Bondster – Czech P2P with Buyback (and Cashback)

Some weeks ago I already announced Bondster and now it is time to take a closer look. Czech private equity company CEP Invest owns Bondster. Further there is a strategic partnership with the loan originator ACEMA, which I know from Mintos. ACEMA is a heavywheight in the Czech nonbanking loan market with only a little short of 20 years of experience in this market. I guess these are solid preconditions. 

Sign up, Cashback and Fees

On Bondster retail and company lenders can invest money, if they have got a banking account withing the European Union (plus Norway and Switzerland). You can sign up  with this link. If you add these four digits 4985 to the Promocode field on the bottom of the form you get 1 percent cashback for the first three months  (same for me). The cashback is calculated on your average investment during the first three months. The funds will be credited on your investor account after 30,60, and 90 days. Further there are no fees for the first three months. Afterwards the marketplace charges 1 percent annualy on your invested funds. The fees are directly subtracted from your received interests. So basically you can test the platform for three months free of charge and get an extra cashback.

Currencies and types of loans

CZK (Czech Krona) and Euro are available for investments at the moment. With CZK there is sort of an instant access savings account (like Bondora Go und Grow), which yields 3.9 percent annualy. I doubt this is very interesting for Euro investors, but I wanted to mention it anyway.. Additionally there are loans which are secured with property, but only seldom they are on the marketplace. The biggest part of the loans are Guaranteed Liquidity (GL) and Buyback (BB). Both of these types come with a buyback guarantee on principal and accrued interest, after 60 days. The GL loans provide a possibility to exit before maturity, but this comes with a cost of 1 percent of the principal amount. As most loans are annuities with monthly installements, the effect of the fee reduces with increasing duration of the loan. The buyback loans do not provide this early termination option, but yield much better ( currently 12%) and come with a duration of a few months. I can forgo the liquidity feature because of the buyback and the relatively short duration. Minimal investment per loan is 10 Euro.

Autoinvest

Bondster offers an autoinvest feature, which seems to be a little complicated on first sight. This has to do with the many options you can set. Therefor I made my first investments manually, which took some time as I had to confirm every investment . In my next Bondster post I will explain the mechanism in detail.

Conclusion

I find Bondster interesting as it presents a regional alternative to the Baltics.  Another positive point is that ACEMAis on board, which I already know from MIntos. As always with these types of loans the quality of the loan originater is key. There are some unknown originators on the marketplace. I will try to gather more information on them and share my thoughts in the coming weeks. By the way, the website is also available in English.

Questions? Post them here.

 

 

Do we have the (p2p) risks under control?

Do we have the p2p or crowdlending risks under control? This question keeps me busy from time to time. These high yields, buyback guarantees, the super easy autoinvests and all the fintech blah blah get me into maybe false security. Because of that I have compiled some problematic cases from the past months. I do not want to take the fun out of p2p, but we should consider not only the return part but the risk part as well. I just want to see this post as a reminder, that there is no free lunch, and double digit yields do not come without risks. The next default of a loan originator or a market place will happen. Maybe not tomorrow, but in the future.

Collateral – an ugly case

Let’s begin where p2p in Europe started, the United Kingdom. Zopa as the first platform in Europe has been operational since 2005, so for more then 13 years now. I figure that after all these years the p2p market has already matured a bit, furthermore as the FCA seemed be willing to help with regulation, rather then ban the whole thing. And exactly there it happens, Collateral defaults and the FCA does not look that good in handling this case. Here you can find a lot of discussions about this case.

More cases…

Comunitae, a spanish market place stops its operation due to insider fraud . Swiss p2p/Fintech has to deal with a massive fraud (sorry, only available in German) . And China with its shadow financial system hashas to deal with a gigantic fraud scheme. Let us add the default of Eurocent with Mintos, and it becomes clear, that high risks are involved within p2p and crowdfunding.

It comes a litte surprisingly that until now no Baltic market place has defaulted. Firstly, this because there are lots of young platforms and secondly, they operate in a not quite regulated environment. I can envision that the money laundering scandal of Danske Bank in Estonia could lead to a crack down of p2p lending, or at least will be observed. I am sure that the Baltics will be closely monitored by the EU now. Although this Dankse case is not related to p2p, it will have an impact on regulation.

