How to apply for a loan on BTCjam, a practical guide

Note: This is the English translated version of a blog post originally directed to our Brazilian community. If you speak Portuguese, check out our original post.


Hello fellow Brazilians!

I would like to use this post to explain what we do in BTCjam and how we can help the Brazilian people in this difficult time of the economy. Our mission is to provide affordable credit for people around the world. We believe that especially now with such high interest rates (with overdraft rates reaching 300% per year) we can indeed make a difference in personal finance and Brazilian families.

Before diving into how we work, just a brief intro on the company itself. BTCjam is a company based in San Francisco, California, founded in 2012 by the Brazilian Celso Pitta Cardoso (no relation to the former mayor of Sao Paulo!). We received two contributions from Venture Capitalists in Silicon Valley, including funds that invest in many unicorns companies such as Uber, Netflix, Dropbox and Lending Club, as well as Bitcoin companies like Coinbase and Xapo.

We have two keys to the success of our model: Bitcoin and our Credit Scoring algorithm. Bitcoin is important because it is the way we engage in over a hundred countries with lower cost and increased speed of transfer. Today, we serve loans in more than 120 countries and by only using bitcoin we have a lean cost structure, which translates into lower interest rates charged to those who make loans through us.

Do I need to know about Bitcoin?

You may wonder what is bitcoin and need to understand the subject to get a personal loan with us, right? You can rest assured, you do not have to be an expert, since we have partners around the world that help borrowers to convert bitcoins into Reais or your local currency simply.

And how is the interest rate?

In the United States, generally, those who pay their bills on time pay lower interest rates on loans. That means, if you pay your car loan on time each month, you will probably have a lower interest rate than your friend, that has late payments showing up month after month.This system is super fair and benefits those who pay their bills on time, unlike it is in Brazil where people complying with their obligations end up supporting the “deadbeats” because everyone pays the same interest rate. I’m sad to say we in Brazil, have the world’s highest interest rates – debt on credit cards can reach 400% a year (compared to less than 20% in the US, only for purposes of comparison).

To calculate the interest rate, we look at hundreds of factors such as salary and other traditional sources but mostly alternative sources such as data coming from Facebook, LinkedIn, Free Market, Gmail, etc. Based on this mountain of data we can calculate the probability of repayment of anyone in the world, provide a credit note (from A+ to D-), and then based on this credit rating, determine the appropriate interest rate. Our interest begins at 2.2% per month to A+ borrowers and on average are around 6% per month for most who make a loan with us.

Once you receive your credit rating, you are allowed to apply for a loan on the platform. This loan is published for worldwide lenders to analyze and decide whether to fund it or not. Perhaps you’ve heard of some crowdfunding platform like Kickante in Brazil or the US Kickstarter. Our operation is similar: people create loan applications that are funded by dozens of other people, each putting a little until it reaches the total amount requested.

Now that you already know in general how we work, we think it is worth knowing also how best to use our system. Following is a brief practical guide to help.

Practical Guide to how to apply for a loan on BTCjam:

1) Always use truthful data. We use advanced data verification techniques, and if you use false information we’ll find out and you will be penalized on your credit note or even be banned from the platform. This also applies to those who create accounts on other services only to use them for the purposes of registration. So if you’ve never used LinkedIn for example, you should not create an account just to provide it to us. It’s better just to not have such an account linked (no pun intended!).

2) Connect the maximum possible accounts as they have tangible impact on the rate you pay, ie your interest.

3) Ask for references – acquaintances write about you on the site. Tip: This also helps you potentially lower the interest rate.

4) Once you receive your credit rate, create your loan application and describe it in detail: reporting to need money (eg pay off an overdraft), how you will afford to pay the loan back and contingency plan if everything goes wrong (have some asset that you can quickly sell to get money to pay the lenders who funded your request). TIP: lists with details, usually receive faster investment.

5) Reply comments from investors quickly so that they are safer to invest in you.TIP: we notify you via email when commenting on his list.

These are basic tips for you to get your loan funded quickly through our platform. We are very happy to finally offer Brazilians a fairer approach – the way people in developed countries get their loans.

Welcome to the club! (and if you are not a member yet, check your rate now)

Regards!

BTCjam reintroduces Weekly Payments and Weekly Loans

Oi Jammers!

At BTCjam we are constantly striving to improve the borrower experience.  Recently we updated the loan listing form focusing on long-term loans, removing many parameters.  However, now we have decided to bring back short-term loans for those borrowers that want to take 7 or 14 day loans, and we have also brought back the option to pay back on a weekly basis.  For those that would like to know more, I’ll explain in detail why we made these changes.

