Monday January 8 2018, Daily News Digest

marketplace banking

News Comments Today’s main news: Texas regulator sends cease & desist order to BitConnect. UK wins race for tech investment. Tencent licensed to sell mutual funds to WeChat users. Wishfin to raise $50M. FINTQ goes beyond lending. Today’s main analysis: Strategies banks, credit unions must implement this year (a must-read). Today’s thought-provoking articles: How the tech giants are going […]

marketplace banking

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

Australia/New Zealand

India

APAC

News Summary

United States

Securities Regulator Issues C&D to UK Based Cryptocurrency Marketplace BitConnect & Planned ICO (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

The Texas State Securities Boardhas issued an Emergency Cease and Desist Order targeting BiConnect, a UK based cryptocurrency platform. BitConnect is planning a new initial coin offering (ICO) later this month and Texas is stating the tokens are unregistered securities.

The Texas regulators say BitConnecthas placed 9.4 million of the coins into the online cryptocurrency marketplace, representing a market value of $4.1 billion as of Jan. 3 and expects to issue a maximum of 28 million coins.

The tech giants are coming for your customers (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Lost in all this was an inescapable fact: Big tech firms like Amazon don’t need a charter to disrupt the banking industry. Indeed, they are already changing it.

Amazon has done more than $1 billion in small-business lending since it first started offering loans. In 2017, it launched Amazon Cash, which effectively allows it to take cash deposits from customers via ubiquitous convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Sheetz. Other tech firms, including Apple and Samsung, offer their own payment apps.

If banks effectively end up as utilities to larger tech firms, they will lose out. McKinsey forecasts manufacturing will produce only 35% of profits in finance, a return on equity of 4.4%. Distribution, meanwhile, will produce 65% of profits, with a return on equity of 20%.

It’s not clear what tech giants have in store next, but they will likely push the limits of traditional finance. It’s not hard to imagine the Bank of Alexa, enabling customers to move money and pay bills just by shouting at the Amazon Echo in their living rooms.

The year of digital is upon us (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

With that, these are our top 10 market structure trends to watch in 2018:

MiFID II soft launches

You’re probably thinking, “It’s not a soft launch—MiFID II is the law of the land now!” That is technically true, of course. And for better or worse, even though the SEC has provided U.S. firms with “no-action relief” from some European rules, Europe’s regulators don’t have the no-action relief lever that U.S. regulators became so fond of using as they implemented Dodd-Frank. However, MiFID II is so wide-reaching and impactful, it is unreasonable to think European regulators can or will crack down on imperfect compliance as the year gets underway.

Active investing is still huge, but passive keeps growing

However, Greenwich Associates research in 2017 found that most portfolio managers see 40% of assets in passive as the limit, compared to today’s 22%—that is a huge opportunity for growth.

Alternative data becomes less alternative

Ninety percent of investors using alternative data today tell Greenwich Associates they’ve see a positive return on their investment.

And while the alpha to be captured via alternative data is set to grow, the sheer quantity of data available to drive investment decisions is growing exponentially faster.

Data matters more than trading

But even in these and other cases where some data is made public, individual market participants can only find real value when also examining trades that failed, RFQs that were lost and orders that never left the blotter. Even equity exchanges will need to up their game, as the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) reporting requirements finally become a reality and MiFID II makes the market more transparent than ever before. Selling data is great, but helping clients to understand what it really means to them is even better. Inject the growing focus on indices (following several notable acquisitions in 2017) as passive investing grows, and things really start to get interesting.

Wealth management comes out of retirement

Robo-advisors are an opportunity, not a threat.

The move to fee-based accounts couldn’t have come at a better time, with this never-ending bull market generating wealth for investors that, in turn, generate fees for their managers. However, if the market decides to correct, as baby boomers pull out more money than millennials put in, this party might not last forever.

Podcast 133: Rosemary Kelley of Kroll Bond Rating Agency (Lend Academy), Rated: A

In this podcast you will learn:

  • How KBRA got started and how their focus has evolved.
  • When marketplace lending first got on Rosemary’s radar.
  • What made KBRA comfortable enough to be able to provide their first rating in the space.
  • How KBRA has become the leader in rating unsecured consumer lending deals.
  • What has been driving the growth of securitization in marketplace lending.
  • What does the tightening of spreads tell us about investor appetite.
  • How platforms creating their own shelf has changed how these deals get done.
  • Why the deals that have breached their triggers have not tempered investor demand.
  • Some best practices for a platform doing their first securitization.
  • What leads to KBRA deciding to upgrade a deal.
  • Rosemary’s thoughts on the macro environment and how it will impact consumer credit.
  • What platforms can do to mitigate a slow down in securitization markets.
  • What Rosemary thinks about the competitive environment in marketplace lending.

Roostify’s Rajesh Bhat: ‘We’re still in the first quarter of the online mortgage game’ (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Why did you enter the digital mortgage space?
That first year, we spent the entire year looking for a home to buy and it was an entirely painful and traumatic experience. Born out of that was the idea behind Roostify. That’s where we began building out the solution we have today.

Why are mortgages so hard to digitize?
The eligibility aspect is complex. Once eligibility is determined, the fulfillment process is equally complex — if not more. Those two things coupled with the fact that on a normal year over half the mortgages issued have a real estate transaction integrally tied to the mortgage transaction make it very complex.

Where are we in the evolution of the digital mortgage?
If this is a four quarter game, we’re still in the first quarter. The evolution has been, and will continue to be, driven by the consumer. Banks recognize that consumers are willing to do certain tasks themselves to drive this process. Companies are launching now that really understand the consumer pain points and they’re delivering to that as opposed to banks’ pain points.

YieldStreet brings new opportunities to smaller investors (Bankless Times), Rated: A

Rather than cut a $20,000 check to access one opportunity, what if you could use that amount to diversify across 30 deals? Mr. Mehere asked himself that question back in 2014 when consumer P2Ps, small business financing platforms and real estate companies were gaining footholds online.

