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

Tuesday October 16 2018, Daily News Digest

Dow Jones VC Report Q3 2018

News Comments Today’s main news: OnDeck creates subsidiary for bank partnerships. Lendio hits $1B in business loans. Blend Network on track to exceed 5M GBP in lending. Hexindai completes P2P compliance self-inspection report. Today’s main analysis: Bank earnings for JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Why Google and Amazon are not a threat to small banks. Cities […]

Dow Jones VC Report Q3 2018

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

Southeast Asia

Other

News Summary

United States

OnDeck creates new subsidiary for bank partnerships (American Banker) Rated: AAA

OnDeck Capital, an online lender that also provides the technology to JPMorgan Chase’s digital small-business lending platform, is creating a new subsidiary to pursue partnerships with other banks.

The wholly owned subsidiary will be called ODX, according to New York-based OnDeck.

OnDeck, which specializes in online small-business loans, has been working to build its bank partnership business since announcing its deal with JPMorgan Chase in 2015. The nation’s largest bank launched its QuickCapital platform in 2016.

Lendio Tops $ 1B in Business Loans Facilitated Through Its Online Marketplace (PRWeb), Rated: AAA

Lendio today announced it has facilitated $1 billion in financing to more than 51,000 small businesses across the U.S. Since its inception in 2011, Lendio has been bridging the financing gap for small business owners. As a result of access to growth capital, Lendio’s small business clients have burgeoned, generating an estimated $3.8 billion in economic output and creating more than 25,000 jobs in communities nationwide.

Rocky Week for Equities, Strong Bank Earnings (Peer IQ) Rated: AAA

JP Morgan Q3 Earnings

Revenues at JPM grew by 5% YoY to $27.8 Bn, and earnings grew by 24% YoY to $8.4 Bn. Earnings growth was driven by record NII of $14.1 Bn, up by 7% YoY, while fixed income trading revenues dropped by 10% YoY. JPM saw a small increase of 2% YoY in its consumer loan book. Net charge-offs declined by 11% YoY to $1.1 Bn and the provision for loan losses declined by 35% YoY to $0.9 Bn. The bank saw healthy growth of 11% YoY in its digital banking customers to 32.5 Mn. JPM’s ROE for this quarter was 14%, up by 3% points YoY.

Wells Fargo Q3 Earnings

WFC’s revenues were flat YoY at $21.9 Bn, but earnings grew by 33% YoY to $6 Bn. Earnings growth was driven by 1% YoY increase in NII to $12.6 Bn. The consumer loan book continues to decline with a drop of 3% YoY to $440 Bn driven by auto loans. Net charge-offs declined by 13% YoY to $0.5 Bn and the provision for loan losses declined by 19% YoY to $0.6 Bn. Digital banking customers grew by 4% YoY to 29 Mn. WFC’s ROE for this quarter was 12%, up by 3% points YoY.

Citigroup Q3 Earnings

Citi’s revenues were flat YoY at $18.4 Bn, but earnings grew by 12% YoY to $4.6 Bn. Earnings growth was driven by 9% YoY increase in fixed income trading revenue, the first increase since 2017. Citi’s outstanding consumer loans grew by 3% YoY to $309 Bn. Net charge-offs increased slightly by 1% YoY to $1.7 Bn but the provision for loan losses declined by 13% YoY to $1.9 Bn. Digital banking customers grew by 5% YoY to 18 Mn. Citi’s ROE for this quarter was 9.6%, up by 2% points YoY.

Source Peer IQ

Here’s why Google, Amazon aren’t a threat to small banks (American Banker) Rated: AAA

It’s a logical theory that sounds reasonable on its face: Since most small businesses already use Google, Amazon and Facebook for marketing, it will be easy for these tech giants to market loans to small businesses that they already have as customers.

One CNBC headline sums up the sentiment: “Another industry Amazon plans to crush is small-business lending.” The story notes that Amazon has already made billions of small-business loans to thousands of merchants and suggests that the online giant could come to dominate lending. In addition, there are countless fintech startups also seeking to disrupt small-business lending.

That’s because the theory misses a crucial detail: When tech giants and fintech startups target a business segment, they take a programmatic approach of catering to the most common use cases. That’s the opposite of what community banks do.

