So, Kuetzal turned out to be a scam
As of late 2019 and early 2020, many doubts arised about Kuetzal; Jørgen from Financially Free compiled a long list of concerns. Shortly after that, investors were quickly unable to withdraw their money, and after a long silence from the platform there was an announcement that the company would discontinue its operations. Invested capital will supposedly be reimbursed – but in all honesty I have many doubts about this -.
I plan to write a detailed post-mortem (especially for future P2P investors, who in several months may not have heard about Kuetzal) once the whole situation unfolds.
Meanwhile, investors who want to keep informed can read several Telegram groups which were created by investors. Among them, there’s one group dedicated to Kuetzal, and another group regarding crowdlending in general. Be warned that the signal/noise ratio is rather low, and many unconfirmed rumors float around.
In spite of receiving some critics for this action, I’m leaving the below reviews as is. It will serve me as a reminder to I have to be more careful about the information I present to my reader. Bloggers got a lot of bad press after the Kuetzal fiasco, and while each investor is responsible for their own actions, some of these critics are justified. We indeed have our share of responsibility for having been guilible.
Kuetzal is a crowdlending platform for business and real-estate projects. Loans commonly yield interest rates higher than 15%, for duration of one year and more. Most of them are secured by a buyback guarantee.
My opinion on Kuetzal
The large number of questions surrounding Kuetzal (see Kuetzal’s controversies below) lead me to decrease my rating until the company provides better answers. For now, although all repayments were made on time and my performance is still excellent, my trust towards the platform has decreased significantly. Kuetzal’s competitors Crowdestor and Envestio will allow investors to invest with more confidence.
Kuetzal’s pros & cons
- Excellent performance
- Funded businesses belong to various industries, allowing for a diversified loans portfolio
- Kuetzal Care guarantee ensures that these projects will get funded
- Many questions surround the platform
- Not all projects are covered by the buyback guarantee
- Minimal investment amount is €100 per project
Overview of Kuetzal’s loans
All loans are in Euro, with durations between 12 months and 48 months. Most of them have fixed interest rates, usually ranging from 14% to 21%. There used to be one loan with variable returns; however, it didn’t get funded – probably because of the 6% interest rate – and ended up being canceled.
While the website provides an indication of the amount already financed, the deadline for the projects only appears a few day before it expires.
Current loans mostly finance Latvian companies, although one of them is for a UK firm. The projects financed belong to various sectors :
- online payment solutions
- trailer and truck reseller
- renewable energy
- mobile game
- cranberry products manufacturer
One interesting aspect is that projects covered by the Kuetzal Care feature (currently all of them) are guaranteed to be funded. Another advantage is that interests are computed from the day the investment is made; there’s no need to wait for complete funding. All projects yield interests monthly.
Prospective investors should take note the borrower for most real-estate loans is the same company (SIA AA Development); for diversification’s sake, I strongly advise against investing in several loans to the same entity.
Minimal investment amount per project is € 100, an amount identical to CrowdEstate or TFGcrowd, but higher than Crowdestor‘s € 50 or Monethera‘s € 1. The main drawback of this large threshold is the inability to diversify small portfolios. On the plus side, the invested amount doesn’t have to be a multiple of € 100, which is nice when it comes to re-investing interests.
The amount financed varies greatly from one project to another, but most are at least € 100,000. As of August 2019, the total value of the available and past projects is more than nine million euros !
There are usually two or three new project each month. If the largest ones may require several weeks to get totally funded, the € 40,000 requested in August to renovate a restaurant were funded in less than one day !
Kuetzal‘s website initially provided few details on this essential aspect. Fortunately, since the last update, a matching item has been added to the FAQ.
The buyback guarantee is available on most projects. It provides two main benefits :
- opportunity to sell your investment back to the platform (see Early exit below).
- guarantee to get your money back, at most 2 months after a default
Until now, there hasn’t been any delayed repayment or default, and only loan has been repaid in full. However, this was under special circumstances : indeed, the borrower has provided incorrect information when they applied for the loan. As a result, the agreement was terminated and invested capital was returned to investors.
The least one can say is that Kuetzal has been heavily criticized in late 2019.
First, many investors pointed out a lack of due diligence, as several loans were granted to apparently shady businesses. In addition, several changes at the platform (new CEO, new bank account) prompted investors to question the seriousness of the platform even further.
As all loans are long-term, the platform has very little track record in term of successful reimbursement. Indeed, as of December 2019, only one loan was totally reimbursed.
Until now, all repayments were made on time and no project defaulted.
Kuetzal doesn’t offer a secondary market. However, as mentioned above, investments that come with a buyback guarantee can be withdrawn from, although there’s a steep 10% associated fee.
There used to be a small bit of confusion regarding the name of this feature (it was called Investment Return in the FAQ), but now the same term is used everywhere.
Manual investing at Kuetzal
Overall, investing manually at Kuetzal is straightforward. The descriptions for the projects are detailed and easy to read.
New projects are announced by e-mail, and sometimes on Kuetzal‘s Facebook page.
Currently, only manual investing is possible. I’m not fond of auto-invest for business projects anyway; moreover, the small number of available projects makes it easy to invest manually.
Website’s ease of use
Kuetzal’s registration process
Registering with Kuetzal is very quick and easy. There’s no KYC (Know Your Customer) procedure for now, so investors don’t even need to upload a copy of their id.
Account funding and funds withdrawal
The only way to fund your account is through a SEPA transfer. Although the initial screen showing Kuetzal‘s bank account was a bit confusing, it’s been redesigned and using it is straightforward.
There was a slight delay in processing my first deposit, but it was probably due to Christmas holidays; indeed, subsequent transfers were available in two business days.
Website’s design and ergonomics
Available languages & translations quality
In addition to the English translation, Kuetzal‘s website is also available in German and Spanish. Apart from a few initial typos which got corrected, the English translation is great.
The reporting is very limited; there’s only a list of investments, as well as a useful repayment schedule.
Kuetzal’s FAQ is rather complete and has been much improved since its inception. Apart from it, there’s little documentation available.
It’s possible to contact the platform via e-mail or by phone.
Communication from the platform
Kuetzal notifies investors by e-mail when new projects are available for funding.
There also used to be notifications when incoming funds reached the investor’s account, as well as for reimbursements; however, I haven’t received them for some time.
Actual performance of my Kuetzal portfolio
At the end of December 2019, the XIRR for my Kuetzal portfolio was 17,07%.
This result is nothing short of excellent, and I will keep on increasing the size of my Kuetzal portfolio when new loans are available !
Don't hesitate to read my most recent crowdlending portfolio review for detailed platforms performance comparison as well as historical performance.
Portfolio creation date
I created my Kuetzal portfolio in December 2018.
Kuetzal's main competitors
For a detailed comparison of the different real-estate and business crowdlending platforms, check out this article.
Kuetzal's facts & figures
As of August 2019
Who can invest at Kuetzal
There are no geographical and nationality restrictions to become an investor at Kuetzal. As a general practice, we do not accept investors as well as projects related to, or coming from blacklist countries.
Please note that this review may contain affiliate links. It means that I will earn a commission if you decide to invest after clicking through the link – at no additional cost to you, of course -. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the commissions I make if you decide to invest through my links.