We will be regularly updating this thread, sharing relevant information about the war in Ukraine and sanctions for Russia that have a direct impact on Mintos business and matters of interest for investors.
We kindly ask you for understanding and patience as besides bringing devastating turmoil to the people of Ukraine, the war also resonates through financial markets and influences what we know as normal market conditions.
Update 31 May 2022
- Amounts that can be transferred from Russia to “unfriendly countries” are still limited to RUB 10 million a month
- Even when RUB transfers are accepted, exchanging RUB amounts to EUR is possible only occasionally
- Lending companies who are clients of sanctioned banks still can’t make any transfers to the EU
- Mintos is in the process of setting up a new payments channel with a third-party service provider (the limit of RUB 10 million still applies)
- 80% of surveyed investors said they would be willing to bear additional costs that come with the setup of alternative transfer routes
- We’re in the process of assessing all needed steps for setting up alternative routes, while remaining compliant with requirements coming from sanctions and regulation
- We’re sharing statements from Russian lending companies — Creditter, DoZarplati, LimeZaim, Eco Finance, and Kviku
It’s been over three months since Russia launched its war on Ukraine. Investors on Mintos as well as Mintos itself are directly affected by the sanctions on Russia and the Russian retaliation measures.
Since then, there has been barely any change when it comes to transferring payments that are due to investors and Mintos. Laws and requirements within the Russian borders are set up in a way that only a limited number of banks can transfer limited amounts from Russia on a monthly basis — and even then, only in rubles (up to RUB 10 million). Outside of Russia, banks are reluctant to receive any payments in rubles. And even when they accept rubles, an exchange to euros is only possible when another client of the bank wants to purchase rubles.
That’s why we’re currently preparing a setup with a third-party service provider who offers a solution for both receiving the payments in rubles, and exchanging the rubles to euros. This service should enable easier transactions of still limited amounts in RUB from Russia, and it’s not related to the alternative routes setup we mentioned in the previous communication. We will share more information about the success of this setup in the following days.
As we considered various, but due to sanctions very limited alternatives, we recently reached out to investors to understand their opinions on what cost they would be willing to bear in case we develop alternative routes for the repayments from Russia. And if there is interest in cost bearing at all. To remind, the costs would only include the direct costs of setting up new transaction routes, such as fees for third-party service providers, opening new bank accounts, currency exchange costs, etc. Mintos would not benefit from these costs in any way.
We found that 80% of investors are interested in getting their payments sooner, with various levels of costs being considered acceptable, ranging from 5% to 20%. We started setting up processes for the alternative payment routes for a few lending companies.
We remind you that setting up an alternative route might take time.
First, working within the framework of a regulated investment firm while being compliant with all sanction-based restrictions gives us a set of rules we need to follow. Second, lending companies supervised by the Russian Central Bank also need to adhere to certain rules. At any time, new sanctions or new decrees made by the Russian government can deteriorate the process.
It’s important to note that lending companies from Russia currently have sufficient assets to settle their liabilities to investors.
To track the state of payments from Russia, you can always visit the pending payments report page, updated every Friday.
Statements from the Russian lending companies
Last week, we reached out to the lending companies from Russia with some questions, and below we’re sharing their responses.
We asked them the following questions:
- Three months in, what is the impact of sanctions and retaliation measures of Russia on the lending company’s business?
- Do you notice any significant changes in borrowers’ behavior?
- What’s the health of your current loan book portfolio?
- Would you like to share a general message for investors on Mintos who have invested in loans issued by your lending company?
We talked to: Creditter
We’re sharing the responses to our questions shared with Creditter in full.
Responses and information provided don’t represent the opinions of Mintos. Mintos has done no valuation of the data provided by Creditter.
“Three months after the imposition of sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory measures, the microfinance market [in Russia] began to adjust to the new realities. Analysts believe that the identified trend indicates a decrease in the risk of mass defaults. It is likely that in the coming months, the application approval rate in the segment will again rise to above 30%.
According to analytical data, at the beginning of spring, the payment discipline of the borrower slightly decreased. Today, delays of 90 days or more remain at the same level, as the population has formed a monetary safety cushion due to the fall in incomes of the country’s inhabitants against the backdrop of rising inflation. But already at the beginning of the fourth quarter, we expect the restoration of payment discipline due to the improvement in the situation in the country and the world as a whole.
The company today notes a significant increase in borrowers’ requests for a grace period, as well as for the restructuring of existing debt due to the fact that the Russian legislator proposed measures to support consumers of financial services, in particular, providing for the possibility of obtaining a deferred payment (grace period) for a period of up to six months — in case of a decrease in income by 30% or more. In addition, the Bank of Russia recommended that market participants implement their own support programs.
Our company has established itself in the financial market as a reliable partner, which acts from the position of the need to fulfill its obligations, as well as to maintain international business relations. As a responsible market participant, we are also bound by the requirements of the current legislation, by which we are temporarily limited in our capabilities. But we are making every effort to find solutions and look forward to resuming full cooperation in the future.”
We talked to: DoZarplati
We’re sharing a summary of short-form responses to our questions shared with DoZarplati. Responses and information provided don’t represent the opinions of Mintos. Mintos has done no valuation of the data provided by DoZarplati.
When it comes to the impacts of sanctions on Russia on DoZarplati’s business, the management doesn’t see any direct impacts.