LendingTree Reveals the Cities with the Most Foreign-born Homeowners (Lending Tree) Rated: AAA

In data for 2017, the Census Bureau found that 13.7% of the U.S. population was foreign-born.

  • Key findings
    Cities with larger foreign-born populations and homeowners have higher home prices. Prices for the top 10 cities average $491,750 compared with $167,560 for the bottom 10.
  • But the lead city has modest home prices. Miami is top of the list with 26% of homes owned by foreign-born residents, but has a median price of just $278,700.
  • Immigrants love the coasts. The rest of the top five are also coastal cities, all in California with 17% and higher foreign-born homeownership rates and home prices above $300,000.
  • Some bargains are available. In addition to Miami, more affordable cities with high immigrant populations include Houston at No. 6 and Las Vegas at No. 7.
  • Cheaper cities are mostly shunned. Immigrants show little interest in bargain hunting in the cities towards the bottom of the list. The percentage of foreign-born homeowners in the bottom five cities is below 3%, despite home prices averaging about $160,000.
Source: Lending Tree

Anju Patwardhan of CreditEase Fintech Fund (Lend Academy) Rated: A

There are many VC firms investing in fintech today but most are based in the US or Europe. Our next guest on the Lend Academy Podcast runs a different type of fund that has its origins in China.

Anju Patwardhan is a Managing Director of the CreditEase Fintech Fund, which has quietly become one of the leading VC firms globally focused on fintech. They only launched in March 2016 and already they have made 45 investments into many of the leading fintech names such as Upgrade, Marqeta, Funding Circle, Ellevest, NAV, Figure, Onfido, DV01 and True Accord just to name a few.

Barclays to challenge Goldman’s Marcus in US retail banking (Financial Times) Rated: A

Barclays is launching a US current account in a move that will put them in a head to head battle with Marcus; the account will be added to their current digital offering in the U.S. which currently includes credit cards, savings and loans to about 13 million customers; “We’re going to launch checking, we’re in the process of doing the build and we’re doing some testing .

We expect to have that in the market next year,” explained Barry Rodrigues, head of cards and payments at Barclays International, to the FT; the company does believe their knowledge in the U.S. market with credit cards can help to position them as they make this push into checking accounts; the company has not released targets for how many accounts they look to attract.

Why Did This Fintech Startup Sponsor A NASCAR Driver? (Benzinga) Rated: A

So how can a fintech startup stand out in an increasingly crowded fintech space? For personal finance and lending startup MoneyLion, the answer is to go where the audience goes—and go around in a loop with them 500 times.

Pedal To The Metal Scaling

That’s why MoneyLion recently announced it was partnering with Penske Automotive Group, Inc. PAG‘s Team Penske to sponsor NASCAR driver Austin Cindric’s Ford Motor Company FMustang for four races this season. It’s an unexpected move from a fintech startup, whose primary marketing channels to date have generally been social media and TV commercials.

6 reasons to invest in your 20s (when all you want to do is spend) (The Next Web) Rated: A

1. Startups, job-hopping, and the gig economy come at a price

Unlike previous generations, we have much more freedom to job-hop. On average we’ll go through at least four different jobs by the time we’re 32.

By 2020, self-employment is likely to triple to 42 million workers with millennials making up 42 percent. This means we can now have our flan and eat it too.

2. Don’t count on social security either

With the number of retirement age citizens (65+) set to increase from 48 million today to 79 million, if reforms aren’t made, social security will start running out by 2035.

4. If you start investing now, you could be a millionaire later

If you want to start off small you can try investing in peer-to-peer lending with a minimum of $25. Instead of going through banks, peer-to-peer lending connects borrowers to lenders. Lenders can finance all or part (along with other investors) of a borrower’s loan at an interest rate of roughly between 5-36 percent.

United Kingdom

Blend Network on track to exceed £5m of lending (Development Finance Today) Rated: AAA

Speaking exclusively to Development Finance Today, Yann Murciano, CEO, and Roxana Mohammadian-Molina, chief strategy officer (left), both of Blend Network, highlighted the company’s significant growth and future plans for the platform.

“We had a target of £5m, which it looks like we are going to exceed, because we will be at more than £4.2m in the next 10 days.

