In a market saturated with copycat platforms and the same concepts repeated over and over again, sometimes you find rare jewels that do their best to put new ideas on the table, trying to make the crowd-investor experience easier, safer and more transparent.
Today I have the pleasure to interview the CEO of one my favorite post-Covid platforms, one that has captivated my attention since its launch in 2020 and that through constant improvement all these months is really taking off and becoming a must-follow at the start of this 2022. Yes, we are talking about INCOME MARKETPLACE.
1 – Hello Kimmo, and welcome to TodoCrowdlending.com! First of all, for all our readers that are still not familiar with your platform, could you please tell us briefly what Income is and why we should consider it as crowd-users?
Happy to be able to tell more about Income to your followers. Income is an investment platform focused on making investing safe by introducing novel security features that have not been seen in crowdfunding before. Diversification has been the mantra of crowdfunding for years. Still, we also focus on protecting the principal so that no other platform does. We are very relevant to any investor who is planning to start investing in loans or is currently doing so on other platforms.
2 – Probably one of your most differential ideas as a lending marketplace is the so-called Cashflow Buffer. This innovation may change how the industry approaches and manages investors risk, as did the now somewhat obsolete Buyback Guarantee in the previous generation. Can you please explain for our readers how Cashflow Buffer works and how can we benefit from this exclusive feature in Income Marketplace?
I want to say I don’t think Buyback Guarantee / Buyback Obligation is an obsolete feature. For me, it’s almost essential for the platforms to work as it protects investors from non-performing loans. If the loan company gets into trouble and does not have the funds to honor the buyback, the investor is not protected. This is something that other platforms have failed to disclose adequately, and investors have failed to understand correctly. It’s a good concept but wrongly marketed and often misunderstood.
The junior share and cashflow buffer are unique concepts on Income vs. other platforms designed to protect the investors against loan company failure, such as being unable to honor the buyback guarantee. This is how the security works;
- The loan portfolio, which Income investors invest in, acts as a security in case of loan company default. This means that if a default occurs, we have the legal right to take over the portfolio and start collecting cash from there in favor of our investors.
- The Income “junior share” is different from other platforms “skin-in-the-game.” The junior share in each loan (and thus also on a portfolio basis) acts as a first loss component meaning that the loan originator loses this part entirely before the investors lose any money. So you can think of it as equity of the loan company in each loan.
- The Income cashflow buffer is the total amount of junior share + the profitability of the loan book. We analyze it constantly to cover 1:1 investors’ principal + interest.
In short, this means that all the junior share and revenue items (interest and fees) from the loan portfolio will be used to pay investors fully back, and only if any cash is left over, then this naturally belongs to the loan company.For example, suppose there are 1000 loans on Income from loan originator X that defaults and if out of these 800 perform (borrowers repay as per schedule) when we collect the funds from the portfolio. In that case, We will use the junior share and profit of these 800 to cover the 200 non-performing loans (borrowers don’t pay), thus resulting in a 100% recovery of investment for all investors.
3 – Thanks to this kind of value-adding innovations you are definitely getting attention and support, having -for example- been nominated in several categories for the Estonian Startup Awards 2021 and completing a very successful crowdfunding round on Seedrs -technically still open as we speak in case somebody is interested-. Focusing on this campaign, how has been the experience?, what are your plans for Income with the money raised in this campaign?
Estonian Startup Awards was great recognition, and it was fantastic to be in the top 10. The Estonian startup ecosystem is highly competitive positively as there are so many great companies and founders popping up all the time.
You are right, we are still live on Seedrs for about a week, and so far, the experience has been overall good. Being listed there also creates trust and brand recognition, so we´ve seen an increase in investors using our platform after the listing. We aim to grow Income into a large-scale platform so anyone wishing to participate in the growth can join the Seedrs campaign. We will use the funds raised to keep developing our product, beef up the team, and support the onboarding of new loan originators.
4 – Also, this month Income Marketplace has made into the TOP-10 statistics ranking of TodoCrowdlending.com, with some extraordinary numbers, especially in the relative growth categories, both in terms of volume invested as well as active users, which is another achievement that points to the promising path ahead… What are your goals in terms of volume and investors by the end of this 2022?
We have ambitious goals for 2022 and are looking to onboard nearly 20 000 investors still within this year. This depends on our ability to bring in new loan companies onto the platform and attract investors, so many things will need to go well for us to reach this volume. On the other hand, this is a tiny fraction of the overall market, and looking at the growth rates of our peers is doable.
5 – Probably one of the most critical parts of any marketplace is the Loan Originator selection and evaluation. I see you are planning to add a very wide variety of LOs to Income, which will make the platform even more attractive for investors… Could you tell us a bit more about the Due Diligence process you carry out when onboarding a new LO?, how many new LOs do you plan on adding in this 2022?
We currently have about 20 loan companies in different due diligence and onboarding phases, so we are working hard to get these onboarded. We see prominent names such as Vivus Mexico (part of Digital Finance International, active in 23 markets) shortly. Also, interestingly we will be onboarding some more established loan companies already available on other platforms like we did with Danarupiah recently.
So I think investors already today will find our offering very competitive, and yields up to 12% are very attractive when compared to other platforms when you account for the additional security we provide.
The due diligence covers the usual categories of legal and business, but where we focus is the financial part of understanding the quality of the loan book as it acts as a security in case of LO default. We just recently wrote about our DD process in our blog also
6 – Talking about another important topic for us investors, as we all know, the new European Crowdfunding Regulation is coming into effect by the end of this year. How is this going to affect Income operations as well as our experience as users of the platform?
We are following the regulatory environment, and at the moment, the Estonian legislator is penning down the local legislation. This will take us to become regulated during 2022. I have no concerns about us getting any required license, and I don’t think there will be too many changes for investors regarding user experience.
7 – Anything else you would like to add or share with the community of TodoCrowdlending.com?
I´m also an active crowdfunding investor, and to my fellow investors, I´d like to say that if you like the concept of Income and our approach to investor security, then give us a try. The more investors invest through Income, the better chance we have to make other platforms to improve their security features.
Thanks very much for your time, Kimmo!