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The Thinking Behind the Swoop - Exclusive Interview with TrustBuddy’s Sebastian Hagman

Today TrustBuddy announced that it will acquire two leading European peer-to-peer platforms: Netherlands-based Geldvoorelkaar, and the Italian Prestiamoci. These acquisitions will allow TrustBuddy to add SME lending and long-term consumer credit to its existing offering of shorter-term consumer credit helping to create a more diversified platform.

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AltFi Editor in Chief David Stevenson sat down with Sebastian Hagman, Chief Investment Officer of TrustBuddy, to gain a deeper insight these two acquisitions and TrustBuddy’s plans for the future.

DS: Is your intention to expand these local brands across Europe?

SH: Yes, it has always been in our plan to enter these product segments and with these acquisitions we are bringing forward our plans. We expect most of our nine markets where we are operational to have the LTP (Long Term Product) and SME offerings. 

DS: In both SME funding and prime consumer loans you'll be entering much more competitive marketplaces which will require a significant investment in brand and marketing?

SH: This is correct for some markets like UK and Germany. In other markets such as the Nordics and Southern Europe SME funding and prime consumer loans are almost untouched.  We are planning to use smart marketing to avoid costs. An example of this is our business in the Netherlands where we do not spend anything on traditional marketing. 

DS: Are these deals a sign that you are choosing not to prioritize your short term lending business? On that theme, have the recent regulatory interventions at Wonga diminished your enthusiasm for entering the UK market at some point?

SH: Significant growth in the future will undoubtedly come from our two new products. The short-term lending product will however continue to be a focus for the TrustBuddy Group. We strongly believe that the product can be offered in a much more competitive way and with the borrower’s cost in mind. I believe that the UK regulations are appropriate for that specific product and it has not diminished our enthusiasm for entering the British market at some point.

DS: After these deals have gone through, you'll be the largest directly listed P2P operator worldwide - beating Lending Club to the markets. Will you now look to increase your financial profile to the transatlantic investment community?

SH: We are continually looking into our strategy for the coming years and I’m sure that 2015 will be another very exciting year for the TrustBuddy Group.

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David Stevenson

Strategic Advisor


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