Omaraha loan volumes and interest rates

For a significant amount of time Omaraha was one of the P2P lending sites that offered highest returns. This was largely due to the way their auction system worked – investor could essentially bid how much money they were willing to invest into a loan and at which rate. The system started filling the loans from bottom up (lowest to highest rate) and then the person taking out the loan got an average rate based off those.

This meant that if you kept an eye on how the loans got financed you could get into loans at ridiculously high interest rates while the borrower could still get a reasonable total rate. Best example of this is probably in the 7- and 10-year loans which have been removed by now, where investors were rather shy to commit, meaning you could get into loans at the max rate allowed – 60% gross (48%net for investor). This was also possible for 5-yr loans.

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All good things must come to an end though, and the 7-yr and 10-yr loans were removed (largely due to the total rates failing to comply with the legal max interest rate limits) and the cap for max interest rates was also brought down, so you could no longer make autobidders with such insane rates. Good for the borrowers, sad for the investors.

Current situation

Somewhat as a result of those changes the average interest rates started to come down. A section of borrowers disappeared from site (those who got higher rate loans, but were no longer able to), and since the site itself had become much more popular among investors and the total available cash number kept increasing (up to 1mil at times), which started to push down the average rates.

As a result the drop has actually been rather immense. Another contributor has probably been the fact that Omaraha has elected to be less of a black box – before you had to take the time to figure out the interest rates yourself, now, however they show you the maximum rates that offer a chance to get into loans. Today’s stats:

rates

As it stands, since the buyback rate offered (used to be at 80% for a long time) has started to slide back closer to 60%, then clearly the squeeze is two-fold both less security in buyback and lower interest rates. Since they’re also reduced the max amount per loan that an investor can contribute, this makes previous strategies much harder to use as well (it’s no longer as efficient to “ladder” interest rates for separate autobidders).

As a result Omaraha has dropped to somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to returns with one significant downside – lack of a secondary market, which means making an exit is much more difficult than on some other sites. As a result, for the first time in two years I’ve actually taken out some money since it started to build up too much.

 

Mintos cashback vol 3

Well, 2018 has started well – by mid-march I will have achieved the cashflow returns that took me all of 2017 to reach. Goes to show that sometimes having a bit of luck and cash at the correct time happens completely accidentally.

My biggest portfolio move this year was selling the small 12m2 rental apartment I had in Tallinn. While it was offering good rental returns, then in the long run it wasn’t in a very good house and 16m2 apartments have slowly started to gain popularity. Also, the prices of 12m2 apartments have reached ridiculous heights and since I needed to cash out something from my portfolio since I bought a new home which is being built, and I have to have cash available for various expenses in late autumn.

This deal however ended up being surprisingly well timed because I was able to drop most of the money from the sale into Mintos’s cashback program, which over the course of the last month has created some nice returns

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Of course the campaign has been very popular – there are days when there are no 60+mo loans and days when even the supply for 48mo+ loans has run out, but checking every now and then allows you to pick between countries and loan lengths to boost your portfolio. Since I’ve been investing mostly into Mogo loans anyway then I didn’t really feel much increased risk from temporarily increasing my exposure to them.

While this is a short term boost to investments (since when the cashback ends I will slowly have to start withdrawing money from the repayments), then it’s safe to say that Mintos has helped me boost my returns for the year significantly. Those who still have some cash laying around, then the campaign lasts for another 10 days (until March 16).

Mintos cashback vol 2

A bit more than a week after last Mintos cashback bonuses were paid out, another cashback program (actually two of them) was announced. Since I’ve seen some investors seem confused about the value of such a program, I thought I’d discuss it a bit. So, why offer a cashback?

  1. The obvious – bring in more money

As I predicted in my last post, the cashback pushed people to deposit more money, Mintos finished December with 46,9 million euros worth loans financed. This means more money for Mintos instantly (since they earn money based on the volume of loans financed), and a bigger growth push for them (since people who deposit money will not withdraw it instantly after the program is over).

2. The less obvious – encouraging long term commitment

I personally know a lot of people who invest in Mintos but only choose short term loans since long term loans seem too scary. What better to help people overcome mental hurdles such as this (taking on more long term risk) than extra money? Once people have dared to invest into longer term loans once, then once they have them in the portfolio it’s easier to add more long term loans (If you’ve already taken in 60mo+ loans then some more 12+ month loans seem less scary than having to “jump” from 1-3 month loans).

