Friday September 1 2017, Daily News Digest

fintech adoption

News Comments Today’s main news: 2,000 IFISAs subscribed last year. Irish credit unions embrace Facebook Loans. Rubique launches new app features. Mexico has a new fintech law. Today’s main analysis: Mobile fintech vs . traditional banks: 15 things winners do well (a must-read). Today’s thought-provoking articles: The Personal Loan is Back. Is P2P lending headed for trouble? China’s $2T of shadow […]

fintech adoption

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United Kingdom

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International

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Asia

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News Summary

United States

The personal loan is back (American Banker), Rated: AAA

The personal loan is hip again.

Well, let’s not get too carried away. Just 4.33% of millennials ages 21 to 34 took out unsecured personal loans in 2015, according to a recent analysis by TransUnion.

Peerform is Back With an Interesting New Investment Partner Random Forest Capital (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Late last year Strategic Financial Solutions (SFS) a leading debt settlement company, acquired Peerform and they have been building out new product offerings.

SFS looked at many marketplace lending platforms before deciding to acquire Peerform. They were impressed by their underwriting and regulatory sophistication, their strong brand presence online, their low customer acquisition costs and how they had been frugal with the capital they had raised.

Enter Random Forest Capital. They are a new investment management firm started last year with a focus on data science and machine learning. They love taking masses of unstructured data and not only making sense of this data but finding new predictive power in this data.

Peerform overhauled their APIs to be able to pull in thousands of data attributes and millions of data points for analysis.

The team at Random Forest was able to build proprietary credit models using this new data which they said was more data than is available from any other marketplace lending platform today. As Kevin pointed out, “the money will go where the data is”.

Random Forest also invests in other asset classes beyond consumer credit. They have positions in secured auto, fix and flip real estate and secured commercial debt – bringing their unique data science skills to each asset class.

Out of the shadows: How fintech is infiltrating the mortgage industry (Housingwire), Rated: A

A study released in the National Bureau of Economic Research maintains that nonbanks, such as Quicken and loanDepot, essentially tripled market share for mortgage lending between 2007 to 2015.

Meet Sophie — the AI assistant that wants to save you money (Business Insider), Rated: A

Called Douugh, the app is designed to be a financial control center. More intriguingly, it employs an intelligent virtual assistant named Sophie to help users fully understand and manage their finances.

Users start by plugging in all their bank account information into Sophie. Once she has access to those, she’s able to use them to map out users’ financial situations. From there, she can categorize users’ spending and see if they’re living beyond their means.

Taylor previously worked at SocietyOne, a marketplace lending platform he cofounded. While there, he realized how much of a problem financial literacy was in Australia and the US. That led him to launch Douugh last year.

Right now, Sophie is in training mode. Taylor said the company will remain in beta for the rest of the year and launch in February once Sophie has been trained on enough data. Eventually, Douugh plans to build out a full suite of financial products and make Sophie accessible via Alexa and Siri, he said.

In the future, Sophie could serve as a kind of personal banker for users, operating on autopilot and making transactions. For example, if Sophie sees that you’re about to be charged an overdraft fee for an account you’ve kept empty, Sophie could transfer a few dollars from another account to prevent it.

LendingTree Announces Starbutter AI as Winner of $ 25,000 Startup Innovation Spotlight (Business Insider), Rated: B

LendingTree®, the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, has announced Starbutter AI as the winner of its Startup Innovation Spotlight, a new initiative by LendingTree to showcase the top startup companies in financial technology (fintech) lead generation at LeadsCon.

Starbutter AI is a voice and chat app development company that creates AI-driven chatbots for financial products.

AI-based chat is disrupting lead generation in financial ecommerce, and 2017 has seen a massive shift in the digital landscape toward voice search. Voice search is now 25% of all mobile search and is projected to reach 50% in 3-4 years.

HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADING AND SPOOFING (All About Alpha), Rated: A

Six years ago Michael Coscia placed orders through the CME Group’s Globex platform via a trading algorithm that amounted to “spoofing.” He placed both large and small orders in the copper market, for example, with the large orders (cancelled within milliseconds) designed to create the illusion of market movement in order to create the reality of movements, whence the small order would reap its profits.

In November 2015 a jury convicted Coscia of commodities fraud and sentenced him to three years in prison.

Coscia argued on appeal that Congress’ language on spoofing is void for vagueness, that is, that it fails to provide traders with clear notice of what they are and aren’t allowed to do, and thus is inconsistent with due process of law.

The New York based law firm Cleary Gottlieb has made public a memorandum on the case.

London fintech opens first overseas office in Charlotte at WeWork (Biz Journals), Rated: B

PCI Pal, a London financial technology company focused on call-center compliance, is opening its first overseas office in Charlotte. The company has taken space at coworking giant WeWork’s new uptown location.

Barham says about 30% to 35% of the company’s clients have operations in the U.S., so the firm decided it was time to build out infrastructure here to support them.

BCU goes live on Microsoft Azure with the Temenos Lifecycle Management Suite (Temenos), Rated: B

Temenos (SIX: TEMN), the software specialist for banking and finance, today announces that Baxter Credit Union (BCU) has successfully implemented the Lifecycle Management Suite in Microsoft Azure. The implementation, which included the Collection, Service, and Loan Origination modules, incorporated an upgrade spanning four major releases, as well as the inaugural launch of the Lifecycle Management Suite in the Cloud.

United Kingdom

2,000 IFISAs subscribed last year as consumers eschew low-yielding cash ISAs (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

TWO THOUSAND Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) accounts were subscribed in the last tax year, with retail investors collectively putting £17m in to the tax-free wrapper, official figures show.

ISA statistics released on Thursday by HMRC include IFISA data for the first time for the 2016-2017 tax year. The IFISA was first mooted by then-Chancellor George Osborne in July 2015, as a tax-free wrapper around alternative investments including P2P lending, and was officially launched in April 2016.

The average amount of money invested through an IFISA was £8,500 – slightly less than the average £8,623 put in to a stocks and shares ISA but almost double the £4,622 put in to a cash ISA.

Is peer-to-peer lending heading for trouble? (Which?), Rated: AAA

Two of the biggest peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders in the UK have been beset by problems over the past month, with RateSetter forced to make up a near £9m loan-deal gone sour and Zopa customers experiencing a severe cut in returns. So, is the market for peer-to-peer lending headed for trouble?

RateSetter lent a total of £36m to Vehicle Trading Group from 2014. This was wholesale lending, which meant that Vehicle Trading Group lent that money to other borrowers, including £12m to an advertising firm called Adpod (an unusual choice for a company that offers car loans).

Vehicle Trading Group went bust in May 2017. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned P2P firms that lending to other lenders may be in breach of regulations.

RateSetter took over the struggling AdPod in the second half of 2016, but its customers didn’t find this out until shortly after Vehicle Trading Group went bust.

As well as winding down any new lending to wholesale lenders, RateSetter says it no longer issues business loans over £750,000.

Meanwhile Zopa, another well-known P2P website and one of the ‘big three’ players in the market along with Ratesetter and Funding Circle, has warned investors that they may see their returns cut for products with higher projected rates of interest due to a rise in consumer debts going bad.

