Attacking the Insurance Industry With Technology

Attacking the Insurance Industry With Technology

In 2015, Jonathon Mabelmann moved to Dallas, Texas with one of Melbourne O’Banion’s three existing companies, a housing concern, and the two began to see different problems hampering the insurance business world. O’Banion had started two other companies in that sector and saw problems with the lack of applied technology. Mabelmann saw issues on the […]

Attacking the Insurance Industry With Technology

In 2015, Jonathon Mabelmann moved to Dallas, Texas with one of Melbourne O’Banion’s three existing companies, a housing concern, and the two began to see different problems hampering the insurance business world. O’Banion had started two other companies in that sector and saw problems with the lack of applied technology. Mabelmann saw issues on the consumer side. So they put their heads together to form Bestow.

The Ideas Behind Bestow

The two men looked at the insurance industry with a focus on where these identified problems existed. What they found was an industry built on antiquated technology, an industry that has always been 95% agent-based but which was seeing its overall sales slip as the number of active agents shrunk. They felt these problems were due to lack of proper distribution methods and technology. In short, they saw how they could make the process easier and more cohesive for customers and providers.

That’s when they were bestowed with an idea. O’Banion now serves as CEO and Mabelmann as President of their joint brainchild.

Realizing they could offer customers a better and simpler process by building the technology themselves, Bestow takes a full stack approach to insurance. They redesigned their life insurance product to optimize it around digital distribution. They then found out how modern advances can smooth out the purchasing process. The goal was to make a better and more cohesive experience for the user.

Starting with $3.1M in self-funding, the company completed a seed round led by New Enterprise Associates that brought an additional $2.5M to help them democratize financial products. Building on models used by Morpheus and Adipar, Mabelmann said the company was fortunate to have thought of company leaders as investors with deep balance sheets.

The Products Bestow Offers

The company has opened a path of using technology to distribute and service both financial and insurance products. Based on two simple questions (What is going to solve the problem, and How do we do that?), the company came up with answers.

On the technology side, the company built its own underwriting technology forming a linear dataset to look at potential customers and their attributes.

  • What are they looking for?
  • What are they attracted to?
  • What are they buying?
  • How do those things change over time?

Using these questions, they moved the focus away from lifetime value and commissions. Mabelmann said that a sound technology platform can be really helpful in using data in the product development process, a fact that ultimately helps the customer.

On the insurance side, term life is a great place for families without life insurance to start when they are looking to just nail down a solution. Many of the uninsured have remained so because the hurdles to obtaining coverage are too high. Term life is a good place for them to start as it is the simplest and most affordable.

Mabelmann said the company started with a simple product and then rebuilt it to offer a lower acquisition cost with a more efficient process. By partnering with industry leaders and leveraging their experience and wisdom, the company created a product that is simpler and faster to acquire.

Noting an historic problem that the insurance marketplace isn’t a place where you can just go in, make a purchase, and move on, Bestow has partnered with A+ rated providers and integrated to acquire customers, underwrite, and manage the policy without it getting passed back and forth between several people over and over. Noting that more factors than mortality risk and health history influence insurance pricing—there are also things like underwriting cost, marketing costs, and overhead costs to consider—Bestow is banking on the use of the automated streamlining to reduce the cost of policies over time. This, plus a more informed acquisition funnel, can help to reduce a lot of the problems consumers experience and help to bring quality life insurance products to consumers for a very attractive price.

How the Bestow Process Works

Mabelmann said the application process is going to be available to consumers completely online through third party databases. Initially, there will no requirement of medical records as a list of questions about prescription drugs and other medical information will allow the company access to databases that will provide the appropriate insights necessary for risk management.

“We’re the only company to rebuild the product from the ground up,” he said. “To have a more meaningful outcome for people, we make it easier and more accessible for the consumer, instead of forcing them to transact for 30 minutes online and building tech for the sake of tech.”

How Far Have Bestow Come?

Just now putting the finishing touches on the product, the company will launch in January. They offered an early sign-up list and had several thousand people sign up at the end of 2017.

The target demographic includes young families who are busy and have life insurance on the To-Do list but haven’t gotten around to purchasing it. That includes single parents, two-thirds of which don’t have life insurance, and freelancers, an ever-growing block of the population, who don’t have access to traditional corporate benefits.

The company will set a rising trend of automation, but it will not completely eliminate the need to understand the all-around risk management, including the health and condition of the applicant.

Mabelmann said the industry is at the intersection of many decades in which it could do whatever it wanted and maintain, sacrificing the growth in the number of customers to the growth of the value to the customer. At Bestow, he said, they believe that to see a re-emergence of Americans getting life insurance, there has to be low hurdles to acquiring it. Customer preferences, technology, liquidity of data, and payment preferences are all changing, and they have found that if it’s too hard to make the decision, then the consumer simply won’t make it. All of those preferences are factored in at Bestow in order to make the decision an easier one to make.

Starting with a simple term-life policy helps customers prepare for a better financial future, and to do this a company needs to help the consumer make good decisions on coverage. As the customer’s needs change with the growth of wealth, Bestow plans to stay right there beside them, continuing to offer better suited products, making the journey with the customer, as life insurance isn’t just a simple purchase but a long-term relationship.

The company sees awareness as a simple foundation to grow on. “Letting people know is a great solution…. When we talk to people, they’re shocked that what we’re bringing to the market is possible,” Mabelmann said. They are also relying on a “massive market,” and getting the word out to people that life insurance is more accessible.

Partnering with the company are the American Division of Munich Reed, the world’s largest re-insurer, and the Sammonds Financial Group, trusted companies that work with consumers the way the consumers want. Given the product as Mabelmann has described it, it seems that having partners such as these can only be beneficial.

The Future Awaits

The thought processes behind Bestow seem solid enough, but there are so many unknowns to be able to predict whether or not the company will succeed in what it’s attempting to do. Still, this ground being broken, if they don’t, you have to know that someone will, and the average American family should benefit from the advances that Bestow is making.

Author:

Written by Paul Keenan.

Thursday November 16 2017, Daily News Digest

securitization

News Comments Today’s main news: Marcus surpasses 2017 goal. LendInvest gets into buy-to-let. Top 3 spots on KPMG Fintech 100 list are all Chinese. Lendix launches SME bridge loans in France, Spain, and Italy. Mauritia issues draft P2P lending rules. Marlette closes fourth securitization in a year. Today’s main analysis: Rising challenges unlikely to deter U.S. securitizations. Today’s thought-provoking articles: […]

securitization

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United States

Marcus from Goldman Sachs Surpasses 2017 Goal (Bank Innovation), Rated: AAA

Martin Chavez, chief financial officer for Goldman Sachs, showed in a slideshow at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch event yesterday that Marcus had already surpassed $1.96 billion in originations as of Nov. 9.

What that means is that from Nov. 9 to Nov. 14, over a span of five days, Marcus originated more than $40 million in loans.

Rising challenges unlikely to deter U.S. securitization in 2018 (Asset Securitization Report), Rated: AAA

As a result, Fitch’s outlook for U.S. structured finance ratings is predominately stable for 2018. That said, given where we are in the credit cycle, Fitch is keeping a close watch on select asset types that could run into some issues over the next 12 months.

Entering 2018, Fitch has either Positive or Stable Outlook on over 90% of its rated securitized bonds.

Perhaps the most notable change that has manifested from risk retention is the shrinking universe of originators bringing new securitizations to market. This is particularly notable in the universe of CMBS originators, which has shrunk from a high of roughly 40 to now less than 20 due to a combination of risk retention and Reg A/B.

Competitive pressures, long in place for subprime autos, are escalating in a marketplace ABS environment that is struggling to find its footing by testing recent underwriting models, asset quality and, in some cases, business models. Delinquencies and chargeoffs of existing assets continue to increase as marginal borrowers increase their leverage. Not likely to help is the drive for growth among large marketplace lenders coupled with rising market pressure from competing banks like Goldman Sachs (Marcus), Discover, and Suntrust. And unless originators tighten their credit policies with discipline, the strain will intensify.

Source: Asset Securitization Report

Online lenders should heed criticism of their effect on borrowers (American Banker), Rated: AAA

The consumer lending industry is abuzz about the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s recent report on debt consolidation and online lending. This excellent piece of research concludes that, on average, online installment loan borrowers fall into more debt after taking out a loan, experience hits to their credit score and history as a result, and take out online loans despite having access to traditional banking and credit channels.

