The Anonymous Widower

Who Needs Offices? Zopa Doesn’t!

opa’s update to all their investors yesterday.

It had a sub-heading of At Zopa!

Finally, a quick update on where we’re at as a company. All of our staff are still working remotely. Our diligent preplanning for a situation in which we could lose access to our offices has meant we’ve been able to continue to serve our customers throughout the pandemic, while also implementing new solutions to adapt to this unprecedented situation. Like other businesses, we’ve been planning for what a return to our offices looks like. But as we’ve been able to keep serving your needs while operating from home, we are in no rush. Being in this position allows us to stay focused on supporting your needs during this challenging moment.

How many companies after we are through the COVID-19 pandemic will decide to downsize their office requirements considerably?

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Business, Finance, Health, World | , , | 1 Comment

Zopa Seems To Have Deconstipated

In early March, I wrote Is The COVID-19 Having An Affect On Lending At Zopa?, where I said this.

I lend money on Zopa and at the moment no-one seems to be borrowing any money.

I put some of my pension in my lending pot into the peer-to-peer lender each month and it’s still there sitting safely in the queue for a borrower.

Perhaps everybody is being cautious because of the COVID-19 alert.

At the time of writing this new post, everything seems to be back to normal. Or at least money, that I put in my lending account yesterday, has now been allocated to borrowers and is awaiting the final checks.

Eight years ago, I wrote Stability in Financial Systems, where I put forward my belief that Zopa is a stable system, that adjusts itself to the conditions it encounters.

Has the peer-to-peer lender just demonstrated, that my thoughts are correct, by sailing untroubled through the COVID-19 crisis, with just a small adjustment on the tiller here and there, just as it survived the Banking Crisis of 2008?

May 29, 2020 Posted by | Finance, Health | , , | Leave a comment

Zopa Resumes Lending To ‘C Risk’ Borrowers

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Peer2Peer Finance News.

Zopa, the first peer-to-peer lending site, rates all borrowers as to risk, between A (the best) down to E.

Certainly, since they introduced this policy, my invested money gets lent out more quickly.

Hopefully, the risk won’t have been increased by an amount, that is unacceptable to lenders.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Finance | , | Leave a comment

What Exactly Is Upside Energy?

On Friday, August 9th, 2019, there was a massive power cut in the South of England, that is described in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Lightning Strike ‘Partly To Blame’ For Power Cut.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A lightning strike and the sudden loss of two large electricity generators caused nearly a million people to lose power in England and Wales earlier this month, an interim report has found.

So what exactly happened?

This article on Wired is entitled How Batteries Stopped The UK’s Power Cut Being A Total Disaster, was written after the report into the cut had been written.

This is the third paragraph of the article.

But it could have been even worse. Within seconds of problems hitting the grid, a fleet of batteries dotted around Great Britain were able to pump power into the system, preventing a rapid drop off in transmission frequency.

Is fleet the right collective noun for storage batteries? But it will do for the time-being.

This is the next two paragraphs.

Upside Energy is one firm that lent a helping hand by supplying six megawatts (MW) from five large lithium-ion batteries located on a solar farm near Luton Airport. “Those batteries responded immediately – actually it was sub-second,” says the firm’s chief executive Devrim Celal.

Six megawatts may not sound like much. It’s about the same capacity as a single medium-sized wind turbine, but in the context of national electricity supply that can make a difference, says Tim Green, co-director at Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Laboratory. “A home on average is consuming about two kilowatts – six megawatts gets you 3,000 homes maybe.”

But every little helps!

So who are Upside Energy?

If you look at their web site, this is the headline on the home page.

Smart Energy Management Systems

There is also this description.

Our award-winning cloud-based platform provides our customers with a way to capitalise on new opportunities, while supporting an acceleration in the use of renewable technologies, and overall helping to create a more sustainable and efficient power network.

From what I can gather with further reading, it almost looks like a peer-to-peer network for energy, akin to how Zopa is one for money.

  • If you or your company, built a battery or a solar farm, then Upside Energy would control it, in the most efficient way.
  • As the Wired article states, they also have a few batteries of their own.

On another page they describe the system as a cloud-based platform can connect with a multitude of devices across commercial, industrial and domestic sites. They give the following examples of devices.

