The peer-to-peer loan space appears to be getting more and more popular with everyday investors. The main reason for this is the size of the returns on offer. In fact, platforms often provide annual yields in excess of 10%, which is typically much higher than what you will earn with more traditional investment products such as stocks and bonds.
However, peer-to-peer loan structures are also fraught with risk. Essentially, if the end-borrower defaults on the loan, this is going to have a direct impact on your investment.
Nevertheless, one such peer-to-peer loan platform that is growing in recognition is that of Swaper. The Estonia-based platform facilitates peer-to-peer loans to the consumer marketplace.
In return for parting with your money, Swaper offers a fixed annual yield of 12% – with the chance to boost this by a further 2% you’re happy to invest at least €5,000.
As great as such a return sounds, you also need to make some serious considerations on the risks. As such, we would suggest reading our in-depth Swaper review before taking the plunge. Within it, we cover the ins and outs of how Swaper works, how much you should expect to make, who is eligible, and of course – the underlying risks.
Let’s start by getting an overview of what Swaper actually is.
|Product Type||Peer to Peer Lending|
|Available to||European Economic Area (EEA)|
What is Swaper?
- 1 What is Swaper?
- 2 Am I Eligible to Join Swaper?
- 3 How Does the Investment Process Work?
- 4 How Much can I Make at Swaper?
- 5 Swaper Buyback Scheme
- 6 Investing at Swaper: What are the Risks?
- 7 What Fees Does Swaper Charge?
- 8 Secondary Market
- 9 Customer Support and Public Review
- 10 Mobile App
- 11 Swaper Review: The Bottom Line?
- 12 Swaper
- 13 Pros
- 14 Cons
Launched in 2016, Swaper is a peer-to-peer loan platform that is headquartered in Estonia. The overarching concept of the platform is that you can indirectly lend money to everyday consumers. In return, Swaper loans are accustomed to a rather juicy annual yield of 12%. However, the platform does give you the opportunity to increase this by a further 2% if you are happy to invest at least €5,000.
At the time of writing, Swaper issues loans from three countries – Poland, Spain and Denmark.
Swaper offers investment options into short-term loans from Poland and Spain term up to 1 month and from Denmark term up to 4 months.
You as an investor will get to choose how long you wish to lend the funds for, and then Swaper will do the rest.
However, it is important to note that Swaper is actually owned by parent company Wandoo Finance Group. The company owns multiple loan platforms throughout the five supported countries we listed above. Once Wandoo Finance Group does issue a loan, the agreement will then make its way to the Swaper platform for peer-to-peer investors to fund.
So now that you have a bit of background on the platform, in the next part of our Swaper review we are going to see who is eligible to make an investment.
Am I Eligible to Join Swaper?
Peer-to-peer investments at Swaper are targeted to European investors. As such, you will need to be a resident of a European Economic Area (EEA) member state. To clarify, you can either be a permanent resident of an EEA state, a citizen, or a resident for tax purposes.
Moreover, you need to have a bank account in the said member state, and be aged at least 18 years old. Other than that, there are no other eligibility requirements that you need to consider.
How Does the Investment Process Work?
Although Swaper operates in a similar nature to any other peer-to-peer loan platform in the online space, it’s probably best that you read through the step-by-step investment process that we have outlined below.
Step 1: Open an Account at Swaper
Firstly, you will need to head over to the Swaper homepage and open an account. As is the case with any investment platform, this will require you to provide some personal information. You’ll need to enter your full name, date of birth, and home address, as well as your contact details.
Step 2: Verify Your Identity
In order to remain compliant with domestic and regional regulations on anti-money laundering, Swaper will be required to verify your identity before you can make an investment. This can be completed in just a couple of minutes by uploading some documents.
This includes a government-issued ID such as a passport or national ID card. You will also need to upload a document that verifies your home address. This can be a utility bill, bank statement, or tax statement. If you’re looking to open an account as a company, you will need to upload a copy of your company registration document, as well as your company’s most recent financial statements.
Step 3: Choose an Investment
Once your identity has been verified, you can then proceed to make your first investment. You will be presented with an innovative investment tool that allows you to amend a range of variables linked to the loan.
Here’s a breakdown of the some of variables that you need to decide upon on your investment.
Investment Size and Duration
Firstly, you need to decide how much you want to invest and for how long. You can invest from just €10, up to a maximum of €10,000. When it comes to the term of the investment, this ranges from 3-36 months.
However, you will also have the option of choosing the maximum term of the specific loans that you fund. This starts from just 30 days, meaning that you would effectively need to engage in at least three sets of 30-day loans to meet the 3-month minimum investment period at Swaper.
Maximum Investment per Loan
Although you have already defined how much you want to invest in total, you also need to specify the maximum investment per loan. For example, if you were to invest €5,000 at Swaper, you probably wouldn’t want to loan the entire amount to a single borrower. Instead, it would wiser to diversify by lending to multiple borrowers, subsequently reducing the impact of a potential default.
You will also get the option of utilizing the auto-invest feature. This is highly useful in terms of achieving the effects of compound interest, as you will be able to grow your money much faster. When a borrower settles a monthly repayment, and the funds are added back to your Swaper account, you can have the repayment automatically invested into additional peer-to-peer loans on the platform.
The investment tool also gives you the option of selecting which countries you want to back loans in. There are no statistics available at Swaper to indicate whether certain countries have been responsible for a higher number of defaults, so this variable offers little use. As such, unless you have a preference for a certain country, you might be best to leave this section blank.
Step 4: Depositing Funds
So now that you have entered the specifics surrounding your investment preferences, you will now need to add some funds to your account. You have two options available in this respect – which is either a traditional bank transfer or TransferWise.
Take note, your first payment will need to come from your personal bank account. After that, you can then utilize the TransferWise option, which is likely to be faster and cheaper than using your bank account. Unfortunately, Swaper does not accept debit or credit cards, which is a bit of a draw-back.
You can make the transfer with any currency of your choosing, however, if opting for anything other than GBP or EUR, Swaper will need to perform a currency exchange. Once the payment is received and confirmed by Swaper, your investment is activated.
How Much can I Make at Swaper?
As we briefly noted earlier, all Swaper loans come with a fixed annual return of 12%, which is huge. However, if you are prepared to invest at least €5,000 for 3 months or more, then you will benefit from a 2% boost. This takes your annual return to an even more impressive 14%.
This means that by investing the maximum amount of €10,000 over the course of 12 months, your 14% returns would yield €1,400 in interest. However, this is of course on the proviso that none of your loans run into default.
Swaper Buyback Scheme
In a rather unusual move, the team at Swaper have launched a buyback guarantee that aims to protect you in the event of a borrower defaulting. In a nutshell, if you are holding a short-term loan and the borrower is more than 30 days late on their repayments, then Swaper will purchase the loan agreement from you.
Swaper provides a BuyBack on loans that are listed on the platform. BuyBack means that Swaper can compensate investors both for the invested principal and accrued interest in case the borrower is more than 30 days late with the short term loan repayment.
If it’s a longer-term loan, then the default period is 60 days. Either way, this means that you are protected from a loss – both in terms of the principal amount and the interest.
This operates in a similar nature to a reserve pot, insofar that Swaper will hold a certain amount of funds in reserve to cover potential defaults. However – and as is the case with any reserve pot or provisional fund, the pot can only extend so far. In other words, Swaper will not be able to cover an unlimited number of defaults, so there is never any guarantee that your investment is 100% safe.
We’ll cover the risks of investing with Swaper in more detail in the next section.
Investing at Swaper: What are the Risks?
As is the case with any investment platform, you need to make some serious considerations on the potential risks. This is especially the case with a peer-to-peer platform like Swaper that offers loans to the consumer marketplace. Crucially, by making returns as high as 14% annually, these loan structures will come with far higher risks than first meets the eye – even taking into account the buyback ‘guarantee’ offered by Swaper.
