In June Mintos* introduced the Invest & Access product which was designed to make it as easy as possible for investors to invest on Mintos. You can read my article about the introduction here. One main aspect offered was that it promised high liquidity, which came with the disclamer ‘you should be able to access your money anytime under normal market conditions’. Another restriction was that this applied only to current loans, so with a typical portfolio of about 20-30% lates, investors could cash out about 70-80% of the portfolio fast.
I doubt that many investors observed the “under normal market conditions” part of the offer. And those who did, probably saw it as a theoretical definition, rather than a real possibility.
Well now, 6 months later, we observe the first time Mintos Invest & Access have left the ‘Normal market conditions’ state. Investors requesting withdrawals from their Invest&Access account since Friday report they received only part of the requested amount so far (about 700 out of 2000 Euro here; and 780 out of 9800 Euro here; there are further examples known to me.). Several investors expressed surprise that they could not cash out current loans fast. Cashouts requested up to Thursday are reported to have been completed as expected
The cause of course is that the liquidity of Invest&Access is dependent on Mintos being able to sell the loan part of investors wanting to cash out to other investors.
On Friday around noon, the Central Bank of Kosovo announced that it had revoked the licenses of Monego and Iute Kosovo loan originators which both had loans listed on Mintos. In the afternoon many investors sold loans from those originators through the Mintos secondary market until Mintos suspended the trading of these loans around 5:04pm (CET). Following these occurences this seems to have for the first time on Mintos created higher cashout demands than requests for investing on reinvesting on the Invest&Access product and this is why some investors are seeing partial/delayed withdrawals currently. It is unknown whether the I&A product has a buffer to soften the impact of such cases, but it seems not (or it has been depleted in this instance)
Edit to clarify: the Invest&Access product behaves as described in the small print, it is just that some investors seem to have different expectations and gauged the associated risks differently. Investing in p2p lending is a high risk investment.
I’ve contacted Mintos for comment on the current liquidity situation of I&A but have not yet received a reply.
If you are an Invest&Access investor and want to cashout, you might not be aware that you have the option to normally list the loans on the secondary market. Therefore if you want to skip the invest&access selling queue (which I assume exists), you can just list your loans. Offering 0.1% to 0.2% discount might be sufficient to sell them. I am not advocating this, just informing you that it is possible to try that.
European p2p lending services are growing. And yields of 10+% are achievable on some of the platforms. This attracts international investors. But if you are a US resident, you may have made the experience that you cannot register on some marketplaces. This is mainly due to KYC (know-your-customer) and AML (anti-money-laundering) requirements, which get more complicated if the client is outside Europe.
I have asked many of the European p2p lending marketplaces, whether they accecpt US residents and US companies as investors.
Here is an overview of 5 services (sorted aplphabetically) that do allow US investors. I have not provided a review for each of the service as the article would have gotten too long, but you can easily find news and reviews by entering the company name into the search box on the upper right of this blog.
On some platforms you need a bank account in the European Union. In most cases Transferwise* borderless or Revolut* will help (while technically e-money accounts, they function pretty similar to bank accounts) and do not charge any monthly fees. They are both very useful for currency conversion (Revolut is better). On Assetz Capital the currency is GBP. On the other marketplaces it is EUR. Mintos has additional currencies. Transferwise borderless is available in all US states except Hawaii and Nevada. Revolut* is currently rolling out the service in the US.
Mentioned new customer cashbacks were correct at the time of the publication of this article. If you are reading the article at a later time, it may have changed. A current list of cashback offers is here.
Assetz Capital* is a marketplace for UK SME and property development loans. The liquid ‘access’ products offer 4.1% to 5.75% interest. Other product types offer higher rates. US investors are welcome. UK bank is account required – see notes above. US companies are eligible, but verification might take longer than for individuals. Expect 1-10 days for company registration.
Assetz Capital cashback for new investors: 50-250 GBP (dependent on investment amount; minimum 1000 GBP). To get it just register using this link: Assetz Capital registration and start lending
Bondora* is an Estonian p2p lending marketplace for consumer loans. The highly liquid Go&Grow product offer yields 6.75%. With other products higher yields of 10+% are achievable. US investors need to be accredited investors to use Bondora. A bank account in the European Union is not necessary. US companies are eligible to invest. Bondora recommends that interested US investors and companies contact them at email@example.com or by phone at +44 1568 6300 06 (during business hours, Mo-Fr: 9–17 EET) to check eligibility and clear any questions concerning registration.