  • Battery storage systems.
  • \electric-vehicle charging points.
  • Uninterruptible power supplies
  • Heating and cooling systems.

They then say a bit about how it works.

It uses advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence to match energy demand with the available supply, helping the electricity grid deal with fluctuations and times of peak usage. Supporting the grid in this way, opens the doors to additional revenue streams for our customers, who also benefit from significant reductions in energy costs and carbon emissions.

The platform can manage demand response for more than 100,000 devices running in parallel.

As a Control Engineer, whose friend went on to manage ICI’s power networks in the North West, I know management of these complex networks was difficult even in the 1970s.

It is interesting to look at their funding page.

Funding would appear to be typical for a company like this.

Conclusion

If I was a farmer, who was investing in a solar farm on a piece of land, I would check out Upside Energy.

But I’m not!

Over eight years ago, I wrote Stability in Financial Systems, where I used my Control Engineering and mathematical experience to postulate that Zopa might have found a way to create a system with an equilibrium between saving and borrowing, that responded to politics, the economy and unforeseen circumstances.

Could Upside Energy have created a system that balances energy production, storage and use, which navigating the perils of the modern world?

 

 

 

 

May 17, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | 1 Comment

Zopa And COVID-19

As regular readers of this blog will know, I invest my spare savings in the peer-to-peer lender Zopa.

I have a feeling, from my experience of reading the statistics of my lending on the site, that money is slow to be lent out!

But there are people out there, even in these insecure times, who have a guaranteed cash-flow and a good credit rating.

And some of these may need a loan to perhaps replace a car, that has expired and they need to get to their essential job or to furnish a spare room as a home office or schoolroom.

If I needed a sensible loan, which I don’t, I’d check out Zopa.

April 3, 2020 Posted by | Finance, Health | , | Leave a comment

Is The COVID-19 Having An Affect On Lending At Zopa?

I lend money on Zopa and at the moment no-one seems to be borrowing any money.

I put some of my pension in my lending pot into the peer-to-peer lender each month and it’s still there sitting safely in the queue for a borrower.

Perhaps everybody is being cautious because of the COVID-19 alert

March 7, 2020 Posted by | Finance, Health | , | 1 Comment

Is Zopa Losing Its Attraction As A Platform To Go For A Loan?

Over the last month or so, I have been getting bigger amounts of money moved to my holding amount on Zopa,.

It appears to me, that borrowers could be repaying loans early.

This could be for one of several reasons.

  • People are fed up with non-Brexit and are being prudent, by repaying loans.
  • The economy seems to be picking up and borrowers can afford to pay loans off.
  • There are some good offers out there and borrowers are consolidating their loans elsewhere.

As Zopa don’t charge anything to pay off a loan, so if you have spare money, it must be top of the list for a loan to pay off.

A Worrying Trend On Lending

Perhaps more worrying is that at the moment the money I have made available to borrowers, seems to take a long time to be allocated.

Is this due to a shortage of would-be borrowers?

Conclusion

I have decided to increase my spending and visit some of the places on my bucket list.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Finance | | Leave a comment

Zopa: P2P Investors Outperformed The FTSE 100 In 2018

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Peer2PeerFinance News.

The title is a good summary of the article, which is a must-read.

January 9, 2019 Posted by | Finance | , , | Leave a comment

The Concept Of Hybrid Banking

I have been writing about hybrid trains and locomotives recently.

In Hybrid Power On The Railways, I summarised the current state of development, with brief descriptions of the current hybrid trains and locomotives.

This was my conclusion.

Just as hybrid cars are becoming more numerous, I suspect we’ll be seeing more hybrid trains in the future.

So can hybrid principles be applied to other industries and processes?

A Standard Hybrid Process

In my opinion, one of the best hybrid systems is the transmission of London’s New Routemaster bus. This description of the drive-train is from Wikipedia.

The bus is a hybrid diesel-electric driven by a battery-powered electric motor, charged by a diesel fuelled generator and recovering energy during braking by regenerative braking.

It is a classic serial hybrid vehicle.

Energy is collected in the battery from the diesel generator and regenerative braking and the battery powers the bus.

Hybrid Banking

Could a bank account be designed on similar principles?

  • Money would be collected and stored in a deposit account, where it would earn interest.
  • There would be a wallet or current account, where sufficient money is available to pay bills expected.

