Predicting Default Rates for Online Lending

Clarity Services

According to data from Experian’s Clarity Services, online consumer lending has grown over 350 percent from 2013 to 2017. Funded single-pay volume rose 72 percent while installment loan volume went up nearly 500 percent. The single-pay loan volume actually shot up 106 percent through 2016 but fell slightly the following year. Still, these numbers indicate […]

Clarity Services

According to data from Experian’s Clarity Services, online consumer lending has grown over 350 percent from 2013 to 2017. Funded single-pay volume rose 72 percent while installment loan volume went up nearly 500 percent. The single-pay loan volume actually shot up 106 percent through 2016 but fell slightly the following year. Still, these numbers indicate a growth in online alternative finance lending, and with governments around the world cracking down on traditional payday lending, this spells a huge opportunity for further growth in the years to come.

In 2013, the average online installment loan amount was just below $800. In 2017, it was just over $1,400. And the average loan term rose from six months in 2013 to almost 10 months in 2017.

This growth may have something to do with how online installment loan providers are marketing their services. The number of lenders using direct marketing in 2015 was indexed to 100, but in 2018 (through July), that number was 275, representing growth on pace to reach 550 percent by year end. The number of pre-screened mailed names went up from an indexed amount of 100 in 2015 to 988 through July of this year.

Marketing isn’t the only factor affecting growth in this segment of online lending. There is also a growing number of lenders tapping into the market, and the fact that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), several U.S. states, the United Kingdom, and other government entities are beginning to target traditional brick-and-mortar payday lenders is contributing to the growth of the online installment loan segment.

The growth of this segment highlights the importance of credit risk evaluation. The need for effective credit risk solutions that identify potential defaulters and is capable of separating the good borrowers from the bad is also growing.

The Importance of Predicting Defaults Before Issuing Online Loans

One of the most important tasks for any lender is predicting the likelihood of default. A higher than expected default rate can lead to huge losses. On the other hand, mitigating delinquencies can lead to greater profits and allow the lender to issue more loans. It is particularly important to predict whether a borrower will default on the first payment of an installment loan. After all, defaulting on the first installment means the lender will not recoup any of its investment, and defaulting on the first payment is a clear sign that the borrower should have been flagged as a high credit risk and will likely default on subsequent payments.

Alternative finance lending is inherently risky. Lenders must fight a higher default rate than banks (20 percent vs. 3 percent) right off the bat. That alone makes predictive credit risk modeling a necessity in today’s installment loan market.

In recent years, online lending leaders have seen greater than expected default rates, which means these online providers must be extra diligent about predicting delinquencies in order to watch their bottom lines. For this reason, the tools that lenders use to make such predictions must be carefully chosen so that default rates decline and profits increase over time.

3 Ways to Identify Good Credit Risks Before Issuing a Loan

Some defaults are to be expected. Profitable lenders understand that the interest on the good loans will pay for the losses on the bad loans. Nevertheless, mitigating those losses is paramount to maintaining solvency and being able to service future borrowers. An online installment loan lender can use credit risk scoring to decrease default rates and increase profits simply by identifying the good and bad credit risks. Here are three ways a lender can ensure they are focusing on the good credit risks:

  1. Prescreen your potential borrowers – Credit risk evaluation should begin before you make initial contact with potential borrowers. If you are involved in direct marketing, prescreen potential borrowers before sending them your marketing collateral. Not only can this lower your default rate, but it will also lower your marketing expenses.
  2. Use an effective credit risk scoring solution – Today’s lenders do not just rely on FICO scores and payment histories. They collect alternative data that identifies how potential borrowers spend their money and handle their debts. Much of this data is out of sight from traditional credit scoring agencies, but it is essential to getting a complete picture of the borrower.
  3. Make your offer based on the borrower’s credit risk profile – First, build a credit risk profile on the borrower and use the predictive score to make your loan offer. It is best when lenders are able to structure a loan based on a consumer’s risk level. For example, a higher risk customer might warrant a smaller loan amount to control the lender’s risk.

Assessing Credit Risk: The Perfect Solution for Online Installment Loan Providers

The most important factors in underwriting the subprime consumer involve credit risk assessment and fraud detection. New solutions that combine the largest visibility into the industry’s alternative credit data and traditional bureau data ensure lenders are fully equipped to assess and mitigate risks. These solutions are offered by Experian’s Clarity Services and Experian, and include:

  • Clear Credit Risk
  • Clear Advanced Attributes

These solutions are designed to assess a borrower’s creditworthiness or to determine credit eligibility. Lenders receive an actionable score with adverse action codes to help them determine whether a potential borrower is a solid credit risk and to help determine a reasonable loan structure.

Clear Credit Risk is Clarity’s trademarked credit risk product designed to predict the likelihood of a borrower’s default on the first payment. It includes an effective score and is built on data that has proven most predictive for subprime consumers.

Experian’s Clarity Services is a credit reporting agency founded in 2008 and acquired by Experian in 2017. As the leading alternative credit data provider, the company services a wide variety of alternative finance lenders such as auto finance companies, check cashing services, prepaid credit card issuers, short-term installment lenders, small-dollar credit lenders, telecommunications providers, and more.

Authors:

Allen Taylor

The Rise of Crypto Lending, a Natural Progression of Peer-to-Peer Financing

Nexo

The rise of new technologies often give rise to new business models. The peer-to-peer lending space is just over a decade old and still have much to grow into. However, not long after the first P2P lender–Zopa in 2005–opened its doors, a new technology that promises to challenge traditional ways to deliver financial services emerged. […]

Nexo

The rise of new technologies often give rise to new business models. The peer-to-peer lending space is just over a decade old and still have much to grow into. However, not long after the first P2P lender–Zopa in 2005–opened its doors, a new technology that promises to challenge traditional ways to deliver financial services emerged. That technology was the blockchain, a distributed ledger that underlies the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Since then, other blockchains have been created along with new business models to suit. As it stands in 2018, crypto lending has not made a big dent in P2P lending services, but the potential is there. This article will highlight some of the more significant blockchain-based P2P lenders, which we hope will inspire a new look at technological innovation in this space.

Think of crypto lending like you would the banking industry: Even if Capital One provided perfect products at every turn, there would still be plenty of room for JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America. There would still be room for the hundreds of other banks that compete for customers.

The companies listed here are not ranked in any manner. Rather, they=se are just some of the choices available for consumers in the market for cryptocurrency loans.

1. SALT (Secured Automated Lending Technology) Lending

One of the best benefits crypto-based lending has to offer is that a lessened importance on traditional credit scores as a factor for risk assessment. SALT Lending touts blockchain-based assets as “the perfect form of collateral.” The company is using this fact to “dramatically reduce the complexity and cost of the loan process.” SALT operates under Regulation D and, in lieu of credit checks, the company does AML and KYC verifications.

Offering three tiers of product, SALT’s loans start at $5,000 and go as high as $250 million. Loan percentages run between 12 and 22 percent APR, but the borrower retains the value of the collateral currency claiming any gains and losses that happen over the life of the loan. SALT accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dogecoin as collateral, and funds loans in USD.

One fact that could be a significant factor when deciding to use the SALT Lending platform is that loans are not transferable on the blockchain, but through existing financial channels. Thus, they become securities.

It’s not foolish to base a good bit of faith in a company that has proven players on its team. Founder Erik Voorhees was also involved in founding several other crypto websites prior to starting SALT Lending. Among these include Satoshi Dice, which he later sold, Coinapult, and ShapeShift.

2. ETHlend

Unlike SALT Lending, Estonia-based ETHlend is a fully decentralized P2P platform built on the Ethereum blockchain for lending Ether as tokens for collateral. Some insiders fear that platforms that allow their loans to become securities might run the risk of being swallowed up by banks.

ETHlend lends Ethereum, Bitcoin, their own LEND tokens, and DAI tokens, as well as 180+ other Ethereum-based tokens. The company offers address-to-address loans that are sent within minutes, with no middle men, assuring that no one, not even Ethlend, can stop one’s lending or borrowing. The company plans to expand beyond Ethereum to other distributed ledger platforms in Q3 of 2019.

The company’s interest rates range from .25 to five percent MPR, and all transactions are carried out on digital wallets. Borrowers that transact in the LEND token can get a no-fee loan.

Announced earlier this week, Aave is a tech-based company designed to expand on the offerings of centralized fintech companies like PayPal and Coinbase. Aave Pocket, Aave Gaming, and Aave Lending (SaaS) are among the offerings this expansion adds to the platform.

Unfortunately, the service is not yet available everywhere including a block to U.S. citizens.

3. Nexo

A new kid on this block is Nexo, and being a new kid means that they are doing things in a new manner. Founded in Zug, Switzerland—even more of an “EF Hutton” mention than Estonia—in 2017, Nexo promises the world’s first instant crypto-backed loans. Available worldwide, Nexo loans start at $1,000 and top out at $2 million.

The process is an easy one.

  • Log on to the website.
  • Verify your account
  • Deposit crypto assets into Nexo wallet
  • Withdraw loan to your bank account

There will be brief pauses while the borrower is verified—the company complies with the highest AML and KYC (provided by Onfido) standards—and while your deposit is confirmed on the blockchain. Overall, the Nexo process reads like a rather quick and seamless process.