“In the first four months, we provided one facility of £1.3m and one for £1.4m, so this is how quickly we are growing.

Abundance Set To Unveil Fund Raising (Forbes) Rated: A

Green and social infrastructure crowdfunding platform Abundance is set to announce a fund-raising of its own. The platform will this week unveil plans to raise a seven-figure sum to fund its next stage of growth, with an equity issue that will be hosted on its fellow crowdfunding service Seedrs.

New To The UK, Royalty Finance Seeks To Reach The SMEs That VCs And Lenders Pass By (Forbes) Rated: A

But there is perhaps one small corner of the alternative finance universe in which the UK has been behind the curve – namely royalty finance.  Originally developed to service the mining and commodities industries, the concept of royalty finance has been adapted to the needs of SMEs and mid sized companies. US businesses have been able to access this form of funding since the early  1990s, when a fund called Cypress Growth Capital was established to provide an alternative to venture capital,  but to date the idea has  failed to gain much traction in the UK.

But things are changing. Corporate finance companies  offering variations on the royalty finance theme are emerging – including 

FCA sounds redress warning over high cost credit (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: A

The Financial Conduct Authority has written a “Dear CEO” letter to platforms providing high-cost short-term credit – which includes some peer-to-peer lending firms – to check on their creditworthiness assessments, particularly for repeat borrowers, and to assess whether customers are being treated fairly.

It warns that firms must be able to fund any remediation costs from complaints and should inform the FCA if they are unable to.

The letter follows the collapse of payday lender Wonga in August.

China

Hexindai Completes Submission of P2P Compliance Self-Inspection Report (PR Newswire) Rated: AAA

Hexindai Inc. (NASDAQ: HX) (“Hexindai” or the “Company”), a fast-growing consumer lending marketplace in China, today announced it has completed the submission of its P2P Compliance Self-Inspection Report to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Financial Work, completing one of three key steps for compliance with industry reforms from the National P2P Rectification Office.

Hexindai is actively supporting and participating in this compliance process, which aims to foster the stable growth of the P2P lending industry in China. The result of this process will be a set of standards and best practices across the whole industry to protect the interests of both borrowers and lenders.

Now, Hexindai will focus on the next two steps in the process, including an inspection conducted by Beijing Internet Finance Industry Association. This will be followed by verification of inspection results by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Financial Work with field inspection and possible final check by higher level government organizations.

China’s Financial Regulators Issue Anti-Money Laundering Anti-Terrorism Financing Regulations for Fintech Industry (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: A

On October 10th, People’s Bank of China, China Banking & Insurance Regulatory Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission jointly issued the “Administrative Measures on Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing for Internet Finance Institutions (Trial)” (hereinafter referred to as the “Administrative Measures”).  The purpose of this document is to regulate the possible anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing of Internet finance institutions, and to effectively prevent money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

The “Administrative Measures” will be implemented from January 1, 2019, and require deeper compliance requirements for Internet finance institutions. At the same time, NIFA should coordinate with other industry self-regulatory organizations to formulate industry rules to achieve effective linkage between supervision and self-discipline management.

European Union

European VC Funding Rises in Q3 but Deal Flow Declines (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: AAA

Source Crowdfund Insider

Dow Jones VentureSource is out with their quarterly report on VC activity for Q3 of 2018. According to their numbers, European VC fundraising increased during Q3 but investment in European companies “showed a notable decline in deal flow activity and investment levels.”

The report states that VC investment for the quarter totaled €3.51 billion across 24 European VC funds. This is a significant increase of 50% versus Q2 of 2018. Additionally, when comparing to Q3 of 2017 both capital and fund closings increased by 90% and 14% – respectively.

Australia

New digital ‘banking alternative’ launches (The Advisor) Rated: AAA

A new digital platform, run in partnership with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, has launched to give Australians a “radically different banking alternative”.

The new digital app, called Up, was created by Melbourne-based technology developer Ferocia and operates under Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s banking licence.

The smartphone banking app was officially launched last week and enables customers to track their money in real time, predict upcoming bill charges automatically and pay them on time, and also offers multiple saver accounts, round-ups on purchases, digital payments (such as Apple Pay and Google Pay) and no international transaction fees.

