Wednesday February 7 2018, Daily News Digest

MONEY-LAUNDERING-BY-ACTIVITY

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi named official sponsor of Big Ten. Equifax supports SME lending with new data sharing solution. UK fintech venture investment rises 150%. Klarna partners with London College of Fashion. Revolut ditches Wirecard, takes card issuances in-house. Today’s main analysis: The most wanted for anti-money laundering cases in Asia. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Banks close 1,700 […]

MONEY-LAUNDERING-BY-ACTIVITY

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United Kingdom

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United States

SoFi Named Official Presenting Sponsor of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament (BigTen.org), Rated: AAA

The Big Ten Conference and Big Ten Network announced a multi-year agreement naming SoFi as the presenting sponsor of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament. SoFi, a modern finance company taking an unprecedented approach to lending and wealth management, will not only be the on-site tournament sponsor, but also present the on-air coverage of all 10 tournament games televised on BTN.

Equifax launches data sharing solution to support SME lending (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Information solutions company Equifax has launched a new solution that provides back up for the government’s Commercial Credit Data Sharing (CCDS) initiative, which is seeking to boost the economy by encouraging new entrants into the SME lending sector.

According to the platform, the new solution “gives lenders a comprehensive picture of a business’ financial health to facilitate faster and more informed lending decisions”.

Equifax was designated as a credit reference agency under the CCDS initiative, giving it access to new data sets from leading business banks, including cash flow activity and debit and credit turnover. The data will be provided to lenders through Equifax Business Insights.

Banks Shutter 1,700 Branches in Fastest Decline on Record (WSJ), Rated: AAA

The number of branches in the U.S. shrank by more than 1,700 in the 12 months ended in June 2017, the biggest decline on record, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Branch numbers fell again in the second half of 2017, according to related data submitted to bank regulators and reviewed by the Journal. That would add to the thousands of locations closed following the financial crisis, and is the longest stretch of closures since the Great Depression.

Many of the closings were in big cities and surrounding suburbs, where branches were consolidated largely because of falling foot traffic. Others were in rural areas, where some large regional lenders are leaving town altogether.

From mid-2012 to mid-2017, Capital One Financial Corp. cut 32% of its branches, SunTrust Banks Inc. 22% and Regions Financial Corp. 12%.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

What a scrappy Oklahoma bank can teach the industry about branch strategy (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Citizens Bank of Edmond is trying to get closer to small business customers by providing space, guidance and almost anything else they might need — besides, of course, a loan.

The one-branch community bank in Edmond, Oklahoma once had another branch, 12,000 square feet located one block away from the main space, with a drive-thru window and some executive offices. But recently the bank decided to consolidate it into a single location and has now turned it into a “business social” co-working environment, called Vault 405, for its small business customers that includes wireless charging stations, conference rooms and a podcast studio.

Ideally, by creating an environment that would bring customer and community relationship returns, as well as grow deposits and loan volume. Citizens currently charges monthly rates between $400 and $1,000 for offices and $175 to $275 for desks and shared spaces. It also offers day passes.

Citizens is also addressing cash pickups for small business customers, one of the most compelling cases for banks thinking of repurposing their branches, using as much readily available technology as possible.

Why Digit is over chatbots (American Banker), Rated: A

Now, Ethan Bloch, founder and CEO of the San Francisco startup, believes his company has been offering the wrong primary user interface. “We think [chatbots] haven’t lived up to their promise,” he said. “So we are done believing they will.”

While the premise of Digit is still the same — use the service to automatically transfer funds from checking to savings every few days in amounts its algorithms believe a person can afford — Bloch believed the chatbot model is terribly flawed in its inefficiency to find out information.

Lendio Franchise Announced in Seacoast Region (Lendio Email), Rated: B

6th Avenue Capital adds trio to executive ranks (Bankless Times), Rated: B

6th Avenue Capital, a provider of small business financing solutions, announced the appointment of three senior members to their business development team. Mitchell (Mitch) Levy, Marc Seidel and Gary Lockwood were named to lead the sales teams. The new hires follow last year’s appointments of Christine Chang as CEO and Darren Schulman as COO and a $60 million commitment in capital from a large institutional investor.

US states team up to streamline fintech licensing (Finextra), Rated: A

Currently, firms offering services such as money transfers and cryptocurrency trading have to apply individually to operate in each of the 50 US states.

Under the new compact, if one of Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington reviews key elements of licensing – IT, cybersecurity, business plan, background check and Bank Secrecy Act compliance – the other six will accept the findings.

Wela Partners with In-Fi to Bring AI-Powered Bot to Insurance Agency Platform Website (GlobeNewswire), Rated: A

Wela, a fintech company that blends artificial intelligence (AI) with human advisors, today announces a partnership with In-Fi, an insurance agency management company specifically for financial institutions. Wela’s AI-powered chatbot, personified as Benjamin, is now fully integrated into In-Fi’s website, with the function of creating a more cohesive and engaging experience for their customers. Integration into In-Fi’s website is a pivotal step for Wela, which aims to place Benjamin at the center of financial decisions for families by integrating across a variety of financial service providers.

How the payday lending industry shapes academic research (American Banker), Rated: A

The hotly contested question of how to regulate payday lending is partly about ideology. How far should the government go to save repeat borrowers from their own worst habits? Your answer will depend on your political beliefs.

But this debate, like a lot of fights involving financial regulation, is also about facts. Do payday customers indeed suffer economic harm when they get into a cycle of repeat borrowing? That is an empirical question that unbiased researchers should be able to answer.

Inside Aspiration’s ‘values-based’ marketing strategy (Tearsheet), Rated: A

SoFi, whose earliest ads told people, “Don’t Bank. SoFi” has softened its marketing efforts, realizing the smart thing is for it to become a bank itself. Transferwise once ran provocative anti-bank ads but now advertises its own borderless account. But Aspiration isn’t shy about ruffling the feathers of the big banks. When Bank of America yanked its “free” checking accounts last month, moving them to its core checking account product that comes with a monthly $12 fee, Aspiration used it as a rallying point to get customers to bring their business to Aspiration, offering a $12 credit if they did. It claims its marketing has influenced “tens of thousands” of customers to leave B of A for Aspiration. Bank of America declined to comment for this story.