Bondora cashback for new investors: 5 EUR, to get it just register using this link: Bondora registration and start lending
Estateguru* is an Estonian marketplace for property loans. Typical interest rates are 10-12%. US residents are eligible, if they have a bank account in the EEA (European Economic Area) – see notes above. US companies can invest, if they have a bank account in the EEA.
Estateguru cashback for new investors: 0.5% (1% in October) cashback on all investments in the first 3 months. To get it just register using this link: Estateguru registration and start lending
Flender* is an Irish marketplace for SME loans. Typical interest rates are around 10%. US investors and US companies are eligible.
Flender cashback for new investors: 5% on all investments in the first 30 days after signup. Register using this link Flender registration and start lending
Mintos* is a Latvian p2p lending market place. A wide range of loan types is offered. The fairly liquid ‘Invest&Access’ product currently promotes around 8% rate. Yields of 10+% are possible with manual and autoinvest.
US investors and US companies are welcome. A bank account in the EEA (European Economic Area is required) – see notes above.
Mintos cashback for new investors: 1% cashback on all investments in the first 90 days. To get it just register using this link: Mintos registration and start lending
The article was updated on Nov. 21st as Estateguru has meanwhile changed its position saying that Revolut or Transferwise are sufficient now to satisfy the requirements on a bank account in the European Union.
P2P lending bears high risks, including total loss of investment. This article is not investment advice.
Mintos* will launch a new product offer called Invest & Access tomorrow. It was already unveiled and presented at the P2P Conference in Riga on Friday. Before I write about it watch the video below for about 10 minutes with Mintos CEO Martins Sulte explaining Mintos Invest and Access.
the video should autostart at the right point. If not it is at 2:29:22
The new offer makes it super-easy for investors to invest and automatically diversify through a very wide selection of loans. Mintos does that by investing the money in all loans on the platform that carry a buyback guarantee and are from originators that are at least 6 months on the platform. Mintos promises that investors will be able to cash out easily (subject to market demand) instantly, saying investors don’t need to bother about handling the loan selling on the seondary market. Mintos does that by selling the non-late loans to other investors.
The investor can still see how the portfolio he holds is composed on an overview page. One important aspect for the market dynamics on Mintos marketplace is that Invest & Access will invest before the autoinvests.
Mintos is cleary aiming to make it easy for new investors that don’t want to spend much time thinking about the investment and optmizing yields by giving them the average yield by just one click. The Invest & Acesss page will show the weighted average interest rate, which at the time I saw that page was showed as 11.98%. But the figure will change and update as market conditions fluctate and as the FAQ says it is not guaranteed.
One important point in the FAQ/footnotes is that the ‘instant access’ only applies to current loans. That means if the investors has e.g. 15% late loans, that would mean that he gets only 85% as instant withdrawal and for the remaining 15% has to wait until either the loan is bought back by the buyback or becomes current again (I suppose in that case the investor could trigger another cashout).
Investors can runs both Mintos Invest & Access as well as the existing autoinvests, should they which, but in that case Invest & Access would use any available cash the investor has first, therefore I would guess that there are rarely any funds left for the autoinvests to use.
My Opinion on Mintos Invest and Access
Mintos clearly offers a product that makes it as easy as possible, lowering the entry hurdles especially for new investors. And as Bondora Go&Grow* shows there is a high demand by investors for simplified products. Statistics published by Bondora show that in April 2019 63% of the new investments in that month where conducted via the Go&Grow product, which is constantly gaining over the other investment methods Bondora offers. Other examples are the Access products offered by British Assetz Capital*.
Looking at it from the perspective of an investor that is a little more experienced and willing to spend a little time Invest & Access does not seem an attractive offer. By definition it offers the weighted average interest rate.
By setting up own autoinvests at Mintos, keeping a good diversification and foregoing the highest risk, investors can currently achieve about 13-14% yield on Mintos. So if they would instead use the new product they would have about 2-3% lower yield, and have actually less control on which originators they invest in. An important point to consider, is that the value Mintos shows you, is the average interest rate, NOT the expected average yield. The yield will be significantly lower than the interest rate as Mintos will include buyback loans from originators with long grace periods or originators that do not pay interest income on delayed payment. Excatly those are typically avoided when investors configure their own autoinvests.
And concerning the argument of liquidity. Mintos is very liquid anyway. Without using the new product it is no problem to liquidate a portfolio within a few minutes to a few hours it just depends on the price. Sure you might have to offer a discount. Maybe depending 0.2%-0.6% on average. But that is a small price if you had the higher yields before.