3. The practical – the money remains in the portal for a bit at least

Once you’ve invested into long term loans you can’t just instantly jump out again. Either the loan has to finish (take a long time), it has to get bought back for some reason (unpredictable) or you have to sell it on the secondary market. To sell on the secondary market someone else has to buy it – meaning other investors are likely to bring in more money. Or, if you’re in a hurry to get out then you’re likely to sell at a discount, and everyone is happy (other investor gets investments cheap). You can already see people selling BBG loans at a discount after having cashed in their discount.

4. The logistical – easier to manage

If an loan company (or Mintos) wants to increase amount of money from investors then logically you would have to increase interest. For long term loans a slight increase in interest is problematic since for a long term loan that comes to a large amount of money. If you list loans with the same interest rate as before, but offering a cashback it’s easier to manage (get to predict volume) and investors are less frustrated if loans get bought back later. It’s also more instant – increased interest rates will not motivate people to make deposits as quickly as a time-limited cashback offer.


 

Overall, since I’ve been investing into mogo loans for most of my Mintos career then for me the buyback is a nice bonus to have. I even sold some older loans at a bit of a discount to benefit from the cashback (I was interested to see that people were actually buying!). Some people are probably still a bit too scared to take in such long term loans, but, well, more left for those who pick them.

Mintos cashback program

It seems like Mintos is growing at such a rate that they need more investors’ money and therefore they are offering for the month of December a cashback program for investors willing to invest into long term loans via the primary market.

As someone whose portfolio in Mintos mostly consisted of long term loans (mostly mogo) anyways, then this is not a particular hardship to take part in – the cashback offers 2-5% cashback depending on the length of loans you are willing to put your money into.

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You can already see the effect this promotion is having by the fact that a) the primary market is pretty empty if you go looking for 60+month loans and looking at the stats for the whole month then half way through the month, Mintos seems to be on track of 45-50 million euros worth of loans being funded. Essentially they are reaching a point where through Mintos as much money is invested as through most other Baltic P2P portals, so super impressive for them!

Looking at the amount of money invested, and assuming maybe half of it would be invested into loans which qualify for the program (since there’s plenty of people who still wish to have only short term loans) the expense for the cashback I would assume, would run somewhere into the range of a couple of hundred thousand to half a million euros to be paid out to the investors.

I’ve also added a bit of extra money to Mintos this month, and will probably add another top-off to benefit from the cashback offer. There are a lot of interesting aspects to this offer, I assume at least some investors will be selling the loans they invested into on the secondary market once the program is over, so I’d expect it would be reasonable to stock up some cash to pick up bbg loans which are on sale on the secondary market at the start of January.

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For my portfolio it’s a nice boost to have, probably in the range of 50-100 euros max depending how much I deposit extra, but a nice Christmas present overall. The cashback gets paid out within a week as well, so if you invest now, then you’ll have time to reinvest the cashback amount as well after it’s deposited.

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I am in the process of exiting Twino

While Twino has served my portfolio well, then the time has come to stop investing there for me. Overall I have no issues with the portal or how it’s run, there are just a few reasons why it’s no longer compatible with my portfolio and there’s no reason to keep it.

Lack of short term loan volume

That isn’t to say that there aren’t short term loans, there are just too many investors who want to have those short term loans, meaning the level of cash drag you experience when waiting for your spot in the queue is a bit too much. There is also an actual lack of loan volume, mostly due to the lack Georgian loans.

BBG vs PG loans

Ever since PG (payment guarantee) loans were introduced I’ve struggled to get any BBG (buyback) loans. I’m not fundamentally against PG loans, however they do lock you in for a LONG time. The default rate at least in my portfolio was pretty big, meaning that quite a bit of my money is locked in for a fair bit longer than I’d want. The original reason why I added Twino to my portfolio was the liquidity of the loans, that is something that is no longer true.

Big changes in the business

Seems like Twino is going through some turbulent times. The Georgian changes, different countries they’re pushing into, structural reorganisation. All of those are understandable, however their communication seems to have fallen off a cliff somewhat. I’ve been waiting to read their 2016 financial report, and as of now it’s still not available.

Where is the money going?

Well, a part of the money is going into the down payment fund of my new home, but most of the money will be transferred to Mintos. There’s enough selection of long and short term loans for me to choose from and enough originators to manage portfolio risk.

How quickly will I exit?

Well, I got the money I added + a bit on top within the first week. After a withdrawal request it takes about two days for the deposit to appear in your bank account. So far I’ve managed to get about half the earning, and due to defaulted PG loans I’ll actually manage a full exit by April 2018… Which is a bit annoying, but I’ll live.

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Overall Twino has served me well, with perfectly OK returns. Just since I stopped adding money almost a year ago now due to lack of accessible loans to my taste, there isn’t much point in keeping it about. I’ll see how they are doing and how the loan balances improve and may consider a return at some point.