The 2008 financial crisis saw a lending freeze from traditional banks. Grabbing the opportunity, alternative lenders filled the space. Drawn by superior returns, sophisticated financial investors and funds sprung up to invest via these platforms to directly/indirectly lend to consumers and small businesses. Princeton Alternative Funding is one such player. But the company has had to […]
The 2008 financial crisis saw a lending freeze from traditional banks. Grabbing the opportunity, alternative lenders filled the space. Drawn by superior returns, sophisticated financial investors and funds sprung up to invest via these platforms to directly/indirectly lend to consumers and small businesses. Princeton Alternative Funding is one such player. But the company has had to face rough weather, with bankruptcy protection and multiple lawsuits hobbling its progress.
Princeton Alternative Funding’s Humble Beginnings
Jack Cook (CEO) founded Princeton Alternative Funding LLC (PAF), a fund management company on March 1, 2015. The company is headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey and helps accredited and institutional investors achieve strong positive returns in the alternative lending sector. Walt Wojciechowski is the CFO and Jeff Davner is the President of the company.
Princeton Alternative Funding LLC is the general partner of Princeton Alternative Income Fund (PAIF), a flexible 3(c)(7) hedge fund. The inspiration for PAF was the evolution of fintech. There were no online lenders 15 years ago, and it is the recent technology advancement that has made it possible for the alternative lender market to come into forefront.
Though the company started on a strong note, its relations soured with its biggest limited partner in late 2015.
The PAIF Bankruptcy Filing
Ranger Direct Lending Trust (RDLT) along with RSIF and its affiliate “Ranger,” invested indirectly in PAIF Offshore. PAIF Offshore is a British Virgins Island Offshore entity, which is a limited partner in PAIF. According to the company’s filings, Ranger’s actual motivation was not to be a limited partner but the owner of the fund. They had reflected to their own investors that they control and own PAIF, which was materially false, according to PAF spokesmen. Though the two parties had major disagreements, PAIF was churning great returns for Ranger.
In fact, in 2015, Ranger received cash payments of $2,299,070.00 in the form of returns from PAIF, but they again attempted to acquire an equity interest in PAF. This attempt was rejected by PAIF, which forced Ranger to look for other means, which in turn destabilized the fund operations. Its bankruptcy filing states that the company entered bankruptcy protection while continuing to fight Ranger and its unwanted advances.
The case has turned more complex with Argon Credit, PAIF’s largest finance company borrower filing a bankruptcy petition in December 2016, placing 60 percent of the company’s assets in the PAIF fund at risk. Shortly after, Bristlecone Holdings, another one of PAIF’s finance company borrowers, filed a bankruptcy petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada.
PAF’s Climb Back to the Top
2015 saw the company open its fund raising doors. In March, they received their first capital. From March 2015 to Feb 2016, Ranger put in a total of $62 million. The company received new management in March 2016 after it was discovered that certain executives colluded with Ranger. The next year, they added more than 13 limited partners. The fund is now focused on providing revolving lines of credit to finance companies.
The fund has purchased a total of 12 portfolios from LOC (line of credit) originators. Two of them have been paid off and the rest are being serviced. These loans mainly comprise of small-dollar short-term consumer loans. All of them are installment loans, and some fall under lease/rent-to-own categories. There are a total of 60,000 consumer loans in the entire portfolio.
The company has an exclusive partnership with Microbilt Inc., a Consumer Rating Agency that provides top of the line analysis and monitoring capabilities. It will have access to proprietary databases and scorecards of MB, which will allow it to analyze loan originators and their performance as well as evaluate borrower performance on a granular level. The proprietary technology software includes auto underwriting tools, statistical models, and software tools to determine the validity of each loan.
PAF is now primarily funded by Microbilt to the tune of almost $2.5 million.
The year-to-date audited adjusted returns have exceeded the fund’s performance targets since its creation.
2015: 13.97% YTD return
2016: 17.41% YTD return
2017: 15.17% YTD return
Princeton Alternative Funding does not have many competitors. Even players like Victory Park Capital have exited the space. But Princeton Alternative Funding firmly believes the alternative lending sector and its niche is a growing market. Banks and financial institutions are not able to offer easy credit to the consumer market, which is where alternative lending facilities come into play. It is looking to become a force to reckon with in its niche of short-term small-dollar consumer loans.
