Peertopeer

Eight reasons why I moved out of peer to peer investments

I realized I never actually went deeper into my reasons for fully leaving peer to peer. So here are my reasons why I decided to cease investing in peer to peer and only invest in real estate and the stock market.

#1 Its not actually passive

What I realized that with some sites you need to keep a constant eye out for negative news messages about the LO’s you invested in. Sometimes you can read in the news a Loan Originator is going bankrupt, and a few days later it gets suspended from the secondary market. You will want to sell your loans off from that originator before this happens.

#2 It’s hard to distinguish between scams and honest sites

While I do feel some peer to peer sites are easier to spot as scams some are much harder. Sites where the projects don’t match up, or where Loan Originators are kept a secret. I was invested in Kuetzal, Envestio and Monethera. While I got out in time out of Monethera and Envestio I was not able to get out of Kuetzal in time. Looking at it back now of course I should have spotted Kuetzal as a scam.

But other sites were much harder to decide on if they are scams or not. Take Grupeer who went into default for me for example. Are they a scam? Even up to this day after not paying for 90 days they keep up appearances. In any case they were listed on explorep2p which usually only listed credible peer to peer sites.

#3 There is a high liquidity risk on most p2p and p2b sites

Some of these sites have a secondary market but that does not necessarily means it functions correctly. When shit hits the fan and everyone wants to get out, even a secondary market will not help. Some sites don’t have this at all, and they offer investments for 24 months. That’s a very long time to wait when things go wrong.

#4 Investors money might not be separated from the company’s money

When I asked to wire the money on my virtual Grupeer account in March, Grupeer answered me that due to delays in transfers from the Loan Originators they could not transfer it. BUT it was already on my account. That means that the company money and investors money was all together in one big pool. And I am sure that Grupeer was not the only p2p site doing this. It’s not regulated, so they are not required to do it. We need to trust in the goodwill of the p2p site.

The mail I got from Grupeer that made me suspect that investors and company money were not separated

#5 You are also investing in Startups

Most p2p and p2b sites around are actually small companies. So in a way you invest in Startups. Statistically you should know that a startup in the Finance industry has a 42% chance to fail, so this is already a huge risk you are taking just by wiring money. In theory you still have a claim on the loan you invested in directly with the business or loan originator. In practice its quite hard to recover that stake as you have no collateral.

So forget about all these blogs that say you need to diversify! You really shouldn’t, you should be investing in the biggest p2p sites only and stay away of the smaller sites run by a handful of people.

#6 They don’t need to start off as a scam to become one

I’m sure a few of the p2p sites are starting off with the idea that they would set up an honest system. However when the company gets in trouble its quite tempting to start using investors money as your own, or create fake loans or loan originators to get extra funding for your site. Of course that’s not legal, but the temptation is there and there is no regulation to check if they are behaving as they should.

#7 I lose to much sleep over it

When the stock market crashed 30% in February / March 2020 because of Corona I never lost one night of sleep over it. While when Kuetzal stopped functioning, I remember in December 2019 I was awake all night. Even though I had 20 times more in the stock market. The idea that I fell for a scam was just extremely painful.

#8 It feels that even peer to peer loans are P2B loans

On some platforms where you can invest in many different loans, my original thought was that if the LO ever stopped paying I would still have a claim to the loan. After a few Loan Originators got into troubles because of Covid, its very clear that my claim is not on the person that I actually took the loan from but on the Loan Originator itself. So instead of investing in 1000’s of loans I was actually just investing in 30-40 businesses.

Conclussion

In conclusion I no longer feel comfortable to put my money into peer to peer. For me the high risk / high reward has mostly turned out to be high risk. Normally next year there would come some European regulation. This could actually be good for the sector in the long run, but mostly for the investors who will feel more confident simple rules (like keeping investors money seperate), are being followed.

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Peertopeer

The 27 Mintos Loan Originators I choose to invest in

I really take my time to set my auto-invest settings. If you don’t have much time you could choose B or higher originators as I suggested in my Mintos Review earlier, and use Mintos diversification settings, however there are some originators you want to avoid, and the Mintos diversification settings are not always as diversified as you might think.

