Building the digital investment bank of the future – Interview with Simona Vaitkune, CEO of Fast Invest

Founded in 2015, Fast Invest is a European P2P lending investment facilitator platform specialising in low-risk, medium-high return investment opportunities. With one successful ICO crowdsale behind and one currently ongoing, the company is now embarking on a blockchain enabled global expansion. Fast Invest is headquartered in London, with offices in Milan and Warsaw, and already employs a team of about 50 people.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with the founder and CEO, Simona Vaitkune, about the Fast Invest story so far and projects ahead.

From being an artist in Lithuania to an entrepreneur in London, how did these two spheres merge and why did you choose entrepreneurship?

It may look weird, because at first, it may seem that art degree does not have anything similar to entrepreneurship. But it did teach me valuable skills which I use on a daily basis, like being observant, creative, detailed and disciplined. It is essential in the fast-growing startup world. Observe the market, competitors, and everything that surrounds the field that you choose. As well I learned to think outside the box, in the art to be successful you can’t be same as others, you cannot be boring or use a reproduction strategy. I think it applies to technology as well you have to be innovative and unique to be a successful entrepreneur.

Speaking about how everything started, there is a straightforward reason: I like challenges. At the same time while studied arts, I went to programming school. I saw the fantastic thing – you can create incredible things not only on the canvas but using programming technology for the internet. It was something new, majestic and challenging to me. Fast Invest born when I saw great opportunity how to save and innovatively earn money. For this company, I gave all my energy, time and knowledge.

Fast Invest is a P2P investment loan platform, enabling financial freedom by allowing people to invest with as little as 1 euro capital. Tell us little more about how it all began and where are you standing now?

It all began in 2015 when I wanted to save and earn from my savings in a new way. I was looking for something special in Europe, and I could not find anything that would fit for me. Most of the products I saw was old-fashioned and difficult to use. What is more, many companies required massive entry points. And it is how Fast Invest born – with a desire to create something unique and wholly fitted to those who do not have a lot of savings, or high-level understanding about investment markets, in other words – to bring financial freedom opportunity for everyone.

Today we are successfully operating FinTech. We have five branches across Europe: United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, and Estonia. We started our mission to expand overseas, and we have established a corporation in the United States. Our client base is growing every day by new investors coming and investing in our platform. For example, from 2016 invested portfolio increased 250% per year. Our client database has increased 460% per year compared to 2016. And it is just beginning we following a plan to increase result every year even more than 2017.

The original aim was to democratize investing by taking away the fear factor.
Your 9000+ clients clearly show that you have succeeded. How did you do that?

I am happy to say, that last year our client database has increased 460% per year. We are thinking about the people. Honestly, when we are working on projects, promotions, ideas, updates we are doing, the primary attention is on the client needs. In our company, we are working to make everything accessible, designed, safe and simpler product with fits everyone. The main goal is to bring investment opportunity to everyone. That’s why we dropped the entry point to €1, so instead of buying a coffee, you can start investing. Its the lowest entry point in all investment market nowadays.

At our platform, all of our loans are protected by Default and Buyback guarantee which means that we do not need Secondary Market, and the investor can get his money back any time when he decides to stop investing in a specific loan. As well if the borrower is late with his repayments by three or more days, the Default Guarantee will settle the arrears.
These guarantees let’s client feel free with using our platform and anytime decided to get his money back.

Your latest endeavour is expanding your portfolio with cryptocurrency-based
investment instruments. Tell us more about it.

Cryptocurrencies have a lot of attention these days. Someone thinks that it will go away, but at Fast Invest, we see it as potential. We saw that many people want to try to invest into cryptocurrencies market, but the process is too much complicated and requires a lot of understanding about it. So, we aim to create additional investment opportunity with investing into cryptocurrencies in the simplified and quick way. We decided to add two type of investment instruments using cryptocurrencies. The first is investing in cryptocurrency itself, and the second is the investment into cryptoproved loans. All of the products you will able to find and hold in the same platform. It lets you efficiently diversify your portfolio and step into innovations in this sector.

You are now one step closer to your vision of becoming licensed Investment Bank with a successful ICO crowdsale behind you and one currently ongoing. How is that going?

The crowdsale brings new challenges. The Cryptocurrency market is very dynamic, young and fast changing. Nowadays team working on new products development, trying to find client needs and resolve main issues for the community. We are successfully following our roadmap. I believe step by step we will reach our goal, the main thing is work by the plan and to bring to crypto-sector high-level products. I think it will have long-term value for the community.

So far we have more than 7000 contributors, so we are growing a great community. We are continually developing the platform so we will be introducing cryptocurrencies into our system as well we are finishing our Mobile App beta version.

You will also be using blockchain technology to offer new digital banking
products. What can we expect?

As a FinTech, we have to be innovative. So by following the tech world and the newest innovations we decided to expand our system by adding blockchain technology.
When we did research, we found out, that one of the most significant advantages is to use it for safer and quicker transactions. It let us make transfers immediately otherwise than using SEPA or SWIFT systems. Besides, it allows us to connect different continents. It is essential because we have client database all across the world. As I mentioned before, there will be introducing new crypto-based investment instruments. As well another planned digital product is decentralized lending. The team is coding a platform extension where our customers will be able to borrow fiat currency guaranteed loans with a cryptocurrency as a security deposit.  As well we will be introducing more products which will enable users to use fiat and cryptocurrencies for their daily banking operations. New products will be currency exchange, all-purpose digital wallet, mobile app, payment card and other benefits.

What is your opinion on the FinTech sector today and where is it heading, according to you?

I believe that in the short time FinTech will take over the more prominent and more significant part of the traditional finance sector. Even now, following various surveys
we see that more than 45% of millennials using only Fintech services and has no desire to use traditional banking services. Fast development of the technology and internet connection let us integrate and make more accessible and more intuitive way to manage personal finance. I am excited about it – it is our the future.

Fast invest includes today over 36 countries with 9,000 active daily investors, 50+ employees across five offices in Europe. What is next for Fast Invest?

For the next few years, we will work on products development. The idea is to make it brilliant and intuitive for everyone. At the same time, the goal is to strengthen positions in current markets. How I said, step by step, we are creating high-level products with long-term value for the customers.