Estonian P2P financial marketplace Bondora turned to profit late last year after focusing again on its original offering of consumer loans and aims to continue on this track in 2017.
“Looking at the bigger picture, we were a bit looking for our place. We have tried a number of products, businesses and client segments over the years,” founder and CEO Pärtel Tomberg told ArcticStartup in an interview.
“By mid-2016 we understood that our focus has to be on what we started from – a faster and cheaper consumer loan product. And we understood that on the investment side it has to be an online product for the people, not so much for the banks or funds,” he said.
Bondora targets for an annual profit this year – the first in five years – with growth revenue growth at 60-70 percent per annum level, Tomberg said.
Last year the firm reached revenues of 4.2 million euros, while through its platform was issued around 30 million of consumer loans. Last year, Bondora got approval from Estonian FSA, the local financial regulator, and it reached a 1 billion euros milestone for loan applications filed through its platform.
A credit blockchain platform
Bondora was founded as isePankur back in 2008 and pioneered the concept of social lending in Estonia. Today it has lending clients also in Finland and Spain – and investors around the world. The service allows individuals and small to medium-sized enterprises to borrow and lend between each other, skipping the whole traditional banking process.
Tomberg said the financial industry has changed in nine years less than most fintech fans predicted.
“Most of the Europeans are still holding their money on their bank account or in bank’s pension funds, and the returns on these are such that any cat on a street would be a better investor,” Tomberg said.
Peer-to-peer lending platforms have become a common feature of the fintech scene, but while many payday loan marketplaces advertise P2P to investors these are usually very similar to bond sales.
Bondora on the other hand, has built a marketplace for spreading the risk – investors invest in the individual loans – and their returns are directly related to the payment of the loans. The loan relationship is between the investor and the lender, Bondora is not a party in those deals.
“It could be called even credit blockchain. I am a strong believer in dispersed systems,” Tomberg said.