How P2P Lending Services Collect User Feedback

P2P lending services are young and developing in an innovative environment with little established best practise examples. Every company is constantly trying to learn how to improve the experience for its users. Whether it be user interface, information pages, business model and fees – there is lots of room for incremental improvements.

P2p lending services certainly test run some things before the general public gets to use them. Examples of methods to do this are closed betas, monitored usability tests, A/B tests, ….

One of the most valuable sources of information & ideas for improvements are the users themselves. The mass of users ensures that every little step of every process gets used possible times, bugs identified and misinterpretable information questioned.

Here is a set of methods that p2p lending companies can use to collect and profit from the wealth of user experiences.

  1. Run a forum (I talked in previous articles about the advantages of p2p lending forums)
  2. Consider using a simple to use ticket system instead of user support via pure email (advantage: allows statistical analysis of user problems, handling times and outcomes)
  3. Talk to your customers. Especially right after launch, it can be extremly helpful to call lenders and borrowers and asks them how easy they found the process and if they have any suggestions for improvement
  4. Analyse you webtracking stats. Where have users abandonned steps, where do they stay long times (possibly stuck) and where do they leave the site?
  5. Use online surveys to get structured feedback from customers.

Yesterday I attended the first ‘lender conference’ of Smava in Berlin. I put ‘lender conference’ in quotation marks because that term sounds a little magniloquent and misleading for the type of event it actually was. More fitting would be a discussion with a panel of selected experienced lenders. Smava handpicked 5 of those and invited them to Berlin reimbursing travel expenses. After a short tour of the premises, processes, lender wishes and market situation were discussed in depth (see longer report at The small number of participants enabled an extremly useful discussion.

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Smava Subsidized Loan Promotion Ends With Little Success

Smava in the time from September, 15th 2010 to October, 15th 2010 offered subsidized loans to new customers (borrowers). The offer was limited to loan amounts up to 2,500 Euro and only available for 36 months loan terms.

Eligible borrowers could take out a loan at an APR of 2.99%. Since lenders received “normal” rates (typically between 5 and 13% nominal depending on credit grades) Smava subsidizes the difference. Over the duration of 36 months this will cost Smava about 150 to 300 Euro per loan.

According to Wiseclerk stats about 150 loans with a total volume of 350,000 Euro closed at the reduced rate.

Reasons for this marketing promo

Smava did not comment about the motives behind this offer. While the resulting CPO of this offer is higher then with other marketing channels, Smava could have speculated that the press picks the special offer and that the traffic from the generated press coverage leads to additional loan requests that are not eligible for the offer. Furthermore the rate of 2.99% APR could place Smava prominently ranked on loan price comparison sites.


In my opinion this offer had low success. Judging by economic facts it might be considered a failure. Little additional press coverage was generated by this special offer. The total loan volume funded per month did not rise compared to previous months. The offer might aid the positive image of the Smava brand though.

Smava Enters Marketing Partnership with Cortal Consors Bank

Smava has entered a marketing cooperation with Cortal Consors bank. Cortal Consors will promote Smava as a new asset class to it’s customer. Smava will pay Cortal Consors referral fees for referred lenders and borrowers.

Newsworthy is that this is the first marketing deal a bank has entered in with a p2p lending service. The implications of the deal itself are rather unspectacular as the information is buried deep inside the Cortal Consors website where few are likely to see it.

In other news Smava has redesigned the website and changed the slogan a couple of days ago. The former slogan was “Kredite von Mensch zu Mensch” which roughly translates to “Loans from human to human”. The new slogan is “Direkt Kredit” (engl. “direct loan(s)”). The motivation of this change according to Smava was to enhance the message that loans are direct, easy, and competitive. Smava says borrowers had wrong associations with the old slogan, thinking that long negotiations with individual lenders would be necessary.

Published feedback by users (lenders) on the new slogan critisizes that the new slogan resembles those of impersonal financial institutions – an image that p2p lending services aimed to differentiate themselves from.

Happy Anniversary: 3 Years Smava Lending launched 3 years ago and successfully established p2p lending in Germany. Since then about 25 million Euro (approx. 34.4 million US$) loans were funded. Smava  gained nearly all positive feedback by lenders, borrowers and especially the media.

Smava will need to continue growing considerably in order to become profitable. Currently growth is limited by borrower demand. On the lender side there is much capital waiting to be invested.

One issue Smava will have to tackle in the future are the default rates that distinctly exceed originally forecasted values. So far these have not been a threat to growth because  the ‘Anleger-Pools‘ mechanism, an insurance mechanism spreading losses resulting from defaults over many lenders, prevented major losses for single lenders. In the past years nearly all lenders achieved positive ROIs.

The P2P-Kredite blog has published a longer analysis today: ‘3 Jahre Smava Kredite – eine Bilanz‘ (in German).

Smava Offers Debt Conversion

Recently p2p lending service introduced a new offer aimed at borrowers that want to refinance a loan they have at a financial institution. If the loan request at Smava is funded by lenders, Smava will deal with the financial institution directly acting upon a certificate of authority signed by the borrower.

The loan amount of the new loan is not paid out to the borrower – instead it is directly transferred to the financial institution paying off the previous loan.

There is no extra charge for this service (the normal loan fees apply). Smava makes it easy for the borrower to replace conventional bank loans by peer-to-peer loans.


Smava Funds More Than 1M Euro Loans in June

P2p lending site for the first time reached more than 1 million Euro (approx. 1.4 million US$) loan volume funded in one month. One factor contributing to this is that Smava is in the top 10 rankings for German Google search results for the keywords kredit (engl. loan) and kredite (engl. loans) since the end of May. I find it interesting that there is not one single bank site in the top ten for these search results.

Furthermore Smava profited form TV exposure, which also helped its competitor Auxmoney to achieve a record month with approx. 130,000 Euro loan volume.

In international comparison by p2p lending loan volume funded per month, Smava is in the top 5 behind Virgin Money, Kiva, Zopa UK and Lending Club.

(Source: Smava p2p lending stats; A-H are credit grades)