The platform loans Euros, USD, and Tether while accepting Ether, bitcoin, Bincance coin (BNB), and Nexo as collateral currency. The interest rate is eight percent if the collateral currency is Nexo and 16 percent for all others. Nexo assets are stored in multi-signature wallets, more than one multiple cryptographic keys are necessary to gain access, and cold storage (wallets not connected to the Internet) at BitGo and PrimeTrust.

4. LendingBlock

LendingBlock predicts that, as digital assets grow as an asset class, demand for hedging, swaps, repurchases, and short selling will increase. The currency crypto market has more than $500 billion in assets circulating with less than one percent used as collateral. That leaves lots of room for growth.

Touted as the first cross-chain lending platform for the crypto economy, the company promises a product that will help its customers access secure, transparent, and fair crypto-to-crypto loans. Not a lender itself, LendingBlock provides the platform upon which parties can enter P2P contracts. The company acts as agent for both lender and borrower, as well as security trustee of the collateral. This ensures that the borrower doesn’t face any uncovered credit risk to the lender.

All collateral deposits are held in cold storage. Those who think regulation will be necessary before the crypto market can fully mature can take comfort in the fact that the company is focused on becoming a regulated business. They have submitted the full regulatory application to the country of Gibraltar and await the regulator’s response. They have also begun regulatory processes with the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Futures Trading Commission in the United States.

Basing the platform on its own token (LND), which is used to make payments and receive interest on loans, allows the company to reduce the cost of exchange fees and makes it easier to manage interest payments. The use of smart contracts reduces expenses, risks, and complexity, which makes for lower costs for borrowers and higher returns for the lenders.

5. BlockFi

New York-based BlockFi might be the ideal platform for Americans who want to secure USD loans with Bitcoin and Ethereum, provided that said Americans live in any of the 44 states where the company is currently conducting business.

The attractive thing about the BlockFi platform is that it seems easy enough for a lay person to understand without any kind of financial advice. A borrower needs to meet only two requirements to qualify for a loan: They can have no liens or bankruptcies on their record, and they must have at least $15,000 of crypto assets between their Bitcoin and Ethereum portfolios.

If those criteria are met, the customer can borrow up to 35 percent of their crypto asset value, with loans ranging from $2,000 to $10 million. Interest rates go from 12 to 14 percent APR, and there is an added fee of one to four percent of the loan value. Borrowers can take a loan in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Litecoin.

Unlike other crypto-based lenders on this list, BlockFi does not have its own coin or token.

6. Unchained Capital

Texas-based Unchained Capital could very well be the platform of choice for those who want to liquidate their Bitcoin while maintaining it and seeing it go to work in the world.

Not only is the team at Unchained Capital in the market to make money as a lender, they have an idealistic side as well. Noting that 60 percent of Bitcoin sits around and does nothing, they have a goal to circulate it and use it to strengthen the platform. The company was founded by people who believe cryptocurrencies can change the world only if they’re useful.

The Unchained Capital team has designed its personal loans to be ideal for people who are looking to make large purchases, who hope to avoid tax events, and who want to invest. Their commercial loans are geared to companies that want to free up capital, expand their businesses, buy expensive equipment, and balance their portfolios.

Unchained Capital does not have its own cryptocurrency.

7. Other Companies to Consider

The crypto lending space is expanding. New lenders seem to be popping up quite often, which means that some people in the cryptocurrency space, at least, see a market for crypto-backed lending. Despite the market having taken a downturn in 2018, rebounding from the bull run last year that catapulted Bitcoin to $20,000 in December, this space is expanding. Lately, Bitcoin has been holding around the $6,500 mark. Since the majority altcoins tend to follow Bitcoin’s price, that means the market as  whole is down, yet more crypto lenders are ambling to get in the door.

Some of the other companies in the crypto lending space that might be worth checking out include BitBond, Credible Friends, Bitfinex (a crypto exchange that facilitates crypto financing transactions between parties), Celsius, Poloniex (another cryptocurrency exchange that allows traders to lend to other users), CoinLoan, Nebeus, GetLine, and BTCpop.

Authors:

Written by Paul Keenan and Allen Taylor.

Allen Taylor

TIME Magazine Calls These Two Online Lenders ‘Genius’

CommonBond

In early October, TIME Magazine released its inaugural list of the top 50 Genius Companies, and two online lending companies, CommonBond and Oportun were included. The magazine asked its global network of editors and correspondents to nominate companies that are inventing the future. They then evaluated the candidates by such factors as originality, influence, success, […]

CommonBond

In early October, TIME Magazine released its inaugural list of the top 50 Genius Companies, and two online lending companies, CommonBond and Oportun were included. The magazine asked its global network of editors and correspondents to nominate companies that are inventing the future. They then evaluated the candidates by such factors as originality, influence, success, and ambition.

What they were looking for

A video titled How We Chose the 50 Most Genius Companies of 2018 includes snippets of interviews from founders and CEOs whose companies made the list. Viewing these gives us more insight into what the magazine saw as worthy of “genius” thought. Bob Igor, CEO of Walt Disney, talks about having “constant curiosity, constant desire for more knowledge about what is new.” Luis von Ahn, CEO of Duolingo, whose company’s goal is to give “equal access to education to everybody,” reminds us that it’s “OK to fail.” Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe, says that “it’s not that taking risks is essential, it’s that being open-minded to a different way of looking at a problem is essential.” She adds: “Risk…is essential to creating a new path and making change.”

These are all revelations that the 50 companies represented have made, whether they are time-tested and proven companies or promising start-ups.

Notables on the list

The list has a good mix of both types of companies, those which are proven winners and those that are trying to make their mark by helping to better the world. Long proven household names like Apple, Disney, and Lockheed Martin are joined by newer companies that now define so much of our world, like Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and Pinterest, and those who look to shape the future more differently than the past, like SpaceX, Slack, and Lishtot.

And then there are the two online lending standouts–Oportun and CommonBond.

Oportun and CommonBond are moving to make money more easily accessible for sectors of the population that need it. Oportun is working to make loans available to higher risk borrowers than those that have access to more traditional means of lending while CommonBond is looking to transform access to student loans.

Oportun

Oportun is a Menlo Park California company that provides emergency loans for low-income consumers who can’t get a loan from a traditional bank and who don’t want to get into the vicious cycle of high fees and triple-digit interest rates of payday lenders.
Oportun began with a focus on serving the Latino community but has expanded to open borrowing to the estimated 45 million Americans who have little or no credit history. In lieu of credit scores, Oportun relies on other data to assess applicants, such as the length of time that a person has had the same job or address.

Vision

CEO Raul Vazquez says that Oportun is “committed to building a sustainable business that helps people shut out of the financial mainstream.”

Proven Track Record

To this point, the company has proven it can make a profit while providing $5.4 billion worth of loans to people who didn’t meet banks’ criteria. In so doing, the Oportun team has helped some 600,000 customers establish credit scores and open themselves to future borrowing by reporting successful payments to credit bureaus.

A CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution), Oportun issued its first securitization in June 2013, and it announced its twelfth securitization last week, issuing $275 million of three-year asset-backed bonds secured by a pool of its investment loans. Morgan Stanley and Co. LLC served as lead book-running manager, and Goldman Sachs and Co. LLC and Jefferies LLC were joint book-runners.

Availability

As of now, the company has loans available at retail locations in nine states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. Online loans are also available in Idaho, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

Rates of Service

The company’s interest rates average about 35 percent, a reasonable rate for high-risk borrowers.

Good Reviews

The Economist, Consumer Reports, and The Wall Street Journal are among the publications that have reviewed the company favorably. Oportun was even named one of the three finalists in The Wall Street Journal’s 2018 Financial Inclusion Challenge.

The Team

The team heading up the company has many notables, including Vazquez, who is the former CEO of Walmart.com. Chief Credit Officer, Patrick Kirscht, previously served as Senior VP of Risk Management for HSBC Card Services Inc., and Johnathon Coblentz, who serves as CFO and CAO, is the former CFO and Treasurer of MRU Holdings Inc. and was Vice-President of Fortress Investment Group LLC.

CommonBond

With the rising price of college tuition and the more than $1.5 trillion in active student loans in the United States today—more than car loans and credit card debt—the market is ripe for new players in the scholastic financial space. CommonBond has been working to put a new face on student loan refinancing since 2011.

Vision

By staying small and using technology to keep costs down, CommonBond seeks to offer borrowers refinancing rates lower than those of the federal government and private banks. The firm estimates that it saves borrowers on average $24,000 over the life of their loans.

Offerings

CommonBond offers three types of loans (Undergrad, Graduate, and MBA) and repackages and refinances existing loans at lower rates.

The firm offers loan terms of five, 10, and 15 years, with amounts ranging from $5,000 to the cost of tuition. The loan cap for any borrower is $500,000. The company offers the customer a personalized rate before he or she applies. Loan origination fee is two percent, and the company charges no prepayment penalties. CommonBond’s late fees might be especially attractive to college-age students, who might not always get their payments in on time. The late fee is only the lesser of $10 or five percent of the monthly payment.

