Tuesday February 27 2018, Daily News Digest

LendingClub

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi’s new CEO wants to get the company ready to go public. Revolut’s transaction volumes increased 700%. China to crackdown on non-bank lending. Blender raises $16M. Today’s main analysis: Stay away from LendingClub’s notes and shares. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Legacy banks, digital startups see opportunity to go beyond storing money. LendingBlock aims to mainstream […]

LendingClub

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United States

Anthony Noto’s Mission as SoFi CEO: Get the Startup Ready to Go Public (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Anthony Noto, the new chief executive officer of Social Finance Inc., is looking to steer the company out of crisis and get it in shape for a potential initial public offering.

The vision for SoFi outlined by Noto didn’t stray far from the one set by his predecessor Mike Cagney, who was ousted after accusations of sexual misconduct inside the company. Noto wants to create a broad online financial-service company, adding checking and savings accounts and wealth management to the main business of refinancing student loans.

SoFi’s new CEO says bank charter remains an option (American Banker), Rated: A

In an interview during his first day on the job, Anthony Noto did not promise any big course changes, though he did leave open the possibility that SoFi will revive its quest to get a banking license.

LendingClub’s Underwriting: Stay Away From The Notes And The Shares (Seeking Alpha), Rated: AAA

I bought my first batch of $25 notes on April 22, 2016. Now, it is important to note that LendingClub is very clear in its advertising that “99% of portfolios with 100+ Notes have seen positive returns.” So I suppose I added a level of risk by not having a portfolio worth at least $2500. But even still, returns can be .1% annualized and count as ‘positive’, but that is not an acceptable return by anyone’s standards given the risks involved in lending to strangers.

My Portfolio

To date, I have received $436 in payments, $96 of which is interest. I have lost $100 on notes that have charged-off, meaning that there is zero expectation of future payment and LendingClub collectors have stopped attempting to reach the borrower. I also have a note that is late, and based on how things have gone so far, I fully expect that to charge-off too and will lose the $11.50 still owed. In short, I have already lost almost 20% of my initial investment, crossing my fingers that none of the 14 notes I still have that are current don’t enter a late status with more than a year to go before the oldest reaches full term. My results have been dismal.

Source: Seeking Alpha

LendingClub’s ratings are A-G, with A being the safest. As you can see, the vast majority of my portfolio sits in A-C, with one E and one G note (LendingClub did away with F and G notes last year).

Source: Seeking Alpha

Legacy Banks and Digital Startups See a Big Opportunity to Move Beyond Simply Storing Money (AdWeek), Rated: AAA

Change can be hard for the financial industry, which is dominated by decades of processes and internal systems. But with a slew of upstarts making their way into the trillion-dollar industry, the old guard is finding innovative ways to beat these challenger brands at their own game.

“A lot of these companies have what we call ‘technical debt’—very expensive mainframe systems that are very difficult to change, run [and are] expensive and obviously that limits their ability to innovate,” said Oliwia Berdak, principal analyst at Forrester Research. “The biggest challenge is often culture … In banks the attitude has always been to perfect [products] before it’s unleashed on customers and [technology] is a big change where you’re working with a certain degree of uncertainty and risk.”

According to data collected by Accenture, 90 percent of banking executives said that their companies needed to “innovate at an increasingly rapid pace just to remain competitive,” but only 47.8 percent say that they are actually “investing comprehensively” in digital.

Another challenge: For all the talk about slick mobile banking apps and services, consumers—gasp—still like going to physical banks to manage financial decisions. Eighty-seven percent of customers enjoy going to a physical bank and prefer to interact with a human while there, per Accenture.

Source: AdWeek

Retail Banks Are Missing Opportunities to Give Digital Financial Advice (Wealth Management), Rated: A

Most customers who received face-to-face financial advice from their retail bank felt their needs were completely met (58 percent), but satisfaction drops when advice is delivered by other means, according to J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Retail Banking Sales Practices & Advice Study. Only 45 percent of customers who received digital advice through their bank’s website or mobile app felt their needs were met and only 33 percent felt their needs were met via email.
The majority of customers surveyed for the study (58 percent) said they want to receive advice through their bank’s website and mobile app, but only 12 percent said they received advice in that manner.

Why neobanks need to find a niche offering (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Customers still aren’t excited about digital-only banks. Less than 10 percent of Americans looking to open a checking account would consider doing so at a digital bank, according to a new report by Cornerstone Advisors.

For example, San Francisco-based neobank Chime’s customers are mostly middle-income millennials, with a median age of 29 and incomes between $45,000 to $65,000. Chime says it caters to a gap in the market for younger customers who felt larger institutions weren’t meeting their needs.

Neobanks should focus on a “clear, differentiated value proposition” for the customer, but too many of them are just adding a little technology to a customer experience that’s not terribly different from what the big banks offer, said Satya Patel, a partner at Homebrew, a seed-stage venture capital firm based in San Francisco and an investor in Chime.

How Capital One is rethinking its approach to products (Tearsheet), Rated: A

For the past year, Capital One has been rethinking how it can get out of the too-common approach of “innovating” by layering new technology on top of an old product — it’s realized it needs to entirely reconsider the customer’s interaction with it.

Are banks too blasé about mobile security? (American Banker), Rated: B

About a third of companies have knowingly sacrificed security for expediency or business performance, according to a newly published study, and researchers said that bankers’ responses were consistent with the group as a whole, which included health care and other sectors.

Bringing Credit Invisibles Into Focus with Alternative Financial Data (LendIt), Rated: A

Ten percent of the U.S. adult population do not have a credit score or history with any of the big three credit bureaus.

That’s 1 in 10, or roughly 26 million people who are considered “credit invisible.”

