Twino to Remove Currency Risk for UK Investors

Latvian p2p lending marketplace Twino today announced plans to shield UK investors using the platform from currency risks. So far all investments on the platform are conducted in Euro. Twino already takes the currency risk of Polish Zloty, Danish Krone or Georgian Lari versus the Euro. Now it plans to make the platform more attractive for investors holding their assets in GBP. The announcement reads:

One of TWINO promises is that we protect investors from currency risk. Thus, while investing on TWINO you don’t need to worry about Polish Zloty, Danish Krone or Georgian Lari appreciating against euro, as every transaction on the platform is performed in EUR.

However, investors from the UK still face the risk of EUR appreciating against GBP, which might lower their returns. Therefore, next week we are planning to launch a major upgrade that will remove the currency risk for investors, who hold their investable assets in British Pounds, equalizing the benefits of investing on TWINO with Eurozone investors.

The functionality will allow investors to choose the currency that they want to invest in (either EUR or GBP), and every transaction on TWINO will be processed in the chosen currency (including deposits, withdrawals, investments, repayments, etc.).

We will provide a further notice when the new functionality launches, and will be reaching out to existing investors, asking if they want to convert their TWINO accounts to GBP.

We are glad to be the first platform in Continental Europe to provide such functionality and hope some of you will benefit from it!

The Twino CEO Jevgenijs Kazanins indicated that Twino is hedging the currency risk, an action that is possible for a platform with volume but not available or viable for individual retail investors, would they strive to do it on their own.

New Twino CEO has Big Expansion Plans

Twino LogoOn October 1st Jevgenijs Kazanins became new CEO of Latvian p2p lending marketplace Twino. He previously worked as CMO at Estonian p2p lending marketplace Bondora. Twino was launched in June and is part of the Finabay group which operates since 2009. So far all loans offered on the p2p lending marketplace are from Latvia, whereas the Finabay group is active in a broader set of markets. Twino is open to international investors – German retail investors are the largest foreign investor base.

In a call with P2P-Banking.com the new CEO outlined the expansion plans. Twino will add loans from new markets, starting with polish loans shortly and possibly adding loans from countries like Russia, Denmark or Georgia at a later stage. There will be no currency risk for investors as it will be covered by Twino. Twino will apply its buyback guarantee to all loans – by which Twino covers overdue principal and interest for investors once a loan is 60 days overdue (though due to extensions this might take 8 month). The interest rate offered to investors for p2p loans in the new markets will be in line with the current offering: up to 14.9%. The loan terms will likely longer and Twino will move away from the current very short term loans many of which I deem essentially payday loans. He said: ‘we are working on introduction of the loans from other markets, where Finabay has lending operations, such as Poland, Russia, Georgia and Denmark. The reason for the inclusion of other countries is that the demand from investors has already surpassed the volumes we can originate in Latvia. We aim to offer similar rates to the Latvia-originated loans and all loans will also come with the buyback guarantee

Jevgenijs Kazanins, TwinoSince the mother company Finabay is already originating these loans, it will not be a challenge to build loan volume. Kazanins aims to originate 5 million Euro loan volume per month. As the loans already exist and the new aspect consists only of refinancing through p2p investors, Kazanins is convinced of the good quality of the loans: ‘We estimate that 15-20% of [polish] loan volume will be bought back through the BuyBack Guarantee program (defaulted loans and loans with more than 6 extensions‘.

Twino also works to add statistics to the site. He stated: ‘Disclosing information about financial health of Finabay is highly important given the fact that all loans offered on the platform come with the buyback guarantee …

Loan extensions on Twino frequently prompt questions by investors. Kazanins has described in detail how loan extensions on Twino work here. Continue reading

Interview with Ieva Ozoliņa-Bērziņa, Executive Director of Twino

What is Twino about?

TWINO is a peer-to-peer lending platform that connects investors with some money they could lend and borrowers who need some money for making their dream come true — buying a new car, covering tuition or medical costs, for travel and leisure, renovating their house or starting a business etc. The money is lent without a pledge. This is a chance for borrower to get a loan with a lower interest rate than a bank or the various short-term loan providers would offer, while the investor can make direct investments without institutional intermediaries and receive a higher return on his investments.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

First and foremost, it is as chance to get significantly higher return on your investment than in a bank. Our financial solution allows omitting complicated financial operations that require high administrative expenses; therefore, it is possible to provide the service for a lower cost.

Secondly, so far, TWINO has been the only company in European market to offer opportunities to invest into consumer loans with buyout guarantee that completely minimise the risk of investor.

Finally, you do not need to meet face to face or sign heaps of documents to become a TWINO investor — you can save yourself the precious resource of time! You can live anywhere in the world and become a TWINO investor, you physical location does not matter. All the investor has to do is to e-mail a scanned ID document  to prove his identity.

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

The Latvian households similarly to the ones elsewhere in Europe are victims of the frozen economy after the crisis. If they want to make a larger purchase but can not put money aside from their monthly income, they have two options. They can borrow the money in a bank, but very often banks are not willing to credit these people due to strict crediting terms or they can get a short-term loan with very high interest. This is why TWINO is almost the only way of borrowing money with reasonable interest.

The borrower can fulfil any of his needs with the money, including investing in his future — paying for tuition or essential assets or even starting a career in business or a investing in a start-up, thus supporting the local economy. It is very topical people living in the countryside regions and to those, who cannot access bank loans and cannot get a short –term loan with low interest.

Finally, borrowers should not be afraid that they will not be able to evaluate their borrowing capacity adequately — TWINO has an experienced team that evaluates every borrowing request separately according to the rules of the Consumer Rights Protection Centre and they follow the progress of giving back the borrowed money. If the TWINO team sees that the borrower has encountered unforeseen difficulties, we look for solutions together with the client. This means that you must not be afraid that you will not receive consultations and help just because this is a financial technology. The TWINO team members are ready to help you any time by providing consultations and looking for solutions together with you.

Ieva Ozolina BerzinaWhat ROI can investors expect?

Out investors earn roughly 10-20% per annum. Of course, this can fluctuate depending on their investment amount.

What is the background of the company running Twino?

Finabay is an innovative online finance company founded in Latvia almost 7 years ago. It is also providing short-term loans and has developed its services in Poland, Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, Georgia and Denmark. This year it will launch its services in Spain

Is the technical platform self-developed?

Yes, the technical platform has been developed in Latvia by the experienced FinaBay IT Solutions Team.

What has been the greatest challenge so far in the course of launching Twino?

Currently the greatest challenge for TWINO is explaining what a peer-to-peer lending platform is to potential investors and borrowers. While this sector has been active in various European countries for almost 10 years now and it has lent 4.5 billion EUR to customers from 2012 to 2014, it is still a new service in Latvia and the Baltics. However we have to admit that this is not a burden, because peer-to-peer lending platforms are rooted in the economy of sharing, and through such peer-to-peer platforms it proves itself as a functioning model of economy — not only does it affect the well-being of individuals, it has a potential to stimulate the economy of regions and even countries. Continue reading