In the interview with P2PMarketData, Mintos Head of Product Marcis Gogis talks about upcoming products, automation of data, the Mintos Community forum, competitors, and more.
The interview was originally published on P2PMarketData.
Product Pipeline and Loans as Notes
Mintos is already one of the platforms with the most products and features for investors. At the same, on August 19 you obtained two new licences – an investment firm license and an electronic money institution license. Do you have any exciting products in the pipeline for the near future, and what changes can investors expect as a result of having acquired the two licenses?
Yes, the two licenses means we are now a regulated marketplace for investing in loans. The moment we received the licenses marked the moment when we initiated a transition from the way we were offering our services before – investing in loans as claims, to the way it will work from now on – investing in loans as financial instruments, Notes. Our priority for this year is to complete this transition during which we will also transfer all our partnering lending companies to the new setup offering Notes.
We have asked our clients – retail investors – about their thoughts on us becoming a regulated marketplace, and 83% of them find this an important milestone because it will add additional security and credibility thanks to investor protection mechanisms and regulatory oversight.
As Europe’s largest marketplace for investing in loans we continue to focus on investing in loans as our main service, however the obtained licences will now open new doors for us and we will be able to provide more tailored services and new investment opportunities in the future. This direction supports our vision to become Europe’s go-to investments marketplace for one who wants to invest.
For our existing investment opportunities, based on suitability and appropriateness assessment answers provided by our investors, we will now be able to provide a tailored strategy that meets specific investor investment goals and other preferences.
Talking about new investment opportunities, I am very excited to announce that we have already started to work on adding ETFs as a new asset class on Mintos. At the moment we have started the first prototype testing together with our investors from the beta tester group and we planned to introduce this product next year. We plan to introduce other new products as well but at this stage it is too early to mention specific investment types and estimates.
Mintos Debit Cards and IBAN Accounts
In November 2018, Mintos managed to raise EUR 5 million in Series A financing. A part of the purpose of the funding was to provide users with personal IBAN accounts and debit cards. However, this is still not available to investors. What happened?
We have put a lot of effort into building the functionality to enable IBAN accounts. Now that we have the EMIlicense, we plan to introduce this product next year. This is a large milestone considering all the work that has been put into it behind the scenes and it took us a bit longer than we expected, but it is still one of our priorities and it will be available for our investors in the near future.
Regarding debit cards, we decided to put this on hold for some time. We did an extensive research and understood that this is not the right moment to introduce the cards on Mintos. Debit cards belong to the financial services offering various spending opportunities, and we need a larger amount of clients who will be willing to use this product actively. Currently, we have paused this project but it does not mean that we will not introduce it later on. Meanwhile, we are focusing on the investing services as we see a lot of potential and opportunities in how we can improve our existing product and additionally add new product offerings.
Automatisation of Data
A lot of things are happening in regards to automatisation in these years. Are you also considering building an API to make it possible for data providers like P2PMarketData to get access to more comprehensive info on statistics, loan originators and the transactions occurring on the Mintos platform?
Yes, investor API has been on our backlog for some time already. We have been focusing on regulatory requirements for a while and now, when we have received both licenses and will finish our transition plan, we will definitely review our priority list and see when we can work on introducing API.
Mintos Community Forum
In March 2021, you decided to move all discussions with investors from the comment section to Mintos Community Forum. Why did you choose to make this move, and what are your thoughts for the Mintos Community Forum? Do you have a strategy for investor involvement in the development of new products and features?
Throughout the year 2020 we saw how on multiple occasions our discussions with investors were not how we wanted to host them, meaning – our communication channels involved individual conversations with investors via our Investor Services team where it is a 1:1 and many investors lacked the bigger perspective on what other investors are thinking about one or another subject. And the only place where we did have larger crowds discussion was on our blog under the posts we share. There were many occasions where we saw that investors did not comment on the matter in the respective post, but took the conversation to whichever topic they found important at that time. That created slight miscommunication with other investors who did want to see opinions about the specific posts, but most importantly – it signalled to us that we have to provide a space where investors can discuss various topics and not be limited to posts we share on the blog and the comments functionality on the blog. Also, we knew already then that we would have changes to our marketplace as we started to work on obtaining both licences and would have a lot of new functionality to share and explain – possibly outside the usual updates we share on the blog, and we need a dedicated space for that.
At that point, having our hands full with various regulatory requirements and functionality to build, we used the Zendesk Gather platform already available for us as our investor service communication tool which we could integrate into our existing infrastructure. As Zendesk releases more updates, we will look forward to introducing them also to our community and improve the user experience.
From a product perspective, we see Mintos community as a strategic channel where we can ask our customers to upvote the most important features they want to see on Mintos. This will help us to prioritize our feature backlog.
Overall, I’d like to say that we are involving investors in our product development process from day one. We are collecting every feedback, researching data, running surveys, and inviting our customers to usability tests. I am really happy that we have such a responsive user base.
Independent Platforms as a Challenge to Mintos’ Business Model
Many loan originators have started to create independent platforms to offer their loans directly to investors. Do you see that as a challenge to Mintos’ business model, or what are your thoughts on this? Is it something you are considering when developing new products?
In my opinion, a lot of mono lender platforms will soon understand that it is not as gainful from an economic perspective to keep this part of the business as it requires a lot of resources if you want to build a trustworthy, regulated platform that is the top choice for investors and run its operations on a large scale.
Mintos as a Loan Originator
Where do you see Mintos moving in the long run? Could you, for example, imagine Mintos as a loan originator itself at some point?
Our vision is to become the top of the mind marketplace if one is thinking about investing. We see Mintos as a platform where investors can build a long term investment portfolio that will consist of different investment asset types. Now we offer loans, in the near future we plan to add ETFs and we don’t plan to stop here. We want to make investing more simple and accessible for retail investors. Based on data, we will be able to tailor and provide the most suitable investment strategy for each individual investor. By strategy I mean a larger pie that will consist of several asset classes and tailored allocation.
DeFi and Cryptolending on Mintos
DeFi and cryptolending are getting a lot of attention these days. What is your overall take on this market? Are you considering allowing investment through crypto assets or using blockchain technology in future Mintos products (e.g., NFT loans) in other ways?
No, not in the near future. Currently we are focusing on investment types that are income producing assets and can generate value in the long term.