Closing remarks

As I said earlier, it is not my intention to present p2p in a bad light, but for me these cases clearly show that there are not to underestimating risks. I have no problem, ok I can deal better with, when a loan originator defaults because they were bad in business. This happens, it sucks, but it is something we have to deal with while investing. So the golden rule for investing is: never invest anything, which you cannot afford to lose. With fraud cases I have my problems, there was a crime commited and in most cases there where too few controls, if any. I am still a believer in the p2p story, but we have to be cautious as lenders.

Peerberry: 8 months on board, it runs smoothly (mostly)

Somewhat surprisingly last in November Aventus Group launched their own p2p marketplace Peerberry. Surprisingly because I did not expect more p2p marketplaces launching in Latvia as long as the regulatory environment is not fully binding. I really liked the platform from the beginning, as it already offered an autoinvest function and everything else looked nice. I guess this is the time for an update.

What happened during the last months?

Peerberry was further developped and some new external Loan Originators were added. Aventus therefor chases the path to become an open platform like Mintos or Viventor. Not like Viainvest, which uses its marketplace only for their funding needs. The financials of the loan originators added to Peerberry look reasonable, although most of them are relatively young.

The loan offering was also extended to more countries. Danish loans were ment to be sold at 11 percent but the investors luckily did not buy them at this rate. I guess 12 percent is the red line for lots of investors 😉 It is a good thing that it did not work out with lower rates, because the platform would go even lower with the next batch. Lower rates are ok with me, but not with unsecured payday loans. Real Estate deals like Estateguru is no problem for me to be below 12 percent. I guess the executives have now learnt their lessons, as the newest loan originator pays 13 percent from start.

You can see below an increase in monthly lending volume. Currently we are over 11 million lent so far. End of May there were 1354 investors which received about 55k Euro interest. This is a really good result for such a young platform.

Autoinvest and my yield

Just a hint about the autoinvest before I will talk a bit about my yield. The autoinvest seems to run only once a day, mostly by the end of the day. I notice that my funds are invested slightly before the day change. This is nice as my funds are then reinvested without cash drag. There were some days where my funds still needed a day or two to get invested, but this was due to the high loan demand.

My yield is shown as 12.43 percent in my dashboard. I cannot reproduce this figure, as I calculate my yields with the XIRR function. With XIRR I get below, but this has also to do with the XIRR function which is comparable only after 1 full year.I estimate my yield will be above 12 percent after one year.

During the next months we should see more development of the marketplace and welcome some more new loan originators. Follow me to Peerberry.

Grupeer now offers autoinvest plus some stats

Finally the autoinvest feature arrived at Grupeer. About 3 weeks ago this feature was introduced on the platform. Due to the low number of loans plus the great availability I think the autoinvest is nice to have at the moment, but it still makes my life easier to invest. I can spare me the log ins after I got a repayment or interest received information. Following I will show you my settings I use with my autoinvest. You can see it on the below picture (by the way, you find the ai in the invest menu in your account):

Unfortunately we have to set a minimum and maximum with the interest rate. I tried to set it from 14 percent to open end, but this does not work. Same thing with the loan duration. Plus you need to set an expiry date for the ai, again this field cannot be empty. There is room for improvement, especially with this point. For what do we need an expiry date for an autoinvest function? Ok, we can work around that by selecting a date in the far futur. Basically the ai is a smooth and intuitive solution, expect for the points I mentionned. Below the settings you will find a guide for the ai, if you need one. The ai kicks in within 5 minutes after you activated it. It just invested in one loan in my case. Really nice of my ai to choose the loan with the highest available interest rate, matching my settings. This is really great. It could have just invested in a loan with 14 percent and would still be between my parameters. It seems there is a rule in the background which tells the ai to pick the highest interest rate first, which lies in the settings. Unfortunately it was a project without cashback, well, we cannot have everything 😉

At the overview of the ai on the right hand side you see the button named “old”. If you push this button, your ai invests again in projects which you already have in your portfolio. If you press it again, it does it again 😉 This helps if there are only few loans available and you still want to invest all your funds. You do not need to change your criteria in the ai, and can still invest all your funds.

