ViaInvest focuses mostly on short-term, secured loans offering an uniform 12% interest rate. In addition, the platform also offers a very small number of real-estate or business loans with very specific characteristics.
My opinion on ViaInvest
Compared to their main competitors such as Swaper, Robocash or Lendermarket, interest rates at ViaInvest are not really competitive. And unfortunately, withholding tax may decrease returns even further. Moreover, the website’s design and ergonomics could be greatly improved.
However, the platform is part of a large group which is regarded as financially solid. For conservative investors, this aspect may be more important than higher returns.
ViaInvest’s pros & cons
- The uniform interest rates mean that investors have fewer choices to make
- The platform and the related originators are part of the same group, which is financially solid
- My actual portfolio performance is very low
- The tax withholding mechanism reduces performance for loans from Spain and Czech Republic
- The website looks dated and its ergonomics could be much improved
- Business and real-estate loans are a bit complex and very heterogeneous
Overview of ViaInvest’s loans
The following kinds of loans are currently available on the platform :
- Short-term loans
- Installment loans
- Credit line
- Business loans and real-estate loans – both are classified by the platform as business loans –
Business and real-estate loans on ViaInvest have several particularities, so I’ll start by examining them in detail. There are currently only one of each kind on the platform.
The real-estate loan was launched in March 2020. It was granted to a Latvian real-estate firm in order to finance a development in Barcelona. The project is described in great detail.
The initial loan term is 2 years, but can be extended for as much as 3 years. The interest rate isn’t set in stone either. Indeed, it’s at least 8% but it may increase to 12% depending on a rather cryptic computation.
This loan isn’t covered by a buyback guarantee. Although there’s a collateral provided, I didn’t find any figure regarding its valuation. As a result, the LTV (Loan-to-value) ratio for this loan is unknown.
The business loan currently available is actually used to fund a joint-venture between ViaInvest and their competitor Twino; it will provide consumer loans in Vietnam under the VAMO brand. The total interest rate is a rather interesting 14%. However, 12% are paid on a monthly basis, and the remaining 2% are paid at maturity. The loan duration is 2 years, and unlike the business loan, it’s possible to exit the loan early – although using this option may result in losing the bonus 2% interests -. Finally, the loan isn’t secured by a buyback guarantee, but the principal and interests payments are guarantee by VIA SMS Group.
Let’s switch to the other loans – short term, credit lines and installment loans -. They form the overwhelming majority of loans on the platform. In spite of their different nature, they have rather uniform characteristics. Indeed, they all have the same 12% interest rate (as of August 2020). In addition, they are secured by a buyback guarantee. Installment loans usually have a one year duration, while other loans kinds last around one month.
Borrowers are located in many different countries. As of July 2020, they are :
- Czech Republic
One drawback of ViaInvest is that a withholding tax is applied to interests generated by Czech or Spanish loans. It amounts to 15% in Spain and 19% in Czech Republic. It’s apparently possible to avoid it by providing a tax certificate. Unfortunately, getting it in France is a big headache so I didn’t bother. As a result I’ve decided to exclude these two countries from my auto-invest configuration.
In the past, the platform suffered from several cash drags, as there were not enough loans available to meet investors’ demand. Fortunately, the loans supply has greatly increased.
Like on most P2P platforms, loans on ViaInvest come with a buyback guarantee A buyback guarantee is a guarantee provided by the platform or a loan originator.
If repayment of a loan is delayed by more than a given delay (usually 30 or 60 days),
the platform or loan originator will buy back the loan. The guarantee may cover only
part of the capital, or in a much more interesting case, both the capital and accrued
interests. As the conditions vary from one platform to another, it’s very important
to check this point.. It will refund both accrued interest and principal after 30 days of default. As already mentioned, business and real-estate loans aren’t covered by the buyback guarantee.
Platform’s transparency and reliability
Overall, ViaInvest provides a satisfying level of transparency. Moreover, its parent company – as well as the related loan originators – seem to be financially solid. Let’s dig into these topics !
ViaInvest’s background and team
ViaInvest was founded in 2016 and is located in Riga, Latvia. This platform is part of the VIA SMS Group, a large financial group. It’s very similar to Robocash, which is the platform used to fund loans provided by Robocash Group.
No data is available regarding ViaInvest’s financial health. However, we have to keep in mind that this platform wasn’t designed to make money, but rather to fund the loans portfolio of the parent company. It thus makes more sense to verify the reliability of VIA SMS Group.
Financial reports are available for 2018 – I’m surprised that they didn’t publish the 2019 figures yet -. They underwent an audit by BDO. Although this accounting firm is slightly less known that Ernst & Young (used by Mintos and EstateGuru), it’s still much better than for competitors who provide unaudited reports. They show that the group was consistently profitable as a whole.
Going back to ViaInvest itself, the platform’s team is introduced on the website. Direct links to their LinkedIn profile aren’t provided, but it’s easy to check out ViaInvest’s LinkedIn page.
In term of regulations, ViaInvest announced in March 2020 that they were applying for a IBF (investment brokerage firm) licence from Latvia’s FCMC (Financial and Capital Market Commission). This would lead to an improved protection for investors; however, it remains to be seen whether this licence will be granted.
Like most competitors, the platform provides information about the borrower. However, for P2P loans, it’s kind of pointless to look at them as they’re uniform loans.