In the end you will need to decide on your own settings based on your Risk profile, however this might provide some guidance on what to look for.

If you are not sure yet what Mintos is exactly then read my Mintos review and find out.

My Mintos Investment strategy

Before we begin I do have a few requirements. Any Loan originator in my portfolio answers these requirements.

  • Interest rates need to be above 10%
  • Only Loan Originators that provide Buyback guarantee
  • No Loans from Kosovo or Denmark (due to local regulations)
  • Mintos Loan Originators need to have either interest on late payments or penalty for late payments
  • I did not find any Loan Originator of C+ or lower that interests me, so they are not mentioned here
  • My strategy is aimed at minimizing risk, but I do take in some risk to get better returns

Points to watch out for

Very high interest rates

Its better not to blindly chase a high interest rate, but always stand still and ask why this high interest rate is offered. It might be that the Loan Originator offers the Loans at a higher interest rate himself, so can afford it, but it might also be that the Loan Originator urgently needs cash. Which is not a bad thing necessarily, but you must always ask the right questions when investing.

Financial Statements

Mintos Loan Originators

A lot of loan originators also use old Financial statements. While still showing only 2018 financials are suspicious but can still be somewhat forgiven, still using 2017 financials is for me a red flag and a reason to not only stop investing but also a reason to consider to sell. Also always look if Financials are audited. If they are not audited we are trusting the Loan Originator to provide proof.

[table id=2 /]

So that totals my 27 loan originators. Keep in mind Mintos currently has 65 Loan Originators. Its hard to know that if you would blindly select all 65 originators if you would come out on top after 5 years. You would have a higher interest rate, but for sure you would also have a higher rate of default. If you diversify but you take in to much Loan Originators with bad ratings then you diversify in a bad way, and greatly increase your chances of defaults.

Mintos Diversification settings

I also do not like the default diversification settings Mintos has. It does not hold into account how many sub – origators a Loan Originator has, and it fails to account for the Risk / Return that Loan Originators bring.

These are the default Diversification with my settings:

Did you notice the big stack in the side taking up 25% of my investments? Horrible! The stack here is Finko, and as you have seen I have deselected most sub – originators from Finko, but still Mintos is treating it like I have them all selected. Additionally a few others are given a higher percentage then I would given the risk that comes with them.

I have contacted Mintos to not only point out this issue, but also to ask that my diversification settings are not overwritten every time I add a new Loan Originator. Mintos is getting a lot of new Loan Originators these days, which is great as a few are really good enough quality to make part of my portfolio, however it is a lot of work to rebalance the settings every time.

With my own settings inserted I get a much better balance. I no longer have any Mintos Loan Originators higher then 15% and those who are higher then 10% have good Financial Figures.

You can find the difference in the bellow table:

[table id=3 /]

My Mintos Portfolio

And how is it working out for me?

My Mintos account balance

First I should point out the following points:

  • I have a second strategy on the secondary market containing 3% of my portfolio. I only buy loans with discount here and I have a higher requirement
  • I have another strategy containing 6% of my portfolio on the secondary market. This strategy is now disabled
  • About 5% of my portfolio has been manually invested. Mainly to combat cash drag
  • My strategy sometimes changes, so I have loan originators that I removed from my auto-invest strategy in my portfolio, although I do not sell the loans unless the financial situation of the Mintos Loan Originator drastically changes
  • I have a total of 9700 EUR invested so far and a return rate of 11.38%. I know many have a higher return rate then me, but they are also willing to accept more risk.

Generally I am quite happy with my diversification and I feel every month it is slightly improving and getting more to the place where I want it to be at.

Final Words

Sources

I should mention the bellow sources that I use a lot when deciding on what Mintos originators to invest in.

What would you do differently?

I am not perfect, I am sure improvements are possible, or you have a different preference. I am very eager to read what kind of strategy you follow, or what you like / do not like in my strategy. Leave a comment bellow and let me know!

Uncategorized

Envestio’s great vanishing trick: how to make over 30 Million of investments disappear?