Two weeks ago BTCjam simplified the loan application process, so borrowers could focus on providing details about their loan rather being distracted by too many options. Last week, we improved the loan listing application by manually reviewing all loan applications before publishing (previously, we used to review during the funding period). The goal was to remove loans from the platform that are not relevant to the community as we will no longer accept loans that are intended to simply increase reputation. The correct way to improve your profile is by linking additional social networking accounts or adding personal references from friends and family, not by creating artificial loans.

After those changes, some investors reached out to us asking to bring back the weekly payment cycle and we listened. We are bringing back one-week and two-week loans. Thanks to our improved loan review process, we are willing to test the demand for short-term loans and, based upon that demand, we will decide whether to keep or remove them in the future.

User feedback is very important to us here at BTCjam and when you speak, we listen. Sometimes we cannot implement the requests instantly or we don’t believe they are 100% aligned with company’s long-term strategy.  As a marketplace with two main stakeholders (borrowers and investors), our job is to mediate the inherent conflict of interest among them, as it is common borrower requests that are not be aligned with investor’s interests (and vice-versa). Rest assured, we are 100% committed to providing an excellent service for both borrowers and investors.

Anyway, we are always interested to hear your ideas and suggestions on how to improve BTCjam.  Please email us at support@btcjam.com if you want to talk about that.

BTCJam Introduces Risk Based Pricing (Interest Rates Set Automatically by Credit Score)

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BTCJam is changing the way interest rates are set in order to improve the experience for both borrowers and investors. Starting today, BTCJam will set the borrower’s interest rate automatically based upon their credit score. The higher the borrower’s credit score, the lower their interest rate.

Automatically calculating the interest rate based upon credit scoring is known as risk-based pricing and is a well known and time proven methodology within the financial services industry. Interest rates are set by a combination of the borrower’s credit rating (using BTCJam’s proprietary credit rating system) and the duration of the loan. Borrowers who are less likely to default will receive lower interest rates.  Since BTCJam has all of the information about the borrowers, we are in a better position to determine the likelihood of the borrower paying back the loan and will adjust the interest rate accordingly. Risk-based pricing makes investing easier because when a lender invests in an A-rated loan, they know that the borrower will be paying an A-level interest rate.

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Interest rates are set by a combination of the borrower’s credit rating and the duration of the loan. Borrowers who are less likely to default will receive lower interest rates.

When borrowers are allowed to set their own interest rates, it is far too tempting for them to set a low interest rate and see if investors will accept lower returns.  While a borrower who receives a very low interest rate usually pays back their loan, it does not provide the investor any cushion against possible defaults.  With risk-based pricing, the interest rates for all loans will be standardized, ensuring that investors are able to offset possible losses from defaults.

We are confident that this change will improve BTCJam and allow us to continue to maintain the highest repayment rates in peer-to-peer lending (as high as 98% for A-rated borrowers), as well as increase overall returns to investors.

Check out the changes and start investing with BTCJam.  Get a loan with a reasonable rate with BTCJam.

Risk Based Pricing (automatic interest rates) Q&A

Q: What will happen to loans that were created before the change to Risk Based Pricing?

A: Loans created prior to the adoption of Risk Based Pricing (automatic interest rates) will continue until they have either been funded or have expired. BTCJam will identify the old loans and will separate them so they will be only be accessible using filters.

Q: The system sets a rate that is too high for me and I won’t be able to repay it. What should I do?

A: If the interest rate on your loan is too high you should verify more documents and add more information to your profile. By verifying more information, you will increase your credit score and receive a lower interest rate.

Q: Do I still have the option of doing a loan tied to a local currency?

A: Yes you will still be able to choose between a Bitcoin loan and a loan tied to local currencies. Learn more about currency types.

Q: Why did BTCJam choose to change the way that interest rates are determined?

A: BTCJam changed to risk-based pricing for a number of reasons. One reason being investor and borrower security. By setting the interest rates automatically it simplifies the risk assessment for both borrowers and lenders. Learn more about risk-based pricing.

Q: Will there be a set standard for interest rates based upon credit rating? For example, will all C rated borrowers have loans set at a standard 5.5% interest regardless of profile completeness?

A: Yes, every credit score grade will now come with a set interest rate that is the same for all borrowers that have the same credit score. However, rates will change also according to the loan term. That means, a C loan for 30 days will have lower rates than a 1 year loan for a C rated  borrower.

Q: Can I pay more than the recommended interest rate?