First and foremost, Swaper notes that “Wandoo Finance Group issues loans in Poland, Denmark and Spain at annual interest rates in excess of 100%”. This tells us two key pieces of information that Swaper does not expand upon. Firstly, in stating that the parent company issues loans to the borrower at an interest rate in excess of 100%, this indicates that the agreements are of a ‘payday loan’ nature.
As you might well know, payday loans that come with super-high interest rates are typically taken out by those with bad credit. This in itself presents a high risk, insofar that the type of borrowers that use Wandoo Finance Group are more likely to default.
On the flip side, it is also important to mention that the large disparity in the interest commanded by Wandoo Finance Group, and the interest that Swaper pays you as an investor, is huge. For example, if the borrower is paying 100% in annual interest, and you are only receiving 12-14% of this amount, then this does leave a lot of room for the buyback guarantee pot.
On the other hand, as neither Swaper nor Wandoo Finance Group publishes their accounts publically, there is no way of knowing the health of their balance sheets. As such, we cannot verify the strength of the provisional pot, nor the number of defaults that have occurred since the platform’s inception in 2016.
Swaper also makes reference to the “unlikely event” that the platform goes out of business. If this was to occur, it states that “investors would still have a claim right against the borrower”. This means that you will have a legal right on the outstanding loans you have backed, even if Swaper ceased to exist.
What Fees Does Swaper Charge?
One of the stand out features of using Swaper is that you will not be charged any fees to make an investment. Ordinarily, peer-to-peer loan platforms operating in the space will charge fees on a number of fronts. This could come in the form of a percentage charge when you make an investment, or a percentage of the profits that you make.
In other instances, you might even be required to pay an annual maintenance fee, which is based on the amount you have invested at the platform. However, none of these charges are in existence at Swaper, which is great.
This is likely because of the huge markups that Swaper and its parent company Wandoo Finance Group makes on the loans it issues.
If there comes a time where you need access to fast liquidity, then you’ll be pleased to know that Swaper offers a secondary marketplace. This allows you to list your outstanding investments for sale to other investors. This is based on market forces, so there is no knowing how much you will be able to get your investment, nor whether or not anyone will want to buy them.
It is also notable that you have the option of selling all of your investment, or some of it. This is handy if you want to keep hold of your potential gains, and simply release enough funds to cover what you need. Once again, there are no fees to worry about when using the secondary market, although you do need to factor in the likelihood that you’ll be getting less than what you would have gotten had you held on to the investment until maturity.
Customer Support and Public Review
If you need to speak with a member of the support team at Swaper, you can send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can call the team at +372 6000393.
Take note, this is a local toll number in Estonia, so calling from an overseas number is likely to be costly. The customer service team works Monday to Friday, between the hours of 9:00 – 18:00 (GMT +2). As such, support is not available over the weekend.
In terms of reviews available in the public domain, the general consensus is generally quite positive. In fact, there are no common issues that have been brought to our attention, which is good. Although the platform has a TrustPilot rating of 3.4/5, this is based across just 6 reviews, so it’s not a large enough sample size to take with any certainty.
If you’re the type of investor that likes to keep tabs on your portfolio on the move, then you’ll be pleased to know that Swaper now offers a native mobile app.
The app is only available on both Android and iOS devices. However, if you’re using an alternative operating system, you can simply access your Swaper account via your standard mobile web browser.
Nevertheless, the app allows you to perform the same account functions as per the desktop site. This means you can make investments, withdraw funds, and check the value of your portfolio at the click of a button.
Swaper Review: The Bottom Line?
In summary, Swaper is offering investors the chance to make super-high returns of 12% per year. In fact, by investing at least €5,000 – you’ll earn an additional 2%.
We also like the flexibility that the investment toolbox offers you, such as the ability to choose the size and duration of your individual loan agreements, and the option of backing loans in certain countries.
Crucially, the most important feature offered by Swaper is that of its buyback guarantee. This ensures that you do not lose out in the event that a particular borrower defaults on a loan. However, as is the case with any peer-to-peer platform – especially one that offers returns of between 12-14%, you also need to make some considerations about the risks.
While it is notable that the platform has decided to install a buyback scheme, ultimately, you can never be 100% certain that your money is safe.