Q & A with Nickel Steamroller – A Look Into What’s to Come

nickelsteamrollerlogoThis is our second post in a series of posts of third party tools for peer to peer lending.  Our first post featured automated investing with LendingRobot.  In this session, we will be featuring a Q & A with Michael from Nickel Steamroller, which is a great source of information for everything LendingClub and Prosper.  You can spend hours on his site looking at all of the statistics, charts, and more.  The best part about it is that all of the information is free. Recently, we found out that Michael and Rocco from Prosper Stats will be teaming up for NSR 2.0.

 Q: Given the merge with Prosper stats, what kind of changes can retail investors expect with Nickel Steamroller?  Can you highlight any new features?

A: The original design of NSR did not include tracking portfolios. We now allow investors to upload their portfolio and monitor changes. Another feature is secondary market support, for which we support both Lending Club and Prosper now.

One feature I am particularly excited about is called Explorer, which allows you to create custom charts of data. This was a unique challenge since neither company has a standardized export format.

Additionally, with the filters, Rocco had some great innovation with integrating Prosper’s large set of data, but making it manageable. Prosper has over 500 data elements to filter on. Instead of displaying all of these at once, he came up with a technique to make it easy to work with.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what is coming with Folio functionality with NSR 2.0?

A: The secondary market is completely supported for both platforms. You’ll be able to search and in the future get alerts. I believe alerts about new loans on Folio will be very helpful to those that actively buy there. Additionally you will be able to run your save filters on folio to target loans you are looking for.

We are also going to publish something called an NSR ROI for Folio, that will model how similar loans have performed in the past. This will allow you to compare markup/discount to the estimated returns and make an informed decision about how the note is priced.

Q: Will Folio functionality be part of the premium service?  Any automation involved? How will you connect to Folio data? (I know people in Folio only states are extremely interested in this given the lack of tools for it)

A: That’s a great question. Folio offers no API access. This is a serious challenge for us when trying to build a robust platform. In theory, creating an auto-investment platform is possible, but in practice is can be risky and time consuming to maintain. For the most part, interfacing with Folio requires screen scraping, which is not a reliable way to interface with a system.  At this point there is no automation on the Folio side, but it’s definitely a goal.  Folio, or a future replacement, will grow to be a huge part of P2P lending.

Q: What will it take to become a NSR Premium member and how will you limit subscriptions?

A: There are no limits, but in the past, working a full-time job and working on these projects alone limited the time I could spend on-boarding customers. With the addition of Rocco to the team this is all changing. Rocco and I are both committed to providing services to retail investors. There is so much room for innovation.

Q: It seems like big changes keep coming to Lending Club and Folio, do these pose significant complications to your ongoing data integrity?

A: Definitely. On the API side, Lending Club basically has a data contract so the issues are minimal to non-existent. But with things like issued loans, via their CSV downloads the columns will shift, things will be added in the middle. Even the notes.csv fields have changes from time to time.

It causes imports to fail or values to be reported as null. There is no formal notification about these changes, but in Lending Club’s defense, these are not API data contracts.  When things do fail, our exception handling reports them and we can resolve them quickly.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Perhaps a teaser in functionality to come in NSR 2.0?

A: NSR 2.0 will be the most advanced and comprehensive platform for P2P lending when we release it. Never before has one platform supported both platforms to the extent are are with NSR. This would not have been possible without teaming with Prosper Stats. We’ve really focused on the user experience and getting out of the investors way when they are tying to mine the data.

We are currently working on migration scripts, so your accounts will transfer along with your saved filters.

 

Wrap up

We are very excited for what is to come as Prosper Stats and Nickel Steamroller team up to create better tools for peer to peer lending.  As soon as we hear more information we will be sure to share it with everyone.  For now, you can already enjoy what they have to offer at http://www.nickelsteamroller.com and http://www.prosper-stats.com/

What are you most looking forward to in future automation tools for Prosper and Lending Club like NSR? Let us know in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Simon Cunningham says

    Enjoyed this writeup. Thanks! I heartily agree with Michael against using screen scraping to manage any sizable investment. I know there are people out there who truly trust sites like LendingRobot, Interest Radar, and others, but until things are automated into API I just can’t recommend it to others. I would have loved a follow up question to Michael about the inherent risks posed by screen scraping.

    Michael?

    • Michael says

      Simon,
      For collecting data, when you have no choice, screen scraping will do but it’s highly inefficient not to mention risky. If it’s risky for even collecting data, the risk factor explodes when you considering doing automated bidding. Both Prosper and Lending Club offer APIs to purchase loans, which is the safest way to complete the orders. Not to mention, they can give you more details on why an order failed if it does. APIs in P2P finance are still in the early phase. I’m sure quite a bit will change in 2014 to make these interfaces better and speed adoption.

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