India

Funding the wanderer (DNA) Rated: AAA

Start-ups in fintech and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms are devising strategies of attracting more millennials towards small-ticket loans ranging from Rs 10,000 – 200,000, which are being mainly utilised towards experiential travel. Entrepreneurs say small ticket loans generally go towards home renovation, home decoration, home repairs, purchase of second cars/bikes, etc.. “But off late, the trend is tilting more towards utilisation of such loans for fulfilling travel ambitions,’’ say entrepreneurs.

“There is no doubt this segment (travel) is rising and more people are opting for this loan. Any customer would love a packaged deal which comes with financial support to go on a vacation, and this will also help them enjoy their vacation well,” says Bhavin Patel, co-founder and CEO, LenDenClub.

Although people going for longer vacations or to expensive destinations take loans that are in lakhs, during long weekends, the frequency of very small loans ranging from Rs 3,000 – 10,000 increases significantly, observes Bala Parthasarathy, co-founder and CEO, MoneyTap. The idea is to supplement their existing cash coffers, without causing any imbalance in their daily lifestyles, say experts.

Making FinTech Model Work for India (Entrepreneur) Rated: A

It’s 2018. We’re facing the impending risk of climate change, rampant wealth inequality, and increasing populism around the world. We need to think beyond quarter-to-quarter profits to survive this. Companies must think about the long-term effects of their work—beyond their bottom dollar.

Find a purpose for your company that will help you soar during the good times, and persevere during the tough. What’s helped me fight fires every day—and get through the hardest challenges—is our mission of powering a new, more equal digital economy in India. A true mission serves a massive need in our society, especially for SMBs navigating the post-GST economy, and has the potential to create millions of jobs for companies looking to digitize and become compliant.

What’s my business model? How does it relate to my mission? What vulnerabilities does it have?

A mission should be more than words on your website’s ‘About’ page. It should lie at the core of everything you do, including your business model. You’re destined to fail—or at least be gravely disappointed—if your mission and business model do not align.

One of India’s fastest growing P2P lending platforms, ATL facilitates instant unsecured loans (personal, education and business loans) to eligible borrowers by connecting them with investors or lenders across India through a 100% digital ecosystem.

With this certification, ATL joins a select group of fintech startups who hold the NBFC-P2P accreditation. RBI follows a very stringent due diligence process while granting this license, which involves eligibility criteria like financial stability, business continuity plan, and how the business will aid in RBI’s larger vision of financial inclusion. The startup says that recognition from RBI is a strong validation of the startup’s sharp business model, processes and compliance with the RBI guidelines.

Africa

How internet is helping revitalise agriculture sector in Africa’s most populous nation (Devdiscourse) Rated: AAA

It looked like the end had arrived for Adewale Fatai’s chicken farm. Money was running out. Built to house 30,000 chickens, the farm was producing fewer than 2,000 chicks. His family had no funds to lend, and Nigeria’s banks weren’t interested.

Instead, he went online.

Two years later, Fatai now has 20,000 chickens. Flanked by thousands of chirping birds at his farm in Nigeria’s southwestern Ogun state, Fatai says his operation was saved by Farmcrowdy, one of a breed of new peer-to-peer lending companies aiming to match farmers with small investors.

Equity of Kenya Sees $ 22 Million FinTech Income This Year (Bloomberg) Rated: A

Equity Group Holdings Ltd., Kenya’s biggest bank by market value, expects its financial-technology unit to bring in as much as 2.2 billion shillings ($22 million) of revenue in its first year of independent operations, according to Chief Executive Officer James Mwangi. The bank “has resolved to make Finserve an independent commercial subsidiary,” Mwangi said in a statement published in the Nairobi-based Sunday Nation newspaper. The unit serves 1.96 million subscribers on its mobile-banking platform, Equitel, he said.

The unit, Finserve Africa Ltd., became an independent entity this year and facilitates cross-border transactions in seven Eastern African nations worth 2 billion shillings each month, according to the statement. It has a startup capital base of 1 billion shillings and its assets are valued at 1.98 billion shillings, Mwangi said.

Asia

SoftBank is the new form of IPO (Krasia) Rated: AAA

With a walloping around US$100 billion check, SoftBank’s Vision Fund is the world’s largest venture capital vehicle, and it’s also considered too big to be a conventional one. The Vision Fund is known for throwing gigantic amount at startups, urging them to compete for more market share at costly expenses.

