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Why Invest in P2P Lending?

Many people are new to peer-to-peer (P2P) lending as an investment option. Questions arise. Is it trustworthy? Does it fit my needs as an investor? Who else have invested in it?

All valid concerns. Nearly no one wants to jump in blind when it comes to investing hard-earned money. Not billionaires, not angel investors – even they do extensive research prior to investing. People want examples of successful P2P investors and whether P2P lending works for their portfolio.

However, you’d be surprised by how flexible this form of alternative investment is.

Flexibility

Let’s start with individual or retail investors. Why is a relatively new investment opportunity so appealing to this segment?

The financial market can strike one as tangled, complicated, and unpredictable. Where does one even begin? P2P lending can feel like a breath of fresh air as it offers a much simpler concept. Basically, it is a form of alternative investment where investors collectively fund loans and earn interest-based earnings in return. Think of P2P lending as profitable crowdfunding! Where crowdfunding projects usually support charities and artistic ventures, P2P lending lets you collect attractive returns.

Due diligence and credit assessment guides your choices

Also, compare P2P lending with stock investment. Navigating the stock market requires expertise and research. Credible P2P lending platforms perform all the necessary due diligence and credit assessment to guide your investing choices, which saves time.

You still need to do some of your own research though, so you can decide for yourself which businesses you want to invest in. But overall, P2P lending jargon is more accessible compared to other investments.

Read Also: Three Key Risks of P2P Lending

alternative and affordable

Other bonuses? The affordable entry. At Funding Societies, you can invest in each small business with as little as SGD 100. P2P lending is also a profitable, with returns up to 14% per year.

It’s easy to see why individual investors are seeking alternative investments like P2P lending. Through it, you make passive income with ease and you earn higher returns from lower capital.

Read Also: 3 Alternatives To A Dividend Portfolio

More and more, P2P lending is gaining popularity. Respected media outlets such as Forbes have talked about its benefits. P2P infrastructure is thriving and all the indications point to one conclusion: P2P lending is here to stay!

This article was first posted on the blog of Funding Societies (Malaysia). Click here for the original article.

Funding Societies is a DollarsAndSense Brand Connect partner. If you are interested to know them better, you can find out more on what they do on our DollarsAndSense Brand Connect Page.

6 Different Types Of Alternative Investments You Should Consider

Whether you’re just looking, or starting out in investing, it will be helpful to understand the major instruments with which people tend to invest. This video gives an overview of 6 main investment options, as well as their qualities and characteristics. 

Read More: Starter’s Guide: 6 Different Types of Investments For You To Consider

Read Also: This App Can Help You Kick Start Your Investment Journey

Find out more about alternative investing at Funding Societies here.

Funding Societies is a DollarsAndSense Brand Connect partner. If you are interested to know them better, you can find out more on what they do on our DollarsAndSense Brand Connect Page.

 

How Technology Can Revolutionise The Way We Invest

The older generations love gold and properties as their mode of investment and method to hedge against inflation. With the advancement of the Internet and technology, the new generation of investors are now more well-equipped with information and new investment opportunities. This is especially so in recent decades, when the huge leap in technology opens up a whole lot of new sub sectors in the digital industry which can potentially revolutionise the way we invest.

Let us look into 5 growing digital sub sectors and how it can create new investment opportunities.

1. Crowdfunding

According to Investopedia, Crowdfunding refers to the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture. Typically, crowdfunding is either reward-based or equity-based.

For reward-based crowdfunding, entrepreneurs or inventors will pitch their product idea to investors, in exchange for a free or discounted finished product. An example of such crowdfunding website would be Kickstarter, the world largest reward based crowdfunder where over US$2 billion has been pledged by more than 10 million people since they launched in 2009. Oculus Rift began as a Kickstarter project 3 years ago, and eventually raised US$2 billion. Pledgers of the project were promised to get the upcoming Oculus Rift for free (how we wish we knew this project back then!) However, this type of crowdfunding is not considered as an investment.

As for equity-based crowdfunding, investors can chip in for the projects in exchange for the equity of the firm. The more prominent equity-based crowdfunding platforms are Seedr and CrowdFunder. Locally, Fundnel also offers various funding methods for businesses and investors depending on their suitability.

Based on 2014 statistics, Asia is recording exponential growth in crowdfunding market, contributing 21% to the global funding volume. Globally, an estimated US$87,000 is raised every hour.

2. Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Lending 

P2P lending refers to a debt financing method which enables individuals to borrow or lend, without the traditional brick and mortar financial intermediaries. Investors can lend money to the businesses in exchange for periodic interest payment and the principal amount upon maturity. It is also known as social lending. Without the traditional financial intermediaries such as banks and finance companies, P2P lending narrows the interest spread between lenders and the borrowers which is beneficial to both parties.

P2P lending is usually deemed as risker as investors are lending their money to businesses that banks might have rejected their loans. However, there are many reasons why banks can reject a loan. And one of the main reason is that these SMEs do not have enough history of track records in earning ability or cash flows.