So would I recommend using Invest & Access over the ‘traditional’ way of setting up own autoinvest? There is one use-case I would. If an investor wants to invest very short-time (for whatever reason ‘parking’ money) for less than say 120 days, than it is worth considering.
In my opinion on why Mintos launched the new product, there are actually two reasons:
there is demand for a simplified product and this new product shall satisfy that
the new product will help on the sales site for attracting and onboarding new orignators. Originators that can only offer rates that are below the average interest rate on the Mintos platform so far were hard to sell. With Invest & Access they will be just part of the bundle and automatically sold (once the originator has been on the platform 6 month)
That brings us to an interesting point. How will Mintos Invest & Access the market dynamics? The big factor here is that Mintos Invest & Access happens BEFORE autoinvest and manual investment. There are already (even before launch) speculations and fears of investors that it might bring down interest rates or ‘force’ them to use the new product to avoid cash drag, but I think it is much to early to make any prediction what might be the outcome. But I sure am curious what this will do to the activity on the Mintos marketplace.
What are your opinions on the new product? Please share them in the comments. Thx.
P.S.: The following interview with the Mintos CEO was recorded just before the announcement of the new product, therefore it does not cover Invest and Access – but it has a lot of information on the current state of Mintos.
I covered my p2p lending portfolio periodically over the past 12 years in this blog. The following report is a snapshot on how it is composed right now (May 2019) and which strategy I will take for the next months. As you can see below I aim for a widespread diversification (over different platforms as well as geographically) of my p2p lending investments.
Mintos* is my biggest position. I run a trading strategy on Mintos. Mintos gives my net annual return as 15.1%. Calculating it myself based on the deposits and withdrawals I get a XIRR value of 24.8%. The cause for the huge discrepancy is that Mintos does not account correctly for the cashback of the campaigns. I heavily traded, when Mogo ran a campaign. For example I invested in new Mogo loans that were offered with a 2% cashback on the primary market, nearly instantly sold them with 1.8% discount on the secondary market and pocketed the cashback. Rinse and repeat.
I am satisfied with the current degree of diversification over loan originators in my Mintos portfolio. The bulk of my investments is in loan terms between 3 and 30 months at interest rates ranging from 13% to 15%. The lower interest rate loans are usually only held temporary as part of my trading strategy.
For the coming month I plan to keep my Mintos* investment at roughly that amount, reinvesting the paid principal and interest. New investors registering via this link at Mintos, get 1% cashback on amounts invested in the first 90 days. Mintos is currently not accepting UK investors.
My second largest p2p investment is on Irish SME loan platform Linked Finance.
Diversification achieved is good. The majority of my loans have interest rates between 8% and 11%. Most loan terms are 2 or 3 years.
I “collected” 7 loans in default (double dip on the golf loan). But 5 of these had repaid more than half the principal before they want into the default state so the principal in default sums up to only 270 Euro. My self-calulated XIRR value is 6.4% if I totally write off the amounts in default and 7.1% if I assume that half the amount in default will be recovered. I plan to slightly increase my Linked Finance* portfolio in the next months. Linked Finance is not offering any cashback or bonus rewards for new investors.
Bondora is my third largest and oldest (still running) p2p lending portfolio. I started in 2012. My self calculated XIRR value is 16.6%. A yield that high is not achievable nowadays anymore. My portfolio profited heavily from the first years when interest rates were typically 28% to 34%.
I am currently investing into Estonian A and B loans using these autoinvest settings. I have used these settings unchanged for 11 months now and it is running totally hands-off with no maintenance required.
On Bondora* I reinvest the bulk of my repayments and occasionaly withdraw some funds. New investors registering on Bondora using this link get a 5 Euro sign-up bonus.
Ratesetter Australia* is my fourth largest p2p investment and also one of my youngest. I started in August 2018. My XIRR value self calculated in AUD is 9,1% if I include the 75 AUD sign-up bonus and 7.4% if I do not include that.
My money is mostly invested on the Ratesetter 5 year market at an average rate of 9.2% (that is after fees but before withholding tax).
In the past months the interest rates have dropped considerably therefore I am parking some funds on the 1 month market or invest them on the 3 year market.
I am reinvesting all repayments at Ratesetter Australia. If rates go up again I plan to do that on the 5 year market, otherwise I’ll settle for the 3 year market. It is a little complicated to register as a non-resident, but I have described how I managed to sign up as a European here. New investors can earn a 75 AUD promotion bonus by investing 2,000 AUD or more in our 3 year Income or 5 year Income lending markets before 31st May 2019. Achieving that requirement in time will not be easy, even if you start directly.