News Comments Today’s main news: Ron Suber joins MoneyLion board. Prosper reports full year results. Orca launches P2P investment platform. Santander, Ripple partner on money transfer app. Cash Suvidha raises $1M. China opens payment market to foreign companies. Today’s main analysis: The cost of bankruptcy. Today’s thought-provoking articles: LendingTree studies the cost of bankruptcy. Liwwa creates big impact in MENA. The lowdown […]
The cost of bankruptcy. “Mortgage borrowers with scores between 720 and 739 three years after bankruptcy were offered similar APRs to those without bankruptcy, indicating a strong credit score can counteract the effects of a prior bankruptcy.”
Prosper today reported full year results for 2017. Loan originations and transaction fee revenue were up 31% and 37% year-over-year to $2.9 billion and $130 million, respectively. Prosper also generated cash from operations for three consecutive quarters, starting in Q2 2017.
Summary of Key 2017 Financial Highlights:
Surpassed $11 billion in cumulative personal loan originations through the platform since inception
Increased loan originations 31% and transaction fee revenue 37% year-over-year
Net loss of $115 million included $89 million of non-cash charges related to warrants to purchase preferred stock that were issued to a consortium of investors and a third party in connection with a settlement agreement
Adjusted EBITDA(1) of $5 million increased $43 million year-over-year
Generated cash from operations for three consecutive quarters, starting in Q2 2017
Closed $50 million Series G funding, ending 2017 with approximately $100 million of liquidity
LendingTree today released the findings of its study on the cost of bankruptcy. The findings show that while a prior bankruptcy can make it more expensive to borrow, it’s certainly not impossible to qualify for credit. If borrowers wait to apply for new loans even just a few years after bankruptcy, they may find rates that aren’t too far off from what other borrowers are being offered.
Forty-three percent of people with a bankruptcy on their credit file have a credit score of 640 or higher within a year of the bankruptcy. Within two years of bankruptcy, 65 percent have a credit score above 640.
A typical $15,000 auto loan incurs an extra $2,171 in borrowing costs for those seeking offers less than a year after bankruptcy, but just $799 for those who wait at least two years after bankruptcy.
Borrowers who have a 3-year-old bankruptcy and apply for a mortgage see an offered APR that is 19 basis points higher than those without a bankruptcy. The higher the APR, the higher borrowing costs will be.
Mortgage borrowers with scores between 720 and 739 three years after bankruptcy were offered similar APRs to those without bankruptcy, indicating a strong credit score can counteract the effects of a prior bankruptcy.
Despite becoming a bank holding company, Goldman’s business remained focused on corporations and the wealthy. That changed a few years ago as it began plotting new strategies, says Omer Ismail, chief commercial officer for Marcus. The Wall Street Journal recently published an in-depth account of the creation of Marcus, including juicy tidbits like conversations over lunch in the Hamptons.
Goldman decided to tackle the unsecured personal loan space first.
Marcus has found its particular angle in making its loans highly customizable. Rather than setting traditional loan terms, like three years or five years, it asks you how much you can afford to pay each month in addition to asking you how much you need to borrow. So, you might end up with a 31-month installment loan, which is not a conventional loan term.
Synthetic identity fraud usually involves creating an entirely new identity composed of information with no ties to a known consumer. This identity is then used to apply for credit and services. Synthetic identities are one of the most difficult fraud threats institutions face today and their prevalence has exploded over the past several years. Synthetic identity fraud is arguably the perfect crime because there is no consumer victim.
Put yourself in the shoes of a fraudster. As you consider your many nefarious options for committing a crime and getting away with it, you decide that the best crime is one where there is no clear victim. Sure, robbing a bank using a synthetic identity victimizes the enterprise, its shareholders, its employees and taxes its customers. However, no one individual is intentionally, directly hurt. Therefore, the non-existent victim does not alert authorities and the fact that a crime has been committed is lost to history. There is a “credit loss” and the debtholder is impossible to locate. The debt is written off, or sold, and the fraud is perpetuated yet again. Like I said, the perfect crime.
The average borrower in Hawaii spends 36.2 percent of their monthly paycheck on credit card, student loan, and housing payments, according to a study by Credible.com, making Hawaii the state with the highest average debt-to-income ratio.