Source: Studen Loan Hero

Good Press

Being a father of school-age children, CommonBond is a company I could see myself using in five or six years, and I read the reviews of the company as a potential customer. The reviews aren’t all glowing, but they give me an overall feel that this is a firm I could do business with, if I so needed. Fast Company named CommonBond the Most Innovative Company in Education earlier this year, and thecollegeinvestor.com, despite thinking the rates could be more competitive, continuously puts the company on its Best Companies to Finance Your Student Loan list. CommonBond is also one of only three lenders the site recommends for finding the best student loans.

Double Bottom Line

Charitable work and philanthropy being so important in today’s world, it can’t hurt for a company to have a strong double bottom line. This is one area where CommonBond sets itself apart from others in the space. Every time a loan is funded, CommonBond covers the price of a child’s education through its “Social Promise.” The firm’s partnership with Pencils of Promise has provided schools, teachers, and technology to thousands of students in the developing world, and its commitment to social equality also distinguishes it as a true difference maker in the United States. Loans and restructuring are available to anyone with a degree from a not-for-profit American university regardless of citizenship, as long as the customer meets the other criteria.

Conclusion

Those of us in and around the online lending space can be heartened by the addition to these two companies to this list. We can also be heartened by the continued efforts of business founders to make funds available more easily and affordably for Americans just trying to navigate the business aspects of life. Both of these companies should be recommended to those who may benefit from their services.

Author:

Written by Paul Keenan.

Funding Merchant Cash Advances in Only Two Hours

Lendr specialty finance

Lendr is a platform that is looking to revolutionize the loan origination and loan management process by considering all parameters like past performance and future potential, and it is not dependent exclusively on credit score. The team at Lendr aims to provide a fast, transparent, and simple solution for businesses and fill the gap for […]

Lendr specialty finance

Lendr is a platform that is looking to revolutionize the loan origination and loan management process by considering all parameters like past performance and future potential, and it is not dependent exclusively on credit score. The team at Lendr aims to provide a fast, transparent, and simple solution for businesses and fill the gap for specialty finance on the broker’s side of the business.

About Lendr

Lendr was established as a joint venture with four partners by founder Tim Roach in New York in 2011. Its core business was feeding leads to lending companies.

George Greco was the co-founder of the company, but he left in 2016. Roach served as CFO from 2011 -2013 and, in 2016, was appointed CEO.

The company also left its legacy system in 2016 and invested in a new lending platform to provide a seamless experience to customers. The company was initially incorporated as Viking Funding Group but, in 2016, was rebranded to Lendr and subsequently moved its headquarters to Chicago.

Lendr has over 40 employees and has achieved double-digit growth since inception. The company has gone on to raise $5 million in equity from a set of five investors.

The Lendr Business Model

Lendr’s core offering is in specialty financing called merchant cash advance (MCA). This is not a traditional loan, and disbursement depends on the company’s everyday credit/debit transactions.

Unlike underwriting models such as FICO that focus on current/past cash funds and transactions, Lendr is based on a forward-facing model, which primarily focuses on the future ability of a borrower to repay funds. For instance, repayment of funds is carried out by taking a percentage of daily bank deposits until the loan is repaid. Lendr offers a broad variety of loan-related products. These include business financing, startup business funding, working capital, small business funding, and equipment financing.

The company leverages Wizard, its proprietary underwriting credit model, for capturing information and searching databases to find the right loan for the borrower. The Lendr platform is based on cutting edge technology capable of providing a lender score (0-100) based on customer responses within two hours. Based on this score, a rate card, interest rate, and advance rate can be calculated. The score is not dependent on FICO for loan eligibility. Once an application is approved, funds will be remitted in less than two business days. A daily or weekly amount will then be automatically debited from borrower account.

The company leverages artificial intelligence to capture borrower data and identify patterns. It is using AI to predict what will happen in the future.

AI also helped Lendr increase its speed in underwriting. Roach said the underwriting process once took three days. In 2017, that was reduced to eight hours. Now, the algorithm can complete a case in just two hours.

In April 2018, Lendr launched a business debit card for SMEs that allows a borrower to get access to funds instantaneously through a virtual master card. It followed this up by also launching a traditional plastic card. It will have the facility to auto renew without waiting for approval, which earlier used to take up to two hours. Also, consumers are not required to wait for disbursement of funds (1-2 days) and will get direct access to funds without any paperwork. Repayment will be weekly or daily based on consumer preference. By the end of Q3 2018, the company is looking to offer a line of credit to borrowers.

Lendr APIs and Competitive Advantage

Lendr has association with many third-party vendors to facilitate the loan process. It has built robust API rules to interact with external vendors and also makes sure to comply with data privacy rules and regulations.

The integration process costs have been reduced by 90% due to the APIs, which are able to interact with multiple vendors and can extract data related to collections, sales, and customer relationship management. This data can be used to perform predictive analysis and run different algorithms to extract results. Results obtained from these algorithms can be used to understand client risk profile, comparing different clients with same kind of risk profile, and provide automated tax analysis with a scoring matrix.

As of now, Lendr processes are around 40%-50% automated loans, and the company can achieve disbursement of funds in 1-2 days. By the end of this year, the startup’s goal is to approve a loan within 90 minutes and fund clients within the same day.

Kabbage is one of the largest of the five or six serious competitors. These competitors can be an expensive proposition for a borrower as they levy higher-than-expected interest rates. Some small businesses are being charged over 180% interest for merchant cash advances. Lendr, on the other hand, charges 15%-25% APR, which is extremely reasonable as compared to other competitors.

Lendr has also recently partnered with MidCap Financial Trust to close a $25 million senior credit facility. This partnership solidifies Lendr’s position in the specialty finance niche.

Future Goals

Lendr is able to achieve MCA originations of $8-$10 million per month and is committed to increasing this number to $12-$15 million by year end. Since inception, the customer base has surged to over 10,000. The company has also been successful in retaining its clients and is providing approximately 2.8 loans per customer. The company aims to increase this to four loans per customer. Lendr is also looking to increase the overall average loan tenure to 14 months.

Features like flexible payment plans, no priority to credit history, short term loans, disbursement of the amount in 1-2 days are key differentiating factors, which makes Lendr a fine choice for small and medium businesses.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Lenders Bet On Artificial Intelligence for Credit Scoring

Lenders Bet On Artificial Intelligence for Credit Scoring

Banks have to struggle with a lot of challenges – from issuing credit to operational risks, and technological troubles to good old fashion fraud. In addition to the risks of yesteryear, modern banks face falling long-term rates, growing fintech competition, and low profitability. In this challenging environment, savvy modern banks focus more of their attention […]

Lenders Bet On Artificial Intelligence for Credit Scoring

Banks have to struggle with a lot of challenges – from issuing credit to operational risks, and technological troubles to good old fashion fraud. In addition to the risks of yesteryear, modern banks face falling long-term rates, growing fintech competition, and low profitability. In this challenging environment, savvy modern banks focus more of their attention to mitigating risks.

Chief among these challenges are low-performing loan portfolios, which are a constant thorn in the side of lenders. For example, European non-performing loans stand above €1 trillion with more than one third of banks having NPL ratios above 10% (ECB, 2017).

This minefield of factors has driven lenders to seek out new ways to increase profits and cut funding costs in order to stay competitive.

Artificial Intelligence in Fintech: Will it take over?

AI is a powerful tool for banks, thanks to its ability to harness vast quantities of data to learn more about customer patterns and behaviors”, says Steve Ellis, head of the innovation group at Wells Fargo.

As powerful as artificial intelligence (AI) is, traditional banking is still heavily reliant on statistical methods that were developed over half a century ago. Lenders determine creditworthiness based on 20+ data points, which leave otherwise worthy customers behind.

Modern machine learning (ML) makes it possible to go much deeper when analyzing data, and allows lenders to extract valuable insights from available data patterns.

According to a McKinsey report, a number of European banks have already replaced the antiquated statistical-modeling approach with machine-learning techniques. The results speak for themselves: a 10% increase in the sale of new products, 20% savings in capital expenditures, and a 20% decline in churn.

Source: thefinancialbrand.com

The data doesn’t lie: Lenders are betting on AI. Evidence of this modern trend can be seen in numerous ‘banks and fintech collaborations’ and AI-based software releases:

  • JPMorgan Chase pioneered a Contract Intelligence platform designed to “analyze legal documents and extract important data points.”
  • American MobileBank deploys AI software to lend to thin-file millennials.
  • Canadian TD Bank uses Layer 6’s AI engine for scoring and cybersecurity.
  • Deutsche Bank came out with new AI-based equities to predict their pricing and volume more accurately.
  • Wells Fargo employs its own AI team to provide more personalized services and strengthen digital offerings.
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch implements HighRadius’ AI solution to speed up receivables reconciliation for their large business clients.

Logistic regression is no longer the de facto standard

Nine times out of 10, logistic regression is used to build scoring models and solve classification issues. Before it can take over and provide predictive results, there’s an important step of preliminary analysis and data quality control that must be taken. If the dataset contains:

  • imperfect and missing values, outliers and unstructured data;
  • numerical and categorical values (age, income vs marital status, education);
  • raw data that doesn’t fit strict parameters(data with fractions or decimals, etc.)

data analysts will spend days (if not weeks) just to preprocess the data before it can be assessed. Cutting corners and ignoring such data may lead to the loss of valuable insight and incorrect predictions.