The fifth largest position of my p2p portfolio is invested at Iuvo. It is running hands-off and does not require any maintenance.
I continue to reinvest all repayments. Iuvo pays new investors a very generous cashback of up to 90 EUR. For more details and how to get it see the cashback overview page.
After I completely exited Lendy in last autumn, baltic Estateguru* is now my largest platform for property secured loans. I don’t use the autoinvest. Instead I periodically login and manually invest into a new Estonian loan secured by a first rank mortgage.
I mostly reinvest all repayments. New investors get 0.5% cashback for all investments in the first 90 days, if they sign up using this link.
I used to have a larger portfolio at finnish Fellow Finance but I did not want to go below 12% for 4 star Finnish consumer loans therefore I started withdrawing funds last year. In January the sale price collections paid tor Finnish loans dropped from 70% to 53% which reinforced my decision to exit.
I am running down my portfolio on French SME loan marketplace October. With the low interest rates and rising defaults (6 out of 52 loans) in my portfolio the risk reward ratio is not for my taste anymore.
New investors signing up on October using this link* can get 20 EUR bonus (200 Euro minimum investment)
Not p2p lending but investing in startups. I am a huge fan of Seedrs*. Investing in startups is of course even higher risk than investing in p2p lending. Nevertheless I went ahead and built a big Seedrs portfolio over the last years. Snapshot:
P2P Conference Riga
I am looking forward to be at the P2P Conference in Riga* which is less than 4 weeks away. The conference is reasonably priced (enter promotional code P2PEARLYBIRD40 for 40% rebate) and Riga can be reached with cheap flights from many European cities. BTW, Riga is an interesting town, if you have not been there yet you could combine the conference with some sightseeing.
The FCA, the Financial Conduct Authority, is the supervising regulatory body for p2p lending platforms in the UK. In Dec. 2018 it refused the application of Mintos* or more precise of a separate legal entity within the Mintos group, established for operations within the UK.
The full notice of the FCA decision can be read here. Below I outline some of the aspects. I also reached out to the Mintos CEO, who kindly answered my questions on this matter.
Before we go into the details, I want to make it clear, that the FCA decision has no direct impact on the current operation of Mintos platform, which is headquartered in Latvia.
Mintos Marketplace Limited applied for permission to conduct a specific regulated activity (“permission to operate an electronic system in relation to lending (Article 36H RAO)”).
Reading the FCA decision there are several points that led to the refusal:
a) the applying company does not currently meet the minimal funding requirements of 50K GBP as specified by the rules (paragraphs 49-50 of the notice)
b) the head office of the applying company is not currently in the UK (51-53)
c) the FCA has doubts that the Mintos business model will be adapted adaquately to comply with the UK regulation rules (paragraphs 29-33, 35-38, 40)
d) the FCA find Mintos wind-down plans are not specific enough (41-44)
e) the FCA is not satisfied with Mintos’ understanding of the UK rules (46-48)
The decision is interesting to read. Naturally it judges Mintos solely by the formal compliance regarding the UK rulebook. Any other non-UK marketplaces seeking FCA approval can certainly learn some things from this declined application. As I stated above, it does not have any consequences for the current operation of the Mintos marketplace. It only affects any potential plans Mintos had for the UK market.
That gets us to the more interesting point: why did Mintos strive to get FCA approval still in 2018 despite Brexit? I asked Martins Sulte, CEO of Mintos, and here are his answers:
1) What was the intention of Mintos to set up the seperate UK entity and apply for permission at the FCA. Was this related to offering IFISA products and possible tax advantages for UK investors?
The intention is to connect to our marketplace loan originators originating loans in GBP in the UK and offering those loans to investors from the UK. We believe that the UK can become a self-sustaining marketplace where local investors are able to fund loans originated locally in the UK.
2) Considering that the application was pursued still as recent as July 2018 (point 29), this is an interesting move in light of Brexit, with several UK fintechs going the other direction to secure a continued presence in the EU. Any comment?
We view the UK market as a separate market that has the UK specific regulatory environment when it comes to crowdlending. Our intention is to create a largely self-sustaining UK marketplace that serves both UK loan originators and UK investors. In that light uncertainty caused by Brexit plays less of a role. It is important to note that each and every country has their own approach to regulating crowdlending, which means that for instance having the FCA permissions for working in the UK would not really affect our operations in other countries, even in EU. Only when the European Commission’s proposal for a regulation on European crowdfunding services providers come into place we might see that licenses are passportable across the EU and then in that light, the Brexit certainly would more of a consideration. For now, we have to look at each country separately.