YieldStreet launched in April 2015 with 80 investments across various asset classes. The idea has proven attractive to retail investors, from whom they have raised $240 million.

They have returned more than 100,000 individual payments and in excess of $80 million in principal and interest to investors. 15 of the original 80 investments have fully matured without a loss.

Wells Fargo’s 2017 Silver Lining Is Drop in CFPB Complaints (Bloomberg), Rated: A

Complaints lodged against the lender with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through Dec. 15 dropped 18 percent from the same period of 2016, the steepest decline among major banks, federal figures show. Still, it remained first among that group in total complaints.

Source: Bloomberg

Seven of the 10 biggest banks by U.S. deposits experienced a drop in CFPB complaints compared with the 2016 period, including Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Bank of America Corp.

10 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Loans (Quicken Loans), Rated: A

You might have a million questions running through your head. Luckily, we reached out to the experts at RocketLoans to answer these 10 frequently asked questions about personal loans.

What Is a Personal Loan?

Also known as an “unsecured loan,” a personal loan isn’t backed by collateral like a mortgage or car loan.

What Is a Personal Loan with Collateral?

If you don’t have a credit score that’s between the 600 and 700+ range that most personal lenders look for, some lenders might offer you a secured personal loan, also known as a collateral loan.

How Much Can I Borrow and How Long Can I Borrow?

Depending on the lender and your personal financial situation, personal loans can average between $5,000 and $15,000, with a maximum of $35,000 and terms between 24 and 60 months.

What Is an Origination Fee, and How Much Is It?

An origination fee can range from 1% to 6% depending on the lender and, like your interest rate, is based on your credit and length of the loan. Like the interest rate, the higher the credit score, the lower the origination fee.

Chord of Confidence: Making Real Estate Agents Look Like Rock Stars (RISMedia), Rated: A

Quicken Loans is the largest online mortgage lender and the second-largest retail mortgage lender in the United States, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.

Putting Agents at the Center of the Transaction
To make the mortgage process better for consumers, Quicken Loans executives turned their attention to working hand-in-hand with real estate agents, their most powerful ally, says Tom Dempsey, divisional vice president of Business Development with Quicken Loans.

The centerpiece of this effort: MyQL Agent Insight, a custom back-end platform that increases loan visibility by letting agents see exactly where their client stands in the loan approval process.

Service, Technology Part of a Broader Culture
What exactly makes Quicken Loans different from its competitors? It starts with the company’s culture of service and the many “ISMs,” or ideals, the company strives to work and live by, Dempsey says.

Some of the standout ISMs include “Do the right thing,” “Every second counts,” and “Simplicity is genius.”

Q-text
A texting service that allows agents to receive text updates on the status of their clients’ loans, keeping agents up-to-date on each step in the process while they’re on-the-go.

Elevating the Consumer Experience
Quicken Loans has evolved in its 33-year history as a direct lender.

In its first full year of operation, Rocket Mortgage funded more than $7 billion of the record $96 billion in total closed loan volume in 2016 for Quicken Loans.

Rocket Mortgage clients have gone from application to closing in as little as eight days on refinance loans, and 16 days on the purchase side, according to internal data. In contrast, the industry’s average closing time on new purchase loans is about 45 days.

President of the Jason Mitchell Group at My Home Group Real Estate in Scottsdale, Ariz., Mitchell has closed more than 900 transactions and over $215 million in sales volume since 2012. More than 65 percent of that business came from clients who used Quicken Loans, Mitchell says.

Source: RISMedia

FormFree’s AccountChek Asset Report Meets Underwriting Guidelines for VA Loans (PR Newswire), Rated: A

FormFree today announced that asset reports generated by its AccountChek® automated asset verification service meet all underwriting guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for loans guaranteed by its Loan Guaranty Service. The announcement follows the VA’s December 29, 2017 release of Circular 26-17-43, which was issued in response to increasing lender interest in automated verification of borrower assets for VA loans.

AccountChek eliminates the burden of gathering asset documents for loans by letting consumers easily and securely transmit their online banking, retirement and investment account data for automated analysis. In just minutes, AccountChek delivers asset data to lenders in a standardized report along with a ReIssueKey that enables secure and streamlined sharing with the secondary market. The result is an easier, safer and more accurate process that closes loans up to 20 days faster, provides a better borrower experience and circumvents a host of common “hiccups” that plague manual asset verification.

4 Best Investments To Make In 2018 (Forbes), Rated: A

#1: The Stock Market

One company I always suggest is Betterment. With Betterment, your money can be invested in ETFs and they don’t charge a fee for managing these for you. Plus, they actually pick the ETFs you invest in based on your appetite for risk, investing goals, and other factors.

Plus, there are a multitude of other “robo-advisors” to choose from.

#2: Peer-to-Peer Lending

A second place to stash some of your excess cash this year is in peer-to-peer lending platforms like Lending Club and Prosper. With these companies, you’re able to loan money to individuals in small increments as if you were the bank. The best part is, you get to earn a pretty decent rate of return – usually upward of 6% or more.

#3: Real Estate

One option I’m really excited about is a company called Fundrise. Fundriseoffers an investing scenario similar to the one above. They buy commercial properties and allow investors to invest small sums of money. Obviously, this is yet another hands-off investment. You may own part of a commercial real estate project, but you don’t even see or deal with the property itself.

Like Lending Club, Fundrise requires an upfront sum of around $1,000 to get started.

Fundrise claims its returns have averaged between 8.76% up to 12.42% over the last five years.

Payday Loan Mogul Trades Ferrari-Racing Life for Prison Term (Bloomberg), Rated: A

Scott Tucker says he’s a pioneering self-made man who, without a college degree, founded successful businesses in a variety of fields and contributed billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. A judge says he’s an unrepentant fraud and sentenced him to almost 17 years in prison.

