I had long been looking at Fast Invest as one of the new, serious crowdlending platforms in Europe, so I decided to give it a try.
Fast Invest was founded in 2015 in Lithuania and have offices in the UK, Poland, Italy, Lithuania, and Estonia. They offer short-term consumer loans up to 12 months duration with interest rates ranging from 9-16% to investors with a European bank account only.
Fast Invest uses multiple loan originators which I am a big fan of since it spreads the risk. The P2P lending platform offers great functions such as buyback guarantee, default guarantee, and autoinvest, but it lacks the secondary marketplace that other players have.
It is uncertain exactly how many loans Fast Invest have funded and how many loan originators they have since they keep it secret. I am not concerned about the secrecy, but I hope they will be more transparent about this in the future.
Fast Invest has received quite good customer reviews on Trustpilot since their launch:
Overall, I have been quite impressed with Fast Invest and I currently enjoy a decent average return of ~14.5% before tax. However, as you will read below the platform still has some room for improvements before it matches the best competitors’.
Before you start investing in any platforms, make sure to check out my comparison of the best P2P lending platforms in Europe.
How Fast Invest’s P2P lending platform works and my first impressions
Fast Invest offers a classic and simple P2P lending platform to investors. As an investor, you deposit money into your account and select loans to fund through loan originators (manually or automatically). In essence, you act as the bank to borrowers who make regular principal and interest payments to you at an agreed-upon interest rate.
The sign-up process with Fast Invest was surprisingly easy. I signed up on a Sunday night by filling out my personal information and uploading a picture of my ID. Monday morning the ID was confirmed and I deposited 250 EUR through a bank transfer (there’s no minimum deposit though). Tuesday morning the deposit was confirmed, and the money showed up on my account. In total it took me two days to get up and running – nice!
The Fast Invest platform has six different menu items to navigate around the site. The ‘Loan List’ and ‘My Account’ are the ones you will be using most.
Compared to other sites, some of the key features such as autoinvest and investment overview is hidden under the ‘My Account’ menu item, which I find a bit odd. Expanding ‘My Account’ looks like this:
In general, I like the interface of the platform and once you have navigated to each of the pages they are easy and intuitive to use.
What has my return been with Fast Invest so far?
Until now I have managed to get quite good interest rates on my loans, so I am cruising at a net annual return of 14.5% before taxes with loans that have a bit more than 11 months average loan term:
As I’ll describe in a moment, the autoinvest feature is not made to maximize the interest rate, so if I had only invested manually, I believe the interest rate could have been closer to 16% as there’s often loans available at that level.
On the positive side, my money has been 100% fully invested while I have been investing with Fast Invest. They usually have roughly 1,000 loans available at decent interest rates, which means I haven’t had any cash drag yet. It will be interesting to see whether they can keep this up and continue adding more loans when the number of investors grows.
On the visual side, it is easy to see your average interest rate, however, I believe some of the other European P2P lending platforms manage to show this a bit more visually appealing.
How to make the first investments on the platform
Fast Invest only offers consumer loans. The loans have a relatively short duration compared to other platforms of up to a maximum of 12 months. If you want to withdraw your money, this is a good thing as you can always cash out within 12 months (even faster using the buyback guarantee), but you also need to invest more frequently in loans and cannot lock down the good loans for several years.
The first step is to filter out the best loans. I have decided only to invest in EUR, so that was my only filter. You can also filter on the term, amount, interest, and country, but I believe they could benefit from adding a few more filters (e.g. total loan value, loan value to income, the amount left, etc.).
I placed my first investment manually for only 5 EUR as a test. I simply navigated to a loan with a 15% interest rate and 11 months duration from Denmark and clicked on the “Invest” button.
Once you click on “Invest” you get more information about the specific loan. I like this quite a lot on Fast Invest compared to others.
You get quite detailed information on the borrower such as monthly income, liabilities, gender, and age. I don’t know how accurate the information is or how they check it, but at least it gives a better feel for the loan and a reminder that there are real people on the other end.
The only thing left to do is click “Invest” one last time and confirm your order in a pop-up box before you have invested in a loan.
Should you invest using the autoinvest feature?
Normally, I am a big fan of autoinvest features on P2P lending platforms, but I only think you should use Fast Invest’s auto-invest feature with specific settings.
Fast Invest offer three autoinvest strategies (or ‘portfolios’) out of the box:
However, I am a big fan of having more control (and high interest rates), so I would always recommend setting up your custom portfolio.
When I first invested I set up the autoinvest feature as I normally do on other platforms, but I noticed two things once it started executing orders. First, there was no way to prioritize different autoinvest strategies. Second, it did not select the highest interest rate loans first.