P2P lending platforms can help to assure the investors by doing first-round screening of the SMEs before posting them online. Financial information are also provided for the investors to do due diligence.

MoolahSenseFunding Societies and Capital Match are some of the P2P lending platforms in Singapore.

3. Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a digital currency (also known as crypto-currency) created in 2009 with the promise of lower transaction fee than traditional online payment methods. It is the most accepted digital currency and some businesses accept Bitcoin as a mode of payment for goods or services. Besides acting as a mode of payment, Bitcoin is also seen as a type investment for many people. However, price of Bitcoin can be very volatile. The highest recorded price was US$1,151 per Bitcoin in 2013 while the lowest was US$205 in 2015. As at 15 Feb 2015, price of 1 Bitcoin is at US$404.

To find out moreBitcoins Investopedia 

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4. Direct Purchase Insurance (DPI)

DPI enable consumers to buy basic life insurance policies directly from the insurance companies online, without having to go through financial advisors and hence, bypass commission charges. This initiative implemented by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to allow Singaporeans to have access to basic protection without any financial advice. Consumers can compare financial products offered by different insurance companies using online platforms like CompareFirst and take their time to decide which policy best suits them.

This initiative, together with vast availability of information online, people can make more informed choice and hence reduces the conflict of interest for insurance agents. The current commission based system might prevent some of the agents from recommend the soundest advice for their clients.

Read Also: Will Buying Life Insurance Online Be The Next Big Thing?

5. Ecommerce

Everyone loves Ecommerce. Yes, everyone, even the Durian sellers.

People love to buy things online for many reasons. It can be due to convenience, price competitiveness, price comparison or variety. The trend of buying things online is set to grow further and hence, listed ecommerce companies presents an unprecedented investment opportunities for the investors. The ecommerce sector is undergoing explosive growth, attracting US$112 billion worth of investments globally in 2014.

With increased connectivity and the advancement of technology, it spurs a new wave of innovation and the birth of new subsectors. This also presents more investment options hence moving investors away from the more traditional investment methods. It is worth looking more in-depth in digital sector than ever before.

To find out more about the digital sector, visit sgx.com/digitalsector

Source of top picture

Investing in an Uncertain World

Here’s an example of how uncertainty can affect the average investor: prior to the 2016 US Election Day, most polls had projected a Hillary Clinton victory. The eventual result was different, not to mention unexpected. The shock impacted the markets even before the official winner was declared. As Donald Trump’s victory became more and more assured, gold prices soared; the metal is generally seen as a safe asset and a hedge against inflation. Meanwhile, emerging market stocks tumbled and the US dollar reached its highest point since 2003.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2016 USA elections, the markets certainly reacted and the fluctuation reflected anxiety for the future. Investors asked: is long-term market stability still possible? Will the markets continue on this volatile streak? Will they calm after a while? Given a situation of financial instability, what should the typical investor do?

Donald Trump’s victory was a catalyst for financial swings, but the reality is, market instability often happens and investors need to prepare accordingly. Certain (but not excessive) precautions should be taken to buffer against unexpected upheavals. How to do so? Diversify your portfolio, hunt for new investment opportunities, and stay calm even during choppy times.

Diversify Your Portfolio

Political events often upset both the markets and investor confidence. Some investors choose to behave in a more conservative manner (see the spike in demand for gold immediately after the 2016 USA presidential elections). Others choose to try and time the market in the middle of insecure times by pulling their assets and getting back in later when the markets stabilize.

But timing the market is a very risky affair, even for experts. If you want to fortify your portfolio in anxious times, you should diversify across different asset classes and rebalance your instruments periodically to maintain your risk profile.

Telling investors to diversify is very basic advice, but think about it. Diversifying your investments is something you can control in the midst of uncertainty. You get to choose which instruments to purchase and how much money you are comfortable allocating into each asset class.

The main idea here is to balance the potential for risk and reward. For example, let’s say your portfolio consists of company stocks and precious metals. Your stock value may have been erratic over the USA election season, but the value of your gold has gone up. As you can see, with a well-diversified portfolio, you remain in the clear if the stock markets fluctuate for the long-term, as your returns aren’t determined by the performance of a single asset class.

Don’t overload yourself with real-time market information, but do look at all asset classes and see how they will fit into your portfolio and your risk tolerance. The bottom line is: if your overall portfolio is doing fine, then geopolitical situations matter less.

Read Also: This Infographic Will Tell You All You Need To Know To Defend Your Investments

This Is a Good Time to Hunt for New Investment Opportunities

If you think your investment portfolio is already well-balanced and you have covered the basics (fixed deposits, bonds, gold, stocks, etc), you can research new places to invest your money. There is an advantage to routinely looking at all the available options and seeing how they fit your portfolio because over time, asset classes produce different results. So to maintain your preferred risk profile, an investment portfolio needs periodic rebalancing.

If the current market climate is rendering you a little skittish, you can try investing small sums into alternatives. Technology, for instance, can be a promising sector.

Internet stocks are obvious suspects. Think about how essential brands like Google have become. But note that unless you are an early investor in these tech companies, your returns won’t be spectacular. Also, if you already own company stocks, other areas in technology can answer the gap in your portfolio.

