I’m always thinking p2p lending is a high-risk investment asset, but I’ve never before put on paper why I believe this. It’s always been generic, in terms of market risks, platform risks, returns risks, but never really specific to each platform I’m invested in.
I’ll use this article as a good exercise to verbalize the things I don’t like about each p2p lending platform I’m invested in, and why I shouldn’t be invested in, if I was in my right mind.
Mintos is the biggest p2p lending platform in my portfolio, and I trust Mintos the most. They offer decent returns, allows me to highly diversify my portfolio and assess my risks. The past 2 years I’ve invested in them are proof of that.
However, Mintos is just a middleman between me, the lender, and 70 other lending companies. I do get a risk rating for each of these lending companies, but that’s not always reliable. Rapido Finance was rated B- just 2 weeks before it defaulted, so Mintos ratings are not that good.
In terms of diversification, I do have 200.000 or more loans to invest in, but 96% of them are consumer loans, and all carry the same risks. I do get a chance to invest in business loans or invoice financing, but that’s a very small part of Mintos’s loan book.
Mintos always seems to be growing, but are their stats reliable? I know for sure they’re useless and they don’t offer the full picture. It almost reached 5 billion EUR invested this month, but what’s their outstanding loan book?
And don’t get me started on their robo-investor, Invest & Access, that invests your funds in low-rated loan originators, and deceives you that you can withdraw your funds at any time.
Is Mintos really a good investment option? If I look at these minuses, it sure isn’t.
Fast Invest looks like a very harmless platform. It offers consumer loans from various EU countries at 12% to 14% interest rates. You can set up a simple auto-invest portfolio and let it run for ages and grow your portfolio.
However, in almost 2 years I’ve been invested in Fast Invest, my monthly returns stayed the same. While my portfolio grew, the average interest slightly lowered each month. It just seems compounding interest doesn’t work here, and I always receive around 50 EUR in monthly earnings.
For most of its loans, Fast Invest doesn’t even let me know who the loan originator is. Is this normal? No. Does this generate mistrust? It sure does.
Even more, Fast Invest owners have a very colourful history, with a failed Estonian (or Latvian?) credit company, while they paid themselves huge bonuses. Would they do the same with Fast Invest? Maybe.
And the worst, Fast Invest doesn’t tell their investors anything about its operations, platform improvements, or any general company updates. It uses its blog to publish generic fintech news I am sure nobody reads, because it’s copied content from other websites.
Why would I trust my money with Fast Invest? I don’t know.
EstateGuru might look better compared with the 2 above, but it’s actually worse. They’re miles ahead of others on transparency, and providing details on the projects you’re investing in. Their team is always open when communicating with investors. Their default rate is very low.
And still, the projects I’m invested in are risky and at the first sign of a recession, many of them will default. After more than a year invested here, my return is a bit higher than 10%. I could be safer investing in bonds with an annual return of 5% to 7%, with a lot higher degree of safety. Are the extra 4% earnings worth the risk?
At least Grupeer cuts the crap and doesn’t fool me that I’m investing in 300+ loans from 20+ different loan originators. While Mintos offers similar loans as separate entities, Grupeer packages them in business loans to the lending companies. But this is where all the good news ends.
I get a false sense of security because all loans are offered with a buyback guarantee. But for most of the loans, the buyback guarantee is covered by Finsputnik Platforma, a business Grupeer doesn’t say anything about on their website. Because Finsputnik is an SPV created by Grupeer just so it can mimic a buyback guarantee. We don’t know any details about its financial health, limits, how much it can actually do in case of default. But I’m supposed to trust that an unknown company would buyback my loan in case of default.
In a recent post, Grupeer is saying the buyback won’t be guaranteed by Finsputnik anymore, but by the borrower. It doesn’t matter how you spin it, that’s not a buyback guarantee.
Even worse, I’m locked into Grupeer until the loans mature or default because I have no way to exit early, as their announced secondary market is always postponed.
Is Grupeer in a stable financial position? I have zero knowledge of that because they don’t share anything about their financials. Why don’t they?
Based on this, should I trust Grupeer with my money? Not really.
TFG Crowd wants to look like an experienced private investment fund, but after a quick look at UK’s Companies House website, I can see all the group’s companies are all new companies with zero capital. It gives me no reason to believe they actually do something or not.
The loans are covered by a buyback guarantee fund, although until the end of the year, they’re covered by TFG Crowd’s own funds. But does TFG Crowd have any funds? I can’t find that anywhere on the website.
The projects offered for investment don’t have enough financial details to make an informed decision. I’m expected to invest in them just because they offer 15%+ interest rates. But are the risks worth it since I don’t know what the risks are? Surely not.
Monethera started with a promise of an early exit guarantee whenever the investors felt like it. At the first sign of trouble, they realized they have to shut that down because it will put them in the ground.
If they can do this, what other terms and conditions can they change? Should I trust anything new they promise? Maybe not.
Wisefund also started with an early buyback promise, and at the first sign of trouble, it bailed on it. If the rules of the game change without me having any control over them, why should I trust them with my funds?
At least they opened a secondary market where you can sell your loan to other investors at a discount if they’re greedy enough to buy them.
And Wisefund should learn from Monethera and publish legal and financial information on the available projects. A detailed description/summary is welcome, but I’d rather also see some hard data behind the story. Can I make an informed investment without those? Short answer, no. Long answer, no.