Which? has been contacted by a member who complained to Zopa after putting £1,500 into Zopa’s higher-risk product, which typically projects returns of around 6% after bad debt. One year later, however, he had made only £42 – less than 3%.

Fintech could be risky if banks don’t cooperate, says the Bank for International Settlements (City A.M.), Rated: A

Banks will need to take measures over the coming years to mitigate the risks of financial technology (fintech), according to a new report from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

It noted that while research from McKinsey & Co in 2015 estimated that between 10 and 40 per cent of revenues and 20 and 60 per cent of retail banking profits could be put at risk by fintech over the next 10 years, other market observers saw the developments as more positive.

It also advised institutions to vet any outsourcers through a thorough due diligence process, saying that any risks and liabilities incurred during the operations would remain with the bank.

The new bank: Replacement of incumbents by challenger banks

However, new players could prove just too agile in their ability to push the boundaries of technology, the report warned. In this scenario, new banks or tech companies with a banking branch could steal market share.

The disintermediated bank: Banks have become irrelevant as customers interact directly with individual financial services providers, for instance by using distributed ledger technology

In this case, incumbent banks would no longer be a significant player because there would be no need for a trusted third party or for balance sheet intermediation. Customers could have a more direct say in choosing the services and the provider. This futuristic scenario can be seen in its nascent form in peer-to-peer lending platforms and cryptocurrencies.

China

China’s $ 2 Trillion of Shadow Lending Throws Focus on Rust Belt (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Regional banks in China’s rust-belt provinces are driving the rapid expansion of shadow banking in the country, fueling a web of informal lending that poses wider risks to the financial system, according to a study by UBS Group AG.

By analyzing 237 Chinese banks, many of them small and unlisted regional lenders, Bedford casts a new spotlight on underground financing and the risks it poses to the nation’s $35 trillion banking industry. Shadow loans grew almost 15 percent to 14.1 trillion yuan ($2.3 trillion) by December from a year earlier, equal to about 19 percent of economic output, he estimates.

Accounting for this financing, Chinese banks’ nonperforming loans could be three times higher than the official published level, he said.

Asset Quality

Bank of Tangshan is an unlisted lender in the struggling northeast city of the same name, which produces more steel than any other city around the world. The firm’s shadow loans grew 86 percent last year to a size equal to 308 percent of its formal book, the highest of any bank in China, according to Bedford’s report.

Still, the bank reported a bad-loan ratio of just 0.05 percent last year, the lowest of any bank in UBS’ analysis, exemplifying the “distortion” shadow loan books create in assessing asset quality, Bedford said. Bank of Tangshan representatives didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Shadow loans can be used to circumvent regulations capping loans to a single borrower at 10 percent of a bank’s assets, or 15 percent in the case of a group company and its subsidiaries, according to Bedford. For example, he said that Baoshang Bank, an Inner Mongolia lender, has extended shadow loans equivalent to 126 percent of its net assets to one borrower.

Car Finance Penetration Rate in China Expect to Double in Five Years (Xing Ping She), Rated: A

According to a public report, from 2005 to 2015, the ratio of purchasing cars by loan in China has grown rapidly from less than 10% to 25% ~ 30%. During the past ten years, auto finance in China has been developing so fast. And from 2016 to 2017, during the short two years, the car finance penetration Rate continue to rise. Now the rate has reached to 35%~40%, among which the luxury car financial penetration rate is even higher. Furthermore, it is expected to double in five years.

On the prevention of various types of ICO to absorb investment-related risks in the name of the tips (National Internet Finance Association), Rated: B

To protect the legitimate rights and interests of the public, the relevant risk issues are as follows:

First, some institutions at home and abroad use all kinds of misleading propaganda means to ICO in the name of engaged in financing activities, the relevant financial activities without any permission, which is suspected of fraud, illegal securities, illegal fund-raising and other acts. The majority of investors should remain sober, vigilant, beware of being deceived. Once found to have involved in illegal acts, should immediately submit to the public security organs.

Second, due to ICO project assets are not clear, lack of investor appropriateness, a serious shortage of information disclosure, investment activities are facing greater risk. Investors should be calm judgments, be careful to take their own investment risk.

Third, China Internet Finance Association member units should take the initiative to strengthen self-discipline, to resist illegal financial behavior.

European Union

Credit Unions embrace FinTech as loans flood in through Facebook (Independent.ie), Rated: AAA

Credit Unions around Ireland have entered the FinTech arena, with some credit unions reporting a 10-fold interaction with younger adult members since they began rolling out digital loan service initiatives earlier this year.

Since its launch, the “Facebook Loan” initiative has already been a huge success for several credit unions throughout the country – now accounting for up to 15pc to 20pc in loan enquiries per month for some credit unions.

Following an initial successful pilot project, this has now become an established channel for credit unions, with close to half of consumers using the facility to take out a loan never having borrowed from a credit union before.

New European fintech hubs are on the horizon (Business Insider), Rated: A

Sweden‘s deal share of the European fintech investment market is growing for the third consecutive year. Its share expanded 2% between 2015 and 2016 to reach 8%, and currently stands at 12%, meaning it’s already ahead of last year’s figure. The country’s share of deals is also increasing ever-more quickly, from 2% over 2015-2016 to 4% between 2016 and 2017 year-to-date (YTD).

France is also seeing its deal share increase for the third year in a row, and like Sweden, its 2017 YTD share (11%) has already overtaken its 2016 figure (10%). However, its deal share growth has slowed down slightly, from 4% during 2015-2016 to 1% between 2016 and 2017 YTD.

International

Mobile Fintech vs Traditional Banking products: 15 awesome things winners do well (Robosoft Technologies), Rated: AAA

As of 2017, banking executives are completely missing the mark at correctly understanding the rise in popularity for fintech products. It all comes down to the user experience. Banks are misinterpreting and miscalculating the role user experience plays in the overall satisfaction customers have with a banking product.

Fintech vs Traditional banks – attitudes and missed expectations

In 2016, Capgemini Consulting in collaboration with EFMA conducted a global study to gauge customers’ attitudes towards financial service companies – banks and fintech companies alike. As part of the study, the researchers asked customers to rate the most important reasons why they are using financial products coming from fintech companies. In parallel – they asked banking executives to do the same.

The results show a complete disconnect between what consumers want and appreciate about fintech and what banks think consumers appreciate about fintech products.

But what they completely missed is that 80% of consumers rank faster service and good experience as a primary reason why they’re using fintech products (the two being completely correlated). In contrast, only 40% of banking executives believe good service/ experience is critical to fintech’s rise in popularity.

Source: Invoiceinterchange.com

Banking executives do not understand what consumers want.

Consider the following stats to understand the result of banking executives missing the mark on user experience from the Millennial Disruption Index Report:

  • 71% of consumers would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks are saying
  • 1 in 3 consumers are open to switching banks in the next 90 days if a better product is made available to them
  • All 4 of the leading banks in the US are among the ten least loved brands by Millennials
  • 33% of Millennials believe that in the next five years they won’t need to do business with a bank at all
  • Nearly 50% of Millennials believe that innovation in the banking industry will come from outside the banking industry
  • 73% of Millennials would be more excited about a financial service product coming from Google, Amazon, Apple, Paypal or Square than from their own national bank.

1. Integrated products & services (Mint and YES Bank)

It gets tiring to jump from one product to another at every given moment to get a good feeling of your overall financial life.