The first two conclusions are damning, especially as these loans are often marketed as a way to help consumers consolidate credit card debt and improve their finances. At the end of the day, a lender’s duty is not merely to avoid losses. Any loan must be suitable for the customer — which means it should be made only if the lender believes it is improving the customer’s financial health. A lender not guided by that principle should be prepared for severe criticism as well as elevated losses down the road.

But it would be nonsensical to discredit or ignore the study because it includes online lenders beyond well-known fintech names.

The Best of Both Worlds with Prosper for Borrowers and Lenders (DoughRoller), Rated: AAA

Founded in 2005, and generally recognized as the first peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform in the US, Prosper has funded more than $10 billion in loans since.

While borrowers can get personal loans ranging in size between $2,000 and $35,000, investors can put as little as $25 toward funding those loans.

There is one exception, however. You cannot use loan proceeds for post-secondary educational expenses. That’s because some of the rules in federal law aren’t compatible with P2P lending. More specifically, with education loans, the borrower must have at least 30 days to accept or reject a loan offer.

Medical procedures available for financing under the PHL program include:

  • Cosmetic dentistry
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Cosmetic and plastic surgery
  • Fertility and reproductive procedures

All Prosper loans have a term of either three or five years.

The minimum requirements are:

  • A minimum FICO score of 640, based on a TransUnion FICO 08 score
  • Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio below 50%
  • Stated income greater than $0 (you must have an income)
  • No bankruptcies filed within the previous 12 months
  • Fewer than seven credit bureau inquiries within the last six months
  • A minimum of three open trades reported on your credit report

Interest rates are between a minimum of 3.00% for the best AA rated borrowers to a maximum of 36.00% for the lowest rated HR borrower grades.

Source: DoughRoller

Prosper for Investors

Prosper advertises that the average rate of return by investors on the platform is 7.41% per year.

Loans rated HR have a much higher average return, at 11.73%.

You can open either a General Investment Account or an IRA. Available IRAs include traditional, Roth, SIMPLE, SEP and rollover IRAs (IRA accounts are held with Millennium Trust Company). At this time, Prosper has made only individual accounts available. You cannot hold an account jointly with someone else.

For regular investment accounts, the minimum is $25. For IRA accounts, the minimum is $5,000.

Similar to other P2P platforms, when you invest with Prosper, you don’t actually invest in whole loans. Instead, you invest in small slivers of those loans, referred to as “notes.” The notes are in denominations of $25. This means that you can spread an investment of $1,000 across as many as 40 different loans.

The servicing fee is 1% of the outstanding balance of a loan. That means that if the loan pays 8%, your net return will be 7%.

Source: DoughRoller

Marlette Funding Closes Fourth Personal Loan Securitization Within Past Year (LendEDU), Rated: A

Last week, marketplace lender Marlette Funding announced the closing of its fourth proprietary securitization. The transaction was worth an estimated $312 million, and it is the fourth securitization announcement since August of 2016 from Marlette Funding.

eOriginal Named as One of Fastest Growing Companies in North America on Deloitte’s 2017 Technology Fast 500 (eOriginal), Rated: A

eOriginal, Inc., today announced it has been named to Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list as one of North America’s fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, and energy companies. eOriginal earned the rank of 294 by more than doubling revenues during the evaluation period of FY 2013 through FY 2016.

Betterment, the investing startup with $ 11 billion in assets, is rolling out a new service to make charitable giving easier (Business Insider), Rated: A

Betterment, the New York-based roboadviser, announced Wednesday a charitable giving feature that’ll let users donate shares of their account to partnered charities.

The firm, which manages $11 billion for over 300,000 customers, partnered with 11 charities for Betterment Charitable Giving, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, UNICEF, and World Wildlife Fund, according to a news release. The new feature is set to go live November 28.

Subprime car loans souring faster at nonbank lenders (American Banker), Rated: A

Despite signs of trouble in subprime auto lending, U.S. banks and credit unions are well positioned to ride out any market turbulence, a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York suggests.

More than $435 billion in auto loans to borrowers with credit scores below 660 were outstanding during the third quarter of this year, the report found. That total has been climbing steadily since bottoming out at $249 billion in early 2011. Delinquency rates have also been rising as it has become easier to qualify for an auto loan.

Fidelity latest financial firm to facilitate data sharing with fintechs (American Banker), Rated: A

Fidelity Investments is joining the ranks of financial firms sharing customer account data with others through an application programming interface.

The new service, called Fidelity Access, will give third parties access to Fidelity customers’ account data for use in apps and services like tax preparation, budgeting, financial planning, spending analysis and portfolio advice — provided the Fidelity customers give their OK. Customer data to be shared includes Fidelity account balances, securities holdings, and transactions.

These are the most valuable fintech companies in America (MarketWatch), Rated: A

Stripe Inc., whose software is used by businesses to accept and track digital payments, leads the way as the most valuable fintech startup in the U.S., with a $9.2 billion valuation.

And just to be clear, fintech startups are nowhere near close to catching up to the big banks. Wells Fargo & Co. has a market cap of more than $266 billion, and Bank of America Corp. has a market cap of more than $273 billion.

RealtyProfits Offers Accredited Investors an Innovative Platform to Invest in the Real Estate Sector (Digital Journal), Rated: A

RealtyProfits (www.RealtyProfits.com) announces today an exciting and innovative investment opportunity, RealtyProfits IV, with a Preferred Return of 12 percent per annum, available exclusively to accredited high net-worth individuals and institutional investors. The private preferred equity securities, available for purchase at www.RealtyProfits.com, are being offered through WealthForge Securities, LLC, a registered broker/dealer and member of FINRA/SIPC.

The geographically diversified portfolio includes properties in 700 cities coast to coast, with a current estimated value of $1.73 billion and more than $700 million of equity in more than 5,900 portfolio properties. The properties include primarily single-family homes and condominiums ranging in value from $100,000 to more than $2,500,000.

Accredited investors can start investing with as little as $20,000. RealtyProfits IV offers monthly cash distributions. Preferred equity investors receive all distributions made by RealtyProfits IV until fully repaid. The Preferred Return is 12 percent per annum, with initial monthly Base Preferred Return payments at 6 percent per annum anticipated depending on cash flow during each of the first 24 months.

Reality Shares Teams up with Nasdaq to Launch Blockchain Tech Index (BusinessWire), Rated: A

Reality Shares and Nasdaq announce the creation of the Reality Shares Nasdaq Blockchain Economy Index, a smart-beta index that tracks the growth and development of leading global companies creating and implementing blockchain solutions.

An ETF that will track the Index is already in the works, with Reality Shares filing for it on November 2, 2017.

Reality Shares and Nasdaq compiled the index by utilizing internal and external research and their proprietary Blockchain ScoreTM ranking system. The Index is comprised of global companies that seek to capitalize upon transformational blockchain technology that may potentially disrupt the markets in which they operate.

How to Choose Between a Peer-To-Peer Lending or Traditional Loan (Experian), Rated: A

Shopping for a loan at a P2P provider is a two-step process. First, based on a credit score (or credit scores) and your answers to a few basic questions—your full name, address, date of birth and annual income—the lender determines which loan offer(s) to extend to you. (It’s possible at this juncture that the lender will decide not to extend any loan offers; if they do, they’ll explain why.)

Once you choose the loan you want, the lender does a more detailed credit check and may ask you to verify your income and to provide additional background information.  Each P2P site has its own lending criteria, including minimum credit scores, and additional information requirements vary accordingly. Some P2P lenders want information on your educational background; others want work history or details about your financial assets. In most cases, you can submit the necessary documents electronically.

The first step in the P2P loan-approval process gets one or more of your credit scores by a method known as a soft inquiry—the same process you use when you check your own credit scores. Soft inquiries have no impact on your credit scores. However, the hard inquiries traditional lenders make when you apply for a credit cards or bank loans are reported to the national credit bureaus. They appear on your credit reports, and typically cause temporary credit-score drops of several points.

In the second step of P2P loan approval, the lender performs a hard inquiry to confirm your credit score and, likely, to review your full credit report.

Before you apply for a P2P loan

  • Take a look at the fine print on the bottom of each provider’s homepage, to get an overview of the loan amounts they offer and the rates and fees they charge.
  • Make sure the lender operates in your state.
  • Check your FICO Score and review your credit reports for any major negative entries. Accounts in collection, liens and civil judgments are among the items that could torpedo your loan application, even if you meet the credit-score requirements.
  • Determine the amount of money you need and watch out for tempting upsells.
  • Consider using the Experian loan-referral tool to explore offers from multiple P2P lenders (and possibly traditional lenders as well).