Stats: a clear uptrend

During its first year after inception Grupeer funded about 2 milions of euro. Right now we are over 5 millions, this means during the last 3 months about 3 million were funded. And the trend continues, as they increased the volume of new loans significantly. The marketing department sent me below chart:

We can really see an increase in new investors and funds invested. Really interesting that in April and May the Spaniards financed more then half of the total investments. Spaniards can be found in the top investors on other platforms as well, but never like in this case. Sure, the chart only shows two months and not the whole picture, but still impressing in my opinion. Spain seems to be very open to crowdfunding and crowdlending. I can see that as well, as I got a lot of traffic coming from Spain. I believe they are reading it in English or use google translate. Let’s hope that the marketplace can grow further and we do not have to deal with defaults. Follow me to Grupeer registration.

An update of my Iuvo strategy

Some 3.5 months ago I wrote about my new strategy with Iuvo. I think now is the time to make a first check and see if it was worth. I am aware that it is still early to evaluate, but the figures for now look promising. My yield used to be between 10 and 11 percent with prior to my change of strategy. Now I slowly approach a XIRR of 12 percent and hopefully more.

Loanbook

Really nice at Iuvo is that the primary and secondary market data is exportable and if you like analyze it in Excel for example. It is always good to have data to make some conclusions, but for me this data is too less detailed, especially in comparison to Bondora or Finbee.
Anyway, I was able to draw a picture for me out of the data. As you know, investors do not get any interest if the borrower does not pay. The loan originator “only” covers the capital, not the interest when a buyback occurs. We could argue if this is fair or not. In the end the investors decides if he wants to invest under this conditions or not. Even if this system looks inferior to other buyback schemes, it has its benefits. The loan originator is more stable in case of big defaults which need to be covered. Anyway, we have to accept the circumstances at Iuvo.

A figure of interest for me is in this case how many loans go into buyback without paying a single installement. In my portfolio I get 14.2 percent of these loans. As I only invest in loans with 14.9 interest rates in Euro and with weekly or bi-weekly installements. Taking this into account I compute a yield of 12.81% ((0.149 x (1-0.142)). This is just a snapshot. If I compare this to the loans on the primary market, with the same parameters, I get a yield of 11.95%. The defaults amount to 19.8% there. Now the question comes up, why is my non payer rate lower? There is only one reason: I am just pretty good 😉 Of course this is just nonsense, as I let the autoinvest do the work, so it is more hazardous. Or it is because of the snapshot. If many loans are bought back a day earlier to the snapshot, my current loan number is actually increased. Of course it could have also a statistical reason: I have less loans then the primary market, so I may be an outlier. I conclude out of my data (which I will monitor now monthly), that a yield of 11 to 13% is achievable with my settings. On top of the mentionned yields there are sometimes late fees, which improve the yield a bit.

Conclusion

The achievable yield with Iuvo lays in the middle of p2p marketplaces with buyback. I needed a long time to get acustomed to the fact that there are no interest payments out of the buyback. The longer I think now about this, the weirder it becomes to actually get interest out of buyback. What do you think about that? I am aware that other platforms handle this differently, which is not bad at all. We just have to deal with the cirumstances. In the end it is of course possible to achieve yields below 10 percent, if you are out of luck. Let’s hope this does not happen to us 😉 Just one side note for closure: the shown yield in your account is just the average yield of all your holdings in your portfolio. It has nothing to do with your actual yield.

Saving the best till last: Cashback offer up to 90 Euro

New investors can join Iuvo and benefit from a cashback promotion: 30 Euro Cashback (equals 3%) with EUR 1’000 invested, or 90 Euro cashback if investment is at least 2’500 Euro (equals 3.6% Cashback). After you invested the first thousand, you have 60 days to increase your ivnestment by 1.5k to 2.5k Euro total, to get additinal 60 Euros (or you just keep your 30 Euros already received). If you want to take advantage of this offer, drop me a message via contact form. I have to preregister you myself at Iuvo in the background with your email, after that you can register your account. As soon as I preregistered you, I will notify you quickly by email. To be clear: I get the same bonus by referring you, so you support my blog if you join through me. This is absolutely free for you.

