Thursday March 21 2019, Weekly News Digest

fintechs and personal loans

News Comments Today’s main news: BlockFi hits $25M in deposits in 2 weeks. Cash-back ETF injects trouble into ETF market. PeerStreet expands product line. Funding Circle fund higher impairments drag returns. Dianrong blames Chinese regime for troubles. Today’s main analysis: New home equity loans do not significantly alter credit scores. Today’s thought-provoking articles: SoFi Money review. Can Citi, JPMorgan beat […]

The post Thursday March 21 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

fintechs and personal loans

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China/Hong Kong

Other

News Summary

United States

BlockFi Receives $ 25 Million in Crypto Deposits in Just 2 Weeks After Launching Lending Products (CryptoGlobe), Rated: AAA

BlockFi Lending LLC, a New York-based “secured non-bank lender” that provides cryptocurrency-backed loans in USD to digital asset investors, has revealed that its interest-generating deposit accounts have received over $25 million in cryptocurrency.

SoFi Money Review: Online Checking (Nerdwallet), Rated: AAA

SoFi Money is an online checking account by SoFi, a company best known for its student loan refinance loans. SoFi’s account has a top-of-the-line interest rate and no monthly or overdraft fees. There’s no free ATM network, but SoFi reimburses many third-party ATM fees and doesn’t charge its own. SoFi also boasts unique perks: free career counseling and financial planning sessions.

Can Citi and JPM beat FinTech Personal Loans? (PeerIQ Email), Rated: AAA

The personal loan market has grown rapidly since 2010 and the growth has been driven by FinTechs. 

Source: TransUnion, PeerIQ

“My Chase Plan” and “My Chase Loans” – a point-of-sale financing alternative and a personal loan product respectively – that will be offered to its existing credit card customers.

LendingTree Study Finds New Home Equity Loans Do Not Significantly Alter Credit Scores (LendingTree), Rated: AAA

Home prices in the United States have rebounded to new highs since the financial crisis. As a result, American homeowners are sitting on the largest amount of home equity in history — at just over $15 trillion dollars, according to the Federal Reserve.

  • The decline in scores averaged just 13 points. At the high end, scores declined by 24 in San Jose,Calif. The smallest decline was 5 points in San Diego. Borrowers had an average score of 735 to start, so the declines are quite negligible in terms of access to credit and may have marginal impacts on the cost of credit. The highest starting credit score was 752 in San Francisco, while the lowest was 712 in Indianapolis.
  • The decline took an average of 158 days to reach bottom, which is just over five months. St. Louis homeowners saw their credit scores reach their lowest points in an average time of 101 days (3 months), while the longest decline was for homeowners in Dallas at 211 days (7 months). Loans do not appear on credit reports immediately after closing. Typically, the lender starts reporting to the credit bureaus after your first payment, depending on the lender’s reporting cycle. Thus it may take about 60 days after closing or even longer for it show up and start affecting a score.
  • Scores recovered over an average of 163 days. This is also just over five months, so the time to fall and recover are about equal. The quickest time to recover was 102 days, or slightly over 3 months, in Cincinnati. Borrowers in Chicago had the longest recovery time of 243 days, just over 8 months.
  • Scores recover within a year and begin to move higher. The complete cycle to return to the credit score prior to the home equity loan takes 321 days, less than 11 months. The shortest cycle was in St. Louis at 211 days and the longest in Chicago at 443 days, about 15 months.

As Cash-Back ETF Hits Market, Signs of Trouble Start to Mount (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Last week, one ETF upstart created a minor splash by doing what was once unthinkable — offering to pay investors to buy into its exchange-traded fund. That comes on the heels of eight fund providers — including JPMorgan Chase, Vanguard and BlackRock to name a few — all slashing fees in one of the industry’s most aggressive rounds of price cuts to date.

The sub-zero fee giveaway by Salt Financial, which previously ran a single $11 million ETF, is widely seen as a marketing gimmick to drum up a little PR, get customers in the door and increase its assets under management. During the first year, investors will receive 50 cents for every $1,000 in a new low-volatility stock ETF — until it grows to $100 million. After a year, a management fee of 0.29 percent, or $2.90 per $1,000, could kick in.

The race to zero, however, is very real. Fidelity Investments jump-started the no-fee push in August by offering index funds for free. In February, SoFi said it would waive charges on two planned ETFs for the first year. Last week, JPMorgan started selling America’s cheapest-ever ETF for the princely sum of 20 cents for every $1,000 invested. And BlackRock unveiled plans Wednesday to cut fees for large clients in one of its S&P 500 indexed mutual funds.

PeerStreet Expands Product Line with Residential for Rent Loans (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

PeerStreet, a platform for investing in real estate backed loans, today announced the launch of a new loan product for private lenders: Residential for Rent loans. Residential for Rent loans have a 30-year term so borrowers can secure long-term financing for residential rental properties. This launch is in response to key market conditions: as more people struggle to finance buying a home, the rental market has continued to grow.

3 Big Reasons To Fill Out The FAFSA (Even If You Think You Earn Too Much) (Huffington Post), Rated: A

One-quarter of families don’t complete the FAFSA, according to Sallie Mae’s 2018 How America Pays for College survey. Of those that don’t fill it out, 48 percent say it’s because they don’t believe they’ll qualify for financial aid.

But they’re often wrong: An analysis by NerdWallet found that in 2017, students left an estimated $2.3 billion in federal financial aid on the table by not filling out the FAFSA.

According to Elaine Rubin, senior contributor and communications specialist at private student loan marketplace Edvisors, most Americans are eligible for some type of federal aid. In fact, it’s available to anyone with a household income below $250,000 per year, CNBC reported.

Madden lawsuit nears end, but online lenders still seek fix from regulators (American Banker), Rated: A

An 8-year-old class action that wreaked havoc on the online lending industry is finally winding down, but the lobbying push in Washington to undo its impact shows no signs of abating.

Lawyers in the case have filed a proposed settlement that would provide $9.8 million in cash and debt relief to as many as 58,000 consumers, setting up the final chapter in a lawsuit that is likely to be remembered best for the legal precedent it established.

The State of Digital Engagement for Online Lending (LendIt), Rated: A

A recent trend report by Clarity Services, a credit reporting provider, showed that online funded loan volumes grew by almost 500% between 2013 and 2017.

How Far are Most in their Digital Transformation Strategy?

  • 54% of financial institutions have developed a digital strategy, but have not yet implemented it
  • 29% of financial institutions are currently developing a digital transformation strategy
  • Only 14% of financial institutions are in the process of implementing a digital transformation strategy

How Much Will They Be Investing In Digital Transformation in the Next 12-18 Months?:

  • 65% are planning to increase spending by 10%
  • 26% are planning to increase spending by 1-9%
  • 6% have no plans to change spending

What will They be investing in over the next 12-18 Months?

