More on Smava Poland launch

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).

Exclusive Interview: Smava expands p2p lending to Poland

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