Fastinvest: A post with mixed feelings

Fastinvest got my attention nearly a year ago due to this German thread. Back then the marketplace did not seem very interesting as the yields used to be much lower then today. Further, apparently there were people which clearly promoted the platform by impersonating as investors. You can see that in the mentionned thread. The postal adress was and still is in a building were virtual offices can be rented. The people behind Fastinvest are all from Lithunia and I guess they are working from there. Moreover the marketplace is under observation from Polish financial market authority.

Some weeks ago I was directly contacted by the platform’s marketing staff, as they wanted me to review their marketplace. I told them about my concerns by mentionning the above points. They told me they did not know anything about the fake users, which was the truth, as the guy in contact joined Fastinvest only recently.

Why do I now publish a post?

I really wrangled and am still wrangling, if I should write about them or not. Some days ago I had a conversation with a frequent reader of this blog, who is an investor at Fastinvest for nearly a year now. According to him everything is running smootly with the platform. After posting my German post I received an email from another legit investor who confirmed what the other guy told me. Lastly the marketplace was introduced by an affiliate provider who runs the schemes for Mintos and other p2p platforms. Bevore they let new marketplaces on their platform, they check the company and the people. Mostly the representatives have already been met in person. This gave me confidence. In the end it just might be that I am too prejudiced, but still I am not completely convinced. Therefor I remind interested investors to be careful and do not invest huge amounts to start. I got in with a few hundreds of Euro.

Registration

It is easy to register and pretty fast. Just click register and you will see below overview. It seems as Fastinvest is also developing a crypto exchange und you can participate in their ICO. This is another point which I do not like. Anyway, for p2p loans, just take the middle option.

After typing in your data you need to chose an account currency. Available are USD, GBP, PLN and Euro. Watch out, the currency setting cannot be changed by you. I chose USD, as I liked the opportunity to invest in Dollars. But there are no USD Loans at the moment as it seems. So I will go with Euro, which I sent there. By the way, they offer an fx exchange facility, with no fees… but with huge spreads I guess 😉

Buyback and yields up to 16%…

But only in Zloty 😉 Euro loans are up to 15% with a duration of 6 months. All loans are equipped with a buyback guarantee (reminder: a guarantee is only as good as the party which gives it). The loans can be sold back to the marketplace on a daily basis, but in this case you will lose all the interest. The buyback will be activated the day after maturity, so no waiting period of 30 to 60 days as we know it from other platforms. So we have an idea about the cash flows we will receive. From the loan side the platform looks promising.

Autoinvest und Portfolio

There is already an autoinvest feature or you can chose to invest in existing investment profiles. Investment profiles are already preset and you just need to activate it and are good to go.

Conclusion

I have to admit that I like the marketplace from a technical point of view and I am really happy with its features. It looks clean and smooth. There are a lot of features which other platforms don’t have. This is really positive. The odd gutt feeling didn’t disappear though. I cannot ignore the points I stated at the beginning. I wil run my testinvestment and will update my experiences in the coming weeks. Maybe I will know more about the employees by then. Follow me to Fastinvest.

If you have already some experience with Fastinvest, please leave a comment below.

Update to risks with foreign currencies

As I told you in January, I just have updated my update to the foreign currency development against the Euro. The Euro gained traction against most other currencies during the first quarter of 2018. There might be many reasons for that, I just want to point out three of them. 1) Economy looks good in the Eurozone (mostly all over) 2) There is a sense of politial stability in Europe at the moment and last but not least 3) The guy in the USA is always good for spreading some uncertainty (which drives Investors out of the USD into different valuta).

Again I had a look on a 10 year period, I just rolled one quarter further. This means we are looking not at the period from March 31st 2008 to March 30th 2018 (March 31st 2018 was a Saturday, so the period closes on Friday 30th). There were some changes which you can clearly spot in below illustration. Please note that the comparison is beetween 10 year periods, this means we are comparing December 31st 2007 to December 30th 2017 with March 31st 2008 to March 30th 2018.

