Last updated - June 2018
A Mintos lender recently blew up
In June 2017, Mintos lender Eurocent announced that it was in serious financial difficulties. We covered these problems in a recent post. Eurocent has now defaulted on its Mintos ‘buyback guarantee’ commitments. Eurocent has filed for involvency, is being closed down, and in our view, Mintos investors will suffer material losses.
This has inevitably led investors to pay more attention to the quality of the other lenders on the Mintos platform. Last year, we listed 9 lenders that we would not touch right now. We have now broadened our analysis to cover all of the Mintos lenders. We highlight the lenders with the strongest features. We continue to be big fans of the Mintos platform, however we are allocating most of our capital to the highest rated lenders listed below.
It has been difficult up to now to compare each lender on the Mintos platform
Unfortunately, the information provided by Mintos about each lender is not consistent. Some lenders have not provided any information since March 2016. Others provide very regular updates. Information is provided in different currencies, languages and accounting policies. The quality of information provided varies enormously. Some information is audited, in many cases it isn’t. There should be minimum standards of reporting and disclosure. At the moment, Mintos allows the lenders to choose what they disclose. This results in lenders failing to disclose important information that may not be convenient for them, such as a history of losses, or rising levels of bad debts.
Key financial information of each Mintos lender
The table below captures the key financial information for each lender. This can be useful to quickly lookup the profile of each lender, and compare the strengths and weaknesses of each one.
All Figures in EUR million (annualised where appropriate):
Our Mintos lender ratings
Our Mintos lender ratings are based on 5 characteristics – profitability, capitalisation, size, track record and the quality of their reporting. We have allocated marks out of 20 for each metric, giving a total score out of 100.
Top rated Mintos lenders
Mogo and ID Finance earned the equal highest scores. Mogo is a popular lender on Mintos as the loans are both secured by vehicles and most receive buyback guarantees. Mogo has been reporting good results up to Q3 17. Mintos have informed us that they will publish updated results shortly, but performance remains good. ID Finance is another lender that is well capitalised and has produced strong results over the last 2 years.
We think investors can have some confidence in any lender achieving a score of 60 or better. Lenders meeting this benchmark include Credissimo, 1pm plc, Credit Star, Capital Service, iute Credit, Vizia/Banknote, Cream and IFN Extra Finance.
Our views on the new lenders
Mintos have introduced many new lenders recently including Dindin, Bino, Pimpay, Sebo, Watu, Kredit24, Invipay, Varks.am and Rapicredit. In our view, many of these new lenders are high risk, with a very limited track record and poor levels of disclosure. We don’t see any advantage in including these in a Mintos portfolio until they have been able to grow significantly larger and demonstrate profitability and a credible lending record.
We are surprised for example, that a company like Bino, that only started lending in 2017 would be invited onto the Mintos platform, particularly when no information about the capitalisation of the company is available. Several of these companies have not provided any information on their profitability, which implies to us that they are likely to be loss making currently. It is almost impossible to determine how likely these businesses will be able to honour their buyback guarantees in the future.
We also have some concerns and doubts about some of the countries the new lenders are operating in, including Kazakhstan, Kenya, Moldova, Columbia, Armenia and Russia. These countries are not investment grade and Mintos investors are not earning substantially higher returns to invest in these countries. For example, the Kenya government bond has a yield of over 13%, higher than Mintos investors are receiving to fund loans made there by a tiny startup business (Watu).
Lastly, we have doubts about the ability of these businesses to manage the currency risk they face. These businesses are lending in local currencies, and borrowing in euros. If there is a significant depreciation of these currencies (which frequently happens), we are concerned that these businesses might be exposed. None of the lenders have disclosed if, or how, the currency risk is being managed.
However, in March 2018 Mintos introduced two new lenders that achieved high ratings. Credissimo, a tech focused lender, achieved an initial score of 85, taking it to the top of our ratings. Credissimo scored well due to its very conservative balance sheet, profitability and high quality reporting. The second new lender to achieve a strong rating of 77 is 1pm plc, a British lender. The company scores well on several measures. It is a public company with good quality of disclosures, a record of profits over several years, and is one of the larger lenders on the Mintos platform. We do note however that it only offers loans in sterling, and the interest rates available may not be as attractive as those from other lenders.
The variability of quality in Mintos lenders that we have been highlighting was shown again in May 2018. Mintos introduced Mexican lender Credilikeme, which scored one of our lowest ever ratings at 18/100. We were at first confused as to why Mintos would upload a 2 year old presentation about the company. Some might suspect that the reason could be that in the last 2 years the company has made heavy losses, leading to a non-performing loan ratio of 85% in Dec 2017. We continue to be very wary of companies like this that are very small, are experimenting with high risk lending products, and have a fairly poor track record. Frankly, we don’t think they should be given access to the Mintos platform, and many are at risk of failing in the future.