My Viventor returns have always been lower than the 15% – 16% I see on my account dashboard. Why does Viventor tell me that if it’s not true?
Also, I need to check out every loan originator’s financial statements before I decide to add them to my auto-invest profile, or I’ll end up with another lemon, like Aforti Finance, in my portfolio. If I don’t have at least 5000 EUR in my Viventor account, why would I spend so much time to check them? Don’t I have better things to do with my time? At least Mintos and Grupeer add a loan originator rating, so I can eliminate from the start more than half of their lenders and focus on a smaller group.
Neo Finance is the by far the most transparent p2p lending platform in the Baltics. It’s listed on the stock market, every 3 months it publishes audited financial reports, and offers me a truly separate bank account.
But they don’t let me see their loan book, and if I look at previously funded loans, I don’t see if they paid their loan in time, how many times they had delays, or if they defaulted. I’m supposed to trust their statistics page, with no way to verify that.
And my annual return so far is just 2%, just a bit better than a bank savings account. Is Neo Finance really worth my time? Maybe too soon to say.
Crowdestor offers chimeric projects like mobile games development, movies or concerts financing, at 20%+ interest rates, while offering the subtle promise of a buyback guarantee. With a buyback fund that in case of a default, would cover only 2% of the defaulted loan, according to their distribution rules. Does that buyback fund really exist? I’m not sure.
Even more, the projects available have zero financial projections and come with a short description of the project and how much money it needs. Is this enough to make a sane investment decision? Not even close.
Crowdestate is a good example of apparent transparency. I can see their full loan book, financial reports, accurate statistics. The available projects have all the information needed to decide if I want to invest in a project or not.
And still, I’ve seen projects that ran into problems and Crowdestate didn’t stop the secondary market transactions on them until 3-4 days later, when they announced the loan issues on the platform. Is this something a transparent company would do? Not really.
After 1 year of investing on the platform, my annual return is around 10%, significantly lower than the 17% advertised on Crowdestate’s main page. And 4 of the projects I’ve invested in are delayed or defaulted, so I should expect even lower returns. Is Crowdestate really worth my time and money? I’m not sure.
Flender should be a safer p2p lending platform than the Baltics ones. It has a solid track record, low default rates and big investors backing it up. But I have no control over what loans I’m investing in, as all investments are done through auto-invest. I can only select the credit ratings I’m willing to invest in and trust the rating provider.
Am I making an informed investment? Not at all. And all for around 8% return rate. Is it really worth it? Not really.
No secondary market, no detailed information about the loan originators I’m supposed to invest in. It should be enough to stop me from investing with PeerBerry.
And more, why would I invest in payday loans and contribute to the misery of countless people that fall into unmanageable debt? PeerBerry’s loan originators issue loans to their borrowers with APRs over 100%, so they can cover for their high default rates. Why would I help them making poor people even poorer?
Debitum Network is supposed to be a safe p2p lending option. Credit score companies rate their loan originators and lenders have skin in the game by keeping a small part (10%) invested in the loans offered. And yet, I can see few financial details on the loans or lenders on Debitum Network’s website.
Am I to trust investments here are safer just because Debitum Network offers me lower interest rates than other platforms? Apparently, yes.
The number of loans available is always small, and never more than 100. Is that enough to diversify my portfolio? Not even close.
The highest interest rates offered are around 10%. Why should I bother with these returns, especially coming from a Baltics platform?
And I should not forget about its DEB token, which has no place or need in the Debitum Network ecosystem, and yet it was used to finance through an ICO the initial growth of the company.
Why would I bother with 10% returns from a small Estonian invoice financing platform? Especially given the low number of invoices available each day. There are many other places I could put my money to better use.
Why should I invest in a small p2p lending marketplace from the Czech Republic? I have no information available on the platform on the loan originators that publish their loans. I have no idea if they’re going to default tomorrow, next year or in 10 years, because Bondster doesn’t tell me.
And why should I use its slow website, that always puts me on the Czech language version, that in the end still finances the same payday loans I try to stay away from?
While I actually like Bulkestate for their extensive due diligence process, why would I invest in a platform that’s focused mainly on properties from Riga, Latvia? Do I know anything about Riga’s property market? I know nothing about it.
Are solar panels the first thing people in poor African countries really need? Are my supposedly “impact investments” have an actual positive impact? I might be just riding a western hypocrisy wave that still thinks it’s bringing civilization to the rest of the world, while actually creating more problems. Wouldn’t my money be better spent helping solve a local problem? It isn’t like Romania’s perfect and all the problems were already solved a long time ago.
I ask myself the same questions I’m asking about Trine. Am I really helping? I’m staying far away from the people I’m supposedly “helping”, and I feel good about myself by monthly adding 50 EUR into my account and investing them into some random project. Is 50 EUR the price to pay for my peace of mind? Am I just lying to myself?
At least Abundance is closest to home, in Europe. Besides this, are the UK’s social housing problems in Liverpool really my problem?
And for all the Baltics platforms, is there a reason I should trust any information I find available on their websites? All of them are “self-regulated”. When they say that my funds are kept separate from their company account, should I believe them? I have no way to check that. When they say they have a buyback fund, should I believe them? I have no idea if they tell the truth or not. For all the projects that lack financial info, do they really exist? I can’t say for sure.
Given all these, I’m not sure why I keep investing in p2p lending. It’s fun to follow this industry, and I need a bit of skin in the game to keep my interest up. Said in another way, I’m not really sane.
What are your reasons for investing in p2p lending?