Resignation of CFPB head gives Trump opportunity to erase Elizabeth Warren’s legacy (Legal Insurrection), Rated: A

Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee and head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced to staff in an email Wednesday his plans to resign. While he’s yet to confirm his plans, there’s speculation Cordray will return home to run for Ohio’s governorship.

Seven Signs That the Bond Bull Market is Over (INTL FCStone), Rated: A

  • The bond bear market is already here: short and medium-term treasuries have lost value in the past 5 years
  • Buybacks have fallen to a five-year low, and big repurchasers have underperformed
  • Oil prices are at a 30-month high, and the futures curve is in backwardation
  • The long and the short ends of the yield curve are moving together again
  • The Chinese trade surplus has shrunk from 10% of GDP to almost zero in the past ten years
  • The U.S. deficit is growing again, an unprecedented phenomenon in times of expansion and peace
  • Small bubbles are popping out: Auckland houses, Ethereum crypto coins, and collectible cars
Source: Global Macro Report, INTL FCStone

Read the full report here.

Spring Framework Creator Launches Atomist for Development Automation With $ 22 Million in Series A Funding (Marketwired), Rated: A

Today on stage at Structure 2017, Atomist is formally launching and unveiling its Development Automation Platform with an Open Source client and API. As part of today’s launch, Atomist is announcing $22 million in Series A funding from Accel and Matrix Partners.

Bestow Gives Texas Residents First Access to On-Demand Life Insurance (PRWeb), Rated: A

Bestow Inc., the company behind a revolutionary new approach to life insurance, today announced the early access roll out of its comprehensive, full-stack, digital life insurance solution in Texas. For the first time Bestow’s solution is available to the public, giving Texas residents primary access to apply for the only on-demand life insurance solution, instantly and without a medical exam.

Leveraging applied intelligence and algorithmic underwriting, Bestow redefines the way consumers research, buy and manage life insurance. Using data to calculate risk, Bestow removes the need for a medical exam and streamlines the entire process into a matter of minutes. The Texas launch gives consumers access to choice term life insurance plans, including a unique two year term policy never before available for life insurance. Additionally, customers can choose between ten or twenty year term life insurance.

The Zebra Raises $ 40 Million, Taps New CEO To Expand Beyond Car Insurance (Forbes), Rated: A

The Zebra, which has always described itself as the Kayak of car insurance, has hired a longtime Kayak executive as its new CEO.

The Austin-based company, which allows drivers to compare prices for car insurance online, said on Tuesday that it has tapped Kayak’s former president Keith Melnick to run the company.

The Zebra also said it has raised $40 million in a Series B funding round, led by Accel Partners. That brings its total funding to $61.5 million.

MarketScout in Dallas Creates $ 25M Insurtech Venture Fund (Insurance Journal), Rated: B

Dallas-based insurance exchange and MGA MarketScout announced it has launched MarketScout InsurTech (MIT), which will make investments in tech-enabled insurance distribution. The initial funding of $25 million will come exclusively from MarketScout Corp., parent of MIT, according to the firm.

House Financial Services Committee Approves Legislation to Help Keep Lending Partnerships Between Banks and Online Lenders (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

The House Financial Services Committee has approved HR 3299 or the “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017.” The bill “restores consistency” in lending laws across state boundaries. HR 3299 impacts the case of Midland Funding, LLC v. Madden – an ongoing law suit that has the potential to undermine online lenders. Sponsored by Congressman Patrick McHenry, includes an important statement that clarifies allowable interest rates on loans potentially ending the issue associated with the law suit.

How Do You Beat a Robo-Advisor? Trust (Think Advisor), Rated: A

“Technology by itself cannot create trust,” Robert C. Merton, a Nobel laureate in economics now teaching at MIT, recently told ThinkAdvisor. “The successful advisor must have the trust of their clients.”

Given the importance of trust in the advisor-client relationship, Merton recommends financial advisors (the breathing kind) should:

  • Check what they are doing to retain and enhance trust with their clients.
  • Make sure the business model being used supports the creation of trust.
  • Take advantage of technology to improve/enhance what the advisor does.
  • Do not view technology as a “competitor or substitute” for the advisor.
  • Understand and assess the financial technology they employ to certify trusting its use in client solutions.

HFLA launches initiative to help underserved reach financial stability (Cleveland Jewish News), Rated: A

The Hebrew Free Loan Association has launched its Looking to the Future Initiative with support from the St. Luke’s Foundation and the PNC Foundation. The initiative accounts for $73,000.

The initiative enables HFLA to increase its lending of interest-free loans to Cleveland’s underserved neighborhoods and grows the organization by expanding its reach, according to a news release. HFLA received a $63,000 grant from the St. Luke’s Foundation and a $10,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to launch the effort.

Fundation Purchases Select Assets from Able Lending to Enhance Partnership Strategy (BusinessWire), Rated: B

Fundation Group LLC, a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider, today announced that it has acquired a variety of assets from online small business lender, Able Lending of Austin, Texas.

Former Capital One Executive Troy Jamison Joins Victory Park Capital as Chief Risk Officer (BusinessWire), Rated: B

Victory Park Capital (VPC), an investment firm focused on middle-market debt and equity investments, announced today that Troy Jamison joins as chief risk officer for the firm’s nonbank financial services portfolio. Jamison is based in Chicago and reports directly to CEO and Co-Founder Richard Levy.

CFPB updates website to officially address end of arbitration rule (Housingwire), Rated: B

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finally updated its website to acknowledge President Donald Trump revoking the controversial arbitration rule.

blog post from Ballard Spahr previously stressed the importance of the CFPB updating its website to note the rule’s override since the rule was killed nearly two weeks ago.

The webpage for “Arbitration agreements” now has an update on the top that states:

On Nov. 1, 2017, the President signed a joint resolution passed by Congress disapproving the Arbitration Agreements Rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Pursuant to the joint resolution, the Arbitration Agreements Rule has no force or effect. The materials relating to the Arbitration Agreements Rule on the Bureau’s website are for reference only.

HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE PASSES SMALL BUSINESS CREDIT ACT (Coalition for Small Business Growth Email), Rated: B

The 

United Kingdom

LendInvest launches into buy-to-let (Mortgage Strategy), Rated: AAA

LendInvest is launching a range of buy-to-let loans aimed at professional landlords and investors.

Rates start at 3.69 per cent for a two-year fix at 60 per cent LTV.

The firm will offer loans of between £50,000 and £5m, up to a maximum LTV of 80 per cent.

Citigroup joins the AI bandwagon (Business Insider), Rated: A

Citigroup 

Source: Business Insider

SyndicateRoom Alum Squirrel Launches Crowdcube Funding Round (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Squirrel, a personal finance app designed to help users have more control over their money, has launched an equity crowdfunding round on Crowdcube. This initiative debut comes less than one year after the company completed its SyndicateRoom funding round with £585,000 in funds. Squrriel is now seeking £400,000.

Government unveils financial package to support tech (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

THE GOVERNMENT has given a £21m boost to a technology programme that has supported firms such as Zopa and Funding Circle as part of a range of measures to boost the tech sector.

The funding will make Tech City UK and Tech North one national organisation called Tech Nation and help grow government-backed startup support programmes such as Founders Network, Northern Stars, Future Fifty and Upscale.

Cash Converters International Ltd reports security breach and ransom demand (The Motley Fool), Rated: A

Payday lending and pawnbroking business Cash Converters International Ltd (ASX:CCV) announced a cybersecurity breach in its UK operations last night.

Sadly, computer system integrity is becoming an increasingly relevant – and often overlooked – concern for investors, with a vast majority of companies relying in one way or another on computer systems.

Valorem Foundation Launches All-New Cryptocurrency Platform (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Valorem Foundation, a Blockchain startup specializing in stabilized value-based exchange and transactions, has announced the launch of its new cryptocurrency platform. The company has developed a multi-layered platform to disrupt and expand the following services globally: microloans, car loans, student loans, rent payment, P2P networks, buying and selling of goods & services, business investing, real estate crowdfunding, and insurance.

Empowering the world: How you can make money through improving lives (City A.M.), Rated: A

This sea change should explain why investment firm Ethex has managed to scoop up so much support in its short history – raising more than £50m since 2013.

Its business model has a peer-to-peer lending feel – that is, it uses a digital platform to allow retail investors to lend to individuals and entrepreneurs.