That is why Mint.com has managed to grow from nothing to 20 million active users in only 11 years. What Mint.com does is to order and organize your entire financial life in a seamless way to give to a bird’s-eye view of your financial life.

YES bank’s mobile solution, YES Mobile 2.0 is developed keeping in mind today’s customer’s mobile lifestyle. The app offers consumers with a seamless omnichannel experience across platforms – smartphones, tablets and smartwatches. Further, the mobile app also has some innovative features to enable easy transactions on the app. Some of these are:

  • One-touch bill payment.
  • Speech to text capabilities to enable hands-free complaints/queries registration
  • On-the-go bill payments from Wearables including Apple and Android smart watches.
  • Easy transfer of money to phone book contacts, Facebook friends and Twitter followers etc.

2. Personalized recommendations (Credit Karma)

Credit Karma is a simple credit history monitoring tool with an added benefit. Whereas they can use the service for free, they will receive personalized recommendations based on their credit reports, credit card usage and other factors. What is very interesting – and smart – for Credit Karma is that while offering these suggestions they also inform their users of their odds of acquiring a new line of credit – credit card, loans, mortgages and more. And most importantly, the user experience is clean, easy to follow and to act on it.

4. Access credit card balance without logging in (Citibank)

Remember how users ranked “speed of service” as the second most important criteria on why they love fintech products? Citibank actually leads the wave of banking institutions that allow their customers to do just that. Instead of logging in to see the most frequently sought for account information, their mobile app allows users to get a glimpse of their account simply by firing the app.

7. Seamless digital payment option (Apple Pay)

It is literally impossible for banks to create something simpler than this. For readers who are not iOS users, Apple Pay works by double tapping the home button. It then pulls up the Wallet application allowing users to pay at different retailers with the default card on file.

9. Text message notifications (Digit)

Digit is a fintech savings platform which analyzes a person’s checking account balance and spending habits and subtracts a small amount from the account every 2-3 days which is deposited in a savings account.

14. Password entering and password retrieval (Acorns)

First and foremost, Acorns has adopted the widely accepted retail practice of allowing users to unmask their password. This is an acceptable practice which reduces user authentication errors. By simply adding a “show” button, Acorns makes the login experience just a little easier.

In addition, the password reset flow is as simple as they come.

Fintech: beware the fake news (Banking Technology), Rated: AAA

A few years back, the general consensus was that banking as we knew it was over.

Fast forward two years and opinion has arguably swung too far in the other direction. The consensus now is that fintech firms tried to disrupt banks but couldn’t.

If we were to apply Gartner Hype Cycle terminology to fintech in general, we would argue that fintech went from the peak of inflated expectations to the trough of disillusionment in the last two years. If you look at the investment figures, however, the picture is not so clear. While there has been a correction in VC funding, Q2 2017 was the largest quarter of investment yet. Maybe Q2 was a blip, maybe we are heading out of the trough of disillusionment to the slope of enlightenment – or maybe investors are more sanguine about the prospects for fintech, seeing through the hype cycle.

The truth is that fintech is neither going to kill all banks nor is it a fad.

But the pessimism has become exaggerated for four main reasons:

1. Some extremely successful and highly disruptive fintech companies have been born, such as Ant Financial and PayPal (which, if a bank, would be one the ten largest in the US);

2. Adoption rates for fintech products are growing and are already material in many countries around the world (see chart below), meaning that fintech firms are successfully changing customers’ banking habits, which should help lower the cost of acquiring customers in future (a key hurdle for many fintechs);

3. Fintech companies are evolving, pushing further in middle and back office functions, extending the range of services they offer and generally becoming asset heavier and more vertically integrated, putting them in a position to compete more effectively; and,

4. Because the indirect impact of fintech has been massive.

Source: Banking Technology

UAE Remittance Giant Taps Ripple Blockchain for Instant International Payments (CryptCoinsNews), Rated: A

A report by regional publication Arabian Business has revealed that UAE Exchange, one of the region’s earliest remittance operators with some 800 offices across 31 countries, is looking to partner San Francisco-based FinTech firm Ripple to facilitate instant international money transfers.

The remittance operator sees blockchain technology as the solution toward faster and efficient money transfers at significantly lower costs for customers. Ripple uses its bank-friendly public blockchain, the Ripple Consensus Ledger, to link its international partners and facilitate real-time money transfers globally.

FinTech, The Financial Crisis And The Smartphone (Forbes), Rated: A

It is ten years since the Financial Crisis and I am often asked if FinTech was born out of the crisis.

In June 2007 two Bear Sterns hedge funds hit problems, by August BNP Paribas shut down access to hedge funds with sub-prime mortgage exposures, and in September Northern Rock, a UK savings and mortgage bank had a run on it, the first bank to suffer this consequence in 150 years in the UK.

It would be another full year before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and the global financial system melted down.

Chris Skinner, the global FinTech pundit, heralds the beginning of FinTech with the launch of Zopa, a UK peer to peer lender started in 2005. It was the first time he had heard the word FinTech.

US market place lenders Prosper, launched in 2005, and Lending Club, launched in 2006, were out of the gates before any evident signs of the impending crisis.

It appears FinTech was not born out of the Financial Crisis.

India

Rubique Launches New Features On Its App (DQ India), Rated: AAA

The interactive app will now focus on complete digitization of the loan and credit card application process. The most significant new feature of the app is ‘Digital Profiling’ and once the profile is created, all the bank policies and algorithms are run against the user’s profile for tailor-made offers.

The key features of an app:

  1. Digital profiling: created based on the back-end by collecting data through SMS scrapping, network type, device characteristics and certain key data points
  2. Pre-qualified offers: The data engine keeps evaluating the offers available on the platform versus customer profile available & proactively keep notifying users on the eligible offers
  3. Document Upload & instant approval: Aiming towards 100% digitization and create a paperless experience for the user, the app allows user to upload the supporting documents required & Rubique’s unique integration feature which is one of its kind in the entire industry, let user get in principal approval online for his/her requirement making it entie digital
  4. Status tracking: Due to direct integration with financial instituions’ system, user can check the application status in real time
  5. Wish List: The app also allows user can also maintain its wish list related to his/her futue loan & credit card requirement
Asia

Blockchain solution aims to stop trade invoice fraud (GT Review), Rated: A

Trade finance is rife with cases of document duplication and the industry is currently exploring ways in which blockchain can be used to prevent these cases of fraud. Earlier this year, warehousing company Access World experienced a number of cases of warehouse receipt duplication, while the costs of the Qingdao fraud, which also involved multiple warehouse receipts, are still being counted.

Invoice Check from Trade Finance Market (TFM), a Singapore-based fintech company, is one of the early products to launch with this aim in mind. It has been developed over the past year on the Ethereum platform and uses smart contracts.

Canada

Bianca Lopes of Bioconnect Presents Building the Human into FinTech (StartUp Toronto), Rated: A

Latin America

New fintech law: what you need to know (International Law Office), Rated: AAA

On March 23 2017 the draft Financial Technology Law was published. The law will regulate:

  • the organisation, operation, function and authorisation of companies that offer alternative means of access to finance and investment (so-called ‘financial technology (fintech) institutions’ (FTIs));
  • the issuance and management of electronic payment funds; and
  • the exchange of virtual assets or cryptocurrencies.