  • Replace or upgrade legacy IT systems — 88%
  • Reduce operational inefficiency — 76%
  • Improve customer experience — 74%

X Financial’s Fourth Quarter Results Take Stock 5% Higher (Capital Watch), Rated: A

The stock of X Financial (NYSE: XYF) jumped more than 5 percent Tuesday morning, to $6.55 per American depositary share, after the peer-to-peer lending marketplace announced improved revenue and profit for the fourth quarter, as well as a dividend for 2018.

The Shenzhen-based company, which connects borrowers and investors on its platform, reported in a statement Monday evening that its revenue grew 18 percent year-over-year to $125.5 million during the three months through December.

Its net income, X Financial said, was $35.2 million, or 22 cents per share, at a 53 percent increase from the same period of 2017.

Why Corporates Cant Fund Early Pay Programs (Dynamic Discounting + SCF) (Spend Matters), Rated: A

If you look at the graph below, 5% of S&P 500 companies hold more than half the overall cash; the other 95% of corporations have cash-to-debt levels that are the lowest in data going back to 2004, according to Wells Fargo research. We know who those 5% are — they are the GAFA companies: Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

Source:

ZestFinance Using AI To Bring Fairness To Mortgage Lending (Forbes), Rated: A

Discrimination in lending has long been a problem, shutting minority groups out of the home buying process.

ZestFinance, the artificial intelligence software company focused on the credit market is trying to change that with ZAML Fair, a new software tool that aims to reduce the instances of biases and discrimination in lending.

CoreLogic Launches PanoramIQ to Provide More Accurate and Complete Property Insights (CoreLogic), Rated: A

CoreLogic, a global property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider, today announced PanoramIQ, an intelligent property solution that delivers a more complete view of property data with more current and reliable sources than public-record data alone. Utilizing a combination of public and proprietary property datasets, a unique property ID, machine learning and advanced analytics, PanoramIQ provides lenders, mortgage industry professionals and government entities with deeper, more accurate and complete property insights, allowing clients to make better decisions in a timely and efficient manner.

White Oak Healthcare Finance Launches Real Estate Investment Vehicle with New Hires (ABL Advisor), Rated: A

White Oak Healthcare Finance, LLC announced it will broaden its product offering and enter the healthcare real estate investment market.  White Oak hired Jeff Erhardt, Paul Nevala, Mike Treiber and John Brussard to build out the vehicle, which will initially invest up to $500MM and will focus on investments in seniors housing and skilled nursing properties using triple net leases and joint-venture RIDEA structures.

Banks seek Congress’ help to block fintech path to ‘industrial’ charters  (Roll Call), Rated: A

A bank industry group is lobbying Congress to block financial technology firms, such as online lender Social Finance Inc. and payment processor Square Inc., from obtaining an obscure form of a state bank charter that would let them operate nationally with little federal supervision.

The Independent Community Bankers of America last week distributed a policy paper around Washington calling for an immediate moratorium on providing federal deposit insurance to industrial loan companies, or ILCs, which are chartered by only a few states — most notably Utah.

Form S-3 Senmiao Technology Ltd (Street Insider), Rated: A

Approximate date of commencement of proposed sale to the public: From time to time after this registration statement becomes effective.

Debt Securities. We may offer debt securities, which may be secured or unsecured, senior, senior subordinated or subordinated, may be guaranteed by our subsidiaries, and may be convertible into shares of our common stock. We may issue debt securities separately or together with, upon conversion of or in exchange for other securities. It is likely that any debt securities issued will not be issued under an indenture.

Figure Technologies, Inc. Expands Leadership Team as It Builds Out Financial Empowerment and Wealth Offerings (PR Newswire), Rated: B

Figure Technologies, Inc., a fintech company in both the home equity and blockchain space, announces that John Sweeney has joined the company as the head of Wealth and Asset Management, along with Dr. Michael Dooley, who joined as chief economist. These hires reflect Figure’s commitment to empowering consumers and building out products to improve their financial well-being.

LendPro Hires Belinda Kelton as Vice President of Sales (LendPro Email), Rated: B

LendPro LLC, a provider of Lending-as-a-Service (LaaS) products and platforms for retailers, has hired retail industry veteran Belinda Kelton as its Vice President of Sales, the company announced today. Kelton is the latest of many new hires for the fast-growing fintech company, which recently moved to a new location to accommodate new staff members and provide the best service possible to customers.

Corporate Counsel, Commercial (Go In House), Rated: B

Affirm is looking for a business-minded Corporate Counsel, Commercial with broad expertise in complex commercial transactions. This role will report to Affirm’s Associate General Counsel.
United Kingdom

Funding Circle fund sees higher impairments continue to drag returns (AltFi), Rated: AAA

The Funding Circle SME Income fund saw just a marginally positive performance in February with Net Asset Value growth of just 0.05 per cent as impairments continued to hurt performance.

Impairments reduced NAV returns by 0.7 per cent in February, said analysts at Liberum, in line with the average monthly impairment rate of recent months.

Revolut Is Testing the Limits of Finance (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Storonsky is getting a taste of the scrutiny that lies ahead as he tries to upend the world of banking with Revolut, his 3-1/2 year-old startup. The U.K.’s financial regulator is examining why the digital bank last summer temporarily turned off a system designed to automatically block suspicious transactions.

It was valued at $1.7 billion at its last fundraising and now has over 4 million customers after new accounts tripled in 2018. That’s about three times more than the two lenders combined and the same number of customers as foreign-exchange business TransferWise, which is four years older.

Source: Innovate Finance

CrowdProperty launches equity sale after increasing loan book by £100m (PlaceTech), Rated: AAA

The specialist peer-to-peer lender has secured £100m of loan capital as it launches a public crowdfunding campaign, already oversubscribed, that values the business at more than £15m.

Having raised £100m from an unnamed “major institution”, CrowdProperty will use the funds to expand the number of property projects it backs over the next 12-24 months.

OakNorth reports £33.9m profit for 2018 and commits to donating 1% of all future net profit to charitable causes and social entrepreneurship (OakNorth Email), Rated: A

IFISA Guide: SME loans (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

Ablrate’s IFISA offers returns ranging between 10 and 15 per cent, enabling investors to fund asset-backed loans to UK businesses.

ArchOver’s IFISA enables investors to fund secured business loans and enjoy tax-free returns of up to 10 per cent per year.

MoneyThing’s IFISA is one of the highest-paying tax wrappers that invests in secured business loans, offering annual returns of up to  13 per cent.

Assetz Capital

Returns vary depending on the account, going from 4.1 per cent to 6.25 per cent on its auto-invest products, and up to 15.5 per cent with its manual lending option.

Funding Circle

The minimum investment in this flexible IFISA is £1,000.

LendingCrowd

The Growth and Income ISAs automatically spread investors’ money across a range of loans and have variable target rates of six per cent and 5.6 per cent, respectively.

Specialist lender funding will be the key issue for 2019 – LendInvest (Mortgage Solutions), Rated: A

The situation is a big reminder to lenders that it is crucial to concentrate on building a diverse range of funding sources, rather than just one single route.

