Tuesday October 4th 2016, Daily News Digest

Tuesday October 4th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: FCA partners with Cambridge P2P and alternative finance center; Swedish Savelend gets regulatory approval. Today’s main analysis :  Account Receivable financing in France. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 2 banks created cards which change the number every hour; An interesting article about media centers for institutions. United States US real estate crowdfunding is getting hotter. […]

Tuesday October 4th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

India

 

United States

Money360 Provides .5M Bridge Loan Dedicated to Refinancing South Carolina Property, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

On Monday, real estate marketplace lending platform Money360 announced it provided a $8.5 million bridge loan for the refinancing of a K-12 charter school located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. According to the platform, the new loan will allow the borrower to pay off a maturing seller-financing loan, which had a higher interest rate, and provide $4.8 million cash out for impending near-term buildout of additional classrooms and facility space for the school.

The news of the bridge loan comes just a few months after the marketplace lender officially surpassed the $100 million in closed commercial real estate loans with the completion of $15.25 million in recently closed loans.

Podcast 76: Scott Sanborn of Lending Club, (Lend Academy), Rated: A

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Why Scott decided to join Lending Club back in 2010.
  • What the mood is like inside Lending Club today.
  • The keys to winning back investors, especially banks.
  • What their mix of investors looks like today.
  • Lending Club’s plans for retail investors.
  • Scott’s thoughts on Lending Club’s recent loan performance.
  • Background to what Lending Club has built to help facilitate securitizations.
  • The kinds of conversations that Scott has been having in Washington DC.
  • The possible timelines of the SEC and DOJ investigations.
  • How Lending Club keeps the balance between their whole loan and retail platform.
  • The status of the new loan product that was going to be released earlier this year.
  • Scott’s thoughts on the arrival of large banks like Goldman Sachs into the space.
  • The keys for Lending Club in 2017 to maintain their leadership position in the industry.

The future of bank media centers, as told by BNY Mellon, ( Tradestreaming), Rated: A

Comment: instead of “media centers”, I would have used “social media” in the title.

When it comes to social media, financial institutions can’t afford to be left behind. Banks are getting more involved in social channels – even Snapchat is getting some bank love.

Banks’ official news channels have been woefully neglected, leaving most, though not all, bank media centers resembling a standard Word document from the early 1990s. This layout is unlikely to excite investors, let alone the stray customer who accidentally stumbles upon the media center.

In 2014, BNY Mellon realized that this lackluster newsroom template didn’t reflect the innovative, modern brand the bank was trying to cultivate.

At BNY, the focus was broad: the firm wanted to reach journalists, clients, prospects, and employees across the globe.

With its target audience in mind, the media relations and digital marketing teams at BNY, supported by the bank’s design agency, created a newsroom whose visuals and content are styled after a digital magazine.

It’s not that BNY has completely done away with the Press Release, nor is it trying to erase its corporate tone or language. The bank simply believes that PRs are just one tool in its messaging toolbox.

The viewer numbers have also experienced a significant bump: From the third quarter of 2015 to the third quarter of 2016, external visits to the newsroom increased 32 percent, page views rose 22 percent and engagement is up 6 percent.

Not all banks are ready to take the plunge into this brave new world of communication. But they should consider it.

Lending Club – An Online Lender In Trouble?, (Seeking Alpha), Rated: B

Comment: we are covering this article for the sake of completeness. However, I find it to be not very relevant for our average readership as it is targeting the general public, has months old information, and in my eyes would be a waste of time to be read by our readership.

United Kingdom

Cambridge academics offer FCA P2P insight, (Mortgage Introduced), Rated: AAA

A research team from the Centre for Alternative Finance at the Cambridge Judge Business School will provide the FCA with in-depth analyses of the P2P sector.

In July the regulator launched a consultation on the future of the crowdfunding market and sought to collect a range of evidence. The collaboration with the university represents a move by the regulator to broaden the range of evidence being used in the consultation.

Examining default rates and bad debt ratios, the aim of the research is to gain a deeper understanding of how robust underlying underwriting models are, and to spot changes in investor demographics.

“The FCA is also very interested in us conducting qualitative interviews with lenders and investors. Particularly from an SME point of view. It’s really interesting to understand the profile of borrowers, and some of the questions have to be answered by a combination of research methods.”

The UK’s Crowdfunding Association (UKCFA) welcomed the cooperation, saying it demonstrates the regulator is determined to base regulatory decisions on accurate evidence.

“There have been examples where the regulator has taken a view on models relating to real estate P2P, but they haven’t made the evidence they’ve used public.

The FCA closed its consultation on the future of crowdfunding on 8 September.

LendInvest: Now is the time for action, (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: B

Over the summer, the Communities & Local Government Committee began an inquiry into the capacity of the homebuilding industry, while the National Housing Taskforce launched a call for evidence on supporting new sources of housing supply. Both closed to submissions last month.

LendInvest has submitted responses to both, emphasizing our belief that if the government is to deliver on its promise of one million new homes by the end of this parliament, it has to do more to support small-scale housebuilders.

LendInvest backs housebuilder fund, (Mortgage Introducer), Rated: A

This morning communities secretary Sajid Javid said the £3bn fund will support SMEs, custom builders and developers, while he also targeted regenerating brownfield sites.

European Union

Loan intermediary Savelend gets the green light by FI, (Digital.di.SE, article in Swedish), Rated: A

Loan Company Savelend, previously stopped by the FSA, now gets the green light. The company is dedicated to mediate loans between lenders, so-called peer-to-peer lending.

Founded in 2013, the first loan was brokered in 2014. In December of the same year, it applied for it to become a consumer credit in line with the new law that had just been introduced. After the large TrustBuddy scandal, the FSA got in and had two questions. They wanted to see our entire banking book and how we handled the losses, “said CEO Ludwig Pettersson.

Savelend continued to process loans between individuals after this and in February filed for registering as a payment service provider.

Earlier this summer Savelend took 2.7 million SEK from a number of business angels. “We will bring in more capital in 2017 and aims for IPO in 2019,” said CEO Ludwig Pettersson.

To recruit SME clients, Finexkap relies on online advertising and partners such as the French subsidiary of the international consulting and auditing firm BDO.

Founded in 2015, Créancio is a newer entrant in this market. However, as a spin-off from Groupe GTI, Creancio has a leg up in AR financing. Group GTI is namely a structured finance expert and a pioneer in the field of AR securitization with currently over €2 billion assets under management.

To recruit SME clients, Créancio relies, among others, on partners such as auditing and accounting firm Baker Tilly. In 18 months of existence, Créancio has financed €20 million worth of invoices.

However, as it stands in France, the market has high barriers to entry. It is not an easy and inexpensive market to penetrate and to operate in.

Setting up an AR securitization fund is a difficult and expensive process, operating it requires working with multiple operators in the ecosystem such as credit insurers, custodian banks and investment services providers, and not necessarily on equal terms with those enjoyed by incumbents. In addition, incumbent factors are not standing idly by as they see new competitors emerge.

But Finexkap and Créancio have faith in their superior agility, their ability to seize technology opportunities and to deliver added value to underserved market segments.

Disrupting Account Receivables Financing in France, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

According to the Association des Sociétés Financières, France’s AR financing is a €250 billion market that is growing at a double-digit rate, i.e. much faster than long-term lending. But is it ripe for disruption? Two French startups are betting on it.

Online AR Financing platforms Finexkapand Creancio see a major opportunity in that the divisions of large banks who currently dominate AR financings, such as BNP Paribas factor, Crédit Agricole’s Eurofactor, and Natixis Factor, have not made it easy for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) to access their services.

According to Finexkap, less than 3% of French SMEs currently resort to AR financing.

French AR financing startups operate through AR Securitization.