Online lender Social Finance’s ex-CEO Mike Cagney, after investments from SoftBank in 2015, said that the funding “takes the pressing need of an IPO off the table,” and allow the company to put off an IPO indefinitely.

It seems that, receiving SoftBank investment is the new form of doing an IPO.

The firm in Southeast Asia invested in Grab and is encouraging the ride-hailer to form joint ventures with its portfolio companies to help them enter the region.

Shady online lenders still active in Indonesia despite blacklists (Krasia) Rated: A

Unethical debt collection practices are part of the reason Indonesia’s financial services authority, OJK, has been strictly monitoring the sector. It recently blacklisted 407 online lenders for not registering with the authority. Raja Uang was one of them.

OJK cracks down on all firms who operate without being registered with OJK, but in practice, it’s difficult to ensure they do shut down for good.

Indonesia’s CROWDE raises funding from GREE Ventures (E27) Rated: A

Indonesian agritech startup CROWDE today announced that it has raised an undisclosed seed funding round from Tokyo-based venture capital firm GREE Ventures.

Crevisse Ventures also participated in the funding round.

In a press statement, CROWDE CEO Yohanes Sugihtononugroho explained that the funding will be used to increase the number of farmers that the company aims to help by giving them capital boost.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Digital Identity Verification for Alternative Lenders

Digital Identity Verification for Alternative Lenders

Trust is the root of all business transactions. For any financial institution to lend money or offer a banking service, being able to identify the counterparty is a must. And though anonymity is a blessing in a lot of situations, business cannot be conducted under the cloak of secrecy. Financial services are a particular focus […]

Digital Identity Verification for Alternative Lenders

Trust is the root of all business transactions. For any financial institution to lend money or offer a banking service, being able to identify the counterparty is a must. And though anonymity is a blessing in a lot of situations, business cannot be conducted under the cloak of secrecy.

Financial services are a particular focus area for the highest standards in identification, especially due to the strong regulatory push on money laundering, terrorism financing, and KYC (Know Your Customer). Also, according to the World Bank, around 1.1 billion people worldwide cannot prove their identity. They form a major chunk of the 2.5 billion people who don’t have access to financial services. This highlights that identity is a fundamental part of financial inclusion.

Mitek Systems, a global leader in mobile capture and identity verification software solutions, is in the forefront of this growing niche industry. We had an exclusive chat with the company CTO, Stephen Ritter. He gave his views on the opportunity and developments in the ID verification space and how it will be an underlying pillar for the growth of fintech lending and blockchain-led services.

Mitek’s Business Model and Technology

Mitek started as a software company and has evolved to become the leader in mobile banking and mobile deposit solutions. It enables bank customers to take picture of checks for depositing, rendering the physical deposit process redundant. It has entered the digital ID verification market and has developed artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-powered proprietary algorithms. It will verify the ID by having the user take a picture of  a government-issued ID and compare it with a selfie. This allows the software to cross verify the selfie face with the picture on the government-issued ID.

Mitek’s solutions specializes in accurately identifying the personal document, and can even recognize and evaluate IDs of multiple countries. It can also extract relevant information from the document. Its advanced forensic algorithms can detect signs of forgery or fake documents. Further, it can distinguish good and bad documents and provide a risk score to determine if the document can be trusted. Its algorithms can also determine if the human face is real or a spoof.

The company’s core competency is computer vision, a specific niche within machine learning. The company has been developing software in the field for the last 15 years and considers itself among the pioneers in the space. With the intense speed of development in the field, the company is actively working with partners for integrating third-party sophisticated technology into their own solutions.

The main solutions provided by Mitek include:

  • Mobile Fill – A solution which allows personal information to be pre-filled in the forms of the applicants, taking help of the Mobile ID capture solution provided by Mitek.
  • Mobile Verify – A combination of Mitek’s computer vision technology and auto capture experience, Mobile Verify validates the authenticity of identity documents thereby simplifying the KYC compliance processes.
  • Mobile Deposit – Mobile deposit is a solution that helps in saving time by allowing the person to deposit checks to the participating banks by uploading the image using the device’s camera.