Innovative and profitable technology companies are not exclusive to Western markets. One technology-based investment opportunity that’s growing in Singapore is peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, which utilized online platforms to match borrowers and investors. Borrowers take out financing for working capital or other business necessities, while investors who had collectively funded the financing opportunities gain interest-based earnings in return. Investing in P2P lending has several benefits: good return rates higher than deposits or bonds, a low entry barrier suitable for those wanting to try the business model first, and a streamlined online process.

Despite being a relatively new instrument, a study by the UK Peer to Peer Finance Association (P2PFA) stated that so long as investors are educated and the regulatory framework is sound, P2P lending does notcreate systemic risk. In fact, defaults would need to increase at least threefold from current levels to whittle down investor interest rates to below zero.

These days, certain apps can give you real-time updates on your favorite investments or even figure out the best investment mix for you. New opportunities are out there. Take the time to research and find new investments you can be confident in. Look for instruments with good growth that you can feel secure in.

Stay Calm and Don’t Make Rash Decisions

Yes, it can be difficult to enact this advice when your portfolio contains your hard-earned money, future hopes, and retirement plans. Investing can be as emotional as politics, making it difficult to stop watching the market’s every move. Yet it is counterproductive to overanalyse the current situation; there are too many variables. All the information overload can induce panic and cause you to “sell low, buy high” instead of the other way around. Additionally, don’t succumb to the temptation of making speculations. Impulsive decisions can change your portfolio drastically and at the moment, you need a balanced and stable portfolio.

Read Also: Invest Based On Your Investment Objectives, Not What Others Are Saying

Funding Societies is a DollarsAndSense Brand Connect partner. If you are interested to know them better, you can find out more on what they do on our DollarsAndSense Brand Connect Page.

The future of peer-to-peer lending in Asia

This article was first published by GTnews

The financial services industry has taken huge strides in the last 20-odd years, with path-breaking innovations in the financial system such as the advent of automated teller machines (ATMs), credit cards, online banking, mobile banking and sophisticated loan and deposit products. The speed of innovation has been unprecedented.

One new offering that has developed more recently is peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, also known as marketplace lending or crowdfunding. The concept seeks to leverage on the existing gaps in the lending system and serve the underbanked borrower segment while at the same time providing excellent returns to the lenders, who are usually retail investors with excess cash.

Since P2P lending is primarily an online proposition, the inherent costs and overheads are low. P2B (peer-to-business) lending seeks to use this concept to fund businesses which don’t have access to bank funding. Personal loans and loans to small businesses are the two most common lending products within the P2P framework.

The roots of P2P lending lie in the UK and US and go back to 2005-06, with lenders such as Zopa (the first P2P lender), Prosper, Lending Club and Ondeck being the pioneers. Thereafter came other big players like Funding Circle (UK) and Society One (Australia). Over the years, however, Asia has overtaken the US, primarily led by China. In 2015, P2P lenders globally originated loans worth US$64bn, with China contributing more than half of the total. Major lenders in Asia include:

China – Lufax, Dianrong, Yirendai
India – Faircent, Lenden Club, i2ifunding
Southeast Asia – Funding Societies, Modalku
Hong Kong – WeLab
Japan – Maneo

Unlike in the US and UK as well as some other developed markets, where P2P is predominantly an online model, a majority of the P2P lenders in Asia have a mix of online and offline models. Lack of data availability, low internet penetration, manual processes and regulatory challenges in emerging Asian economies are some of the challenges that inhibit growth of completely automated online models.

In the last few years, a new set of completely online P2P lenders has emerged. They use behavioural data from social media, acquire data through partnerships, and also use innovative technology-based credit scoring methods for giving out faster and lower-cost loans to underserved segments. One such example is Paipaidai in China which uses the online trading history of the borrower to underwrite loans.

Another recent phenomenon is the advent of cross-border P2P lending. Crowdcredit funds borrowers in emerging markets including Europe and Latin America through retail investors based in Japan.

The P2P segment has also attracted a significant amount of venture capital (VC) activity in recent times, as well as other funding, with some of the most notable funding for P2P lending companies in the Asian context including:

Lufax: Raised about US$19bn in their Series B round

Dianrong: Raised about US$1bn in their Series C round

WeLab: Raised U$160m in their Series B round

Funding Societies: Raised about US$7m in their Series A round

The key growth drivers for P2P lending in Asia include:

  • Rapidly-developing and high-growth Asian economies with large but credit-worthy underbanked populations
  • Huge funding gaps where banks are not able to lend due to structural inefficiencies
  • The availability of a large pool of retail investors with excess cash
  • Increasing internet and mobile phone penetration that complements the online product proposition and reach
  • Fintech-led fast online processes that help reduce costs and overheads while aiding customer adoption
  • Support from regulators and government bodies towards inclusive financial growth
  • According to Statista, P2P lending globally is expected to cross US$1 trillion in loan origination by 2050. Asia, given its unique positioning, should account for a significant portion of that total.