3) Is the announcement of the application for an e-money license a reaction to the upcoming decision by the FCA?
No. E-money licence and UK permissions are very different licenses.
4) Do you think that any of the assessments the FCA made, will be relevant for the Latvian regulator once the Latvian regulation is finalized?
I don’t think so. Each country has its own approach. The UK has a rather specific approach. When we talk about Latvian regulation we also have to take into account that it will cover only investors and loan originators in Latvia. Once the Latvian regulation is finalized we will still have to look at each country separately. Us having a necessary license in Latvia will play a little role when considering our operations in, for example, Mexico, South East Asia or Russia, or even in other countries of EU.
Martins added: ‘This was a formal Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) decision on Mintos’ application for operating in the United Kingdom submitted by the Mintos Marketplace Ltd (a separate legal entity within Mintos group that was established for operations in the UK). The application was submitted almost two years ago. In these two years, our business model has evolved, our team has expanded significantly and we have gained major business results on a European and global level that defined our position as a leader in the market of investments in loans. The application for necessary permissions to operate in the UK doesn’t affect our daily business and the future development of Mintos, and the rejection of the application is nothing that can, nor will, affect our business operations in other countries.
The UK has different and specific legislation, and the FCA notice serves us as valuable feedback for adjusting our processes and procedures to fit the UK specificities. At the moment, we are in no rush when it comes to entering the UK market, as we are all aware of the many uncertainties regarding the Brexit issue. Anyway, our growth and expansion goals are unwavering, and entering the UK market will remain in the scope of our interest. We will continue working with our legal and regulatory advisors and will take into account the FCA’s feedback when considering our next steps with respect to the UK.’
I started investing on the p2p lending marketplace Mintos* in January 2015. Nearly 4 years have passed. Most of the time my strategy was buy-and-hold, that is I invested in loans with the intention to hold them till maturity. That’s also what I had been doing at the majority of other p2p lending platforms. In the beginning of the year I had a large chunk of high-interest, longer-term Mogo car loans, together with some mid/longer-term loans of other originators on Mintos. After many of the Mogo loans were bought back in summer I decided to switch to a completly different strategy on Mintos*. Thereafter I concentrated on trading, that is buying loans on the secondary market and selling them at a higher price on the secondary market again, usually holding these loans only for a short time frame.
Summary of my account statement for 4th quarter 2018 – click on image for larger view
As you can see in the screenshot above I made 712.80 EUR profit from trading (buying and selling) loans in the fourth quarter. Compare that to the 127.14 EUR (101.74+25.40) interest earned. Obviously trading has been much more profitable. I consider it not much riskier than my previous buy and hold strategy as I was able to maintain a reasonable level of diversification over several investors. But of course investing on Mintos is high risk anyway.
Which loans did I select for trading?
It all comes down to buying cheap and selling at a higher price. My experience is that this works best with mid-term, EUR BB loans. With short term or very long term loans the impact of premiums und discount is to high / to low on the YTM for a good turn-around of inventory.
Below is a snapshot of the loans currently in my Mintos* portfolio today – of course the composition changes very frequently with this strategy. It can be observed that loan ranges between 18 and 42 months dominate my portfolio, which consists of 478 indiviudal loan parts. Also loans with 13% and higher interest rates are overweighted.
This trading strategy worked very well for me in the past quarter. It would probably not scale, if an investor tried to deploy much more capital, as loan supply that matches my criteria for buying is limited and competition is increasing.
The Net Annual Return (NAR value) Mintos displays for my return has been constantly increasing this quarter and today is at 14.74%. Remember this is calculated for the whole time since I started investing, so since January 2015. If I would calculate this figure only for this quarter results, it would be much higher.
Screenshot Dec. 28th, 2018
So what to expect in 2019?
Interest rates on Mintos* have been fluctating over the past years. In the last months they have risen considerably. Possibly a seasonal effect. I have no idea whether they can rise a little further still, or have peaked and will fluctate back in the other direction for a few month. Also the economic cycle might turn.
I will stick to my buying and selling strategy for now and for this strategy supply and demand on the secondary market is much more important than whether the interest rates are 1 or 2% higher or lower as most of my result is generated from secondary market gains rather than interest earned.
Also I am acutely aware of the risk that the huge number of originators pose. Even if Mintos does a good job of vetting and monitoring the originators, the sheer number of originators statistically means that chances that one of them might get into financial trouble are not neglectabe. For indivual investors the only viable measure to have some protection (and to reduce losses in that case) is diversification across several originators.
I do hope that 2019 will be a very profitable year for Mintos* investors!