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Finnish Consumer Lender Poised for Expansion

A Helsinki Stock Exchange-listed finance group by the name of Taaleritehdas has invested in the Finnish P2P consumer lending platform Fellow Finance.

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Taaleritehdas is an investment company that focuses on private banking, asset management, private equity and financing services. The group has invested €2m in Fellow Finance Oy, and has also sold the entire stock of its financing company Lainaamo Ltd. to Fellow Finance OY by way of a share exchange. Lianaamo is a non-P2P consumer lending site, boasting a portfolio of €20m and thousands of consumer customers. The result of the stock exchange is that Fellow Finance and Lainaamo will merge their services, under the Fellow Finance brand. We are told that the merger will not affect the position of either company’s existing borrowers and lenders.

Fellow Finance Oy was launched in 2013 with the intention of offering high quality, data-secure online marketplaces across Europe. The platform describes itself as the most sophisticated peer-to-peer lender in Scandinavia (a claim that the likes of Trustbuddy and Lendify would doubtless contest!). In the Finnish market, Fellow Finance is squaring off directly against consumer lender Fixura, which according to the Liberum AltFi Volume Index Europe has lent just over €41m to date.

Taalerritehdas now owns 38.4% of Fellow Finance Oy, with the option of increasing its ownership stake in the company by 7.3%. That leaves 57.3% of the company in the hands of “key persons” – with Co-Founders Jouni Hintikka and Teemu Nyholm each holding 18.4%. Juhani Elomaa, who is CEO of the financial group Taaleritehdas, commented:

”The Fellow Finance transaction is a new, important opening for Taaleritehdas, enabling new growth in direct financing. We believe that the company has excellent prerequisites for quick international expansion. One goal of this cooperation is to offer the customers of Taaleritehdas a new kind of investment opportunity. Through the Lainaamo business, we have discovered that 100% digitality is a very cost-efficient business model that is also very profitable for investors.”

Taaleritehdas views the shift towards both direct lending and digitalization in finance as fundamental and as lasting. Its ownership of Fellow Finance Oy (a purely online service), will allow Taaleritehdas to offer its customers a fresh investment medium, as well as allowing for the use of digitalization in its own activities.

As for Fellow Finance, the platform has reportedly received over €100m in loan applications since launch. An average annual return of 13% has been returned to investors thus far. With the extra €2m in firepower and the acquisition of Lainaamo secured, it appears that the platform will now set its sights on European expansion. Jouni Hintikka, CEO of Fellow Finance, explained:

”Our service has gained thousands of users in a short time. The feedback on our online platform and the new business model has been excellent. We listen actively to our customers, because we are continuously developing the service for them. As the first P2P lending service, we are also seeking strong growth by acquiring a traditional financing company with its customer base. Next, we are setting our sights on Europe.”

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