The drawbacks of P2P loans marketplaces
Investing in loans may be confusing at first. As highlighted in our documentation, an essential part of the investment process is determining your investor’s profile.
Which kind of loans do you want to invest in ? For how long ? And even more important, how much risk are you willing to take ? All these considerations can probably deter a potential investor.
Fortunately, several platforms now offer easier ways to invest, focusing on the expected returns.
An easier way to invest in peer-to-peer loans
Initially, DoFinance was the only company to offer such an opportunity. The target returns vary based on the investment duration, and this is the only choice one has to do. Returns were initially great for such an easy product; unfortunately, their new offering has lowered down the interest rates, making it slightly less interesting. In addition, the terms for early withdrawals are confusing as they depend on the investment duration.
However, the competition has increased a lot since my initial DoFinance’s review. Mintos first offered predefined strategies, which are easier ways to configure auto-invest. Bondora has since started aggressively pushing their Go & Grow product. In addition, I discovered Ekassa which is a platform similar to DoFinance. And finally, Mintos launched Invest & Access, which is roughly similar to Bondora’s Go & Grow. Is it time to switch to DoFinance’s competitors ? Let’s find out !
DoFinance offers a very simple way to invest in P2P loans. The platform has recently updated their offer; currently there are as many as five options to choose from, depending on how long you want to invest for. Interest rates can reach 11% for durations above 6 months, which is great. The investment process itself is dead simple, and there’s no surprise regarding the final returns.
Unfortunately, understanding the differences between the different strategies can be hard; they mostly lie in the fine print regarding early withdrawal. I encourage you to read my complete DoFinance review for details; overall, you’ll have to accept both a penalty and some delay if you want to withdraw your funds before the planned date.
DoFinance’s pros and cons
- Investing is as trivial as it was before
- 11% interest rate for 6 months duration is great
- There are too many strategies to choose from
- The withdrawal conditions are hard to understand as they vary from one offer to another
- Returns for short-term investors are low
Ekassa features two simple products, for a duration of either 1, 3 or 6 months.
- The Guaranteed strategy offers guaranteed returns, currently ranging from 7% to 7.4% depending on the duration
- On the other hand, returns for the Profitable strategy aren’t guaranteed, but are expected to be higher : from 7% – 9% for the shortest duration, to 9% – 11% for the longest duration.
The guaranteed interest rates for very short-term investments are great; for durations of 6 months and above, switching to the Profitable strategy allows to outperform most competitors.
In addition, unlike DoFinance’s offer, the terms for early withdrawal are very easy to understand; the cost is 1% of the investment.
I’ve used Ekassa’s Profitable strategy for two investment periods of 6 months each; the performance was respectively 10.34% and 10.57%. These figures are in the upper range of expected returns.
Ekassa’s pros and cons
- The investing process is really trivial and the terms are very easy to understand
- Interest rates are really competitive, apart from long-term guaranteed returns which are better at DoFinance.
- Early withdrawal fees of 1% are a bit expensive
Mintos predefined strategies
The classical way to invest at Mintos is through the use of the auto-invest feature. While its interface is particularly well-designed, it’s still a bit complex due to the richness of Mintos’ offer.
Mintos now offers three predefined strategies one can use. They’re actually custom settings for the auto-invest feature; as such, the returns may vary from the expected ones. Indeed, apart from the short-term strategy, none of these settings specify a minimal interest rate. Thus, if the interests rate offered on the platform suddenly drop, the strategy may actually invest in loans offering lower interest rates than expected.
It’s also important to understand that while this offer makes the auto-investment easier, it doesn’t restrain the investor’s freedom. For example, it’s still possible to sell loans on the secondary market.
The investment criteria for each strategy are visible by clicking on “View Auto Invest strategy criteria”; this will display which loans kinds and originators the strategy will invest in, as well as the duration and interest rates range. The target diversification is also visible from this screen, by clicking on the link labeled “Diversification settings”.
Mintos pre-defined strategies pros and cons
- Ability to use other Mintos features, such as secondary market
- Unlike DoFinance’s offer, there are no complicated terms for early withdrawal
- Actual returns may vary greatly from the expected ones
Bondora’s Go & Grow
Bondora‘s Go & Grow is a very simple product, designed to yield 6.75%. It can be used in addition to the Portfolio manager and Portfolio Pro, or replace them altogether. It’s a very popular product among Bondora’s investors; in June 2018, 38% of the total amount invested through this company was allocated to Go & Grow.
Setting up the the portfolio is easy; first you have to select the purpose of your investment (retirement, big purchase, children, travel…). Then you have to name your portfolio, and input how much you’re planning to invest both initially and as monthly additions; this allows to simulate your final gain.
In my opinion, this step is rather useless, and may even discourage investors who would mistakenly think it’s mandatory to add money each month.
Bondora’s Go & Grow’s pros and cons
- It’s a very easy-to-use product
- Funds can be withdrawn at any time
- €1 flat fee for withdrawals
- Returns aren’t guaranteed
- Low returns for long-term investors
Mintos Invest & Access
Mintos launched Invest & Access in Spring 2019. It’s been a huge success, as 69% of new investors used this tool in order to create their portfolio. The main strength of this offer is its ultimate simplicity : the only setting is the portfolio size.
Similarly, cashing out is very easy… at least for current loans. Indeed, defaulted loans must be sold manually on the secondary market. Moreover, selling your portfolio is free, unlike for competitors.
The invested amount amount will be spread between available loans. This strategy only invests in guaranteed loans with a rating of A+ to C-, and coming from loan originators that have been on Mintos for more than 6 months.
The average performance of Invest & Access was 10.48% as of early February 2020. It’s higher than for predefined strategies (around 8%), and at the same time lower than the expected returns using highly-rated originators (around 12%). Overall, it’s a great product for investors who don’t care much about visibility on future returns. In this case, Mintos’ offer is much better than Bondora’s Go & Grow.
Invest & Access’ pros and cons
- Investing can’t be simpler
- Returns are great, although they may vary greatly throughout the year
- No exit fee
- Unless Ekassa’s or DoFinance’s offers, there’s no guarantee regarding expected return; only past performance is available.
- Late loans aren’t sold automatically when exiting
- Lower returns than with standard auto-invest
Which offer is best for you ?
However, now that Mintos Invest & Access is available, I see it as the best choice for most investors, thanks to its performance and simplicity. Indeed, the 10.48% average performance is really good, and investing can’t be easier.
While I really appreciate Ekassa and DoFinance, they’re smaller platforms than Mintos. As their returns are at best slightly higher than the past performance of Invest & Access, it’s hard to recommend them.
Also, with rather low expected returns, it’s probably best to ignore Mintos’ predefined strategies. It makes more sense to start with Invest and Access, and eventually switch to standard auto-invest for full control over the loan originators and minimal returns.
Regarding Bondora, I don’t really see a reason to invest in Go & Grow. It’s really hard for me to trust this company’s returns, so why take a risk ?