It’s something that we have put a lot of work into at LendInvest, as it allows us to lend with confidence, knowing that the funds we have promised to a borrower will be there.

The firm sent out an email on 24 January 2019 suggesting that recipients should have a “stockpile ready” as some believe Brexit “could affect the amount of food available,” while offering a £5 promotional discount on a loan.

Why investors are fleeing the ‘fear and greed’ of stock markets for peer-to-peer loans (The Telegraph), Rated: A

Investors are ditching the stock market in favour of bundled loans sold by fledgling platforms that are yet to be tested by a financial crisis.

The top 20 UK places for high net worth earners (Citywire), Rated: B

Nearly two fifths of the UK’s top earners now live in London, according to research from peer to peer lending platform easyMoney.

China/Hong Kong

China’s Online Lender Dianrong Blames Chinese Regime for its Woes (NTD), Rated: AAA

Dianrong, one of China’s biggest peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders, is laying off staff and shutting stores. The company blamed the Chinese regime for its troubles and said the absence of clear-cut policies was proving to be a heavy burden.

Dianrong shut down 60 of its 90 offline stores and laid off an estimated 2,000 employees, Reuters reported in early March.

Pintec’s Stock Rises on Steady Results During Quarter of IPO (Capital Watch), Rated: A

Pintec Technology Holdings Ltd. (Nasdaq: PT) gained 15 cents in trading by midday after reporting a slight increase in revenue and narrowed losses for the fourth quarter.

The Beijing-based tech platform facilitating financial services said on Wednesday that its revenue in the three months through December was $32.9 million, 2 percent higher year-over-year. Its net loss was $1.2 million, a 10 percent decrease from the same period of 2017. Loss per share was 1 cent.

For the full year, Pintec reported revenue of $153.1 million, 85 percent higher from the preceding 12 months, and profit of $1.1 million in contrast to a loss in 2017.

KKR Raising First Asia Real Estate Fund, Targeting $ 1.5 Billion (U.S. News), Rated: A

Global investment powerhouse KKR & Co Inc is raising its first Asia-focused real estate fund, targeting $1.5 billion as it looks to deepen its real estate portfolio in the region, said people with knowledge of the matter.

Investment firms raised $18.6 billion in 26 Asia-focused real estate funds last year, the highest since 2008, according to data provider Preqin. KKR’s U.S.-based rival Blackstone Group raised the region’s biggest real estate fund last year at $7.1 billion.

China and distressed debt top DB’s hedge funds tastes test (City Wire Selector), Rated: A

Alternative investors are increasingly drawn to Asian hedge funds and distressed strategies, according to the latest Alternative Investment Survey from Deutsche Bank.

The 2019 survey canvassed the views of 425 asset allocators running $1.7 trillion of hedge fund assets in 28 countries.

European Union

Finnest and Invesdor Merge to Combine Debt and Equity Operations in Europe (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Finnest, an Austria based Fintech that provides debt capital to small and medium-sized firms, has announced a planned merger with Finland based Invesdor Oy. The newly formed company will see the combination of a leading Nordic equity crowdfunding platform and a top online lender serving the DACH region (Deutschland, Austria, Switzerland). The two companies will now be able to offer a full stack of debt and equity services and investments across Northern Europe as well as more numerous options for investors.

Invesdor claims over 50,000 registered users as well as a MiFID II license for 28 European countries – the first crowdfunding platform to receive approval. Invesdor reports investors, both institutional and individual, from over 150 different countries. Invesdor currently offers a unique financing portfolio in the market, from equity to loans and bonds to IPOs.

Bitbond to Work with BitGo for Germany’s First Security Token Offering (Bitbond), Rated: A

Bitbond has launched Germany’s first Security Token Offering with a BaFin approved Prospectus and will be using  BitGo’s Business Wallet. The STO has a hard cap of EUR 100 million (~USD 113 million) and will conclude in May. Thousands of investors have already joined to take advantage of early bird discounts.

The STO marks a significant milestone for the crypto asset industry, not only because it has an approved prospectus, but also because it offers tokenized debt with a predetermined maturity. Bitbond Token (BB1) holders will receive quarterly and annual payments for 10 years, after which Bitbond will buy back the token at its original value of EUR 1 per token.

India

Top 5 sectors that need upskilling: How to stay relevant in age of disruption? (Indian Express), Rated: A

The banking sector is witnessing a massive growth owing to the launch of connected products and services, business innovation and the rise of the middle class along with the emergence of new fintech areas of mobile payments, digital wallets and P2P lending. Technologies such as chatbots, blockchains and automation through robotics powered by AI are transforming the sector.

CRYPTO EXCHANGE COINDCX RAISES SEED FUNDING FROM BAIN CAPITAL VENTURES (Coin News Span), Rated: B

Bengaluru-based client leasing startup RentoMojo has raised $10 Mn serial B funding from Bain Capital Ventures and Renaud Laplanche.

Asia

Look out for 2019’s top 7 lending startups (e27), Rated: AAA

As of 2019, there are still 2.45 billion underbanked and unbanked people in the world. The more innovative lending companies there are, the faster this market will be covered and served.

October.eu (formerly Lendix) is an innovative, easy-to-use, and intuitive peer-to-peer platform for lending and investing.

The Dharma team works on a platform that lets businesses build lending products on the Ethereum blockchain.

The governing idea of Kabbage is that funding shouldn’t be complicated for businesses. So, the company makes an effort to provide entrepreneurs with up to US$250,000 in loans for which you can allegedly qualify for in just 10 minutes or at most, a day.

Founded in 2014, TurnKey Lender has already become the market’s leading intelligent all-in-one lending automation platform.

The name SoFi comes from social finance and it’s another great example of a successful peer-to-peer lending operation. Founded in 2011, the company is already a huge market player with US$30 billion worth of funded loans and 600 thousand members.

Affirm goes a different route than most alternative lenders. The idea behind it is enabling in-house financing for retail businesses. So, the store’s customers get an instant loan with zero to 30 per cent interest rates.

With quite a unique approach, Lendio offers small business an opportunity to get services and credit products from lenders with the best conditions. It’s a marketplace with more than 75 lenders on board.

Vietnam is the region’s fintech hub (The ASEAN Post), Rated: AAA

Vietnam’s strong economic growth in recent years has led to the flourishing of the nation’s digital economy. The country’s economy in 2017 was deemed to be one of the best performing in the region. Its economy saw a 6.8 percent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) – higher than the government’s initial target of 6.7 percent – making it one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam currently has 54 percent of its population on the internet and the number is expected to grow further in the coming years.

Data from Vietnam Briefing shows that 39,580 start-ups entered the Vietnamese market in just the first four months of 2017, a 14 percent increase from the first quarter of 2016. Within the start-up scene, the fintech sector has become the most attractive for investments, receiving US$129 million in 2016.

Travelstop Targets Fintech SMEs with Business Travel Management Platform (Fintech News), Rated: A

Co-founded by former Expedia employees, Singapore-based Travelstop is a modern, artificial intelligence (AI) powered SaaS platform that simplifies business travel, automates expense reporting for businesses in Asia, and offers insights to business owners.

