Each year it’s worth looking back to take stock, and we’ve been doing some of that at Marketlend – we’re happy to see that Marketlend performance in 2018 was as strong as it has ever been. Watch Marketlend CEO Leo Tyndall outline what it was that made 2018 a strong year for Marketlend’s investors and borrowers, and what’s making him excited about the future of peer to peer lending. You can also read the transcript below.
We had a great year. So from a volume point of view we’ve been very successfully growing our book. At the same time, from a risk point of view, we’ve been able to ensure that our book has grown, but not increased the negative effects of such a growth factor. So what we’ve seen is our default rates have actually reduced, it’s gone down from the 4.6% that we had for the year down to around 2-2.2%. But what we’ve also seen is we’ve been able to control the product that we produce and that means that investors have been able to get a great return. So the average return from a net point of view has been 10.2%. What we’ve seen is that we’ve been able to grow, and as I mentioned in other videos, that we’ve seen a growth of our book double compared to last year, so we’re up to $61 million funded.
We still look at December being a strong month as well, but what we’re seeing very much is also an increased focus of due diligence and implementation of some of the measures we brought in early in the year. We send out an external accountant if the exposure’s greater than $250,000, which has helped us significantly to really get to know our client, and then spending a lot of time interacting with our client post settlement. So we’ve put on settlement clerks, you could put it, so that they can interact with them post settlement so that we can increase the utilisation as well of the actual portfolio. So it’s been a great year for us.
As far as staff goes we’ve now got a total of about 35 people. In Australia we have around 15 to 16. I count that number because we only just put on two new people again today. So we’re continuously growing the actual support staff. We’ve also got the Philippines team which is a total of 14 people, and then we have developers all over the world. So it’s been a great year for us.
As a small business owner, you may have already had an experience with a scam targeting your business. It’s reported that Australian small businesses lost more than $2.3 million from cyber attacks in the first half of 2018, with nearly 18 per cent of small-to-medium-sized businesses in Australia having been impacted by a cyber scam.
While this seems like it would only affect you, it can also impact your customers. For example, hackers can “spoof” your business email account so their emails look like they belong to you. They can then contact your customers and request payments be made to a different account instead of your own. One Australian business recently reported losing $300,000 to such a scam.
In another version of this attack, scammers can intercept your correspondence with suppliers, and then pretend to be the supplier in order to get you to pay them instead. Other popular tactics include ransomware attacks in which your data is encrypted and held hostage until you pay the scammers a ransom. Thieves being thieves, you can never be sure if you’ll receive your data back even if you pay.
With so many ways you could be targeted, detecting cyber fraud is a top priority. To help you, here are several tips we suggest you follow to recognise and prevent a potential scam.
1. Never click on any links or attachments in an email unless you know the source and can verify its legitimacy. Poor spelling and grammar usually gives away fake emails.
2. Install anti-phishing software.
3. Never wire money to anyone you don’t know in person. Asking for wired money via services like Western Union is a very common scam.
4. Never fall victim to an urgent transaction. Typically, cyber attackers want to get your money as soon as possible so they can disappear. Confirm the transaction with your usual contact if things seem suspicious.
5. Make sure you keep back-ups of all your data. This will enable you to return to business as usual in the event you fall victim to ransomware without having to pay the attackers.
6. Check the URL of any website you’re asked to access, especially ones where you have to enter sensitive information, to make sure the website is legitimate. A fake URL may look similar but can have spelling errors. If it is hyperlinked, you can check the website by hovering your mouse over the link. Otherwise, type the address in the search bar yourself if it’s a website you know, such as an online banking portal.
7. Make sure that any financial transaction you engage in online requires you to enter your details only after the URL changes from “http” to “https”, this means the connection is secure – all Australian bank log-in pages are https.
8. Limit who in your business has access to sensitive financial details to those who absolutely require it.
9. Trust your gut. If something feels odd, or you see an offer that seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
10. Report suspicious activity. Most Australian banks, telcos, and energy providers – the industries most frequently impersonated by scammers – have sections on their websites where you can report a scam. They also publish details of current illegitimate activity.
2019 looks like another good year for Marketlend, which is great news for you. A strong year for Marketlend means even more flexible finance for SMEs to grow, and more great opportunities for investors.
Watch Marketlend CEO Leo Tyndall’s 2019 outlook, what he’s excited about, and what he sees as the biggest challenges in the year ahead. Or, read the transcript below.
We’re looking at quite a very positive year ahead. We’ve recently engaged two new sales team who are ex American Express and we’ve seen a significant pickup in our origination volumes in the last year. So we see that in the last month, in November, we did 5.2 million and we see that we’re possibly looking at similar numbers or even doubling those numbers going forward.
With the avalanche of these new products we’ve brought out, essentially UnLock as well as GreenLend, we see a bit of energy there coming back from an investor base as well as from the borrower base. And so what we see is from that side, a very exciting year. From the risk side we have added additional measures to protect our position, or the investor’s position, and so where we see with that is that we see a continued good performance from the book and also seeing that our clients are actually gonna grow with it.
As far as the economy goes, there are some stresses that we are cognisant of and concerned about, especially the construction industry as well as the possible retail industry as the continual issue with the fact of the online businesses growing so well and the retail business, sort of, lease holds being a bit of a struggle. And so what we are focusing is on making sure that we try to diversify away from that as much as possible, or at least when we see those opportunities we ensure that we actually have additional protections for the underlying investors.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Turn Your Hobby into a Business
- Is your great idea a hobby or a business?
When avid Australian gardener Matt Harris became frustrated with traditional plant watering methods, and the pests eating at his produce, he invented a self-watering, enclosed system called Vegepod. In 2016, Harris scored both publicity and an investment on the Australian version of Shark Tank. Since then sales have increased by more than 500 percent.
When Harris first come up with his idea, how could he have been sure it had the potential to become a business? Not every entrepreneur necessarily needs a huge investment to make a business work, but most beginning entrepreneurs will often find themselves wondering when their idea or hobby is ready to become a business. Whether you’re just at the idea stage, or have started selling already, answer these questions to help you decide whether you’re ready to hang a professional shingle.
- Can it make a profit?
If you want to make a career out of your hobby, first figure out if your idea can generate revenue. After all, a hobby is personal, but a business is commercial. There is also a difference between just making money, and making a profit. Write a business plan and crunch the numbers. Anticipate your revenue and expenses. Will you be in the black? Will you be enough in the black to make a living at this enterprise?
- Is there a customer base?
If you haven’t begun selling yet, don’t assume that just because you love your own idea that others will too. Conduct some market research to identify who would be willing to spend money on what you’re offering. Take advantage of social media and online survey tools to find your target audience. If you’ve identified a clear interested audience, then it may be time to test the waters by selling your product directly to that audience.
- Is there demand?
Identifying your audience goes hand in hand with demand. Signs of high demand include more sales than you are able to fulfill right away, overwhelming requests or positive comments online or on social media, or if you’re having to turn away customers because you’ve got more orders than you can fulfill. If you’re so busy trying to fulfill orders that it’s taking over your life, and you still feel like you’re falling behind, that’s a clear sign that people really want your business. This is the time to invest in your business and help it grow.
- Are you cut out for running a business?
Even if you’re sure that your business can make money, and you’ve identified both an audience and demand, your business will never take off if you don’t have the time to devote to it. Running a true business will require a full time commitment, and sometimes even more than that. Ask yourself first if this is something you’re willing or able to do. Not everyone is cut out for running a business. Signs that entrepreneurship is right up your ally include a desire to have a personal stake in what you’re working on, a dislike of rules, comfort with working hard, a tendency for seeking out problems and solutions, and a preference for independent thinking and a strong desire to be your own boss.
- Are you comfortable with risk?
Starting a business is by nature risky. Even if you truly believe in idea will make millions, there is always the possibility that your business will fail. But risk isn’t necessarily bad. The best businesses are often founded after multiple failures, so to get to a successful business probably means failing several times along the way. Be prepared for this. But make sure that this is a risk you’re willing to take, both from a financial and personal standpoint. Also be smart about taking the risk. Taking calculated risks means that you’ve planned every single detail, conducted all the research, and collected all the possible evidence that your business truly has potential. As long as you’ve done that then give it a go. Remember, you can’t learn to walk without falling.