Wide range of consumer loans from one of the leading lending groups in Europe
Viainvest is a platform that brings together loans from VIA SMS Group’s loan originators based in six European countries. We examine if it stands out compared to other platforms based on a similar model.
|Total Investment Volume||€236m+|
|Average annual interest||12%|
|Who’s eligible to invest||EU & Swiss residents|
|Investment Type||Consumer and business loans|
|Auto Invest Function||Yes|
|Investor Protection||Buyback Guarantee|
|Website Languages||English, German, Latvian, Spanish +2|
PROS & CONS
- All loans are fully pre-funded by the loan originators. The loans are then made available for investors on the platform, but the loan originator is obliged to keep at least 5% of each loan as skin in the game. This guarantees that the loan originator has a financial interest in the loan and will try to ensure a good performance of the loan (through, for example, a strict due diligence process).
- Like Lendermarket and Robocash, Viainvest is backed by a well-established financial group – VIA SMS Group. Since its launch in 2008, VIA SMS Group has expanded to seven countries, delivered solid financial results and reached relatively high investment volumes. This makes Viainvest potentially more stable and secure than other platforms without such an anchor.
- Even though there’s no secondary market (we would usually put it among the cons), Viainvest offers the “initialize buyback” function – not to be mistaken with buyback guarantee. It allows the investor to sell their investment back to the loan originator once the loan term exceeds 120 days. This seems like a reasonable solution – although it doesn’t provide perfect liquidity, you are saved the secondary market fuss, including the questionable demand and, quite often, additional fees.
- All loan originators come from the same financial group and depending on a single provider exposes you to elevated concentration risk. Geographic and sectoral diversification options are also not great. There’s only one business loan available at the time of writing (more on that below) and consumer loans come from just six EU countries – much fewer than on bigger P2P marketplaces.
- Most platforms simply provide investors with income statements, which are then the basis for tax payment in the country of their tax residency. Viainvest automatically deducts tax from your capital gains. Although it might seem like a good idea, it actually adds complexity to the process. Unless you submit a tax certificate, income generated from Czech or Spanish consumer loans is subject to a tax withholding, which will naturally lower your returns. You have to be also careful not to be hit with double taxation.
- Viainvest is going through a licensing process to obtain an IBF (investment brokerage firm) licence from Latvia’s FCMC (Financial and Capital Market Commission). The license would add another layer of supervision, security and investor protection. For now, though, Viainvest remains unlicensed.
Who is behind Viainvest?
VIA SMS Group has a good reputation and a proven track record of sustained rapid growth and consistent profitability. Transparency is more than decent – the Group provides financial reports, audited by the Latvian company BDO. Their profits exceeded €12 million in 2019 and €5 million in the first half of 2020. The Group has also increased its cash reserves to over €3 million in 2020 from just over €1.1 million in 2019. This is a good sign in case you’re worried whether the buyback guarantee will hold amidst the potentially increased default rates induced by the COVID crisis.
What does Viainvest offer?
Viainvest lists four types of loans:
- Short-term loan – a fixed-term consumer loan with maturity between 7 to 30 days and a single repayment at the end of the term;
- Instalment loan – a consumer loan with a maturity between 3 and 12 months, repaid through monthly payments;
- Credit line – a consumer loan with an open-ended agreement, in which the borrower may choose the repayment terms (either to repay full loan amount after 30 days or to make monthly payments until the full amount borrowed is repaid) and raise the loan amount during the repayment process; and
- Business loan – a loan issued to the legal entity for business development, not secured with the buyback guarantee (although there may be another type of security provided, for example, collateral).
Consumer loans constitute the large majority of investments and originate from Latvia, Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden, Romania and Spain. At the time of writing (January 2021), there’s only one business loan available… from VIA SMS Group, which aims to fund their lending business in Vietnam.
How much can you earn?
All consumer loans currently come with a fixed interest rate of 12%. Given the buyback guarantee is in place, this is what you should make. Remember to submit a tax certificate if you don’t want part of your gains to be withheld, slightly decreasing your profits. (Another solution is to avoid Spanish and Czech loans.)
If you decide to invest in the Viainvest business loan, you can earn an additional 2% paid at maturity on top of the 12% paid monthly. However, this comes at a significantly higher risk (no buyback guarantee), and if you exit the investment early, you will lose the bonus 2% interest.
Who is Viainvest best for?
Viainvest is another solid platform, backed by big capital and focused on a single group of lenders. It is recommended mostly for investors who are particularly keen on exposure towards VIA SMS Group, but Viainvest could be considered as a part of a broader European P2P lending portfolio.
How to invest on Viainvest
On top of the traditional simple registration process, you might want to submit a tax certificate to avoid any doubts and pains of double taxation or withholding tax. You can find more information on how to do this and what should be included in the certificate here.
Viainvest doesn’t particularly stand out in the European P2P lending sector – it offers consumer loans denominated in euro with low-double-digit returns and a buyback guarantee. At the same time, it checks all the key boxes – provides a good risk-return ratio and decent liquidity, and is backed by a solid, profitable and transparent financial group.
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