuals to participate indirectly in the funding of loans to other private individuals. Loans are granted by mozzeno, acting as a regulated lender. mozzeno then finances or refinances these loans thanks to the issuance of Notes (financial instruments).

What are the three main advantages for investors?

  • Investors can expect higher returns compared to deposits or saving accounts in Belgium (currently close to 0%).
  • mozzeno performs a strict selection of borrowers and eases the diversification of investor’s portfolios.
  • Investors can benefit from a ‘PROTECT guarantee’, covering between 60% and 100% of the loan outstanding amount and up to 3 unpaid instalments, in case of default.
  • Investors can choose between manual or automated (re-)investments, with very granular selection criteria to match their risk appetite and investment preferences.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  • Borrowers can benefit from competitive market rates, proposed dynamically based on their assessed risk profile. This cost of credit can also be further reduced, thanks to a specific incentive we put in place. Borrowers repaying systematically on time over the loan period are getting a part of the origination fee back on their bank account at the end of the loan term.
  • Interests paid by the borrowers are benefitting to other people like them, not to banks or other financial institutions. An increasing number of people are sensitive to these sharing economy principles or simply open or looking to financial solutions outside of the traditional banking system.
  • The loan application process can be completed fully online and digital. Even the loan agreement can be signed digitally thanks to eID. If the borrower chooses the proposed digital options, the whole process can be done without any paper on any side (borrower and mozzeno).

What ROI can investors expect?

Investors are building their portfolio of Notes themselves, picking up underlying loans manually or thanks to automated investment profiles. The selection can be made based on criteria like the loan purpose, the risk class, the maturity, or more advanced criteria like net income, housing status, professional status… Hence, the return an investor can expect really depends on the type of investment strategy he will follow. As an average we target to provide 3% before tax, the maximum expected return is about 5,79%.

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Absolutely, we started the development of the platform internally in November 2015, in parallel of the regulatory track. From the beginning, the ambition has been to develop a highly modular, scalable and multi-lingual platform that can be leveraged for other sharing economy use cases, under our own brand or through white-labelling. mozzeno services, mother company of mozzeno, develops such a B2B business model, and can provide a range of existing modules (eKYC, digital boarding, transaction orchestration, scoring…) to other financial players, as well as co-develop complementary modules with them.

What credit rating / credit history data is available on Belgian consumers and how reliable is it?

There is a very high concern for the risk of over-indebtedness and for retail consumer protection in Belgium compared to other EU countries. There is no developed pay day loan or subprime business, as the interest rates and maturity are capped and the lending activity restricted to regulated lenders. These regulated lenders have the obligation to register all granted loans (mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, credit lines, overdrafts…) to the Central Individual Credit Register managed by the National Bank. This database also includes information on defaults. As a regulated lender, mozzeno is contributing to this CICR and has access to this market-wide credit history database (positive and negative sides).

As a consequence of this market specific, there is no other established credit bureau. With regards to credit rating, we have developed our own scorecard with a specialised company, we continue to further develop it, and we also benefit from the well trained scoring of our credit insurer.

How is the company financed? What background does your team have?

The company has been initially founded and funded by my partner, Xavier Laoureux, and me. Xavier has a master in Law, has worked more than 10 years in digital marketing strategy for agencies like TBWA. I have been working 15 years in the online payment business, namely for Ogone and then for Ingenico ePayments. Tom Olinger, former CFO of a mid-size Belgian bank, has joined the management team in April 2016.

Some fintech business angels and W.IN.G (a Belgian seed fund) have taken part to a seed round in Q2 2016. A further funding round should take place in the course of 2017.

Mozzeno Founders
Mozzeno founders: Tom Olinger, Frédéric Dujeux, Xavier Laoureux

Can you please describe the p2p lending regulation in Belgium?

Well, actually p2p lending as such is forbidden by law in Belgium. On one hand, the European prospectus law has been adapted locally very strictly, preventing individuals to raise funds publicly, even through an intermediary platform. This means that a borrower candidate cannot invite other people publicly to lend him money. On the other hand, one needs to be a regulated lender to grant loans and to get access to the Central Individual Credit Register. There is a new regulation as from November 2015, this regulated lender status now being supervised by FSMA.

Our regulatory model is then two-sided. We were the first Belgian regulated lender approved by the FSMA as per the new regulation, and this allows us to grant loans for Belgian residents. We also published a base prospectus, also approved by the regulator, allowing us to issue Notes on a continuous basis. These Notes are the financial instruments subscribed by the investors, similar to bonds, and mimicking the repayment behaviour of the underlying loan.

mozzeno is the first p2p lending service in Belgium. Compared to other European countries Belgium had to wait long for a p2p lending marketplace. Is regulation the cause for this, or are there other reasons?

The complexity of Belgian regulation is obviously the main reason. This so called banking monopoly made a ‘simple’ direct model for peer2peer lending completely impossible in Belgium and a few previous attempts have failed for that main reason. Our indirect model copes with this complex regulation and the operational model of the platform has been thought to be as close as possible to p2p lending from a user experience perspective.

Having said that, Belgium also remains typically a complex market due to the different languages and cultures as well the limited size.

What is the reaction / the viewpoint of banks, if you talk to them about p2p lending?

We have discussed with the main Belgian banks over the past 2 years, and the initial reaction was scepticism due to the complex regulation and the required regulator green light still ahead of us at that time. Now that we have the required regulatory agreements and that we are live, we are seeing diverse reactions, either enthusiastic or defensive. This is of course too early to draw any conclusion on this. We are, on our side, convinced that both models are complementary, and open to share views and discuss with banks and other lenders. We have applied to the relevant industry associations to foster such exchanges.