They also don’t see significant impacts on the borrower’s behavior. “The borrowers began to pay a little longer (meaning, the share of early repayments decreased). There are also more quality borrowers (due to a sharp decline in bank lending).”
Talking about the loan book portfolio at the moment, DoZarplati shares that “globally, nothing has changed. [The loan book portfolio] is stable.”
Pavel Sologub, CEO of DoZarplati
We talked to: LimeZaim
We’re sharing the responses to our questions shared with LimeZaim in full. Responses and information provided don’t represent the opinions of Mintos. Mintos has done no valuation of the data provided by LimeZaim.
“Dear Mintos Investors,
The impact of sanctions and retaliation measures were highly impacting regulatory rates in February and March because of FX [RUB currency exchange]. Mintos investment suspense was also a substantial challenge for the Company. Still, Lime Zaim has adapted its operating business model in order to keep up with increasing demand with its own funds. Another issue that the Company is dealing with is the expensive hedging service, due to the stronger rouble in April and May because of legislative limitations on foreign currency repayments.
“Referring to the changes in clients’ behavior, recently there has been a dramatic increase in MFO (microfinance organization) demand from new borrowers. Still, Lime Zaim is keeping a conservative approach focusing on returning clients to keep high recovery rates. Currently, we do not observe significant deviations in clients’ payment discipline. The volume of incoming payments corresponds to the seasonality and restrained portfolio growth.
Generally, customer behavior confirms our hypothesis that the scenario of the pandemic year of 2020 is repeating. We continue to carefully analyze the situation and respond to any changes in clients behavior in order to make comfortable conditions for customers to repay their debts and continue cooperation with Lime Zaim. Automated scoring of customers’ behavior at different stages of interaction with them allows us to increase the number of returning clients, and maintain the quality of the loan portfolio. Furthermore, the country continues to put forth an edict on the resumption of credit holidays for citizens with reduced incomes.
Therefore, despite the fact that there have been prerequisites for a decrease in payment discipline indicators, we do not point out material decreases at the moment. There was a slight increase in 60 DPD [days past due] portfolio share in March, which turned to its normal rate in April.
“Lime Zaim has been effectively cooperating with Mintos since 2018, and we are keen to maintain our long-term partnership. The company continues negotiations with representatives of the platform, considering various possible scenarios of fulfilling obligations to investors.”
Olesya Kiseleva, Managing Director of Lime Zaim
We talked to: Eco Finance
We’re sharing the responses to our questions shared with Eco Finance in full. Responses and information provided don’t represent the opinions of Mintos. Mintos has done no valuation of the data provided by Eco Finance.
“Three months were tough for us, due to the not very stable situation in the Russian market and the absolute unpredictable behavior of customers and the [Russian] government. We face a lot of negative signs in risk and forecast an upcoming crisis in the consumer sector. We expect that a major hit will appear at the end of the summer period or in mid-autumn. However, while it is a local market where we operate and there is no major risk in the regulation of the online sector, like no card payments or account ban, we still look positive in market development even if risk indicators are higher than expected and what we forecasted at the beginning of the year. We already managed to adopt a risk and marketing strategy for current market indicators and risk performance. At the same time, our company already developed a list of products and programs for clients’ delinquency support, which perfectly fit the current market stage. Time is tough, but we are looking for a bright future based on a very experienced team and hard work that we do 24/7 to support business and investors in such unstable times.
It is observed that the client performance worsened after the 24 February 2022, in payments and contractibility. The overall deterioration of net loss was around 3% in February/March vintages, in comparison to immediately prior to 24 February. The main impact was felt in new client performance, especially in February vintage payments. The effect was smaller on installment loans, but still, the net loss increased by 1% in the February vintage. However, starting from mid-April, portfolio and vintage performance started to improve, although as of now, the net loss is still 1% higher in April vintage than prior to 24 February.
Starting from 24 February, EcoFinance has introduced restrictions on [loan] approval and lower segments of score groups were cut. Collection resources and strategy were reinforced as such, to put more emphasis on affected segments. The active book started to grow in the middle of May, but growth is now more on the repeated long-term installment loans than on short-term PDL. April payments in 15 DPD [days past due] are still 1% lower than prior to 24 February, but they have increased by 2% to 91% from its low point. Also, delinquency in 1-60 DPD started to decrease in the total portfolio.
Further development of the situation is hard to predict given the legal and economic risks, but until now, Ecofinance has reacted quickly to changes and has shown good risk management and prevention skills. Ecofinance is doing everything possible to maintain the risk on an acceptable level, and together with Mintos, we’re exploring for possibilities to repay funds to investors.”
Dmitry Tsymber, CEO Eco Finance
As per suggestion of the Kviku management, we’re sharing the Kviku report that the company provided for the shareholders of the Iuvo Group. Responses and information provided don’t represent the opinions of Mintos. Mintos has done no valuation of the data provided by Kviku in the shared report.
“The complicated relationship between Russia and Ukraine in Q1 of 2022 directly affected not only the two countries but the entire world as well. As a company that operates in Russia, Kviku took timely actions to keep the trends for the positive development of the company.
- The company keeps the trends for growth in profit compared to Q1 2021, despite the complicated geopolitical circumstances;
- Stable business operations and conservative approach in portfolio growth;
- Future plans for expansion in the second half of 2022.”
