Jevgenijs Kazanins has become CEO of the Latvian peer-to-peer lending platform TWINO.
TWINO officially launched in the Baltics in July, but has been operating behind closed doors since 26th May 2015. The platform currently funnels money from investors in 15 different countries into Latvian consumer loans. TWINO’s central USP is a “buyout guarantee” mechanism. In short, TWINO will buyout any loan that falls more than 60 days behind on its repayment schedule.
Jevgenijs tells us that TWINO has hit €1m of lending after only 5 months. That’s impressive, particularly considering that the platform’s lending has been fuelled by individual investors. Jevgenijs commented on the platform’s investor base:
“Monthly investment volumes have been increasing twofold for every month since TWINO’s launch (i.e. half of the million invested through the platform was invested in the last 30 days) and we already see the demand from investors surpassing the origination volume we can reach in Latvia. The volumes are still comparatively low, but if we manage to maintain the growth momentum we will have to look beyond Poland pretty soon.”
“The investor base is pretty typical for a continental marketplace and is heavily dominated by German retail investors.”
TWINO’s borrowers, up to now, have been Latvian. The typical profile of those borrowers is thus: individuals, aged between 20 and 65, with regular income, positive credit history and without any overdue liabilities, who are seeking a loan for the sake of funding a significant purchase.
But the bulk of TWINO’s origination energies is about to re-focused. Jevgenijs tells us that the platform is busily sizing up a move into the currently underserved Polish consumer credit market. The new TWINO boss explained the opportunity:
“Poland is one of the largest countries in Europe in terms of the population, yet marketplace lending has yet to take off in this country. Finabay Group, our parent company, has been represented in Poland for over 4 years, so we have a strong launch partner and are very optimistic about the opportunity.”
On local regulation and the availability of credit data, Mr. Kazanins continued:
“At this point consumer lending is not a regulated industry in Poland; however, the new legislation coming into force next year will introduce capital requirements for lenders and we see it as a positive sign. There are 4 key credit bureaus in Poland and we work with all of them when running the checks on the borrowers.”
When covering TWINO’s launch, we likened the platform’s “buyout guarantee” as somewhat akin to the “provision funds” that are employed by a number of peer-to-peer lenders in the UK. At the time of its launch, TWINO also claimed to be “completely minimising” risk for P2P investors.
Jevgenijs helped to shed a little light on the buyout clause. The key differentiator is that the buyout "guarantee" doesn’t simply guard TWINO’s investors against losses, it also aims to return all outstanding interest payments to investors. The guarantee is supported by FinaBay – a fintech company which places great emphasis on the importance of advanced technology and big data. Finabay operates through the medium of a number of lending platforms, one of which is TWINO. The company’s other lenders are not peer-to-peer operators, and focus on 30-day loans and “short-term loans” across a range of geographies.
Now that Jevgenijs has hold of the reins, what’s next for TWINO? An expansion into Poland is first on the agenda, but the new CEO is also excited about the opportunity that the sleeping giant that is the Russian market may represent:
“We are looking at expanding into several markets starting with the countries where the group already operates (Poland, Russia, Georgia, Denmark and Czech Republic). Russia is definitely the fastest growing market in our pipeline, yet we are not sure about the timeline for the launch at this point.”