The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit Comments (SHCP) has sought comments on the draft law from the Mexican banking and financial industries.

Under the law, the main authorities in the fintech field are:

  • the SHCP;
  • the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV); and
  • the Bank of Mexico (known as Banxico).

Pursuant to the initiative, the following institutions that undertake financing, investment, savings, payments or transfer activities through interfaces, the Internet or any other means of electronic or digital communications will be considered FTIs:

  • electronic payment institutions – these offer issuance, management, accountability and transfer of electronic payments services. Electronic payment funds include:
    • the amounts or units of an asset that can be assigned a monetary value and are recorded in an electronic transaction accounting ledger; and
    • the amounts accepted by a third party as receipt of an amount of money or respective virtual assets;
  • virtual asset management institutions – these contact third parties through digital means in order to buy, sell or dispose of their own or a third party’s virtual assets and receive virtual assets to make transfers or payments to a person, including another virtual asset management institution. Virtual assets are digital units that have similar uses to the Mexican peso, as determined by Banxico in accordance with certain criteria; and
  • crowdfunding institutions – these serve as mediators to investment seekers and potential investors through digital platforms, such as websites or mobile applications, so that prospective investors can fund applicants through such digital platforms.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Nigeria Is Ready to Lead Africa in Financial Inclusion

Nigeria financial inclusion

Long the global laggard in financial inclusion, Africa has in recent years kept steadily ahead of the Western world in moving towards a cashless, card-less, mobile-driven future. In just a decade, the region has used mobile phones to spearhead a revolution in financial services. While some in the press heralded Apple Pay as a “revolutionary […]

Nigeria financial inclusion

Long the global laggard in financial inclusion, Africa has in recent years kept steadily ahead of the Western world in moving towards a cashless, card-less, mobile-driven future. In just a decade, the region has used mobile phones to spearhead a revolution in financial services. While some in the press heralded Apple Pay as a “revolutionary product” after its 2014 launch in the U.S., Kenyans were first introduced to M-Pesa in 2007. Today, more people have mobile bank accounts than traditional bank accounts across 19 African markets. Kenya may be the poster child for fintech aficionados, but Nigeria, Africa’s biggest country, is ready to surpass other African nations in financial inclusion. For it to do so, Nigerian banks and fintech providers will need to partner to expand access to credit, leverage recent improvements in mobile payment platforms, and improve information sharing.

A decade ago, making standard financial transactions in Nigeria was a Herculean feat that tried and tested customer patience. Years of inefficiency means that approximately half of Nigerians remain unbanked. Although many of these customers have savings accounts, less than 8% have accessed credit from a formal financial institution, and there are less than 300,000 credit cards in issue. During the last five years, however, banks and regulators have undertaken slow, yet effective steps to transform Nigeria’s financial center from a cash-dominated bureaucracy to one of the most sophisticated banking industries in Africa. In the last 6 months, leading banks have launched new apps that offer best-in-class mobile delivery and biometric and facial recognition. Wema Bank, which recently celebrated its 72nd anniversary, launched ALAT, Nigeria’s first fully digital bank. These developments may enhance the “tech credibility” of legacy banks and appeal to shareholders in annual reports, but it’s unclear that their tech-driven strategies have facilitated greater access to credit or contributed to deeper levels of financial inclusion. Although the payment infrastructure is now in place, incumbents’ reluctance to expand opportunities for consumers leaves open an opportunity for fintech companies to lead in retail banking where traditional institutions are sleeping.

Until recently, the last mile of payments to consumers and SMEs was unreliable and impeded efforts to integrate more Nigerians into the financial ecosystem. However, recent improvements in interoperability have opened the door to consumer finance as a viable source of revenue. Kenya’s M-Shwari, M-PESA’s landmark platform that revolutionized Kenyans’ capacity to save, has been a much-touted success. The launch of mCash in late 2016 has been a game-changer for Nigeria’s banking industry by going farther than M-Shwari. Whereas M-Shwari customers can only make transfers and save using the Safaricom network, mCash is compatible with all Nigerian banks and telecommunications companies. In one fell swoop, Nigeria obtained what other markets have struggled to achieve. Prior to this shift, payments across platforms were onerous and expensive; however, thanks to companies like Flutterwave, Amplify, or Paystack, which are focused on creating seamless interoperability in Africa’s financial sector, fintech providers can better access the bottom of the pyramid. In 2016, Wema Bank loaned N12bn to retail customers (5% of total lending) from their 135 branch locations. In the same year, two leading consumer finance startups loaned just under N10bn and are projected to surpass Wema’s retail lending in 2017. With the benefit of data-driven models, fintech providers can target consumers that legacy banks might overlook due to the low returns, and with interoperable platforms, they can build service models that provide a gateway to other financial services such as loans and insurance.

To scale this transformative potential, greater collaboration between banks and fintech companies is required. Nigeria should consider following the lead of the European Union where the recently enacted Payment Services Directive (PSD2) compels all banks to open up their core banking applications so that customer data may be accessible to fintech startups. This groundbreaking law helps to drastically reduce the costs of new customer acquisition for startups and will force banks to focus more on users’ needs, benefiting consumers greatly. Increased competition in financial services coupled with increased availability of digital services will accelerate adoption of business models with lower fixed costs and greater use of technology. For Nigeria, more information sharing between banks and fintech providers will improve risk profiling, enhance customer services for Nigerians at every income level, and provide customers with more options best suited to their individual situations.

Nigeria’s financial sector has the tools to expand access to finance through existing legislation, but without more will to collaborate between banks and fintech companies, too many users will continue to be left out of the system. As Africa assumes a larger share of the world’s working age population, overlooking tomorrow’s clients is a mistake. Improving efficiency, cost, optimization, and delivery will enable banks and fintech companies alike to shape Nigeria’s development, better benefit from economic growth, and diversify their clientele in order to weather downturns.

Author:

Chijioke Dozie is director and co-founder of Kaizen Venture Partners and CEO of OneFi, the largest smartphone-based loan provider in Nigeria.

Friday July 21 2017, Daily News Digest

RateSetter

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi CEO: why Etherium is worth more than Bitcoin. Affirm has 1,000 retail partners. Wells Fargo joins digital mortgage revolution. AutoGravity has half a million users. LendInvest launches retail bond offering. N26, Lydia support Apple Pay in France. Borrowell raises $57M in Canada. Today’s main analysis: RateSetter moves to protect users. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Takeaways from […]

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United States

Why Ethereum Is Much More Valuable Than Bitcoin (Fortune), Rated: AAA

As lending startup SoFi expands from student loans to full-service banking, it is also venturing into one of the trendiest areas among big Wall Street banks at the moment: blockchain.

An upstart cryptocurrency, Ethereum’s price has surged so dramatically in recent months that it now commands nearly as much market share as Bitcoin itself. Driving that rise is excitement about the way Ethereum allows its blockchain technology to be used to develop myriad other projects, as Cagney described.

In particular, SoFi, which is valued at more than $4 billion, is exploring a way to use blockchain to revolutionize title insurance, a standard requirement for many home buyers.

How SoFi is developing its financial services offerings (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

SoFi has always been as much about culture and brand before product and tech. Now that it’s postponed its initial public offering in December (it raised $500 million in private funding shortly after) it has the luxury of time to develop its financial services offerings.