But the financial underserved market spends $173 billion in fees and interest to use $1.94 trillion in financial services, according to the 2017 Center for Financial services Innovation study.

There are four basic categories of people who fall under the credit invisibles umbrella:

  • Millennials: People between 18– 34 and have not yet borrowed money or gotten a credit card.
  • Low-Income: People who don’t make enough money to gain access to credit.
  • Recent immigrants: People who recently moved to the U.S. but haven’t established credit.
  • Mass-affluent: People who earn more than $100,000 per year and pay with cash instead of credit.

Mobile Payments In US To Reach $ 3 Trillion Within Two Years (Payment Week), Rated: A

in 2015, mobile payments in the US represented $550 billion. That’s good by most any standard, but the growth expected is staggering. By 2020, that number is projected to hit $2.8 trillion. That represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39.1 percent, which is far beyond most any but the most unlikely investments.

China represents $5.5 trillion in mobile payments use as of right now, a combination of various societal factors like a comparative eschewing of the personal computer in favor of the mobile device, as well as a near-ubiquity of locations that accept the system.

BREAKFORM | RE Closes a Small Lot Subdivision Development in Record Time Via Crowdfunding (PRWeb), Rated: A

BREAKFORM | RE closed its latest small lot subdivision development project in the prime West Hollywood adjacent neighborhood in record time using Equity Multiple, one of the leading real estate crowdfunding platforms. The offering was 145% subscribed in 72 hours.

Credible Appoints Chris Bishko as Chief Financial Officer (BusinessWire), Rated: B

Credible, the consumer finance marketplace that helps consumers save money and make smarter financial decisions, today announced that it has appointed Chris Bishko as chief financial officer. Mr. Bishko will report to Credible’s founder and CEO Stephen Dash.

New York Lawmakers Open to Revisiting the BitLicense (CoinDesk), Rated: B

A bill to reform the regulation could be introduced “very soon,” State Senator David Carlucci told CoinDesk.

But what is likely to remain is the animosity toward the BitLicense, as evidenced by the small but dedicated protest gathering outside just before the roundtable began, not to mention the grievances aired by the two dozen or so attendees.

United Kingdom

Transaction volumes increase 700pc at fintech firm Revolut (Independent.ie), Rated: AAA

Fintech start-up Revolut has seen its monthly transaction volume increase by over 700pc in the last 12 months to $1.5bn (€1.2bn).

Lendingblock Aims to Popularize Crypto Lending in a Secure and Transparent Way (cryptovest), Rated: AAA

Lendingblock aims to become the first to build a marketplace where cryptocurrency lenders meet borrowers, and can exchange their assets across blockchains. The platform aims to bring securities lending to the crypto economy. The current estimates of the market paint a picture of enormous potential for development: in 2017, $2 trillion of assets on loan in traditional securities lending brought approximately $4 billion in revenue. Replicating this in crypto could generate up to $300 million within 3 years as the project notes in its white paper.

 

Britain’s big banks play catch up with fintech with new apps (Reuters), Rated: A

British retail banks are poised to introduce money management apps to compete with those already launched by financial technology start-ups, betting their trusted brands, broad client base and deep pockets will help them make up lost ground.

NatWest sets up network of fintech accelerator hubs (Finextra), Rated: B

The UK’s NatWest is launching four specialist fintech accelerators based in its Bristol, Edinburgh, London and Manchester sites.

China

Screws to tighten further on non-bank lending (The Standard), Rated: AAA

China will tighten its crackdown on illegal fundraising to fend off financial risks, according to an inter-agency meeting.

European Union

European Fintech Alliance raises bank API fears (Finextra), Rated: A

The European Fintech Alliance has fired another broadside in its tussle with the financial services establishment over PSD2, raising fears that banks will develop substandard APIs as a way to fend off competition.

Specifically, the alliance of 74 fintechs, challenger banks and fintech associations is unhappy that the Regulatory Technical Standards on strong customer authentication and common and secure communication under PSD2 allow banks the possibility to be exempted by their National Competent Authority from having to accommodate licensed Third Party Payment Services Providers (TPPs) to access accounts via the so called fallback option in case of malfunction of the API.

International

Marketplace lenders worldwide raised nearly bn last year (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

THE GLOBAL marketplace lending sector saw nearly $9bn (£6.45bn) invested across 233 deals last year, marking a new funding record for the industry.

Consultancy firm Fintech Global, who compiled the data, found that equity investment in the sector rebounded to $8.9bn last year after a slowdown in 2016. The total was boosted by the top 10 deals, which raised a combined $4.4bn.

The second half of the year was strongest for funding, with the largest deal of the year closing in the fourth quarter when Shanghai-based peer-to-peer lender Lufax raised $1.2bn.

Online lender ID Finance bolsters security with beahvioural biometrics (Finextra), Rated: A

ID Finance, the emerging markets fintech company, is incorporating behavioural biometrics into its AI-based fraud scoring engine to eliminate fraud, boost loan approvals and reduce the incidence of non-performing loans.

The behavioural biometrics system studies the unique typing and behavioural patterns users display during the loan application process to capture a range of patterns. These include mouse movements, to how fingers interact with a keyboard. The biometrics record patterns such typing speed, typos, flight time between keys, keystroke depressions, as well as the patterns from actual input.

Celsius: Get Dollars When You Need Them or Get Paid to HODL (cryptovest), Rated: A

The global financial system is wobbling. Banks and other traditional financial institutions have so far managed to survive the crisis resulting entirely from their errors, greed, and arrogance. Now, many believe, they won’t live through the crypto revolution unless they embrace it.

Meet the Celsius Wallet – a combination of a digital wallet and a peer-to-peer lending platform where members can earn passive interest on their crypto holdings and use them as collateral to get loans in fiat currencies.