But it comes with a twist, because Ethex is a not-for-profit organisation which lets you invest in companies that have a positive impact – socially and environmentally.

If you want to get involved, the platform has a minimum investment of £50, which arguably makes it more accessible to younger generations.

Trussle hires VP engineering from Funding Circle (Mortgage Introducer), Rated: B

Trussle has appointed Matthew Gretton as vice president of engineering from peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle.

China

Alibaba affiliates sweep top 3 spots in global fintech ranking (Asian Review), Rated: AAA

Financial technology companies linked to China’s Alibaba Group Holding took over the podium in KPMG’s latest Fintech 100 list, announced on Wednesday.

Ant Financial, which runs Alibaba’s massive Alipay e-payments network, took the No. 1 spot on the list, which was compiled with fintech accelerator H2 Ventures. Online property insurer ZhongAn Insurance and microloan provider Qudian placed second and third; both have received investments from Ant.

See the full list here.

One of China’s hottest companies rebuffs criticism about transparency (CNBC), Rated: A

Despite public criticism about a lack of transparency in some practices, Ant Financial is doing things the right way, a senior executive at the company said Wednesday.

“The demand for these securities is very healthy and continuing to expand,” Douglas Feagin, senior vice president and head of global business at Ant Financial, told CNBC’s “Street Signs.” “That, at the end of the day, is the ultimate barometer of whether you’re giving enough information to investors to invest.”

Ant Financial will use local partners in Southeast Asia: executive from CNBC.

Earnings at Some U.S.-Listed Chinese Microlenders Taper (Caixin), Rated: A

In the three months ending Sept. 30, Yirendai’s net income was down 12% to 303 million yuan ($45.7 million) from 344.3 million yuan a year ago, the company said Wednesday. Another Chinese microlender, China Rapid Finance Ltd., earlier reported a wider net loss of $4.4 million in the third quarter. Although Qudian Inc., a larger player that listed in New York last month, recently posted a four-fold increase in its third-quarter net profit from a year ago, citing better operational efficiency and its growing borrower base.

Cinda International Leads Massive Round In Chinese Fintech Company 9f Group (China Money Network), Rated: A

Beijing-based fintech company 9f Group has raised a massive new funding round from Cinda International Holding Ltd, a subsidiary of state-owned China Cinda Asset Management Co., Ltd., Focus Media Information Technology’s Chairman Jiang Nanchun, video game developer Youzu Interactive’s chairman Lin Qi and an unnamed Chinese industry fund.

The company did not disclose financial details except to say that it raised “hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars” in the latest financing deal, according to a company announcement. It is also unclear how the company is valued in the round, but 9f Group is listed on China Money Network’s China Unicorn List with a US$1 billion valuation when it last raised a US$110 million series B round in 2015.

European Union

For Spain’s banks, survival means digital (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Santander’s Openbank has changed a great deal since it was founded as Spain’s first telephone banking service in 1995. Now a fully digital operation, its mobile app allows users to temporarily disarm a lost credit card, as well as to check whether fellow Openbank customers are buying or selling a given stock at any moment. Currently, it has some 1.2m customers in Spain and more than €8bn ($9.3bn) in assets under management.

In recent years, Spain’s two biggest banks — Santander and BBVA — have increased their financial and managerial investment in fintech, digital banking and big data. Like their peers, they are convinced that the days of branch-based lending are drawing to a close.

Spanish banks average about €15m assets under management per employee, says Daragh Quinn, banks analyst at investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. At a digital operator like Openbank, that number is close to €60m.

The digital push is on two fronts: first, a mobile app that allows customers to access almost all of the bank’s products without going into a branch. Second, a venture capital approach whereby banks invest in or partner with fintech start-ups to add products.

Online Lender Lendix Launches Flexible SME Bridge Loans in France, Spain & Italy (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Lendix, online lender for SMEs in continental Europe, has announced the launch of a new financing product: the Flexible Bridge Loan. This product is designed to will allow a greater number of French, Spanish and Italian SMEs to benefit from the speed of execution of Lendix’s lending platform while leaving them the possibility of setting up an overall refinancing solution with other financial institutions.

The Lendix Flexible Bridge Loan is a 5-year amortizable loan with a standard commitment for the first 9 months and the possibility of early repayment at no cost for the remainder of the loan term, even in the event of refinancing by other financial institutions.

Swedish $ 370 Billion Home-Loan Market Gets New Mortgage Fund (Bloomberg Quint), Rated: A

As investors wonder whether Sweden’s housing market is headed for a correction, the country’s first mortgage fund is about to enter the $370 billion Swedish home-loan industry.

Stabelo plans to pool capital from Swedish institutional investors in exchange for fixed-income securities. That money will then be lent to home buyers. The fund starts offering its products this week and will work with Avanza Bank AB, Sweden’s largest online lender. Avanza, which owns just below 20 percent of Stabelo, will handle distribution and marketing.

International

Has P2P marketplace lending become B2P? (Cuffelinks), Rated: AAA

Due to this issue, the original incarnation of peer-to-peer lending has not lasted. As the CEO of Zopa, a UK-based P2P lender said,

“As bad debts soared, the approach was abandoned and Zopa was moulded into a ‘big sausage machine’. Its technology now links lenders with a pool of borrowers without any direct contact or the need for investors to make credit decisions.”

Australia’s major peer-to-peer lender is SocietyOne. It currently has $350 million borrowed through its platform, and is growing rapidly. In fact, loan volumes in the first three quarters of this year have totalled $141 million so far, surpassing the $139 million in loans facilitated over the entire course of 2016, as shown below.

Source: Cuffelinks
Australia/New Zealand

Exemption for personalised digital (robo) advice (Scoop), Rated: A

Following the FMA’s release of its second consultation paper on personalised robo-advice (now called digital advice), the leading law firm has published its tips for providers looking to develop digital advice platforms.

Head of Russell McVeagh’s Corporate Advisory group, Dan Jones, says the exemption is a necessary first step in putting the New Zealand financial advice regime on equal footing with overseas regimes, and may provide particular assistance to New Zealanders in KiwiSaver.

India

How P2P lending can be a route to creating financial inclusion (Daily News & Analysis), Rated: A

For years, banks have had a monopoly in lending money to businesses and individuals. However, the 2007-08 financial crisis created a havoc, rapidly-expanding the funding gap. This led to the advent of a niche fintech vertical, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.

The geographical reach of a P2P lending platform is far superior, with the major differentiator being its online interface. Such digital financial services play an important role in supporting the objective of financial inclusion. Anybody, from the remotest areas, having access to internet, can be eligible to get/give a loan.

In the age of digitisation where almost everyone has access to internet, such platforms have the potential to change the financial graph of a country.

Are P2P platforms safe for lending and borrowing? (India Times), Rated: B

While banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFC) are the readily available sources for loans, who does the P2P platform cater to? “Unfortunately, banks in India follow mediocre credit assessment policies which are suited only for borrowers who can offer collateral or have an impeccable credit history. In practice, majority of the borrowers lie in between these extremes. Therefore, majority of Indians can borrow on P2P platforms,” says Raghavendra Pratap Singh, co-founder, i2ifunding, an online P2P lending marketplace.

RBI has put a cap on the amount that can be borrowed and lent. The aggregate exposure of a lender or the maximum that one may borrow at any point of time, across all P2Ps, shall be capped at Rs 10 lakh. Even the exposure of a single lender to the same borrower, across all P2Ps, shall not exceed Rs 50,000 and the maturity of the loans shall not exceed 36 months. “More clarity from RBI is expected on how the regulator intends to monitor the compliance of this aspect and how it will fix the responsibility,” says Singh.

Risks for a lender
Since this is an unsecured loan where there is no face-to-face interaction, a P2P lender needs to be aware of the risks involved. Bubna says, “All investments involve risk. However, in comparison to equity or commodity market investments or real estate, P2P lending has lower risk as it is addressed by on-boarding high quality borrowers. Further, lenders are suggested to create a diversified portfolio of loans.”

Asia

Introducing ACE, Crowdo’s New Artificial Intelligence Due Diligence System (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Crowdo, a South East Asian online marketplace for P2P lending and crowdfunding unveiled today its proprietary Artificial Intelligence driven due diligence system, Crowdo ACE, aimed at benefiting both their borrowers and investors. Crowdo ACE takes into account a few thousand unconventional and alternative attributes and represents a new way to perform due diligence versus traditional means used by conventional financial institutions. It has already been applied to process more than 3,000 loans.