How modern AI/ML methods build better risk models

Today, lenders have the ability to collect more data than ever about their clients. In addition to traditional socio-demographic data, this may include transactional data, records from credit bureaus, social media, Google Analytics, as well as other non-traditional sources.

Processing and interpreting this data so that it can be used to issue loans to worthy credit seekers is where modern ML/AI methods give banks the edge they need.

Machine learning techniques like gradient boosting, random forest, or neural networks can better find hidden dependencies in a dataset, which helps to gain more accurate predictions. This assists banks in determining how collected parameters in a dataset should be weighed to predict whether borrowers will consistently repay their loans on time.

This is made possible by data signals, which define significant parameters that affect the power of a scoring model. Depending on the type of business, geography, target audience, and data authenticity, significant parameters may differ. Modern ML can determine which data points contain the desired signal.

Traditional data sources like credit bureaus still remain an important part of the process and provide the data that contain the above-mentioned signal. Unfortunately, they do not cover noteworthy market segments such as millennials, self-employed entrepreneurs, small business owners, immigrants, or the unbanked.

The team at GiniMachine carried out pilot projects to build accurate scoring models with minimal data points and without access to an applicant’s credit history. Some of the most promising and predictive parameters included the applicant’s industry and occupation, the size of their company, the total years they’d been in business, the size of their family, and data from social networks like their overall activity, as well as the quantity and quality of their connections.

The team at GiniMachine has proven that it is possible to capitalize on information about borrowers that is collected from alternative sources to accurately and efficiently assess borrower’s credibility and make effective lending decisions.

Modern ML methods can build more accurate risk models because of their capacity to:

  1. use built-in ‘raw’ data pre-processing tools
  2. find hidden dependencies of arbitrary complexity
  3. harness unstructured, big data, and data from alternative sources

The financial world, and lending businesses in particular, have seen major changes throughout the last few years. Using ML and AI in concert with traditional practices is the way forward for banks that want to remain competitive in the modern world. It’s clear that making good loans to the people of the future requires a futuristic helping hand.

Author:

Dmitry Dolgorukov is a CEO and co-founder of GiniMachine & HES, a technology entrepreneur, and an investor with over 15 years of executive experience in software development and fintech. In 2018, Dmitry was ranked as one of the top 200 Fintech leaders in Europe that contribute to the industry as influencers through action.

 

FICO For Microcredit Lending

Scorista

Established in Russia in 2014, Scorista was born out of the need for a reliable risk-scoring model for Russian lenders. Leveraging the skills of famed Russian programmers, Scorista has created the go-to risk management solution for lenders operating in the sub-prime short-term lending segment. How Scorista Began Maria Veikhman, a business management, IT, and risk […]

Scorista

Established in Russia in 2014, Scorista was born out of the need for a reliable risk-scoring model for Russian lenders. Leveraging the skills of famed Russian programmers, Scorista has created the go-to risk management solution for lenders operating in the sub-prime short-term lending segment.

How Scorista Began

Maria Veikhman, a business management, IT, and risk management specialist is the founder and CEO of Scorista. It took off when a few lenders in Russia realized the dearth of reliable risk managers in the market and asked Veikhman to create a risk-scoring model for their lending businesses. Scorista was born as a disruptive innovation to automate the area of credit assessment and provide clients with an instant credit decision. They believe they can help lenders achieve the desired KPIs in a very short span of time with a guarantee of results.

What gave impetus to the company was the dearth of risk management solutions for short-term lenders and payday lenders. They only have access to the FICO score, which is not a very bankable option for payday lenders.

More On Scorista

Scorista offers a broad variety of products ranging from credit assessment to underwriting plans, verification plans, individual scoring, and variable kits, which facilitate scoring and dossiers that legally provide access to complete information about the borrowers. Its prime spot is borrowers looking for less than $5k for less than 12 months. According to Veikhman, Scorista has a 93% forecast accuracy rate. This is much higher than anything available for the segment currently.

This performance has led to profitable growth with offices in China and clients in Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Spain, and Latvia. It has just launched its services in the United States. More than 142 lenders are currently using the Scorista platform, and it is processing over 500,000 applications every month. According to its website, Scorista has helped its partners earn an additional $145 million.

The company has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Life.SREDA.

Scorista’s Business Model

Scorista’s business model is transactional-based. In Russia, Scorista charges an estimated $1K for every credit decision depending on the volume of applications. Credit lenders are provided with credit decisions instantly so that they can further approve or deny a loan. When the borrower files a loan application with the lender, the lender communicates the borrower file through an API or web interface. Its system receives the application, evaluates the same with its scoring algorithm, and provides a credit decision for approval or denial of the loan. In cases where the scoring algorithm depicts that the borrower can’t repay the loan, Scorista works out different models to predict the amount that the borrower can pay. So if a borrower is rejected for a $2,000 loan for a 3-month period, Scorista will additionally provide that he is a good bet for $1,000 for a 1-month period.

Scorista has developed artificial intelligence and machine learning-powered proprietary algorithms for its scoring systems. It keeps fine tuning its algorithms to ensure optimum performance. It is focusing only on its specialization of short-term micro-borrowers to ensure highest efficiency rates in the segment.

Competitive Advantage

The money-back guarantee is Scorista’s USP. Scorista is ready to refund the fees to its clients if they are not satisfied with its services. Others in the industry are generic players looking to cover the entire market rather than specializing in any one segment. In the name of alternative data, many peers focus exclusively on the social media footprint. However, research shows that decision-making based on social networking is not very reliable as the quality and quantity of information available on borrowers is circumspect. Moreover, about 40% of borrowers do not have extractable social media information available.

Scorista has also introduced Mindscore, a psychometric scoring method that uses a social networking profile and psychometrics to score borrowers. It helps in predicting repayment ability, and the default rate of the applicant.

According to Veikhman, using alternative data in the credit model is dependent on the country. Credit bureaus across Russia have a lot of data on borrowers, and, as such, alternative data is not able to add a lot of weight. But there are no reliable credit bureaus in China so a lot of e-commerce data from Alipay, Wechat, and other social media is put to use. The company is also using mobile data in some cases and incorporates details like the workplace of the borrower to make a credit decision.

The Russian and Chinese branches of Scorista have launched a white label product for mobile applications for lenders. It facilitates fast issuance requiring the borrower to download the application and then submit information to the lender. Scorista performs the function of scoring and the lender can directly issue money through the application, credit card, debit card, or bank account.

Integration

Scorista mainly integrates with short-term lenders and specializes in facilitating short-term loans. Although banks have a broad line of products, Scorista can work with banks that deal in short-term loans apart from full-term loans.

The sub-prime segment that Scorista specializes in is growing across the world. The global economy is not getting better, and many economists agree that it is in the last legs of the growth phase. The last recession was in 2008-09, so considering a cycle of 10 years, we are looking at a recession sooner rather than later. Also exacerbating the trend is the fact that the number of people drawing a lower than average income is increasing in every nation across the world.

Borrowers with low credit scores can improve their credit ratings by following a regular, structured repayment schedule. This will enable them to have access to better loans and banking products with lower rates of interest. Scorista,, with its credit models, helps borrowers gain that access to credit at the right time for the right amount.

Scorista’s Future Goals

Scorista is looking to expand across global markets. It is looking for partners in multiple countries to expand its offering. It is also looking to onboard well-connected financial investors who can help introduce them to their lending networks.

Scorista wants to establish itself as the FICO score for the sub-prime borrower segment. Its key differentiator is its specialization in only short-term microlending and its money back guarantee. The company has been able to build a solid business and is on the precipice of breaking into the big leagues.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Creating the Next-Generation Credit Card

Outstanding credit card loans

“We live in a digital world” is an understatement. The next decade, as Generation Z arrives and millennials move into prime spending years, will have profound effects on all industries. Finance, in general, and credit cards in particular, are no exception. Fintechs that can decipher the coming changes are looking at a trillion dollar industry […]

Outstanding credit card loans

“We live in a digital world” is an understatement. The next decade, as Generation Z arrives and millennials move into prime spending years, will have profound effects on all industries. Finance, in general, and credit cards in particular, are no exception. Fintechs that can decipher the coming changes are looking at a trillion dollar industry currently dominated by traditional banking players.

The latest innovation in alternative lending can have a profound impact on how credit cards are issued, used, and managed in the financial ecosystem. LendIt USA 2018 saw a panel discussion on “Creating the Next Generation Credit Card.” The focus was on how LendUp and Petal, two venture-backed Visa credit cards, have disrupted a stagnant industry with alternate data and fast decisioning. Sasha Orloff, CEO and co-founder of LendUp, and Jason Gross, CEO of Petal, discussed the secret sauce, their insights, and future trends in the industry.

The Journey to the Credit Card Market

Around 40 million Americans do not have any credit score, and around 20 million have a very limited credit file. This results in limited access to the credit market. The disproportionate effect of this is felt by the millennial generation, immigrants, and low- to moderate-income consumers.

The 2008 financial crisis left considerable people under the age of 30 with subprime credit facilities comprising of expensive products. And though they might not have a strong credit score, their strong digital financial footprint can be leveraged to understand and examine their creditworthiness.

Alleviating such deficiencies will help genuine customers gain access to the credit they deserve. They will also be able to receive better pricing with lower interest rates, lower fees, etc. This was the main reason for Gross getting involved with Petal. What differentiates Petal from other companies is the use of pioneering technology to look into the financial “footprints” of consumers and make credit decisions accordingly. Petal can now underwrite on a more inclusive basis and leverage financial data by designing better products for its consumer base.

