Positive TV coverage (see video here) on nationwide German TV on Monday during primetime caused traffic spikes at the German p2p lending services Smava and Auxmoney. The websites were partially down during Monday and Tuesday or so slow they were practicably not useable. Auxmoney reacted by temporary deactivating non-vital functions like sorting. Meanwhile stability of the web applications has been restored.
The surge in user demand led to a 20% increase in active lenders at Auxmoney and most ever parallel open loan listings (currently 332). At Smava nearly all reasonable loan listings are funded within a few days or even hours at the moment.
To encourage more loan listings Smava has upped the bonus for inviting new borrowers to 150-200 EUR (approx 200 to 275 US$) for each referral of a borrower that is success fully funded (up from 100 Euro before).
German p2p lending service Smava.de launched two year ago. Since the launch of Smava 1350 loans were funded for a total loan volume of about 7.9 million Euro (approx. 10.7 million US$).
So far lenders on Smava did well. There are approx. 2500 lenders active on Smava. Despite the credit crisis, 99% of the lenders earned a profit in 2008 (total 210,861 Euro), while the 1% who did incur a loss, lost only 60 Euro.
So far ROI in the range from 5-10% have been realistic. As of today 75 loans have defaulted, which is (in percent) more then was originally predicted. The Anleger-Poolmechanism spreads the losses of a default across all loans of a credit grade, which prevents total losses of investments. Therefore when 3 in 100 loans in credit grade X default, the lenders invested in the defaulted loans still receive 97% of the principal, while for lenders in the current loans returns are lowered by 3%.
Technically and on the process level Smava functions as promised.
Provided the borrower has a credit grade of at least ‘H’ (95% of the German population have credit grades between ‘A’ and ‘H’ so about 5% are excluded) and he has a sufficient income, chances for obtaining a loan through Smava are good. About 60 percent of the listings were funded. In February 2009 Smava raised the fees for borrowers from 1% to 2-2.5%.
Smava shows continuous growth, with the volume of new loans per month approaching 1 million Euro (see chart)
Despite extensive and positive press coverage Smava is still a niche market with less than 5000 active users. Looking at the distribution of lenders by amount invested, the top 50 Smava lenders funded about 1,690,000 Euro (or about 21% of total loan volume). Currently lenders are limited to a maximum of 100,000 Euro investment.
(Development of Smava average nominal interest rates for new loans; Source: smava loan statistic, Wiseclerk.com, 03-21-08)
I would estimate that the increased fees allow Smava to cover the variable costs. But to cover fixed operating expenses Smava needs to multiple its volume. First priority of Smava must be to accelerate growth.
Smava is at the right time in the right place (current economic situation)
he sees an upswing in lender and borrower interest; assesses that the model has proven itself
Their competitors in the US are doing quite well and he expects that Prosper will resolve it’s issues with the SEC.
I agree with the first point, but in my view it is too early to judge whether the Smava model really has proven itself (even the oldest loans are only through two thirds of their loan term). And the last point, I find an optimistic assessment of the situation. One could say that Lending Club is doing well, but Prosper and Loanio are in a situation that could at least be described as challenging.
In Germany p2p lending service Smava.de will increase its fees in February. Smava management said the fee increase is necessary to build a sustainable business and points out that now 20 months after the launch the value proposition of Smava has been verified. Median ROI is given as 9.4% with 90 percent of lenders (best and worst 5% cut off) earning between 4.7% and 12.9% ROI per year.
Old fee structure:
Lenders: no fees Borrowers: 1% of the loan amount
New fee structure:
Lenders: 4 Euro (approx 5.30 US$) for each successful bid Borrowers:
2% of the loan amount, minimum 40 Euro, for 36 months loans
2.5% of the loan amount, minimum 60 Euro, for 60 months loans
This increase will more than triple Smava’s revenues from 8,000 Euro per month to 27,700 Euro per month (estimate based on 800,000 Euro loan volume per month; 5,500 Euro average loan amount; average bid amount 330 Euro; 50% of loans for each loan duration).
While the fee height is tolerable for most lenders, I am somewhat sceptical whether Smava is attractive enough for borrowers under the new fee schedule and will be able to continue its required growth.
Smava.de, offering p2p lending in Germany, today successfully closed it’s second VC round. Earlybird and Neuhaus Partners invested 4 million Euro (approx 5.5 million US$). Earlybird did already invest 4 million Euro in Smava in the first round. Smava CEO Alexander Artopé announced that Smava will use the money for product development, marketing and internationalization.
Smava funded a loan volume of 535,000 Euro in September generating revenues (1percent origination fee) of 5,350 Euro plus an undisclosed amount (my estimate:<1,000 Euro) in commissions for insurance products.
The growth of the funded volumes per month can be seen in this chart.
German p2p lending service Smava has sent its lenders an email asking them to produce short videos telling their personal experiences using Smava. Smava offers 50 Euro (approx. 75 US$) for each user generated video that is sent to Smava and published.
Three (older) videos by Smava lenders can be viewed here.