The new outfit goes by the name of creditshelf. The platform will target the German SME community, facilitating loans of €100,000 and above, for terms of up to 12 months. Although the ticket size is fairly large – as marketplace lenders go – creditshelf will deal exclusively in unsecured loans. Those loan products cover both working capital needs and corporate debt. Creditshelf’s target borrower is a German corporate with a balance sheet worth at least €10m. The platform will only target professional investors. As one platform representative told me:
“We’re a purely professional market place, i.e. our borrowers are corporations (legal persons), and our investors are institutionals or HNWI.”
Creditshelf operates an auction-based model, allowing investors to bid on loans between a pre-defined range of interest rates. Investors will seemingly have a fair degree of information at their disposal when choosing whether to allocate funds to a specific loan – including quantitative analysis, external ratings and qualitative assessment (presumably produced by the creditshelf team).
Creditshelf representatives confirmed that the platform already has an institutional funding commitment in place, and that the company is also lending its own money across the platform. However it was stressed that the company’s lending activity in no way compromises equal investor treatment.
The platform’s fee structure is such that investors are not charged. Borrowers pay a 1% (of the loan amount) servicing fee at the point of draw-down – a minimum of €1,000. There are of course late payment fees, and there is some suggestion that the platform may assist SMEs in marketing their loan auction (beyond simply listing it on the platform) for an added fee.
Creditshelf arrives in the market with a strong management team – one which includes a number of ex UBS men. Dr. Tim Thabe most recently joined the team as Managing Director. Thabe formerly served as COO for the international corporate and institutional clients business at UBS. He has also worked at Goldman Sachs as a senior credit risk officer and rating advisor. Creditshelf's CEO is ex Treveria CEO Christoph Maichel.
Germany’s SME lending market recently became substantially more competitive, owing to Funding Circle's acquisition of Rocket Internet offspring Zencap, beginning the former's assault on Continental Europe. However, given creditshelf’s target borrower type and the €100,000 minimum loan amount, the new platform is clearly targeting a unique slice of the SME market – one where the average ticket size will generally be too large for the likes of Funding Circle, but too small for the major banks. We’ll keep a close eye on creditshelf going forward.