In a largely-unbanked Indonesia, Amartha uplifts women micro-entrepreneurs (YourStory), Rated: A

Twenty-six people, four nationalities, 10 days. Travelling across Southeast Asia as a Startup AsiaBerlin Roadshow delegate to explore startup ecosystems was an experience unto itself.

Amartha has so far disbursed over $13 million to 60,000 women micro-entrepreneurs and aims to improve their income, and ultimately quality of life.

Aria: Amartha is an Indonesian financial technology startup that focuses on providing affordable financial access, and mentorship to the unbanked population living below the poverty line. Amartha operates much like a peer-to-peer lending platform, and so far, has disbursed more than $13 million to 60,000 borrowers. The borrowers are mostly women micro-entrepreneurs and Amartha aims to improve their income, and ultimately alleviate their status through financial inclusion.

Aria: When we started operations in April 2016, we disbursed $40,000 a month. By the end of 2016, we were disbursing $800,000. Today, on average, we disburse $2.5 million per month. So far, we have disbursed more than $13 million, across more than 60,000 borrowers. The average ticket size of a loan now is around $300.

We charge a fee based on the profit sharing principle. Of the 22-30 percent annual interest rate paid by borrowers, we collect 11-13 percent for our revenue.

Africa

The Mauritian Financial Services Commission Issues Draft Peer-To-Peer lending Rules (Mondaq), Rated: AAA

Following the announcement of the Government on peer-to-peer lending and funding in the 2017-2018 Budget, the Mauritian Financial Services Commission (“Commission”) has issued draft rules on 10 November 2017 to regulate the peer-to-peer lending sector – as sector which has grown rapidly in other countries.

In the region, Kenya and Africa are leading in the peer-to-peer business lending market. According to a study conducted by the University of Cambridge, within Africa, South Africa had the largest number online alternative finance platforms, with $15 million raised in 2015 (The Africa and Middle East Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report, February, 2017).

Borrower and lender – a borrower must be a resident in Mauritius; however, there is no residency requirement for the lender.

Restrictions on amounts  Hence, a lender, who is a legal person, cannot lend more than MUR 500,000 (approx. GBP 11,000) in any 12 months’ period. A lender, who is a natural person, cannot lend an amount in excess of 10 per cent of his income or a maximum of MUR 300,000 (approx. GBP 6,600), whichever is lower, in any 12 months’ period.

Obligations of a P2P operator – the Peer-to-Peer operator must publish the following information on its website:

  • details of how the P2P lending will operate
  • measures to prevent money laundering and combatting terrorist financing
  • security measures to ensure data protection
  • dispute resolution mechanism.
Canada

Borrowell wins Deloitte Fast50 award (Borrowell Email), Rated: A

Borrowell has won a Companies to Watch award as part of the Deloitte Fast50 program. We are one of only eleven companies across Canada to win that award this year, and the only company from Toronto. Fast50 winners in the category for established companies include well-known names like Shopify, SkipTheDishes, Wave and Influitive. The list was announced an hour ago. 

Russia

Moscow Is On Its Way To Becoming A Smart City And Fintech Powerhouse (Forbes), Rated: A

Its citizens and businesses are also quick to adopt the latest disruptive technologies such as fintech and cryptocurrencies. Moscow has a 35 percent fintech adoption rate, higher than New York’s 33.1 percent.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Friday September 8 2017, Daily News Digest

mobile payments APAC

News Comments Today’s main news: Square makes big move on banking. Folk2Folk CEO to step down. ZhongAn approved for $1B Hong Kong IPO. KBRA  and DBRS  assigns preliminary ratings to SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5. Assetz Capital to set up in Belfast. ZhongAn approved for $1B Hong Kong IPO. Citi Singapore launches Facebook Messenger banking chatbot. Today’s main analysis: Using digital assets to […]

mobile payments APAC

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

India

APAC

News Summary

United States

KBRA Assigns Preliminary Ratings to SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5 (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) assigns preliminary ratings to three classes of notes issued by SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5 (“SCLP 2017-5”). This is a $527.12 million consumer loan ABS transaction.

Preliminary Ratings Assigned: SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5

Source: BusinessWire

DBRS Assigns Provisional Ratings to SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5 (DBRS), Rated: AAA

DBRS, Inc. (DBRS) assigned provisional ratings to the following classes of notes issued by SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5 (SCLP 2017-5):

— $287,200,000 Class A-1 Notes at AA (sf)
— $173,800,000 Class A-2 Notes at AA (sf)
— $66,120,000 Class B Notes at A (sf)

RATINGS

Issuer Debt Rated Rating Action Rating Trend Notes Published Issued
SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5 LLC Class A-1 Notes Provis.-New AA (sf) Sep 7, 2017 US
SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5 LLC Class A-2 Notes Provis.-New AA (sf) Sep 7, 2017 US
SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-5 LLC Class B Notes Provis.-New A (sf) Sep 7, 2017 US
US = USA Issued, NRSRO
CA = Canada Issued, NRSRO
EU = EU Issued, NRSRO
E = EU Endorsed
Unsolicited Participating With Access
Unsolicited Participating Without Access
Unsolicited Non-participating

Square Makes Its Big Move On Banking (PYMNTS), Rated: AAA

According to WSJ reports, Square intends to submit an application later today (Sept. 7) to form a wholly owned and operated bank in Utah.

That business unit would be called Square Financial Services Inc. — and it would be designed to offer loans and deposit accounts to small businesses. The bank would be capitalized with around $56 million in cash.

Online lender SoFi made a similar move, as did mobile banking start-up Varo Money Inc. The timing is not quite a surprise — federal regulators have been more open to the idea of new banks recently than they have been at any time since the Great Recession.

Square Wants to Be a Bank, Sort of (Paybefore), Rated: AAA

Mobile point-of-sale pioneer Square Inc. is applying for an Industrial Loan Company (ILC) charter to support the expansion of its lending business, the volume of which grew 123 percent year-over-year in the second quarter to $189 million.

The news was met with immediate rancor by at least one community banking group, which also lodged complaints about blurring the lines between commerce and banking when online lender SoFI applied for the same charter in June.

Before Square made its move, the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) wrote in an August blog post that it would fight “tooth and nail” against attempts to remove the “historic separation of banking and commerce in federal law and regulation.” It reiterated that sentiment in news reports about Square’s plans on Sept. 7.

For more than a decade, CFSI has been conducting research and bringing various stakeholders—industry, regulators, consumer advocates—together around using technology to increase access to financial services. Its 2016 research estimates the size of the financially underserved market in the U.S. to be $140.7 billion.

The Dodd-Frank Act had placed a moratorium on such charters that ended in 2013, but the FDIC has been “gun-shy” since Walmart’s failed attempt to secure an ILC charter in 2006, Moeser notes.

Walmart and Affirm: A match Amazon will find hard to beat (RetailDive), Rated: AAA

At the end of August, news flashed across the wire that Walmart and Affirm were close to finalizing a pilot deal with each other. This is a game changer for three critical reasons:

  1. Affirm was started by PayPal wunderkind Max Levchin – Through a simple online application process, Affirm customers can obtain loan financing with interest rates in the range of 10% to 30% for their desired online purchases. Customers can clearly and easily see what they will owe at the time of checkout online, with no hidden costs or surprises.
  2. Walmart is involved – All indications are that Walmart is aggressively going after scan-and-go/checkout-free shopping in their stores. Scan-and-go quite possibly will be the technology that most impacts physical retail in the next 10-15 years.
  3. Affirm and Walmart are a match made in heaven for budget conscious America – Affirm’s digital financing capabilities and Walmart’s scan-and-go capabilities, when combined, will stretch the bank accounts of all Americans — especially Americans who cannot afford Prime membership fees (uh oh Amazon).

A screen pops up, and what used to be a three-pack of Crest for $5.00 is now suddenly the same three-pack but for $0.83/month for six months, or for $0.42/month for 12 months instead.

Lima One Capital Acquires RealtyShares’ Residential Debt Origination Business (Broadway World), Rated: A

Lima One Capital, the premier lender for residential real estate investors, announced today that it has acquired the residential debt origination business of RealtyShares, an online marketplace for real estate investing and financing.

Lima One Capital began partnering with RealtyShares as an institutional investor in early 2017, drawn by the quality of deals listed on the marketplace platform.

New Credit Card Option for Those With Scant Credit Histories (The New York Times), Rated: A

A New York start-up aims to use everyday financial information to qualify people with scant or no credit histories for its credit cards.