This is post I hoped I would not have to write. I really feel badly for having made the right decision for once. I wish I was wrong. I hate having to write another negative post about peer to peer investing.

Panic on the peer to peer markets as investors are scrambling to organize and find out what is happening to Envestio. In one of my previous blogs I explained I did not trust the situation and named several reasons why I decided to leave Envestio. The change in COO, the large amounts of withdrawals I saw, and of course being extra on my guard by the Kuetzal disaster I felt no longer comfortable being in Envestio and moved out. I never claimed Envestio was a scam, and neither will I now, but the amount of red flags was stacking up fast.

What happened mid January?

My blog with my decision to move out was published on January 10. I am aware I run one of the smaller blogs, but I do care about my readers. That’s why I avoided advertising my post to outside sources. I wanted to give my readers a head start to decide if they should stay in our not.

I did had some readers that told me they were or had already moved out. I hope they made it out on time, because I heard that not long after Envestio stopped processing withdrawals.

I generally avoided advertising my post, and I also did my best to show two sides of the story, as I did not want Envestio to fail. A failure of Envestio could possibly spread to other platforms. There was some other high risk platforms apart from Envestio such as Wisefund and Monethera.

I am not in Wisefund fortunately but I am in Monethera. I investigated some projects and could not find any flaws but I do consider to move out of Monethera as well. I do not like the 3rd party investors from Hong Kong and the fact that we know nothing about their Financial Statements.

Have a look at this Youtube channel where P2P Investing is explain his reasoning of leaving Envestio, Monethera and Wisefund. I decided to follow his advice and move out of Monethera as well (I don’t want to discuss this here as this is not related to Envestio).

The author explained that he would sell Envestio, and slowly pull the principal out of Monethera and Wisefund. This was posted the 15th of January, but at the time of posting Envestio had already stopped processing repayments, so I am not confident he got his money out.

P2P Investing also mentioned one reason I had overlooked so far: the size of the projects. Where Envestio started with 40k projects, they now had borrowers looking for funding of 5M. At the same time these companies were extremely hard to find online. The only project that was being identified everywhere was the Hostel renovation. But even that was actually not a hostel but a Dorm for University students.

Meanwhile what did Envestio do?

Envestio did start a countercampain to try to polish up their image. They hired back the old COO and started reacting on both twitter and facebook. Fighting with PeerDuck twitter account and anyone who talked against them.

Actually their first statement that was very worrying came on January 15th. Envestio has about 33 M funds invested. They posted 500k-800k of funds actually left Envestio recently. Envestio gets 5% on those funds and the investments got re-invested at the time still quite fast. In the short term, assuming Envestio was using real money and anything that Investors had on their Investor’s account was on a bank account, this should not prove an issue.

This should have brought Envestio extra funding. Afterall Envestio’s income came mainly from projects where they got a few % every time a project got listed. There were more projects and projects with higher funding then ever. So there should not have been a problem in the short run as long as all the money was real and so were the projects.

Better news was that the former COO would be returning to Envestio. Mr Evgeniy Kukin. The current COO would move to Sales. It was a slight improvement and good to see some light at the tunnel.

At the time there was still some people defending Envestio. Also on my blog post there was people saying how wrong I was. The thing is, its your money. You decide what to do with it. We are not a social institution that is keeping their money in for the greater good. We are capitalists and when the return is no longer worth the Risk then its time to pull our money out.

Whats happening today?

One week later, January 21st Envestio issued a statement it was under attack from Hackers. The website did went down a few times. The news did not sound very positive. Envestio was blaming others for its troubles and did not seem to have any plan for fixing the issues.

Fast forward to 22nd of January: the website was down in the morning and has not come back up! There has been no statement of Envestio of what is happening.

Some users have speculated that Envestio is moving their provider to a safer host such as Azure. However…let’s review some worrying facts

Worry #1 Envestio has gone cold turkey

If Envestio was moving their Website, it would be extremely bad PR to take down your website in the midst of a storm and make no announcement whatsoever. You would almost guarantee that every investor would request a buy-back as soon as the Website is back online.

Worry #2 the old COO has vanished

The old COO Mr Evgeniy Kukin has removed both his Facebook and Linkdin account.