On the other hand, Orloff evaluated the problems faced by today’s credit card companies who reject almost 85% of consumer applications that come through their websites. This is a massive opportunity loss for all stakeholders.

Also, fintech companies are not directly issuing credit cards; rather, they are partnering with banks. This can lead to a win-win relationship where LendUP can help banks monetize this opportunity by using its proprietary technology. It is a category leader and understands the subprime space. It is currently working with two banks and has recently signed a deal with its third bank. Meanwhile, they are also looking to onboard more banking partners who want to better serve their communities.

Offering the Next-Generation Credit Card

Both companies believe there is a huge opportunity as half of America is underserved or unserved with regard to credit. The exciting part about the original credit card is the piece of plastic in the wallet can be used to build a relationship with customers by understanding their requirements and daily financial habits. With the ability to offer multiple products, credit cards should be a natural cross-selling platform for traditional banks.

When talking about the 60-year-old credit scoring system, Gross discussed how it lacks full financial information and focused only on the liability side of a person’s balance sheet. Petal’s credit scoring system takes a much more holistic view of a person’s finances and focuses on assets and cash flows. Instead of concentrating on any one part, they look at a more complete picture, which helps them assess the borrower granularly on thousands of data points. Its algorithms are powered with machine learning, which assists them in detecting further patterns for enhancing the customer experience.

Orloff cited the results from a study conducted by her company showcasing how supplementary data can be more powerful than using the traditional credit scoring data to evaluate the financial health of a consumer. Talking about the population outside the banking system, he thinks one cannot completely rely on credit scoring. Rather, it is mandatory to use alternative data points to calculate the creditworthiness of the individual.

Credit cards were the first step in understanding banking customers and their paying habits. With smartphones, banks can add a layer of intelligence that will generate insights that were not available earlier. Orloff also discussed how credit cards can now be used to attract consumers and why it is important to customize cards for the individual. LendUp’s card can now optimize according to the financial goals of each single consumer. He laments that the financial industry seems to be the last industry to keep churning out generic products for its clients.

Conclusion

Gross explained that consumer finance and credit scoring is an area with huge opportunities have just scratched the surface till date. Millennials aspire to do business with companies that have their best interests in mind. Companies should focus on re-inventing digital experiences and optimizing for the financial success of the customer. To design this digital experience, there is a need to leverage behavioral science and best practices of product design to make credit intuitive, transparent, and simple.

Author:

Stephanie Vaughan is vice president at  Allen TaylorPosted on Categories Alternative credit, alternative credit scoring, alternative data, alternative lending, Analysis, Banking, Banks, consumer lending, Credit Cards, credit scoring, Featured, lendup, Millennials, Petal, subprime, unbanked, underbanked

Alternative Credit Scoring – Financial Salvation For Those With Low or No Credit Score

alternative credit scoring

Reports estimate that over one-third of the American population has no record in any of the credit bureaus and, therefore, have no credit history. Millions of Americans do not have access to financial services, and this is an even more common scenario in developing markets. Over 80% of the African population do not use lending […]

alternative credit scoring

Reports estimate that over one-third of the American population has no record in any of the credit bureaus and, therefore, have no credit history. Millions of Americans do not have access to financial services, and this is an even more common scenario in developing markets. Over 80% of the African population do not use lending or banking services because they have no fixed income. The situation creates a question mark on the relevance of traditional credit scoring agencies and their impact over the larger population. Thankfully, fintech innovators are heading towards new, alternative data sources like rent payments, cell phone data, and even social media usage to evaluate credit risk. The aim is to replace traditional credit models with a more complete assessment of a prospective borrower. The focus is to create a win-win situation for both lenders and loan seekers by providing a new foundation to lenders for credit underwriting and providing millions of borrowers a chance to step up on the credit ladder.

The Current Credit Scenario

People with a low or no credit score find it impossible to prove their eligibility for loans. The most disenfranchised are minorities and women. This then creates a vicious circle as they can’t get a loan due to no score, and they can’t improve their score because no one is ready to give them credit.

Currently, the credit score of a person is calculated depending on the information in his credit reports. This information consists of the person’s name, phone number, social security number, employment information, account information, loan repayment details, and credit card accounts.

Alternative Credit Scoring Models

The following alternative credit scoring models have a different approach, leveraging their own data sources, proprietary algorithms, and technology to disrupt existing industry systems. The idea is to reach new audiences and onboard creditworthy borrowers who are lost due to the current model’s shortcomings.

FICO Score XD

FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) is best positioned to bring the change. Its FICO is synonymous with credit scoring and is usually the most important element in deciding if a person can qualify for a loan.

FICO’s new alternative model, FICO Score XD, developed in partnership with LexisNexis Risk Solutions and Equifax, considers alternative data sources like internet and phone bills to help users who do not have credit data attain a score.

The new scoring system has had a major impact:

  • FICO Score XD 2 was able to score over 26.5 million previously unscorable consumer files
  • 11.8 million were without any credit file and unscorable via any traditional bureau
  • The new system has increased coverage from 91% of applicants to almost 98% of applicants

CreditVision Link

Another scoring model has been developed by credit reporting giant TransUnion in order to integrate alternative data and provide a solution to those who do not have any credit score. It concentrates on “trended data” as compared to only considering historical data in silos. So it not only evaluates the current situation of the borrower but also the credit details for last two years for a more comprehensive credit-scoring model. It has been able to score over 60 million borrowers who were previously unscorable.

Cignifi

Cignifi, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is an interesting alternative credit scoring startup. Backed by the Omidyar Network, it provides a platform for providing credit and marketing scores for consumers (especially in the developing world) via mobile phone behavior data. Its big data engine allows the mobile network operators and insurance partners to discover eligible customers for credit cards, loans, insurance, savings, and other banking services.

Cignifi’s main focus is on “financial inclusion,” which uses risk scoring technology to serve the unbanked population who do not have credit scores. It leverages mobile and texting patterns, routine of being at workplace or home, and contact with reputable borrowers.

CreditVidya

This India-based fintech startup offers alternate data-based credit scores for underwriting first-time borrowers using machine learning and big data analytics. It has raised $7 million in funding and uses over 10,000 digital footprints via in-house designed APIs. It has been able to help lenders attract first-time borrowers as well as reduce the processing time from days to 30 minutes.

India alone has 800 million unscored individuals, thus the market size is huge and lenders desperately need a service which can help them tap such a massive segment of the population.

Advantages of Alternative Credit Scoring Models

  • Access to a wider customer base: It enables the widening of the prospective borrower base. This is extremely vital for fintech lenders as it is difficult for them to compete with the big banks on pricing. But their ability to utilize new credit models and give borrowers with “thin” credit files a chance will lead to the expansion of the entire market.
  • Customer experience: Alternative credit scoring also automates the process of credit decisioning and allows for a more hassle-free digitally-enhanced experience. This enhances the utility to millions of borrowers who were otherwise supposed to visit their nearest branches for processing of their loan applications.
  • Improved underwriting process: All the alternative data adds a layer of analytics to the existing data, as well. This gives deep insight to the underwriters and helps in developing an enhanced credit-scoring model.

Conclusion

These alternative credit-scoring models aim to bring banking to the unbanked. This empowers lenders to reach out to individuals who were rejected for the reason that they had no/thin credit flies. The new models will shake up the industry, and lenders incorporating them into their credit underwriting process will see better traction and stronger customer loyalty, especially from those who were earlier denied credit on a faulty premise.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Monday March 26 2018, Daily News Digest

Monday March 26 2018, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: Prosper broadens its capital stack. MarketInvoice nabs 135M GBP from two European banks. Klarna hit by fraudsters. Square intros instant deposits in the UK. Hong Kong-China commuters now have a dual-currency prepaid credit card. Today’s main analysis: PeerIQ’s lending earnings insights. How 6 digital banking startups are challenging the retail banks (A MUST-READ). Today’s thought-provoking […]

Monday March 26 2018, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

India

Other

News Summary

United States

Prosper brings deeper capital stack with latest ABS (Global Capital), Rated: AAA

This year, Prosper broadened its capital stack for the first time, including a ‘D’ class of bonds on its $647.5m offering, which was priced on Wednesday. Credit Suisse and Jefferies led the deal, with the $387.8m ‘A’ notes pricing at 70bp over euro dollar spot forwards. The $112m ‘B’ notes were priced at 125bp over EDSF, while the $79.45m ‘C’ notes were priced at 220bp over interpolated swaps. The $68.25m ‘D’ notes were priced at 300bp over IS.

In contrast to last year, Prosper also strenghtened the collateral mix on its 2018 offering. According to a presale from Kroll Bond Rating Agency, loans from Prosper’s higher quality credit tiers made up 54% of the deal, compared to 38% on its November 2017 transaction. The proportion of lower quality credit tiers also fell to 46% in this deal, compared to 62% on its last deal.