The company, called Petal, considers an applicant’s standard credit scores, when available. But it also analyzes their digital financial records, like checking accounts or, in some cases, prepaid debit cards, to rapidly assess their income and spending habits.

The company plans to target consumers who are “new to credit,” like young adults, recent immigrants and lower-income consumers, as well as others who may lack traditional credit scores, Mr. Gross said.

The idea is that by sharing information about their personal cash flow, consumers can get a quick decision on a card application and access to a low-cost card, even if they don’t fit the traditional profile of a top-tier credit customer.

The company’s Petal Visa card isn’t widely available yet, but is being tested privately starting this month. Consumers can sign up online to receive an invitation to apply.

Introducing Petal — a simple, no-fee credit card (Medium), Rated: A

Today, it’s hard to exist without a credit score.

You need one to get a credit card, finance a car, purchase a home, or qualify for a small business loan. And, increasingly, you need credit to do things that seem to have little to do with credit, like sign a lease for an apartment, set up a cell phone plan, or even get a job — nearly 50% of employers today are checking credit reports as part of a job application.¹

That access is important. The cost of a poor credit score can be as much as $250,000 in additional interest and fees over the course of your lifetime.²

The number of American adults that lack access to credit because they are new to credit is staggering:

Over 65 million, and growing as a percentage of the total population.³

The 65 million credit invisible, unscorable and thin-file consumers in the U.S. are not a snapshot of America. They are disproportionately likely to be young, black and Hispanic, first- and second-generation immigrant, and/or low- and moderate-income. The same groups that have been historically underserved by the banking system are routinely denied access and opportunity because of how the credit system works.

Two years later, we’re launching Petal — a simple, no-fee credit card, designed to make life easier for everyone.

Petal makes money from merchants when customers swipe the card, and on interest when customers carry a balance past their due date. And before customers carry a balance, we show them exactly what it will cost — in dollars, not just in interest rates and APRs. It’s our belief that customers should be able to use credit safely and affordably, without falling into costly debt.

SoFi’s Career Incubator, SoFi Accelerate, Going to Chicago (LendEDU), Rated: A

Social Finance, Inc., a fintech and student loan refinancing company, announced this week that SoFi Accelerate, the company’s career incubator, will be visiting Chicago this September.

On Sunday, September 24th, SoFi Accelerate will head to the Windy City to offer professionals a chance to hear from a couple of speakers and to develop their own path for career success.

The career incubator will only last one day and is open to SoFi members and non-members as well. There will be two speakers, Adam Foss and Ryan Holiday, that guests will have the chance to listen to.

The event will be held at the Chicago Botanic Garden at 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, Illinois from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM central time. For SoFi members, the price of admittance will be $75, while non-members will have to pay $125 upon entry. However, the first 50 non-members will receive a special discount so that they only have to pay $100 to attend.

Americans Are Spending Mind-Blowing Money on Lotto Tickets in These Top States (TheStreet), Rated: A

In some states, buying lottery tickets is an extremely popular pastime that borders on obsession. The U.S. generated $66.78 billion from lottery sales with the exception of seven states who have not legalized lotteries — Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming — based on an analysis of data conducted by LendEDU, a Hoboken, N.J.-based student loan marketplace, utilizing 2015 data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Out of the total amount, $42.27 billion was allocated for prizes, $3.18 billion was allocated for administration and $21.35 billion was allocated for proceeds.

For 2016, the Census Bureau projected there were $323 million people living in the U.S. which means the average amount spent on various types of lottery tickets is $206.69 per year, LendEdu said.

Some residents are diehard fans of playing the lottery, and Massachusetts natives spend the most money per capita at $734.85 annually while Rhode Island follows a close second at $513.75 each year. The third highest amount was spent in Delaware at $420.82, New York with $398.77 and West Virginia at $359.78.

The states with the largest amount of people generated the largest revenue – New York’s total was $7.78 billion, followed by California at $5.52 billion, Florida at $5.27 billion, Massachusetts at $5.01 billion and Texas at $4.28 billion.

Leading Carrier and Reinsurer Partner with Insurtech Startup Bestow on its Highly Anticipated, On-Demand Platform (PR Web), Rated: A

Bestow Inc., the company behind a revolutionary new approach to life insurance, today announced a partnership with Munich American Reassurance Company, the U.S. life and disability reinsurance division of Munich Re, and North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®, a top-rated carrier in the United States and member company of Sammons® Financial Group, to develop new life insurance products for Bestow’s anticipated on-demand life insurance platform.

Together, the three brands are actively working on products that will premiere as part of Bestow’s full stack, digital platform later this fall. Upon launch, the platform will give consumers an entirely new way to research, buy, and manage life insurance with product options that are affordable, simple to understand, and seamless to purchase.

Bestow’s partnership with Munich Re and North American follows the company’s recent announcement of closing $2.5 million in seed funding, led by NEA.

How to Leverage Crowdfunding to Invest Like a Millionaire (Inc.com), Rated: A

You probably don’t think of relatively small investments and passive income opportunities when talking about commercial real estate. But the new standards for commercial real estate investing are surprisingly simple and potentially profitable. Here’s what Jilliene Helman shared about the industry-disrupting platform.

Platforms like RealtyMogul let you crowdfund multi-million dollar commercial real estate investments with as little as $1,000 to $5,000. Depending on your cash flow, you can make an investment immediately and continue reinvesting the profits.

Anyone who has ever been a landlord knows that dealing with tenants and all the hands-on work that comes with it is cumbersome. But commercial real estate can be a completely passive opportunity that doesn’t require you to do anything. Jilliene agrees that you don’t need to be active in all of your investments.

Jilliene shares that in RealtyMogul’s case, they’ve now gone through 12 months at 8% distribution annualized. While some investors might take that distribution and spend it, others will take that 8% and keep reinvesting it to turn it into a compounding investment. In the second month of a payout, investors will be earning on that original 8% in addition to interest earned each subsequent month of distribution.

Affirm: The San Francisco Startup Using Fintech To Simplify Lending (Benzinga), Rated: A

Rob Pfeifer, chief risk officer at the San Francisco fintech startup Affirm, remembers the moment the company began lending: 7:57 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2014.

Since going live, Affirm has made more than 1 million loans totaling more than $1 billion.

The platform originally targeted millennials, but has drawn a wider clientele, said Pfeifer, 35, who’s scheduled to speak at the Benzinga Fintech Summit Sept. 28 in San Francisco.

BitX Funding takes online middleman approach to small-business lending (Westfair Online), Rated: A

“About four to five years ago, I worked for OnDeck Capital in Manhattan,” said Rowe, referring to a non-bank lender to small businesses, where he was a senior business development manager. “Back in 2008, when we had the market correction, banks stopped lending and small-business owners had nowhere to go to get funds. OnDeck, at the time, filled that gap.”

In 2013, Rowe in Southport launched BitX Funding as an online marketplace for small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to seek financing for their endeavors.

BitX Funding works with a borrower in fill out data on the company regarding how much money they want to borrow, the time frame they are working in to receive their funds and how long they have been in business. Rowe reviews the information and contacts the applicant to receive more information about the depth and scope of the requested loan. The BitX founder Rowe, who is now working with 20 banks as his company’s financing outlets, determines which applicants have the best chance of moving forward.

To date, Rowe has secured 100 small-business loans for clients. Applicants do not pay him a fee or a commission for the service, he noted, with his revenue coming from the participating lenders.

“I’m actually pre-underwriting the applications. Because of Dodd-Frank and all of the other regulations and paying an underwriter a $100,000 salary for a $50,000 loan, it’s not really in their (lending banks’) wheelhouse.”

Washington DC-based RegTech Startup Securrency Joins Forces With International FinTech Firm Humaniq (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Securrency, a RegTech company with a platform designed to streamline regulatory compliance for token offerings, has just signed an extensive strategic partnership with Humaniq, an Ethereum-based Blockchain ecosystem looking to bring financial inclusion to over 2 billion unbanked people globally.

The partnership included an investment into Securrency by Humaniq as the lead investor of their current investment round. Humaniq will also provide additional technological capabilities which will be used for their collective efforts on a LegalTech platform. This LegalTech platform is designed to efficiently match capital to opportunity in transformational emerging technologies. The platform will provide efficient access to capital for startups, liquidity for frontier markets, and a scalable securitization process for established global industries. By automating certain compliance functions and connecting legacy financial services to the power of the blockchain, the team sees a path to revolutionize technology finance.