I also believe that just as in the bus, there would be a clever control algorithm, that made sure money was in the right place.

  • To pay bills.
  • Earn maximum interest payments.
  • Avoid charges for going overdrawn.

Many would believe, I’m asking for the impossible.

But!

Zopa Or Another Peer-To-Peer Lender As A High Interest Deposit Account

I use Zopa to store my excess cash.

I just add money, when I have spare.

Zopa’s computer decides, who I lend it to, so it’s effectively deposit-and-forget.

Since, I started investing I have earned returns of around five per cent before tax.

Any irrecoverable debts are now allowed against earnings.

But the unique property of Zopa and probably some other peer-to-peer lenders, is that each month a certain amount of money becomes available for reinvestment or withdrawal.

These figures show the percentage of money, I’ve had available in the last few months.

  • May 2018 – 7.5%
  • April 2019 – 6.0%
  • March 2019 – 5.7%
  • February 2019 – 5.6%
  • January 2019 – 6.1%
  • December 2018 – 4.7%
  • November 2018 – 6.9%
  • October 2018 – 7.1%
  • September 2018 – 6.7%
  • August 2018 – 7.5%
  • July 2018 – 6.8%

So it looks like for a mature Zopa portfolio, around 6-7 percent is available for reinvestment or withdrawal.

If like me, you have tax bills to pay at various times of the year, you might sometimes take the latter option, as I do!

But if you do withdraw money, your ratio will change.

It should also be noted that a high proportion of Zopa contracts make payments on or around the first of the month. So lenders can get a sizeable payment in the first few days of a month. All very handy!

Nationwide Or Any Other Bank Account As A Wallet

I use Nationwide as my bank current account, transferring money between Nationwide and Zopa as required.

I also have a sensible agreed overdraft limit, which gives me an extra amount of flexibility. I think it’s only been used twice in the last couple of years at tax payment time.

As the overdraft limit is lower than the minimum amount of money, I’ll be able to withdraw from Zopa in a month, I know that if I use the overdrsft, I should be able to repay it quickly.

The Control Philosophy

I don’t have a computer to work through the control philosophy, but I can use the brain I was born with.

By about the twentieth of the month, I can see the state of my finances and generally know, whether my pension will cover my expenses for the next month or so, or if I need some help.

So when the Zopa payments kick in around the turn of the month, I withdraw what I think I’ll need.

If I draw out too much, then around the twelfth or so, I put any surplus back into Zopa.

A Hybrid System

I believe that what I have described works in a similar way, as a typical hybrid drive system for a bus, train or car.

  • Zopa backs up the bank account and provides extra finance when needed. This is a similar function to the traction battery in a hybrid vehicle
  • The agreed overdraft facility is there if any extra short term finance is needed. It has a function similar to capacitors in a hybrid vehicle, where they are used to provide a fast smoothing response.

Imagine an on-line banking system, which used artificial intelligence to calculate how much extra money is needed each month and transfer money to and from Zopa accordingly.

 

December 25, 2018 Posted by | Finance | , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing For A No-Deal Brexit

I am doing a few things to make sure, that I survive a no-deal Brexit, as unscathed as possible.

Savings

I keep all of my spare cash in Zopa, moving it in and out as required. Effectively for about seven or eight years now, I have used the first peer-to-peer lender as a high-interest, thirty-day access deposit account.

It has probably paid around five percent before tax in that time and it has safely ridden the peaks and troughs of governments and financial instability.

Today, I calculated how much cash, I need in my current account to see me through to end of the year, and the spare money was tranferred to Zopa. It was a fast painless transaction and now it is available to lend to Zopa’s customers.

Warfarin

Warfarin stops me having another stroke.

As it only comes from Eastbourne, I suspect supply of this comment drug.

But I have enough to last me to until Summer 2019.

INR Testing

I test my own INR, which determines the Warfarin dose.

Today, I ordered enough test strips to get me through to Summer 2019.

Beer

Every time, I go walking around London, I take a large bag, that can hold up to eight bottles of my favourite beer from Marks and Spencer.

Supplies from Adnams in Suffolk seem good at the present and I usually liberate a few from a boring life on the shelves on every trip.

As with other products, I aim to have enough to last me through to Summer 2019, at a rate of three a day.

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Finance, World | , , , , | 2 Comments