Robocash : the discreet robot
that automates crowdlending
Robocash is the most discreet of the crowdlending platforms. Few people talk about it, but experienced investors know it well. Crowdfunding experts have long since included it in their investment portfolio.
It is also a platform that has evolved a lot in recent months to adapt to the needs of investors. It is therefore time to learn more about this platform which fully plays the automated investment card.
Table of content
What is Robocash ?
The company Robocash d.o.o
Initially, the Robocash platform was founded by parent company Robocash Group in Latvia in February 2017. Robocash Group is a Singapore-based group that facilitates consumer loans. In creating the Robocash platform, the objective was to fund the growth of the group’s loan portfolio.
Early on, management observed some uncertainty surrounding the licensing regime for P2P platforms.
The management anticipated that in the future the Latvian government might impose certain restrictions and thus complicate the use of the platform. Today we can see that they were right before anyone else.
In 2019, Robocash therefore relocated its activities to Zagreb in Croatia, a very flexible country in terms of crowdfunding. The company is registered under the ID (OIB) 43870894097 in the Court Register of the Republic of Croatia.
The creator : Robocash Group
Robocash Group was founded in 2013 by Sergey Sedov in Russia. It is a group of companies offering alternative consumer loans in Europe and Asia. The group mainly focuses on short-term and instalment loans, both online and offline.
Currently, Robocash Group has ten companies and about 1,800 employees worldwide. Their offices are located in Croatia, Russia, Spain, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and India.
The growth of Robocash Group is impressive. After stagnating between 2019 ($132.1M) and 2020 ($129.8M), its turnover increased by +150% to $325.3M in 2021. As for earned profits, they reached a new record with $29.5M generated last year.
All these figures have been duly audited by Grant Thornton, one of the world’s top 10 accounting firms.
The majority shareholder
The founder and majority shareholder of the Robocash investment platform (and Robocash Group) is Sergey Sedov. He holds a PhD from the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences and founded his first IT company in 2002 while studying at university.
Following several successes in the real estate, trade and production markets, he managed to raise enough money to co-found the lending company known as FinTerra in 2010. It was this company that marked the beginning of his financial holding company Robocash Group.
Sergey Sedov has written several articles for sites such as entrepreneur.com. He has also spoken at events including the Paris Fintech Forum 2019 (alongside Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank), giving him a solid reputation.
The management team
Robocash is managed by Natalya Ischenko as Chief Executive Officer (Sergey Sedov remains very involved as Chairman of the Board). At her side stands Ivan Adamovich as Chief Financial Officer .
Natalya Ischenko has held a number of senior positions in the banking and IT sectors. She has a degree in economics and has been a Digital Director at Ernst & Young as well as a Senior Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
At the end of 2021, she joined Robocash as Chief Operating Officer to ensure steady profit growth and develop the operational efficiency of the platform.
Ivan Adamovich spent 5 years at PwC, in charge of audit in sectors such as IT and energy. In 2019, he joined the Robocash Group as Financial Controller and worked his way up to become CFO in 2022. He holds a degree in finance and management with honors.
In total, the Robocash platform can count on some thirty people within the group to ensure the smooth running of our financial operations, the relationships with loan originators and the technical management of the platform.
Some figures for 2022
Here are some figures for the current year :
- Total amount of funds invested : €448.15M
- Total amount paid to investors : €8.84M
- Average annual return : 11.88%
- Number of investors : 27,000+
- Average portfolio per investor : €5,090
After a slight slowdown in 2020, the total amount of loans funded on the platform has soared. Robocash has now reached a cruising speed of around €10M in loans funded each month, which places it in the top 10 of the most dynamic P2P platforms (Mintos is 1st and PeerBerry is 2nd).
In 2019, the management focused on human resources by hiring highly qualified people. Then in 2020, the platform reviewed a number of features to adapt them to investor needs.
Finally, Robocash has completely redesigned its web interface. The result : a platform whose figures are soaring and which is gradually joining the closed circle of crowdlending players trusted by a majority of investors in Europe.