The platform is quickly gaining traction from the region’s startups and fintech community, helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and high-growth organizations including Funding Societies, Fintech News Network, RedDoorz, S P Jain School of Global Management and Dot Property better to manage their business travels.

Asia has the largest share of mobile internet traffic, with 61% of its population using mobile devices to go online.

How Ovo Has Grown to be Indonesia’s Largest Digital Payments Platform (Entrepreneur), Rated: A

After online stores, Indonesia’s leading digital payments platform Ovo has been making strides into offline stores, increasing the number of merchants that accept the payment method.

OVO has reportedly acquired local peer-to-peer lending company Taralite, a move that will pave the way for OVO to branch out into the lending business which is seen to be a potential profit-generator for the company.

TurnKey Lender Opens a New Office in Kuala Lumpur (Digital Journal), Rated: A

TurnKey Lender, a provider of intelligent lending automation, decision management, and risk mitigation solutions, announces the opening of a new office in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Its main goal will be to physically represent TurnKey Lender and support the company’s operations in Asia.

With internet penetration at 85.7% in 2018, the country is perfectly positioned for the rapid growth of alternative lending initiatives in areas like peer-to-peer lending and in-house financing.

Golden Gate Ventures ties up with Hanwha to invest in Asian startups (SDF-KH), Rated: B

Golden Gate and Hanwha will focus on startups that are raising fund for ‘Series B’ stage.

Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures confirmed on Tuesday that it has teamed up with South Korea-based Hanwha Asset Management to invest in Southeast Asian technology startups.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

The post Thursday March 21 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

The Rise of Crypto Lending, a Natural Progression of Peer-to-Peer Financing

Nexo

The rise of new technologies often give rise to new business models. The peer-to-peer lending space is just over a decade old and still have much to grow into. However, not long after the first P2P lender–Zopa in 2005–opened its doors, a new technology that promises to challenge traditional ways to deliver financial services emerged. […]

Nexo

The rise of new technologies often give rise to new business models. The peer-to-peer lending space is just over a decade old and still have much to grow into. However, not long after the first P2P lender–Zopa in 2005–opened its doors, a new technology that promises to challenge traditional ways to deliver financial services emerged. That technology was the blockchain, a distributed ledger that underlies the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Since then, other blockchains have been created along with new business models to suit. As it stands in 2018, crypto lending has not made a big dent in P2P lending services, but the potential is there. This article will highlight some of the more significant blockchain-based P2P lenders, which we hope will inspire a new look at technological innovation in this space.

Think of crypto lending like you would the banking industry: Even if Capital One provided perfect products at every turn, there would still be plenty of room for JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America. There would still be room for the hundreds of other banks that compete for customers.

The companies listed here are not ranked in any manner. Rather, they=se are just some of the choices available for consumers in the market for cryptocurrency loans.

1. SALT (Secured Automated Lending Technology) Lending

One of the best benefits crypto-based lending has to offer is that a lessened importance on traditional credit scores as a factor for risk assessment. SALT Lending touts blockchain-based assets as “the perfect form of collateral.” The company is using this fact to “dramatically reduce the complexity and cost of the loan process.” SALT operates under Regulation D and, in lieu of credit checks, the company does AML and KYC verifications.

Offering three tiers of product, SALT’s loans start at $5,000 and go as high as $250 million. Loan percentages run between 12 and 22 percent APR, but the borrower retains the value of the collateral currency claiming any gains and losses that happen over the life of the loan. SALT accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dogecoin as collateral, and funds loans in USD.

One fact that could be a significant factor when deciding to use the SALT Lending platform is that loans are not transferable on the blockchain, but through existing financial channels. Thus, they become securities.

It’s not foolish to base a good bit of faith in a company that has proven players on its team. Founder Erik Voorhees was also involved in founding several other crypto websites prior to starting SALT Lending. Among these include Satoshi Dice, which he later sold, Coinapult, and ShapeShift.

2. ETHlend

Unlike SALT Lending, Estonia-based ETHlend is a fully decentralized P2P platform built on the Ethereum blockchain for lending Ether as tokens for collateral. Some insiders fear that platforms that allow their loans to become securities might run the risk of being swallowed up by banks.

ETHlend lends Ethereum, Bitcoin, their own LEND tokens, and DAI tokens, as well as 180+ other Ethereum-based tokens. The company offers address-to-address loans that are sent within minutes, with no middle men, assuring that no one, not even Ethlend, can stop one’s lending or borrowing. The company plans to expand beyond Ethereum to other distributed ledger platforms in Q3 of 2019.

The company’s interest rates range from .25 to five percent MPR, and all transactions are carried out on digital wallets. Borrowers that transact in the LEND token can get a no-fee loan.

Announced earlier this week, Aave is a tech-based company designed to expand on the offerings of centralized fintech companies like PayPal and Coinbase. Aave Pocket, Aave Gaming, and Aave Lending (SaaS) are among the offerings this expansion adds to the platform.

Unfortunately, the service is not yet available everywhere including a block to U.S. citizens.

3. Nexo

A new kid on this block is Nexo, and being a new kid means that they are doing things in a new manner. Founded in Zug, Switzerland—even more of an “EF Hutton” mention than Estonia—in 2017, Nexo promises the world’s first instant crypto-backed loans. Available worldwide, Nexo loans start at $1,000 and top out at $2 million.

The process is an easy one.

  • Log on to the website.
  • Verify your account
  • Deposit crypto assets into Nexo wallet
  • Withdraw loan to your bank account

There will be brief pauses while the borrower is verified—the company complies with the highest AML and KYC (provided by Onfido) standards—and while your deposit is confirmed on the blockchain. Overall, the Nexo process reads like a rather quick and seamless process.

The platform loans Euros, USD, and Tether while accepting Ether, bitcoin, Bincance coin (BNB), and Nexo as collateral currency. The interest rate is eight percent if the collateral currency is Nexo and 16 percent for all others. Nexo assets are stored in multi-signature wallets, more than one multiple cryptographic keys are necessary to gain access, and cold storage (wallets not connected to the Internet) at BitGo and PrimeTrust.

4. LendingBlock

LendingBlock predicts that, as digital assets grow as an asset class, demand for hedging, swaps, repurchases, and short selling will increase. The currency crypto market has more than $500 billion in assets circulating with less than one percent used as collateral. That leaves lots of room for growth.

Touted as the first cross-chain lending platform for the crypto economy, the company promises a product that will help its customers access secure, transparent, and fair crypto-to-crypto loans. Not a lender itself, LendingBlock provides the platform upon which parties can enter P2P contracts. The company acts as agent for both lender and borrower, as well as security trustee of the collateral. This ensures that the borrower doesn’t face any uncovered credit risk to the lender.

All collateral deposits are held in cold storage. Those who think regulation will be necessary before the crypto market can fully mature can take comfort in the fact that the company is focused on becoming a regulated business. They have submitted the full regulatory application to the country of Gibraltar and await the regulator’s response. They have also begun regulatory processes with the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Futures Trading Commission in the United States.

Basing the platform on its own token (LND), which is used to make payments and receive interest on loans, allows the company to reduce the cost of exchange fees and makes it easier to manage interest payments. The use of smart contracts reduces expenses, risks, and complexity, which makes for lower costs for borrowers and higher returns for the lenders.

5. BlockFi

New York-based BlockFi might be the ideal platform for Americans who want to secure USD loans with Bitcoin and Ethereum, provided that said Americans live in any of the 44 states where the company is currently conducting business.

The attractive thing about the BlockFi platform is that it seems easy enough for a lay person to understand without any kind of financial advice. A borrower needs to meet only two requirements to qualify for a loan: They can have no liens or bankruptcies on their record, and they must have at least $15,000 of crypto assets between their Bitcoin and Ethereum portfolios.

If those criteria are met, the customer can borrow up to 35 percent of their crypto asset value, with loans ranging from $2,000 to $10 million. Interest rates go from 12 to 14 percent APR, and there is an added fee of one to four percent of the loan value. Borrowers can take a loan in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Litecoin.

Unlike other crypto-based lenders on this list, BlockFi does not have its own coin or token.

6. Unchained Capital

Texas-based Unchained Capital could very well be the platform of choice for those who want to liquidate their Bitcoin while maintaining it and seeing it go to work in the world.

Not only is the team at Unchained Capital in the market to make money as a lender, they have an idealistic side as well. Noting that 60 percent of Bitcoin sits around and does nothing, they have a goal to circulate it and use it to strengthen the platform. The company was founded by people who believe cryptocurrencies can change the world only if they’re useful.

The Unchained Capital team has designed its personal loans to be ideal for people who are looking to make large purchases, who hope to avoid tax events, and who want to invest. Their commercial loans are geared to companies that want to free up capital, expand their businesses, buy expensive equipment, and balance their portfolios.

Unchained Capital does not have its own cryptocurrency.

7. Other Companies to Consider

The crypto lending space is expanding. New lenders seem to be popping up quite often, which means that some people in the cryptocurrency space, at least, see a market for crypto-backed lending. Despite the market having taken a downturn in 2018, rebounding from the bull run last year that catapulted Bitcoin to $20,000 in December, this space is expanding. Lately, Bitcoin has been holding around the $6,500 mark. Since the majority altcoins tend to follow Bitcoin’s price, that means the market as  whole is down, yet more crypto lenders are ambling to get in the door.

Some of the other companies in the crypto lending space that might be worth checking out include BitBond, Credible Friends, Bitfinex (a crypto exchange that facilitates crypto financing transactions between parties), Celsius, Poloniex (another cryptocurrency exchange that allows traders to lend to other users), CoinLoan, Nebeus, GetLine, and BTCpop.

Authors:

Written by Paul Keenan and Allen Taylor.

Allen Taylor

Wednesday December 13 2017, Daily News Digest

Wednesday December 13 2017, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: Court dismisses case against OCC Fintech Charter. Affirm’s valuation confirmed at $1.75B. RateSetter Australia reaches $200M milestone. SoftBank invests $450M into Compass. Starling Bank expected to profit in 2019. Linked Finance launches P2P lending pension accounts. ID Finance raises $85M through ETF bonds. Today’s main analysis: TransUnion reports on consumer credit markets. Today’s thought-provoking articles: What […]

Wednesday December 13 2017, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

Australia

India

Asia

MENA

Israel

South America

News Summary

United States

Court throws out New York regulator’s suit against OCC fintech charter (American Banker), Rated: AAA

A New York District Court judge threw out a lawsuit by the New York Department of Financial Services that sought to block the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s attempted fintech charter, saying the charter doesn’t exist yet so the suit is premature.

Lending startup Affirm valued at $ 1.8 bln in latest financing round (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Silicon Valley lending startup Affirm said on Monday it has raised $200 million in a fresh round of funding, boosting prospects as the firm aims to go after the market for millennial shoppers needing loans.

The new financing put Affirm’s total fundraising to date at about $450 million, and increases its valuation to $1.75 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Max Levchin On What Comes After $ 200M Worth Of Capital Affirmation (PYMNTS), Rated: AAA

The CEO with the measured response is PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, who told Karen Webster that with any capital raise of size, the temptation is to believe that “it is a big victory and it is validation … but all it really is, is a temporary tally of how far you have gone.”

He noted that with big investments come big responsibility (and Affirm has raised roughly $450 million to date), as he remarked that there is the implicit end goal of taking the money and parlaying vision and strategy into strong returns on that cash.

Affirm says that its retailers report that consumers who use Affirm leave with a basket size 75 percent greater than those who don’t use Affirm to pay for their purchases, and enjoy site-wide conversion rates as much as 20 percent higher, with revenue per visitor lifts of more than 10 percent.

Doing customers wrong allows your competitor to make things right (American Banker), Rated: A

Consider Affirm, a startup that offers consumers installment loans for individual purchases and markets the loans as a simpler and more honest financing alternative — a message that is clearly targeted at consumers who are frustrated by a perceived lack of transparency in the costs associated with using credit cards. This message appears to be resonating in the market; Affirm is processing relationships with more than 1,000 internet retailers and is reportedly working with Walmart on a pilot project.

In an interview with American Banker, Douugh founder and CEO Andy Taylor said: “When we dug deeper, we realized the consumer debt levels are out of control. Big banks are running off legacy business models that are driven to keep customers within these debt cycles. They’re not properly incentivized to foster financial wellness.”

Affirm, Marcus and Douugh are all basing their strategic direction on a simple but powerful insight: There is a difference between the way many consumers use credit cards and the way that those consumers should use their credit cards in order to maximize their financial wellness.

Retailers now offers Instaloans to pay for purchases (ABC30.com), Rated: A

A growing number of major retailers offer shoppers instant loans to pay for your purchases.

But how do they work? And are they better than credit cards?

Each lender may be slightly different, but typically: you give basic information, decide the length of the loan -usually anywhere from three to twenty-four months and in less than a minute you’ll know if you’re approved.

Prosper Appoints Former J.P. Morgan Chase CMO Claire Huang to Board of Directors (Crowfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending platform Prosper announced on Tuesday it has appointed former Chief Marketing Officer of J.P. Morgan, Claire Huang to its board of directors. According to Prosper, Huang has held senior leadership positions at various well-known financial services companies, which includes Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, and American Express.

OnDeck Adds Former GE Capital and SunTrust Executives to Finance Team (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

OnDeck (NYSE: ONDK), the leading online lender to small business, today announced the hiring of two senior financial services executives to join its management team. Kelly Merrill and Erich Wust will assume new leadership roles that directly support OnDeck’s mission of empowering small business owners with the fastest and most flexible credit solutions.

Kelly Merrill joins OnDeck as the Senior Vice President for Finance, where she will help lead the company’s short-term and long-term financial planning initiatives. Merrill brings over a decade of finance experience to OnDeck from GE Capital, where she played a leading role in developing and executing the disposition strategy for GE Capitals’s $200 billion balance sheet.  Previously, Merrill was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of GE Capital Real Estate, where she led a team of more than 50 employees.

Erich Wust has been appointed as the Senior Vice President for Portfolio Management at OnDeck. He will be responsible for managing portfolio credit strategies, balance sheet optimization and other components of the company’s loan portfolio. Wust joins OnDeck after more than a decade in credit and risk leadership roles at SunTrust Bank.

Compass gets $ 450M from SoftBank; real estate portal now valued at .2B (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

Less than a month after raising $100 million led by Fidelity, real-estate startup Compass is striking while the iron is hot. The company has now picked up an even bigger investment of $450 million, this time from the SoftBank Vision Fund, plus another $50M in secondary deals, to fill out a vision of its own: taking its real estate rental and sales platform global.

New York-based Compass is now valued at $2.2 billion post-money, up from $1.8 billion just four weeks ago, with $775 million raised to date.

Consumer Credit Market Expected to Remain Strong in 2018 Even in a Rising Rate Environment (NASDAQ), Rated: AAA

In spite of rising interest rates, the U.S. consumer credit market is poised to perform well in 2018, with well-managed delinquencies and continued wide access to credit across all products. TransUnion’s (NYSE:TRU2018 consumer credit forecast found that expected increases to GDP, personal income, total employment and the Housing Price Index, among other factors, will outweigh potential negatives such as increasing interest rates and slowing vehicle sales.

5-Year Trends: Serious Borrower-Level Delinquency Rates for Key Credit Products**
Credit Product Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015 Q4 2016 Q4 2017* Q4 2018* PCT Change in Last 5 Years (2013-2018)
Auto Loans  

1.23

%  

1.19

%  

1.27

%  

1.44

%  

1.43

%  

1.46

%  

+18.7 %

Credit Cards 1.60 % 1.48 % 1.59 % 1.79 % 1.86 % 1.96 % +22.50 %
Mortgage Loans 4.31 % 3.40 % 2.46 % 2.28 % 1.83 % 1.65 % (-61.7%)
Unsecured Personal Loans 4.01 % 3.73 % 3.62 % 3.83 % 3.37 % 3.36 % (-16.21%)
*Projections; **Serious mortgage, auto loan and personal loan delinquencies are defined here as those with payments 60 or more days past due. Serious credit card delinquencies are defined as those with payments 90 or more days past due. 

Inside the Mortgage Forecast

60-Day+ Mortgage Delinquency Rate and Average Mortgage Debt per Borrower
Q4 2009 Q4 2010 Q4 2011 Q4 2012 Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015 Q4 2016 Q4 2017* Q4 2018*
7.16% 6.65% 6.15% 5.38% 4.31% 3.40% 2.46% 2.28% 1.83% 1.65%
$190,324 $186,488 $185,594 $184,753 $187,228 $187,311 $189,914 $194,415 $200,935 $205,534
*Q4 2017 and Q4 2018 include projections

Inside the Credit Card Forecast

90-Day+ Credit Card Loan Delinquency Rate and Average Credit Card Loan Debt per Borrower
Q4 2009 Q4 2010 Q4 2011 Q4 2012 Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015 Q4 2016 Q4 2017* Q4 2018*
2.97% 2.17% 1.90% 1.75% 1.60% 1.48% 1.59% 1.79% 1.86% 1.96%
$6,043 $5,609 $5,485 $5,371 $5,324 $5,329 $5,337 $5,486 $5,626 $5,675
*Q4 2017 and Q4 2018 include projections

Inside the Auto Finance Forecast

60-Day+ Auto Loan Delinquency Rate and Average Auto Loan Debt per Borrower
Q4 2009 Q4 2010 Q4 2011 Q4 2012 Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015 Q4 2016 Q4 2017* Q4 2018*
1.59% 1.27% 1.11% 1.15% 1.23% 1.19% 1.27% 1.44% 1.43% 1.46%
$14,922 $15,031 $15,377 $16,061 $16,781 $17,456 $18,004 $18,391 $18,588 $18,694
*Q4 2017 and Q4 2018 include projections

Inside the Personal Loan Forecast

60-Day+ Personal Loan Delinquency Rate and Average Personal Loan Debt per Borrower
Q4 2009 Q4 2010 Q4 2011 Q4 2012 Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015 Q4 2016 Q4 2017* Q4 2018*
4.98% 4.78% 4.20% 3.93% 4.01% 3.73% 3.62% 3.83% 3.37% 3.36%
$6,650 $6,138 $5,895 $5,904 $6,247 $6,741 $7,360 $7,640 $8,066 $8,461
*Q4 2017 and Q4 2018 include projections

Why JPMorgan, Amex, HSBC are backing ‘isolation’ web browsing (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Often users are tricked by phishing emails that mimic a legitimate note from the boss or a senior corporate leader. And the links and sites can look secure. According to PhishLabs, nearly 25% of all phishing sites in the third quarter were hosted on HTTPS domains — almost double the rate of the previous quarter.

As part of their effort to deflect these attacks, some banks are turning to isolated browsing, or remote browsing, technology. Such systems force all internet activity to happen in a protected space on the cloud, preventing malicious code from reaching a company’s network. The technology is not brand new, but it is starting to gain traction as some large banks have finished their testing of it and are going public with their use of it.

JPMorgan Chase, American Express and HSBC announced Monday that they are leading a $40 million round of funding in the isolation-tech provider Menlo Security, bringing its total funding to $85 million.

Source: American Banker

 

Niche lending and fintech cross paths in Silicon Slopes (Utah Business), Rated: A

There are, however, entire demographics not serviced by tried-and-true lending institutions. Often, these folks’ credit score fails to meet a bank’s minimum standards. Or they need unconventional terms on an equipment or business loan. Whatever the reason, these transactionally marginalized sectors find themselves at the mercy of high-interest lenders. Or with no access to capital at all.

“There is a significant population of U.S. consumers who can’t get a loan,” notes Nate Heward, CFO at Acima Credit, a company that provides a point-of-sale credit platform.

Capitalism abhors a void

From the ubiquitous strip mall payday lender to the world of microfinance, a plethora of entrepreneurial solutions has emerged to get cash in the hands of would-be borrowers cut off from other avenues. These alternative lending practices have various degrees of reputability; a wide spectrum exists between the purely predatory lending shop, on the one hand, and the creative value-adding venture, on the other.

Scratching the consumer itch

In practical terms, Acima asks four simple questions of the would-be borrower:

  1. Do you have a three-month history with your current employer or source of income?
  2. Do you deposit $1,000 or more into your checking account each month?
  3. Have you had a checking account for at least 90 days?
  4. Is your checking account free from NSFs, excessive overdrafts and negative balances?

It’s all fintech

The companies profiled in this article may not be considered fintech firms per se; they’re not using technology to create a new financial paradigm a la Paypal, Indiegogo or Coinbase. They’re merely offering tried-and-true solutions to untapped consumer markets. Viewed from another angle, however, they’re fintech companies through and through. Acima, Progressive, et al are racing to deliver the most convenient financial solutions to the most people in their target customer base. And to do so, they’re relying on technology all the way.

Finance teams are ‘bottlenecking’ banks’ digital transformations (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Banks are working hard to beef up their technology and innovation teamsembrace agile developmentand move to acting like digital companies, but bank finance departments still do a lot of manual work and will start to hold their companies back from becoming digital entities. Finance teams are the control functions and scorekeepers of an organization, but if they can’t process data at the same speed as the rest of the organization they could slow down the speed of company mergers or product rollouts when competing transactions are already taking place.

Royal Business Bank Invests $ 500K in Lendistry Loan Fund, Providing Opportunity for Small Businesses in Underserved Communities (Digital Journal), Rated: A

Royal Business Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of RBB Bancorp, has made a $500K commitment to the Lendistry CRA Loan Fund I. Launched at a time when most banks were struggling, Royal Business Bank has been successfully serving the Asian-American community since 2008. While specializing in businesses engaging in trade with Pacific Rim countries, the bank also offers small business loans and residential mortgages.

First financial industry brief filed in CFPB English v. Trump case (Ballard Spahr Email), Rated: A

This afternoon (LT Editor: December 12,2017) the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), represented by Ballard Spahr’s Alan Kaplinsky, filed the first amicus brief from the financial industry in the English v. Trump litigation over who will succeed Richard Cordray as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. CUNA supports the President’s authority to appoint an acting director.

Lawsuit: Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney has ‘no more right’ to lead CFPB ‘than Santa’ (Washington Examiner), Rated: A

A new federal lawsuit says President Trump’s “plainly illegal” appointment of Mick Mulvaney to be acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau must be reversed in favor of Leandra English, who also claims the title.

Ilann Maazel, an attorney for the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, told the Washington Examiner that the credit union is suing because of the feared effect of Mulvaney policies.

The legal dispute centers on whether the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, which set up the CFPB, makes the deputy director the acting director if there’s a vacancy, or whether the older Federal Vacancies Reform Act gives the president that power.

US Bank sees success with Zelle (Business Insider), Rated: A

US Bank integrated Zelle — which has over 30 other banking partners like Bank of America (BofA), JPMorgan Chase, and Citi — last year. The bank saw a 104% increase in Zelle transactions in the past four months, and a 50% increase in customer enrollment in the P2P offering during that time.

Source: Business Insider

To compete with big tech firms, banks need big-tech talent (American Banker), Rated: A

Nine years ago, D.J. Patil and Jeff Hammerbacher coined the term “data scientist.” Four years later, Patil and Thomas Davenport deemed the profession “the sexiest job of the 21st century” in the pages of Harvard Business Review.

For banks, this imbalance is particularly challenging at a time when the industry is increasingly vying for the same talent the tech giants are aggressively courting. To stay competitive, the financial services industry must defend against a new cast of competitors by changing how it attracts, hires and develops data science talent.

 

BitGo Raises $ 42.5M in Series B Funding (Finsmes), Rated: A

BitGo, a Palo Alto, CA-based company which makes digital currencies usable for businesses in a regulated economy, raised $42.5m in Series B financing.

The company intends to use the funds to accelerate enabling businesses to integrate digital currencies into their existing financial systems.

AI 100: The Artificial Intelligence Startups Redefining Industries (CB Insights), Rated: A

Source: CB Insights

5 Promising Early-Stage Startups to Watch (Tech Startups), Rated: B

Throtle is a 2nd generation data onboarding company focused on deterministic matching, identity resolution and closed loop enablement, powering brands and companies with their omnichannel marketing efforts.

Affirm is a San Francisco-based financial service startup that offers installment loans to consumers at the point of sale. Its aim is to improve the banking industry to be more accountable and accessible to consumers.

Homebuying With Alternative Credit (Microbilt), Rated: B

Source: Microbilt
United Kingdom

Digital challenger Starling to hit profit in 2019 says founder Anne Boden as European expansion takes crucial step (City A.M.), Rated: AAA

Digital-only challenger bank Starling will “definitely” be in profit by the end of 2019, its chief executive told City A.M., as it announced a major step in its plans for European expansion.

The bank will today announce it has become a direct member of the single euro payments area (Sepa), which allows credit transfers, direct debit and card payments in euros across the whole of the EU.

Crowdfunding a mission to save capitalism from itself (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Jeff Lynn is on a mission to save capitalism from itself at a time when millions feel locked out, and unable to foresee themselves better off than their parents. His answer: to democratise capital.

That is one reason he founded Seedrs, an online platform through which individual investors can buy shares in high-growth companies at an early stage — a privilege once reserved for institutions and private equity funds. The other reason was to make money.

Seedrs, which along with Crowdcube dominates the UK market, has funded more than 540 deals, representing £280m of investment. Some were follow-on rounds, and in total about 400 companies have been funded. About 20-30 companies are live on the site at any time.

Crowdfunding by numbers

Critics say a big difference between crowdfunding and the stock market is liquidity — you cannot just sell your stake. But Seedrs has begun a secondary market and says it has had several exits already.

Free Agent, a Scottish maker of accounting software, floated in November 2016 at 87p. Its shares remain below the 100p Seedrs investors paid, though some sold when it hit 140p this year. Chapel Down, a vineyard, was already quoted on the Nex exchange (formerly ISDX) when it raised money at 28p a share in October 2014. It has been trading around three times that level.

China

SenseTime Raises US$ 410M Series B Financing (Finsmes), Rated: A

SenseTime, a Chinese artificial intelligence company focused on computer vision and deep learning technologies, raised US$410m series B1 B round of financing.

SenseTime has powered many industries such as finance, security, smart phone, mobile Internet, robotics, and automobile with core computer vision technologies including face recognition, video analysis, character recognition, and autonomous driving.

European Union

Linked Finance Launches New P2P Lending Pension Accounts (Better Business), Rated: AAA

Irish peer-to-peer lending company Linked Finance has launched a new type of account that allows holders of self-administered pensions to make P2P lending to Irish SMEs part of their pension investment portfolio.

With net returns of between 7 and 8.5 per cent, 24/7 online account access, complete control of lending activity, and monthly repayments of principal & interest, P2P lending is becoming an attractive asset class for a growing number of investors.

Mobile bank N26 partners with crowd-lending platform Younited Credit in France (Telecompaper), Rated: A

European start-up N26 has expanded the range of its banking services on offer in the French market via a partnership with Younited Credit, a fintech start-up specialising in short-term loans and crowd-lending.

The Advantages of #Peer-to-Peer Lending (EU Reporter), Rated: A

For many years, if someone wanted a loan, they would have to apply for one through a bank. Before they received that loan, the bank investigated their credit and decided what the rate of interest would be applicable.

However, there is another way to get a loan without worrying about a low credit score or high interest rates. This is peer-to-peer lending or P2P. Through peer-to-peer lending platforms, individuals can invest their money in other individuals, with an interest rate that the two groups have agreed is fair.

Hungarian fintech secures EUR 6 mln in Czech funding (Portfolio.hu), Rated: A

The investor will first acquire a 20% stake in Barion, which is active in online and mobile payments, for EUR 2 mln.

Finnish Crowdfunding & P2P Lending Platform Fellow Finance Receives Payment Institution Authorization (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Finnish crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platform Fellow Finance announced on Tuesday it received payment institution authorization from the Financial Supervisory Authority of Finland. The online lender claims it is the first funding platform to receive this type of authorization, which will notably enable Fellow Finance to provide new services to its consumer and corporate customers, to expand its services further in Europe and to utilize the new payment service directive (PSD2) in the development of Fellow Finance service.

With Norrsken House, ex-Klarna executive envisions a global network of co-working spaces focused on impact (TechCrunch), Rated: A

He launched the Norrsken Foundation later that year with about $20 million of his own money. By early 2017, the first fruits of that funding took shape with the opening of Norrsken House, a co-working space in Adalberth’s hometown of Stockholm dedicated to companies that are developing technologies that have a social impact.

Now, Adalberth has committed an additional $62 million of his own money to expand that vision. The goal, he said, is to eventually create a network of 25 impact-focused co-working spaces and foundation hubs around the globe in the next 10 years. The first Norrsken House has 112 companies in it and seven have received direct investment from the Norrsken Foundation’s fund (more on that in a bit).

International

ID Finance raises $ 8.5m via exchange-traded bonds to support growth (Finextra), Rated: AAA

ID Finance, the emerging markets fintech company, today announced successful completion of its first issuance of exchange-traded bonds.

The company raised $8.5m from the bond registered in Russia and listed on the Moscow Exchange. It was the first tranche of a $170m bond issuance programme that the company plans to support global expansion.
The bond, which was oversubscribed, has a maturity period of three years and a quarterly coupon payment frequency.

Banks, fintechs and a Brit royal to build green-lending blockchain (American Banker), Rated: A

Could fintech help the planet cope with climate change?

Some major players — Prince Charles; bankers from Barclays, Standard Chartered, and BNP Paribas; three fintechs; and professors from the University of Cambridge — all hope the answer is yes.

On Tuesday at the One Planet Summit in Paris, they are expected to announce they are developing blockchain technology that lets banks see which potential borrowers use environmentally sustainable practices and therefore are worthy of preferential lending terms. Such disclosures presumably would put pressure on companies to pollute less.

Australia

RateSetter’s Australian business hits $ 200m milestone (AltFi), Rated: AAA

RateSetter Australia has hit the AUD$200m mark in lending a little over three years removed from launching down under. The platform, which lends to both businesses and individuals, has doubled its lending volumes over the past six months.

Interestingly, 56 per cent of its investors withdrew money from bank savings accounts in order to divert them into the platform, while a further 17 per cent reallocated money from bank term deposits. The greatest proportion of the platform’s investors are millennials, at 58 per cent, although they invest the least amount of money on average of any age group at $9,454. Retirees (aged 65 and over) by contrast invest an average of $66,118.

India

Understanding the Data Protection White Paper Part XI: Establishing proper deterrent consequences for privacy violations (Tech 2), Rated: AAA

This article is Part 11 of a multi-part series explaining the recently issued white paper on data protection in India. You can read Part 1Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9 and Part 10.

Consider also the case of Sitesearch in the US, where the company bought payday loan applications and sold them to third parties, which included fraudsters, who used the data to steal more than $25 million from user accounts. Such careless buying and selling off of data should not be justifiable in the name of consent. While safeguards such as requiring that companies transfer data to only to companies with a comparable level of privacy provisions help, these must be backed up by huge penalties for violations.

For example, consider the Equifax data breach, the breach of a credit information company, leading to the loss of crucial data of over 143 million Americans. This breach was the result of a vulnerability in their web application software, a vulnerability that was discovered and for which a patch had been issued at least 2 months before the actual hack. The breach of this crucial data was thus the result of negligent, or non-implementation of the patch.

A landmark privacy judgment in India is the Canara Bank case, which struck down a provision in a law, which allowed the authorisation of ‘anyone’ to conduct investigations and demand the production and seizure of documents, including bank documents. Such a wide delegation of powers can allow any and everyone, even unscrupulous actors, permission to gain access to confidential data, which should not be allowed.

This case draws attention to an important aspect of data protection — it must be ensured that investigations, at all times, must be authorised, and by authorised personnel only. Any violations, or even exceeding of powers must be punishable.

Asia

8Percent leverages power of platform (Korea Herald), Rated: A

Companies that have used the 8Percent platform include Korea’s leading vehicle-sharing app operator Socar, solar energy firm S-Power and restaurant chains Power Plant and The Booth.

For example, a P2P investor into Socar was given a 1-hour free-driving offer each month for a year, until the loan matured. The offer was part of a return to about 600 retail investors, who lent a combined 1.3 billion won ($1.19 million) to the car-sharing firm in July 2015.

Vouchers for restaurants, such as Power Plant and The Booth, were given as rewards to investors.

According to a December estimate by 8Percent, three-fourths of investors, who offered an accumulated 97.7 billion won in loans, were from metropolitan areas — either Seoul or Gyeonggi Province — while those in their 20s or 30s accounted for over three-fourths of investors. The investors, without tax being deducted, are offered on average 9.78 percent interest for investments.

Some 65 percent of its borrowers — about 5,000 – had a credit rating between 4 and 6 on the scale of 1 to 10.

MENA

Crowdfunding real estate: a new reality booming? (Gulf News), Rated: AAA

Similarly, online REITs use online platforms and digital technology to enable wider access to REITs and quicker dissemination of REIT information. This allows mass participation and broader wealth distribution.

The ticket size to crowdfund a $1-billion airport is not exactly for everyone. However, a three-bedroom apartment in Mumbai, Manchester or Dubai Marina jointly owned by a hundred individuals sounds realistic. It also helps diversify risks for investors.

Smart Crowd is a crowdfunding platform, very different from an online REIT. The company believes it can enable anyone with Dh5,000 in savings to enter the Dubai property ladder. Its platform is awaiting final regulatory approval from the Dubai Financial Services.

Israel

MK Rachel Azaria threatens banks with P2P legislation (Globes.co.il), Rated: AAA

MK Rachel Azaria, chair of the Knesset Reforms Committee (officially known as the Special Committee on the Planning and Building Bill and the Maternity Leave and Parenting Bill) did not like the draft circular released by the Bank of Israel on regulating the relationship between the banks and the digital peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms on Sunday.

Azaria is now threatening to promote legislation that will regulate relations between the banks and the platforms, but this appears to be designed to pressure the Bank of Israel to publish new, more focused guidelines .

South America

Creditas Raises $ 50M in Series C Funding (Finsmes), Rated: A

Creditas, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based digital secured loan platform provider, raised $50m in Series C funding.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor