Not all crowdfunding schemes are fraudulent. We (the Let’s Crowd Smarter Team) have invested in over 50 crowdfunding schemes across different platforms and our overall experience has been great.
Yes, there are a few problem loans whose repayments are always late. And we’re lucky not to have encountered any outright default yet. But we have seen more successes than failures.
We believe that as long as investors stick to the more established crowdfunding platforms (such as Funding Societies, MoolahSense, Capital-Match, Crowdo and New Union) and have a widely diversified portfolio, the overall return should be positive.
As an example, our p2p loan portfolio is earning cash return of about 1.5% per month, or about 12% so far this year.
Crowdfunding success – A real story
Here, we’ll share with you a crowdfunding success story – a p2p loan that we participated with Funding Societies in December last year. Effective interest rate was a cool 23.6% per annum. (We also have similar successes with other platforms and will share them next time.)
The loan ID is SB-1512005 but we’ll respect the borrower’s confidentiality and not disclose its identity. Below are some of the key features of the loan.
To summarize, this company is borrowing $100k as working capital for a $780k project. It promised to repay over 6 months. Effective interest earned by lender is 23.6% per annum. As this is a 6-month loan, actual earned interest is roughly half of that.
Funding Societies provided further financial information and comments on the borrower. We did a quick review and find the risk to be acceptable. Hence, we decided to lend $1,000 on this loan in December last year.
Over the next 6 months, this borrower repaid promptly every month. The final repayment was in June 2016. On this loan, we earned the 23.6% effective interest rate per annum – exactly as promised.
Verifying our return on investment
Now let’s verify that we are indeed earning 23.6% effective interest per annum.
But before we do that, we’ll need to explain the difference between effective and simple interest rates.
Effective interest rate refers to the interest earned on the outstanding loan. When the borrower repays its loan every month, the outstanding loan balance declines. The interest earned by this declining loan balance is known as the effective interest.
On the other hand, simple interest is basically the total interest earned by the loan as a percentage of the initial loan amount. It does not take into account the declining loan principal or the repayment every month.
We prefer to use effective interest rate. Using Excel’s IRR function as shown below, we easily show that the effective return is indeed 23.6% per annum.
Is it really so easy?
If crowdfunding is so easy, why are there still plenty of negative news about defaults and frauds?
In our view, most of these platforms that ran into trouble are poorly managed. Many are fly-by-night operators that nobody has heard of. Their loan underwriting process are not credible at all. For the recent First Asia Alliance case, there were so many red flags, including the fact that the director of the crowdfunding platform is also the shareholder of the investee companies.
But there are also well-managed crowdfunding platforms that are already have or in the process of getting CMS licenses from MAS. This includes Funding Societies, Capital Match, MoolahSense, New Union and Crowdo.
We (at Let’s Crowd Smarter) are comfortable with and have invested our own money with this second group of crowdfunding platforms. Overall, our investing experiences have been great. Of course, we do have some problem loans and late repayments, but these usually form less than 10% of our total portfolio. Success stories still far outnumber the failures we had.
If investors choose the correct platforms, investing into crowdfunding schemes can generate attractive returns without too much risk as we showed in this example.