Australia

‘Essential’ brokers advising Xinja on mortgage strategy (TheAdviser), Rated: A

The chief executive of banking disruptor Xinja has revealed that mortgage brokers have been involved in the group’s home loan plans and will be “essential” to its strategy.

The crowdfunded online lender recently received an Australian credit license (ACL) from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and plans to utilise the broker channel to facilitate its digital home loan approval process.

Mortgage franchise sees decline in loan settlement (AustralianBroker), Rated: A

Mortgage franchise Yellow Brick Road posted a 2% decline to $7.74bn in loan settlement volume in the first half of FY18 over the previous period as it reduced its number of branches.

Overall, the company delivered 85% growth in profitability, with net profit before tax increasing to $0.53m in the first half of FY18 over the same period of FY17. It cited higher revenue – up by 5% – and lower costs – down by 4% – as drivers of its result.

The company also expects the addition of a small business lending product through its partner Prospa to provide additional revenue opportunities for its network and support growth in commercial lending.

India

P2P platforms as NBFCs gaining popularity in small cities, but there’s a catch (Financial Express), Rated: AAA

P Kanwal is from Punjab’s Bhatinda. He has a furniture business which mainly deals in cash, because of which it was difficult for him to get a secured loan from the formal banking system. For him, a Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform came as a rescue, which got him an unsecured loan for his kid’s education and expanding his business.

This not just the story of Mr Kanwal, but many more small entrepreneurs who are operating their businesses in Tier-1, Tier-2 cities and far-flung areas, some not even on Google map, who are getting financial support through P2P lending.

The pattern that emerges currently from the P2P lending is that borrowers from tier-2 and tier-3 cities comprised 20% and 17% of the total number of loans disbursed through the platform. The new-to-credit borrowers comprise 35% of fulfilled borrowers, while those with poor credit ratings accounted for 10% of the overall number.

MENA

Peer-to-Peer Lending Startup Blender Raises Million in Debt Financing and Equity (CTech), Rated: AAA

Israel-based peer-to-peer lending startup Blender P2P Israel Ltd. has raised $16 million in equity and debt financing, the company announced Monday.

Latin America

Airfox Launches Mobile App in Brazil, Giving Unbanked Access to Financial Services (PRWeb), Rated: A

Airfox, a mobile financial services company, today launched its free Android app in Brazil, giving millions of people unprecedented access to much-needed financing solutions.

More than 44 percent of Brazil’s population is unbanked, another 30-44 percent lack sufficient access to mainstream financial services, and those with credit cards face interest rates upwards of 200 percent (sources: World Bank, Bloomberg).

Canada

Big banks strive to give better digital financial advice (BNN), Rated: AAA

CTV’s Chief Financial Commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid discusses the Canadian banks’ quest to deliver quality online financial advice in an effort to catch up with the digital age.

Africa

PayJoy Partners With Vodacom & CBA to Bring Smartphone Financing to Tanzania (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

PayJoy, a San Francisco fintech startup, announced this week it has teamed up with Vodacom and CBA to bring smartphone financing to the country of Tanzania.

PayJoy Teams Up With Allied Mobile to Bring More Smartphones to Africans (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

PayJoy, a San Francisco fintech startup, announced on Friday it has teamed up with mobile distributor Allied Mobile to bring affordable smartphone payment plans to markets across the continent of Africa. According to the duo, Allied Mobile will use PayJoy Checkout, an instant paperless finance system for customers without access to formal credit, and the patented PayJoy Lock which enables “pay-as-you-go” access to the phone. 

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

The Israel Alternative Lending Market

online alternative finance volume Israel

Alternative lending has had a profound effect on consumer and small business lending around the world. The evolution and success of P2P lending can be gauged from the fact that the market had an exponential growth in 2015, having a value of $26.16 billion. It grew to almost $50 billion in 2016-17. The market is […]

online alternative finance volume Israel

Alternative lending has had a profound effect on consumer and small business lending around the world. The evolution and success of P2P lending can be gauged from the fact that the market had an exponential growth in 2015, having a value of $26.16 billion. It grew to almost $50 billion in 2016-17. The market is estimated to be worth $897.85 billion by the year 2024, and by 2025, the value is anticipated to reach $1 trillion. The alt-lending market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 48.2% between 2016 and 2024.

The Middle East and Israel

In 2015, a total of $158.8 million were raised in the online alternative fund market of Middle East. Equity-based crowdfunding dominated the market followed by reward-based crowdfunding and peer-to-peer business lending. Israel is the market leader as far as regional markets are concerned, which, from 2013-2015, accounted for between 75%-80% of total market activity while UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine accounted for the remaining activity.

Source: Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance

Israel’s Alternative Lending Market

The Israeli fintech industry is relatively nascent, but the country has an advantage of human capital across various fields. Given Israel’s innovative and well- managed financial sector, it is the market leader in the Middle East as far as alternative lending is concerned. In 2017, transaction value in the Israeli marketplace lending segment amounts to US$88 million.

