CoAssets has been making big strides recently. To be honest, I haven’t been paying attention to CoAssets because I started p2p lending first with MS, CM and FS. But with its recent moves, I think it is now well-positioned to compete aggressively and its regional footprint will eventually become an important differentiation factor for investors. So what are the big moves it made recently?
ex-Arty Chief Joins as COO
In March this year, CoAssets made a star hire with Colonel Lawrence Lim, ex-Chief of Artillery, joining as COO. Lawrence Lim has extensive experience in HR and managing large scale operations. He is also very smart with Master degrees in several fields, including MBA from MIT. But what’s a military high-flier got to do finance? CoAssets is still a very young company, and beyond the glitzy surface, it is important to keep the engine running smoothly. Lawrence Lim will probably fit in this role as a solid and dependable leader, driving day-to-day operations. See here for more details.
Australia Mainboard Listing
For a young company, listing is an expensive endeavor. But it brings plenty of benefits: legitimacy, access to capital markets, ability to hire and retain talents, etc. Besides CoAssets, all the other platforms here are unlisted startups. I always worry about platform risk. Does the platform have enough money to keep running the business for the next 12 months? If it hits a rough patch, will it survive? Or will investors like myself become stranded when the platform shutters? But CoAssets is listed and everyone can scrutinize its financial statements. This will ease some doubts about platform risk. Also, the move to mainboard soon will also raise between A$5-10m, which will allow it to expand into different geographies. It can also poach talented staffs from other platform startups.
Further info here.
Expansion into p2p lending, overseas markets
In my view, CoAssets is about half a year late in the p2p lending scene in Singapore. But the battle is not over. It has the potential to catch up. First mover is not necessarily an advantage. Sometimes, the late starter can come out ahead by avoiding the mistakes made by the industry pioneers. Also, CoAssets looks like it is expanding into other markets such as Indonesia, Australia and China where the potential may be larger. Comparatively, Singapore is a small and limited market. Eventually, the differentiation factor to investors may be overseas market access. If CoAssets needs to beef up its position in Singapore, it may be able to do an acquisition with the support of some of its VC and PE backers.
p2p fans can buy CoAsset shares if they can tolerate the risk
With so much possibilities, execution remains the key for CoAssets. What about investors? Besides one additional platform to use, investors can soon buy CoAssets shares in the Australia Stock Exchange. But that is stock investing, not p2p lending. It can be difficult to estimate the fair value of its shares, because CoAssets is on an expansionary phase and not expected to turn profitable for next several years. Investors need to have the stomach for risk! If CoAsset shares are too risky, another option is buying Lending Club’s shares. It is the godfather of p2p lending; its shares were recently been sold off on a scandal by ex-CEO and increasing investor skepticism. But its operations can recover and it still have a star-studded board capable of steering the business back.