Unlike the well-known UK factoring and invoice discounting marketplace MarketInvoice, they do not claim an affiliation with P2P lending or crowdlending.

Founded in 2012, French Finexkap calls itself a factor 2.0. Next to the above-mentioned benefits of flexibility, convenience, and speed, the company claims two major advantages over incumbent factors.

Cedric Teissier, Finexkap’s co-founder, and CEO, is a well-known figure of the French and the international Fintech scenes. Since 2012, the company has raised €25 million from investors, including well-known alternative finance investor GLI Finance, to fine-tune its business model and kickstart the lending operations. In January 2015, the company’s asset management arm Finexkap AM launched its first AR securitization fund. Earlier this month, Finexkap announced its second fund, a €100 million fund launched in partnership with asset management firm ACOFI Gestion.

Some are touting this as the bank card of the future — it’s not, (The Next Web), Rated: A

Two French banks are doing away with the static credit card number in exchange for numbers that change every hour. If stolen, the numbers would be quickly out of date, thus limiting damage when the worst happens. Think of it as a single use credit card, much like what ‘Privacy‘ and others offer, only for a physical card.

While it’s undoubtedly smart, it’s a band-aid to a much bigger problem. Luckily, the solution is already in our pockets.

The future of safe credit card payments rests within your phone, tablet or watch. These digital wallets are the ultimate in consumer security as they typically involve hacking a highly secure phone before being able to access the prize inside. Once through, additional layers such as two-factor authentication, single-use credit card numbers, individual PINs, and even biometric security options could provide additional security.

Some of these things already exist, others will undoubtedly make their way to your device as usage expands.

In the future, a data breach could be met with a notification that your bank is sending you a new card, all while instantly updating the information in your phone and foregoing the physical object. This could even take place behind the scenes with automatically-rotating credit card numbers, or single-use solutions.

India

All you wanted to know about Fintech, (The Hindu Business Line), Rated: B

A recent Credit Suisse report predicted that the Fintech revolution in India may trim transaction costs to near-zero (bye bye ATM charges) and wean away depositors from banks (bye bye 4 per cent). It also predicts that Fintech will be the trigger to a five-fold boom in consumer and SME loans from $600 billion to over $3000 billion in just ten years’ time.

So if you’re an investor, this could create enormous opportunities both for wealth creation and destruction. A host of new Fintech firms may also eventually vie with banks or NBFCs as listed entities.

If you’re a small borrower, Fintech offers you a shot at obtaining it without hassles.

Author:

George Popescu

August 8th 2016, Daily News Digest

August 8th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s news pour some cold water on P2P SME lending : SME securitizations and SME yield performance seem to be less than expected. See 1st article in US section and 1st article in UK section. Finova raised $52.5 mil , Mosaic $220 mil. And today’s the day : Lending Club and OnDeck release […]

August 8th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

Australia

News Summary

United States

Funding Circle, and other online lenders, falter in America, (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

“Our portfolio of Funding Circle US loans has continued to substantially underperform our expectations, a trend which continued during the quarter and created a drag on the overall portfolio. We stopped purchasing new Funding Circle US loans late in 2015 so the portfolio continues to amortize down.” [ Comment: see the complete VPC Q2 2016 letter in the UK section below].

That’s from VPC Specialty Lending (VSL) Investments’ second quarter letter, released earlier this week (mea culpa, we didn’t spot it at first).

VSL’s disclosure forced Funding Circle’s listed fund to issue its own filing to the market yesterday, sort of but not outright rejecting the suggestion that loans were underperforming:

The Company’s US Credit Assets are projected to return in excess of 8% per annum on a net unlevered basis – consistent with historic performance observed on the Funding Circle US marketplace.

