Polish P2P lending market Kokos.pl announced today a new product – SMS loans coupled with prepaid MasterCard PayPass card. The product is targeted at borrowers who do not want to set up regular listing, but need quick “liquidity injection”.
The procedure of applying for SMS loan looks as follows:
Borrower receives prepaid card by post,
Enters the card’s account number and his verified cell phone number in his profile,
Whenever the user wants to borrow money, he sends a text message with the required amount and keyword (“pozycz” – borrow) to number 7550,
Kokos.pl sets up an 48 hours long auction on behalf of the borrower,
When the auction is fully funded, the borrower’s prepaid card is topped up immediately and he gets SMS notification.
The terms of SMS loan contracts are predefined. The amount is 500, 1000, 2000 or 3000 PLN, interest rate is locked at 20% p.a. (interest rate cap enforced by Polish anti-usury law) and the duration of loan is limited to 12 months.
The prepaid MasterCard is issued by Bank BZ WBK (owned in 70% by Allied Irish Bank). It is equipped with PayPass technology enabling contactless transactions at the point of sale.
P2P Lending services Smava und Finansowo.pl decided to join forces in the polish market. The deal took place on March 22nd; no details were announced. The new service will start in May, led by Rafal Agnieszczak, owner of Finansowo.
A polish media article speculated on the collapse of Polish p2p lender Monetto.pl stating that the company did not answer emails and phone calls. Later the article was updated with an interview with the Lukacz Banach, head of development of Monetto who said that the problems are temporary.
Following up on the interview (see ‘Smava expands p2p lending to Poland‘) I just took a look at Smava.pl, which has now launched. I don’t speak Polish but the layout of the site is very similar to the Smava Germany site, so navigation was no problem.
As expected interest rate levels in the Polish market are considerately higher then on Smava.de. At the moment there are 4 active listings with (nominal) interest rates ranging from 15.9 to 23.5% (maximum interest that can be entered in the application form for a loan is 26%). Loan terms are short. Borrowers can select from 3 months (minimum) to 36 months (maximum) with 9 possible durations.
Smava did keep the groups feature, which puzzles me as groups have not gained any use on the German version in the nearly 2 years since launch.
One of the partners of Smava in Poland is Money.pl, a finance website with 2.6 million users per month. This is a good marketing move to gain visibility for the concept and to close up on the 3 competitors that launched earlier.
The management team consists of Przemysław Mościcki, dr Marcin Klinowski and Arkadiusz Hajduk. Hajduk is a ‘veteran’ in p2p lending. He co-funded Fairrates (in Denmark) and later was product manager on the IOU central team (Canada).
Starting Jan. 7th, the German p2p lending service Smava will launch it’s p2p lending platform in Poland. I interviewed Smava CEO Alexander Artopé.
The following interview was originally conducted in German language. Possible translation errors are mine.
P2P-Blanking.com: Mr. Artopé, why has Smava chosen Poland as target market for the international expansion?
Smava: For several reasons. Poland is a fast growing economy with approx. 40 million residents. In Poland the span between deposit rate and base rate is very high – approx. 15 percent. Therefore the smava marketplace will be very attractive for polish customers right from the beginning. And regulation in Poland does not require a bank for the p2p lending model. This keeps transaction costs very low.
P2P-Banking.com: There are already 3 p2p lending services established in Poland. How does Smava plan to win market share as newcomer?
Smava: Compared to the active services smava is much more secure. Like in Germany it is a central product feature, that the risk for the lenders is transparently evaluated and can be factored into the calculation . To achieve this we cooperate with the polish credit rating agency (BIK).
P2P-Banking.com: How did you organize the operations? Does Smava have a branch or a subsidiary in Poland? Or do you operate from Berlin?
Smava: We have a subsidiary in Wroclaw, Poland, with a polish management team.
P2P-Banking.com: Where are the biggest challenges in international expansion: technical, legal/regulatory, marketing or recruiting team members?
Smava: On all fields, in the following order: legal/regulatory, recruiting and then marketing.
P2P-Banking.com: Which differences does the polish version of Smava have compared to the german Smava version?
Smava: Firstly we will start in Poland without the ‘Anleger-Pools’ (P2P-Banking: an insurance feature), because p2p loans are mostly short term there. Secondly all loan contracts will be directly between lenders and borrowers – not like in Germany with the biw bank as intermediary.
P2P-Banking.com: What will be the maximum loan amount that can be borrowed at Smava Poland?
Smava: A polish borrower can use smava.pl for loans up to 100,000 Zloty. Each lender can invest up to a maximum of 200,000 Zloty. (P2P-Banking.com: 100,000 Zloty equal approx. 34,000 US$)
P2P-Banking.com: Which credit rating information will Smava.pl supply for the lenders?
Smava: Like in Germany smava will supply a credit score (BIK) as well as a debt/income ratio.
P2P-Banking.com: Which fee structure does Smava.pl have?
Smava: Lenders can invest fee-free, borrowers pay 1% of the loan amount. Continue reading →
Monetto.pl, one of the three p2p lending services active in Poland has financed 1450 loans applications resulting in 440 loans totaling 1 million Zloty (approx 0.5 million US$) in 4 months. The average loan amount is 2300 Zloty. The service claims 8000 registered users and a repayment rate of 97% so far (which is said to be a good result).
Borrowers are usually aged 35 to 50, and live in rural areas or small cities. Lenders on the other hand are typically aged 25 to 30 and live in the major cities.
Monetto plans to introduce new features, including guarantees for lenders.
Lucas Banach, CEO of Prender the company that runs Monetto, says that cooperations with e-commerce sites (e.g. Kupujemy.pl) are essential for the growth of Monetto.pl.
Competitor Kokos.pl claims 13000 registered users and 1.2 million Zloty loans on its website. Kokos launched 5 months ago.