Wisefund is a new and potentially promising p2p business lending platform from Estonia. With an average interest rate of 18.77% on its loans, it promises its investors good returns.
The company was founded only in March 2019, and as of August, it has around 300 investors who invested a bit over 100.000 EUR on the platform.
- Launched: 2019
- Headquarters: Estonia
- Loan types: Business Loans
- Loan terms: 3 – 18 months
- Interest rates: 18% – 19%
- Fees: early exit fee when selling back loans to Wisefund
- Minimum investment: 10 EUR
- Currency: EUR
- Secondary market: no
- Auto-invest: no
- Buyback guarantee: yes
- Bonus: 0.5% cashback on all investments made in the first 270 days after registration
How does Wisefund work
Wisefund acts as an intermediary between businesses looking for funding and lenders looking to invest their funds.
Businesses that look for funding in order to expand their operations contact Wisefund and ask for a loan. Wisefund analyses their operations, assets, financial history and if they qualify for a loan, they’re listed on the website. To help analyze the business, Wisefund teams up with North Capital Markets, a Latvian company specialized in global financial markets and financial analysis.
Investors login to the platform, deposit funds and invest in the loans available on the website. After that, they receive monthly interest payments.
If an investor wants to exit their investment before the loan matures, they can sell it back to Wisefund, against a fee. Wisefund uses a 3rd party partner to buy the loans from the investors.
To protect investors against borrower default, Wisefund puts aside a small part of their profits from each loan into a protection fund. In the case of borrower default, this fund will cover legal costs and interest payments during the collection process. However, the investors will recover their full funds only after the collection takes place.
A more in-depth look at Wisefund
Wisefund is located in Tallinn, Estonia and was founded only this year, in March. So far, it managed to attract only 300 investors on the platform, that invested a bit over 100.000 EUR in the 3 projects available.
- Olga Bobrova – founder, with 20 years’ experience in finance
- Rinalds Ters – CEO, with more than 10 years of management experience
- Ingus Linkevics – CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), Legal and Platform Operations, since April 2019; also CEO of Andromo, a mobile app builder
- Georgijs Bodonenko – Chief Technology Officer, with around 7 years of experience in software development; given his relative lack of experience, I wouldn’t be surprised if CTO is just a glorified title and he’s the only one working on the technical side of the platform; if this is so, he’s done a good job, the website looks great
- Diana Ozolina – customer support; her Linkedin profile just says “self-employed”
- Dmitrijs Gamajunovs – Head of Partnerships, no public profile
Regulations and how safe are my investments
Because Wisefund doesn’t keep investors funds into their account, it doesn’t need to be regulated by FSA (Estonian Financial Supervision Authority).
Becoming a Wisefund investor
You need to be a European Union resident in order to open an account on Wisefund. After registration, you’ll need to provide a copy of your ID, in order to verify your profile. This being done, you can fund your account through bank transfer and start investing in the available projects.
I did a test transfer using my Revolut account. For some reason, Wisefund didn’t see the reference number attached to the transfer and they contacted me by email to confirm the transaction. This being said, I did manage to fund my account and invest in a project in just a few hours after I created my account.
Wisefund fees and taxes
There’s a fee when you want to sell back your loan investment before the loan maturity.
Wisefund doesn’t automatically withhold taxes from the interest payments, so you’ll need to do it yourself in your own country.
While p2p lending has its inherent risks, there are others that apply specifically to Wisefund.
Wisefund is new, with only a handful of small loans funded, and may default at any time. While the loan contracts are between the investors and borrowing companies, we don’t know how easy it will be to still receive payments from the borrowers after a potential Wisefund default. In addition, in case of platform default, any administrator that will take over the business will take their own fees, thus reducing the investors’ returns.
Crowdfunding is a fairly unregulated domain in most of Europe. Any changes could affect existing platforms. This means Wisefund might find it hard to comply with the regulation changes and at the worst, they’ll have to suspend their activity.
The small and medium enterprises are the first to fall during economic downturns. If the economy hits a rough patch, your p2p lending portfolio will suffer on any platform you’ve invested in.
Businesses may default and fail to pay their loans back. Wisefund has an agreement with a 3rd party to buy loans that are more than 60 days late with their payment, but that will only cover the principal invested.
The missed interest is covered by a protection fund Wisefund is currently growing. This might not cover all your missed interest payments.
Wisefund doesn’t have a secondary market. If you want to exit your investment before the loan matures, you’ll need to contact Wisefund and sell your investment to a 3rd party partner at a reduced rate.
I like the simplicity of the platform and the clear way in which the information is presented. The user dashboard is complete with everything you need to understand how your investments are performing. You get nice statistics, list of transactions, current investments and accrued interest.
There are not too many (3) projects available on the platform.
The projects have good details in them, describing the company, payment schedules, pledges. Unfortunately, they’re missing credit risk assessment or any financial statements.
Given that the platform doesn’t offer any buyback guarantee in case of borrower default, the lack of concrete details on borrower’s creditworthiness makes it hard to invest in the available loans.
There’s no auto-invest tool offered (not needed due to the low number of loans) or a secondary market. The lack of a secondary market is compensated by the fact that you can sell your investment back to Wisefund, although you’ll need to initiate this procedure by email.
Conclusions on Wisefund
Given the information I currently have on Wisefund, I don’t feel comfortable yet to invest in any of the loans available. I’ll keep an eye on the platform and if it takes off and it provides more loan details I’ll reconsider investing in it.
On a positive note, Wisefund does provide some good incentives to invest in their loans:
- At 19%, the interest rates offered are very appealing
- You can sell your loan back to Wisefund and free up your funds before the loan matures; this is helpful if for whatever reason you need your funds out of the platform
- the loans have a buyback guarantee in case of default, even though it covers only the invested principal
- Wisefund builds up a protection fund to cover for missed interest payments and make the collection process smoother in case of borrower default
While Wisefund does have a protection fund, I have no details on how large that is, how many payments will it cover or how long will the collection process take.
The platform is new and untried and there are only 300 investors on the website. While this is not a problem yet, if the platform doesn’t take off and attract more projects and investors, it will eventually run out of funds and close.
The loans available on the platform have enough details to give you an idea about the company looking for the loan, its history and what it intends to do with the funds. However, it’s hard to invest in any loans only based on these details. There’s no credit risk assessment or company financial statement offered. It’s hard to invest based only on the hope Wisefund did their due diligence and chose only good companies.
To sum it up, Wisefund is for me too risky, too early.
Alternatives to Wisefund
I’m currently invested in a handful of other p2p business lending platforms similar to Wisefund. When I’m saying similar, I’m thinking about other Baltics platforms advertising comparable returns.
While they’re not perfect either, they do provide somewhat better investors protection. You can read about them here:
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