What was the greatest challenge so far in the course of launching mozzeno?

Certainly the complexity of Belgian regulation, with regards to p2p lending, and the time needed to define and set-up the required structure, with first discussions with the regulator as from March 2015. While we understand and agree with each of the requirements, questions and challenges we have faced so far, it is fair to say that this is not always compliant with a startup agenda.

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors and borrowers?

For borrowers, we are planning to use mainly digital channels, with the best mix possible between natural, earned and paid traffic sources. For investors, beside the same digital channels, we plan to organise roadshows and meet investors physically to build trust in the platform. We will respectively orchestrate the marketing effort based on the demand/supply balance.

On both sides we also intend to set-up member-get-member programs.

Is mozzeno open to international investors? Do you plan an international expansion?

As most businesses starting from Belgium, an international expansion is integrated in the plan from day 1, due to the limited size of the domestic market. On the investor side, our main commercial focus at launch is on Belgian retail investors, but we can technically accept retail and professional investors from EU today. Our prospectus can also benefit from an EU passport, for countries in which we will target a real commercial focus on retail investors. On the lending side, regulations are not harmonized at EU level, so our internationalisation strategy will be a mix of partnerships with assets originators and own expansion, based on opportunities.

Where do you see mozzeno in 3 years?

We see mozzeno as becoming a trusted and representative player in Belgium, having a footprint in some other EU markets, either through partnerships or under our own brand. With mozzeno services, white-labelling our technology has also a great place in our plans (innovative scoring systems, platforms for the sharing economy, seamless digital boarding processes…), with expectations to partner with the most ambitious fintech, insurtech or traditional players, helping them in their launch or digitalisation roadmaps.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Frédéric Dujeux for the interview.

 

Interview with Eduards Lapkovskis, CEO of VIAINVEST

What is VIAINVEST about?

VIAINVEST is a peer-to-peer lending marketplace offering both private individuals and companies to invest in consumer loans originated across Europe. VIAINVEST follows worldwide trend and offers investors safe and more effective investment opportunities than traditional banks do. The main aim of VIAINVEST is to ensure outstanding investor support as well as provide easy and accessible investment environment that does not require useless actions or extra time for understanding ongoing processes.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

VIAINVEST is a truly customer-oriented company, and we strive to provide the most satisfying investing experience possible. Great deal of investors’ concerns are related to investment safety, so all loans listed on VIAINVEST are secured with a Buyback Guarantee. Also, to guarantee that one investor will never be 100% committed to particular loan, originators keep 5% “skin in the game” for each loan.

To develop the platform that would be convenient and easy to use, we encourage investors to leave their feedback; each of recommendations is reviewed and most of them are included in our future updates list.

What ROI can investors expect?

Currently investors can choose to invest in loans originated in the Czech Republic with 12% annual ROI and Spain – up to 12,2% annual ROI depending on the loan.

VIAINVEST was founded by the mother company VIA SMS Group. Can you please describe what VIA SMS Group does and why it decided to set up the VIAINVEST marketplace?

The launch of VIAINVEST was great refresh for VIA SMS Group that is alternative finance services provider operating across Europe. Until now VIA SMS Group was mainly operating in consumer lending market but with VIAINVEST the company is making a shift from non-bank lender to a fintech company. Currently VIA SMS Group is offering its services in 5 countries – Latvia, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain – and has recently launched several new products to diversify its product portfolio. From the end of 2016 the company is also offering payment card with credit line SAVA.card, savings product VIASPAR for Swedish clients as well as there is still an opportunity to invest into company’s bonds. The company has great development plans, but outstanding customer care will always remain the most important goal.

VIA SMS Group is active in more countries than in Spain and the Czech Republic. Will loans from other countries be listed on the VIAINVEST marketplace soon?

This is actually the next update planned for VIAINVEST – in following weeks we will publish loans originated in Poland and Latvia, Sweden will also follow in the nearest future.

Eduards Lapkovskis, CEO ViainvestIs the technical platform self-developed?

Yes, we have built VIAINVEST from scratch. As we prefer to have full control over all processes, we have great team of IT professionals employed in house to ensure continuous support at any time.

What was the greatest challenge so far in the course of launching VIAINVEST?

As VIAINVEST is not the first platform entering the peer-to-peer lending market, we had a lot of examples to learn from. I can say that there were no critical problems within the development process, adjusting VIAINVEST to the specific needs of investors on the go is more challenging!

Which marketing channels do you use to attract investors?

We mainly use digital marketing, but reaching out to the fintech influencers and opinion leaders is more effective tool to spread a word about VIAINVEST. As clients of peer-to-peer lending platforms are specific group of people with certain interests and goals, you need to be more creative and intelligent within any advertising activities.

Is VIAINVEST open to international investors?

VIAINVEST is open to any investors holding a bank account within the European Union or other country to which the requirements arising from European Union legislation on the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing apply. Currently there is no legislation in Latvia regulating operations of peer-to-peer lending platforms, but it may be developed in 2017, so VIAINVEST is already implementing existing regulations.

Where do you see VIAINVEST in 3 years?

Fintech is changing traditional finance world in such pace, that it is hard to predict what will happen even in a year. VIAINVEST will definitely continue to expand its loan originator list and implement new features to make online investing mush easier and accessible to everyone. We have great plans, first news will be out soon, stay tuned!

P2P-Banking.com thanks Eduards Lapkovskis for the interview.