Hello everyone! I had announced it for a long time. But what goes around comes around, and so today I can finally publish the interview with the Czech P2P platform Bondster and the “new” CEO Pavel Klema. Enjoy reading!
Interview mit Bondster
Hi Pavel, thank you for this interview. Of course, I read about your background, but my audience might not know you, so please can you tell me who you are, what is your experience, and why are you now the CEO of Bondster?
First of all, hello, and thank you for your invitation and interest to conduct this interview.
My career started in the financial industry, meaning in the non-banking, financial institution
called Profi Credit where I started to work right after I graduated from university. There I spent 4 years in mainly collection-related positions. After that, I joined the team of Air Bank,
a company with a background with the biggest financial group in the Czech Republic, the PPF
group. In this company, I was also working in the collection department. Indeed, I completely
developed the collection department from scratch. After that, I worked for EOS, a collection
agency, and then again, I came back to Profi Credit where, after one year, I undertook the CEO position of Czech Profi Credit. In the summer of last year, I resigned from the position in order to be with my family and have a long holiday. Right after that, I was offered
to take a very exciting position at Bondster.
To your question, why am I now the CEO of Bondster. Firstly, I believe P2P is a very
challenging yet exciting sector, where I see a lot of possibilities for growth. Besides that, in
my opinion, Bondster is a company with a huge potential, so I wanted to be a part of it.
The last interview I did with Jana (Mücková) as CEO. What's the reason for the change at the top management level?
Well, I think that this is more of a question for Jana because the decision to leave Bondster was her personal decision. I think she simply sees her future somewhere
else. Therefore, she decided to pursue a career in a different industry.
As I read, your goal is to bring Bondster back to growth. There was extraordinary growth until the COVID-19 pandemic started. How exactly are you planning to do that?
I believe that Bondster is offering great opportunities for investors, the results of the revenues
for our investors are more than interesting. Moreover, Bondster offers vast diversification options, there are many functionalities on the platform, such as autoinvest or
online currency converter right in your investor account, and the secondary market, that is to
be launched in the upcoming weeks. All of this makes Bondster a unique investment
instrument. As of now, the whole Bondster team sees a huge potential in making Bondster more visible on the European market, which is where is the biggest
opportunity for growth.
As you said, the growth was slowed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently,
based on our numbers, we see that we are again, getting back on track with the pre-pandemic
Note: The secondary market has already gone live in the meantime.
Bondster is more successful in collecting money from problematic loan originators, especially Polish ones. I think compared to other platforms Bondster had implemented debt collection processes before it was necessary. Can you comment on the current processes, which are the basis of successful recoveries, and what do you want to improve here?
I agree that Bondster was very successful in this matter in the past. The reasons can be seen in
First is that the team has been always searching for win-win agreements that would be profitable for both sides, the investors, and the loan originators. Of course, there was a possibility to push hard on the loan originators and go hard on them with the debt
collecting processes. However, this was a path that we did not want to proceed with because it
would mean to include a debt collecting agency in the process. This would undoubtedly affect
the investors because the debt would not be recovered that fast. The Bondster team was aware
of this which is why they were trying to come up with an agreement, beneficial for both
parties involved to get the money to investors as fast as possible.
Secondly, the team had a backup solution prepared, in case the agreement solution would not work. An external debt collection agency in Poland was contacted and in such a case the agency would overtake collecting those debts. These agreements and negotiations are still on, and now as the CEO of Bondster, I am taking part in negotiating with the Polish loan originators. The situation is still here, even though we have collected over half of all debts already. I believe this is a great strategy how to cope with such situations. You look at each loan originator separately, assess their numbers, and based on that get as much money as possible while giving the company enough room for “survival” and functioning.
The latest trend is that loan originators leave P2P marketplaces and release own platforms. I think Bondster was spared from that, but now Stikcredit released along with Afranga a platform. What do you think about this development?
In general, speaking of the long-term future, I don’t think this will be a way to go for the loan
originators. First, with regard to the upcoming regulations and second to the attractiveness for
the investors. I see from Bondster’s perspective how difficult it is to get the investors to build
the trust and maintain it while providing them with the best possible diversification options
and other attributes. In my opinion, nowadays and as well as in the future the investors will
search for the platforms like Bondster or Mintos where they can diversify their assets within the particular platform and not be present on 10 or 20. I'm expecting that platforms with vast diversification investment instruments available are the future.
As we all know transparency is key. What do you think Bondster can do to give investors an even better feeling?
I think we both agree that transparency is key to build trust. Our investors are dedicating their
money through our platform. They are using their resources and invest them on our platform.
Therefore, transparency equals trust. Maybe it would be more of a question to our investors,
what more could we do in order to fulfill their wishes and meet their requirements?
We would be more than happy to hear what Bondster could do better. From my point of view
there is no taboo topic, so all our current and potential investors reading this interview, please
feel free to comment under and let us know if there is anything we could communicate better
or if there are some topics, that Bondster should focus more on. As we truly value our
investors’ opinions, we would be grateful for any feedback.
Regarding the upcoming EU regulation. At which step is Bondster exactlyin the process of becoming a regulated platform? And what are some challenges here?
After the analysis of the upcoming EU regulations, we see that the current setup of the
regulation does not apply to Bondster’s business model. Anyway, I think that the coming
regulation is certainly good for the P2P market as it will clean it from not trustworthy
and unfair platforms. This regulation is more about lending-based crowdfunding
which Bondster does not provide. But I still think that Bondster should and will have to be a
part of the regulated market, again for the trust of our investors. Therefore, even
if Bondster will not be legally obliged to follow the regulation we will still fulfill all the
As mentioned in 4) the recovery of money from the Polish originators worked better than on other platforms. Now you list also loans from foreign companies, like Colombia, etc. I wonder how a recovery process can be implemented there? Can you comment?
Of course, as I was talking about the Polish market, it would be a completely same situation in
other countries. As a first step we would look at the numbers of the particular loan originator.
Then we would negotiate with them and see if there is an installments schedule that is fair
enough from our point of view (that means the ability to get enough money for recoveries to
our investors in a certain period of time and that at the same time gives enough space to
the loan originator to maintain their business and processes). That would be the same
situation, for example, in Columbia. We would strive for a mutually beneficial agreement and
have a backup solution (involving a debt collecting agency) on hand if needed. These debt
collecting agencies work in Columbia as well, and in our contract with loan originators, we
have a clause that allows us to overtake this defaulted portfolio and collect it by ourselves.
The only issue connected to this is related to costs. The collecting agencies are charging
some fees for their service, which means a lower recovery for the
investors. That is why, speaking of the Polish situation, we didn’t take this step, and therefore
we didn’t transfer any cost to our investors.
Will there be new upcoming features?
As of always, to broaden the diversification opportunities for our investors, we are working
on getting new loan originators to the platform. An exciting new feature that has been already
developed and is now in the testing phase is the secondary market that will increase the
liquidity for the investors. Also, we are preparing a unique investment opportunity for our
investors, which is to be launched in the coming weeks, and that is loans backed
by cryptocurrencies. These loans that are from the Czech loan originator Acema will be
offered with a buyback guarantee and a yield of 10 % p.a. Besides, we are working on a new
language mutation, currently a Spanish one. We are also putting a lot of effort into
introducing Bondster to all investors in the whole Europe region.
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