As you can see above this was his former profile. However you will no longer be able to find him.

Worry #3 where are there offices?

Allegedly one person actually went to the Riga offices of Envestio, at least to the adres they mentioned and could find no trace of Envestio’s offices.

I can’t help to wonder if the attacks on Envestio really took place or if they were part of a larger plan to give Envestio time to disapear.

Worry #4 Envestio is removed from ECN 

The ECN should give some credibility to a peer to peer platform, but now we know that Kuetzal was a member and all they had to do was pay a memebership fee. In other words its not very easy to get removed. If you are removed something needs to be seriously wrong.

Not only are they removed but ECN also decided to report them to the National conduct authority.

What should you do if you are an investor who’s money is at risk?

If you still trust them after this you can give it another few days and see if Envestio’s website goes back online. But also consider the worst case scenario: Envestio was a scam from the very beginning (again worst case scenario!), and the hacking was not done by Hackers but by Envestio itself as a smoke screen. Taking down the Website was part of their plan to make it harder to gather evidence for investors and buy time to get away.

Time is of the essence!

The more time you lose the harder it will be to get back your funds! If you decided you no longer have faith in Envestio its time to take action.

Action #1 Connect with other investors

With over 30M of investments in Envestio you can be sure there is a lot of other investors who are eager to get some money back. First thing you need to do is get connected. There is an Envestio Telegram group “EnvestioDiscussion” that you should join.

Action #2 File a police report

This is something you could do. If you want to do this it has to be with the local police: https://www.politsei.ee/en International police will not help you.

Keep in mind police is mainly after criminals. They don’t care about your money and will not help you get it back. For that you need to go to a civil court.

Action #3 Get a lawyer

There is over 400 investors in the telegram group. Acting together will make you a lot more powerfull. A lawyer can cost around 5-10k. A lot for one investor, peanuts for the 12k investors together that Envestio has.

The lawyer should focus on two things: #1 file for Bankruptcy. There have been no repayments since mid January. Its clear Envestio has cash flow problems. #2 if it turns out the accounts are empty, then initiate criminal proceedings. If somehow you can prove this it will be much easier to get the money back. That is if there is money left. Its likely that in the worst case scenario, that this was a planned scam from Envestio, they already have left with your money the day the repayments stopped.

Remember act fast. Within the next 1-2 days you should gather and close the list of investors. By that time you will have 100s of investors gathered I am sure. Search contact with Kuetzal investors as they will have a law office to recommend to you and will have at least some experience with peer to peer cases.

Again time is of the essence, the faster you act the more chances you have to recover your money. I actually consider to contribute to support the investors if Envestio does not come above water again.

To be continued!

I really hope that its not the worst case scenario. There is other scenarios possible, namely that its all real projects and they just could not keep up with the amount of buy-outs.

Not only Envestio’s investors have taken a serious blow, but also the peer to peer world as a whole. Steady and profitable platforms will now also need to prove themselves extra hard going forward. They can expect that every single project or added Loan Originator will be closely examined. Not showing complete transparency will no longer be accepted.

Let’s hope that the blow that Envestio is giving will stay limited to Envestio and will bring increased transparency to other platforms. Envestio failed to do so and attempts to recover came much to late.

I wish the very best of luck to all investors, I will be following the proceedings very closely!

Peertopeer · Uncategorized

Should you stay in Envestio or move out? | Why I moved my money out

Updated on 12-01-2020 with reason #7

After about a month of carefully consideration I decided to move out of Envestio.

It was not an easy decision. Envestio was giving me a very good interest rate, with no missed payments. On my monthly report sheet it was looking very well. But there was some changes at Envestio recently that me and many other investors became uncomfortable about.

I constantly re – evaluate my investments to see that the revenue is still worth the risk and so should you! Its not the first time I am making a change and it will not be the last. My readers are always informed first when I decide something, altough this does not mean you need to do what I do. Every person needs to decide for themselves if they think the return is worth the risk.

This will not move me away from investing at all. I will be re-allocating investments mainly to Mintos (75%) and the rest to ETFs (25%).

