Mintos is the leading marketplace in Europe for investing in loans, having already surpassed truly impressive milestones such as 5.7 billion euros invested and 340 000 investors registered since the beginning of operations in 2015.
Just to get a glimpse of the magnitude of these numbers, according to our monthly stats, in 2020, Mintos is still the one and the only platform responsible for half of the total monthly volume invested in the whole European crowdlending industry (including 50+ platforms we track every month).
But even for a titan like Mintos, 2020 is being a year of change, adaptation and improvements.
Today we have with us Martins Sulte, CEO and co-founder, to talk about some of these improvements, the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and the path ahead of us. Thanks for coming to TodoCrowdlending.com!
1 – First of all, one of the greatest improvements I think it is coming these days -if not already implemented by the time we publish this interview- is the Mintos Risk Score for loan originators, evolving the Mintos Ratings you introduced in 2018. I truly believe this can be a huge step forward towards even more transparency and even more informed decisions taken by investors. What was the inspiration for developing this new feature and how confident you are this new metric will make Mintos marketplace even better?
Thanks for the good words! We continue working on new developments and are excited to share them with our investor and follower base.
About Mintos Risk Score – we wanted to increase transparency on our marketplace and provide investors with a more detailed view of the investment opportunities available on Mintos. So now, investors will be able to see a general evaluation of risks – Mintos Risk Score, and also more granular evaluation of its four subscores: loan portfolio quality, loan servicer efficiency, cooperation structure and buyback strength.
Mintos Risk Score was something we were planning already for some time and I think it now comes at a very good moment. We have scaled our business to a point where we need to update the concepts we developed a couple of years ago and prepare for the next stages of our growth.
2 – Digging deeper into investors’ behaviour, what are the main changes you have noticed both in quantitative / qualitative terms- comparing an average Mintos investor in late 2019 and an average Mintos investor in late 2020?
Investors have become more aware of the risks associated with investing in loans. While the pandemic and the economic crisis brought various challenges also to Mintos and investors on Mintos, we also saw that it highlighted the number of retail investors who had not previously evaluated if their investment portfolio on Mintos had been diversified enough. Moreover, how the investments in loans fit with investors broader investment portfolio and how comfortable investors are with taking risk which comes with investing in assets that have double-digit returns.
We now see on multiple occasions investors doing a thorough analysis – in the questions that they ask our Investor Services team, and comments they write on our blog and social media platforms.
In the meantime, investors continue to invest in loans. During the first wave of the pandemic, we saw many investors added investments in stocks to their portfolio (you can read about it on our blog on investors survey results back in April 2020), along with stock market falls and subsequent lower entry costs for its participants. Throughout the summer, the growth of the number of new retail investors choosing to invest in loans grew, yet slowly. Much slower then pre-Covid-19 time, understandably. I believe we will start getting back to pre-Covid-19 investments levels starting next year once the pandemic effects subside.
3 – Mintos has been able to provide a stable, double-digit average net annual return for its investors for years, but of course, one of the main concerns for investors nowadays (and the main of focus of the latest Mintos AMA) is the status of the Funds in Recovery with different Loan Originators mainly impacted by the Pandemic… without entering in any specific case, do you have an average of what is the % in recovery considering all Mintos investors and what do you think would be the estimated % loss (bad debt) in the long term after all recovery processes are finished?
It is currently difficult to predict any precise volumes since we are at the beginning of the recoveries process. We already have full recovery cases, yet other cases will take longer. Nevertheless, we have shared our expectations in the latest In Recovery update available to all our investors via their Mintos profile – would suggest turning there for details. Majority of cases where funds are in process to be recovered are linked to borrowers’ ability to repay. While some countries are more stable, it might be that some countries will impose yet another lockdown or movement restrictions, bringing iterations to lending companies to collect borrowers repayments and transfer to investors on Mintos in time. Our aim is to recover as much as possible.
4 – Changing subjects, another great improvement that is on the way and every investor will surely appreciate is the application of Mintos to become a regulated marketplace (including an Investment Firm licence and an Electronic Money Institution licence). What is the current status / timeline for these applications and what are the benefits we can expect as investors?
By becoming a regulated marketplace for investing in loans we aim to introduce clear policies, investment frameworks, and prospectuses, that will decrease operational risks of the platform and further increase the level of transparency. Along with an e-Money Institution licence, each investor will have two separate accounts for investments and payments which will lead to increased security for investors’ funds. Over time, we will be adding other investment products (such as ETFs) and provide additional financial services (like Mintos IBAN account and debit card).
Being founded in Latvia, we cooperate with the Financial and Capital Market Commission, the local regulator of the sector. We plan to implement the change on our marketplace as soon as the regulator is confident about our business model fitting the necessary requirements. We are confident of the cooperation and the work we have already done and the work still ahead of us.
5 – Apart from the regulatory side, what are your main goals for 2021?, are there any new products or functionality already in the pipeline?
Our goal remains to offer loans as a new alternative investment type, fitting retail investor needs.
So far we have witnessed an unprecedented growth thanks to the great product-market fit. There is still a huge market opportunity ahead of the company. In the European Union alone, retail investors Mintos investments worth €7 trillion. We believe we are in a great position to meet this increasing demand for alternative investments and to capitalize on the rise of non-bank lending.
For 2021, our focus remains on becoming a regulated marketplace – it means quite a lot of changes internally, and also externally. We plan to introduce new products – Notes, Mintos IBAN accounts, Mintos payment cards, and ETF trading.
6 – What are the 3 tips you would give to any new investor that joins Mintos today?
Investors should diversify not only on Mintos level but also within their investment portfolio as a whole. Also, look up the information we share with our investors over blog or emails. There’s a lot of practical and useful knowledge that might be helpful to many – those in the know of investing in loans and those only starting to grasp it.
7 – Anything else you would like to comment or share with the community of TodoCrowdlending.com?
Mintos is crowdfunding! This is our latest news we are happy to share with our community. As some of your readers might already know – we plan for the next funding round next year with venture capital firms. As a part of this round, we first want to say thank you to our community by offering an opportunity to join us in our next growth phase. If anyone is interested to know more
We have recently launched pre-registration form – everyone signing up on it will be the first to get the latest news and early access to start investing in Mintos. Join us!
Thanks very much for your time, Martins!