Source: Bloomberg / own calculations

As you can see the Euro gained strength againgst Swiss Francs, British Pound, Georgian Lari and the Australian Dollar. It lost a little bit against the Polish Zloty and the Czech Krona during the period. As the Danish Krona is pegged to the Euro, there was no change. Graphically it looks like this:

Source: Bloomberg/own calculations (31.03.2008 – 30.03.2018)

Most impressive are the Euro movements against the Swiss Franc and British Pound. As the Franc lost, the pound gained (so now may be the time to go into the Euro, if you are a GBP Investor ;)). GBP Investments gained nearly 8 percent in the last three months against the Euro. This shows really nice, that currencies can easely fluctuate in double digits in several weeks. During crisis the fluctuations normally are bigger (look at the annual tables below). It is not bad to think twice before going into a foreign currency. It might pay off, or not, but you need some mental strenght at some point to hold through ;). If you decide to buy some foreign currency, you should look for low change fees (low spreads). Most of the time your bank will charge you more then some specialised companies would. Check out Transferwise, Currencyfair (40 Euro Bonus) or Revolut.

Source: Bloomberg/own calculations; annual returns

here the othere currencies in tabular form:

Source: Bloomberg/own calculations; annual returns

Conclusion

This was it with the pdate to the currencies. If you want to have added more currencies to the overview, drop me a line. I will gladly take them into consideration. The next update will follow in July. Last but not least, appologies for the silence during the past weeks… I had some technical difficulties.

Crowdestate: Autoinvest and secondary market explained

There are a lot of new features at Crowdestate during the last few weeks. After I did an update not long ago, secondary market has been released. Nice thing to offer a possibility to liquidate to the investors. Firstly I want to tell you some things about the autoinvest feature, as you have only slight chances to invest manually on the primary market, despite the recent increase of new projects.

Autoinvest

Projects yielding about 10 percent or more with a volume below 1 million Euro it is hard to bid manually, as all is sucked up by autoinvest settings nearly instantly. This means that sometimes not all investors using an autoinvest get their bit of the project if the demand is too big (which happened to me before). As per Crowdestate’s statement older (date of inception) are prefered to newer autoinvests. So I suggest you set up an autoinvest immediately after sign up. I set my autoinvest very wide barriers. All types of projects which yield at least 12 percent and have a duration of less then 24 months are allowed to invest. Maybe I will increase the duration as I got a secondary market at disposition. As new projects are announced 24 hours prior the first capped bids can be made, I still have a chance to pause my ai for that project if I dislike it (I am not sure if this would change my ai’s inception date though, but I don’t think so). Given there is only one project added at the time being. As per mentionned reasons I relinquish to fine tune my autoinvestment settings. But you can set it really subtle if you like to.

Secondary market is (still) lucrative

This week I discovered the secondary market randomly, I do not remeber having received a message about the implementation by Crowdestate. For the fun of it I put my project up for sale which I invested in a week earlier, with a premium of 2 Euro, which is 2 percent on my 100 Euro investment. I did not check if it has sold, and did not receive a confirmation. About 2 hours later I have received a message that my bid to the new project which went open for capped bids in the meantime was confirmed. In the background my sale went through within minutes and my autoinvest hit again with the money I just received form the sale. With a holding period of one week and an investment of 100 Euro I made 2 Euro, annualised the return would be over 100 percent. It is senseless though, as 2 Euro remain 2 Euro, annualised or not ;). As I had now another project in my portfolio I waited until it was sellable and tried to repeat. And voila, it sold this time for a premium of EUR 2.50 in less then a day. I pulled that one again, but with a premium of EUR 3.50. Of course it is not worth the hassle, but my play instinct awoke. I really hope this market situation does not last long as it prefers older investors over newer ones which is unfair. As I told you now about this possibilty I guess it will be over shortly anyway. As more people try this strategy, the lower prices should get, which would be fair.

Seling and purchasing is free at the moment, hopefully it stays like this. To be able to sell a project it needs the status as settled, then you can set the price by clicking sell. You need to confirm the sale by a code which you get delivered on your mobile phone.

Conclusion

I like Crowdestate more and more. I do hope that the supply of new loans increases, and of course we do not see big defaults. Follow me to Crowdestate’s registration.

