Let’s face it: in 2020 the P2P investment landscape has completely changed compared to last year, with users often actively seeking transparency and trustworthiness rather than mere high returns and easy profits.
In this context, today we have with us Andrius Bolšaitis, CEO of ViVentor, one of the P2P lending marketplaces that -in my opinion as user and investor- is best adapting to this new situation, with an impressive Loan Originator Portfolio Tracking Page and its Investment Brokerage Licence acquisition process already in its final stage.
Welcome to TodoCrowdlending.com Andrius, thanks for coming!
ES – Spanish: Esta es la versión original en inglés, pero pulsa AQUÍ si prefieres leerla traducida automáticamente en español 😉
1 – First of all, for those members of our community that still are not familiar with your platform, could you quickly tell us what ViVentor is and what its value proposition is for investors?
Hello Jesus, and thank you for having the opportunity to speak with you about ViVentor and P2P industry.
ViVentor is a peer-to-peer investment marketplace – a platform which enables investors from across the world to invest in 4 categories: consumer loans, business loans, leasing and real estate loans. At this moment we have 6905 active users, with more than 135 million euros invested since 2015.
We finished rebuilding the platform this January – and we now have a whole new team. To consolidate and reinvigorate the platform we brought in members who have extensive experience in banking business, as well as some fresh talent. Since then we have been working hard to achieve our new target of becoming a much more transparent and reliable business. We want to bring the standards of professionalism from the banking industry to p2p lending, and to be an example of how p2p investing should be done. Of course, this takes time and there is still a lot of work to be done. But we believe in what we are doing and that it will benefit our investors and the industry in the long run.
In June this year ViVentor was acquired by Dutch investors Gielen Group who share our vision for ViVentor, and since then we have been working together to achieve our mission to become the most transparent platform for the diversification of alternative investments.
2 – Something I truly love as an investor about ViVentor is the amount of diversification you can achieve in your portfolio, with almost 20 Originators from more than 10 different countries including a varied selection of asset classes. And now, you can even check their Portfolio Status almost in real time and the Funds in Transit for each one, which I truly think is one of the greatest examples of transparency in the business right now and a clearly differential value of your platform. What is the idea behind this LO Portfolio Page and how do you think it integrates in the whole user / investor experience?
There are a lot of crowdlending platforms, some of them are really good and we salute everyone who is working towards strengthening the P2P industry. Nonetheless, for the past few years investors have been selecting platforms based on a number of criteria, some of which we believe are slightly ill-conceived. We believe that investors should choose investments according to the strength and reliability of loan originators, as we do when we buy stocks. Trading platforms are important but they are more of a hygiene factor or safety net – you want to keep your money safe. But in the main, investors earn from stocks or other financial instruments, but not from the platforms.
This is where the ViVentor marketplace comes in. We want to make our platform reliable and transparent so that investors are able to make an educated decision on where they should invest for diversification purposes.
The Covid-19 pandemic has struck the microfinancing industry hard and brought a lot of challenges for P2P. Admittedly, there have been some very unfortunate consequences for those investors who have suffered losses on different platforms, and there is still a lot of money “frozen” due to government actions or the inability of loan originators to adjust to the new normal. We aim to make this situation as transparent as possible, and that is why we have chosen to be more upfront and to communicate more regularly.
ViVentor is a marketplace which means that we connect investors and loan originators. It is, therefore, our obligation to make investing opportunities as transparent as possible. This means it is not our job to solely promote investment into loans with high returns, but rather we should promote the practice of making clearly calculated actions which evaluate what risks can be taken and what returns can be gained. Our LO Portfolio Page is a tool which has been designed to help investors to make educated decisions.
3 – 2020 has been a year of many changes for almost all the P2P lending platforms, mainly forced by the Covid-19 pandemic and the trust issues arisen at the beginning of the year with some high yield platforms… How have all these events impacted your operations and strategy in particular?
The organic growth of investors has shrunk although we haven’t experienced as large losses as some platforms. And with the changes in economic and sociodemographic environments we decided to shift our strategy.
As I mentioned before, we are trying to become as transparent as possible with the management of the existing portfolios of loan originators. We are also committed to sourcing and onboarding new loan originators who would prove much more resilient to pandemic or economical difficulties. This is why we aim to attract LOs from Europe instead of onboarding LO’s simply on the back of the fact that they offer high interest rates. We have already established contact with more than 100 loan originators across Europe, and that number of contacts is growing everyday. Since July we have on-boarded 2 new LOs – Stikcredit and Credissimo Super AD (under the brand name Maxo.bg). Both LO’s have successfully passed our due diligence process and look robust, and we are working intensively to bring more LOs from central and western Europe. Unfortunately finding reliable and competent LOs takes time. In addition to which, the onboarding process takes several months.
One observation that we have made is that although some investors comment that they would rather prioritise transparency and reliability over high interest rate, in reality they still prefer high interest loans ignoring higher-risk of such investments. For us, the future of P2P lending lies in diversification. It would be negligent of us as a platform to only deal in high risk high interest loans. Instead, we want also to be able to offer more secure lower interest loans, so that investors can build truly diversified portfolios that deliver both short and long term value. It will be interesting to see how investors will react.
4 – On top of that, in your case, you also have experienced a change of owners in June this year, being acquired by Dutch Investment Company Lotus 597 B.V… As users of the platform, what can we expect from this change of ownership?
Since coming on board, the team at Lotus have been very active in helping us shape and implement our vision of becoming a European market leader in the peer to peer lending marketplace sector. Lotus shares our commitment to transparency, and they are supporting us fully in our ambition to be ambassadors for best practices in the industry.
As I’ve mentioned, we want to onboard loan originators from Europe which would be reliable and more resistant to economic challenges, with the caveat that they might not necessarily offer the highest interest rates. Secondly, we want to begin working more closely with corporate investors, although we will need to have our License fully in place before we can truly embark on this path. And thirdly, we’ll be working more actively with product development – we are presently working on a few solutions which would be available for private and corporate investors. And, of course, we will continue to work on securing our Investment Brokerage Licence.
5 – In this current context, clearly another differential value which is going to be a great plus for ViVentor is the Investment Brokerage Licence you are about to obtain from Latvian authorities. What is the status of this process and what benefits / changes can we expect as users of the platform in the near future?
To qualify for an Investment Brokerage License, the applying company is required to provide a comprehensive package of 15 documents covering all areas of their business activity. Only when all of these documents have been submitted and approved by the registering authority will our license be granted.
We are working on all of them at the moment, and in addition to this we are providing a monthly report to the regulator outlining the business’s running.
Regarding the benefits to investors, the transparency of ViVentor’s operations will be monitored by a public authority. It will also provide moderate protection against wrongdoing (direct), in a manner equivalent to that provided by local regulators. The main distinction that the licence will provide is that it will place our P2P investment or lending company on the map as a fully licenced official entity. And this, in turn, will significantly consolidate the reliability of the business.
6 – Anything else you would like to comment / share with the community of TodoCrowdlending.com?
We see tectonic changes taking place in the P2P industry, especially in regards to standards, transparency and professionalism. This we welcome wholeheartedly. And although the interests of investors remain central, we shouldn’t forget the loan originators, many of whom are struggling in the current crisis. This is why we hope that investors will be understanding towards P2P platforms who try to solve and manage issues in the best possible way. This is a difficult task because our industry is still very young and susceptible to the challenges which we are all enduring.