How does Robocash work ?
Robocash is a marketplace
Robocash is a crowdlending platform. The objective is to offer a virtual marketplace that connects loan originators looking for funds with investors.
Loan originators are companies that offer loans of different types to individuals and to other companies. Their objective is to help them to finance their projects while earning a return on the capital lent.
During this process, these loan originators will usually call on investors to help them increase the volume of funds lent.
Investors will therefore propose to invest their funds alongside these loan originators and be remunerated accordingly. Many of them are individuals (like me), but it is also possible to register your company.
The role of Robocash is to list all the offered loans so that investors can invest alongside the loan originators according to criteria they have previously defined.
In fact, the crowdlending platform acts as an online loan aggregator.
Robocash acts as an intermediary between the loan originators and the investors wishing to make financial investments in alternative assets to the more traditional investments (Livret A, Life Insurance, etc.).
The role of these loan originators
The loan originators have the task of bringing a volume of loans to the Robocash platform in order to get them financed. The share of funding coming from the platform should not exceed 40%, so this is a very cautious policy.
Depending on the underwriting policies of the loan originators, interest rates and loan terms may vary. To date, Robocash has 4 loan originators.
In principle, the role of these 4 loan originators is to generate business opportunities on their P2P platform. But in reality, there are two relatively different models.
Strictly speaking, the companies PRESTAMER (LLC PRESTAMER) and UNAPAY (Digido Finance Corp.) are loan originators. They are responsible for assessing borrowers’ needs, analysing their creditworthiness, granting their own loans and then offering them on the platform.
When PRESTAMER or UNAPAY offer a loan on Robocash, it is because the loan has already been granted to the borrower. They simply offer Robocash members the opportunity to finance the loan on their side.
For RC RIGA SINGAPORE and RC RIGA KAZAKHSTAN, the pattern is different. In fact, these are one and the same company : RC Riga Limited Liability Company, established in Latvia in 2018. Its sole purpose is to provide financing to the various companies of the Robocash Group in order to finance the development of their lending activities.
When we invest with RC RIGA, as before the agreement is between ourselves and the loan originator. But whereas in the previous scheme the loan originator lends to individuals (or small businesses), in this case, RC RIGA lends these funds to two other regional entities: ROBOCASH PTE. LTD. in Singapore and MFO Robocash.kz in Kazakhstan.
And here again, the model will be different depending on the geographical area.
For Kazakhstan, MFO Robocash.kz is the loan originator that is in direct contact with the final borrowers.
On the other hand, in Singapore, ROBOCASH PTE. LTD. is a holding company that will in turn lend to the various regional entities of the group located in the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India.
Although very different from other platforms, I find the Robocash business model very interesting and efficient. This system completely smoothes out the risk on a chain of closely related partners. This is made possible by the fact that all these entities, wherever they are in the world, are part of the same international group.
As an investor, even if my €10 are lent to an Indian borrower, my financial agreement is with the entity RC RIGA in Latvia. In fact, RC RIGA is a financial vehicle that will ensure a regionalisation of the funds collected via Robocash. The ‘commercial’ solidarity of this value chain secures my investments in a smart way.
Chronology of an investment
On Robocash, the minimum amount that can be invested in a loan is €1, which leaves plenty of room for small portfolios or investors who wish to invest in a multitude of loans.
Robocash annual rates are between 9% and 13% (since 14 July 22).
In fact, the platform has implemented a progressive rate policy as the duration increases, which is intended to encourage investors to invest their capital over longer periods.
To these rates, we should add the possibility to increase them as our invested capital increases. Thus, from €5K, Robocash adds +0.3% to all your investments. And this bonus rate can go up to +1% as shown in the illustration below.
As far as my portfolio is concerned, I am currently favouring medium-term loans which offer comfortable rates, especially if I add my +1% bonus.