On the other hand, providing details about real-estate or business loans makes a lot of sense. ViaInvest’s descriptions for such loans is very complete – probably too verbose, in fact -. I mostly regret the lack of a clear valuation regarding the collateral for the real-estate loan.
Loan originators reliability
There are currently seven loans originators A loan originator is the firm that originally provides the loan to the borrower.
They usually lend a small percent of the amount using their own funds, while the
remaining is put on sale on loans marketplaces. The part of the loan kept by the
originator is called called skin in the game; it’s typically 5%-10% of the
loan amount, and is supposed to encourage originators to provide quality loans. present on ViaInvest; that’s roughly one for each country where loans are offered.
The available information on the platform’s loan originators is rather succinct. However, just like ViaInvest, all of them are subsidiaries of the VIA SMS Group.
Reporting & statistics availability
The platform provides statistics regarding the monthly loans volume and number of users.
Marketplaces such as Mintos or Viventor had to suffer from defaulted and suspended loan originators. On the contrary, ViaInvest’s track record in this regard is spotless – as are Robocash‘s or Swaper‘s -. Indeed, listing only originators which belong to the same group allows platforms to have a much better insight regarding their financial reliability !
Communication & support
ViaInvest is a rather quiet platform; investors will mostly receive account summaries as well as an occasional newsletter. The frequency of the account summaries is configurable on the Settings/Site settings page.
The platform has a blog, which isn’t very user friendly but provides insightful news.
Finally, when it comes to getting support, investors can get in touch with ViaInvest by e-mail, phone or via a live chat box.
Impact of Covid-19 outbreak on ViaInvest
Like for many competitors, the main impact of the coronavirus outbreak was a much decreased loans volume.
Manual investing at ViaInvest
While it’s possible to invest manually through ViaInvest’s loans list screen, there’s little point in doing so. I strongly encourage investors to save time by using the auto-invest feature !
If ViaInvest’s auto-invest screen is easier to configure than Mintos‘s, it pales compared to the beautiful design of the similar screen found at Lendermarket or Swaper. Like most of the website, the fonts are very small, and the color contrasts aren’t strong enough.
Moreover, it’s not possible to filter directly by country. As a result, in order to prevent investment in Spain and Czech Republic because of the tax withholding, I have to disable to matching originators (viasms.cz, Via SMS Group and viaconto.es) instead.
In addition, should you decide to invest in business loans, the screen will be cluttered by warnings as these work differently from other loans.
One last annoyance is that selecting Vietnam will automatically check business loans, as only these loans are offered these. It’s thus important to double-check all fields before saving !
There’s no secondary market The secondary market is a marketplace allowing investors to sell loans from their
portfolio to other investors. This is useful if they need to get their money back
before the loan’s maturity. at ViaInvest. As most loans are short-term, it’s not a big deal.
For medium-term loans – as well as short-term loans which got extended more than 120 days, effectively making them medium-term -, it’s possible to use the Buyback feature. This mechanism, which shouldn’t be mistaken with the buyback guarantee simply means that it’s possible to sell your loans back to the platform after 120 days. Selling loans this way is free and instantaneous.
Website’s ease of use
ViaInvest’s registration process
It takes very little time to register.
Account funding and funds withdrawal
The only available method is SEPA transfer.
Website’s design and ergonomics
Overall ViaInvest’s website feels dated, especially when compared to a newcomer such as Lendermarket.
As already noted regarding the auto-invest screen, the small fonts and weak colors contrast make the website hard to read. Navigation could also be improved : there’s a side menu, but it’s hidden by default – although a lot of blank space is available on both sides of the screen -.
Available languages & translations quality
The English translation of ViaInvest’s website is of good quality. Other languages seem to be available, but it looks like only the front page got translated !
The reporting options are rather poor; apart from the investments list and account statement, very few statistics are available. In particular, the dashboard could do with some serious make-over.
For example, one very basic feature which initially seems to be is missing is an overview of the loans status. Nearly all platforms will clearly display the percentage of current and late loans in your portfolio. At ViaInvest, investors have to toy with the interactive graph at the bottom, which has a terrible interface.
The FAQ A FAQ is simply a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions is useful, as it’s both extensive and well-written. On the other hand, the How it works section is basically useless and provides very little useful information.
Actual performance of my ViaInvest portfolio
At the end of August 2020, the XIRR for my ViaInvest portfolio was 10,71%.
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 ViaInvest portfolio in August 2019.
ViaInvest's main competitors
For a detailed comparison of the different p2p-lending marketplaces, check out this article.
ViaInvest's facts & figures
Number of investors
Loans amount financed
As of August 2020
Who can invest at ViaInvest
Both private and legal entities are welcome to invest with VIAINVEST.
To begin investing as a private individual, you must be at least 18 years old and hold a tax residency within one of the European countries or Switzerland. In order to start investing feel free to complete the registration process and make the first deposit to your VIAINVEST investor account. If personal information stated in your investor profile matches the bank information of the person transferring funds to the VIAINVEST platform, the investor profile becomes active and you are able to start investing.
Similar requirements also apply to the legal entities – to start investing, the legal entity must register to open the investor account and make the first deposit. If the information provided upon registration matches the company information appearing when transferring funds, investor account is confirmed.
It's a pity that ViaInvest has such a poor user interface. Indeed, combined to the lower performance than most competitors, it makes the platform unappealing. However, this is partly compensated by the reliability of ViaInvest's parent group - a parameter which has to be taken into account -.
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.