Jurors found the men guilty of collecting unlawful debts, using misleading contracts and falsely stating that the businesses were owned and operated by Native American tribes. That bogus claim helped them get around state laws that prohibited the business practices, the U.S. said. The scam ran from 1997 to 2013, Castel said.

From 2008 to 2012 alone, Tucker victimized 4.65 million people, according to prosecutors, collecting $1.3 billion in illegal interest payments as some people paid a total of almost $1,000 to settle a $300 loan.

Ad Valorem! The Future of Niche Reserve Based Value Investing and Lending is Here (Huffington Post), Rated: A

Valorem Foundation, the community peer-to-peer platform for multi-party transactions, is launching soon. It is a new blockchain-based platform that allows users to exchange value via smart contracts. Once on the platform, users can borrow, lend, invest, transfer, and exchange money between each other, creating a trust-based platform that removes the need for 3rd-party services or external vendors.

One of Valorem’s products, the Microloan, has been quite successful because of the platform’s risk distribution system and foundation on smart contract-based functionality. Its feature of spreading loan default risk over multiple people forces people in the Valorem community to make smarter choices about buying products like cars, student loans, and insurance.

Marine Corps Vet Earns OnDeck Small Business Spotlight (Guru Focus), Rated: B

OnDeck (NYSE: ONDK), the leader in online lending to small business, today announced that digital agency Majestyk Apps, led by Marine Corps veteran Donald Coolidge, has been selected as the OnDeck Small Business of the Month for January 2018.

United Kingdom

UK shrugs off Brexit worries by winning race for technology investment (Express.co.uk), Rated: AAA

Venture capital funding in UK technology firms was nearly £3billion, more than double the amount invested in Germany and France combined.

London technology drew the most. Its £2.45billion was more than the other top 10 cities put together, according to funding database Pitchbook for London & Partners figures.

Fintech, or financial technology, attracted £1.34billion in venture capital funding, with TransferWise and Funding Circle investment, while artificial intelligence companies raised a record £488million, more than double 2016.

Brexit cynics were wrong about London’s fintech companies (Quartz), Rated: A

Below the surface there are reasons to be concerned, but the data so far looks positive. UK companies raised $7.7 billion last year, more than double that of 2016, according to Dealroom. Fintech companies raked in $2.9 billion, the biggest share. TransferWise raised £211 million ($286 million) while Funding Circle took in £81.9 million, according to lobby group London & Partners.

Source: Quartz

Attitudes across Europe are diverging. While the UK is the No. 1 destination for investment, entrepreneurs in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg (Benelux) are substantially more positive about the future of Europe’s tech scene than their peers in Britain: 70% of the former are more optimistic than they were 12 months ago, compared with 42% in the UK and Ireland, according to a survey by venture capital firm Atomico.

Olivier Goy, founder of crowd-lending platform Lendix, says he’s even more positive about France’s potential than he was after the poll.

A risky P2P opportunity for 2018 (MoneyWeek), Rated: A

Returns from investing directly in the biggest platforms, including Zopa, Ratesetter and Funding Circle, averaged 5.4% including losses from defaults, according to analytics firm AltFi Data.

For example, P2PGI moved from a premium of 15% to a discount of 15% – ie, the share price now trades at 15% below the net asset value (NAV) of the fund’s investments.

Funding Circle’s SME Income fund trades at a small premium (around 2%) to NAV, and has delivered returns equivalent to a 5.6% yield on the current share price.

As for bonds, Lendinvest – a property lending platform – issued the first listed retail bond from a P2P platform, raising £50m at a yield of 5.25%. This was well received and is now trading at a small premium of 2%.

China

Tencent gets a licence to sell mutual funds to WeChat’s 1 billion users in China (SCMP), Rated: AAA

The Shenzhen Bureau of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, the nation’s top securities watchdog, has given Tencent subsidiary Tengan Funds Sales (Shenzhen) the licence to sell funds directly.

Before gaining the licence, the tech giant was only able to act as a platform for fund houses and third-party fund sales companies to sell their products through qian.qq.com, its online wealth managing platform and its popular instant messaging tool, WeChat. Qian.qq.com is for users to access the service on PC, while a similar service on WeChat is for mobile users.

Also on Thursday, the tech giant launched the promotion of a new service that will allow users to pay their credit card bills via using the money-market funds available on Licaitong, or WeChat’s wealth management app.

Users will avoid having to pay a 0.1 per cent charge on a credit card payment of more than 5,000 yuan (US$770) monthly. Tencent is also offering users cash incentives, capped at 88.88 yuan, for those who use the promotal service until February.

Chinese social network’s stock jumps 47% after it says it’s raising money through cryptocurrency (CNBC), Rated: A

The share price of Chinese social network Renren has almost doubled after the company said it was raising money through a digital currency sale.

The company, headquartered in China and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, saw its stock climb 47.39 percent to $18.32 a share by the close of the U.S. trading session Wednesday.

Renren is looking to raise funds through an initial coin offering (ICO), according to a white paper released Tuesday.

WeiyangX Fintech Review (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

On January 2, 2018, the Shenzhen Securities Regulatory Bureau issued this year’s first fund sales license to internet giant Tencent Holdings, or more specifically Teng An Information Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.

The Nansha District Government Affairs Service Center in Guangzhou introduced “WeChat Police Certified” face recognition technology and issued China’s first WeChat ID card on December 26, 2017.

According to Bloomberg News, insiders said some loans on HNA’s P2P platform Jbh.com have been faced with deferred payment since last November. Jbh.com offers products like fixed income, P2P lending, insurance and funds on its app.

European Union

20 of Europe’s hottest fintech start-ups to watch in 2018 (The Finanser), Rated: AAA

Advanon is an online platform for invoice-financing SMEs. The platform enables SMEs to better manage their cash flows and focus on their core business. Founded in 2015 by Philip Kornmann, Phil Lojacono and Stijn Pieper, Advanon has raised $3.9m in funding so far, including a $3.5m Series A round from Btov Partners, VI Partners and Swisscom Ventures.


Circle is a P2P payments platform founded by Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire. Using the technology – available as an app on iOS and Android devices or even through a Circle app for iMessage – users can send and receive P2P payments with native euro support. Circle also claims to be the first and only cross-border payments platform in the world to make it possible to beam cash from an app into a US bank account at no cost.

Founded by Marc Murphy, Fenergo offers solutions for client life-cycle management, anti-money laundering, regulatory compliance and client data management.

A fast-growing fintech company, ID Finance specialises in online lending in emerging and growing markets.

Regarded as one of Europe’s most valuable fintech firms, Klarnaprovides online payment services for e-commerce sites in order to eliminate the risk for buyer and seller.

Monzo has more than 20,000 current-account holders and the start-up bank has amassed something of a cult-like following in the UK, with almost 500,000 people using its distinctive hot coral cards and thousands more on the waiting list. It was founded in 2015 by Gary Dolman, Tom Blomfield, Jason Bates, Jonas Huckestein and Paul Rippon. Stripe, the payments company founded by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison in San Francisco, joined Goodwater Capital and investor Michael Moritz (through his charitable investment vehicles) in a recent £71m investment round, joining existing investors Eileen Burbidge’s Passion Capital as well as Orange Digital Ventures and Joshua Kushner’s Thrive Capital in the round.

Founded in 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko, Revolut is an app-based banking alternative with a multi-currency card.

TransferMate was founded in 2010 to reduce international payments costs for business customers and has since developed a wide regulatory footprint in Europe. So far, more than $10bn has been sent to more than 100 countries over the TransferMate platform.

TransferWise was founded in 2011 by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, and provides international money transfer.

Wefox, also known as FinanceFox, is a next-generation insurance app built entirely on the Salesforce platform.

Younited Credit wants to build the biggest crowd-lending platform in continental Europe. Currently live in Spain, France and Italy, consumers can borrow between $1,200 and $48,000 without the need to talk to a bank. So far, it has managed more than $600m in loans. Founded by Charles Egly, Geoffroy Guigou and Thomas Beylot, Younited recently raised $47.8m in a Series F funding round led by Zencap Asset Management.

International

33 Strategies Banks and Credit Unions Must Implement in 2018 (The Financial Brand), Rated: AAA

Below are the top 10 trends identified in the Digital Banking Report entitled, “2018 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions,” sponsored by Kony, Inc.. The comprehensive 106-page report is now available here.

1. Improve the Consumer Experience

2. Expand Use of Data and Analytics

Immediate Strategies:

  1. Break down the barriers within your organization that perpetuate data silos. Only after silos are eliminated can advanced analytics be the most effective.
  2. Establish a data analytics function or partner with an outside organization to provide help in improving the actionability of your data.
  3. Replace timed marketing ‘programs’ with ongoing marketing ‘processes,’ leveraging real-time data to take advantage of immediate opportunities.
  4. Test the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) beyond risk and fraud analysis, including offer generation and bundling of services.

4. Embrace Open Banking

Immediate Strategies:

  1. Review existing data privacy mandates and potential changes, determining the risk/benefit appetite for new marketplace opportunities.
  2. Explore data-sharing possibility with fintech and non-financial services firms to be prepared for imminent changes.
  3. Build an API strategy for both third-party data access and potential service offerings outside traditional banking ecosystem.

5. Build Fintech Partnerships

Immediate Strategies:

  1. Foster a top-down culture of innovation, testing and understanding the digital consumer.
  2. Investigate partnerships and/or collaboration with fintech firms for products and processes not currently possible within the banking organization.
  3. Replace all or a portion of legacy systems, integrating new technologies while embracing an agile IT culture. This action step has been put on the back burner for years which is hurting many organizations.
  4. Consider having an online lender power the organization’s online loan application, to using an online lender’s credit model to better underwrite and service bank loan applications.

Marketplace Lending News Roundup – January 6 (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Funding Circle poised for £1bn float from Peer2Peer Finance News – We begin the year with news that Funding Circle is preparing to go public, possibly in Q3.

The Tech Majors are coming? Really? from AltFi – Interesting take from David Stevenson on why Amazon and Google may not come to dominate finance.

How Blockchain Will Revolutionize Invoice-Backed Financing from Let’s Talk Payments – We’re going to hear a lot about blockchain disrupting industries in 2018, here is a take on invoice finance.

Can blockchain technology revive peer-to-peer lending? from American Banker – Blockchain has given rise to a new breed of online lending platforms. Penny Crosman delves into this phenomenon.

VPC continues shift away from P2P with sale of Prosper loans from P2P Finance News – The publicly traded Victory Park fund in the UK has divested its portfolio of Prosper loans.

Finastra bolsters global capital markets team (Asset Servicing Times), Rated: B

Finastra has appointed Pedro Porfirio as global head of capital markets.

Pedro will be responsible for driving the growth of Finastra’s capital markets business line, focusing on treasury, capital markets, and investment management.

Australia/New Zealand

Would you take money advice from a computer? (NZ Herald), Rated: A

Kiwis are set to start getting financial “robo-advice” this year — a move tipped to help those on lower incomes but which some are warning comes with risks.

Investment watchdog the Financial Markets Authority is expected to open applications for exemptions to provide digital advice around KiwiSaver, insurance and mortgages early this year.

Research by the FMA has found most of those who get financial advice in New Zealand have assets of more than $200,000, raising concerns that people with lower incomes and assets are missing out.

India

Consumer loans marketplace Wishfin looks to raise up to $ 50m (Deal Street Asia), Rated: AAA

Online marketplace for consumer loans and other financial products Wishfin will raise up to $50 million in its next round of funding as it looks to make acquisitions in niche segments, a top company official said.

The company claims to have 9 million customers and $3 billion worth of disbursals to date.

Plan to save in 2018? Refer to these new age investment options (siasat.com), Rated: B

The quick returns that one gets through investments in cryptocurrencies have caught everyone’s attention.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending in India currently gives a net return of 18-22 percent to lenders.

People are becoming investors and expanding investment portfolio by investing small ticket size in different startups. Venture Catalysts, India’s first integrated incubator, emerging as largest investor of the year with closing 33 investment in this year.

APAC

PLDT’s fintech unit going beyond lending (Inquirer.net), Rated: AAA

FINTQ, the financial technology (fintech) arm of PLDT and Smart’s Voyager Innovations, disbursed more than P12 billion in new loans through its digital lending platform, Lendr, last year or nearly a third higher than the year-ago level.

With more than the P12 billion disbursed last year, total disbursement has reached about P27 billion since Lendr came to market in 2015, Villanueva said.

With Fintech, Pakistan set to dismantle barriers to branchless banking (Tribune), Rated: A

In an effort to promote fintech, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) – the telecom regulator – has decided to award Third Party Service Providers’ licences by June or July 2018, which will pave way for inter-operability between cellular mobile operators and ramp up financial inclusion all over the country.

At present, Telenor’s Easypaisa, Jazz’s Mobicash and United Bank Limited’s Omni are providing mobile-based branchless banking services. However, their customers cannot transfer money from one service to another.

The new platform will help dismantle existing barriers that prevent digital wallets (branchless bank account-holders) from sending money to different bank accounts. Users will be able to make transactions from wallet to wallet or wallet to the bank account.

Fintech firm Avaloq’s chairman streamlines his role to focus on China expansion and possible listing (SCMP), Rated: B

The chairman of Switzerland-based financial technology company Avaloq will focus on expanding business in China and Asia as well as preparing for a possible stock exchange listing, after handing over his chief executive duties.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Thursday March 23 2017, Daily News Digest

insurtech

News Comments Today’s main news: Kabbage to raise money for acquisitions, possibly OnDeck. Fundbox partners with Zoho. Goji launches diversified P2P lending bond. HNW Lending launches IFISA. Property Crowd launches IFISA. Today’s main analysis: Ron Suber on Fintech & fraud. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Podcast: Dominic Venturo on creating a model for innovation. Alternative finance for SMEs is even more urgent. Jail […]

insurtech

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

Australia

Canada

China

India

Asia

Latin America

News Summary

United States

Kabbage looks to raise money for acquisitions (Reuters), Rated: AAA

Small U.S. business online lender Kabbage Inc is in talks to raise a new round of equity funding that could be used for potential acquisitions at a time when many of its peers face funding challenges, people familiar with the matter said.

One of the acquisition targets under consideration by Kabbage is rival On Deck Capital Inc, which has market capitalization of $321 million, according to one of the sources.

Ron Suber on Fintech & Fraud: A Global Challenge (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

How fraud occurs is a never-ending, shape-shifting challenge for individuals, companies and public authorities. There will always be another Ponzi or Madoff looking to separate hard-earned money from honest people via duplicitous actions. As all types of business shift online, fraudster’s will inevitably adapt to pursue their malevolent objectives.

Some of the challenges that impact online lenders include:

  • “Shotgunning” – taking out multiple loans from multiple platforms in under ten days
  • Loan stacking – multiple unsecured loans over several months

Download Ron Suber’s special report “Fintech & Fraud” here.

FUNDBOX PARTNERS WITH ZOHO TO SOLVE CASH FLOW GAPS (Fundbox Email), Rated: AAA

Fundbox, the cash flow optimization platform for small businesses (SMBs), and Zoho, the cloud-based business operating system, today announced a partnership in which Zoho will offer Fundbox to its user base of over 25M. Under the partnership, Zoho will provide access to Fundbox’s technology to streamline and automate the business borrowing experience within the Zoho ecosystem.

Fundbox addresses one of the biggest pain points for small businesses and freelancers: cash flow.  A recent Fundbox study revealed that 64 percent of small businesses are adversely affected by late payments. Over 80 percent of small business invoices are over 30 days due. This integration will allow Zoho customers approved for Fundbox Credit to advance funds tied up in their receivables so they can focus on business growth.

U.S. Bank’s Dominic Venturo on creating a model for innovation (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

Every institution innovates differently. Our approach is to work with the businesses to understand their objectives and strategies. We want to keep a long-term eye on emerging technology and how consumers and businesses interact with technology. We’ll blend that into the product development roadmaps for the businesses. In some cases, emerging technology will look like it has a lot of potential but then you really have to see how it applies to a business, whether it solves a customer problem or pain point, and whether it can scale to a company our size. I don’t know if this is different than others, but it’s definitely our approach.

Ondeck announces extension, upsize of revolving credit facility with Deutsche Bank (Reuters), Rated: A

On Deck Capital Inc – amended its asset-backed revolving credit facility with Deutsche bank to extend facility’s maturity date to march 2019

On Deck Capital Inc – amended credit facility to increase facility’s borrowing capacity by about $52 million to a total of up to approximately $214 million

Online small-business lending recovering (Biz Journals), Rated: A

For online business lenders, 2016 was a rough year.

Two prominent fintech companies saw their market valuations drop. One small-business lender abruptly stopped issuing loans temporarily due to performance issues, while another was forced to shut down.

Lifshitz offers his view on the subject:

1. Fintech loan originations will surge in 2017.

It’s clear to me that the fintech space’s long-term themes are unchanged. The credit gap remains, and fintech companies still provide a much-needed service. Plus, they’re doing so in a far easier and seamless way than has been available to customers in the past.

Those who reacted to the negativity of 2016 are going to be surprised. Fintech companies will recover from the sector’s downbeat view. Demand and originations will continue to grow. I predict that market sentiment will come back as confidence returns.

2. Fintech companies will adapt by diversifying products and target markets.

Fintech also will get a boost from a secular trend. More millennials are joining the workforce and consuming more services online, including financial services. The generational change favors fintech companies.

3. Fintech companies could form partnerships with banks.

4. Fintech will dominate the user experience.

How one startup aims to help ‘credit invisible’ foreign workers in the U.S. (Tearsheet), Rated: A

For millions of immigrants and temporary foreign residents in the U.S., establishing a financial identity here can be complicated and expensive. Since credit reports don’t cross borders, an immigrant with an exceptional credit score in his home country may arrive in the U.S. as ‘credit invisible’ — a status that may render him ineligible for loans or long-term housing.

Nova Credit is an alternative score to assess foreign residents’ creditworthiness based on their home country credit data. It can also be used for Americans returning to the country after years working abroad. The company obtains the data through agreements with major foreign credit bureaus, a process that can only be initiated with the customer’s consent, Esipov said. Though Nova Credit is initially focusing on India and Mexico, it’s entered into arrangements with credit bureaus in Europe, Canada, Australia and the Philippines. Its revenue model is based on fees to lenders who request the reports.

BP Podcast 219: Private Lending, Turnkey Investing, and Crowdfunding Real Estate with Dr. Kenyon Meadows (Bigger Pockets), Rated: A

If you are looking to make your real estate more passive, this is one show you can’t afford to miss!

Humans to Robos: You Can’t Touch This (Think Advisor), Rated: A

Over the past five years, robo-advisors that provide algorithm-based financial advice and online portfolio management have skyrocketed in popularity. Once the robots take over, the argument goes, humans will be no more.

A commoditized approach to investing cannot incorporate potentially high-impact life events in the same way a knowledgeable human advisor can. Humans offer expertise throughout the life cycle of a client’s investments, while a robo-advisor often reduces a client to a formula. Moreover, the human advisor offers another invaluable service that the robo-advisor can’t replicate – emotional intelligence.

Industry research supports our view. The Financial Planning Association and Investopedia found that investors want a low cost, automated platform combined with personal advice from a human adviseor. Moreover, they noted that 40% of the investors surveyed revealed they are very uncomfortable with automated investing during periods of extreme market volatility.

MyPrivateBanking estimates that hybrid human/automated solutions will accumulate AUM of nearly $3.7 trillion by 2020, and $16.3 trillion (slightly more than 10% of all investable wealth) by 2025. They estimate that pure robo-advisors will have a market share of only 1.6% of total investable wealth by 2025.

New US insurtech Fabric targets parents (Business Insider), Rated: A

The number of insurtechs in the life insurance space has been in two minutes online; and Fabric Premium, a more comprehensive 20-year term policy. As of Tuesday, Fabric is live in 32 US states, with license applications in the remainder pending approval. Fabric recently raised a $2.5 million Seed round led by VC firm

Evolve Capital Partners Advises on Acquisition of LeaseDimensions (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Evolve Capital Partners Inc., a specialized investment bank, today announced its client, LeaseDimensions, has been successfully acquired by GenPact (NYSE: G), a global professional services firm focused on delivering digital transformation for clients.

Founded in 1995, LeaseDimensions is a technology-enabled business processing management and information technology services company that specializes in providing finance process and technology domain expertise to equipment, vehicle finance and renewable energy companies. By acquiring LeaseDimensions, GenPact will unlock synergies across its core equipment financing businesses, offering enhanced growth and scalability opportunities while effectively providing onshore servicing capabilities.

Financial Stress Suggests Consumers are Making Impulsive Decisions in the Home Buying Process (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Owners.com, an innovative online brokerage, recently commissioned a survey of more than 1,200 consumers considering a home purchase this year. The theme of this year’s spring real estate season? Stress. In fact, according to the study, 72 percent of potential home buyers stated that they expect stress in the home buying process, with many citing financial aspects as the most concerning. Additional key findings are included below.

When asked about concerns and issues when buying a home, leading financial aspects included:

  • Fear of losing earnest money deposit (64 percent)
  • Becoming “house poor” (61 percent)
  • Bidding wars driving up the price (59 percent)

Despite these financial stressors, when potential home buyers were questioned about their willingness to go over budget in a competitive bid to get into a dream home:

  • More than half (55 percent) said they were willing to go beyond their budget
  • For those willing to stretch their dollars, on average, consumers stated they were willing to go $37,809 over budget

Given these monetary pressures, savvy consumers are considering real estate models that offer opportunities to cut costs in the transaction. When asked about their propensity to handle the home buying or selling process themselves if they would be charged a lower commission, 85 percent said they were likely to consider this opportunity if it meant they had access to some of the more complicated transaction services like the appraisal or legal documents. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) indicated that they would be motivated to work with a real estate agent or broker who would reward them financially for the work they do on their own. These consumers should look for opportunities to work with a brokerage that offers a buyer rebate or sellers an opportunity to save on traditionally high agent commissions.

Detroit Fintech Startup Autobooks Closes $ 5.5M Series A Round (Xconomy), Rated: A

Autobooks, the Detroit-based startup spun out of Billhighway in 2015, has closed on a $5.5 million Series A funding round. The investment was led by Pittsburgh-based Draper Triangle, with participation from CU Solutions Group, Baird Capital, Detroit Venture Partners, and Invest Michigan.

Autobooks, he explains, has created a set of digital tools to automatically handle a range of accounting tasks, including collecting payments owed to a business and disbursing money a business owes to others. The company licenses its software to banks and credit unions, and they in turn make the technology available to their small-business customers.

Autobooks sprang from Troy, MI-based Billhighway, a financial technology company serving large enterprise customers.

Banks are Back in the Game (Forbes), Rated: A

The introduction of online and small business lending has forced banks to rethink their strategies, but banks are now starting to play ball and shift the industry again.

In the lending industry, there’s a perception that extreme competitiveness has developed between banks and non-bank lending, but I don’t believe that’s the case. By working together, they can help small businesses – the backbone of the American Dream.

JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America took two different approaches to building out online small business lending. They were able to learn from non-bank lenders and emulate the customer experience, or partner with a non-bank lender, to improve their own offerings. Non-bank lenders like OnDeck have reinvented the customer journey. Combine that with the advantages banks have with cost of capital, customer base, underwriting credit cycles and access to data, and you have a good recipe for the future of small business lending.

But as Tufail pointed out, the migration from baby boomers to millennials will further emphasize digital channels. Tech savvy folks will want even quicker lending decisions, and that starts online.

5 ways banks are using Snapchat (Tearsheet), Rated: A

American banks have also amped up their Snapchat recruiting efforts. Not long after their launch of Snapchat Spectacles, Citibank employees began shooting videos with them to offer insights of life as a Citibank worker.

Dutch bank ABN Amro launched a Snapchat customer service capability (Snapchat “webcare”), a feature that’s yielded them 2000 followers since its launch a year ago. The bank posts stories to engage users who can ask questions using photos, videos, emojis and filters.

Through Snapchat, banks are affiliating themselves with causes close to customers’ hearts. For example, CIBC, Canada’s fifth-largest bank, launched a Snapchat pride filter to mark LGBTQ pride festivities last summer.

The Bank of Ireland pulled in celebrity influencers who use the Snapchat offer financial tips and advice to younger customers — a part of the bank’s FeelFree student reward program.

Bank of America’s Llama was used as a Snapchat lens was released last summer in conjunction with the MLB All Star Game to promote the bank’s mobile app.

Small Change Announces First Los Angeles-Based Real Estate Offering (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Real estate crowdfunding platform Small Change announced on Wednesday the launch of its first Los Angeles-based offering.

Small Change describes Rosewood as a urban-minded development of four single-family units that are designed to achieve net-zero energy usage and further vitalize the area. Each of the units is designed with energy efficiency and resource conservation in mind and will also be pre-wired for solar panels with sufficient roof space to achieve net-zero energy living.

Small Change added a 10% return is projected on this investment.

Conference of State Bank Supervisors Releases Statement to Congress on OCC FinTech Charters (Buckley Sander), Rated: B

Ryan stated that the OCC’s Proposal “sets a dangerous precedent [by demonstrating that] the OCC has acted beyond the legal limits of its authority [and has] bypassed and ignored bipartisan objections from Congress, [thereby] creat[ing] new risks to consumers.” He asserted that the proposed charter would “preempt existing state consumer protections without a comparable mechanism to replace them. It also exposes taxpayers to the risk of inevitable [F]inTech failures.”

United Kingdom

Goji launches P2P lending bond (FT Adviser), Rated: AAA

Goji’s Diversified Peer-to-peer Lending Bond claims to be the UK’s first diversified peer-to-peer lending proposition with a portfolio of loans from a variety of lenders.

It is targeting returns in excess of 5 per cent over a one or three-year term.

The bond is eligible for inclusion within the Innovative Finance Isa.

HNW Lending unveils Innovative Finance ISA targeting 7% – 15% (AltFi), Rated: AAA

HNW Lending has received full approval from the Financial Conduct Authority approval to offer Innovative Finance ISAs (IFISA), with minimum investments of £5,000 per loan.

It will target returns of between 7 per cent per annum and 15 per cent per annum depending on the risk of the loans in which the investors choose to invest.

Property Crowd launches IFISA with target returns of 7-10% (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Property Crowd, the real estate crowdfunder that’s owned by global secondary market platform Global Alternatives, has launched its Innovative Finance ISA offering just days prior to the April 5th tax cut-off. The product offers investors returns of up to 10 per cent.

The minimum invest amount for the IFISA offering is £5k.

Pollen Street Capital-backed alternative lender Capitalflow has secured a new round of funding valued at £50m to finance its loans to Irish SMEs.

P2P platform Landbay is turning to crowdfunding for capital. The buy-to-let mortgage lending platform, is hosting a £1.5m equity crowdfunding round on SeedrsLandbay is already overfunded, with more than £1.7m invested so far.

Innovative Finance ISA offers sweet deal for investors – if they know it exists (The Investment Observer), Rated: A

The survey, which focused on understanding investors’ intentions for the year ahead, found priorities for savers included a fixed income (17%), the opportunity to self-select how and where their money is invested (18%) and tax efficiency (24%) were top of their list of investment priorities.

Whilst the IFISA aims to meet all of these needs, half of investors questioned said they had never heard of it. 29 percent said they do know the name but don’t know what it is and only one in 20 said they know enough about what an IFISA is to be able to explain it clearly to other people.

However, the survey also found that those that do know about IFISAs and have invested in them have invested more on averagethan in traditional Cash ISAs.  The average amount of £7,013 per person has been invested in Crowdstacker’s IFISA to date; this is compared to £5,810 in cash ISAs between 2015 and 2016.

Master Investor Show: Setting the Standard for Investment Events (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: B

The Master Investor Show brings together private investors of all portfolio sizes to hear keynote talks from celebrity investors and gain access to new investment opportunities.

Ordinary investors will get the opportunity to speak to the CEOs and founders of 100 companies from multiple investment sectors, including equity funds and retirement saving, crowdfunding, life sciences and FinTech, and alternative finance such as film funding and peer-to-peer lending.

This year’s main-stage celebrity line-up:

  • Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, CEO of SyndicateRoom, the innovative online investment platform
European Union

Alternative finance for SMEs is even more urgent (Irish Examiner), Rated: AAA

While recent Central Bank figures found that perception by Irish SMEs of the willingness of banks to provide them with credit have improved considerably in the past three years, other surveys show access to finance is still a high concern for about one-third of Irish small businesses.

This is why SMEs are looking beyond their banks for alternative sources of funding.

Among these options is peer-to-peer lending. The largest platform Linked Finance launched in 2013 and rival Grid Finance arriving the following year.

Ms Kenneally was getting frustrated with the 10-week wait for a decision on an application for a bank overdraft when a friend pointed her towards Microfinance Ireland, a government initiative to provide loans to small businesses. She received a loan of €25,000 and was impressed with the fast turnaround.

Another source is crowdfunding. The idea behind crowdfunding is to pair donors with small businesses, charities or arts events who want to raise funds for a project or campaign. Platforms include Fundit, iDonate, and Seedups.

Warburg Pincus buys stake in Swiss fintech group Avaloq (Financial Times), Rated: A

Warburg Pincus has agreed to pay close to SFr300m for a minority stake in Avaloq, Switzerland’s largest software provider to banks.

The acquisition of a 35 per cent stake by the private equity group values the company, which already serves key financial centres, in excess of SFr1bn ($1bn), the private equity group said.

Avaloq has more than 2,000 employees and serves 155 banks and wealth managers in financial centres, including London, Frankfurt and Paris. It generated revenues of SFr533m in 2016, which represented a 10 per cent increase from a year earlier.

The private equity group has recruited several leading banking figures to sit on the Swiss company’s advisory board. Among them are Javier Marín, the former chief executive of Santander, Stefan Krause, former chief financial officer at Deutsche Bank and Jacques Aigrain, former chief executive officer at Swiss Re.

Here’s why fintech will make banks stronger (City A.M.), Rated: A

Brian McCabe, who chairs the fintech working group at the Fintech and Payments Association of Ireland, says existing banks and financial players won’t get weaker at the expense of new entrants.

Collaboration will be a feature of fintech’s next phase as traditional banks, financial institutions and insurance companies in Europe seem to recognise the importance of becoming smarter, more efficient and customer-focused.

Now is the chance for banks to take what fintech pioneers have to offer, and use it to make themselves more competitive.

Australia

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Austrade sign fintech collaboration agreement (Finextra), Rated: A

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Austrade have signed a new collaboration agreement to support the flow of fintech innovation between Australia and the UK.

The agreement will be used to target and attract fintech investment to Australia, and assist Australian fintech companies to access the UK market.

Canada

Investing in the Fintech Revolution: How Glance Technologies is innovating mobile payments (OTC Markets), Rated: A

Now, the creator of PayByPhone parking app has set his eyes on the restaurant industry, creating the Glance Pay Mobile Payment App under Glance Technologies Inc. (CSE:GET) (OTCQB:GLNNF) to revolutionize a C$650 Billion restaurant bill payment industry. Glance Pay allows diners to pay their restaurant bill in seconds using their mobile phone while automatically receiving exclusive restaurant rewards. Gone are the days of waiting for the server to bring around the card machine. Restaurant owners benefit from automatic bill collection, built-in loyalty programs, turn-key in-app marketing and valuable customer experience feedback.

China

Jail sentences for P2P lending scam (Shangai Daily), Rated: AAA

FORTY-ONE people in the city’s first and high-profile P2P fraud case involving nearly 700 million yuan (US$10.2 million) have been jailed, according to Yangpu District prosecutors.

The 41 were staff members from five outlets of Baiyin Wealth Co, including one in downtown Xintiandi area. Sentences ranged from six to eight months in prison, with some granted a reprieve.

Other suspects are either being investigated or are waiting to be tried.

India

Peer to Peer Lending Advantages and Disadvantages [Case Study] (Scalar), Rated: A

Peer to Peer lending advantages and disadvantages – lenders perspective

Advantages

  1. Higher interest

For example, a 5 year bond with a fixed rate interest of an Indian bank offers 3% AER, while the same amount has the potential to earn 6.32% to 30% p.a. through a peer to peer website, on the same tenure.

  1. Diversification
  2. Freedom to commit

Disadvantages

  1. Waiting period
  2. No legal laws
Asia

How transparency is driving Asian asset managers to technology (The Asset), Rated: A

The need for improved transparency is pushing Asian asset managers to use more sophisticated technology than they’ve ever used before in the management of their portfolios and to boost the overall efficiency of their businesses.

Another trend among Asian asset managers is using technology as a way to drive transparency between what their internal stakeholders and investment teams are actually reading and what is driving their investment decision.

Asset managers are also using this technology to look at broker performance which involves having all their data, primarily data on trading positions and transactions, on one buyside platform.

Latin America

Latin American Venture Capital Firms Invest in MPOWER Financing (NBC12), Rated: AAA

VARIV Capital, a Latin American venture capital firm, and Chilango Ventures, an investment firm with offices in San Francisco and Mexico City, have invested in MPOWER Financing () to help the innovative fintech firm expand its presence in Latin America and attract a greater number of high-potential students to America’s best colleges and universities.

Latin American students already represent 25 percent of MPOWER’s outstanding loan portfolio, with Mexico representing the third-largest student population currently studying in the U.S. through MPOWER’s financial support.

With the addition of these two new equity investors, MPOWER Financing has assembled a diverse global investor base that is enabling the firm to fulfill its mission to provide educational loan support to high-potential, international students who do not fit within traditional credit assessment models. Currently, MPOWER Financing, founded in 2014, has a pipeline of more than $120 million in loan applications from students in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa which it expects to fill in 2017. The recent investments are part of the closing of MPOWER Financing’s Series A funding.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor