Twino and Mintos portfolios, 6m

The great Latvian face-off! How has it been going? Time to take a look.statustwino

Twino

So, when it comes to Twino the original plan was to have short term loans only to balance out the fact that most other of my investments are long term (such as Bondora and Omaraha). At start it was working well, but Twino has been playing around with interest rates quite a bit, so I’ve adjusted my plan a bit and ended up investing into longer term loans (since they offer 13% interest at the moment) and keeping only a part of the portfolio in very short term loans.

The interest difference of course isn’t that much, but realistically the likelihood that I would have to take out all of the money quickly enough for it to matter is small enough to be probably quite irrelevant. If I just need to cash out quickly then there is a somewhat functioning secondary market, and I’m keeping enough money in cash to not really be worried about the slightly reduced liquidity. Overall, I think they’ve managed to find a place in the Baltic P2P market and will prove to do well in long term too.

Mintos

statusmintosNow, when it comes to Mintos, then I buried my plan of investing only into short term loans way before I did with Twino. I do have two autobidders running, one of them catching shorter term loans, but with mogo offering 13,5% with buyback as well, there isn’t really too much of a reason to diversify that much across different loan providers (especially considering the fact that I have investments in other portals as well). So if I look at the balance of my portfolio right now, then about 75% of the loans are mogo car loans with long deadlines.

When it comes to the volume, neither Twino or Mintos have had issues. Whenever I add more money, it gets invested in minutes, and I can see why a lot of people who start on either of these sites don’t really feel the need to diversify across too many more portals. Overall if I look at the 5 core portals in my P2P portfolio, then by portfolio value the division would be Bondora > Crowdestate > Omaraha > Mintos > Twino. A couple of months ago the first three were trailing ahead quite a lot, but I’m letting the last two catch up since I think they’ve both proven their value in both the volumes provided, with transparent data & expansion plans and just overall great communication. To sum up, I’d say that they have both been worthy additions to my P2P portfolio.

Social lending portfolio (March, 2016)

Honestly, so many things were happening in P2P in Estonia in March that it was difficult to keep track of everything. Overall, big numbers, some chaos and interesting future perspectives would probably describe the month. Overall, I just got back from London and it was an experience in how far behind we are when it comes to investing being mainstream – you can hardly look anywhere in central London (or on the metro) and not see some sort of advertising for investing. Things are hopefully changing here as well, though.

Bondora personal portfolio

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I’ve started the process of wrapping up my private portfolio, which can be seen from the dip in interest earned (below 100€ for the first time in 6 months). What this means is that I am selling off defaults and old mispriced loans, that I want to get rid of. Current plan is to sell off the not-so-great parts of my portfolio within this year, and then do a sale for the better loans next January (so the tax obligation would arrive mid-2018).

Overall I think it’s a reasonable plan because 1) secondary market is so slow at the moment that I don’t want to dedicate too much of my time to selling things 2) selling good EST loans at a premium won’t be an issue, so I might as well let them pay as they are, and then sell the ones that are too far from deadline once I actively pull out. I’ve transferred out 1K of money, which is going into stocks since it’s money invested as a private person.

Bondora business portfolio

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For my business portfolio, I am a bit torn. Bondora is not the highest returning part of my P2P portfolio (Omaraha is), however Omaraha is unable to offer enough volume and lacks a secondary market. So it seems that Bondora will have to remain the biggest part of my portfolio at this point. There was a slight dip in interest returns since last month a lot of the loans started with frontloaded interest payments, it should stabilize out and start climbing now.

Omaraha portfolio

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As time goes on, I have to admit, I am liking Omaraha more and more. It is clearly currently top when it comes to returns, since I haven’t had any defaults yet. However, they recently announced that all new defaults will have a buyback at 80% of principal value, which means that the potential loss isn’t immense – especially since most of my loans (90%) are 900+ (the highest) credit group. Looking rather stable, and aiming to get to 100/month in interest earned by some time in autumn. Will see, depending on how I manage the different proportions – adding money to Omaraha is heavily dependent on their volume of loans. I mostly just add money when what I have on the account has run out.

Mintos, Twino, Viventor

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I’ve essentially given up with my idea that Mintos could offer reasonable short-length loans and slightly replayed the proportions between Twino and Mintos. Of course, Twino has been slightly confusing this month, the biggest problem being that the autobidder is slightly broken at the moment. Viventor finally managed to get theirs working though, so there must be balance in the universe 😉

Currently Twino/Mintos stand equal in my portfolio (just added the money into Mintos later, which is why the interest returns lag). For Viventor, they seem to be doing OK, so I will probably add in a couple of hundred extra there just for their 1-month length loans. Mintos’s offers of 13% consumer loans and 13,5% car loans means that even though I’m not a fan of the loan lengths there, it does slightly pull ahead in the race of the Latvian platforms at the moment.

Crowdestate

I have this dream, that one day CrowdEstate’s IT system will work as intended. At this point it seems like they are still suffering from issues when a new project releases, which made this project fun – since I was in London I had to find a Starbucks for wifi and then suffer through the horror of using their website on my mobile phone. I really want them to do well, but issues like this take away a lot of goodwill that investors would otherwise have.

Estateguru, Moneyzen & Investly

Estateguru is impressing with volumes, however as stated before, not adding any money currently since my portfolio there is private (no word of a secondary market for a long time now).

Moneyzen did not manage to get the new regulatory license on time, which means that no new loans are being given out. Which makes me reasonably happy that I ‘only’ have 500€ there, but it’s not being reinvested, so not good overall.

Investly seems to have gotten their pipeline for factoring (invoice selling)  going, there seems to be a reasonable amount of invoices listed, which is making me consider actually finalizing my registration and testing them out.

Huge updates to the business model of Bondora

Just when things were looking reasonably calm and settled, the new legal regulations that came into effect on March 21st pushed Bondora towards finally announcing their change of direction – from being an intermediary to being a credit provider.

What has changed?

In essence the situation now works like this – when a client wants to get a loan then  this loan is initially given out by Bondora, and then the pieces are sold to individual investors. Essentially what this means, is a move towards a more Lending Club like model – that investors purchase the right to a claim (which they’ve been actually doing for a while already, but now there seems to be some legal alterations to the process). Overall, the biggest change by far is the fact that Bondora now announced that due to their change in legal status they will be keeping a part of every loan in their own balance sheet. The definition of ‘part’ has not been announced but this has some impact how to assess risk.

Bondora now has ‘skin in the game’

While before, owners of Bondora also invested into loans (the CEO, Pärtel Tomberg, said this amounted to 1,2 million € worth of loan pieces, amounting to a total of about 3% of the portfolio), now Bondora as a business will also be impacted by the quality of the loans. In theory it does two things – firstly it somewhat increases the strain on the finances of Bondora; secondly it ties them more directly to the quality of the loan book.

It’s difficult to assess the long term impact of this. In many ways Bondora is now moving towards the model that several loan originators that list their loans at Mintos are using – keep a % of the loan in their loanbook and sell the rest. In theory it should be good overall. Also, this was a predictable change in their business model. In the long run it’s probably a stepping stone towards a full on banking license. This change would also allow to start some kind of securitisation based on the existing loan book, but there is no info so far on this.

Changes to the recovery process

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Now, a much bigger change that was announced was more a aggressive debt collection strategy that outlines a new process where DCAs are to be involved in the process as early as 7 days into the collections process. This has predictably caused a serious uproar from some investors due to the fact that DCAs apply fees on money that they collect, reducing investor returns. One of the key questions that has arisen is the question of whether 7 days is a reasonable date for becoming more aggressive and whether waiting a bit further to verify increased likelihood of bankruptcy would be reasonable.

Now, the initial reactions seem to be very emotion based, and I’ve kept myself from making any rushed judgements. A lot of investors seem to consider this as a large loss without considering the fact that once DCAs take over collections they do not keep at it forever – if a settlement is reached the client keeps paying and further aggressive collections is not needed. Another issue that there isn’t much info on, is the rate at which collections happens – the main issue with court collections is that the time delay is immense, often more than a year before anything happens; for DCAs the recovery is clearly much quicker. Overall I’m expecting to hear more information on this before making any long term decisions.

 

Buyback for P2P loans, how does it work?

When choosing a P2P platform to invest into, buyback has become a significant vote in favour of some sites. Others, however, are a bit suspicious and wonder how guaranteed return makes economic sense. This is a topic that I get a fair bit of questions about, and I was in the camp of those wondering where the catch was at start as well. However, this is the reason you do background checks – to figure out how the economic model of certain sites works and whether or not it makes sense.

Different options of buyback

Currently I invest on three different P2P sites that offer a buyback option. The Latvian sites Twino and Mintos offer a buyback campaign that purchases back delinquent loans. For Mintos the deadline is 60 days, for Twino the deadline is 30 days delinquent. (This seems to be a bit earlier at times, since I’ve been seen buybacks from both sites already.) The Estonian site Omaraha also offers a kind of a buyback – for them it’s a principal buyback in the value of ~60% of the remaining principal. Both Twino and Mintos however also pay out the interest you have earned. So, in theory for both of those sites it’s as near to guaranteed return as it can get in P2P, how does it make financial sense?

How do the numbers work?