Do Fintech Lenders Penetrate Areas That Are Underserved by Traditional Banks? (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia), Rated: AAA

Fintech has been playing an increasing role in shaping financial and banking landscapes. In this paper, we use account-level data from LendingClub and Y-14M data reported by U.S. banks with assets over $50 billion to examine whether the fintech lending platform could expand credit access to consumers. We find that LendingClub’s consumer lending activities have penetrated areas that may be underserved by traditional banks, such as in highly concentrated markets and in areas that have fewer bank branches per capita. We also find that the portion of LendingClub loans increases in areas where the local economy is not performing well.

TransUnion (2017) reported that, as of 2017:Q3, the personal unsecured loan market had reached nearly $112 billion.

Credit cards account for the lion’s share of unsecuredconsumer debt ($731 billion in 2017:Q3).3 Interestingly, there is evidence that credit card lending is related to geographic location. Carbo-Valverde and Perez-Saiz (2016) find that the probability of obtaining a credit card or line of credit from a bank increases 60 percent when the bank has a branch within 10 km of the household.

Source: Consumer Finance Institute

Read the full Report here.

Amazon vs Costco, PeerIQ’s Lending Earnings Insights (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Continuing our theme of technology lenders like Amazon branching into providing financial services, the obvious question is who might be next. Main street retailers like Walmart, Target and Costco could be likely candidates.

Source: PeerIQ

PeerIQ’s Lending Earnings Insights

Where are we in the credit cycle? Earnings calls indicate CEOs/CFOs are constructive on the health of the US consumer and see a tax reform as improving consumers’ disposable income.

Credit re-normalization continues across all major lending groups. Credit performance this quarter is mixed. We observe improvements, and record low delinquencies from ONDK, OMF, and FinTechs in particular. LendingClub expects 31 bps lower charge-offs going forward due to tighter credit standards. At Discover – a bellwether for personal loan performance – the net charge off rate jumped 92 bps YOY to 3.62% – the largest increase in several years.

Card issuers are increasing loan loss reserves at a higher rate than loan growth, indicating expectations of higher losses going forward. American Express increased loan loss provisions 33% although loan growth was only 14%.

Source: Discover Investor Relations

Behavior-tracking security tech gaining traction at banks (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Source: American Banker

Banks have started to implement behavioral biometrics more and more as it is seamless for customers and helps to better detect fraud; behavioral biometrics firms like BioCatch has provided banks with the type of security they like, customers cannot see if but it also is harder for criminals to spoof; BioCatch reviews more than 5 billion transactions per month and has about 60 million users in their system; another reason banks love this type of security is the privacy regulations are not as strict, the data is not personally identifiable and is based on type of actions.

 

Americans Are Misguided on Emergency Savings, and It’s Going to Cost Them (Madison), Rated: A

That’s because 38% of college-educated adults think an emergency fund of $5,000 or less is sufficient. That’s the latest from online lender Laurel Road, which also found that women — particularly younger ones — are generally more conservative when it comes to building their safety nets. Specifically, millennial women think people should have an average of $9,727 in an emergency fund, compared to millennial men who think an average of $8,040 works just fine.

The majority of working U.S. adults are nowhere close to having three months’ worth of living expenses in the bank. A good 57% have less than $1,000 in savings, according to data released by GOBankingRates last year, while 39% have no savings at all. If you’re part of either statistic, it means your finances aren’t in great shape — and that you need to make changes immediately.

Lendr Partners with MidCap Financial Trust to Close $ 25 Million Senior Credit Facility (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Lendr, a provider of flexible working capital to small- and medium-sized businesses, specializing in business finance and factoring solutions, announced today the closing of a $25 millionsenior credit facility. MidCap Financial Trust served as the Administrative Agent for the transaction. The deal agreement provides Lendr with increased financing power and the expansion of the facility to $50 million.

First RealFund Raises $ 600,000 of Preferred Equity for Brooklyn Apartment Building (Business Wire), Rated: A

First RealFund (“FRF”) has raised $600,000 of preferred equity financing for an apartment building undergoing a renovation and upgrade in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood.

The Sponsor, Duke Properties, owns a portfolio totaling more than 400 rental units with a geographic focus centered around New York City. “We target value-add properties in emerging neighborhoods and we apply innovative and effective renovation strategies based on our 15+ years of experience,” observed Albert Dweck, CEO of Duke Properties. “Our goal is to increase the value of our buildings while contributing to each neighborhood.”

 

THIS CHART SHOWS THE UNEQUAL STATE OF ACCESS TO FINTECH SERVICES IN AMERICA (Pacific Standard), Rated: A

According to a 2015 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, approximately 7 percent of American households are unbanked (meaning they have no checking or savings account), and an additional 19.9 percent are “underbanked.” The percentages are higher—approximately 50 percent—among both low-income and minority households.

New America Report

While approximately 22 percent of adults in high-poverty African-American communities have used online banking services in the past year, a significantly higher percentage (39 percent) of adults in wealthier black communities have used the technology.

Community bank launches digital account targeting the unbanked (American Banker), Rated: A

AxiomGo is a paperless checking account for customers who want an alternative to prepaid cards and traditional checking, the bank said.

The $560 million-asset Axiom partnered with the fintech firm Malauzai to design and deploy a mobile app that “meets the unique needs of a traditionally underbanked community, providing users a dynamic, bilingual, mobile banking experience,” it said Thursday.

Source FDIC, American banker

The app, which had a soft launch in December, has a Spanish-language option and enables users to open and fund an account and set up direct deposit via a mobile device. Other features include the ability to pay bills by snapping a photo; check deposit; fund transfer and peer-to-peer payments; and access to built-in budgeting and personal finance management tools.

Something I Wish I’d Had 20 Years Ago When I Started: Nontraditional Financing (Entrepreneur), Rated: A

Whether they were unable to secure credit because of bad (or nonexistent) credit history, sluggish cash flow or a lack of collateral, these growth-oriented businesses often find they’re not considered a good fit for traditional loans or lines of credit. There are, however, unexpected outlets available to them. I wish they’d been available to me when I started out 20 years ago.

What Student Loan Borrowers Can Expect from the Fed’s Rate Hike (Lend EDU), Rated: A

The short answer: Some student loan borrowers will pay more interest.

Most student loan borrowers depend on federal student loans, which have had a fixed interest rate since 2006. Although 1.4 million people yearly also depend on private student loans, which can have either a fixed rate or a variable rate that’s connected to either the LIBOR, prime or T-bill rates.

When the Fed increases these variable rates, borrowers with variable-rate loans will likely pay more interest. However, it will depend on the benchmark, according to CNBC.

How to Buy a Car with Bad Credit in 2018 (Auto Credit Express), Rated: B

Tips for Buying a Car with Bad Credit in 2018

With the right plan in place, you can prepare for success when financing a vehicle with poor credit. These tips can start you off on the right foot:

  • Check Your Credit 
  • Set Your Budget  
  • Have a Down Payment – Subprime lenders often require that you have a down payment, but it’s in your best interest to have one anyway.

 

AGORA Announces Partnership With Ignite Consulting Partners (Markets Insider), Rated: B

Agora Data, Inc. (“AGORA”), a Texas-based provider of technology solutions for the financial services industry, announces its partnership with industry leader Ignite Consulting Partners (“Ignite”) to provide increased transparency and security to the consumer finance marketplace through the development of a “Certified Seller Program.”

FIC Network Partners with Civic Technologies (Medium), Rated: B

Factury Inc., the company behind FIC Network, today announced a strategic partnership with Civic Technologies Inc. The partnership brings trusted, secure identity services to the token sales participants identification and enables FIC Network to streamline the identification and KYC process, enhancing the token sales privacy and security.

Arizona Becomes First U.S. State To Launch Regulatory Sandbox For Fintech (Forbes), Rated: B

Arizona has become the first state in the U.S. to adopt a “regulatory sandbox” to shepherd the development of new emerging industries like fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrencies within its borders.

The law will grant regulatory relief for innovators in these sectors who desire to bring new products to market within the state.

 

United Kingdom

MarketInvoice secures £135m for businesses from two European banks (Bdaily News), Rated: AAA

Business finance firm MarketInvoice has today (March 26) announced new agreements with two European banks, boosting its platform by £135m.

The London-based firm struck a deal with Portuguese bank Banco BNI Europa (BNI) to add £90m to its platform and another, with German bank Varengold Bank AG, worth £45m.

Banco BNI Europa initially invested £28.3m in 2016, following it up with £45m in May 2017 and a further £90m this month.

Square brings Instant Deposits to the UK (Finextra), Rated: AAA

Square Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey announced the launch of a new Instant Deposit service for UK businesses at an event at London’s British Library last night.

The new product helps to solve one of the biggest challenges small businesses face: managing cash flow.
With the launch of Instant Deposit, sellers can now click a button in the Square App to get their funds into their bank account in around 20 minutes. All they need to do is link their bank account to their Square account. Square offers competitive, flat fees of 1.75% fee when taking in-person payments, and 2.5% for payments made over the phone, online or via digital invoice. Sellers using Instant Deposit will be charged an additional 1%.

Who wants to be a millionaire? Invest in Zopa’s IFISA for 26 years (Peer2Peer Finance), Rated: AAA

IT WOULD take 26 years to become a Zopa Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) millionaire, the peer-to-peer lender has calculated.

Individuals would need to invest the full ISA allowance – which is £20,000 this tax year – into Zopa’s ISA Plus at today’s target return of 4.6 per cent to hit the million pound mark in 26 years.