In the statement provided by N. A. Lomakin, Kviku founder and CEO, the company shared the following information about its business results as of Q1 2022:
— Net loan portfolio decreased slightly during Q1 from €69 million as of 31 December 2021 to €68 million as of 31 March 2022 (- 1.5%) in an effort to preserve liquidity
— Net profit remained solid at over €1 million in Q1 proving stable market conditions in Russia so far
— Fixed costs remained low despite 3x growth in portfolio size (Q1 2021 vs Q1 2022) and amounted to just 10% of revenue
“Kviku operations in Russia remain stable, with borrowers making payments to local bank accounts as usual. The number of applications for credit holidays remains low (less than 1% of total issuance volume), with NPL rates currently unchanged and monitored by our Risk team on a weekly basis. We have gradually restarted issuance for new clients in BNPL segment and expect the loan portfolio to continue growing in the next quarters of 2022.”
Update 29 April 2022
Details about the state of transactions from Russia
We are sharing the most recent information about details related to the process of transactions of money from Russia, in the case of Mintos and the Russian lending companies.
On the Mintos Community, some investors inquired about the information shared in a German media outlet saying that the currency exchange and transactions from Russia are now allowed. We have to say that this information is only partially correct and does not imply changes in the status of transactions from Russia to Mintos investors.
We communicate with the lending companies and banks on a daily basis, and we follow the news regarding this topic with heightened focus, as we are eager to stay on top of the developments which are very important for our daily business.
The situation with the state of transactions has not changed since our previous updates. Here’s how it looks at the moment:
- Lending companies in Russia are still prohibited from sending EUR payments to companies in countries listed as “unfriendly”, which includes the whole European Union.
- Transactions of RUB payments to RUB accounts of the Mintos servicer banks are still limited to RUB 10 million per month (later in the text, we are sharing more about the structure of these transactions in practice).
- The above limitations have been lifted for private individuals or companies of national interest in Russia, but this does not translate to the status of lending companies that work with Mintos.
Access to the funds in rubles
Lending companies that are clients of sanctioned banks can’t make any transfers to the EU whatsoever, since the payment communication between the sanctioned banks and the European market has been cut off as part of the measures against Russia due to the war in Ukraine.
Lending companies who are clients of unsanctioned banks can send payments of up to RUB 10 million* per month to accounts of foreign companies, such as Mintos. As we shared in previous posts, many banks in the EU don’t accept such payments at all. When it comes to the EU banks that do accept them, including some of the Mintos servicer banks, the RUB funds are transferred to their Russian correspondent banks who are servicing and holding the RUB currency for them. This is how the transactions work also under normal market conditions. But currently, due to the sanctions and the banks’ risk management procedures, these funds are not available to clients.
For these funds to eventually become available to Mintos and investors, the EU bank, in this case the Mintos servicer bank, needs to exchange these funds from rubles to euros. This can be done only when another client of the bank wants to buy rubles for euros.
In order to unlock some of the RUB payments accumulated over the past two months, we have agreed with the servicer bank to proceed with the RUB to EUR exchange for Mintos whenever there’s an opportunity for that, or whenever a buyer of RUB requests such service from the Mintos servicer bank. This results in occasional transactions of EUR repayments to Mintos, which are then credited to investors’ accounts. The transaction amounts vary in size and frequency, as they depend on the demand within the banks’ client network.
While the value of the ruble has recovered, in general, exchanges are still limited. Also, the currency exchange price in the commercial market differs from the rate published by the Central Bank of Russia. It is 5-10% lower than the value listed by the Central Bank.
These occasional exchanges of investors’ funds in RUB to EUR will be an ongoing process until there are significant changes in the regulation of RUB/EUR transactions from Russia to companies located in the EU. In parallel, Mintos and the lending companies are working on potential alternative solutions (more about this below).
In case an investor is interested in an option to receive their payments in RUB, this would be theoretically possible, but not very straightforward or quick. The investor would need to reach out to Mintos with this request, and have an active account with a Russian bank. We would then further explore options to proceed with this option.
We are working on alternatives to disrupted transaction channels
We are closely following investors’ ideas and questions shared across the Mintos communication channels. We heard suggestions about solutions for repayments some investors are proposing, for example banknotes, or cryptocurrencies. This option is not viable for the lending companies regulated by the Russian Central Bank. The companies would risk their license, and that would negatively affect the recovery of investors’ funds from Russia. Also, these proposed alternatives are not allowed or available to Mintos under the regulator’s rules.
To enable somewhat easier payment flows from the Russian lending companies to investors on Mintos, we are actively working on exploring the alternative channels. For example, we are looking into the development of an intermediary network to access investors’ funds sooner.
Please note that any potential solution needs to be compliant with the requirements of EU sanctions. At the same time, it also needs to ensure that on the other side of the relation, the lending companies are compliant with the Russian retaliation measures when working with companies based in “unfriendly countries”.
Assist us by participating in the questionnaire
An alternative route via a network of intermediaries would impose new costs for transactions, such as setting up new business vehicles, servicer fees for third parties, currency exchange, etc. That is why we want to get your feedback about the costs that might be incurred in this process.
Soon, we will be reaching out to investors with significant exposure to loans from Russia to inquire about acceptable costs for alternative transaction solutions.
We will share more about the status of this project in the upcoming weeks.
*Approximate value in EUR for RUB 10 million was between € 80 000 and € 130 000 over the past month, depending on the available currency exchange rates.
Update 19 April 2022
Last week, Mintos’ servicer bank allowed the KZT exchange again for an undefined period of time.
After the recent bank holidays, the currency exchange KZT — EUR — KZT is again enabled on Mintos this Tuesday, and with the current market conditions, it will remain open until midday Friday. It will be closed again during the weekend, to avoid the effects of possible changes and fluctuations.
Please, note that the exchange activity for the KZT on Mintos is enabled due to the current availability of this service by the servicer bank with which the available funds in KZT are held. Hence, it can be disabled at any moment, at the sole discretion of the bank.
The rate applied will be based on xe.com (updated hourly).
Update 13 April 2022
KZT exchange is currently enabled
This Wednesday, we temporarily enabled currency exchange for KZT to EUR and EUR to KZT on Mintos. The currently enabled currency exchange will be open until midday on Thursday 14 April. After that, it will be closed again in order to avoid any major changes that might emerge during the upcoming bank holidays.
As we shared before, investors’ funds available in KZT are held with the servicer bank. At the moment, the correspondent bank of the Mintos servicer bank has made some adjustments to new market conditions. This is why for now, the KZT exchange will be available for undefined periods of time and under controlled conditions. If market conditions change significantly, or the correspondent bank’s decision impacts the decision of the Mintos servicer bank for KZT, the currency exchange will have to be disabled.
At the moment, we’re able to support the exchange rate from the XE (updated hourly).
We will inform you about the new status of the currency exchange for KZT on Mintos after the bank holidays.
Update 8 April 2022
KZT currency exchange update
Banks are still not allowing currency exchange for the KZT, and there continues to be difficulties with bank transfers in KZT. Unfortunately, Mintos is unable to influence this matter.
Over the last month, there have also been complications in making and receiving payments in KZT for lending companies from Kazakhstan. This was a result of a regulatory issue that is now almost resolved. Mintos is hoping that in the upcoming week, the incoming and outgoing flow of KZT payments will resume once again.
In parallel to the above, Mintos is already in communication with local banks in Kazakhstan to discuss the possibility of Mintos opening a local bank account. This is a work in progress, and if finalized, should make exchanging and dealing with KZT much simpler going forward.
In case you missed it
We’ve published two key articles further informing investors on Mintos about the economic impacts of the war in Ukraine.
First, we published a general overview of how sanctions for Russia and the country’s response have impacted international financial markets. The effects are extending to anyone with exposure in Russia, from the largest banks and investment funds to companies like Mintos. Read more
Next, we shared insight into how the emerging influences of the war have affected the usual processes at Mintos when it comes to the Russia-related parts of our business. We also look into three basic scenarios for possible repayment prospects for Russia-issued loans. Read more
Update 21 March 2022
Proof of payment received for some weekly settlements in RUB
We received proof of payment for a smaller part of settlements that are due by Dozarplati and Creditter. The lending companies were able to make a transaction in RUB via their banks which are not sanctioned or related to sanctioned banks. RUB transactions in limited amounts are a result of regulations set by the Russian government, as an internal response to international sanctions. The funds will be released to investors’ accounts as soon as they reach Mintos. In the meantime, a few other lending companies from Russia are working to set up accounts in new banks, a usually lengthy process that is further complicated by the current political environment in Russia.
Statement from Ecofinance
EcoFinance, a lending company from Russia which had short-term and personal loans for investments on Mintos, is reporting deterioration in its daily operations as the first sign of the impact of sanctions for Russia and the country’s response to the sanctions.
Leonid Dulenkov, director of Ecofinance, said that the “unprecedented stress test from all fronts” comes from the exchange rate deterioration and legislative restrictions, which are further impacting portfolio quality and the company’s liquidity.
Ecofinance shared that their action to preserve their operations was prompt right after 24 February 2022. “We quickly decreased our daily issuing volumes up to 40% and lowered risk by limiting the onboarding of new customers by more than 2/3. We boosted our collection efforts, introduced more settlement and restructuring options. We also actively approached any withdrawal request from the local Russian investors in roubles. As a result, the current portfolio is down by 7%, early delinquency is up by 21%, and funding costs increased approximately by half,” said Leonid Dulenkov.
Ecofinance further shares that while on the operational and team level all processes are functioning as usual, the sanctions and Russia’s internal response to them are having a wide impact. “We face severe restrictions to the free flow of capital, impact on our ability to do any payments in foreign currency, and on the ability to pay creditors from the Western markets. We are concerned the portfolio may further deteriorate due to massive closures of foreign companies and stalling of the local business due to disruption in supply chains. Hence, there is an expected significant drop in GDP and shock in employment,” said Dulenkov. As a result, the company’s solvency might be affected in the upcoming months, and he further addressed the impact for the Mintos investors. “Due to the nature and origin of our obligations towards Mintos and its investors, if the current exchange rate would be applied, we would be below the minimum capital requirement, and we face risk on the seizure of assets at any moment.”
“In Ecofinance, we are doing our best and will do what it takes and beyond to keep the company afloat. We are looking, together with Mintos, for the possible options to meet the minimum capital requirement to make any settlements in the upcoming period,” adds Dulenkov.
In the meantime, at Mintos we’re well aware of the uncertainty the Russian businesses face in the current economic environment, as we stay in contact with all lending companies from Russia on a daily basis. In our regular communication, we observe a strong willingness of these companies to keep their businesses going and meet their obligations towards investors, while their ability to do so is influenced by severe external factors.
We will keep you informed about any new developments related to this lending company.