A: No. The interest rates are now automatically linked to your credit rating.  This change protects our investors from loans that are “too good to be true” and that the borrower never intends to repay.  We took into consideration both borrowers and investors when making this change.

Problems with the IRS?  Borrow Bitcoin from BTCJam and pay them off!

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Back in December,  Tim was having some troubles with the IRS.  Due to a mistake on his 2014 taxes, he had to pay an additional $400!  And of course, the IRS wanted the money right away, with no concern at all that their request was in the middle of the Christmas Season.  The IRS wanted their money immediately with interest or the penalties would rise.  The conditions, as they say, were non-negotiable.

Tim had a problem. And to solve that problem, he turned to BTCJam.

Tim had some experience with Bitcoin before he tried BTCJam.  He used Bitcoin and even purchased a few miners, so he had no problem sending Bitcoin around (after all it’s as easy to send as email).  He just needed a little bit more to pay off the IRS.

shutterstock_192557456Tim heard about others getting loans at BTCJam to help pay back their Bitcoin miners and increase revenue.  He decided to give it a try and started out with a couple of small loans that he knew he could pay back easily.

Tim did a good job setting up his account and this helped him secure his loan.  He linked all of his social networks and completed his profile.  Tim also ensured that his loan would get investor attention by choosing a slightly higher interest rate than was recommended.  Thanks to his diligence and smart choices, Tim had no trouble at all getting his loan funded.

Tim’s loan was funded within a few hours and thanks to the speed of Bitcoin, he had no trouble wshutterstock_46032925ith glacially slow bank transfers that could have resulted in additional late fees.

Tim has big plans for his future on BTCJam and plans to continue having a few small loans open as he expands his Bitcoin mining operation.  Someday, Tim hopes to retire on the proceeds.

Thanks to the support of BTCJam and the BTCJam investors, Tim was able to pay off the IRS quickly with no additional penalties.  As Tim says “They love me again.”

Another great ending to a great story, thanks to the investors of BTCJam who supported Tim.

Until Next Time….    Keep on Jamming!

If you need money, borrow bitcoins on BTCJam!  If you want high returns, invest on BTCJam!







 

San Francisco’s First Bitcoin Retail Store

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Bitcoin ATM in Nakamoto’s Store

20Mission is welcoming the return of an old friend in a new form. The longtime coworking space and former home to Purse.io, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, is launching the opening of Nakamoto’s electronics. Nakamoto’s is the city’s, and potentially, the world’s first Bitcoin centric retail space where customers will receive eye opening discounts on all products for purchasing in Bitcoin. Think along the lines of 10% off Amazon 100% of the time.

Andrew Lee, the CEO of Purse.io, is excited to bring Bitcoin to the public. The lack of everyday practical use and application for Bitcoin was a driving factor in the concept for a physical retail location. Nakamoto’s is a direct extension of the Purse.io idea in brick and mortar form.

“It is a great way to onboard new users with goods and products that they can pick up and physically touch. We’ll have a BTM (Bitcoin ATM) on site so if you don’t have Bitcoin and only have cash you can purchase Bitcoin and take your discount on the spot.”

What better way to stay in the Bitcoin community than to have the retail store primarily backed by the Bitcoin community itself? While other avenues like Kickstarter were considered it was important enough to support the bitcoin community and use one of their own. Majority of the funding came from loans that were funded on the BTCJam peer-to-peer lending platform by BTCJam investors and Bitcoin enthusiasts alike. Andrew already had experienced the platform as an investor in loans himself so it was something he and his associates were familiar with.

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Prices at Nakamoto’s store are up to 20% cheaper than normal retail rates

“BTCJam was not only a great way to raise money but awareness through the social attraction of the platform.”

During the funding process, Andrew and his associates were able to discuss the plans for the loan with their investors, bringing awareness to the Nakamoto project.

“San Francisco needs a killer Bitcoin merchant and store. Despite what the rest of the world thinks, there are very few practical merchants that accept bitcoin in the Bay Area.”

20Mission, once the the legendary home to Blockchain.info, Purse, 37Coins, Tradehill and Piper Wallet is the epicenter of Bitcoin in Silicon Valley and the meeting spot for San Francisco’s first Bitcoin meetups. Tonight Nakamoto’s will be hosting a mixer and pre launch party for the Bitcoin community at the 20Mission location starting at 7pm. The public grand opening will be Friday, February 6th. San Francisco and possibly the world will have it’s first retail store where Bitcoin is the primary currency.

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Looking to have your next idea funded? What are you waiting for? Head over to BTCJam and apply for a loan today.

– Jarrett Carlston BTCJam Team