As usual, I started slowly to get to know the platform better. I quickly came to appreciate the high level of automation and the interesting returns associated with a virtually zero cash-drag.
With regard to the chronology of our investments, we can distinguish between loans of 60 days (or less) and loans of 90 days (and more).
For a 60-day loan, Robocash pays us the capital invested as well as the interest at maturity. Let’s take as an example the loan No.13254044 in which I invested €100 on July 7th. They paid me €100 + €1.80 on September 5th.
However, for the 90-day loans, I received interest at the beginning of each month. For example, for loan No.13255831, for the same capital invested on the same date, I received €0.72 on August 2nd and €0.93 on September 1st.
In addition, for loans of 90 days or more, while the interest is paid monthly, the capital is paid out at the end of the loan.
Investing on Robocash
Who can invest on Robocash ?
Any citizen or resident of the EU, UK or Switzerland, aged 18 or above, who has a personal euro bank account in one of these countries can become an investor on Robocash.
Companies can also register. In this case, it will be necessary to provide a registration certificate and a proof of the legal representative together with an identity document.
In both cases, it is possible to invest a maximum amount of €15,000 per calendar month (between the first and the last day of each month) or €180,000 per year.
As a consequence, investors on this platform come from the 28 EU Member States, Switzerland and the UK. In descending order, here are the 10 countries that invest the most on Robocash :
- Germany 28.2%
- Spain 16.2%
- Italy 6.5%
- Bulgaria 5.9%
- Portugal 4.9%
- France 4.5%
- United Kingdom 3.7%
- The Netherlands 3.6%
- Austria 2.9%
- Czech Republic 2.7%
What can you invest in on Robocash ?
Robocash offers a relatively limited choice of loan types. Indeed, in the list of loans offered on the platform, there are mainly two types :
- Consumer loans or ‘payday loans’ have a term of seven to 30 days with amounts ranging from €14 to €420. In general, borrowers agree to repay them when they receive their salary.
- Commercial loans issued for a period of one to 12 months ranging from €353 to €14,120.
Robocash has chosen not to display any information about borrowers such as age, gender, location, employment, etc. But it is not the only one as can be seen here : Opinion on Lendermarket.
Please note that when configuring our investment portfolio, it is not possible to limit our investments to one of these two types of loans in particular. However, it is possible to do so indirectly by filtering the duration of the desired loans.
Where can you invest with Robocash ?
Currently, Robocash facilitates loans in Europe and several parts of Asia, including Southeast Asia. And the group has several million borrowing customers to its credit. Nevertheless, diversification is still somewhat limited on the platform.
Indeed, over 80% of the loans come in equal part from Singapore and Kazakhstan, 10% from Spain, and the remaining few percent mainly from the Philippines.
It should be noted, however, that the funds raised through our investments in RC Riga Singapore can be used both to develop the holding company’s business as a whole and to finance the operations of other companies in South East Asia.
Theoretically, it could be any country covered by the group : Spain, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. In practice, the funds are normally used for the development of companies that need additional funds for their development at any given time.
Here is their list of websites around the world :
Anyway, all loans are in euros on the platform and our investments must be made by SEPA transfer.
Investing on Robocash is a very simple process similar to all other crowdlending platforms. It took me only a few minutes to create my account, while its validation was done the very next day by the platform.
You are asked for a phone number but it is not verified, unlike other platforms (Read : PeerBerry Just-P2P Review).
As you will certainly notice, you are asked for an address in Europe. This is not a problem for most people, but if you live abroad, there is nothing to stop you from giving the address of a relative, knowing that no postal mail will ever be sent to you.
Above all, Robocash wants you to be a European citizen before being a European resident. Nevertheless, I think they check if the address on your identity document is in Europe, which was the case for me on my passport.
On the other hand, I think it is not mandatory to be a European citizen if you can prove that you are resident in Europe.
If you do not have a bank account in Europe, then you can simply open a euro account on (Transfer)Wise.
How do you invest on Robocash ?
As with Swaper, an investor cannot invest manually (Robocash assumes this and Swaper lets us think so). To invest our funds, we have no choice but to use the automated investment strategy.
For those who are looking for a totally passive income and don’t want to bother looking for investment opportunities manually, this is a very good thing. Especially since it is still possible to take a look at the ‘Available loans’ section on the platform.
To invest, we therefore need to create a portfolio, which is a really simple procedure that allows us to define our main investment criteria :
- Maximum portfolio amount
- Min/max investment per loan
- Desired interest rates
- Investment duration
- Selected loan originators
Once your portfolio has been activated, you can see how your funds have been invested and download the individual assignment contracts for each loan. These contracts set out the legal conditions that define your rights as an investor.
You can also download the loan book to get a comprehensive overview of how your funds are diversified.
Furthermore, Robocash lets you select one of its 4 ‘investment strategies’ for the portfolio just created. It is a matter of determining in advance what you want to do when the capital and the interest are paid out to you.
The Robocash platform offers exit strategies when the loans we have invested in reach maturity. The platform offers 4 different options for deciding how to collect our interest and principal :
Balance : when the loan comes to an end, the principal and interest are transferred from your investment portfolio to your Robocash account. Thus, they are not reinvested and you can decide what to do with them : reallocate them to this portfolio or to another portfolio, or simply collect them in your bank account.
Payout : again, the capital and interest are taken out of your wallet when the loan ends. But instead of going to your Robocash account, they are transferred directly to your bank account (provided they exceed €50).
Reinvest full amount : this time, the capital and interest received are reinvested in the portfolio as soon as a loan matching the portfolio criteria is proposed. It should be noted, however, that this option may be limited by the maximum size of the portfolio (which the investor has previously defined).
Reinvest principal amount : similar option to the previous one except that only the capital is reinvested into the portfolio. The interest paid is redirected to your account. It is a mix between the ‘Reinvest’ and ‘Balance’ options seen previously.
The secondary market
The Robocash secondary market is quite new as it was only introduced in 2020 and has since undergone a number of developments. It is now similar to any secondary market where the sale and purchase of loans are organised free of charge.
Investors can offer their loans for sale regardless of their duration. On average, it takes between 3 and 7 days for a loan to be sold. Note that Robocash is no longer obliged to buy back unsold loans after 14 days on the secondary market, as was the case until April 2021.
Is it risky to invest on Robocash ?
This is a legitimate question for any investor seeking to grow their financial assets. But it is impossible to give a binary answer, since it is up to each person to make up their own mind according to the elements presented to them. Nevertheless, as you can imagine given the money invested, I have formed my own opinion on the matter.
A strong international group
The Robocash platform was not set up by a bunch of geeks in their parents’ garage. Don’t laugh, there are a few I would never invest in.
We are dealing with a commercial entity which is owned by an international group and which is part of its value chain.
The objective of the Robocash platform is to promote the development of the lending activities of the group’s various entities by providing additional financing from private investors.
But its role remains limited as only 12% of the group’s total funding comes directly from the platform.
Sergey Sedov has built a group that generates tens of millions of dollars in turnover each year and employs nearly 1,800 people. He is an entrepreneur who created his first company when the Internet was still in its infancy.
100% of the loans guaranteed
All loans offered come with a 30-day buyback guarantee (better than most competitors who offer 60 days).
Thus, if a borrower defaults, the loan company buys back the loan in full after 30 days past due. This includes interest accrued for the entire period you held the loan (so including days past due).
In fact, I never have any late loans. But far from thinking that the borrowers at the end of the chain are virtuous, everything suggests that it is the group’s policy to assume the late payments themselves.
It seems to me that the loan originators pay us no matter what, which they can afford given the financial strength of the group and the cohesion between its different entities.
That’s pretty smart.
On the one hand, investors never experience any delays in their investments, which gives the feeling of an efficient platform.
On the other hand, by directly assuming this risk of delay (but also of default), Robocash recovers all interest related to the delay when payment is collected from the borrower.
Strategically formidable and effective !
In the event that a problem arises with one of the loan originators, Robocash Group offers a group guarantee (although this is not legally formalised). This would be mobilised in the event that the company could not meet its financial commitments to investors.
It is in fact a reserve fund set up by the companies of the Robocash group. It is a guarantee for investors to recover their capital in case a company defaults, which has never happened so far, unlike the leader (Analysis and opinion of Mintos).
Indirectly, the profits made by the group are also a guarantee in case of problems in one of its subsidiaries. It is a great security to be in business with a group that is in solidarity, whereas Mintos is simply a platform where supply and demand meet.
The foundations of these two platforms are totally different. But as you can probably tell, I prefer the model where the loan originator is closely linked to the platform on which I invest.
Even novice investors know that one of the keys to minimising risk is to diversify your assets. This diversification can take many forms, which is why it is so difficult to implement a real diversification policy.
Robocash does not offer an automatic diversification feature, which is not bad when you see the result on Mintos. But it is quite possible to set up a portfolio per loan company and to establish a fund limit for each of these portfolios. Thus, the investor can diversify their portfolio between loan originators.
Because once again, I see no point in diversifying between loans. It is the strength of the loan originator, not the borrower, which guarantees the success of our investment operations. But for those who wish to do so, it is possible to invest as little as €1 per loan.
In practice, with Robocash we smooth out the risk through intermediation rather than diversification. With 4 loan originators, or rather 3 since RC RIGA is only one entity, diversification is limited.
It is the fact of having a chain of intermediaries between the investor and the borrower that makes it possible to limit and smooth out the risk. This is especially true for RC RIGA Singapore as we have seen previously.
The potential risk is possibly at a geographical level because in practice our lending is very regionalized, especially in Kazakhstan and South East Asia. If a crisis were to occur, it could have an impact, but it could be anywhere in the world.
Crises are now part of our daily life and we have demonstrated our ability to overcome them, especially in Asia.
Robocash is not regulated
This is obviously a point worth raising, even if many crowdlending platforms remain unregulated. The movement is underway but leaves some people sceptical who rightly noted the difficulty for PeerBerry, a trusted platform, to be regulated in Latvia.
In my Peerberry review , I show that the platform has never encountered any payment defaults and is making good profits. Its only fault is that its operational team is based in Lithuania.
On the other hand, Mintos makes losses every year and has had a huge number of defaults from loan originators to the detriment of investors. Yet Mintos was licensed by the Latvian government. Go figure…
As a result, PeerBerry is relocating part of its crowdfunding activities (short-term loans) to … Croatia. It seems that Robocash was right before anyone else in locating its activities in this European country.
So that’s a point I’m going to follow up on but it doesn’t bother me more than that.
My opinion on Robocash
Although little talked about, the Robocash platform is one of the most used platforms by crowdlending investors.
In a survey of a hundred people in Europe, 1/3 ranked Mintos as number 1, and another 1/3 placed Robocash as number 2 (the rest of the platforms shared the votes of the last 1/3). This did not completely surprise me.
Experienced investors appreciate this platform for its high degree of automation and the total absence of problems (which is perhaps why it is little talked about).
Beginners love its extremely user-friendly interface which allows anyone, regardless of skill level, to exploit alternative investment options without any prior experience.
A very solid platform
The volume of loans offered places it in the top 10 of European crowdlending players. In this, Robocash is strongly supported by the network of loan companies working for the group around the world.
It is the strength of the Robocash Group that allows it to be so financially sound and to offer such guarantees to investors.
It’s a platform which, in addition to making a profit, doesn’t suffer from any cash-drag, and for investors this is a very positive point. Personally, I place it in the top 5 of the most solid platforms in Europe.
But this positioning at the forefront of crowdlending did not happen overnight. The platform’s management initiated a number of transformations in 2020 and 2021 to get there. They made essential evolutions that paid off very quickly.
Improvement of its interface
At the beginning of 2021, their teams had already carried out a major overhaul of their website. This was a valuable piece of work that made the investment process smoother and more understandable.
The next step could be to simplify the home page, which offers too much data that is not necessarily useful. And at the same time, highlight the key indicators to follow. Today, the home page is too confusing.
Another possible improvement is to offer a graphical visualisation of our investment portfolio. Unless we reprocess the data in Excel, we don’t know the distribution of our portfolio between the different loan originators.
Type of loans offered
JI find the loans offered a bit too homogeneous. There are mainly loans from RC Riga with a 90-day term. It would be good to find a bit more diversity among the portfolio of loans offered on Robocash.
Especially some very short term one-month loans and more loans on the Spanish and Philippine markets. Moreover, the more demanding investors will remember that not so long ago Robocash was offering rates of up to 14%. A small effort on the current rates would therefore be welcome.
The issue of diversification
On Robocash, an investor may feel that their portfolio is not diversified enough. In my case, I only have loans from the company RC Riga. So legally, 100% of my investments are with the same loan originator.
But in practice it is a bit different because my investments are split between Kazakhstan and Asia. Moreover, within South East Asia, I know that these loans feed India, Indonesia, Vietnam or Sri Lanka. But in fact, we have no visibility on this.
In summary, my investments are diversified without being diversified. Perhaps some data on lending volumes by region around the world would improve investors’ feeling of having a diversified platform.
Alternatives to Robocash ?
It is difficult after this analysis to think of alternatives to Robocash. This platform combines the solidity of a Mintos, the flexibility of a PeerBerry and the automation of a Swaper while its team is the size of Iuvo.
Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to diversify your assets, especially when investing in FinTech.
For my part, I respect this basic principle, but Robocash is one of my reference platforms along with PeerBerry.
Given my investment criteria, Robocash pretty much meets them all. These are currently the two crowdlending platforms where I invest the majority of my funds.
In addition, the Robocash team is quite nice and very professional, which is appreciated.
The crowdlending platform Robocash has largely demonstrated its solidity by upgrading its functionalities, by increasing the investment flows, and this without encountering a single payment default to date.
In my opinion, this makes Robocash one of the best crowdlending platforms in Europe today.
I particularly appreciate loans with a term of 2 or 3 months which, in addition to offering solid returns with a full buyback guarantee, provide good liquidity. Especially since, if necessary, they can be sold on the secondary market.
Admittedly, the functionalities and investment options are limited, but the fact is I am not looking to learn how to fly a spacecraft. I’m looking to generate passive income !
I don’t have to research borrowers and loan originators or decide on investment choices manually. This is a really profitable source of time saving compared to other platforms that require me to do a minimum of maintenance every week.
The power of the Robocash platform is also its integration into a strong international group with growing profits year after year.
The group and its various locations generate significant loan flows that continuously feed the platform.
But in addition to this, the positioning of the platform within a group makes it possible to considerably limit any notion of risk due to an integrated value chain and the economic cohesion of all the subsidiaries.
Its operating model is far from most other P2P platforms which are simple marketplaces.
In addition, Robocash provides good geographical diversification by including regions that are not or rarely seen on other platforms. Many of these are emerging markets which, in my opinion, are interesting precisely because they are dynamic.
By the way, my entire portfolio is in ‘current’ status — no delays to report.
In conclusion, I would say that I had initially approached Robocash with a view to diversifying my platforms. But quickly, this P2P platform became a much more important part of my crowdlending portfolio.
For my financial happiness !
In light of this analysis, is Robocash a platform you would like to add to your portfolio ?
Perhaps you have already started investing on this 100% automated platform ?
I would be curious to get your feedback on this platform, even if it is recent.
Do not hesitate to ask me your questions and give me your comments.
Week-end’s Secret Idea
Every Week-end, I send you an email to help you become financially free.
I share with you my experiences as an investor and entrepreneur.
For members only.