A German fintech once backed by PayPal investor Peter Thiel, has filed for bankruptcy after failing to recover from the economic effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Monedo, an online lender, was one of the most highly valued fintech startups in Germany with high profile backers like Thiel, JC Flowers and the global media firm Naspers.
But it was reported by online news site Sifted that Monedo filed an insolvency claim in a German court last week and a Hamburg law firm Brinkmann & Partner had been appointed to manage the proceedings.
The company was founded in 2012 under the name Kreditech and originally focused on providing microcredit loans. By 2017 the startup was valued at over €230m but its valuation had plunged by December 2018 thanks to some major defaulters in Russia and India. This prompted a management resuffle and the appointment of a new managing director David Chan and a new CFO Mariusz Dabrowski.
Another stratgeic reboot was needed in March 2020 as the company changed its name to Monedo and also switched direction to focus on algo-powered loans and a greater use of machine learning in its underwriting process.
But the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and the reduction in risk appetite among lenders scuppered any chance of a recovery for Monedo.
Online lenders were also hit especially hard by new laws passed in European states as a result of the pandemic which allowed borrowers to postpone their repayments. This new law was adopted in Spain and Poland, two of Monedo's key markets.
Monedo was banned from offering loans in its home market Germany becasue of its credit assessment processes and had instead chosen to focus on markets such as Spain and Poland as well as India.
Dabrowski handed in his notice in April citing personal reasons while Chan was warning about the impact on digital lenders should the pandemic result in a recession.
Meanwhile other non-bank challengers to incumbent institutions are also suffering from the effects of the pandemic. At the end of July, online bank Monzo talked about the "significant doubt" that it could continue as a going concern.
Despite Monedo's insolvency, Dr Christoph Morgen from the law firm Brinkmann & Partners, has told the company's 300 employees that he wants to find an investor willing to keep the company going.
“I plan to continue operations and have already started talks with possible financiers,” he said in a statement. “It is my goal to bring the investor process, which was started before the insolvency application and which according to the Monedo management looks promising, to a successful conclusion.”