This would result in an IFISA total of £1,009,509, with interest earned in that year of £44,395, Zopa said in a blog post on its website on Friday.

Innovations to utilise your tax allowance (City a.m.), Rated: A

These peer-to-peer investments broad- ly fall into three sectors: Consumer, SME and Property Lending.

There are two ways to invest in an IFISA. Customers can either invest manually or defer to the platform’s auto- invest function and let this do the hard work. Notably the ‘big three’ lenders – RateSetter, Funding Circle and Zopa – purely offer auto-invest options.

Another peer-to-peer consumer lender with an IFISA on the market is Lending Works. Launched in February 2017 it offers an annual return of six per cent for five-year loans or 4.5 per cent for three-year loans. This is an auto-invest product with a minimum investment of £10.

Proplend are also offering peer-to-peer investment within an IFISA, secured against first charges on commercial property. Investors can expect returns of between five per cent and 12 per cent.

Lloyds is ‘the largest digital bank in the UK,’ CEO says, and it wants to work with fintech startups (Business Insider), Rated: A

The CEO of Lloyds Bank told a conference in London on Thursday that his company is the biggest digital bank in the UK, eclipsing the wave of digital startups that have sprung up in the last few years.

António Horta Osório told the UK Treasury’s International Finance conference that Lloyds is “the largest digital bank in the UK, with a 22% share of new business.”

From Subprime Star to Losses, U.K.’s Provident Tries to Reboot (Bloomberg), Rated: A

If the FCA does reform the home credit market, its past moves could indicate what’s in store for Provident’s door-to-door lending. The FCA’s caps on payday lenders lowered the average cost of a typical payday loan to 60 pounds from 100 pounds and slashed default rates by a third. Leading player Wonga Group Ltd. saw its sales plunge 64 percent in 2015.

Source: Provident Annual Report

Fintech firms embracing Open Banking (London School Of Business & Finance), Rated: A

A report from professional services and Big Four firm EY has shown that fintech businesses in the UK are embracing Open Banking, with 59% seeing the initiative as an opportunity to reconsider their collaborations. 

The study, which surveyed more than 30 UK fintech businesses, found that more than 80% of businesses are getting ready for Open Banking, whilst 29% said that they are fully prepared for the initiative.

The study showed that businesses have started to prepare for the scheme by increasing the amount of staff they have working on Open Banking-related propositions, with 30% of businesses with 50 to 250 employees saying that they had teams of ten working on the changes.

An alternative moneymaker from property (Money Week), Rated: A

Investors looking for a higher yield from property should consider this bond from LendInvest.

Nearly every recent issue over the last few years has been at a rate of between 4% and 6%, which is well above the rate on offer from the government (via gilts) and investment-grade corporate bonds.

The platform is focused on short term, bridging and development loans rather than buy-to-let loans. In total, its initial £50m fundraising has been invested in 89 different loans (implying an average of around £560,000 per loan), with an average loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of about 57% – so the average loan looks to be backing a project worth around £1m.

Of those 89 loans, nearly all are first charge, and at least 19 (of the 87 first-charge loans) have a LTV ratio of under 50%. That means that if there were a sharp property recession, a good proportion of the book should have plenty of equity in case of default. By contrast, 17 of the loans have a LTV of 70% or more, which might seem a slightly more worrying state of affairs in a downturn – you’d only have an equity buffer of around 25% to 30% at most. It’s also worth noting that 63% of the loans are in the Greater London area, which is arguably more vulnerable in a downturn.

Financial services for good: ‘Data Nations’ team wins 24-hour Deloitte datathon (Future Scot), Rated: B

The overall winner of the second annual Datathon, hosted by business advisory firm Deloitte, was ‘Data Nations’, a team of data experts who developed FinTastic; a digital tool to help people make better financial decisions at key moments in their life.

 

China

Dual-currency prepaid credit card for Hong Kong-China commuters (Fintech Innovations), Rated: AAA

HKT and UnionPay International have launched a new Tap & Go UnionPay Prepaid Card for payments across mainland China.

The new card allows customers to instantaneously convert Hong Kong dollars into yuan using their Tap & Go mobile wallets when they are traveling in mainland China.

Customers can settle payments using their cards in mainland China as well as 168 countries and regions worldwide and for online transactions.

Report: China to Have Dynamic Approach to Fintech Innovation (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

A recent report in ECNS indicates China wants to have a “dynamic approach” regarding Fintech or internet finance. The report was referencing a press conference following the 13th National People’s Congress that was held earlier this month that involved the Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank of China.

In many respects, China is the largest  Fintech market in the world. It has the largest online lending (peer to peer lending) market by far and benefits from a population that is widely connected to the internet by mobile devices. A combination of demand from both consumers and businesses has fueled innovations in finance.

 

European Union

Buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna rings changes following fraud reports (Which?), Rated: AAA

Which? received reports that in some cases thieves had entered other people’s names and addresses then intercepted the package. A few weeks later, the victims received a letter from Klarna chasing up the payment, warning the debt will impact their credit rating.

A spokesperson for Klarna said that it takes fraud seriously, and when this issue arose it immediately looked at ways to combat it. Klarna said that anyone affected by fraud should contact the company to dispute the order, and that this will in not affect a customer’s credit rating.

The Challenger Bank Playbook: How 6 Digital Banking Startups Are Taking On Retail Banking (CBInsights), Rated: AAA

Europe has seen the first cohort of challenger banks (Atom BankTandem BankMonzoStarling Bank, Revolut, and N26) break out, collectively attracting $1B in funding and over 2.5M customers since 2014.

How challenger banks have leveraged regulation

Traditional approach: Atom BankTandem Bank, and Starling Bank prioritized having a bank charter prior to launch and built a suite of services that required a charter, believing it would create a moat around the platform. Atom Bank, for example, launched a savings account and SMB lending after regulatory approval. They also plan to launch current accounts but that roll out has so far been delayed.

Semi-traditional bank: Monzo and Germany-based N26 wanted to get customers onto the platform. To do so, Monzo launched a prepaid card instead of a full account product.

Monzo was going through a period of rapid growth, adding a reported 60K users a month when the company was granted a charter. In December 2017, they stopped adding new customers and announced plans to focus on transitioning the 500K existing customers off of prepaid cards and onto Monzo’s own current accounts.

As of February 2018, the company has a waitlist for new current account registrations, which means it’s missing out on roughly 180K potential new customers (at the peak growth rate of 60K per month) as it focuses on transitioning its existing customers off of the prepaid cards.

Fast-lane approach: Revolut challenged the conventional go-to market strategy by applying for an easier-to-acquire e-money license and targeting currency exchange rather than current accounts. Revolut initially focused on frequent travelers, a niche they believed was underserved. It built a digital currency exchange app, which allowed people to exchange money more frequently across countries without establishing multiple bank accounts.

Source CBInsights
Source CB Insights

Mobile adoption has driven uptake

Source: CB Insights

 

Fintech lending platform Loanboox eyes French expansion (Swiss Info), Rated: A

Award-winning Swiss fintech firm Loanboox is planning further expansion into Europe having obtained a foothold in Germany. The digital portal for matching institutions with investors plans a move into France and is also looking at other European markets.

Since its inception, Loanboox has now played a part in connecting around 1,000 clients and facilitating requests of some CHF9 billion ($9.5 billion) in public sector loan deals.

International

Millennials Are Driving One Of The Biggest Trends In Wealth Tech (CBInsights), Rated: AAA

Millennial investors stand to inherit $30T of potential assets from baby boomers. To attract and retain this next-generation of investors, advisors need to offer sustainability, clean energy, and social impact investing strategies.

Source: CBInsights

Why now?

There are massive demographic shifts underway in wealth management. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce and 2x more likely than the average investor to make a sustainable investment.

Social issues like climate change and gun-control are top of mind for the next-generation, and 75% of millennial investors believe their investments can influence change, according to one survey conducted by Morgan Stanley.

Source: CB Insights

Further, impact investing is a growing part of the wealth management market. In 2016, it’s estimated that sustainable investment assets grew to $22.89T globally, up 25% from 2014 according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA).

Source: CB Insider

Australia and UK set up FinTech Bridge to deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies (OpenGovAsia), Rated: A

The Australian Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, signed an agreement in London on 22 March, 2018 to establish a FinTech bridge.

The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge will deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies in the two countries. It will also support improved access for Australian FinTech firms to the UK market.

The FinTech Bridge includes collaboration between Australian and UK governments to identify emerging FinTech trends and policy issues, enabling better policy positions.

How Can Fintech Boost the Micro-loan Scene? (Finextra), Rated: A

While the citizens of Norway, Finland, and Denmark all have at least one bank account, there are developing countries like the Central African Republic, Niger, and Madagascar, where the percentage of the unbanked population rises well above 85%. The poverty rates in such places are quite high, and is part of a vicious circle, since the inability to get a loan or to make deposits keeps people living day to day. The only available financial resource is social borrowing from friends and family. Yet, rapid technological advancements could turn this situation around.

Micro-financial institutions (MFIs) have developed a particular product, the microcredit, as a way to grant individuals the necessary money to expand a small business or to cover some surging costs, like healthcare.

Yet, the current model for these products is far from efficient, with high operational fees which translate to interest rates around 35-40%. It has even been said that micro-loans promote poverty.