According to the online lender marketplace, the average monthly credit card payment for a Hawaii resident is $238, the average monthly student loan payment is $385, and the average monthly housing payment is $1,091, for a total of $1,714.
With average annual income in Hawaii at $56,889, the state’s average debt-to-income ratio is 43 percent more than residents of Michigan, the state with the lowest debt-to-income ratio.
On average, Michigan residents in the dataset spent 25.3 percent of their monthly income on credit card, student loan and housing payments.
Nationwide, the study found the average American in the dataset paid $207 on credit card debt, $370 on student loans and $906 on housing each month, while taking home an average salary of $60,671.
When fund managers choose experienced service providers, including custodians, auditors, accountants, attorneys and administrators, they can increase transparency in the fund, which can in turn promote investor confidence. Service providers can be much more than just an added expense; they can be valuable partners that can help position the fund for success.
Orca, an independent data, research and analysis provider targeting the the UK peer-to-peer (P2P) lending market, has launched its premier investment platform. The new platform will allow investors to easily diversify across multiple P2P lending platforms from a single P2P investment portfolio.
Orca seeks to provide their new service to the retail investor market.
Total cumulative lending is £13 billion since the asset class was created in 2005. Orca’s secondary service, Orca Analytics, has 2016 to 2017 growth at 18%, with £4 billion lent in 2017 alone. The estimated customer-base stands at approximately 200,000-250,000 retail investors.
The Orca Investment Platform Features include exposure to both consumer, business and property lenders. Investors may expect a return of 5% net of Orca’s cut which is a 0.65% fee.
Khosla said his firm is already in “open conversations” with multiple countries about its global expansion plans, including the U.S., Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany, Singapore, South Africa and Australia. The company has already established offices in some of those countries, he added.
OakNorth is expanding abroad by licensing its technology platform, ACORN, to banks in other countries. The platform uses big data and machine learning to optimize credit for small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
OakNorth offers loans between £500 and £30 million to SMEs. It was granted a banking license by U.K. regulators in 2015.
‘No firm views’ on IPO
OakNorth is currently valued at $1.4 billion, which puts it in the ranks of the U.K.’s “unicorn” companies — firms valued at $1 billion or more.
IFISAs are also a way for investors to do something interesting with their savings. For example, Oaksmore has recently launched an Isa which allows investors to capitalise on historic renovation.
This particular IFISA, specialising in historical building renovation, offers a tax-free return of up to 7.5 per cent each year.
Another lender trying to do some- thing different is Folk2Folk, a peer-to- peer platform for rural and local businesses. It is offering an IFISA which gives lenders the opportunity to earn 6.5 per cent interest a year, while supporting British businesses within their local area.
Banco BNI Europa launched an online account opening process through videoconference. This new process also introduces an innovative system of documents signature with a qualified digital certificate and is available for Portuguese citizens who want to open an individual current account. The process is simple, fast and intuitive, without the usual bureaucracies associated with account opening.
This product is offered in partnership with DigitalSign, a Portuguese Certifying Entity specialized in the issuance of qualified digital certificates, registered in the National Security Office as an accredited entity. The partnership with Digital Sign allows, in addition to the online account opening, the issue of a digital certificate, with similar strength to a physical signature, which may be used by the client in the context of other contractual relations with the Bank.
Santander is on track to launch an international money transfer app in partnership with fintech startup Ripple in the next few months, the bank’s UK CEO has confirmed.
Nathan Bostock told the International Fintech conference in London on Thursday: “This spring, if not one beats us to it, we will be the first large retail bank to carry out cross-border payments at scale with blockchain technology.”
Peoples Trust Company of Saint Albans has selected Finastra to provide a single, end-to-end lending solution for commercial and consumer lending. Using Finastra’s Total Lending solution, which packages the power of the Fusion LaserPro, Fusion DecisionPro and Fusion CreditQuest products, the bank will be able to manage its lending process from origination through to booking and thus increase efficiency and customer service.
FintruXNetwork is a global P2P lending blockchain-based ecosystem, powered by Ethereum. FintruX Network aims to connect borrowers, lenders, and rated service agencies. FintruX facilitates marketplace lending in a true peer-to-peer network to ease the cash-flow issues of small businesses and startups. The startup announced today it has successfully raised over 22,000 ETH ($25 million) in token sale from contributors around the world. The proceeds of the sale will be used to build an Ethereum-based platform that will fundamentally enhance the P2P loan experience for small businesses and startups.
Delhi-based fintech startup, Cash Suvidha, has raised $1 million in its pre-series A round of investment from Initia Holdings Ltd., Vipin Agarwal, Partner in India Industrial Growth Fund and others. The company plans to use the newly secured funds to increase customer base and to further strengthen its technological infrastructure.
The company claims to receive 15,000 loan applications every month and disbursement of loans in another 2 working days. The company has raised a total of $5.2 million and claims to have disbursed over Rs 152 crore.
Further, Cash Suvidha has disbursed loans to over 35,000 borrowers with an average ticket size between Rs 20,000 – Rs 5,00,000.
Reportedly, India’s largest public sector bank, State Bank of India is looking to create a blockchain-based exchange for Non-Performing Assets (NPA’s).
To be launched in association with 30 banks, this platform will assist the banks in data-driven price discovery.
SBI is said to have assets over $460 Bn and offers services in areas such as retail, corporate banking, financing, and insurance. The Indian banks are said to have to battle with NPA’s worth $210 Bn of which $30 Bn resides with SBI alone.
Broadly, there are three types of software systems that enterprises employ. These include:
a)Systems that help in running a business process
b)Those that help companies to grow their businesses
c)Systems that transform businesses
In the year 2013, China reported an eight-fold rise in the total number of borrowers that touched 1,49,300. The growth continued through 2014, with total borrowers reaching 630,000 by the year’s end.
Traditionally, lenders considered credit score as the key parameter in defining a borrower’s creditworthiness. In case of digital lending, a borrower’s risk profile is defined based on aspects such as Aadhaar for identification, salary slips for working professionals, and the applicant’s financial behavioral patterns determined based on information curated from online sources such as social media channels.
Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2020, 48% of India’s internet users will be rural and of that, 21% will be women.
QARASoft’s now-defunct platform, called “QARA,” connected individual asset managers with funds pooled — or borrowed — from peer-to-peer investors, in part by making use of the venture firm’s artificial intelligence-powered robo adviser.
The “decentralized” platform collected some 100 retail investor loans in the first two weeks. But they were retrieved after the Financial Supervisory Service banned its operation, despite a patent earned the previous year for the pooling scheme of the fund and the platform’s three-year operation of its beta version.
The service will primarily target retail investors in overseas markets in the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore, and the English version will be launched prior to a Korean version.
SMALL business executives who took part in the AmBank BizRACE gained a new perspective in managing their operations, allowing them to bring the business further.
The top 15 finalists in the programme recently completed two, out of four, executive development programmes at Menara AmBank.
Peoplender Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Kristine Ng, a participant in the programme, said she was inspired with a new structure for her business after the first day itself. Ng recalled one of the trainers talking about constraints that one would face in growing businesses – if it doesn’t fit the business model, then change must occur.
According to the World Bank, 63 per cent of Mena SMEs do not have access to capital.
In Jordan, SMEs represent 97 per cent of companies and create 70 per cent of new jobs in the kingdom, according to Oxford Business Group, Jordan: Finding Financing for SMEs.
Liwwa is a peer-to-peer lending platform in the Mena region that provides SMEs with trade and asset financing. Liwwa’s target audience is divided into borrowers and investors, also referred to as lenders. To date, liwwa has maintained a solid portfolio and delivered annual returns of 10.6 per cent.
The liwwa index delivered 9.45 per cent over the last 12 months, which is attractive.
Liwwa has raised $5.55 million from investors and $6 million in debt to date. Their investors include Silicon Badia, Bank Al Etihad, DASH Ventures and Mena Venture Investments. Their debt partners include Bank Al Etihad, Capital Bank, Arab Bank and the Dutch Good Growth Fund.
Argon Credit, after securing a $75mil line of credit in May 2015, filed for bankruptcy on Dec 16th 2016. The bankruptcy seems to have been triggered by a spike in defaults due to the transfer of the servicing function to a 3rd party. Argon’s main differentiator was touted to be a “dedication to Big Data” and […]
Argon Credit, after securing a $75mil line of credit in May 2015, filed for bankruptcy on Dec 16th 2016. The bankruptcy seems to have been triggered by a spike in defaults due to the transfer of the servicing function to a 3rd party.
Argon’s main differentiator was touted to be a “dedication to Big Data” and was offering consumer installment loans. On Dec. 16 it filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
As reported by Tim Zawacki :
“Chicago-based Argon Credit LLC co-founder and CEO Raviv Wolfe said in a bankruptcy court declaration that “liquidity issues” caused the company, which offers 12- to 60-month loans in amounts ranging from $2,000 to $35,000 to borrowers with credit scores above 540 at annual percentage rates of between 19% and 95%-plus, to miss a payment under a $37.5 million credit facility.
The issues emerged in the aftermath of a spike in loan defaults that transpired during a time in which it had transferred servicing functions to a third party.
“The Debtors need the brief breathing spell provided by this bankruptcy case to restructure its indebtedness to the Senior Lenders and vendors and preserve value for all stakeholders,” Wolfe said.
Fintech Financial LLC and Princeton Alternative Income Fund LP, Argon Credit’s senior lenders, have asserted liens in substantially all of the company’s assets following the payment default.
Argon Credit and Fintech Financial entered a $20 million loan and security agreement in May 2015. Fintech and Princeton then entered a master assignment of loans agreement regarding the periodic transfer of rights to the loan referenced in the loan and security agreement. The amount of the revolving facility was twice increased, most recently in February.
Argon Credit issued a release in May 2015, saying that it entered a $75 million debt facility with a “credit hedge fund” for the purposes of facilitating the acceleration of its growth in near-prime and prime consumer loan originations through its online platform.
“The demand of the consumer has outgrown the ability of the commercial banking industry, and opportunistic lenders that attract and retain these clients will find great success in this new marketplace,” Wolfe said in that release.
The company touted its “dedication to Big Data,” analytics capabilities and management’s background in the mortgage industry as advantages in managing risk and developing “innovative” solutions. It relies on “proprietary algorithms” to make decisions on loan applications and to identify the relevant risks. As part of the negotiations on the credit line, Wolfe said Argon Credit engaged an unnamed third party to service the company’s portfolio to permit it to focus on improving back-office functionality, decreasing lead times and improving efficiencies through better automation.
“However, after the Loan Servicer started to service the Debtors’ portfolio, problems began to appear with regularity including a) refinancing or loan increase requests would take at least three weeks to process, well beyond the lead times previously provided to customers by the Debtors, b) first payment loan default rates soared from 4% to 12% as life of loan projected default rates increased from 24% to 34%, c) customers who had consistently made 8-10 payments stopped paying, and d) a significant number of new customers failed to make a first payment in spite of the Debtors’ underwriting guidelines remaining unchanged,” Wolfe alleged.
Argon Credit brought the servicing function back in-house in September, and Wolfe said default rates on the portfolio have since “meaningfully” declined. A review of Argon Credit’s Chapter 11 petition finds that the company has more than $41 million in unsecured claims, including nearly $37 million associated with the Princeton fund that it classified as contingent, unliquidated and subject to setoff.
The company also included claims of $1.9 million by Fintech Financial and a $1.2 million claim by St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Peraza Capital and Investment LLC. Wolfe indicated that Princeton’s Dec. 7 notice of default stated that an Argon Credit affiliate failed to provide “full and accurate financial information” under the loan agreement.
Princeton has assigned its rights in the agreement to Fund Recovery Services LLC, he added. Argon Credit maintains a loan portfolio with net value of more than $36.5 million, Wolfe said. In addition, the company said it is holding approximately 300,000 leads with a potential aggregate value of at least $5.5 million. Wolfe said Argon Credit’s loan issuing and servicing platform “can be sold as a ‘turn key’ operation” and/or used for the purposes of third-party loan servicing. But Wolfe warned that the transfer of the servicing function to an outside entity would negatively impact the market value of the loan portfolio “by at least 20%” as a result of the “significant interruption to borrower repayments” that would occur.
Through the Chapter 11 process, Argon Credit will seek to stabilize its operations and demonstrate to vendors that it can still operate in a profitable manner, including through a proposal to make monthly payments to its senior lenders toward accrued interest at a non-default rate. Wolfe said Argon Credit generated total revenue of more than $6.1 million in 2015, up from less than $137,000 in 2014.
From the time of the company’s 2013 inception, Wolfe said, its origination volume has exceeded $50 million, with a customer base largely comprising “near-prime” borrowers who have “limited access to credit.”