Four recent changes why I got my money out

Change #1: a new CEO (Rittsman)

When a young company has a change in leadership it’s always a reason for concern. You can expect that you will want to know why leaderhship was changed, and mostly what the new CEO is about. What are his values, and what makes him the right person to give your money to. Because these platforms are often about rust. You expect this person to be trustworthy of your money.

I already commented in my previous portfolio blog post that I was very concerned about this as he was involved in selling a Pertetum mobile.

When asked about this by an investor called Philipp, Rittman claimed that there were actually Powerplants up and running. So he kept the claim that there was nothing wrong with investing in anything that can create energy from nothing.

Another blog asked more information to the CEO he got the following (read the full blog here):

So basically here the CEO is saying that he was selling energy coming from nowhere for a hobby. When asked to clarify more the following was answered:

So now it went from defending the organisation, to a hobby (where he wants to point out he was not so involved) to working as sales.

While its not possible to say if there is a fire, I can see some smoke.

Change #2: a new address

Envestio changed it’s adres on its website to what looks like a mailbox.

When you do a google search you can see there is 25(!) companies registered at the address. I have seen no official statement from Envestio on why they changed address and if this is a temporary measure. It could be an indication of financial problems.

Change #3: drop in revenue

While all throughout 2018 and up to half of 2019 Envestio has been making more and more profit in Q3, according to this report Envestio had a drop in revenue Q3 2019. While if Envestio goes bankrupt in theory you still have a direct claim on the projects, its clear that it will take a long time to get your money out, and you will not get as much as you would have. That doesn’t mean it will happen, but again you need to weigh the revenue with the risks.

Change #4: the secondary market is very crowded

Yes this did affect my decision. The large amounts of money that was leaving Envestio was a reason for concern. Because even if I trusted a CEO who was selling energy that came out of nothing, and trusted the financial situation of Envestio, any bank will fail when a ton of people take their money out. The amounts are also becoming bigger and are staying longer.

This could also be an indication of a healthy secondary market. Before it was always empty, while if you compare with Mintos there is always sales on the secondary market.

What the market does not show:

  • Are people moving money out of investments that finished?
  • Are people still bringing in new money?

Only Envestio has this information and we just need to do a guesstimate. To be honest the above information is publicly available and I see it go by on twitter, blogs and facebook groups.

Reason #5 its clear that projects take much longer to get funded

While before a project on Envestio was funded in a few hours, now it takes many days. The projects added on the 7th of January are not yet funded on the 11th of January (time of writing). However I do see the amounts that can be invested go down, so there is people who still have confidence in the platform.

Reason #6 I got more cautious after the Kuetzal scam

I admit it, when losing 4% of my p2p portfolio overnight with Kuetzal (ok its not sure yet I will lose it all, but right now I am giving it a 60% chance of total loss) I got a lot more careful. As a beginning investor making money seems more important sometimes then keeping your money safe. I changed a lot, and noticed there is Risky and safer p2p investments. Even if the safer give less interest, in the end they have a big chance to come out on top.

Reason #7 Envestio’s sister companies are renamed

Geen fotobeschrijving beschikbaar.

One of the sister companies contains the collateral of the loans. So where is the collateral going? When we look closer we find that the new owner Alexander Novohatski has been mostly involved in companies that were deleted, creditors were harmed or tax collectors were harmed. You can view this here. Almost like he is a guy that they are putting in charge of dying companies,

There have been no announcements about Envestio about this change and that in a period that transparency is crucial in the peer to peer world.

Reasons to stay in

While there are some reasons to move out, and I have, the decision was not easy. I could have made the wrong one. I could think of some reasons to stay in..

Reason #1 Envestio is working on more transparency

Envestio is working on more transparency. I admit this is a rumor I heard, but from a good source, that Envestio is working on creating loan agreements for every investor for their investments, giving you a better legal claim in case anything happens. It would be a change for the first half of 2020. To be honest I hear this the day after I initiated a buy back otherwise I might have stayed in a bit longer to find out what exactly it was about.

Reason #2 Buyback is working excellent

When I did do the buy-back it went surprisingly smooth. The money appeared instantly on my Envestio account and after doing the withdrawal the money was on my bank account in 1-2 days. That shows to me that even after a month of people pulling their money out, they do not have any cash flow issues yet.

Reason #3: The projects still get funded

While its slower then before (not surprising given all the news of the new CEO and then the scam at Kuetzal), both new projects and projects listed by investors leaving the platform are still being funded. That shows that there is still confidence in the platform.

Reason #4 Interest rates remain attractive

A 15-20% interest rate is attractive. Its very hard to deny that. And we can see that projects never seem to miss payments. Is that because of master due diligence / project selection of the Envestio crew?

Reason #5 I did not see any hard evidence that made me conclude Envestio is a scam

You can be sure that the 100s of investors scammed by Kuetzal are now being extra cautious when investing. They have searched on information on many of the projects and mailed a few of them. So far they have found no indication that there is fake projects around.

Why I modified my investment strategy

The amounts I am investing in platforms is always an indication of the confidence platforms give me. You can see Mintos and Grupeer to be very high (percentage wise) in my portfolio, so as a starting investor I would recommend you start there.

I generally consider the lending platforms (Mintos, Grupeer, PeerBerry, Iuvo Group, NeoFinance) to be lower risk then the platforms where you invest in projects (Crowdestor, Monethera, TFGCrowd).

I do like a bit of Risk, but Envestio was keeping me up at night, and that is usually not a good indication that I should stay in.

In total I made 20 EUR loss going in Envestio because of the 5% buy back fee. So almost break even, and I am fine with that.

So what should you do?

Based on the above you could go either way. If you like high risk / high return and can turn a blind eye to the rumors around the current CEO then Envestio still might be a platform for you.

To those who do decide to stay in I really wish the best of luck! I hope that Envestio will continue to give you the returns you search for.

If you, like me, made the decision that the risk is to high for the potential gains then consider to look at different platforms to put your money in. Mintos or Grupeer for example, who give a lower return but in my opinion also a lower Risk.

I wanted to inform my readers asap of my decision to move out. Afteral I am aware that the fact I am investing there can convince some of my readers to do the same, so you should be the first to know if I decide to end my investments there.

Remember in the end its your money and your responsibility to always do due diligence.

Uncategorized

Concerns about Kuetzal

There have been some concerns about Kuetzal, and for those on the platform might have received information from Kuetzal about this.

Financially free wrote a blog about it that is worth to be read. The owner of the blog is visiting Kuetzal today. Until its cleared up I recommend not to invest any new money in Kuetzal. Financially free is visiting Keutzal today, he has himself almost 30k invested so I am very curious on how his visit went.

Update 19-12-2019: the visit from Financially Free was not so well according to his blog, altough not much details are given. I decided to take the 10 percent loss and take my money out. I requested a buy back which they gave me and then did a withdrawal of 932 EUR. I will keep you posted when the money is returned. Its only 1000 EUR so I would not expect them to have any cashflow issues. I will update again once the money is in my account

Update 23-12-2019: I asked Kuetzal about how long the withdrawal would take and they told me it could be 2 weeks. I assume Im not alone to withdraw so they might have some cash flow issues.

If it takes 2 weeks I would get the money on my account by the 3rd of January. I will update then if it happens. For my portfolio update for now I will assume I get my investment back and will write off the loss from the 10 percent buyback.

Update 07-01-2020: Unfortunately I have not heard back from Kuetzal. It turns out its impossible to contact them as they stopped replying to mail, messenger, etc.

This is why I am currently getting organised with other investors to investigate legal proceedings. We have already contacted lawyers in Estonia. Although I do still hope Kuetzal will wire the money on their own, after 3 weeks I am not optimistic. I’ll keep you all posted! If any reader wants to join in, send me a message and I will connect you.

Update 08-01-2020: Kuetzal let me know their accounts are currently frozen and they work on getting control again and expect this to happen by beginning of February. Im happy to hear something altough I do proceed to seek legal council incase they don’t come through

Update 12-01-2020: Kuetzal send a mail out that they are winding down operations. They state they will still process withdrawals and buy-backs once their bank accounts have been unfrozen.