 

WHERE DO CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICERS COME FROM? (AllAboutAlpha), Rated: A

PwC forecasts a near doubling in global AUM over nine years, from $84.9 trillion in 2016 to $145.4 trillion in 2025, and predicts the 

Alternative credit scoring partnerships help fintech companies lend better (Business Standard), Rated: A

Financial technology have partnered with scoring to enable faster and more efficient lending. Online lending marketplaces and said their partnerships with information and CIBIL, respectively, to offer free reports to customers, made their lending more efficient.

The entire process is digitized to reduce the cost of operations and to bring speed and scale in the lending process”, said Rajiv Raj, Co-founder and director, is able to provide alternate data using technology we have not developed so far. We can use this data to further refine our existing scoring model,” said RBL Bank’s Toor.

Both and said that alternate data is most beneficial for assesement of new – to-customers for whom centralized or structured data is not available.

Cerberus Capital taps Nicastro as senior adviser (The PE Hub), Rated: B

Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. and its affiliates (“Cerberus”), a global leader in alternative investing, announced today that Roberto Nicastro has become a Senior Advisor to the firm. In this role, Mr. Nicastro will consult with Cerberus as it continues its focus on investment opportunities and strategic partnerships in the European financial services sector.

Australia

Why seller experience is the new battleground in today’s competitive gig economy (Australian Anthill), Rated: A

The battle between taxis and ride-sharing services might be old news already, but today, peer-to-peer lending platforms and other emerging tech-driven financial products are continuing to ruffle the feathers of our stalwart financial institutions.

According to studies, the gig economy could contribute around $2.7 trillion to global GDP by 2025.

India

Top PayU India execs invest in blockchain startup Nuo Bank (VCCircle), Rated: AAA

Mumbai-based blockchain startup Nuo Bank has raised $250,000 (Rs 1.6 crore) from payment gateway firm PayU India’s chief executive officer Amrish Rau and managing director Jitendra Gupta, a top executive has told VCCircle.

Savings are stored on the blockchain and instead of interest on savings, customers gets a virtual share in the revenue of the bank. Nuo Bank will offer around 20% of its 1 billion tokens – Nuo Coins – to customers.

These contracts will stipulate that up to 25% of the bank’s revenue should be reserved for these tokens.

With KYC norms kicking in, mobile wallet customers using gift cards to get around it (Money Control), Rated: A

Even as mobile wallets companies are struggling to ensure that the customers comply with KYC norms in order to load money to their wallets, customers are able to circumvent the process with the use of digital gift cards.

For instance, customers can add money to their Amazon Pay wallet by purchasing gift cards of Amazon. The gift card offers a code that once added to the wallet loads the money.

Users of prepaid payment instruments (PPI) such as mobile wallets were asked to complete the KYC requirements by February 28 by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The regulation bars customers from loading money into their wallets if they haven’t complied with the KYC norms. It also restricts them from carrying out remittance-based transactions. They will also not be allowed to transfer the cash in the wallet to their bank accounts.

SmartOwner: FinTech firm pioneering real-estate crowdfunding in India (Realty Fact), Rated: A

SmartOwner, India’s first and largest online marketplace for real estate investors, aims to make the process of investing in real estate a seamless and streamlined process. It was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs having a considerable amount of experience in the technology and real-estate sectors. In fact, SmartOwner wants to make property investing as simple as investing in Mutual Funds and the Stock Market.

Asia

Long Blockchain Corp. Announces Minority Investment in TSLC with a Strategic Ownership Position in CASHe (Nasdaq), Rated: A

Long Blockchain Corp. (Nasdaq: LBCC) (the “Company” or “Long Blockchain”) today announced that it has closed on a strategic investment in TSLC Pte Ltd. (“TSLC”). TSLC is the parent company of CASHe, a provider of digital money and short-term financial products to young millennials across India.

Latin America

Watchdog Eyes Brazil’s Credit Card Industry On Nubank Complaint (PYMNTS), Rated: AAA

In Brazil, the antitrust watchdog, Cade, is looking into the credit card industry, with an eye on possible anticompetitive practices.

The investigation comes, Reuters reports, after a complaint by Nubank, a Goldman Sachs-funded FinTech. The company offers credit cards and checking accounts to 3 million people in Brazil. Nubank also has approval in place to become a bank. Earlier this month, the company raised $150 million in a financing round that was led by DST Global Investment Partners. Last year, the company was granted a credit line of 455 million reais, or about $137.71 million.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Bridging the Gap Between Banks and Small Business Lending

Bridging the Gap Between Banks and Small Business Lending

According to the Small Business American Dream Gap Report, almost 25% of all small businesses consider shutting down due to cashflow issues. With a reported 30 million SMBs in the United States, 7.5 million SMBs are at risk. Traditional banks literally vacated the SMB lending space after the 2008-09 financial crisis. Moreover, changes in minimum […]

Bridging the Gap Between Banks and Small Business Lending

According to the Small Business American Dream Gap Report, almost 25% of all small businesses consider shutting down due to cashflow issues. With a reported 30 million SMBs in the United States, 7.5 million SMBs are at risk. Traditional banks literally vacated the SMB lending space after the 2008-09 financial crisis. Moreover, changes in minimum wage and competition from automation, Amazon, and cash burning startups have disrupted the SMB ecosystem. SmartBiz Loans understands the pain point of the market and was launched to help minimize this funding gap.

About SmartBiz Loans

Set up in 2010 by Ryan Gilbert, SmartBiz Loans was incubated through PayPal and Venrock.

The company started as a consumer credit delivery platform and later pivoted towards small businesses. The San Francisco-based startup has raised almost $40 million in funding from a list of marquee investors including its original incubators.

Currently headed by Evan Singer, SmartBiz Loans has been the pioneer in creating the leading online marketplace for SBA loans. It partners with banks across the country and establishes a win-win situation for both small businesses and lenders by ensuring that the “tedious” process of loan application becomes as intuitive and hassle-free as possible.

What SmartBiz Loans Can Do for SMBs

Businesses across the nation struggle to meet their day-to-day requirements for working capital and maintaining optimum cash flow. SmartBiz Loasn bridges the gap between the bankers and the borrowers by avoiding unnecessary loan application rejections by banks. The startup uses artificial intelligence to act as third-party advisor to small businesses and give them insight into what happens during the credit decisioning process. It helps entrepreneurs understand why SBA loan applications are rejected so that borrowers can mitigate the chances of loan application rejection. Also, SmartBiz focuses on reducing unnecessary delays in the loan application process.

SmartBiz Lending Products

SmartBiz specializes in SBA loans for working capital, refinancing, and SBA 7(a) commercial real estate loans.

SBA loans are considered the gold standard in the industry due to their lower interest rates and longer tenures. The company’s average loans range from $30,000 to $5 million, tenure ranges up to 10-25 years for different products, and APR ranges form 6%-8.25%.

Another feather in SmartBiz Loans’ cap is the advisory services the company extends to clients through its SmartBiz Advisor service. This product is an amalgamation of all SmartBiz services and helps businesses find out how bankers view them as a potential borrower for an SBA loan while helping the business take the necessary steps to ensure SBA loan approval. From viewing the tax returns of businesses to providing them with a proprietary credit score to performing debt analysis, SmartBiz Loans recommends ways to improve their clients’ financial health.

Working the SmartBiz SBA Loan System

The SmartBiz SBA Loan system is designed to be intuitive and simple. It evaluates a borrower’s score by using AI and machine learning technology to ensure the borrower is an ideal fit for an SBA loan. Then the right borrower is directed to the right bank. On the other hand, SmartBiz Loans partners with banks and licenses its software to help them in automatic loan underwriting. Most impressive is the fact that almost 90% of borrowers referred by SmartBiz Loans are approved for bank loans. Such a high acceptance rate reduces the cost of client acquisition for banks and improves the overall borrower experience.

Dealing with Competition

According to the Singer, SmartBiz Loans is the AI-powered chief financial officer for small businesses that find it hard to hire their own CFOs. Although SmartBiz faces aggressive competition in the industry, its pace of growth, proprietary artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, and access to in-house databases, including tax data, have helped it create its own alternative lending niche.

SmartBiz Loans recently crossed originations of $500 million in funded SBA loans. It was the biggest facilitator for funding of SBA 7(a) loans in the year 2016, and it overtook JPMorgan Chase as the leading provider of SBA 7(a) loans.

Diversity of Customers

SmartBiz Loans caters to a broad customer base across 50 states. Most of the borrowers that approach the lender have been in business for 5-10 years, work with less than 10 employees, and their average annual revenue ranges between $500,000 to $2 million.

SmartBiz Loans has helped reduce the underlying gender bias in SMB funding by originating almost 17% of its SBA loans to women-owned small businesses. Also, SBA loans for veterans account for 8% of its total originations.

SmartBiz Loans and the Future of SBA(7a) Lending

Apart from boosting its other products, SmartBiz plans to delve deep into SmartBiz Advisor in order to streamline the process of making SBA credit easily available for small businesses. Though currently serving the United States, it is also looking to expand abroad in the coming years.

Creating the ideal marketplace for SBA Loans, SmartBiz Loans is the number one online marketplace for SBA 7(a) loans. Its deep domain expertise coupled with its customer service obsession make its an easy bet for future unicorn status.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.