A fruitful journey from the attic to an angel investor (domain-b.com), Rated: A

Pear venture capital has helped some aspiring entrepreneurs build their foundations from scratch. How did the idea behind Pear fructify and what is the significance behind its name?
We actually started out as an angel investor. Around 2009-2010, I felt that there was no institution to help founders from ground zero. Given my background and network, I thought I could build an institution, which would help founders in their early stages to work on their ideas, which would stay in the business for generations.

Today Pear is an early stage seed fund and we invest in founders who are building category defined companies and that which focus on solving a big problem in the market.

As a venture capitalist, how do you identify potential entrepreneurs before signing them a cheque? What sectors and businesses do you look at? Considering the humongous number of aspirants, how do you identify a viable idea and that which is worth your support and funding?
If I look back at the last 18 years, there are some traits which are quite common among exceptional founders. We like those individuals who are looking to solve big problems in the market. They should either be close to the problem that they are trying to solve or they should have lived through their problem.

We also like those who have ability to track talents, are paranoid in a healthy way, have a vision and tend to question themselves every day. I also like CEOs who are captains of the ship,. the ones who usually stay till the end when the ship is sinking. Overall, we also look at size of the market. It’s fine if things don’t work out today as long as it’s going to be massive when it works. If you look at our portfolio companies, some of them have started in the unconventional space. As VCs, you live for those moments where you want to break the rule and partner with outliers.

LendingTree Releases Monthly Mortgage Offer Report for January (Guru Focus), Rated: A

LendingTree, the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, today released its monthly Mortgage Offers Report which analyzes data from actual loan terms offered to borrowers on LendingTree.com by lenders on LendingTree’s network. The purpose of the report is to empower consumers by providing additional information on how their credit profile affects their loan prospects.

Purchase Mortgage Offers by Credit Score

Purchase

FICO Range

Average APR

Average Down Payment

Average Loan Amount

Average LTV

Lifetime Interest Paid*

All Loans

4.55%

$63,411

$238,518

82%

$199,109

760+

4.41%

$84,354

$262,661

79%

$191,975

720-759

4.45%

$59,193

$239,111

83%

$194,007

680-719

4.70%

$39,883

$217,590

86%

$206,818

640-679

5.04%

$63,301

$203,176

76%

$224,533

620-639

5.12%

$57,566

$191,642

76%

$228,749

*To enable comparison, lifetime interest is calculated for the average loan amount for all loans using the rates for each credit score bucket.

Refinance Mortgage Offers by Credit Score

Refinance

FICO Range

Average APR

Average Down Payment

Average Loan Amount

Average LTV

Lifetime Interest Paid*

All Loans

4.46%

$2,739

$244,540

62%

$199,427

760+

4.33%

$4,014

$250,651

59%

$192,669

720-759

4.38%

$3,073

$249,678

64%

$195,262

680-719

4.58%

$1,294

$238,579

64%

$205,712

640-679

4.79%

$907

$223,812

60%

$216,814

620-639

4.89%

$212,813

59%

$222,147

*To enable comparison, lifetime interest is calculated for the average loan amount for all loans using the rates for each credit score bucket.

The hottest cities where it’s good to be a home seller but not so much a buyer (The Washington Post), Rated: A

LendingTree, an online loan marketplace, recently analyzed 1.5 million purchase mortgage loan requests that came in through its system from the 100 largest cities in 2017. The study identifies the locations where buyer competition is the toughest based on three criteria:

The top 10 cities with the most competitive buyers based on those criteria include:

  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Denver
  • San Diego
  • Ventura, Calif.
  • Los Angeles
  • Seattle
  • Honolulu
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Sacramento

The three cities on the bottom of the list, where homes are more accessible to buyers and competition is less aggressive, are Youngstown, Ohio; McAllen, Tex.; and Scranton, Pa.

For the full report, click here.

CBC National Bank Among LendingTree’s Top 10 Highest Customer-Rated Mortgage Lenders in Fourth Quarter (PR Newswire), Rated: B

CBC National Bank, headquartered in Fernandina Beach and with branches in Fernandina BeachOcala and The Villages, Fla., and Beaufort and Port Royal, S.C., today announced that it has been named by LendingTree as among the Top 10 highest customer-rated mortgage lenders in the fourth quarter of 2017. It also achieved this prestigious designation in the first quarter of 2017.

rateGenius Awarded Top 3 in Auto Customer Satisfaction by LendingTree for 7th Consecutive Quarter (PR Newswire), Rated: B

rateGenius is pleased to announce that it has once again been named Top 3 in Auto Customer Satisfaction by LendingTree.

M Financial Group Partners with Plug and Play Insurtech to Enhance Client Experience in Life Insurance Space (PR Newswire), Rated: B

Plug and Play Insurtech welcomes M Financial as its 55th partner. Headquartered in Portland, Oregon and comprised of 155 Member Firms across the U.S., as well as the U.K. and U.A.E., M Financial is searching for startups to transform the life insurance industry for the clients they serve. Startups accepted into Plug and Play’s platform will have the opportunity to pilot their technology with M Financial and the other partners in the program. M Financial is the first Plug and Play partner that is both a distributor and reinsurer of life insurance products.

5 Passive Income Ideas That Still Work In 2018 (SavingAdvice), Rated: B

Peer to peer lending: The demand for credit is sure to continue for centuries to come. There is always someone in need of some quick business loan or a personal loan and this gives a quick opportunity if there is another person with the capital and risk appetite to back it up. With the current boom in crypto currency usage, you can take advantage and set up a peer-to-peer lending service. Alternative funding can very well give traditional banking a run for the money because some people need quick loans but cannot have the convenience of applying through the mainstream banking system. Peer-to-peer lending offers the keys to unlock instant liquidity to a wide online community and offers attractive rewards to those who supply the capital.

A great advantage to the lender is that once a peer to peer lending platform has been selected, the popularity of the wallet will ensure that there is exposure to a wider target of borrowers. Most banks often get restricted to lending to people within a certain country or state. Since peer-to-peer lending is blockchain-backed, anyone around the globe with access to the platform can lend money to another peer and start earning money over the duration of the loan contract.