I contacted Fast Invest’s support to get them to explain how the autoinvest function works:
- There is no way to prioritize between different autoinvest strategies – the system executes them simultaneously (which essentially means it is random which one it selects)
- It selects loans in ascending order (?!), which means the lowest interest loans within your defined range are selected before the highest interest loans
What are the implications of this? To ensure the highest return, I only believe you should use the autoinvest function in the following way to maximize your return, although in the beginning, it requires some manual work too.
- Set up one – and only one – autoinvest strategy
- Select a small range of high interest rates (e.g. 15-16%) as your initial strategy
- Select the other criteria as you prefer
- Follow your autoinvest strategy to see whether it can fully invest all your funds
- If there are not enough high interest loans and it cannot invest all your funds, then you lower the interval slightly to e.g. 14-16% – and you continue the cycle until all of your funds are invested
After all your funds have been invested, I would set the autoinvest strategy back to a high interval (e.g. 15-16%), and then once in a while check in on your account (I do this monthly) to see whether there’s any cash drag (available funds that cannot be invested). If you have funds available that cannot be invested, lower your interval as above again.
Doing this is a bit more tedious than on other platforms, but it ensures you get the highest return possible without having to invest in all your loans manually. These are the settings I use for my autoinvest strategy:
I use a minimum of 3 months’ loan term because I like it when cash does not have to be reinvested all the time. In my experience in minimizes the cash drag, but I’m not sure this is always the case.
Why does Fast Invest not have a secondary market?
Fast Invest argues they don’t have a secondary market because you don’t need it. They offer a buyback guarantee (different from their ‘default guarantee’) where you can sell your loan to Fast Invest at just one day’s notice.
This is a cool feature if you need the money and want to withdraw it fast. However, if you decide to sell your loan to Fast Invest you lose all the accrued interest, which is of course not ideal. Therefore, you should only use this feature if it’s necessary. Also, since the loan terms are not longer than 12 months, you should be able to plan most of the time when you need the cash and have to make the withdrawal.
On other platforms with a secondary market, you do not lose your interest if you sell it to other lenders and if you have a high interest rate loan you might even be able to sell it at a premium. However, it will probably take a longer time to get your money back than with the Fast Invest platform, so there’s definitely for and against. Optimally, you would have both options on all platforms!
What are the pros and cons of Fast Invest?
I believe Fast Invest has lots of good features, but also a few areas for improvement.
The advantages of the Fast Invest platfoorm are:
- Good loans with high interest compared to other platforms
- All loans have buyback and default guarantee
- Fast sign up process and identification confirmation (2 days)
- Simple, beautiful and intuitive interface
- Good and fast customer support
- Possibility to invest in different currencies and exchange currencies on the platform
- Detailed information about the loan and the borrower
The platform has some drawbacks, but most of them are not essential:
- Autoinvest function should have the possibility to prioritize different strategies
- Autoinvest function is optimized to invest in loans by the interest rate in ascending order (?!)
- Lack of advanced filters for the loan list and autoinvest
- Navigation not as simple as it could be
- Restricted to only consumer loans (e.g. no business loans) and short-term loans below 12 months
- No transparency on the number of users, total loans funded or loan originators
- Not the best return overview
Overall, I believe the pros outweigh the cons – and most P2P platforms have improvement potential, so I wouldn’t be discouraged from investing simply based on the drawbacks I highlight above.
What are the risks of investing in Fast Invest?
It is important to remember that investing always comes at a risk and you should never invest money you are not prepared to lose (although hopefully, that will never happen).
I only invest 5-10% of my net worth in P2P lending, but I know others are more aggressive on this. I do this because I consider it a very high-risk investment. For example, we do not know what will happen to P2P lending platforms during a financial crisis, since we have never had a crisis while crowdlending has been around.
The biggest risk of investing in Fast Invest is that the loan originators or the platform itself go bankrupt. If this happens, normal bankruptcy procedures will kick in and you might/might not get your money back. This is a real risk and that is why I have decided to invest in different platforms to diversify my investments and spread the risk.
Who is Fast Invest for?
Fast Invest is a good option for people who are starting with P2P lending or for experienced crowdlending investors who are looking for above-average returns. Many of the bigger platforms such as Mintos have seen decreasing average returns lately, and this is where newer platforms such as Fast Invest offer higher returns. Compared to Mintos, I currently make a 2.6% higher return on Fast Invest which I consider a sizeable premium.
Now to the million-dollar question: Would I recommend Fast Invest to a friend? Yes, I would, as long as they know investments come with a risk.
My Fast Invest review verdict
Fast Invest is a great option for investing in P2P lending. The average returns are high, the platform has all the essential functionality and the customer support is lightning fast. The platform has some room for improvement (as most platforms do), but nothing that has scared me away from continuing as an investor.
Note: A few images have been edited and details omitted to maintain my anonymity, but all opinions are 100% honest and unbiased.