Grupeer accelerates the supply

It has been now over a year withGrupeer, since I found the marketplace. On February 17th 2017 I started my first investments on Grupeer. I really do like the marketplace, even if there are some shortcomings (read more below), although I have placed them in to the Top 3 of my Top 10 ranking.

Loan supply increases drastically

During the last weeks, there were always more loans coming to the primary market. Further the supply of Russian loans increased and should now be at about 200k per month. At the moment there are over 300k available on the primary market, all loans have 14 or 15 percent interest, some offer 1 percent cashback additional. You get the cashback paid out on your account, just after you invested. The loans have a duration of up to 12 months, some are only 4 months.

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The Russian loans are originated by two Russian companies where Grupeer holds the majority, they want to have the control over these companies so that they can intervene and monitor. There are no property projects at the moment, and I don’t have any information when a new one will be added. The first property project (Hotel Dominik) was repaid in time.

What’s missing

Still no secondary market available, although it was announced on the platform’s start. Ok, the loans are not long term, so we do not really need a secondary market. But I think a platform should have this feature, it is standard in my opionion. I cannot give you any indication when we will get a secondary market, but we will get one 😉

As it seems all loans have been repaid early or on due date (we ignore the few cases where it was one to two days too late due to weekends). There comes the question to my mind: How can this be? I have no clue and did not receive a satisfactory answer to date. I will stick with it and inform, when I know more.

Latvians are excluded

Coincidentally I discovered that Latvians, better put: people who live in Latvia, are excluded from the platform. I was really surprised to hear that, as Grupeer is incorporated in Latvia. There is an easy explanation though. In Latvia it is forbidden to sell debt to private investors. I have written an article about regulation in Latvia here, and this is the reason why Mintos had to restructure their loan contracts. It seems that Grupeer just took the easier path and excluded the Latvians, as it seems there are not many of them investing on Grupeer.

Conclusion

As I already said I really like the Grupeer, but it seems to be still unknown to the majority of investors. There were only financed loans of about 1.5 Million Euros, which plays in one league with Robocash I would say. It would have been more, but the supply was not there during the first months. I will post a follow up when I know more about the non existing delays.. Follow me to Grupeer.

Insolvency of an UK platform, news and cashbacks

Today there is no new platform in focus, only some news and hints at cashback schemes.

Collateral in administration

This week it happened, Collateral was unreachable. The marketplace seems to be insolvent (?) and is put under administration. It seems like the FCA declined to give a definitve licence for operations to Collateral after the temporary licence expired (and they still operated for one month without licence afterwards)…. Anyhow, I will take a deep look at this case and roll it up. At the moment there is not much to do but wait as an administrator is put in charge. I too have some money there. If the current loans are serviced by the borrowers, there is a chance that investors don’t lose any money at all. But for now we have to be patient as the funds are locked in for an extended period. It comes to me as surprise that this happened in the European’s most established p2p market Great Britain. This case shows that diversification is crucial and that no money should be lent that is needed short-term.

Viventor offers 10 Euro Cashback

From now Viventor offers 10 Euro Cashback to new investors, if you invest at least 500 Euro for at least 30 days. If you went to Viventor through this blog, you will get the same offer after your 30 days are over. New investors can register here.

Currencyfair offers 40 Euro Cashback until April 1st

If you need to exchange some foreign currencies, now Currencyfair offers 40 Euro Cashback, if you exchange at least the equivalent of 2k Euro in any supported currency. This can happen with one ore more transactions, the only condition is that you use this link for registration. You can read here how Currencyfair works.

Estateguru now offers Spanish loans

Last week the first Spanish loan was funded on Estateguru. The property is located in Spain, but belongs to an Estonian Company. Therefor I don’t think we will see many Spanish loans in the near future. I stay in the Baltics with my investments, maybe I make an exeception if a “nice” Finnish loan turns up. At the moment new investors get 1% Cashback on their first three months investments. This will revert back to 0.5% as soon as there are 11’000 investors on the marketplace which should be the case in two to three weeks. Join here.

What can you expect from this blog in the near future?

I will make summaries of new marketplaces where I invested for a year or more (like Robocash for example). Plus there will be reviews of new marketplaces and an in depth look at Collateral. If you would like to have other topics covered, let me know.