“While we run positive contribution margins around our credit products… it pales in comparison to what the lifetime value of that relationship is worth,” CEO Mike Cagney said at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado Wednesday morning. “Not having that deposit product means that the bank, if it has that deposit product, is going to constantly try to cross sell [customers] and pull them back to the bank. That introduced this vulnerability in the business.”

There are also no branches planned for the non-bank financial services company, he confirmed, citing that in the 40 SoFi events he’s hosted and attended almost all other attendees have said they haven’t walked into a branch in the last five years, he claims.

SoFi is also in the exploratory stages of how to use alternative data like cell phone data for credit scoring as well as distributed ledger technology for title insurance.

U.S. banks are valued at between $2,000 and $100,000 per customer. SoFi currently has 250,000 members today and anticipates 500,000 by end of year. Cagney said it’s not unrealistic to get two million customers at “$25,000 to $50,000 per customer, which gets us in the $50 to $100 billion valuation range.”

Affirm now has 1,000 retail partners (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

Today Affirm has announced it has more than 1,000 merchants signed up to offer its financing options at checkout, helping to reduce the friction around making large purchases and, by extension, increasing sales for its partners.

While promoting its most recent milestone, Affirm is also trying to get across the message of how it’s different — and frankly, better — than point-of-sale financing options of the past. As a result, the company is pushing a marketing campaign around “honest finance” to enumerate the ways in which Affirm helps consumers by providing more access and better terms for big-ticket items.

Affirm Challenges Retailers, FIs To Practice ’Honest Finance‘ (PYMNTS), Rated: AAA

“Finance is pretty broken.”

So started Affirm’s Co-Founder and CEO Max Levchin’s remarks at his firm’s first-ever AFFIRMation conference for its retail partners in San Francisco yesterday.

He’s on a mission to fix a system that he believes doesn’t really serve anyone’s long-term interest nearly as well as it could or should. When it comes to the extension of credit, Levchin says that customers often lose out, retailers end up with angry customers who frequently feel ripped off and FI’s alienate their customer base.

Broken by the Numbers

“Sixty percent of Americans fear credit cards,” Levchin noted.

“[Most consumers] think getting involved with using a card will cost them a lot more than they bargain for. A third fear they will overspend. And they are right; that’s what happens, and the industry does very little to help them create necessary guardrails.”

Bad Faith

In fact, Levchin noted, the industry doesn’t want to create guardrails, because a lot of players have literally built products that bet against the consumer.

Deferred interest — the “dirty little secret” of consumer credit that bears a retailer’s logo and accompanies those too good to be true offers — means that even one day late on a payment 59 months into a 60-month loan, means interest gets calculated back to day one.

Bad Long-Term Thinking

Last quarter, on the occasion of its one millionth consumer installment loan, Affirm reported a 75 percent increase in purchase value on purchases made using Affirm, a 20 percent lift in POS conversion and a repeat rate of 25 percent of borrowers returning.

And Affirm’s net promotor score: It’s 82, slightly trailing Starbuck’s 85, but not by much.

Affirm is looking to retailers across the country to join in pledging to abandon “predatory consumer credit practices” and has also challenged the nation’s financial institutions to do the same.

Nation’s largest lender finally hops on digital-mortgage bandwagon (Mortgage Professional America), Rated: AAA

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said that the bank expects to launch a digital mortgage application tool by the end of next year, according to a report by the Charlotte Business Journal. Sloan made the announcement during an earnings call on Friday.

Sloan told investors that Wells Fargo doesn’t currently have as many online loan products as it would like, the Charlotte Business Journal reported. He said that employees are currently testing the online mortgage tool, and that the bank plans to run a test with customers this year before a full rollout in 2018.

AutoGravity Now Has Over 500,000 Users (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

AutoGravity says it has now surpassed 500,000 in just one year. AutoGravity is an App-based online lender targeting the auto financing space. Pick the car and request a loan all on your smartphone. It’s that simple.

Additionallly, AutoGravity shares that more than $500 million in financing has been requested through the AutoGravity platform.

Fundrise Officially Announces New eFunds (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Fundrise, a leading online marketplace for real estate investing, has officially announced the availability of their new eFunds.

The “featured” eFund starts with the Los Angeles market. The LA eFund aims to provide housing for the underserved millennial homebuyer.

Fundrise has also launched a DC eFund.

PayPal Completes Acquisition of TIO Networks (BusinessWire), Rated: A

PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:PYPL) and TIO Networks Corp. (TSXV:TNC) today announced that PayPal has completed its previously announced acquisition of TIO Networks. In accordance with the terms of the Arrangement announced on February 14, 2017, PayPal acquired all of the outstanding shares of TIO for $3.35 CDN ($2.64 USD) per share in cash or an approximate $302 million CDN ($238 million USD) equity value.

LendKey Announces Series C Funding (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LendKey, the leading lending-as-a-service solution for banks and credit unions, today announced $13 million in Series C funding, $8 million in equity and $5 million in debt financing. North Atlantic Capital, based in Portland, ME, led the round with participation from each of LendKey’s existing investors including DFJ, Updata Partners, Gotham Ventures, and TTV Capital.

The Series C funding will enable the company to expand its services and staffing. LendKey plans to grow its regional office in Cincinnati, Ohio and expand its account development and sales teams.

Mobile savings and investment service Acorns is on track to do 1 billion trades in 2017 (TechCrunch), Rated: A

The company now boasts more than 2 million investment accounts (with 600,000 opened in 2017 alone) and is on track to do 1 billion trades in 2017 through the proprietary broker-dealer that it created.

Still, the numbers were impressive enough to attract Bain Capital Ventures to commit another $35 million to the company, bringing Acorns total Series D financing to $70 million. Previous investors PayPal, Greycroft Growth Fund, e.Ventures Growth Fund, NYCA, Capital Group, Rakuten, Point72 and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures also participated in the round.

Unifund CEO Consumer Credit Caution: “Time To Stop Getting Lost In The Averages” (PYMNTS), Rated: A

Fifty years ago, when customers thought about using credit, it was in the context of buying something expensive that they really needed — a refrigerator, a washer/dryer, a car — with the intention to pay off that loan balance quickly.

Credit as a Currency

For super-prime customers — those for whom credit cards are basically payment cards because those consumers pay them in full monthly and never accrue any interest — Rosenberg said that card “borrowing” is an incentive-driven system. The customer gets cash back, rewards points, airline miles, hotel stays — and those incentives have very successfully attracted consumers to use them to buy things. Rosenberg noted that for a large segment of consumers, buying something without using a credit card is almost a foreign concept because the card offers them access to a more valuable form of currency.

But a more artificial intelligence-driven, machine learning system, Rosenberg said, will allow those customers who are locked out of the credit market today to be seen more clearly by creditors, and to be given incentives that are more explicitly tailored to their wants.

A Better Subprime Experience

The problem with the categorizations of “prime” and “sub-prime” borrower is that they are somewhat less hard and fast than people like to think they are. Rosenberg explained that there aren’t simply two classes of buyers — those who pay their bills and those who don’t.