KZT currency exchange still not enabled by correspondent banks
Mintos’ servicer banks can’t make currency exchange to/from KZT, as this is not currently allowed by the servicers’ correspondent banks in Kazakhstan. We don’t have more information except that this is the decision made by local Kazakhstani banks that work with the Mintos servicer banks. Please remember that Mintos has no ability to influence the decision of foreign currency holding banks that work as third party service providers of Mintos’ servicer banks.
Update 16 March 2022
We are sharing some information about the war in Ukraine and sanctions for Russia that are influencing normal market dynamics in worldwide markets and on Mintos.
While there were no significant events directly related to operations of Mintos, daily new measures of countries and organizations introduced for Russia and known effects of the sanctions are giving more certainty on their direct impacts on the economy of both countries, and on global markets.
Here’s the latest short overview:
- Eleving Belarus has transferred all of its dues to Mintos. This is still possible as Belarus banks are not banned from the transfer of EUR to accounts abroad. Besides this, we underline that the Belarus entity is part of Eleving Group, hence group guarantee would be exercised in case of any further disruptions in payments.
- Over the last few days, investors were showing interest in how sanctions for Russia will resonate in Kazakhstan’s market and how they impact KZT, which in some cases might be related to RUB. We saw this implication recently with one of the investors’ funds holding servicer banks who held KZT with the correspondent bank in Russia (read more in the updates below). On 15 March, IDF Eurasia held a webinar for investors and investors on Mintos. Boris Batine, co-founder and CEO of IDF Eurasia, addressed the current state of the company, talked about the growing equity position, and presented data about portfolio performance and income in 2021, signified by growth compared to 2020. The recording of the webinar can be found here.
- The European Council has introduced the fourth package of measures against Russia, targeting companies in the energetic sector, iron and steel trade, companies in aviation and military industries, and powerful individuals close to the Russian leadership.
- As international companies suspend or pause their business activities in Russia, many people are losing their jobs. Around 100 000 Russians have become jobless due to McDonald’s, Ikea, and PepsiCo alone, stopping their operations. With more than 300 companies on the same path, millions of Russians will lose their jobs by the end of the year, unless there are positive developments in the war resolution.
- We understand that this might potentially be reflected in the Russian borrowers’ repayment ability on a general level, and the country has introduced credit holidays for those directly impacted by sanctions. At the moment, lending companies still report that the repayments of their borrowers are unobstructed, but transactions of repaid amounts from Russian to European banks are still not possible due to reasons we explained before (find more in the updates below.)
- Both Mintos and lending companies from Russia are working to find ways for alternative and sanctions-compliant channels for the transfer of borrowers’ repayments. As soon as it will be possible to assess the value of RUB and related costs that occurred during the period of disruption in repayment schedules, we will be able to share more precise information with investors about each lending company’s case. Until then, we will continue working on finding solutions for ongoing repayment transfers.
Update 14 March 2022
On Friday, we shared a standalone article in which we shared more detailed views from Mintos in relation to the recent events in the Ukraine-Russia war.
We shared a few statements from our leadership team, and addressed the state of investing in loans on Mintos in the current environment
Update 8 March 2022
Score withdrawn for SOS Credit loans, extension and interest rate updates
From 9 March, loans from Ukrainian lending company SOS Credit will be marked with SW (Score withdrawn) on the Mintos platform due to local regulation as the borrowers and the company suffer impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For investors on Mintos who have investments in SOS Credit loans, the prolongation of 30 days will be shown for these loans, and the interest rate will be changed to 0% to reflect the status with the borrowers. Information will be updated on Wednesday, 9 March 2022.
The extensions will be updated or their status will be changed according to future developments in this matter. We will inform you timely about all news regarding borrowers’ loans from this Ukrainian lending company.
We also got a statement from this Ukrainian lending company’s management, find more here.
Statement about the Eleving’s Belarus entity
Modestas Sudnius, Group CEO of Eleving Group:
“The situation in Ukraine deeply saddens us and our hearts at Eleving Group are with all those affected. Wars only know victims, on all sides. To protect the workforce and the Company, we have decided to scale back activities in Ukraine and Belarus – in line with our crisis plans – in an orderly and controlled manner. As a result of our preparations over the past weeks and months, the corresponding measures are proceeding according to plan.”
To remind you, Belarus loans represent 8% of Eleving portfolio, a lending company with lending activity across 14 geographies. Payments to investors on Mintos will not be impacted due to Eleving’s group guarantee.
Another statement from the Russian lending company: Lime Zaim
Olesya Kiseleva, Managing Director of Lime Zaim:
“Due to restrictions and sanctions against the Russian Federation, our company is facing a number of issues that potentially affect our interaction with Mintos. Be assured that we are working around the clock to resolve all issues. We treat all our investors with respect and we share your concerns. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, we ask for your understanding for the possible delays in payments. We, like many other companies, have become hostages of circumstances and, like the entire world, we are waiting and hoping that all the parties will return to dialogue and find mutual understanding. In anticipation of similar developments, the company is in discussions with Mintos representatives in order to develop acceptable solutions for all involved parties on settling our current obligations. At this time negotiations are in progress and various possible scenarios are being considered.
For our part, we do not currently detect any drastic deviations in customer demand, but there are prerequisites for a decrease in payment discipline indicators. This is panic among customers that we already experienced in 2020 during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the company systematically tightens customer requirements to reduce the volume of originations and for larger repayments later. The country has already put forth an edict on the resumption of credit holidays for citizens with reduced incomes. We are already receiving these applications and forecasting a significant number of loan extensions. Nevertheless, we exert our best efforts to create optimal conditions for our clients to repay their debt. The company offers restructuring programs to borrowers who face difficulties due to political events. According to our estimates, these measures can help maintain the necessary level of financial stability and minimize the impact of sanctions on investor relations.
Lime-Zaim has gained experience in adapting its operating business model to crisis conditions imposed by foreign-policy and economic agenda. We have successfully overcome the 2014-2015 sanctions and the pandemic crisis and are confident in navigating new challenges. Thank you very much and keep safe.”
Visa, MasterCard, Paypal suspend activity in Russia, sanctioned banks are turning to China
- As the stock market in Russia was closed since the invasion of Ukraine started, in some way, the losses for stock market investors have been delayed. The latest information is that the Central Bank of Russia will give an update on stock market trading this Wednesday.
- Visa, Mastercard and American Express are suspending activity in the Russian market. Cards from these companies will be eligible for use within Russia until they expire, and won’t work for payments outside of the country, while cards issued in other countries won’t be usable within Russia — in stores or on ATMs.
- Fintech companies also continue suspending their activities in Russia. After Wise and Remitly, also PayPal restricted its service in Russia, allowing only withdrawals for a period of time, to allow their Russia-based customers to take out their deposits.
- Biggest Russian banks such as Alfa Bank and Sberbank have announced that they’re working to issue cards soon. The transactions would be based on the Russian system for international payments Mir, or on the Chinese payments system UnionPay.
Update 4 March 2022
The decision about introducing credit holidays in Russia is currently in progress
Today, the Russian State Duma is considering a bill enabling borrowers to request credit holidays. The bill was unanimously supported in the first reading, and the final decision should be known already today. Among other subjects of the bill, it also includes citizens whose income has decreased by 30% as a result of sanctions.
Borrowers would be able to request a grace period of up to six months, until September 30 2022, without being charged any fees.
We will share more information in future updates.
No transfer of EUR from Russia, no RUB exchange rate in the EU
Lending companies from Russia are showing serious willingness to cover their due repayments to Mintos investors. They underline that it’s also not in their interest to delay repayments, but technical obstacles are reality. Sanctions imposed on Russian banks are also met by the current Russian policy that forbids transfers of foreign currencies out of the country. Only RUB payments can be made. The largest part of Mintos’ exposure with these companies is in EUR, and funds in EUR can not be transferred outside of the Russian market.
As you’re aware, lending companies are directly or indirectly impacted by bans for sanctioned banks. These big banks are often corresponding banks for the smaller service providers. Anyhow, some lending companies have accounts in smaller banks as an alternative, and these banks can (still) find ways to transfer RUB to foreign accounts.
Yesterday, we received weekly due repayments in RUB from two lending companies. Although transferred amounts were not significant, they signal that transactions with Russia are not completely impossible. The issue on our side is that Mintos’ servicer banks simply can’t process or exchange RUB at the moment. We assure you that our teams are working nonstop to explore all alternatives or windows of opportunity for transactions and exchanges. We will share with you more about your due repayments once we have more information.
Please remember that the European Central Bank currently doesn’t have an exchange rate set for RUB, due to abnormal market conditions in which the RUB value can’t be determined due to great uncertainty and daily changes across the markets.
Statements from the lending companies in the Russian Federation
As we shared in previous updates, we are in communication with the lending companies who offer loans issued in the Russian Federation. We have business relations with 7 companies in this market: Kviku, Revo, LimeZaim, Dozarplati, Ecofinance, Creditter, and Mikro Kapital. Total exposure in investments in loans issued by these companies is currently € 60.4 million and RUB 727.5 million, which represents under 15% of the total outstanding investments on Mintos.
Other than the main issue with transfers from Russia and the completely undefined state of RUB in the EU, lending companies from Russia report that they currently see no changes in borrowers’ discipline. With impending inflation in the country, lending companies are either significantly reducing their issuance volumes to control liquidity in case of rising inflation, or they continue working as usual, relying on cash reserves and strong equity positions. All lending companies we talked to are willing to find ways to avoid additional expenses from accrued pending payments due to Mintos and investors.
We also received statements from some of the lending companies, and will be adding new ones as they arrive.
Pavel Sologub, CEO of DoZarplati
“Over the past few years, we have been working in an increased stress mode — we already have valuable experience during a pandemic and a hard lockdown, and we are successfully applying it in this situation.
We continuously monitor and respond in real-time. The dynamics of borrowers’ behavior remains unchanged, the issuance and repayment of loans are carried out as usual. Transactions are made without interruption, payment system gateways and acquiring services work without changes.
Disconnecting some banks from SWIFT will not affect ruble transactions within the country — they are still carried out without hindrance.
Our policy, as always, is to fulfill our obligations to our partners and customers, ensuring the uninterrupted operation of a reliable and affordable instant online lending service. We continue to work throughout Russia in a 24/7 format, helping people solve their financial problems.”
Nikita Lomakin, CEO of Kviku
«On 2 March, the Russian CBR introduced a temporary restriction on currency payments under loan agreements concluded with non-residents. Kviku is in direct contact with the regulator on this matter and is currently investigating available repayment options.
We continue to honor our liabilities with Mintos and are committed to restarting settlements as soon as the transfer of funds becomes available from Russia again.
Operations in Russia remain business as usual, with borrowers making payments to our local bank accounts. Issuance volumes to new POS clients have been reduced and we are currently focused on the most profitable segment of issuance — repeat clients.”
Eugene Antohov, CEO of Creditter
“We speak from the position of the need to fulfill the obligations assumed, to maintain international business relations. Since being a participant in the global market of financial organizations, whose services are used by tens of thousands of consumers, we stand on the principles of open, honest and mutually beneficial cooperation. We believe that the investments made by investors in our company will remain unchanged. At the same time, we note a possible increase in the actual repayment period of the borrowers to the lending company in connection with the measures implemented by the authorities of the Russian Federation and the Bank of Russia to support individuals — consumers of financial services, in particular within the framework of draft law No. 80712-8 approved by the State Duma of the Russian Federation in the third reading Russian Federation» borrowers will be granted the right to a grace period for using borrowed funds, similar to what was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the near future, the Bank of Russia will also present additional measures to support financial market participants, including microfinance organizations.”
Statements from the other companies will be added to this thread as we receive them.
Upcoming: Live Mintos AMA dedicated to the current state of the market
On Monday, 7 March 2022 at 16:00 CET, we will have a special AMA session to discuss topics related to the impact of the war in Ukraine and sanctions for Russia on Mintos, the state of relations with lending companies from Russia and Ukraine, and the effects on investors on Mintos.
AMA will be hosted by Martins Valters, Mintos Co-founder, COO/CFO.
In this short session, we will give our overview and address some questions from investors.
Questions with the most upvotes will be answered first. Remember to upvote posted questions in order to push them up the list.
Update 2 March 2022
News about SWIFT
Yesterday evening, European Union ambassadors agreed on the list of Russian banks that will be excluded from the SWIFT financial-messaging system. Banks such as VTB Bank PJSC and Bank Rossiya are among those facing a ban. The other institutions included on the EU list are Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank PJSC, Sovcombank PJSC, and VEB.RF.
Banned entities are corresponding banks for many other smaller banks, and lending companies from Russia are in one way or the other impacted by the SWIFT ban, directly or as other banks’ clients.
We are assessing the status of the lending companies at the moment and will share more on the alternatives in the following days. You can read more about the lending companies’ ability to transfer money in the following sections.
Lending companies technically unable to transfer repayments
We are in communication with the lending companies from Russia that have loans for investments on Mintos. You’re probably aware that money transactions to and from Russia are disrupted across various markets. Lending companies offering loans from Russia on Mintos are no exception. As we work to assess the status of all lending companies and discuss how to reduce indirect effects of the sanctions for Russia on investors on Mintos, we can already summarize a few conclusions:
- So far, lending companies had no problems with borrowers’ settlements
- At the moment, borrowers’ repayment discipline seems unchanged, but it’s not guaranteed to remain that way due to high risks of RUB inflation
- Although demand for loans in the country is growing due to the anticipated inflation and social distress, lending companies are reducing their loan issuance volumes to better control their portfolio performance
- All repayments sent to Mintos accounts from Russian lending companies have been returned by banks to senders, which means that delays in repayments to Mintos are of a technical nature and a result of sanctions for banks and measures in European countries affecting the ability/willingness of banks to receive and hold RUB
- 6 — 8 March are national holidays in Russia, and this might further influence activity on finding solutions for transfers
- Some lending companies are actively working on exploring new banks and routes for their due repayments
- Our communication with lending companies from Russia continues on a highly professional level, and we see efforts to keep the business going
- Overall, lending companies on Mintos offering loans from Russia are currently operational, future projections are subjects of day-to-day developments of the current war and sanctions.
During this week, we will share more precise information based on conversations with the lending companies, including their statements on the current status.
RUB and KZT exchange remained closed today
Currency exchange on Mintos for RUB and KZT remained closed today. As we mentioned before, we will be enabling this function in short time windows during workdays, when we have access provided by the servicer banks. At the moment, this mostly relates to KZT.
RUB becomes more and more isolated
Measures against RUB in EU banks and sanctions for Russia are further isolating this currency, with a threat of completely locking RUB within the Russian Federation in the upcoming days. This is why EU banks are continuing to liquidate RUB positions. Another servicer bank that Mintos investors’ RUB funds are held with decided to do the same, due to elevated risks of inability to move this currency across markets.
Amounts held with this bank will be exchanged to EUR and distributed proportionally to Mintos investors with funds available in RUB. Investors will be informed by email.
For investors wondering if they can make the exchange of funds available in RUB to EUR optional, we have to underline that exchange from RUB to EUR is not based on a decision of Mintos. Please, note that Mintos is not a bank, hence the company doesn’t hold investors’ available funds within the company, but we use servicer banks for deposits. Banks are making such decisions to refrain from breaching sanctions regulations, and it’s not in the domain of our control.
Impact on the Mintos business
As investors are also interested in how the war in Ukraine and sanctions for Russia impact our business, we want to share information about this.
Our exposure to Ukraine is less than 0.5% of the total outstanding portfolio, and loans from Russia represent under 15% of the total portfolio. With this exclusion, we continue working with the larger part of the outstanding portfolio on Mintos (85%) that performs without any problems. In the meantime, we continue monitoring new developments that are shaping dynamics in international markets on a daily basis.
Mintos is a regulated entity with a developed contingency plan and sizeable cash reserves which allow us to plan and adjust our business according to the development of any situation.
Update 1 March 2022
No new information about SWIFT and Russian banks
At the time of writing this update, there were still no new information about which Russian banks will be disconnected from the SWIFT system. “Diplomatic decisions have brought SWIFT into efforts to bring this crisis to an end, and we will always comply with applicable sanctions laws. We are engaging with these authorities to understand which entities will be subject to these new measures and will disconnect them once we receive legal instruction to do so,” SWIFT announced today on the organization’s official website.
As we stated before, Mintos will share more about decisions on how we will approach alternatives to repayments from Russia when the final list of sanctioned banks is known.
Repayments from Russia already affected
Until Friday 25 February, repayments were processed per usual schedule and without interruptions, and today, we reached out to lending companies in Russia whose settlements were supposed to be transferred to Mintos investors since the past weekend. The lending companies informed us that although they’re not seeing disruptions in borrowers’ discipline, the transfer processes from their Russian accounts are already disrupted, and they have not been able to transfer settlement payments to Mintos accounts with European banks. We will check on the status on a daily basis, and keep reporting to you about any new developments.
Bank holding Mintos investors’ RUB funds has liquidated the currency position
Investors who had available funds in RUB are today receiving partial RUB amounts exchanged to EUR. This comes as a result of a decision of one of the banks who services RUB funds for Mintos to liquidate its RUB position, exchanging all RUB to EUR in a bid-ask spread trade in the bank currency market.
When it comes to the remaining funds available in RUB and the upcoming repayments in RUB, we will inform investors about the possible ways to exchange the currency. This will be done either by enabling exchange on the platform or in cooperation with other service providers. We will update you once there’s more clarity on the extent of sanctions for Russia and their implications on the European banks.
KZT exchange on Mintos was temporarily open
Until early afternoon, investors were able to exchange their KZT on Mintos. We will continue managing the access to the currency exchange for KZT based on availability of services for the exchange and currency fluctuation risks.
Update 28 February 2022
As a measure amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine, last week we took steps to limit the exposure to loans from these two markets, with an aim to reduce risks for investors.
On Friday, we decided to stop listing new loans from Russia and Ukraine on Mintos, and we excluded existing loans from the Mintos strategies. We also introduced the precautionary approach to the RUB currency exchange function on the platform, enabling or disabling it based on the status of RUB in financial markets and availability of service by a provider that we use for currency exchange.
What’s new on 28 February 2022?
Below, we are sharing more information about the most recent developments and their impact on Mintos investors.
Impact on banning Russian banks from SWIFT
It has been agreed to exclude a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT system, however, details about which exactly Russian banks will be affected by this decision, or what will be considered as a breach of sanctions are still unknown. Together with lending companies we have identified a few different routes that Russian lending companies could use as alternatives to SWIFT (e.g. China’s alternative solution, other non-EU banks). We will be able to expand on this only after we know the full scale of the sanctions’ impact on the money transfers from Russia. We will share an update as soon as we have more information.
Most recent status of borrower repayments
It’s important to mention that as of today, we have not experienced any interruptions in transfers of borrower repayments to Mintos by Russian lending companies. Lending companies have reduced issuance volumes, and they’re closely monitoring borrowers’ repayment discipline. The only lending company on Mintos from Ukraine is obviously influenced by the state of emergency and martial law in the country. We will continue to be in close contact with lending companies from Russia and Ukraine and share important updates on our blog.
Russian rouble plunges
The Russian rouble dived significantly against other currencies on Monday morning in an all-time low as markets assessed the impact of sanctions on Russia.
For now, we can’t predict to what extent lending companies will be affected by this. Several of the lending companies from Russia have full or partial currency hedging in place, but the current situation might be subject to the force majeure clause and maturity matching of used hedging instruments. This might lead to difficulties for lending companies to cover for currency risk.
We are stopping listing loans from Belarus
As of 28 February, we’re limiting exposure to loans from Belarus to protect investors from potential risks in the light of recent developments:
- We’re excluding loans from Belarus from the Primary Market and pausing placement of new loans from Belarus on the Mintos platform until further notice.
- Existing loans from Belarus will remain in Mintos Strategies, so it will be possible to cash out these loans. Loans from Belarus that were returned to the market as a result of cash out will again become available for investments with the Mintos strategies.
- Mintos Secondary Market will remain open for loans from Belarus.
- Eleving Group is the only lending company on Mintos with loans from Belarus. The lending company has already gradually decreased new loans from this market which now represents 8% of Eleving portfolio, a lending company with lending activity across 14 geographies.
RUB currency exchange and withdrawals affected
We paused the currency exchange for RUB over the past weekend. After RUB has plunged around 30% on Monday morning, the RUB exchange function on Mintos remains unavailable, as the service provider Mintos uses for this function has paused the service due to unprecedented external factors in the financial markets (e.g. closed Moscow stock exchange).
Please note that at the moment, you might not be able to withdraw RUB from your Mintos investor account, or exchange RUB to EUR. In the upcoming days, we will make the exchange from RUB to EUR on investors’ behalf, for all who have available funds in RUB. Due to sanctions for Russia, the EU banks can’t hold RUB anymore and are finding the best ways to manage this.
KZT exchange rate under close monitoring
The financial turmoil has had an impact also on the position of KZT and its exchange rate in servicer banks. As a result, currency exchange involving KZT might be interrupted. We will manage the situation in real-time, based on status in the markets and the availability of our exchange service provider.
We will share all upcoming updates on our blog and in the Mintos Community as soon as we have new information. You’re welcome to follow short updates also on Mintos Twitter.
For comments and questions, please join the conversation in the Mintos Community.