United Kingdom

LendInvest completes £16m development deal in three weeks (Mortgage Introducer), Rated: AAA

Property finance lender LendInvest has completed a £16m financing deal with established development finance borrower, Yogo Group, in just three weeks.

Taking a Deeper Look into the Moving Average For Funding Circle Sme Income Fund Limited (Stock Press Daily), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle Sme Income Fund Limited (FCIF.L) are in focus today as the charts are revealing that the Mesa Adaptive Moving Average (MAMA) is holding steady above the FAMA, or Fractional Moving Average.  This environment typically indicates that there might be a buying opportunity aligning in technicals.  When there are crossovers between the FAMA and MAMA, the shares are often widely traded.  When the MAMA crosses above the FAMA, it means that the shares are likely to move higher.  Conversely the opposite occurs when the MAMA crosses below the FAMA.  The Mesa Moving Average was first mentioned by John Ehlers in a paper published in a 2001 edition of Technical Analysis of Stocks and Commodities Magazine.

Venture investment in UK fintech more than doubles (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Fintech companies, such as TransferWise and OakNorth, raised $1.8bn of venture capital investment last year, up more than 150 per cent from $704m in 2016, the year of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the data show.

The surge in UK funding contrasted with an 18 per cent drop in global fintech investments to $14.4bn, according to the report by Innovate Finance, the British fintech trade body.

The UK industry was boosted by handful of large fundraisings of more than $90m. The biggest was by TransferWise, a cross-border payments provider, which raised $280m. OakNorth, a digital lender to small businesses, raised $203m.

Banks divided on cryptocurrencies card purchases (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

British banks are debating whether to ban their customers from buying cryptocurrencies using their credit cards after Lloyds Banking Group and Virgin Money said they had imposed such a ban.

Barclays, the UK’s leading credit card issuer through its Barclaycard business, said it was “keeping this matter under close review” after holding a meeting to discuss whether to follow the lead of Lloyds on Monday.

Last week MasterCard said that cross-border volumes on its network were up 22 per cent, driven in part by customers using their credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies.

British banks are also shunning companies that handle cryptocurrencies by refusing to let them open bank accounts or closing their accounts, which has forced many of them to open accounts in Gibraltar, Poland and Bulgaria.

Lloyds Bank cutting 930 jobs (Fintech Futures), Rated: B

Lloyds is axing 930 jobs within its commercial banking, chief information office, community banking, insurance, and wealth and risk management.

Looking beyond traditional banks (Specialist Banking), Rated: A

I recently came across an article headlined: “8 in 10 SMEs still prefer traditional bank loans over alternative finance.”

It noted that 83% of financial directors preferred to go to their bank as their first port of call when seeking a loan, rather than finding an alternative, such as P2P lending or equity crowdfunding.

It claimed that a lack of understanding could be the reason for this, but pointed out that almost three-quarters of finance directors (74%) believed their knowledge of alternative finance was either “average or above average”.

Challenger Bank Tandem Partners with Cognitive Banking Company Personetics (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

UK Challenger bank Tandem has announced a partnership with cognitive banking company Personetics to provide users personalised insights on their spending across all of their bank accounts in one place, as well as warning people about unexpected fees and unusual activity on their accounts.

Are you holding too much cash in your ISA? (WhatInvestmen), Rated: A

In a survey of financial advisers by Octopus Investments, three-quarters of respondents said they believe their clients hold too much in their cash ISA relative to the rest of their portfolio.

The majority (83 per cent) feel their clients are put off investing in stock and shares due to the risk of losing money, followed by concerns of an overstretched (49 per cent) and volatile (46 per cent) market.

The Differences Between Short Term Loans and Payday Loans (SWNS.com), Rated: A

If you need to borrow money, a variety of options are available. Two of the most common short term borrowing options are payday loans and short-term personal loans, both of which provide immediate access to cash to help you pay bills, purchase items and run your financial life.

One of these borrowing options — payday lending — has been in the news a lot over the last few years, as new regulations make the industry more borrower friendly.

Short-Term Personal Loans

Most people use short-term loans for purchasing certain items or covering other major expenses.

From a borrower’s perspective, the advantages of short-term loans include lower overall costs than payday loans. However, the credit check process and approval period mean that loans of this type often aren’t instant enough to help borrowers deal with urgent financial needs.

Payday Loans

Most payday loans are for relatively small amounts of money, such as £200 to £500, and are aimed at providing cash until you get paid again.

Payday loans form a major part of the UK lending industry, with an estimated market value of approximately £2 billion.

Folk2Folk appoints chapter development manager (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: B

P2P lending platform Folk2Folk has appointed Claire Thayers as its chapter development manager.

In the newly created role, Claire will be responsible for raising Folk2Folk’s profile across the South West and Three Counties regions and improving awareness of its products to both borrowers and brokers.

China

The key to surviving in China’s P2P marketplace? Understanding regulations (Nikkei Asian Review), Rated: AAA

China’s increasingly competitive peer-to-peer marketplace requires players to understand government regulations and align their strategies accordingly, said Kevin Guo, co-founder and co-chairman of Dianrong, which specializes in making small loans over the internet.

European Union

Klarna partners with London College of Fashion (LeapRate), Rated: AAA

European payments provider, Klarna, has announced a UK partnership with London College of Fashion, UAL, in an exciting initiative to support the next generation of talent at the intersection of fashion and technology.

Fashion is now the UK’s largest online retail market segment, worth around £10.1bn, and this growth is only set to continue. By 2020, fashion will represent 28.8% of UK online spend.

With Klarna research showing 94% of retailers are investing in new technology to meet the needs of younger customers, opportunity for innovation in the sector has never been greater.

German digital business bank Penta raises €2.2m in seed funding (AltFi), Rated: A

Penta, a German digital bank for start-ups and small businesses, has secured €2.2m in seed funding, led by the UK-based and fintech-focused Inception Venture Capital .

Founded in May last year, Penta moved out of its private beta in December to a waitlist of over 3,000 local businesses. The platform has now opened its waitlist up to new users, and hopes to reach 10,000 businesses by the end of 2018.

P2P investors risk losses by lending to just one borrower (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

PEER-TO-PEER analysis firm 4th Way is urging investors to diversify after stress testing revealed the odds of losing money in a severe recession can be 10 times higher in some cases when lending to just one borrower on a P2P platform.

The research, released on Tuesday, applied international banking stress tests to P2P platforms it assesses such as Zopa, Funding Circle and RateSetter, and found when lending to 100 borrowers, investors have just a 0.1 per cent chance of losing 20 per cent or more of their original money.

Acquisition of 85% of Telenor Banka fails to win Serbia’s c-bank approval (SeeNews), Rated: A

Serbian online lender Telenor Banka said on Tuesday that Bulgaria-based investment fund River Styxx Capital has not received the consent of Serbia’s central bank for the acquisition of 85% of its share capital from Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor.

Telenor will support any further step that will contribute to the positive closure of the transaction, Ingeborg Ofsthus, CEO of Telenor Serbia and chair of the Telenor Banka board of directors said in a statement issued by Telenor Banka.

International

Revolut ditches Wirecard for in-house card issuing (Fintech Futures), Rated: AAA

Revolut will no longer be relying on Wirecard for card issuing as it has now brought this function in-house.

Asia Most Wanted Top Ten AML Cases (Fintech News), Rated: AAA

Over the last decade, the quantity of money laundered has been steadily increasing. According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, it is estimated that approximately USD $1.6 trillion or 2.7 percent of global GDP was laundered in 2009.

Even worse, less than 1 percent of this global illicit financial flow is ever seized and frozen, meaning that the criminals are winning.

Effective anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and processes are essential to countering such criminal activity. Yet due to tighter anti-money laundering regulations in the US and Europe, money laundering activity is moving into the Asia Pacific as a way to avoid detection.

Source: Fintech News

In December 2012, Standard Chartered was ordered to pay USD $330m to settle claims by United States government agencies that it had moved hundreds of billions of dollars on behalf of Iran. It was suggested that this practice exposed the international financial system to exploitation by to “terrorists” and “drug kingpins”.

Open banking role models: Fidor, Rabobank and BBVA (American Banker), Rated: A


Google accelerator focuses on emerging markets (IT Web), Rated: A

In its fifth year, Google Launchpad Accelerator is taking place in San Francisco this week. It focuses on start-ups that already have a product, with a good market fit, and are ready to scale.

OneFi has created Paylater, an online provider of digital financial services for the underbanked in West Africa.

Nubank is a financial technology company offering a fully digital and branchless experience, and Viva Real is an online real estate marketplace that connects buyers, sellers and renters with properties in Brazil. There is one other Brazilian start-up, Loggi, which creates new-wave logistics.

Kubo.financiero, a P2P lending platform, from Mexico.

Ayannah from the Philippines enables affordable and accessible digital financial services to be delivered to the world’s emerging middle-class.

Australia

Banks are exploiting loyal customers, warns Productivity Commission (The Guardian), Rated: AAA

The Australian financial system is uncompetitive, allowing banks and insurers to boost profits by exploiting loyal customers and adding up to $87 a month to the average mortgage repayment.

That is the conclusion of the Productivity Commission’s highly critical draft report into the sector, which finds it is “unquestionably strong” but calls for greater transparency to compare financial products and for regulators to gain powers to promote competition.

Australia gives regulator sweeping powers over bank bosses’ pay (Reuters), Rated: A

Australia has given its financial regulator sweeping powers to cap bank bosses’ pays, delay their bonuses and even ban them from the industry if found guilty of non-compliance, as it scrambles to restore trust in the scandal-hit sector.

MENA

ADGM is region’s 1st Fintech regulator, says Al Sayegh (WAM.ae), Rated: AAA

In the future, Fintech will be the most important aspect of financial services in the world, according to Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market, ADGM.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Thursday December 14 2017, Daily News Digest

online lender delinquency rates

News Comments Today’s main news: LexinFintech relaxes on IPO funding goal. Welendus exceeds Seedrs funding target. LendingTree provides 2018 guidance prior to Investor Day. Yirendai invests in Lion Rock. Mercer delivers financial advice with AI through Facebook Messenger. Today’s main analysis: Online lenders test the faith of investors. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Why Google, Amazon scare BlackRock, Fidelity. A new chapter […]

online lender delinquency rates

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United States

Why Google and Amazon Keep Fidelity and BlackRock Up at Night (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

“Alexa…will I meet my retirement goal?”

“You are not on track to meet your retirement goal,” replies Amazon.com Inc.’s voice-activated digital assistant, with not a bit of sugar-coating. Then she suggests turning over $76 a month to Fidelity Investments and its advisers.

This won’t actually happen if you try it on your Amazon Alexa device at home. It’s a demonstration put on by EMoney Advisor LLC, a company owned by Fidelity, in its offices in Radnor, Pa. Amazon provides software for third-party developers to experiment with new functions. Fidelity is trying to find ways to apply artificial intelligence, computer algorithms, and voice-­recognition software to the hidebound world of money management and investing.

Earlier this year, Boston-based Acadian Asset Management LLC struck a deal so its portfolio managers could use Microsoft Corp.’s Bing Predicts, which makes forecasts using search and social media data, to help pick stocks; that agreement later ended.

BlackRock, led by chief executive officer Larry Fink, in recent years has been buying stakes in other companies, particularly technology firms. Through these purchases, the company is pushing into new lines of business.

Fidelity bought EMoney in 2015. It sells software to investment advisers that’s designed to make it easier to interact with their customers on budgeting for weddings, college, or retirement.

Online lending platforms test investors’ faith (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Tianqiao Chen still wants to be part of Lending Club. Last week, while shares in America’s biggest listed online lender were tumbling after another cut to profit forecasts, the chief executive of Shanda Group bought 4m more of them, further cementing his position as the company’s biggest shareholder.

Many operators are feeling the effects of a big push for market share in the latter half of 2015 and early months of 2016, says David Snitkof, chief analytics officer at Orchard. As the platforms rushed to offer new loans, credit quality suffered, and loans originated during that period are among the worst performers, with loss rates well ahead of projections.

Across the sector, valuations have fallen. Earnest, a San Francisco-based student loans specialist, sold itself in October to Navient, the loan-servicing company, for $155m, or about 40 per cent of its peak valuation. Personal lender Prosper, once a “unicorn”, saw its pricetag drop from a peak $1.9bn to $550m in a fundraising last month.

That meant platforms had to spend heavily to bring compliance and controls systems up to scratch. Lending Club’s latest quarterly filing, for example, shows it had $1.21 of operating expenses for every dollar of fee income over the first nine months — up from $1.03 at the same point two years ago.

LendingTree Introduces 2018 Guidance Ahead Of Investor Day (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Business Outlook – 2018

  • Revenue is anticipated to be in the range of $770 – $790 million, representing growth of 27% – 30% over the high-end of full-year 2017 guidance of $608 million.
  • Variable Marketing Margin is anticipated to be $270 – $280 million.
  • Adjusted EBITDA is anticipated to be in the range of $145 – $150 million, up 28% – 33% over the high-end of full-year 2017 guidance of $113 million.

The Analyst and Investor event is being hosted in New York at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square.  The presentation will begin promptly at 10:30 a.m. ET.  A live audiocast with accompanying slides will be made available on the company’s investor relations website at investors.lendingtree.com.

 

Does the ICO Open a New Chapter for RE Crowdfunding? (Lexology), Rated: AAA

An ICO is simply the initial public sale of a new type of digital “coins”, or “cryptocurrency”.

Judging from the prolific way these new cryptocurrency ICOs are popping up, like mushrooms after a spring rain, one might imagine any clever techie could spin one up at the kitchen table with little more than an internet connection and some well-caffeinated daring-do. Yes, ICOs are easier than crowdfunding, they have that special “blockchain” cachet going for them, and the “regulators talons” have not yet sunk deep.

In a real-life example, on September 29, 2017, the SEC filed a civil complaint in federal district court against ICO promoter Maksim Zaslavskiy and two companies run by Mr. Zaslavskiy. According to the complaint, between July and October Mr. Zaslavskiy and his companies raised at least $300,000 in an ICO touting a new cryptocurrency called “REcoin” — “the first ever cryptocurrency backed by real estate.” According to the SEC complaint, Mr. Zaslavskiy and his companies have been peddling unregistered securities. Furthermore, the complaint alleges, the companies never had any real operations even though Mr. Zaslavskiy told investors in REcoin they could expect sizeable returns from those company’s operations; the securities he sold weren’t backed by any real estate or other assets as he claimed they were; and no “REcoin” digital tokens ever actually existed.

ICOs and Crowdfunding

Circling back to the original crowdfunding thesis, we should also expect this disruptive new technology to begin surfacing in even more impactful nextgen “killer apps” for commercial real estate investment. That’s right, real estate crowdfunding may actually make a comeback by dint of being co-opted into the blockspace. New-age real estate crowdfunding ecosystems are already forming; for instance, the Real Estate Asset Ledger (“REAL”) is one application currently being talked up as a real estate crowdfunding network built on blockchain infrastructure.

The Rise of the ICO (Coinlist), Rated: AAA

Zeus CrowdFunding Earns Top-Ten Ranking in Real Estate Crowdfunding Industry (PR.com), Rated: B

Zeus CrowdFunding earned high marks recently from an independent ranking and reviews portal. The Real-Estate Crowdfunding Review named Zeus CrowdFunding the #7 real estate crowdfunding site on the Web based on its “incredible volume” and other impressive advantages.

The ranking also lauded Zeus CrowdFunding’s low default rate and semi-liquidity option and guarantee and called the company “one of the few platforms offering conservative loans below 65% LTV.”

To read The Real-Estate Crowdfunding Review’s ranking and review of Zeus CrowdFunding, visit

Open Banking Trends Shift to US Market (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Open Banking is set to launch in Europe next month. As banks and fintech firms rush to ensure compliance we wanted to explore the effects on the US fintech market. Recently the CFPB set forth data sharing guidelines for banks and fintech firms to share information. There has since been a number of articles in the news pointing to frustration among fintech companies as banks have not been forthcoming with data sharing.

The current process is clumsy and requires consumers to login many times across many different services. This has also been something banks have complained about to agencies like the CFPB. Services such as Personal Capital and Mint constantly ping bank accounts for information that users have open access to. Setting up a similar initiative in the US could not only allow for a better experience but will undoubtedly be safer for the banks and fintech firms.

LendingUSA Secures $ 60m Credit Facility (Finsmes), Rated: A

LendingUSA, a Sherman Oaks, CA-based point-of-need financing company, secured a $60m credit facility.

The funding was provided by CapitalSource, a division of Pacific Western Bank, and a provider of commercial lending and banking solutions.

 

U.S. Fintech Simility Secures $ 17.5 Million During Latest Funding Round Led By Accel With Participation From PayPal (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Simility, a provider of machine learning–powered adaptive fraud prevention solution, today announced it has secured $17.5 million during its latest funding round. PayPal, Inc. also participated in the round as a new strategic investor along with existing investors The Valley Fund and Trinity Ventures.

First National Bank Plans Online SMB Lending Portal (PYMNTS), Rated: A

First National Bank and Trust Company is planning the launch of a digital small business lending portal and has tapped a partner to create the solution.

The financial institution (FI) said Tuesday (Dec. 12) that it is working with FinTech firm RCGILTNER Services to deploy the digital platform, which will launch in the first quarter of 2018.

Aspiration Taps $ 47 Million for Conscientious Banking (WSJ), Rated: A

Conscientious consumption and online banking services don’t typically go hand in hand. Andrei Cherny, co-founder and chief executive of Aspiration, aims to change that.

Aspiration, which offers online banking with optional fees and no penalties, provides its customers insights on how companies treat the environment and their employees, informing spending decisions.

Aspiration now boasts more than 200,000 account holders since launching in February 2015. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles company said it raised a $47 million Series B to further fuel its ambitions.

Will 2018 Be the Year of the Bank of Amazon? Experts Weigh In (Fortune), Rated: A

Payments

Matt Harris, Bain Capital Ventures: “SoftBank buys 20 percent of Stripe for $3 billion. PayPal continues to push itself down the path of being the leading financial services company for millennials and the mass market.” Dion Lisle, Capgemini SA: “‘Alexa, buy this’ or ‘Siri, I need an Uber, pay for it with my AmEx.’ Payments are going to be activated by that voice because that’s a great security method.”

Lending

Spencer Lazar, General Catalyst Partners: “Potential changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under the Trump Administration will likely turn back the clock on Obama-era regulations on non-bank lenders. This will be a boon to startup lenders, making it far easier to dole out capital. The fear is that rates could potentially become predatory.”

Amazon vs. JPMorgan

Andy Weissman, Union Square Ventures: “Some combination of Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, etc. will move deeper into online financing of small businesses.”

M&A

Tyler Sosin, Menlo Ventures: “Stripe and Adyen will merge, forming a $20 billion plus enterprise-value business and API-driven merchant processor.”

Funding

Charles Birnbaum, Bessemer Venture Partners: “Valuations in the alternative-lending space were overly optimistic in our opinion over the prior five years, but we do feel that the pendulum has likely swung back too far in the other direction following the recent pullback” leaving the sector ripe for potential funding or M&A.

Braviant Holdings Announces Launch of Chorus Credit Personal Loans (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Braviant Holdings, a leading fintech startup that offers analytics and technology-driven credit solutions for underserved Americans, is now offering personal loans up to $10,000 in Californiathrough its Chorus Credit online lending platform. Chorus will complement Braviant’s existing installment lending business, Balance Credit, by offering higher loan amounts at lower rates to the estimated 26% of California consumers who are underserved by traditional banks.

2017 YEAR-IN-REVIEW (Wunder Capital), Rated: A

In 2017, we increased our solar project pipeline by an order of magnitude. This is due in large part to more resources dedicated to pipeline development, advancements in our lending practice, and – at a macro level – a rapidly growing solar market and commercial sector.

Source: Wunder Capital

See the full report here.

Not “ripe,” says judge dismissing N.Y. fintech charter challenge (Banking Exchange), Rated: A

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of New York dismissed one of those lawsuits, Vullo v. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The judge dismissed the suit of the New York State Department of Financial Services, headed by Maria Vullo, against OCC on the grounds that the matter is not “ripe” for a decision on the legal ability of the Comptroller’s Office to issue such specialized charters.

Indeed, at the recent RegTech Enable conference in late November, OCC’s Beth Knickerbocker, chief innovation officer, characterized the proposal as “on hold.”

Why New York’s claim isn’t ripe

Judge Buchwald’s decision recapped the history of the proposal at length. Her decision came down to this sentence: “Claims are not ripe if they depend on the occurrence of contingent future event that may never occur at all.”

She pointed out that no injury would occur if OCC never issues such a charter to a fintech company.

Vanguard, the fund giant with nearly $ 5 trillion in assets, is using blockchain to underpin its mutual funds (Business Insider), Rated: A

Vanguard is moving to use blockchain to simplify how it updates index data underlying mutual funds, executives said on Monday, an important sign of confidence for the new financial technology.

Closely-held Vanguard, the top mutual fund firm with nearly $5 trillion under management, has successfully tested blockchain to automatically update data like the names and share prices of companies in index funds, processes that must currently be closely overseen by individuals, said Warren Pennington, a principal in Vanguard’s investment management group, in Pennsylvania.

UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMICIUS CURIAE BRIEF (U.S. District Court, D.C.), Rated: A

Further, to date, the parties have not raised an important argument that this Court should consider, namely, that restricting the President’s authority over the CFPB Director’s replacement only exacerbates the serious constitutional questions currently before the D.C. Circuit with respect to the CFPB’s structure. As CUNA explains, such questions could be avoided by adopting Defendants’ position in this case. Thus, CUNA’s perspective on the central issues in this case is invaluable and unrepresented by the parties.

Read the motion in full here.

(Coindesk), Rated: A

The startup revealed today that, through an existing partnership with MicroVentures, it will begin offering services to projects seek to use the blockchain funding model.

Specifically, accredited investors purchase Simple Agreements for Future Tokens (SAFTs), with the tokens set to be delivered at a later date. The mode has been used by a number of ICOs in recent months, and according to the page on MicroVentures, $915,000 has been raised from nine investors thus far in the new ICO.

Mastercard targets millennial clients with digital money management service (American Banker), Rated: B

The payments company today announced it is launching a new service called Assemble, which it calls a “prepaid innovation hub” designed to allow Mastercard partners or issuers to provide checking, budgeting, and payment features, as well as additional money management tools.

Longfin Corp. Becomes the First Public-listed FinTech Company Under Reg A+ on Nasdaq (GlobeNewswire), Rated: B

Longfin Corp. (NASDAQ: LFIN) announces that it will be traded on the Nasdaq market for the first day after its initial public offering (IPO) under Reg A+ closing on December 8, 2017.

U.S. News & World Report Names LendingPoint One of 2017’s Best Personal Loan Companies (BusinessWire), Rated: B

LendingPoint was named one of nation’s six best personal loan companies by U.S. News & World Report.

The media company evaluated personal loan companies in five key areas, reviewing data on eligibility, loan terms, fees, repayment methods and additional features. LendingPoint was cited as 2017’s top lender for people with fair to good credit, who have merit-based qualifications beyond FICO scores that make them worthy loan candidates.

Quesnay’s Female Founders in Tech Program Awards Goalsetter First Place (PR Newswire), Rated: B

Quesnay is pleased to announce that Goalsetter is the winner of the inaugural Female Founders in Tech, spotlighting female founders that positively impact the financial services and/or insurance technology industries.

The winners represented cutting-edge businesses that were also socially conscious:
– Goalsetter – Goalsetter is a goal-based savings and gifting platform, targeting millennials.
– Marinus Analytics – Marinus uses technologies to help identify and fight crimes like human trafficking and money laundering associated with it and other illicit activities
– LENDonate – LENDonate provides a marketplace lending platform for non-profits and supporters.

Approximately 100 women-led startups registered for the program with solutions ranging from artificial intelligence to blockchain to creative financial literacy and savings solutions. Seven finalists presented in New York to a panel of judges which included industry leaders from the sponsoring organizations: John HancockMassMutualRGAxSterling National BankTD Bank and Thomson Reuters.

 

United Kingdom

Welendus exceeds Seedrs fundraising target (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

WELENDUS, the peer-to-peer payday loan provider, has announced that its latest crowdfunding round on Seedrs has reached over 130 per cent of its target.

The firm had been seeking £150,000 but has already raised £197,991, according to Seedrs’ website.

Welendus said on Thursday that the funding round had attracted more than 250 investors.

Investec Provides U.K. Fintech With $ 67 Million for Online Loans (Bloomberg), Rated: A

London-based MarketInvoice, which arranges loans for small companies secured by accounts receivable, will handle the underwriting for Investec customers in the partnership, according to the bank’s website. Investec will provide 50 million pounds ($67 million) in the first year to fund the loans, Anil Stocker, the startup’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview.

The rise of the payday-style business loan (City A.M.),  Rated: A

British banks have been mired in criticism for not lending as much as they could.

Many businesses have meanwhile found that alternative lenders lack the data to provide products that are tailored to their needs.

Creative credit

Rate hikes typically result in an increase in lending profitability, and so the increase often stimulates the appetite to lend.

But an increased appetite to lend doesn’t always follow an increased ability to price risks on all loan applicants, and herein lays the risk: lenders become creative with the ways in which they entice borrowers and mitigate their risks.

These loans from mainstream lenders look like the payday loans that flooded the market in the height of the recession. They take minutes to apply for, turnaround is within one day, and command interest rates of up to 23 per cent APR – five times more than some personal loans.

Data shows increase in demand for alternative finance services (Londons School of Business Finance), Rated: A

The figures showed growth across the UK’s alternative finance market, including crowdfunding, invoice trading, and marketplace lending. The date found a year-on-year rise of 43 per cent in 2016 from £3.2 billion to £4.58 billion.

Business marketplace lending grew by 28.5 per cent from £881 million in 2015 to £1,232 million in 2016, placing it ahead of consumer marketplace lending, which previously had the biggest share.

LendInvest’s Latest Buy-to-Let Index Reveals: Manchester Tops Charts & Hull is Named Biggest Climber (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

On Wednesday, specialist property lender LendInvest released its latest LendInvest Buy-to-Let Index report, which ranks all 105 postcode areas around England and Wales based ona combination of four metrics, which are capital gains, transaction volumes, rental yields, and rental price growth.

The Index report’s key findings include:

  • Manchester, leader of the Northern Powerhouse, takes top spot
  • Leicester breaks into the Top 10 and Birmingham climbs 8 places from #18 to #11, signaling upward mobility in the Midlands markets
  • Hull marks itself as biggest climber for 2017, rising 93 places to #6
  • Enfield tumbles from Top 10 in February to Bottom 10 in December
Source: LendInvest

Download the full report here.

One in two advisers ‘fire’ clients with less than £50,000 (Money Observer), Rated: A

Those with pot sizes of less than £50,000 are increasingly being turned away by their financial adviser. In 2014 just under a quarter of clients were shown the door, whereas in 2017 this figure rose to 50 per cent.

Artificial intelligence is guiding venture capital to start-ups (Financial Times), Rated: A

Mr Bonanzinga thought he could combine internet data and machine learning to do a better job of ferreting out prospects. It took two years and £5m in investment for InReach Ventures to create the software, which has so far trawled through 95,000 European start-ups, picking out 2,000 that Mr Bonanzinga might be interested in.

The software determines this based on the people they are hiring, the products they are developing and the traffic on their website, among other things.

Tifosy: The sports crowdfunding platform that wants to help small teams grow and big teams reconnect with fans (City A.M.), Rated: B

The company has already partnered with 15 clubs in England and Italy, raising £2.9m from “fanfunders” for a variety of different projects.

So rather than owners selling equity stakes to unfamiliar outside investors, crowdfunding solutions such as mini-bonds or equity shares have emerged as alternative solutions to many sports franchises.

Top-flight rugby clubs Harlequins and Wasps raised £15m and £35m respectively by issuing their own bonds, while Surrey County Cricket club raised £5m in seven days in 2015.

China

Chinese Online Lender LexinFintech Shrinks U.S. IPO Fundraising Goal (WSJ), Rated: AAA

LexinFintech Holdings Ltd., a Chinese online lender that is planning to go public in the U.S., scaled back its fundraising ambitions after regulatory changes in China sparked a rout in shares of similar companies.

Lexin, a four-year-old company whose backers include Chinese online-retail giant JD.com Inc., is planning to raise $120 million in an initial public offering, according to a Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

JD.com-backed micro lender slashes IPO by 70pc after China’s internet finance crackdown (SCMP), Rated: A

Lexin Fintech plans to offer 12 million American depositary shares at an indicative price range of US$9 to US$11 a share, raising as much as US$132 million, the company said in an updated filing on Thursday to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The fundraising value is sharply down from an originally planned US$500 million, as mentioned in the IPO prospectus issued last month.

Noncompliant P2P Lenders to Be Out by Mid-2018 (Caixin), Rated: AAA

Local banking regulators have until the end of June to weed out noncompliant peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders, according to a circular issued by a special working group led by the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC).

Yirendai Announces Strategic Investment in Lion Rock (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Yirendai Ltd. (NYSE: YRD) (“Yirendai” or the “Company”), a leading fintech company in China, announced today that it has made a strategic investment in Lion Rock, a comprehensive financial services platform that is focused on global asset allocation, through Lion Rock’s Series A financing of HK$50 million.

Lion Rock is headquartered in Hong Kong and offers a wide-variety of high-quality financial products, financial news, robo-advisory services as well as asset allocation services through its online platform.

Hong Kong Fintech Start-Up Lion Rock Raises $ 6.4M Led By Marathon Venture (China Money Network), Rated: A

Lion Rock FinTech Ltd., a Hong Kong-based fintech company, has raised HK$50 million (US$6.4 million) in an equity financing led by Marathon Venture Partners.

In addition, 9F Inc., the strategic investor who backed Lion Rock’s last round of financing, continued to invest in this round.

European Union

The Culture of p2p Investors Across the EU (FastInvest), Rated: AAA

FastInvest, a p2p fintech platform, recently studied data from over 8500 EU investors daily and came across a really unexpected finding. Highly specific traits and behaviors were driven by nationality over and above other individual factors when looking at big data.

From traditional investment metrics like risk aversion, to outside the box items like nationalistic tendencies and compulsive behaviors.  Across numerous areas, national cultural traits could be seen solely based on country to country locales.

Source: FastInvest

Poland
Even with the EU offering a bit of a more stable currency, only 1.76% of residents prefer to invest in Euro based currency loans.

Belgium
Only 2.20% of Belgian investors choose PLN (Polish) currency based loans as opposed to their own Euro.

Germany
Germans appear to be the most open minded of EU countries, with 15.73% making investments in PLN currency.

Netherlands
The Netherlands followed behind Germany in diverting from the euro, with 9.08% of investors choosing PLN based loans.

Download the full report here.

iZettle Grabs $ 47M Additional Funding, Eyes Market Expansion (PYMNTS), Rated: A

iZettle has grabbed €40 million in funding (the equivalent of $47 million) that the Stockholm-based payments firm will use to expand into new markets.

International

Disruptive Startup, Etherecash, Concludes ICO Ahead Of Schedule (Coinidol), Rated: B

Etherecash is one step closer to actualizing its vision of bridging the financial divide between the banked and the unbanked with the successful conclusion of its ICO ahead of schedule. The ICO is now scheduled to finish on 12th Dec 6:29 PM (GMT) after four impressive bonus rounds that outperformed expectations.

With over $30 million raised and 45000 registered participants, Etherecashcan now set its sight on eliminating traditional borders, intermediaries and prejudices in the way money is lent, spent, and sent.

Australia/New Zealand

MERCER LAUNCHES SUPERBOT, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DELIVERING FINANCIAL ADVICE VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER (Mercer), Rated: AAA

Australia’s 17 million active Facebook users spend on average 1.4 hours a day liking, commenting and sharing stories with family and friends. Moreover, with roughly 17% of the earth’s population being active users of Facebook Messenger, there is irony in the fact that the smartphone generation is spending more time engaging on Facebook rather than thinking about their future financial readiness.

Accessed through Facebook Messenger, SuperBot represents the ultimate opportunity to scale financial advice across a very large proportion of the population.

Non-bank lenders lift profit 10% in 2017 (NBR), Rated: A

Eighteen of the 25 participants in the KPMG non-bank financial institutions performance survey posted increased earnings in 2017, generating a total net profit of $216.7 million, up from $196.6 million a year earlier. Total assets grew 12 percent to $10.96 billion, with lending boosted by the nation’s strong demand for new vehicles and several non-bank institutions testing the waters in the mortgage space as the major banks become more reticent in some of their credit criteria.

HNWI financial advice demand falls (Financial Standard), Rated: A

The use of financial advice among high-net-worth investors (HNWI) has fallen to a five-year low, according to the insights, which show 435,000 millionaires own more than $1 million of investable assets.

Almost 75% of HNWIs relied on the expertise of a financial advice professional in 2013 – but this has declined to 68% in 2017.

Credit Suisse found the number of Australian millionaires rose by 200,000 in the year to June, marking the third-largest increase after the US and Germany in its global wealth ranking.

CCR to help business financing (InvestorDaily), Rated: B

Indeed, interest rates on small business loans have “remained relatively high” due to a lack of competition – leaving banks as the major provider of lending to small businesses (80 per cent).

But a CCR regime would offer lenders more information about potential borrowers’ credit history than just negative credit information, as per the current standard.

The Australian government has determined a mandatory credit reporting regime to come into effect in July 2018, but a number of financial institutions such as NAB have already announced it will roll out such a regime.

Other forms of accessing finance for smaller firms or entrepreneur were large technology firms and alternative financing platforms, such as marketplace lending and crowdfunding, he added.

India

Online loans marketplace FinBucket gets funding from Impanix Capital (VC Circle), Rated: A

FinBucket Pvt. Ltd, which runs an eponymous online marketplace for loans and investments, has raised Rs 12 crore ($1.8 million) from Delhi-based early-stage venture capital firm Impanix Capital.

The startup plans to use the funds to increase its staff strength to 200 and expand operations.

‘Fintech can help assess credit score ’ (The Hindu), Rated: A

Financial technology firms that generate credit scores based on digital footprints of individuals will have a major role to play as banks begin to focus on lending to first generation customers who do not have credit history, former Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India H.R. Khan said here on Wednesday.

Fintech startup CapitaWorld raises funding (VC Circle), Rated: B

Mumbai-based fintech startup CapitaWorld Platform Pvt. Ltd has raised an undisclosed amount through convertible equity from high-net-worth individuals, corporate honchos and investors from Hong Kong and the Middle East.

The investors who participated in the latest round include former chief executive of Indian Banks’ Association Mohan Tanksale, Swift India CEO Kiran Shetty, Madhu Silica’s managing director Darshak Shah and former JP Morgan executive Mandar Mhatre, the startup said in a statement.

Asia

BHSI Launches Financial Institution Professional Indemnity Insurance in Asia (Insurance Journal), Rated: A

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Co. (BHSI) announced it has introduced Financial Institution Professional Indemnity (FIPI) insurance in Asia.

The new BHSI policy is designed to cover a range of claims, from allegations of failure to disclose information, to misleading financial advice and breach of contracts, the company said in a statement. The policy combines coverage for civil liability, pre-investigations, mitigation expenses, bail bond costs, court attendance, loss of documents, and more.

The policy is designed for medium to large financial institutions, including securities dealers, regional banks, insurance companies, reinsurance companies, diversified institutions, and financial technology (fintech) and corporate advisory firms.

South America

Brazilian fintech Nubank starts international tech talent hunt (ZDNet), Rated: B

Brazilian fintech Nubank has launched an engineering center in Berlin as part of a plan to boost its software engineering function internationally.

Nubank has expatriated four of its engineers to Berlin to kickstart the European operations. It has also already started to hire local experts such as Gavin Bell, a senior engineer who previously managed the core data infrastructure platform at Soundcloud.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor