Banks barely pay any interest on your savings, but when you lend out your money on Viainvest, you can get annual interest rates of up to 13% at this moment. But how safe is this and is this even legit?
I’ve been investing money on the Peer-to-Peer platform Viainvest for the last 2.5 years myself, so time for a review. I want to disclose that this video is not sponsored and I don’t get paid for making this content, so I’m only sharing what I’ve learned by doing my own research and of course, I’m sharing my own experience with the platform so far. This is no investment advice and you should always do your own research before making investment decisions.
If you don’t know what Peer to Peer lending is, or if you’re relatively new to this, I suggest you read my recent post in which I explain the basics of P2P lending.
What is Viainvest?
Viainvest is a peer-to-peer lending platform, based in Riga, Latvia, that was launched in 2016. Earlier this year, Viainvest received an investment firm brokerage license, which means that the company is now regulated by the Latvian Financial and Capital Market Commission, but more on that later.
On the platform, investors can invest in loans from different loan originators, but the difference with a typical P2P marketplace is that all loan originators are owned by the VIA SMS Group, which also owns Viainvest, so you’re basically only investing in loans from the same lending company.
At the moment Viainvest offers loans from 5 countries: Sweden, Latvia, Poland, Czechia, and Romania. VIA SMS is also active in Lithuania and Vietnam, but currently doesn’t offer those loans to investors on the Viainvest platform. Most loans are short-term consumer loans and credit lines, and business loans.
Although the loans are unsecured, a 30-day buyback guarantee is offered, which means that the lending company will pay you back within 30 days if a loan gets delayed or defaulted. The parent company VIA SMS Group also offers a group guarantee, so even if any of the loan originators is unable to fulfill its obligations, the parent company will fulfill the obligations towards investors.
How to invest on Viainvest?
Since Viainvest has become a regulated platform, you can’t invest in loan claims directly anymore, but loans are now bundled in groups and offered in the form of asset-backed securities, also called ‘notes’.
Investors can search for available notes (or asset-back securities as they are called on the platform) by entering their search criteria.
When you click on an available note you can see more details and even download the Key Information Document, Final Terms, and the Prospectus.
Be aware though, that even though you can now find interest rates of up to 13%, the rates for new notes are always subject to market conditions and can change from time to time.
The minimum investment you can make in each note is €50. So for example, if you want to invest €1000, you can diversify your investment over a maximum of 20 different notes by investing €50 in each note.
Viainvest also offers an auto-invest option, so instead of investing in each loan individually, you can simply determine your investment criteria, so your money will be invested automatically when loans become available that match your predefined criteria. Once activated it can take anything from a few hours to even a few days for all your money to be invested, as this usually goes in batches and depends on the supply of loans. So don’t worry if you don’t see anything happening straight away.
Who can invest on Viainvest?
How does the sign-up process work?
To get started click on this signup link. Then you simply follow the steps to fill out the registration form. Once you have submitted the form, you will be asked to make a deposit in euros to verify your bank account. You will also need to upload your ID to confirm your identity.
As part of being a regulated platform, Viainvest will also require you to complete an appropriateness questionnaire to make sure you have sufficient knowledge and risk awareness regarding P2P lending. Tip: read my post about what P2P lending is to get a better understanding if you’re completely new to P2P lending.
A last optional step is to submit a tax certification, to prevent double taxation. Regulated P2P platforms in Latvia are obliged to withhold a 20% tax on interest payments, but when your country has a tax treaty with Latvia and you submit your tax certification, the taxation rate will be reduced to up to 10%, depending on the country.
My advice is to check how the taxation on investments works in your country, as in most cases the tax that is being withheld in Latvia could be deducted from the tax obligations in your own country.
It’s also good to know that there are no hidden costs on Viainvest. Signing up and using the platform is totally free. The only things they charge for are when you want them to make a tailored statement for you, and an inactive accounts fee will be applied if you leave less than 10 euros in your account without any transactions over a 3 months period.
Is Viainvest legit and how safe are your investments?
In order to determine this, let’s first have a look at the owners and management team. The largest shareholder of the VIA SMS Group is Georgijs Krasovickis, with an 80% share, and the other 20% is owned by Andris Riekstins, who both have an extensive background in the banking sector.
Eduards Lapkovskis is the CEO of Viainvest, and he is also part of the board of the VIA SMS Group. Lapkovskis also gained lots of experience in the banking sector, making him a qualified leader for Viainvest. The other board members of the group are Georgijs Krasovickis, the majority shareholder, and Deniss Sherstyukov, one of the founders and a former shareholder of the company.
The team of Viainvest, including CEO Eduards Lapkovskis, can be found on the website of the platform. After going through the shareholders and management teams I can confidently say that the company is legit and it seems to be lead by a team of capable professionals.
But that’s not all, because even though Viainvest offers a buyback guarantee, it’s still important to look at the company’s financial health, as a buyback guarantee is only as strong as the company’s ability to hold up to it.
The financial statements on the website go back to 2018 and the VIA SMS Group has been profitable every year, except for 2020, when the entire sector was hit by the pandemic. But in 2021 the group made a profit again and this was also the case for the first half of 2022.
So the company looks very healthy from a financial perspective, so are there any other potential risks to be aware of?
If a company is operating in different countries, there are always country-specific risks, but it’s good to be aware that the VIA SMS Group is not active in Russia or Ukraine and that the countries it is operating in are politically and economically fairly stable, so I would consider the country risks to be very low.
So what about currency risks? All loans on Viainvest are in euros, but the lending companies outside Latvia issue these loans in the local currencies, which are the Swedish krona, Polish złoty, Czech koruna, and Romanian leu. Luckily these are all relatively stable currencies, so a sudden devaluation seems unlikely.
Investor Protection Scheme
Another thing to be aware of is that your uninvested funds are held in segregated accounts, separate from the company’s funds, and balance sheet, and these funds are protected under the EU Investor Protection Law. This means that compensation of up to €20.000 is applicable if the company is unable to let you withdraw your funds. Be aware that this protection is only applicable to uninvested funds in your account, and doesn’t protect you from any losses on investments in notes.
What you should also bear in mind is the liquidity of your investment. Viainvest doesn’t offer a secondary market, so there is no way to get out of your investments before the maturity date of each note you have invested in.
My personal experience with Viainvest
Before I give you my final verdict about Viainvest I will briefly share my own experience with the platform so far. I started investing on Viainvest in February of 2020 with just €100, which I later increased to €1000 and then to €1500. I’ve always used the auto-invest without the need to make any changes, I never faced any serious cash drag, and my returns have been very stable.
Although the platform looks a little bit outdated and could use some improvements, like additional statistics and reports, I don’t login very often so I’m also not really bothered about it. In the end I like the simplicity to generate a truly passive, hands-off income stream this way.
When it comes to the customer service of Viainvest I personally don’t have much experience with this, but the few times I have sent them an email, I always got a response on the next business day, which is pretty much what I expect.
Pros and cons of Viainvest
It’s time to wrap up with the final verdict, so here are the pros and cons of Viainvest:
- Ease of use
- High interest rates of up to 13%
- Buyback guarantee
- Profitable lending group
- Stable returns
- Low diversification (only loans from VIA SMS Group)
- No secondary market
- Tax withheld
- Platform could use some improvement
Although Viainvest offers little diversification and you should never put all your eggs in one basket, it’s a great addition as part of your P2P portfolio, or to start out with if you’re new to P2P lending, as the platform is simple and easy to use.
If you want to sign up with Viainvest, make sure to click on the button below as this way you would not only support me to continue making content for free, but Viainvest sometimes also has bonus offers for new sign-ups.