Interview with Dmitry Balakhnin for Libertad Financiera
Libertad Financiera is a Spanish finance blog which is operated by our investor Santiago Arredondo. Santiago has been investing in various products for twelve years. On the road to financial freedom, he generously shares his experience with others. In his last interview, Santiago talked with Dmitry Balakhnin, Strategic Communications Director of Robocash Group, about the company's values and what it has in store for the near future.
- Welcome to Financial-Freedom, Dmitry. Nice to meet you and to have a word with you about Robo.cash, where you have been working since 2014. Here we go: given the rapid evolution of Robocash, the increase in investors and the amounts invested, how do you plan to avoid a possible lack of available projects?
Robocash group companies, which place loans on the platform, are developing at a rapid pace. I’d like to note that Robocash.kz (placing loans via RC Riga Kazakhstan) is growing particularly fast. This means there will be a demand for investment, including funding through Robo.cash. Besides, the group has an expansion strategy and needs substantial investment for its development. Giving that, the platform is ready to offer investors commercial loans at a favorable price, focusing its efforts on the group’s scaling.
- Can investors expect a further readjustment of interest rates in relation to the project period?
We have no current plans to change our interest rate, but we are constantly monitoring not only the market and the situation, but also the P2P lending market as a whole comparing the terms with other investment alternatives as well. We strive to provide the best value for money for our investors, so our interest rates will be in line with the risk ratio and profitability we offer.
- Robocash is ranked 12th by volume of funding in the EU. What actions do you plan to take to reach the TOP 10? When do you think you will reach this milestone?
I think we will reach TOP 10 this year because our main priority is the security of investors’ funds while maximizing profits and further reducing risk. Moreover, we are now ready to satisfy higher appetite of investors because the group is developing rapidly in the most promising and fast-growing markets in Asia. Our actions? I can admit that at present we are taking a balanced approach in providing new features, as investors value reliability highly. What we definitely intend to do is to maintain the trustworthiness we built showing our clients that we are the company they can trust. We will be as transparent as possible and respond to the needs of our customers by improving our service.
- What news does Robocash have in store for this year of transition and the next year of take-off?
Robo.cash is glad to see the P2P lending market is gaining momentum. The investment platform has long-term goals, so we plan to build strong relationships with investors, doing our best to provide them with high-quality service. Another important point is that the platform will strive to make the P2P investment market one of the most attractive investment assets. P2P lending is a more persistent investment tool compared to the stock market. At the same time, it is proving to be a profitable asset on the investment market with an average interest rate of about 10-11%, which is a decent rate for Europe.
The most personal interview
- Perfect. Let’s move on to a more informal interview, Dmitry. What do employees value most about working at Robocash?
First and foremost, employees are valued by the owner and top managers of the company. An each team member has the opportunity to unlock their potential and apply their knowledge and skills. Management provides all resources for training and development of our employees, which creates an environment where everyone sincerely wants to improve the functionality and performance of the platform. Each employee is supported by the strong team and has the freedom to propose and implement meaningful approaches.
- What phrase or quote reflects your philosophy of life?
“Do not put all your eggs in one basket”. This rule applies to investment as well as to life. My credo is to be versatile. One should not rely on just one thing in life. Career, family, hobbies and leisure time enable us to live our lives meaningfully, harmoniously, and thus, full of joy.
- Tell me a lesson that life has taught you.
Whatever experience happens in your life, it is definitely useful. I guess you remember the world financial crisis of 2008. It forced the company where I had been working for 4 years as PR manager to lay off employees. I lost my job where I had planned to make a career. I had to find a new one in an unfamiliar field to me: marketing. I was upset because I had to give up PR and master marketing. However, later I realized what priceless experience I had gained and since then I have been mixing different approaches in my work and trying to use versatile working methods.
- And a lesson that working at Robocash has taught you?
I got a very good lesson while working for Robocash Group. It is: “ Don’t be afraid of challenges and do whatever you think is worthwhile regardless of the difficulties, because everything is in your hands”. I’ve been working for the company almost since the beginning when it was a Russian startup. I can’t count how many challenges were overcome during this extensive journey. We were unknown in Russia and nobody welcomed our initiatives, but we were brave enough to research and pitch our ideas in the media and at conferences. I remember when we entered the Kazakhstan market, we did not know what challenges awaited us, but we found common ground with the local media market and public officials. As a result, we were published in the local Forbes and other respected media. Then Spain, Europe (the investment platform) and the new course of development in a very promising Asian market with rapid pace of internet penetration and lack of access to traditional banking service. I had never talked and negotiated with foreign partners before and I did not understand what I had to do to attract their attention. A genuine aspiration to do something useful and meaningful for customers has worked and made it possible to be where we are now.
- Which people, one historical and one current, would you like to have a conversation with?
Actually, I don’t think I have any particular historical or a famous person I am keen to have a chat with. I find it inspiring to talk to all smart people who are professionals in a particular field or who have achieved decent results in business or other aspects of life. I can find out a lot of new and priceless information by talking to ordinary people on a daily basis. This can be very insightful, and perhaps even more valuable than talking to a historical person.
- Have you invested in cryptos? Do you see a future for them? Do you have any recommendations of cryptocurrencies to avoid and others with a foreseeable future? Has Robocash considered launching its own altcoin?
I haven’t invested in cryptos. I’m not a huge expert at this type of asset, but I think the huge waves and significant fluctuations in the market are a temporary situation. It’s good for the investors who want to hit the jackpot there (and know how), but it can be risky for those who want to make long-term and relatively consistent investments. I think that the cryptocurrency market will find its price, which will be balanced and reasonable compared to other investment tools. Robo.cash is not considering launching its own altcoin.
- And the last question: If you had €100,000 to invest, in which financial products would you invest it and in what percentage each of them? (not valid in Robocash)
Actually, I already have such investment plans. I am considering putting about 30% of the funds in the P2P lending market, 50% in the stocks and 20% in the Russian bond market, one of the Group’s entities Zaymer issues its bonds on the MOEX. As for the stock market, I am waiting for the time when the holding company Robocash Group holds the IPO and issues its shares. I will definitely buy shares of Robocash Group because I know the company from the inside, its financial strength and effective management. I believe fintech will be the most profitable investment in the stock market.
- I would like to add one more question, given that a major financial collapse seems to be looming and prominent investors (Michael Burry, Jeremy Grantham,…) warn that the biggest bubble in history is brewing. What is Robo.cash’s opinion on this and what consequences could it have for the sector and the company?
It is likely that an emerging crisis will affect those investment fields where prices are set too high or too low, or where we see overheated demand, such as in the stock market. I agree that the potential collapse would probably impact many other niches, including the P2P lending market. However I don’t think there will be any sudden crisis. If the macroeconomic situation gets worse, the quality of borrowers may decrease or new development strategies may be considered. But the collapse will only strengthen the reliability of such investment tools over time.
You can find the interview in Spanish on Santiago's blog.
Thank you, Santiago!