Mitek’s Competition, and Its Impact on Lending

Mitek has an operating history of over two decades. With more than 6,100 banks and financial institutions as customers, the company has a wide moat compared to startups entering the field. Its direct competitors are few and usually early-stage companies. The more traditional players in the space would be the ones that follow the data bureau approach and are beginning to integrate mobile verify solutions for verification of IDs into their platforms.

Lending will receive a boost across the board as lenders, both traditional and alternative, will be able to onboard customers faster and more securely. Alternative lenders, in particular, should see higher approval rates for prospective borrowers with increased confidence they are not being defrauded. Mitek is currently processing over several million ID documents a month. Both MoneyGram and Kabbage use Mitek’s MobileVerify technology. The company is seeing major traction in the fintech lending industry as players are nimble and the first target for most fraudsters.

Financial Inclusion, Privacy, and Real Life Applications

Ritter believes governments need to step up their efforts in ensuring everyone has access to an identity proof. Financial inclusion is positioned prominently in the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda, and the need for a digital identity goes far beyond the ability to participate in the formal economy. Its impact is multifold and helps to increase overall trade and access to healthcare and government services. Mitek is also focused on data privacy laws, with GDPR the hot topic in Europe. It has taken GDPR as its baseline for information security and is operating with GDPR recommended data security not only in Europe but across the globe.

Kabbage Case Study
Kabbage facilitates easy funding options to small and medium enterprises through its automated technology-backed data platform. With Mitek’s digital identity verification solutions integrated into the Kabbage platform, users are able to automatically populate the loan application form with pre-filled data in less than a second allowing customers to access funding quickly. Mitek’s solution applies advanced algorithms that automatically assess the authenticity of the driver’s license, providing assurance about the identity of the ID’s holder and reducing the likelihood of fraud during the loan application process.

Anonymous Payments Processor Case Study
Customers were facing a lengthy identity verification process, which forced them to leave the platform before completing the transaction. Driven by the need to comply with Anti Money Laundering (AML) and KYC regulations, a leading global payment processor selected Mitek’s Mobile Verify to provide the customers with more efficient ways to reduce the verification process from days to just minutes. Mitek was able to eliminate 92% of the temporary restrictions that the company previously had to place on customer accounts whenever they would reach a certain dollar threshold. By eliminating these temporary restrictions, the company has improved customer experience as well as increased profitability.

Mitek’s Collaboration with Nocks
Mitek’s digital verification identity has enabled blockchain payments platform Nocks to improve their customers’ onboarding by 98%. A cryptocurrency payments platform, Nocks also has to execute AML and KYC compliances. Nocks has now been able to verify the identity of applicants in real-time, dramatically improving new customer conversion rates due Mitek’s Mobile Verify interface.

MoneyGram Case Study
MoneyGram, the money transfer giant, is also using Mobile Verify to validate its customers’ ID. To complete the identity verification step in the money transfer process, MoneyGram customers simply take a picture of their passport or other identity document using their mobile device camera. Mobile Verify then uses advanced machine learning technology to instantly validate the authenticity of the ID.

Mitek is Experimenting With the Blockchain

Mitek is also developing technology to leverage blockchain infrastructure. The public ledger approach in general is interesting as it could allow for generating self-sovereign IDs which are owned and managed by the users themselves. When businesses need their information, people can control their data and allow only limited or conditional access. Moreover, even banking customers are exploring blockchain-based solutions, and Mitek is experimenting to integrate its ID verification systems on a distributed ledger.

Mitek’s Technology Leadership

Mitek was founded in 1985 and is listed on NASDAQ with a market cap of an estimated $250 million. Mitek’s innovative solutions are embedded into the apps of more than 6,100 organizations and used by more than 80 million consumers.

Stephen Ritter is the Chief Technology officer (CTO) of San Diego-based Mitek Systems. He helps in the technological development of the key processes of the company, along with overseeing Mitek Labs. He has more than 22 years of experience bringing new commercial software solutions to market. Ritter worked as tech lead with Emotient (acquired by Apple) before he joined Mitek.

With the increase in regulatory complexities and fraudulent practices, it is critical for businesses to make sure that they are on the right side of the law and yet are simultaneously making their customers’ life easier. Mitek helps them balance this fine line with its suite of sophisticated identification technologies.

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Written by Heena Dhir.