Payments firm Baton Systems adds former Citi vice chairman Kaden to advisory board (Finextra), Rated: B

Baton Systems (“Baton”, formerly known as Ubixi), the platform for clearing, settling and managing payments between financial institutions, has appointed former Citigroup Vice Chairman Lewis B. Kaden to its Advisory Board.

He joins Arjun Malhotra, Co-Founder of HCL Technologies and Headstrong, as the newest addition to Baton’s Advisory Board.

Kaden was labeled “The Most Powerful Banker You’ve Never Heard of” by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2009. He joined Citigroup in 2005, where he oversaw the bank’s global functions and advised the CEO on numerous strategic and business matters. Kaden has also served as Chairman of the United States Government Overseas Presence Advisory Panel, as well as Chairman of the Industrial Cooperation Council of the State of New York and Governor Mario Cuomo’s Commission on Competitiveness. He holds degrees from both Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Home Point Financial Names Ross Gloudeman Chief Compliance Officer (Business Insider), Rated: B

Home Point Financial Corporation (“Home Point”), a national, multi-channel mortgage originator and servicer, today announced that Ross Gloudeman has been named Chief Compliance Officer.

Prior to joining the Home Point team, he was a Principal at AIMD Consulting, LLC, providing advisory and contract risk or compliance expertise to financial services clients. Previously, he was Senior Vice President, Executive Risk and Compliance Officer, at Walter Investment Management Corp.

United Kingdom

Industry reacts to 2,000 IFIsas opened (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: AAA

Data also showed that the average investment into IFIsas during 2016/17 was £8,500, while £17m was invested collectively.

Octopus Choice launched its IFIsa last month, allowing investors to deposit as little as £10 in loans underwritten by Octopus Property.

Folk2Folk launched its IFIsa in July to its existing lenders.

Giles Cross, CMO of Folk2Folk, said: “Since the introduction of our IFIsa in July, we have seen a huge amount of interest from investors looking for an alternative income with tax-free returns.”

Some peer-to-peer platforms have found the HMRC’s figures promising, including Landbay, which launched its IFIsa early in the year.

John Goodall, CEO of Landbay, said the number of accounts that had been opened had exceeded expectations.

Folk2Folk CEO to step down (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending platform Folk2Folk has announced the resignation of its chief executive officer Jane Dumeresque (pictured above), who will step down during September.

During her tenure, Folk2Folk opened new regional offices in Yorkshire, Somerset and the Three Counties, built further representation in Cumbria, Dorset, Cheshire and East Anglia and grew the platform’s cumulative loan book from £30m to over £170m.

Peer-to-peer lenders pledge to set up base in Belfast (Irish News), Rated: AAA

PEER-to-peer lending platform Assetz Capital, which to date it has lent more than £300 million to businesses across the UK, is expanding its operations into Northern Ireland.

Get bigger profits from mini bonds (MoneyWeek), Rated: A

But in the past year we’ve seen a steady rise in the quality of these bonds, partly because reputable alternative asset managers have moved in with asset-backed propositions (ie, companies that own physical assets, providing a certain amount of security for lenders). Downing, for instance, has its own “crowd bond” business that provides debt capital to businesses, usually within an Innovative Finance Individual Savings Account wrapper. Currently Downing has two projects that allow instant access (ie, no maturity), paying a 3% yield on an energy-backed business. This is a bit on the low side, but Downing also advertises an imminent bond that involves lending to a pub business for 18 months at 5.5%.

Property lender LendInvest raised £50m when it issued the alternative finance sector’s first retail bond, paying 5.25% a year over five years. The bond issue was oversubscribed, and the bonds now trade at £102 (implying a net yield to maturity of just over 5% a year).

In the news…

• Peer-to-peer lender RateSetter has reignited the debate about transparency after it admitted placing loans via rival platforms without telling its customers, reports The Times. It placed around £10m in property development loans on Wellesley, and an unspecified sum via Archover, which lends to small businesses. Both Wellesley and Archover offer investors a higher return than RateSetter. A spokesman for RateSetter said it would not lend via either platform again. RateSetter withdrew from industry body the P2P Finance Association last month after admitting it had “breached the principles of the Association”, but stressed that “no customer has experienced any loss from our actions”.

A third of financial technology startups expect to IPO within five years (City A.M.), Rated: A

The UK’s ambitious fintech startups are eyeing success on the public markets with a third of them planning an IPO in the next five years, new figures reveal.

Transferwise, Revolut and World Remit are among the country’s innovative financial technology companies with long-term ambitions of going public, signalling the burgeoning industry’s confidence.

Of the 250 fintechs surveyed in fresh research from EY and Innovate Finance on behalf of HM Treasury measuring the health of the industry, more than half also said they expect revenue to more than double over the next 12 months. Collectively, they expect to raise more than £2.5bn in their next funding rounds, having already raised £3.5bn to date.

Digital challenger bank Revolut told City A.M. it has an ambition to go public “later down the line”, while co-founder of “unicorn” startup Transferwise Taavet Hinrikus said over the summer it was time to think seriously about becoming a public company “in a few years”.

Using Digital Assets to Secure a Bitcoin Loan (Cryptocoins News), Rated: A

Ledgermark Ltd develops, markets and issues distributed ledger technology, specifically; various forms and implementations of distributed ledgers that can be used in combination with technologies like Bitcoin.

The company is launching a new digital asset; Meridian (MDN). Meridian represents a fork in the road as it is different from traditional digital assets. Instead of being positioned as a bitcoin alternative, Meridian is being designed to be used in combination with bitcoin. In short, via their Bitcoin Loans Platform, Ledgermark Ltd will be accepting Meridian tokens as collateral for bitcoin loans of higher value.

Is the P2P lending industry working with Bell Pottinger? (P2P Finance News), Rated: B

The P2P industry – and those linked to it – have a relatively small exposure to Bell Pottinger, with most firms opting for smaller PR agencies.

Basset & Gold, which advises and provides financing to P2P platforms and direct borrowers, is still a client of Bell Pottinger as of 6 September 2017, but is reviewing its relationship.

P2P lender Wellesley & Co previously had a relationship with Bell Pottinger, but is no longer using them.

MangoPay – which provides payment technology for P2P lenders – was still a client of Bell Pottinger as of 2 June 2017.

Darktrace in UK’s top three fastest-growing tech companies (Business Weekly), Rated: B

Norwich-based Know Your Money is the other new entrant – in at 97.

Cambridge company CashFlows surges from 94th last time to 58th in the pantheon with annual sales growth of 72 per cent to £37.3m.

Norwich’s strength in FinTech is further demonstrated by the inclusion of  Epos Now, a payment systems developer, which is placed 53rd (down from 32nd) with growth of 81 per cent to £13.9m.

The companies in the East appear with businesses from around Britain, including designer fashion website Farfetch, peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle and money transfer provider WorldRemit.

China

Chinese online insurer ZhongAn wins HK approval for $ 1 billion IPO (Reuters), Rated: AAA

ZhongAn Online Property and Casualty Insurance Co Ltd, China’s first internet-only insurer, secured Hong Kong stock exchange approval for its planned initial public offering which could raise more than $1 billion, sources with direct knowledge of the deal said on Friday.

The company plans to start gauging investor appetite for the IPO as soon as Monday after receiving the nod from the listing committee of the Hong Kong stock exchange, added the sources. It plans to launch the IPO and take orders from investors on Sept. 18.

The IPO would be the biggest by a financial technology company (fintech) in the city, which wants to lure more new listings of so-called new economy startups. Hong Kong has had $5.73 billion worth of new listings so far in 2017, compared with $21.3 billion in all of 2016, Thomson Reuters data showed.

Sino Fortune buys $ 2.8m equity interest in online lender TouZhiJia (Deal Street Asia), Rated: A

Chinese fintech solutions firm Sino Fortune Holding Corp has acquired a 4.45 per cent stake in Shenzhen TouZhiJia Financial Information Service Co Ltd (TouZhiJia) for about $2.8 million (RMB19.1 million).

Sino Fortune is making the 4.45 per cent equity interest acquisition through Puhui Equity Investment Co Ltd (Puhui).

Founded in September 2014, TouZhiJia’s main businesses include vertical P2P search engine, private wealth management, and secondary loan exchange services.

TouZhiJia has reportedly accumulated 2.74 million registered users and facilitated 1.98 million transactions with aggregate transaction value of more than $2.30 billion (RMB 15.63 billion). TouZhiJia is an affiliate of Yingcan Group.

European Union

LendIt Europe Agenda Released, Discounted Pricing Ends Soon (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

The full agenda is on the LendIt website, but here are a few topics I am most excited about:

  • How to Navigate Open Banking (Imran Gulamhuseinwala, Ernst & Young)
  • Digitization of Finance How Customer Expectations are Changing (Anne Boden, Starling Bank, Rhydian Lewis, Ratesetter Giovanni Daprà, Moneyfarm)
  • Implementing AI in Financial Services: Case Study (Francesco Brenna, IBM, Roberto Mancone, Deutsche Bank)
  • How Big Banks Are Approaching the New Connected World (Gilad Amir, Lloyds Banking Group, Benoit Legrand, ING, Raman Bhatia, HSBC, Gustavo Vinacua, BBVA)
  • Renaud Laplanche of Upgrade talking about Online Lending 2.0 and the state of the US fintech market.

Summer pricing of £1,295 ends at midnight on September 8th. After that, ticket prices will rise to £1,495. As always Lend Academy readers can receive an additional 15% discount by using the code LENDACADEMYVIP at checkout.

What Kinds of Fintech Platforms Help Startups with Fundraising (TechBullion), Rated: A

By the way, the alternative funding market in Europe is not just a developed one, but it is often supported by the state in every way. Moreover, crowdlending currently is a major competitor for the conventional banking area. In the future, it will consolidate its position because, due to introducing new Basel lll requirements to banks, including a reduction of risk assets, the requirements to bank lenders will become ever more stringent.

For instance, in 2015, Austria adopted an act that governs and legalizes the operation of companies involved in non-banking lending. But at the same time, in the biggest fintech country in Eastern Europe – Russia – and in several EU countries, there is yet no such document. Germany has a credit rating of companies that protect the investor.

What kinds of non-banking business lending platforms exist?

According to data of KPMG studies, the last 3 years period demonstrated a 131% growth of the share of mutual business lending, with the share of peer-to-peer consumer lending having increased merely by 54%.

  • Crowdfunding– investments for a remuneration from a company.
  • Crowdlending– this is mutual business lending assuming a return on investments (Funding Circle).
  • Crowdinvesting – an investor receives a share in a company with a view to growth of the value of one’s purchased share and, certainly, receiving dividends from company operations (Crowdcube, Seedmatch).
  • Refinancing receivables or online factoring. A loan is provided on collateral in the form of expected payments or accounts receivable.
  • Invoice discounting – this is in essence factoring, but with a somewhat other funding structure. Within its framework, funding is not split into deliveries but is paid in full on spot. In case of assignment of claims, the lender will bear the obligations of reimbursing the factor the funds underpaid by the borrower.

The Microfinance Centre’s (MFC’s) Alternative Finance Forum; October 5, 2017; Warsaw, Poland (MicroCapital), Rated: B

Event Location: Copernicus Conference Centre; Warsaw, Poland

Summary of Event: This forum aims to “introduce new forms of financial services” while covering topics including equity-based crowdfunding, social impact bonds, online lenders to small businesses and peer-to-peer lending platforms. The event has support from the European Union and its European Investment Bank Institute.

Cost: Participation is free of charge

Event Website: 

International

How digital assets are revolutionizing payments (The Asset), Rated: A

Experian, an information services group, estimates that the average error rate of bank account data is around 12.7%, indicating that there is a lack of understanding of foreign bank codes and account numbers.

A key problem with cross-border payments today is the fact that transactions are at the mercy of correspondent banking relationships.

Ripple, a global digital payment provider, has designed its XRP digital asset solely the cross-border transfer of value between enterprises.

Aside from Ripple, other companies have started to look at the usage of digital assets for transactions. Visa for instance recently filed a patent with United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) on the creation of a digital asset network to eliminate third parties and simply their transaction process.

Fintech Companies Disrupting Finance, Creating Bank of Tomorrow (Cointelegraph), Rated: B

One popular recent development in the Blockchain community is the creation of multi-crypto/fiat debit cards. These cards allow users to interchange between the given set of currencies in a seamless manner.

Luhaaar notes that fintech companies have consistently delivered better results in individual financial system services. He says that Change Bank wants to bring these companies together to create a global fintech bank of tomorrow.

India

Capital Float Digitally Removes Credit Gap (CXO Today), Rated: A

In an exclusive interaction with CXOToday, Rohan Angrish, CTO, Capital Float, takes us through how they have made it possible with the aid of technology which helped reduce wait times for SMEs, and enabled disbursement of funds in just three days. Last month, the company announced an equity raise of $45 Million (Rs. 293 crores) in Series C funding.

CXOToday: Tell us about your expansion plans across India. Any plans to go global in the near future?

Angrish: Over the past year alone, we have disbursed loans of over Rs. 2,100 crores to 12,000 plus customers across 300 cities. We will continue to identify and serve under-served SME segments. We have also ventured into financing micro-entrepreneurs like taxi drivers, travel agents, and Kirana store owners. Although these are small-ticket loans, the sheer size of these segments indicates immense potential. India will keep us busy for the short term. By the end of the financial year, we expect to have our geographic footprint spread across 500 cities from our current number of 300 cities, without increasing headcount.

CXOToday: Who are your customers?

Angrish: These include SMEs who have traditionally been denied finance due to ineligibility based on credit parameters set by formal financiers, lack of collateral and inability to furnish the required documentation.

CXOToday: Please throw light on your corporate partnerships.

Angrish: The company has partnered with ecosystem leaders across various verticals such as e-commerce (Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, PayTM, Shopclues, eBay, Alibaba, etc.), travel and hospitality (VIA and Yatra), retail (Mswipe, Pine Labs, Bijlipay, ICICI Merchant Services) and taxi aggregators (UBER and Ola) etc. Through these partnerships, we are able to effectively expand our reach to SMEs operating on these platforms.

Fintech startup EarlySalary raises Rs 5cr in debt financing from IFMR Capital (YourStory), Rated: A

Fintech startup EarlySalary, which offers instant cash loans and salary advances, has raised debt financing of Rs 5 crore from IFMR Capital. Previously, this past May, the company had raised a Series A round of $4 million (Rs 28 crore) in equity funding from IDG Ventures India and DHFL and plans to leverage its equity multiple times over the next few months.

In an earlier interaction with YourStory, Co-founder and CEO Akshay Mehrotra had said that almost 75 percent of the Rs 28 crore would be utilised for building their lending book. The remaining amount was to go into expanding their team, with a specific focus on machine learning skill sets, and helping grow the customer base.

EarlySalary has already disbursed more than 7,000 loans last month. Currently operating in eight cities including Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Jaipur, and Ahmedabad, it is looking at expanding into other cities as well.

Growth deals drive VC investments in August (The Times of India), Rated: B

Online lender Capital Float attracted $45 million, while Treebo Hotels took $34 million. Bioinformatics company MedGenome attracted $30 million from investors led by Sequoia India and fitness chain operator Curefit raised $25 million from existing investors including Accel Partners and IDG Ventures.

With seed funding becoming more challenging, early stage investors are asking questions on whether the business is viable and if it can raise follow on capital, which is an indication of the market maturing, he adds.

APAC

Citi Launches First Facebook Messenger Banking Chatbot in Singapore that Provides Customer Account Information (Fintech News), Rated: AAA

Citi Singapore today announced the launch of Citi Bot – the bank’s new natural language chatbot on Facebook Messenger. Singapore is the first market for the launch of the chatbot which will be introduced progressively in the Asia Pacific region over the next few months.

This landmark initiative furthers Citi’s open architecture approach to digital banking as the bank taps on its global network to form strategic partnerships and to co-create with leading players in digital ecosystems globally and locally.

Citi Bot will first be made available to some 600 Citi customers and employees who will form Citi Singapore’s Beta Testing Community, referred to as the Citi Beta Community.

The second phase of the Citi Bot will introduce more new features such as card activation, ability to lock and unlock credit cards and transaction alerts for cards among others.

India, Indonesia lead growth in mobile payments (The Asset), Rated: AAA

Asia-Pacific now leads the way in the adoption of mobile payments, according to a report by ACI Worldwide (ACI) entitled “Global Consumer Survey and Consumer Trust and Security Perceptions.”

Within the Asia, India and Indonesia saw the biggest growth of mobile wallet use with 56% of Indian and 47% Indonesian participants of saying that they used mobile wallets. This represents a significant increase from 2014 results which saw 47% of Indian and 32% of Indonesian survey participants using mobile wallets.

Source: The Asset

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor