I’ve talked a lot about BTCJam in earlier blog posts in the past year. But it’s only now that I have a clear perspective of the complete pros and cons of the website. I also understand to a greater extent how to use it effectively, and that’s what I want to share with you in this blog post.
A Bitcoin peer-to-peer lending platform
For those of you who aren’t familiar with BTCJam, it’s basically a way for people to get loans without going through the bank. You see, some people don’t have a bank account or can’t get a bank loan because they’re not approved for it. That’s why peer-to-peer lending has grown so much and it’s a whole industry, regardless of Bitcoin.
P2P lenders in the US generated $6.6 billion in loans last year. And now Bitcoin comes in to play giving people a whole new option to lend money with less fees, and to anyone in the world with an internet connection. So BTCJam is basically riding the P2P lending trending and creating a Bitcoin-focused platform.
[tweet_box design=”box_02″]P2P lenders in the US generated $6.6 billion in loans last year. And now Bitcoin comes in to play.[/tweet_box]
You’ll need to become a fierce collector from time to time
The main advantage of P2P lending is that you can get significantly high interest rates for your loans. But as you probably know there is no high return without a high risk involved. And so, when you decide to give out your money to strangers, you’ll need to make sure they repay their debts.
My first experience with BTCJam taught me this valuable lesson.
This is how my first investment went. I invested ฿0.83990951 in a very solid investing profile (in my opinion at least). The first payment arrived flawlessly. The second payment was due on July 1st. Come July 5th, we (the investors) were still waiting for the payment. We started commenting on the listing page asking the borrower when is he planning to pay, but we got fragments of answers and vague promises that the payment would be made soon.
A month passed. No information was added other than angry investors demanding their money. I also tried contacting BTCJam, and although I got a quick response from their support team, there was nothing they could do other than check with the borrower also.
After 38 days the payment was finally made. I ended up getting 6.42 percent in two month for my Bitcoins, which is pretty good considering the alternatives in the market. However, I was also at high risk with this loan defaulting and ending up with nothing. So it basically boils down to how risk averse you are.
My current investments and why I chose them
Even though my first BTCJam experience wasn’t a pleasant one, I did end up making a high yield for my money. If this was calculated annually, I would have made almost 40 percent APR (annual percentage rate). Therefore, I decide to continue investing my coins, only this time I went about it a bit more wisely.
So here are my current investments:
- 20.19% APR – Investing in continued leveraged Bitcoin trading
- 53.10% APR – Investing in trading and mining operations
- 16.3% APR – Investing in backing a new crypto based business
As you’ll notice, all investments have a high rating, only positive feedback and most importantly a nice amount of previously repaid loans. It would have probably been even wiser to diversify my portfolio even more, but since I’m not investing a large amount of money at the moment (only 0.9BTC), I didn’t think it would be very effective.
May 2016 update: One of these investments has defaulted, read the full story here.
For those of you who don’t want to watch the whole video, you can see below my investment picking principles in a nutshell:
- Invest only in investments that are almost 100 percent funded.
- Examine the borrower profile carefully: look for repaid investments, social network validations, previous feedback (especially negative feedback) and how long has he been a member of BTCJam.
- Read the investment description in full and view the interactions of the borrower with his investors on the comment section.
Reddit users’ opinion of BTCJam
When reviewing any Bitcoin service, a lot of people turn to Reddit for the community’s opinion. I make it a habit to double check my findings on any Bitcoin service with the Bitcoin subreddit as well.
There are quite a few reviews of BTCJam on Bitcoin’s subreddit and most of them are pretty positive, but that’s not the interesting information I wanted. I was looking for the dirt people have on the company.
After digging in a bit deeper I found that the main negative feedback people had to say was that BTCJam take their cut from the borrower once the loan is active. This means that they get paid immediately even if you as an investor don’t.
Combine that with the fact that there is no real way to enforce borrowers to pay back their debt and you’ll get a somewhat questionable reputation for a company that only provides you with a platform for lending and not enough support if and when you need it.
Also many people reported that there is a large amount of scammers on the site who are only there in order to get loans and never repay them. However, using the methods I described earlier and diversifying your portfolio as much as possible should result in a major risk decrease for you.
Last but not least, you can always use the BTCJam’s “autoinvest” feature. This feature basically takes your money and diversifies it across different loans for you. Although I haven’t tried this feature, I tend to shy away from it, since past experience taught me you never want to give someone else the responsibility of managing your money. So make sure to use this feature at your own risk.
BTCJam seems like a solid option for people who are willing to take calculated risks on their Bitcoins for higher rewards. Personally I’ll continue using this site following the principles I’ve described and will update you as things evolve. If you have your own experience with BTCJam I’d appreciate if you’d share it in the comment section below.