Source: Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance

P2P lenders in Israel

  • Blender – Founded by Gal Aviv in 2014, Blender is an online P2P lending platform that provides multi-continental and cross-border lending services in developing, emerging, and western-world countries. It has been established with a view to providing a quick, flexible, and hassle-free credit solution as compared to the expensive loans given by banks and credit card companies. To date, it has raised $5 million in various rounds of funding. As per the company’s claims, within eight months of its launch, it provided loans amounting to NIS10 million (1 NIS=0.29 USD) with an average loan amount of NIS15000 – 20000. The average annual interest rate is 6%.
  • Tarya – Tarya is one of the largest Israeli P2P lending platforms and was started in 2014 by Eyal Elhayany. It has designed a digital platform where people can lend directly to other people, thus avoiding any middleman. The company’s rate of interest for borrowers ranges from 3.5%-8.0% depending upon the borrower’s credit score. Loan origination fees range between 0.9% – 5.5% and depend on both the credit rank and loan term. Lenders pay a fee of 1.0% on returns whereas lenders investing in diversified and micro-financed portfolios averaged between 5%-6% returns after fees. It has raised $2.6 million in funds since its inception.
  • eloan – eloan.co.il is a peer-to-peer lending platform founded in 2012 by Yigal Alkaslasy and Yoram Gavish. It allows private individuals to receive loans of up to NIS 47,500 for a period of up to five years. Each lender is entitled to lend up to NIS 1,000. Almost 84 Million NIS (approx $25 Million) has been financed by an estimated 4000 investors for over 4200 borrowers.

Regulatory reforms

Until recently, P2P lending platforms were not governed or supervised by any regulatory body in Israel. Due to no regulatory oversight, these platforms were able to scale their models. But the absence of regulatory supervision always concerns investors about the delinquencies and overall safety of funds on such platforms. This led Knesset, the unicameral national legislature of Israel, to pass laws regulating the activities of P2P platforms.

The new amendment imposes a licensing obligation on operators of P2P lending platforms and subjects the platforms to supervision by the Supervisor of Regulated Financial Services. The P2P lending segment will also be divided into two licensing categories: A basic license for a limited volume of activity, and an expanded license for a material volume of activity.

Within the scope of the law, and in order to also enable small businesses to obtain loans being offered via P2P lending platforms, the Securities Law was also amended so that companies can seek and obtain a loan of up to NIS 1 million through P2P platforms provided they are not deemed reporting corporations.

A platform licensee constitutes an operating entity that must perform particular actions vis-à-vis borrowers and for the lenders in the system, such as debt collection. With the objectives of ensuring proper management and protection of the lenders’ funds being transferred, the amendment clarifies that a licensee will be required to manage a trust account for the funds of lenders and borrowers being transferred to it. A platform licensee will be allowed to charge commissions from both lenders and borrowers for the service it is providing, out of the funds being managed in the trust account.

The Supervisor is authorized to issue various instructions to platforms relating to their ability to offer loans, considering the potential conflict of interests that might arise between the licensee and the lenders. The Supervisor is also authorized to prescribe rules in relation to various operational concerns.

With the objective of providing optimal environmental conditions for growth to P2P lending platforms, the banks and the credit companies owned by them are prohibited from entering the P2P lending segment for three years after the inception date of the law.

Conclusion

Although the Israeli alternative lending market is in its nascent stage, the country’s tradition of investing in and fostering innovation and technology will certainly make it an important market in the region. The new laws help in pushing the $318 billion dollar economy in to the future of lending.

Read more about the alternative finance market in Africa and the Middle East, including Israel, here.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Wednesday March 15 2017, Daily News Digest

funding circle

News Comments Today’s main news: Enter the bear market in bonds? D+H launches cloud-based small biz lending platform for banks. Over 50K investors register with RateSetter. Revolut partners with Lending Works to offer cut-price instant credit. Blender procures Electric Money Institution license. Blackmoon partners with ID Finance. Today’s main analysis: Fundbox study reveals impact of late SMB payments. The British Business Bank […]

funding circle

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

MENA

News Summary

United States

Enter the Bear Market in Bonds? (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Stocks and bonds struggled while the dollar climbed Tuesday.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note on Monday rose to 2.609%, the highest since September 2014. That’s up from 1.867% on Election Day, and nearly double the all-time low of 1.366% hit last July.

Bill Gross, the famed bond investor, underlined the 2.6% yield in January as the pivot point that will usher in the long-anticipated bear market in bonds. Mr. Gross warned that, should yields march above that threshold, it would indicate a “secular bear market has begun.” A break above 2.6%, he observed in chartist vernacular, would break a downward trend line that has been in place for the past three decades.

 

Fundbox Study Reveals Impact of Late SMB Payments (Fundbox Email), Rated: AAA

Late and unpaid payments cripple small businesses (SMBs) and it’s something they have to deal with on a daily basis. In fact, 64% of SMBs are affected by late payments on open invoices. I would like to give you an early look at a new Fundbox study, which dug deeper to understand the microeconomic impact that takes place when a business is paid late.

Key findings include:

  • Hiring freeze – 23% can’t hire new employees
  • Owner pay cuts – 79% of SMB owners said they can’t pay themselves
  • New equipment gets the squeeze – 23% can’t invest in new equipment
  • Can’t advertise – 20% can’t spend on marketing efforts
  • Reduced Payroll – 18% hold back on pay increases or bonuses for employees
  • Inventory freeze – 17% can’t build up inventory

If paid on time, Fundbox estimates that these SMBs across the U.S. could hire an additional 2.1 million employees, which would reduce unemployment by 27%.

Fundbox helps SMBs overcome cash flow gaps by funding outstanding invoices. Attached please find the infographic. Would you like to also see the release? I can also connect you with Prashant Fuloria, Chief Product Officer at Fundbox who can discuss the critical need for services that solve cash flow gaps.

 

D+H Launches Cloud-Based Small Business Lending Technology (D+H Email), Rated: AAA

DH Corporation (TSX: DH) (“D+H”), a leading provider of technology solutions to financial institutions globally, today launched Total Lending™ Small Business, a new digital, mobile-first lending solution designed to boost profitability of financial institutions and improve the lending experience for small business owners across the United States. Now, banks and credit unions can deploy an intuitive, online loan application for small businesses, enabling more application throughput than the traditional paper-based branch model.

Total Lending™ Small Business is designed to empower financial institutions to build a more profitable small business loan portfolio. By bringing the loan process online, banks will benefit from reduced overhead and greater scale. An improved application process will also attract more loan requests from new and existing customers who prefer the convenience of the online or mobile experience.

New Data Shows C&I Lending Can Bring Higher Profitability to Community Banks in 2017 (PayNet Email), Rated: AAA

At $4.4 trillion in trade payables, term loans, and working capital loans, private-company credit represents one of the largest credit markets in the U.S. Today, C&I lending represents about 25% of all loans, down from over 40% in 1950. According to a new study by PayNet, Inc. banks can look to higher profitability in 2017 in their core franchise credit C&I business.

PayNet’s study shows that between 2008 and 2016, banks could have achieved $2.6 billion in additional net income, at a higher risk-adjusted return, had they maintained their share of C&I lending.

Banks can find financial technology useful to reduce the time to underwrite a loan from 50 hours to just over 2 hours. In addition, banks can further utilize technology to lower the cost of loan review by 40% while at the same time increasing the frequency of the loan review cycle from once per year to four times per year for the highest risk accounts.

‘Car vending machine’ firm Carvana hires banks for IPO (Reuters), Rated: A

U.S. used-auto retailer Carvana LLC, which allows customers to pick up cars they buy on the internet from vending machine-like towers, has tapped investment banks for an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter.

Carvana has hired Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) and Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) to lead its IPO, the people said this week.

Carvana sells cars through its website and operates automated towers that store cars in U.S. cities such as Austin and Dallas in Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee.

This Insurance Startup Wants to Cover Tomorrow’s Self-Driving Cars (Backchannel), Rated: A

Now an auto insurance startup called Root is taking that conclusion to the bank, so to speak. It believes that the investigation, as well as its own studies on the matter, make a strong case that Teslas with Autopilot are safer than just plain humans. So confident is Root about this that, starting today, it is charging Tesla drivers lower fees if they turn on and use the controversial Autopilot feature.

The Tesla discount is a natural outgrowth of Root’s business model, which is based on using technology to identify safe drivers and offer them low rates. If you suck at driving, you don’t get a policy. Before getting coverage, customers must submit to a two-to-three-week testing period, downloading the Root app to their phones, which will use the sensors in the device to track location, speed, acceleration, and whether they are weaving recklessly between lanes at 2 a.m. after leaving a taproom. Or whether they are using the actual phone measuring their driving skills to text while in motion. This actually happens, says Timm, because after a few days drivers forget that they are being monitored and revert to bad habits.

According to Timm, about 70 percent of those who undergo this process will be deemed safe drivers, whereupon the company will offer them a low rate, with the entire transaction done on the phone. (Even your proof-of-insurance card will be stored on the device.) The other 30 percent have to get insurance from Root’s competitors.

One might think this will be a boon for insurers, who will see claims drop dramatically. Timm argues otherwise: The paucity of accidents and claims will drop the real cost of insurance so low that the established companies, stuck with high overheads, won’t be able to cut their prices enough. They will thus be subject to Uber-level disruption from newcomers who will be able to charge fees as low as $30 every six months.

Root has not contacted Tesla directly, but says that even without the car manufacturer’s help, the Root app can figure out when a Tesla owner is using Autopilot. Timm hopes that in the future, the company can work directly with Tesla to get better data.

SmartBiz Loans Adds Former SBA Head of Capital Access to Board of Directors (SmartBiz Loans Email), Rated: B

SmartBiz Loans, the first SBA marketplace and bank-enabling technology platform, today announced the addition of Ann Marie Mehlum to the company’s board of directors, a former Small Business Association (SBA) associate administrator and seasoned banking industry veteran, with more than 30 years’ experience.

As former associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Capital Access, Mehlum directed the government agency’s flagship credit programs including the 7(a) general business loan guarantee program, the 504 program for real estate and long term asset financing, and the microloan programs, with a combined portfolio of more than $100 billion. The SBA is a federal agency that encourages lenders, typically banks, to originate loans to small businesses by providing a guarantee for these loans.

SmartBiz Loans’ SBA marketplace automatically connects small business owners with the right bank which helps to increase loan application approval rates and speed. SmartBiz®bank partners utilize the SmartBiz software platform to increase their efficiency in processing SBA loans by up to 7­0 percent. SBA loans are widely considered the best type of loan for many small businesses because of their low rates and long repayment terms.

Fintech firm relocating to Orlando and creating high-wage jobs (MRINetwork), Rated: B

Financial tech firm Finexio is moving its hub from Silicon Valley to Orlando – a move that will open up 10 high-wage jobs, the Orlando Business Journals reported. The startup, which offers a business-to-business commercial payment network, recently decided that the relocation is necessary in order to support its growth.

The company chose Orlando because of its growing reputation as an innovative city, drawing in professionals particularly in the financial technology industry. This move echoes that of other industry giants such as Deloitte and KPMG, which have ramped hiring in Central Florida.

At its new Orlando-based location, Finexio will be looking to hire professionals to work in its corporate headquarters and engineering department.

According to the Orlando Economic Partnership, another reason Finexio chose Orlando is because of the resources available in the area for hiring software engineers. For example, the University of Central Florida is located nearby, which offers a top-tier engineering school.

United Kingdom

Over 50,000 investors register with RateSetter (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending platform RateSetter has announced it now has over 50,000 investors.

This was just one of a number of milestones that RateSetter has recently reached, including collecting £1bn of repayments, investors having now earned more than £60m in total interest and more than £1.75bn of loans being delivered to borrowers across the UK.

Revolut partners with P2P lender to offer customers cut-price instant credit (Finextra), Rated: AAA

Revolut has today announced a partnership with peer-to-peer (P2P) loan firm Lending Works to provide instant credit at half the cost of UK banks.

In just two minutes, Revolut customers can now apply for credit from anywhere in the world via their smartphone and receive funds instantly to their Revolut account.
This process cuts out the banks entirely, meaning that Revolut customers are charged just £52 on average to borrow £1,000 over a 12 month period, with a representative APR of 9.9%. In contrast, a recent survey of five major UK banks, whose personal loans are notoriously expensive with time-consuming application processes, showed that consumers are charged £120 on average to borrow the same amount over a 12 month period, with a representative APR of 23.8%*. Credit card rates are also sky-high, reaching a record average purchasing rate of 21.6 per cent APR in March 2016 (Source: moneyfacts).
The new credit features mean Revolut is the first company to approve and pay out P2P loans instantly.
The Revolut app currently offers UK users credit from as little as £500 to a maximum of £5,000, and users can adjust their repayment period between 12 and 60 months. In contrast to many banks, there are no fees to repay the loan early.

The British Business Bank invests £135m in P2P platforms (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: AAA

Since it was established in November 2014, the British Business Bank has invested £135m in peer-to-peer platforms.
Following a freedom of information request submitted by Bridging & Commercial, it was also discovered that in the calendar year 2016, £11.5m was drawn down for participation in loans generated by peer-to-peer lending platforms.

Investment Platform CapitalRise Launches Innovative Finance ISA For Residential Property (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

CapitalRise, a London-based property investment platform, announced on Monday it is launching an Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) wrapper for residential property. According to the platform, the new IFISA allows savers to invest a minimum of £1,000 and up to £15,240 in the current tax year (rising to £20,000 in the 2017-2018 tax year) in residential property, targeting tax-free returns between 10-14% per annum.

Digging into the data: How investor returns change over time (Funding Circle), Rated: A

We used five full years of historical loan performance data to simulate how the returns in a typical investor’s portfolio can change over time. In our example, an investor lent £10,000 across all the loans originated through Funding Circle in 2012. Each month, the loan repayments and interest received were lent to new borrowers.

The below chart shows the annualised return, after fees and bad debt but before tax, earned by the example investor over a five year investment period.

For the first few months the investor’s annualised return is at its highest, at approximately 7.8% after the 1% annual servicing fee is deducted. This is because the investor has typically yet to experience any borrowers being unable to repay their loans.

Bad debts generally start to occur approximately six months after the loans are made. This is reflected in the chart above, where our example investor’s return starts to dip after six months. This trend then naturally decreases over time as the rate at which businesses run into difficulties tends to decrease.

After 18 months the example investor’s return stabilises, then generally increases as recovery payments start to arrive. As of 1st February 2017, 44% of the value of loans defaulted between 2010 and 2014 has been recovered. This trend typically continues for the rest of the investment period, with the example investor ending the five year investment period having earned an annualised return of 6.5% after fees and bad debt.

London Independent Financial Advisor launches robo advice for clients (AltFi), Rated: A

A London-based financial advisor has launched a robo advice like service for its clients. FOL Wealth, began offering its automated service at the end of February to give customers access to low-cost advice.

The wealth manager charges an annual fee of 0.90 per cent with a minimum investment of £1,000.

Nicola Horlick: Why P2P can prove a haven in stormy times (Professional Adviser), Rated: A

Events abroad meanwhile are dominated by what is happening in the US, where the volatility of change and the frequency of significant news events – what journalists call ‘story burn’ – are increasingly alarming.

In the case of Money&Co, the company I founded and of which I am CEO, we bring individuals looking for a good return on capital together with carefully vetted, well-established and profitable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking funds for growth. We have also recently introduced property lending.

As a P2P business lender, Money&Co does what the banks cannot or will not do – we fund SMEs and we provide a gross yield of nearly 9% a year to the lenders, who extend credit via our platform.

To be fair, banks have baggage we do not – for example, headcount, bonus culture and general institutional sclerosis.

The IFISA was launched almost a year ago, but most P2P lending platforms are still unable to offer it, as they require full Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approval in order to do so. Money&Co has full FCA approval and so we can now offer the IFISA.

Money&Co’s loan book is currently generating an average gross yield of 8.95%. Investors can choose to either roll up the interest in their ISA account or pay the interest out monthly. We take a fee of 1% a year and so the net yield is 7.95%.

We will also be offering asset-backed loans for inclusion in the IFISA.  They will yield slightly less – at around 7% a year net of fees – but I would expect them to be particularly popular with ISA investors.

Fintech firm launches fund due diligence platform (Citywire), Rated: B

Fintech firm Door has launched a digital platform to streamline the fund due diligence process between fund investors and asset managers.

The information will be used by professional fund investors when monitoring and screening funds.

Door is registering fund investor users in groups of 100.

For asset managers, Door is used to reduce the repetitive nature of responding to due diligence requests and help to improve their responsiveness to client requests.

Earn 7% lending cash to strangers: Peer-to-peer trounces the pitiful rates being offered by banks… but there are risks (This Is Money), Rated: B

Yet while the average rate on an easy-access account stands at just 0.37 per cent, the rates on so-called peer-to-peer lending range from 2.6 per cent to 7.2 per cent.

Zopa was the first UK firm to set up in 2005 and now has 75,000 investors on its books.

It was swiftly followed by RateSetter and Funding Circle, which together with Zopa now account for two-thirds of the UK’s peer-to-peer market.

RateSetter alone lent £668 million to individuals and businesses across the UK last year.

It offers three accounts. There is a rolling account — which means your money is not tied in for any length of time — paying 2.6 per cent, a one-year fix at 3 per cent and a five-year deal at 4.8 per cent.

Zopa has three deals on offer, paying 2.9 per cent, 3.7 per cent or 6.1 per cent.

European Union

Blender Procures Electronic Money Institution License in EU (Finance Magnates), Rated: AAA

Blender, an international consumer e-lending platform, has garnered a new license to operate as a financial institution in the European Union – the license recognizes Blender as an E-Money Institution, which includes a range of banking activities for the group, per a company statement.

In particular, Blender can now grant loans, transfer funds between customers and service the platform to other companies. Moreover, the licensing agreement also allows for the execution of most banking activities, except leveraging deposits.

Online Lender Blackmoon Partners with ID Finance to Offer Loans to Investors (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

ID Finance has integrated with Blackmoon and is now executing investment transactions via the Russian online lending platform. ID Finance is a data science, credit scoring and “nonbank digital lending as an application” provider. ID Finance has is currently operating in Russia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Poland, Spain and Brazil.

Under the arrangement, loans are screened and scored by ID Finance’s advanced risk assessment system. Blackmoon investors may benefit from interest rates higher than traditional investment tools. If the issued loans meet the strategies of investors that deal with Blackmoon, the system registers the fact of sale, the investor’s funds are transferred to the creditor and the transaction is deemed closed. ID Finance registers the profit by the securitised portfolio and continues servicing borrowers who are redeeming the loans now to the benefit of Blackmoon investors. In this case, Blackmoon ensures execution of transactions, analysis, accounting and investment process management for the investor and lender.

Intel buys Mobileye for .3 billion, fintech funding and acquisitions in Europe, and the EDF Pulse Awards (Tech.eu), Rated: A

On this episode of the Tech.eu podcast, we talk about European fintech funding rounds and an acquisition, Intel’s purchase of Israel’s Mobileye and more.

Listen to the podcast here.

MENA

10 FinTech Firms to Watch in 2017 and Beyond (Tech Financials), Rated: A

These include AimBrain, which has developed a multi-modal mobile biometric authentication platform.

Another two on the watch list are EZMCOM, a developer of a technology that identifies users with their passphrase, voice modulations and facial authentication, with advanced liveness detection features such as movement of lips and blinking of eye, and Crowd Valley, a technology platform that can create, operate and manage online investing or a lending marketplace.

Qumram made their regional debut at Meftech 2017 when showcasing technology that ensures compliance, aids fraud detection and improves customer experience by recording, analysing and replaying every digital interaction – on web, social and mobile.

The Personal Financial Management innovation of Strands is also on display, while White Label Crowdfunding won the delegates over with their online marketplace lending solution that connects credit demand and supply in a transparent and efficient way.

Software company Leveris was also a highlight with their solution that promises to bypass the ‘spaghetti junction’ of IT legacy architecture with a modular banking-as-a-platform (BaaP) solution.

The BlinkID real-time ID scanner by MicroBlink was another star of the show. And making up the impressive list is a platform developed by Agreement Express that allows financial institutions to on-board new clients without requiring paper or ink signatures; and a dynamic Enterprise Planning Platform for Financial Institutions by Inplenion.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

International expansion in lending, part 2

International expansion in lending, part 2

(Read part 1 here) International expansion is critical to the ongoing development and growth of marketplace lending businesses, especially those based in smaller markets. As Dr. Gal Aviv, the CEO of BLender, put it, “Offering multi-national P2P lending has been our vision since BLender’s establishment. Since our Israeli launch in 2014, we have built the […]

International expansion in lending, part 2

(Read part 1 here)

International expansion is critical to the ongoing development and growth of marketplace lending businesses, especially those based in smaller markets. As Dr. Gal Aviv, the CEO of BLender, put it, “Offering multi-national P2P lending has been our vision since BLender’s establishment. Since our Israeli launch in 2014, we have built the foundation, infrastructure and technology to enable BLender to operate in the global market, so we will be able to face operating, cultural, technological, regulatory and taxation challenges.”

This expansion is usually easier said than done – as referenced above, there are significant operational hurdles to expanding the same business model between two distinct countries. There are 1,000’s of marketplace lending services around the world (1,500 in China alone) – and it is unclear how many of them operate across borders. Some of the most notable lenders that have expanded internationally are Bondora (Finland, Spain, Estonia), ThinCats (UK, Australia, Poland), and Funding Circle (UK, US, Germany, Netherlands, Spain.)

Yet none of the lenders who ultimately work across borders begin their lives as international marketplaces. To choose where to expand, they have to carefully consider a variety of factors, the most important of which we laid out in our first article:

  1. Credit metrics
  2. Legal and regulatory environment
  3. Online penetration and trust
  4. Current banking failure

Working down our list of criteria, we can create a matrix of which countries score high in each category. We’ll leave out countries like the US or UK that already have highly developed marketplace lending industries, and focus on those most likely to be ‘next.’

Orchard’s online lending ecosystem map for the US and the UK – both highly-developed markets

Credit infrastructure

What countries have good credit infrastructure? Where is it the safest to lend? This is maybe the most difficult question – so many factors, from how to take liens on assets to inflation volatility, combine to create a good credit environment.

One high-level metric lenders can look at is the credit rating of the country as a whole. Bureaus such as Moody’s and Fitch provide frequently updated national ratings, from AAA (best) to C and DDD (worst.) These metrics are a good shorthand for how stable the country is (and whether it can make good on its national debts), but provide little information on how stable the credit market is within the country. For instance, Moody’s can tell you not to expand into a DDD country in the midst of a civil war, but not how to differentiate between the variety of B or A countries.

Fortunately, as part of its Doing Business Project, the World Bank in 2013 began tracking a novel metric: the depth of credit information index from 0 (low) to 8 (high.) This index ranks countries by how effective their domestic credit bureaus are at collecting actionable credit information. A similar ranking that can be used here is the World Bank’s ease of providing credit index.

Global depth of credit information index – darker countries have better credit bureau data available for underwriting, lighter countries have less data

Unsurprisingly, some of the highest-scoring countries tend to be those with already-developed marketplace lending ecosystems: the US, Germany, New Zealand… However, there are also many frontier markets that score highly: Armenia, which has “improved access to credit information by making it mandatory to gather and distribute information from financial institutions and utility companies,” and Rwanda (neither of which have native peer to peer lenders), Zambia (recently targeted by Zidisha, an MFI), Saudi Arabia (a possible target for Liwwa next door)… Though these markets are small compared to more mature, western economies, their wealth of public underwriting information makes them attractive targets for expansion.

Legal and regulatory environment

A second criterion relevant to a marketplace lender is the strength of the legal environment in a country they are expanding to. Can they reliably enforce repayment contracts with their borrowers? Do borrowers have robust bankruptcy protection? Can investors be held accountable for their commitments?

Similarly, its credit and underwriting infrastructure rankings, the World Bank has also developed a useful index for comparing countries across what it calls the “ease of doing business.” This ranking takes into account some factors not directly relevant to a prospective marketplace lender, such as the ease of dealing with construction permits or the level of entrepreneurial activity in the country.

However, the ranking also contains many relevant criteria:

  1. Protection of minority investors in a business (the debt and equity investors on a platform.) This gauges whether investors can legally recoup losses from, among other things, default and fraud. Some of the highest-scoring countries are not those you’d expect: Kazakhstan (3rd), Georgia (7th), Slovenia (9th)… the US is ranked comparably quite low, at 27th.
  2. Enforcing contracts. This measures the ability of a marketplace lender to ensure that both its borrowers and investors make good on their payment and repayment commitments. It reflects the time and cost needed on average to resolve a commercial dispute in court. Here again, many OECD high-income countries score highly, but eastern Europe also does surprisingly well, including Lithuania (6th), Croatia (7th), and Hungary (8th.)
  3. Resolving insolvency. The risk of bankruptcy exists on both sides of the marketplace – insolvent investors may not be able to make good on ongoing lending commitments, while insolvent borrowers cannot afford repayment. This ranking measures current domestic insolvency law and the bottleneck in pursuing claims against bankrupt parties. Some of the notable standouts here include Slovenia (12th), Cyprus (16th), and Thailand (23rd.)

Overall, outside of the mature marketplace lending geo’s (western Europe, the US, and Oceania), the markets poised for the next great expansion of peer to peer lending from a legal and regulatory standpoint lie in eastern Europe, central Asia, and the tiger economies.

Online penetration and trust

A lender is only as successful as the market it addresses. If a market is open, accessible, trustworthy, and popular, any lender that opens up shop will be able to quickly attract good customers and generate loans. In the case of banks and antiquated lenders, this meant a well-situated physical location in a prime, safe foot traffic area. For marketplace lenders, it means countries with high internet penetration and consumer trust.

Internet penetration varies widely globally and is a critical minimum requirement to establishing a base for marketplace lending. A variety of services – Nielsen, International Telecommunications Union, GfK – offer a consolidated look at which countries perform best in terms of how developed their internet ecosystems are. Ranked against each other, it’s immediately apparent that small, rich countries tend to have better internet penetration. However, these countries are usually too small (in terms of population) or too over-developed (in terms of an online lending ecosystem) to present attractive international expansion targets.

Interesting markets that fall outside of the mature lending ecosystems include:

  1. The middle east:
    1. Bahrain (18th in global rank) with a 90% internet penetration, 99% literacy, and a 1.3m population. (Its neighbor, the UAE, is home of the p2p lender Beehive.)
    2. Qatar (27th in global rank) with an 85% internet penetration, 96% literacy, and a 2.1m population.
  2. Eastern Europe:
    1. Kosovo (40th in global rank) with a 76% internet penetration, 92% literacy, and a 1.9m population.
    2. Slovakia (37th in global rank) and the Czech Republic (48th) – new markets, but already home to such lenders as Bondora, Finbee, Estateguru, Zlty Melon, Symcredit, and Zonky.

Current banking failure

Finally, a defining characteristic for an attractive international market is the robustness – or lack thereof – of the current banking system. If traditional lenders struggle to give credit to businesses and consumers, it paves the way for online lenders to establish a fast, firm toehold in those markets.

This characteristic is somewhat harder to measure, but one good heuristic that can be used is the average interest rate that a country’s bank offers its borrowers. Countries with higher commercial prime interest rates, which present worse borrowing environments, reflect a higher degree of risk in their target markets. However, this also provides an opening for marketplace lenders to undercut traditional lenders by introducing lower risk-adjusted pricing.

A snapshot view of countries with the most forbidding available interest rates shows that banks in underdeveloped economies, such as Madagascar, Malawi, and Laos, tend to offer high rates on loans (from 25% to 61% – compared with below 5% in the US.) Other countries working through turbulent recessions, such as Argentina and Brazil, suffer from similar high rates (from 26% to 33%.)

These astronomically high commercial prime rates demonstrate that credit is unstable in these geographies. This should be taken as a warning to any marketplace lender looking to expand to the region – defaults may be high, or credit indicators may be unreliable. However, for an online lender that can reasonably price risk on its loans or leverage new underwriting data unavailable to banks, these countries can also present enticing targets.

The second and third tiers

As the final installment of this post series on international marketplace lending expansion, we’ll look at which countries do not present attractive markets for near-term expansion. These fall into the 2nd (Dissimilar) and 3rd (Foreign) tiers discussed in the first installment. To better understand why they are not attractive markets, it’s important to also evaluate how and what they could change to improve their standing in the future. This will be the focus of our next post.

Author:

Nik Milanović