But, Rosenberg said, the truth is most people pay bills in the order of absolute necessity, and when things get bad financially because a job was lost or an economic catastrophe has happened, that order gets very utilitarian. Car payments get paid, because car companies have no sense of humor and will repossess a car. But eviction from a house takes longer, which means a person with a more pressing need would rather skip their mortgage for a few months than not buy medication they need. And credit card bills? Those quickly fall to the bottom of a pile.

Bank of America Unveils New Mobile Capability to Apply for Business Advantage Term Loans and Credit Lines (BusinessWire), Rated: A

Bank of America today announced enhancements to its mobile app experience that add on-the-go convenience to small business banking and lending. With the suite of updates, Bank of America small business clients can now apply for a Business Advantage Term Loan or Business Advantage Credit Line from any Bank of America digital platform – including the Bank of America mobile banking app, and bankofamerica.com.

More than 1.3 million small business clients are active users of the Bank of America mobile banking app, an increase of 14 percent over the past year.

December 2016 Fed Rate Hike: Most Consumers Fared Well, But It’s a New Dynamic for Consumers and Lenders Alike (TransUnion), Rated: A

TransUnion (NYSE:TRU) released an analysis today showing that most borrowers were able to absorb their increased monthly payment obligations after the Federal Reserve Board rate hike last December.

TransUnion’s study identified these 63 million consumers because they carried debts for which the minimum monthly payment due was tied to the market interest rate, such that a rise in rates from the December rate hike could cause an increase in payments required. TransUnion used its CreditVision® aggregate excess payment (“AEP”) algorithm, which incorporates monthly payments from mortgages, credit cards and other debt obligations, to identify 10.6 million of these consumers who were at elevated risk of not having the capacity to absorb a rate increase of 0.25%.

Banks That Don’t Invest in Technology Risk Falling Behind Permanently (Forbes), Rated: A

Wack points to a new study of mortgage lending, Fintech, Regulatory Arbitrage, and the Rise of Shadow Banks, co-written by business school professors at the University of Chicago, Columbia Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The researchers found that some banks find themselves trying to play catch-up to competitors that long ago allowed borrowers to apply for mortgages online. The institutions that have been slow to adopt online applications for mortgage lending are losing market share to their competitors. Meanwhile, non-bank lenders have grabbed a substantial piece of the market; so-called “shadow banks” lend money but don’t use bank deposits to finance the transactions. They now write 38% of all home loans — almost triple their share in 2007. Further, the shadow banks now originate three-fourths of all loans to low-income borrowers insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

I’m a banker and I say let SoFi into the club (American Banker), Rated: A

As the president of a small community bank, I feel the need to respond to certain misleading comments that have been made by banking industry representatives and community activistsrecently in opposition to the Social Finance application to charter an industrial bank.

I feel the need in particular to respond to comments as reported in the press by a representative of the Independent Community Bankers of America, an industry trade association I support. In essence, this individual stated opposition to SoFi’s recent application based on his assertion that industrial banks don’t follow the same rules as other banks. This assertion is not accurate.

The banking industry is evolving. Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on how to evolve with it rather than how to reduce competition?

Ga. banks less stressed, but lending slowdown a worry (myAJC), Rated: A

Across the nation, bank lending has slowed for most types of loans since the presidential election. Business lending declined in the first quarter and is still crawling at close to its slowest pace since 2011, according to Federal Reserve data.

Overall loan growth is a bit better, but across the board, lending has slowed for debt ranging from auto loans to credit cards to financing for factories, office buildings and small businesses, according to the Fed.

That has made for stiff competition for bankers hunting for loan customers, and because interest rates are still low, banks’ profit margins on their total loan portfolios remain tight.

Last week, Columbus-based Synovus Corp., the second largest bank headquartered in the state, with $31 billion in assets, said its total loans grew by $314 million in the second quarter, up 5.2 percent compared to the first quarter. Synovus banked a $73 million profit during the quarter, 27 percent higher than a year ago.

Synovus’ consumer loans grew at a 16 percent annual pace during the recent quarter, accounting for $2 out of $3 of Synovus’ new loans.

Credit Risk Startup James Closes $ 2.7M Funding Round (Finsmes), Rated: A

James (formerly known as CrowdProcess), a New York-based credit risk startup, closed a $2.7M funding round.

The round was led by Gaël de Boissard with participation from Henry Richotte and BiG Start Ventures. As a result of this deal, Mr. de Boissard has joined James’s Board of Directors.

Investors Approach Investing Differently Across Generations (Plan Adviser), Rated: A

The Dreyfus study found that investors tend to take different approaches to investing based on age. Sixty-one percent of investors 55 years of age or older indicated they have not, or will not, reevaluate their investment approach in today’s existing investing environment. Meanwhile, 65% of Millennials, defined in the study as people between the ages of 21 and 34, had already evaluated their investment approach at the time of the survey. These actions are reflected among 51% of those between the ages of 35 and 54, as well as for 39% of those at least 55-years-old.

OCC FinTech Charter in Trump Administration Cards (JD Supra), Rated: A

In his remarks to the Exchequer Club in Washington, D.C., President Trump’s Acting Comptroller of the Currency, Keith Noreika, came strong to the mic, roundly stating the charter is a “good idea” and flatly saying “yes”, the OCC has the authority to grant the FinTech charter in the face of legal challenges by the New York Department of Financial Services and the  Conference of State Bank Supervisors.

Here are three other takeaways from the Acting Comptroller’s remarks:

  1. The FinTech charter promotes the dual banking system.
  2. The OCC is having informal meetings with interested FinTech companies.
  3. Existing OCC bank charters may be an option now.

Access Anytime, Anywhere Powers Better Consumer Lending (Blend), Rated: A

That’s why we’re harnessing the power of technology to bring consumers closer to their loan officers (LOs) and launching Blend Mobile, the first native mobile application allowing LOs to manage their businesses, including borrower requests and applications, anytime and anywhere.

Robos are offering SRI, so shouldn’t live advisers? (Investment News), Rated: A

“SRI has been one of the most consistent personalization requests we’ve had,” said Dan Egan, Betterment’s director of behavioral finance and investments. “It allows people who want to buy a better world to put their money where their mouth is.”

The nation’s largest robo adviser, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, which has $80 billion in assets, offers clients a proprietary fund on its digital platforms that tracks a benchmark that screens companies on social, human rights and environmental criteria. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, which has $19.4 billion in AUM, does not offer an SRI option.

Mastercard Enhances Artificial Intelligence Capability with the Acquisition of Brighterion, Inc. (BusinessWire), Rated: A

Mastercard (NYSE:MA) today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Brighterion, Inc., a leading software company specializing in artificial intelligence. This acquisition will further expand its suite of capabilities that deliver an enhanced customer experience and security.

Commentary on the Reintroduction of the Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act (H.R. 3299) (Factory Email), Rated: B

Passing the Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act into law is critical for the consumer lending industry. We are pleased that forward looking legislators aim to remove the regulatory and capital markets uncertainty caused by court cases such as Madden vs. Midland.

Lead by the Second Circuit Court’s decision, other state regulators are attempting to erode a core tenet of our federal banking system. “Both the ‘valid when made’ doctrine and the exportation of usury rate have facilitated nationwide lending for over a century by allowing the rate of interest on certain loans to remain unchanged after transfer of the loan,” said Gilles Gade, President and CEO of Cross River, an FDIC insured New Jersey State chartered bank and leader in marketplace leading origination. “The ability for banks to sell loans to non-banks is vital to the capital markets ecosystem in general, and to consumers in particular who are getting hurt as access to credit is made more difficult and more expensive. The perenniality of this tenet hinges on a healthy secondary market, increased liquidity, and the securitization of debts ranging from mortgages to credit cards, all of which help facilitate emerging innovations and provide capital that makes credit more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans. We applaud the bipartisan reintroduction of this bill and look forward to its expeditious review and passage.”

Comment by William M. Bell of Factory.

LendingTree Announces Promotion of Sam Mischner to Chief Sales Officer and Head of Mortgage (PR Newswire), Rated: B

LendingTree® (NASDAQ: TREE), the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, today announced that Sam Mischner has been promoted to Chief Sales Officer and Head of Mortgage.  Previously, Mischner served as SVP, Sales and GM, Mortgage.

United Kingdom

Fintech lender LendInvest to launch retail bond offering (AltFi), Rated: AAA

LendInvest, a leading alternative lender in the property space, is launching a retail bond. The bond will offer investors a fixed rate of 5.25 per cent, due 2022.

It is expected to be listed on the London Stock Exchange once the subscription period closes. LendInvest is targeting an initial raise of £50m, and the company expects this to be the first of a number of bond issues over the coming years. The bond has a minimum investment amount of £2,000.

Interest from the bond will be paid semi-annually on 10 February and 10 August each year. The net proceeds will be used to fund the origination and/or purchase of loans which satisfy the company’s eligibility criteria.

RateSetter moves to protect its investors (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

UK marketplace lender RateSetter has given more details on a series of interventions it has made to protect the company’s 50,000 retail investors from adverse consequences related to its lending decisions in the last two years.

Here are the three measures RateSetter has now explained in greater detail:

  • Buying two subsidiaries in a motor finance company. 
  • Wholly buying Adpod, an advertising company. 
  • Ending its partnership with George Banco, a consumer lending platform. RateSetter is withdrawing from the partnership, remaining only as a passive investor, after reviewing the strategy more closely. RateSetter added that George Banco is still repaying its £32 million ($42 million) loan.

Monzo gently rolls out current account (Banking Tech), Rated: A

The bank, which received its full UK banking licence in April, says it’s been using the current account internally and today (17 July) is now inviting some of its customers to join and “help put it through its paces”.

Its aim is to offer a current account to all existing customers by the end of the year. Towards that goal, over the next three months it will roll out between 10,000 and 20,000 current accounts to existing customers. As you probably guessed, users can register their interest on its site. Investors get priority access.

TransferWise’s cofounders have swapped the CEO role between themselves again (Business Insider), Rated: A

Kristo Kaarmann is taking over from Taavet Hinrikus as the boss of the international money transfer business, according to a blog post on Medium that was written by Hinrikus and published on Tuesday.

Next-gen Credit Scorer Aire Raises $ 5m in Series A Funding from Deep-tech VCs (Fintech Finance), Rated: A

Aire today announces the closing of a $5m Series A funding round, led by Sunstone Capital alongside White Star who previously led Aire’s Seed round in 2016.

Aire today announces the closing of a $5m Series A funding round, led by Sunstone Capital alongside White Star who previously led Aire’s Seed round in 2016.

The Lines Are Blurring Between Alternative, Traditional SME Finance (PYMNTS), Rated: A

Alternative lending has shifted from a competitor of traditional FIs to a collaborator, often lending a digital hand to banks in need of upgrading their systems to provide faster, more agile financing to SMEs. A new report from the state-backed British Business Bank (BBB), however, suggests alternative lenders are becoming an increasingly important part of its operations in a different way, highlighting how the lines between alternative finance (AltFin) and traditional finance continue to blur.

The annual report said the BBB facilitated more than $930 million in SME loans last year, and, according to the data, every year more of that money is landing at small businesses thanks to collaboration with alternative lenders like RateSetter and Funding Circle. According to reports, in 2014 the percentage of BBB funds that went through a P2P platform was 79 percent; in 2015, it was 90 percent.

Permira Joins Payments Rush by Buying Into Sweden’s Klarna (U.S. News), Rated: A

Private equity group Permira has bought a stake of at least 10 percent in payments firm Klarna, one of Europe’s most highly valued tech startups, the companies said on Friday.

Permira will acquire the Klarna stake from existing shareholders General Atlantic and DST Global, and the Sweden-based firm’s co-founder Niklas Adalberth.

General Atlantic and DST Global will cease to be shareholders in Klarna after the deal, they added in a statement.

Bank of England opens up payments systems to spur fintech (Tribune), Rated: A

The Bank of England has widened access to Britain’s interbank payments system to increase competition from new fintech firms in the financial system, where the “Big Four” high street banks have long dominated.

The changes, which in practice will come into effect in 2018 once legislative changes have been completed, will enable such non-bank payments services providers (PSPs) to compete better with banks, the BoE said.

There is no ‘existential crisis’ challenge for banks from fintech, HSBC’s digital chief says (CNBC), Rated: A

The idea that big banks are facing an “existential crisis” from financial technology (fintech) challengers is “overblown”, the digital chief of HSBC told CNBC.

Crowdfunding: the stable option in 2017? (The C Suite), Rated: A

Research conducted by Beauhurst on 2016 UK funding deals for non-listed high-growth businesses concluded that crowdfunding outperformed private equity and venture capital. Whilst 2016 saw a decline in the total number of deals financed by equity investors, activity on the leading crowdfunding platforms increased. Crowdcube (launched in 2011) and Seedrs (launched in 2012) accounted for 21% of such equity investment in the UK last year.

According to Beauhurst’s research, Q1 of 2017 has seen a small increase of 2.7% in equity funding in non-listed, high-growth companies. However deal numbers are still 6.72% lower than the same quarter in 2016. The growth has primarily been driven by crowdfunding platforms, with an 11% growth in deal numbers.

Boost for UK fintech as Receipt Bank secures huge $ 50 million in funding (Business Insider), Rated: A

Accountancy software startup Receipt Bank has raised $50 million (£38.4 million) in a Series B funding round led by a New York venture capital firm.

Perfect storm for Scots property borrowers (Scotsman), Rated: A

By 2018, loans from alternative finance schemes such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and private debt, will be as cost competitive as the retail banks, blowing the finance market wide open for loans in the £500,000 to £10 million range.

Naturally, because alternative lenders such as Funding Circle, The Route and Folk to Folk are settling loans for higher loan-to-value (LTV) ranges (between 60 and 75 per cent), they absorb the risk by charging higher interest on both short- and medium-term loans – currently between 6 and 12 per cent a year.

LTVs in retail banking property loans are settled at around 55 to 60 per cent, but they offer lower loan costs of between 2.5 and 5 per cent. This is all set to change in 2018 – with increased availability of finance for lenders, such as innovative finance ISAs (IFIsa), the cost of capital is set to fall and this will encourage alternative lenders to reduce their interest rates.

Zopa’s Home Improvement Index Reveals: A New Kitchen Can Deliver Over 50% ROI (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

On Wednesday, peer-to-peer lender Zopa released its latest Home Improvement Index that indicated a quart of British homeowners looking to improve their homes this summer are choosing to renovate their kitchens and are seeing a 51% return on investment as a result. According to research, 25% of British homeowners undertaking a home improvement are opting for a new kitchen, with the renovation boosting the value of a home by an average of 10%.

Zopa noted that the research found that the average home improvement would increase the value of a home by 9% or nearly £24,000 (£23,837) – based on homeowner’s estimates. The average return on investment was 50%, based on the total amount spent by homeowners.

Opinion split on best P2P marketing techniques (P2P Finance News), Rated: B

Property P2P platform Lendy has recently announced sponsorship of the Cowes Week sailing regatta, while business lender Ablrate has been announced as a sponsor of the PGA EuroPro Tour’s £100,000 Shoot-Out competition.

Other firms such as RateSetter have used adverts on the London Underground and Crowdstacker has run adverts in print publications, while Zopa and Funding Circle have used TV campaigns.

But Frazer Fernhead, founder and chief executive of The House Crowd, prefers to invest in digital marketing.

China

Yirendai Limited: A Growth Play At Deeply Discounted Valuations (Seeking Alpha), Rated: AAA

The ADR has returned a solid 250%+ in a year and a half since then. In comparison, Alibaba stock is up by 83% while NetEase is up by 16% and JD.com has risen just 27.5%. In other words, Yirendai has been the best performing Chinese stock/ADR ever since the company was listed in the US.

Yirendai reported quarterly revenue of $148.42 million for Q1 2017, which grew 75% year-on-year. On the earnings front, the company reported earnings per ADR (EPADR) of 84 cents, a 147% improvement over 34 cents EPADR in Q1 2016. On a trailing twelve month (NYSE:TTM) timeframe, the revenue has grown from $265.2 million in Q1 2016 to $544.6 million in Q1 2017, a 105% year-on-year growth.

We believe that, based on Yirendai’s earnings history and the historical valuation multiples, the stock should easily trade in the $43.4 – $57.7 range, which represents a 65% upside at the higher end.

European Union

N26 and Lydia announce Apple Pay support in France, but major banks are still missing (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

Apple Pay hasn’t really been a major success in France so far. France’s biggest banks still don’t plan to support Apple’s payment service. But two companies announced today that they were going to add Apple Pay support before the end of the year — Lydia and N26Crédit Mutuel Arkea’s banks also recently announced that they were working on that feature as well.

Crowdfunding and Crowdlending (Soundcloud), Rated: A

Get a unique insight into what crowdfunding and crowdlending are and find out how you can participate in it – either as an entrepreneur or as an investor. Responsible for crowdfunding in DNB, Lars Marthinsen, and CEO of Kameo, Sebastian Martens, are guests at #pengepodden .

International

Finstar commits $ 150m to fintech investment (Finextra), Rated: A

Private equity outfit Finstar Financial Group is planning to pump $150 million into fintech startups over the next five years.

The money will be used to buy stakes in promising fintech startups in Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as on research and development within portfolio companies.

Baloise invests in insurtech company Trov (Baloise), Rated: A

Baloise is investing in the Californian insurtech company Trov. The start-up offers on-demand insurance for personal items and has already launched in the UK and Australia, and will roll out in the U.S. later this year. For Baloise, this is the first investment arising from its partnership with Anthemis.

Baloise’s investment is part of the Series D financing secured by Trov in April 2017.

Australia

Factor in the robo-advice (The Australian), Rated: A

The disruption is well under way in the US, where two giant companies – Betterment and Wealthfront – have emerged, each with a valuation of more than $5 billion. In recent months Betterment has seemed to outpace Wealthfront in terms of size and growth. Betterment, which has cheaper services, now boasts a client list of 188,000 while Wealthfront has 90,000.

ANZ has put its $4.5 billion wealth advice unit on the block, in a move that followed UBS’s decision to sell its wealth management arm in Australia a year ago. And Platinum Asset Management, the one-time king of specialist overseas fund managers in the local market, has announced a dramatic cut in its fee charges.

In Australia, the SMSF Industry Association tacked a robo-advice questionnaire onto one of its recent surveys and found that 18 per cent of its members – higher than in the general population (13 per cent) – would be willing to try robo services.

Online Lender Prospa is NSW State Winner in 2017 Telstra Business Awards (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Prospa, an online lender to Australian small business, has been awarded the 2017 Telstra New South Wales Medium Business Award in the 2017 Telstra Business Awards.

Prospa said it was the first Fintech company to be awarded the accolade.

India

How Fintech Revolution Is Making Way For A Potential $ 5 Bn Online P2P Lending Empire In India (Inc42), Rated: A

Currently, at a nascent stage, the P2P lending landscape in India is also poised to grow into a $4 Bn-$5 Bn industry by 2023. The domain’s origin actually dates back to 2012, when the first peer-to-peer lending company i-Lend was launched. At present, the P2P lending space is populated by more than 30 players including Faircent, LendBox, LenDenClub, IndiaMoneyMart, Monexo, Rupaiya Exchange, LoanBaba, CapZest, i2iFunding and many more.

One factor that has played an integral role in the rise of an alternative fintech industry is demonetisationinstated on November 8, 2016. Post the ban on INR 500 and INR 1,000 notes, bank deposits underwent a discernible slowdown. Loans to SMEs and MSMEs reached an abrupt halt, forcing many businesses to seek other methods of financing. Last year, for instance, around 34% of P2P borrowers were actually business owners looking to expand without having to rely on banks.

Singapore Based Bridge Data Centres Looks To Pour $ 500 Mn Into India (Inc42), Rated: B

Bridge Data Centres is looking to invest $500 Mn in India over the next two years. As per reports, the investment will enable the Singapore-based data centre outsourcing (DCO) company to gain a stronghold of the country’s fast-growing market for data centres.

In June 2017, Alibaba revealed plans to set up two new cloud data centres in India and Indonesia, in an attempt to strengthen the company’s computing resources in Asia. Earlier in January 2017, US-based data storage and management firm NetApp launched its Global Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru, as part of a $155 Mn (INR 1,000 Cr) investment. In December last year, Amaravati-headquartered Pi DATACENTERS raised $23 Mn from Epsilon Venture Partners. It was reported that the funds would be used to roll out state-of-the-art data centres across India.

Multinational alternative investment firm Bain Capital recently infused $10 Mn in Bengaluru-based consumer leasing startup RentoMojo has raised $10 Mn in Series B funding round led by Renaud Laplanche. Existing investors Accel Partners and IDG Ventures also participated in the round.

Because the construction and maintenance of data centres is a capital-intensive activity, an increasing number of businesses in India are  enlisting the help of data centre service providers.

Canada

Borrowell raises $ 57M in New Funding to Expand Credit Education and Lending (GlobeNewswire), Rated: AAA

Financial technology company Borrowell announced today it has secured $12 million (CAD) in equity funding and $45 million in new credit facilities. The Series A equity round is being led by Portag3 Ventures LP, Equitable Bank and White Star Capital, with participation by FirstOntario Credit Union and other new and existing investors, and brings the company’s total equity financing to $16.7 million. The credit facilities are being provided by Concentra and FirstOntario Credit Union for the purpose of funding ‘one click’ loans to prime consumers. This latest round of funding will allow Borrowell to provide free credit information and loans to more people.

More than 300,000 Canadians have a Borrowell account, with thousands more signing up each week.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor