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Distribution and profit
April was my most lucrative month in crowdfunding – but will I get to keep those earnings, or will they be offset by bad debts from problematic loan originators and projects? It’s still early to tell, all I can do is focus on the safest offers – and hope.
There were no affiliate commissions this month. If you wish to join any of these platforms, you are welcome to use my signup links.
My extraordinary monthly income was derived from discounted purchases on the secondary market. But demand is finally catching up with supply, and I believe that remaining buyers will soon move back to the primary market. I see this period as an opportunity to grab relatively high-interest loans from solid originators like DelfinGroup, Mikro Kapital, Placet Group and ESTO, which settle payments on time and have a lower-than-average ratio of late loans (right now, the Mintos average is 38.2% late).
For the past two months Mintos has been bombarding investors with corona-related news, and information about the ever-growing list of troubled loan originators. As much as I appreciate transparency, it’s starting to feel as though Mintos is shrugging off its responsibility for doing due diligence and mitigating risks, and passing the ball over to investors.
For example, if Poland and Armenia are suffocating lending companies in response to corona, I don’t want to read about it, I want to see fewer Polish and Armenian loans on Mintos, higher skin in the game, lower leveraging, revised ratings, additional collateral and guarantees. If originators have developed a tendency to withhold payments from investors, it’s not enough to show us the number of days pending; we expect Mintos to prevent this behaviour (for example, by introducing escrow accounts for borrower repayments).
Mintos has further annoyed me this month by removing the display of monthly funding volume, in attempt to obscure the drastic drop. There is nothing I hate more than when people distort reality to suit their interests, and statistics are too often manipulated to this effect.
Here is what Mintos wants you to see – cumulative figures:
Luckily, this data can be reorganised to show what Mintos is trying to hide – the monthly volumes:
This chart is much more meaningful for showing the current atmosphere on Mintos in relation to the past: You can now recognise the 50% drop in March and additional 71% drop in April.
In Mintos’s defence, they’ve also added an important display – the monthly portfolio size:
But here, too, the long-term data makes recent changes less evident. Let’s see what happens when we focus on monthly change:
Reach whatever conclusions you want based on this data, but I believe it’s significant enough to remain accessible to investor. Which is why I’ve added my charts to this public document, and will update them in time.
Speaking of data, PeerBerry has added a Statistics page. It needs to be expanded to include more metrics, but it’s a good start. Looking at the monthly funding volume, you can see a drop here as well, but it is less severe compared to Mintos: 37% drop in March and additional 26% in April:
NPL ratio has fluctuated throughout the month, but remained very reasonable. Here is my portfolio status tonight:
In other news, there is a new and improved Loan Originators page, and website performance has been noticeably boosted. I also received this nice email:
The loans we refinance don’t always feel very ethical, so it’s good to know that Aventus donates some of its profit – achieved with our money – to charity.
Although PeerBerry still has things to improve, it’s good to see them evolving. My trust remains high, and I’ve increased my investment by almost 10% in April.
Crowdestate and EvoEstate
I sold a few of my Spanish and Italian development loans at small discounts (up to 5%). Both countries have experienced severe coronavirus outbreaks, and since they derive a significant portion of their GDP from tourism, I’m afraid they may take longer to recover from the crisis. Sadly, I am stuck with a few loans which weren’t sold.
Baltic real estate is less affected, and construction works continue as planned, but we can already see a decline in demand. I’ve made a few small investments, focusing on more solid properties. What I really want on both platforms is more long-term rentals, which should remain relatively stable even in turbulent economies.
Honestly, I’m not loving the returns on these platforms so far. Due to bullet payments, the return on investment flows in very slowly, which doesn’t allow for much compounding. I expect these investments to be significantly safer to justify the lower returns, but the impact of defaults remains to be seen.
You may also be interested in EvoEstate’s Q1 2020 summary .
Lenndy is slumbering in autopilot mode – nothing has changed for over a year other than small interest rate adjustments to boost demand. I have never seen a business make so little effort to compete – there is something almost magical about it.
Loan performance is awful as always, but my loans are rarely bought back, they simply pay and go back to being late. This month’s returns were lower than usual, but my overall XIRR is 11.57%, close enough to the expected 12%.
Withdrawals are performed on time, and I am gradually reducing my exposure, because I do not believe in stagnance in an ever-changing market.
Crowdestor is abuzz with activity, and seems hellbent on growth even during a global pandemic that sent the entire world into a standstill. Their team is expanding, and now includes Artur Geisari – the CEO of Monify, an SME loan originator (which is currently winding down operations).
Crowdestor has also launched an equity campaign, promising extremely strong growth in coming years. And this is where I become sceptical. As mediators, crowdfunding platforms tend to have rather narrow profit margins. Even those that achieve impressive growth don’t suddenly turn into money-printing machines.
Another thing I don’t understand is the interest rates offered for loans. Where I come from, businesses never, ever, pay that much for loans. I understand that things are different in Eastern Europe / the Baltics, but interest rates above 20% seem excessive even for those markets. Crowdestor tends to describe every loan as a great opportunity, and I always feel that some horrible piece is missing from the puzzle. For example, here is a loan analysis provided by another investor:
Is Crowdestor built for knowledgeable investors who know how to find and evaluate such risks on their own? Or quite the opposite, it’s built to attract “stupid money”? Are Janis and Gunars business-prodigies who know how to hand-pick projects where the opportunities outweigh the risk? Or are they slightly delusional about success chances, or simply feel comfortable betting with other people’s money?
I honestly don’t know the answers. As tempted as I am by the high returns, I don’t feel comfortable significantly increasing my investment until I get a clearer picture of the risk/reward ratio.
As a side-note, I admire Janis for spending hours answering every question on every social media outlet, even those that heavily doubt and criticise his business, like PeerDuck’s telegram group.
Both Tarya and BTB seem very little affected by the crisis, and have provided solid returns throughout the month. My late loan ratio has barely gone up, but a fellow investor on BTB, with a more mature portfolio, told me that his loans were more affected. This isn’t surprising, considering that BTB issues loans to Israeli SMEs, most of which have been nonoperational for the past 1.5 months. Now that the lockdown is being lifted, there is a good chance that his portfolio will improve as well.
Overall, so far solid P2P is looking as a good investment for times of crisis. Then again, no one knows yet if this crisis has ended or it’s only beginning…
This post is not meant as investment counselling. I am just a fellow investors sharing his personal thoughts and experiences.