The biggest question that you should be asking when it comes to buyback is this – how does the business still make a profit? This is the key issue – they have to be making profit off the loans otherwise the buyback would not be sustainable in case of an economic downturn. This means that despite the fact that some of the profits earned off loans are paid out to investors, the business still earns some.buyback For both the Latvian sites the % you earn is in the ranges of 12-15% return on a yearly basis. This means that clearly the actual loan rate for the people taking out the loans has to be significantly higher to justify such a payout model. For Twino the loans are payday loans, meaning the interest rates are likely to reach up to 100%, for Mintos some of the loans are for example car loans, that are likely to go up to 30% per year. In addition to the overhead interest any and all penalties, extra interest and fees are also placed on top of the interest that you earn as an investor. This means that buyback is viable only for loans that have a high enough margin for the loan originators to cover (un)expected losses and wait for recovery to happen on defaulted loans. For Omaraha the interest rates on certain groups aren’t too high, which explains the buyback being partial – allowing a return of only a part of the principal. Bondora for example is against buyback on principal, but theoretically it could be implemented with good data workings provided they were interested in doing even more of the recovery (which they are not at this point in seems). Another important note here is the length of the loan – for Twino getting investors involved would be near impossible without buyback due to the short term of the loans, since waiting for recovery would be disproportionately long compared to the loan terms on the site.

Risks associated with buyback

In the world of consumer credit it’s common for companies to finance themselves using investors’ money. This is how most SMS-loan type businesses work – they release bonds at about 10-12% rates that finance their loan origination. Compared to the buyback process (and financing loans through the marketplace with investors’ money) releasing bonds is actually rather expensive – take into account all the fees for lawyers, documentation etc. Plus, financing the loans through a marketplace allows the businesses only use as much of the supply as they need, meaning they don’t pay out interest on money that’s still not used, actually probably making offering the buyback cheaper than other methods of financing their loan portfolio.

However, this does not eliminate risks completely. Firstly, in case of the loan originator going under you’re still in trouble. Secondly, even with the best laid plans, issues might happen – for example in case of a crisis buyback may be (temporarily) cancelled. Thirdly, this is an untested way of financing – issues may occur that none of us have been able to predict.

This means that you should still firstly diversify between different loan originators, still diversify between loans themselves and diversify across different investments and take a critical look at the background of the originators to see if their financial models work out. However, this might just be something that will take more ground in the world of P2P – reducing risks is one thing that might motivate more risk averse investors to try out P2P investments.

Twino vs Mintos, initial impressions

I recently added both of the Latvian P2P platforms into my portfolio, and I’ve got some questions about my first thoughts so I thought I’d discuss a few things that have stood out to me within the first few weeks.

Loan terms

One of my key expectations for both portals was to have the ability to invest into short(er) term loans. Since my P2P investments in Estonian portals (Bondora, Omaraha, Moneyzen) are rather long deadlined (5 years), then for flexibility’s sake I wanted to invest into 1-6 month loans. This has proven to not be equally easy.

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For Twino loan volumes aren’t an issue. Any money I transfer in gets invested momentarily, which is one of the reasons why I’ve added in money twice already. Currently the only problem with portfolio building is limiting your own enthusiasm towards transfering in money.

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For Mintos, however, short term loans are in short supply. The first money I transferred in got invested within a few days, but since then it’s been problematic to see any short term loans. I attempted to lengthen the loan terms to 12 months, but that didn’t help much. This means that so far I haven’t added in any additional finances.

Automatic investing

Due to the simplicity of Twino’s product the autobidder is also phenomenally easy to use. I have to admit, they have made a good choice here – since your loans are buyback guaranteed than making automatic investing difficult in any way would be nonsensical. The money gets invested essentially the moment it’s transferred, so I hardly even log on, just glance at the daily reports in my mail.

For Mintos the autobidder to be honest is a bit painful to use. It’s both visually a bit clunky and some of the settings are problematic in terms of making sense. I get that this is an issue when you have multiple loan originators, but the bigger the market grows for them, the quicker they should work on making the autobidder smoother and more understandable at a glance.

Reliability

This is the question that everyone would like an answer to – who is more reliable of the two. I have no clue how exactly to check for this, but I suppose we should dig out the financial reports for both for Investeerimisraadio.

In terms of volume Mintos has clearly funded more lians (12M+), while Twino is at 6M+, one lists consumer loans and the other real estate backed loans and car backed loans as well, so the total amounts are clearly bound to be different.

I’d say if your tactic is long term investing then there probably isn’t much of a functional difference in the returns, but a slight difference in the experience. However, if you’re wishing for a short term investment that would be quicker to exit, then Twino is slightly in the lead for me at the moment.