But that might be downplaying the historic performance a little. When Funding Circle floated its fund last year, this is the US loan performance it revealed in its November prospectus (note the numbers didn’t include expected future losses and showed the to-date performance at that time):

Sachin Patel, Funding Circle’s global co-head of capital markets, said that loans originated in the first half of 2015 had underperformed and are expected to return 7.25 per cent to its large, accredited investors, rather than the 8 per cent or more that it targets.

Funding Circle launched in the US in late 2013 and is run out of San Francisco by Sam Hodges. According to the 2015 prospectus for Funding Circle’s fund, US loans originated in early 2014 also “experienced higher than expected annualised loss rates”.

Similar missteps were seen in Funding Circle’s first years of operation in the UK too:

But Funding Circle isn’t the only online lender to small businesses in the US that is disappointing investors. According to a Morgan Stanley note last month, a second securitisation of loans originated by OnDeck, which is listed, breached its loss trigger in June:

MPLT 2015-OD3 from OnDeck breached triggers in June, joining the 3 deals we had previously highlighted – MPLT 2015- CB1 (Circleback), MPLT 2015-OD1 (OnDeck) and GLCII 2014-A (Lending Club).

That makes four online lending securitisation deals that have hit their loss trigger, meaning that cashflows are diverted to senior bondholders at the expense of the lower tranche investors. Three of those four deals, as far as we can tell, were arranged by Jefferies.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on securitisations of loans from Avant, a US consumer lender that also gets a dishonourable mention in VSL’s letter (note that Victory Park is an equity investor in Avant):

We also saw a reduction in the value of three residual interests in securitizations of Avant loans that are held at fair market value. These markdowns, which flow through capital, reflect loss curves coming in slightly higher than in the first quarter. While the capital markets have recently begun to re-open for marketplace lending loans, we have no current plans to pursue additional securitizations.

FTC Announces FinTech Forum on Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer Payments, (JD Supra Business Advisor), Rated: AAA

The FTC announced it will be hosting the next event in the FinTech Forum series on October 26, 2016.

BNY Mellon sees possible rise of P2P collateral lending, (Global Custodian), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending among buy-siders could emerge due to a challenging regulatory environment for sourcing and optimising collateral, according to BNY Mellon.

In the report, BNY Mellon states that institutional investors may also find further opportunities in a peer-to-peer relationship, where buy-side firms are both the collateral provider and receiver.

The report can be found here.

 Income: any Fintech to fill-in the supply shortage?, ( Daily Fintech), Rated: AAA

The world still needs current [Comment: I believe most people use the word fixed instead of current] income for a variety of reasons: wage stagnation, tax overburdening, and the usual cash flows needs that are not at all well managed.

Source: Pension Partners

Challenger banks in the UK have been offering bonds (3yrs or less) to entice customers to sign up on their platforms.

Source: Daily Finance

There are two Alternative finance options that can generate income, much like high yield bonds or publicly traded REITS have been doing in normal conditions.

Investors in the UK can invest in the LE listed

Finova Financial Raises $ 52.5 M First Round For Car Equity Loans, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: A

Finova Financial has raised $52.5 million in its first institutional funding—much of it in the form of debt—for its consumer lending service that provides car owners with a line of credit.

The funding was led by MHS Capital, with participation from Refactor Capital; CoVenture; Metamorphic Ventures; 500 Startups; Funding Circle co-founder Sam Hodges; NerdWallet co-founder Jake Gibson; and Al Hamra Group, a company owned by a ruling family in the United Arab Emirates.

A “large percentage” of the round was the credit facility, the company said, but declined to give specifics.

Founded in January 2015, Finova provides loans in exchange for liens on consumers’ cars, which the company calls a “car-equity line of credit,” which resembles a home equity credit line. Its loans are typically $1,500 to $1,700.

Finova charges about 70% less than the industry average, according to Mr. Keough said.

In contrast to typical paper applications, with Finova people can apply on a website or mobile device by providing information about their cars and driver’s licenses and receive decisions quickly, Mr. Keough said. About 65% of customers apply via phones.

The car equity loan is Finova’s first product, and the company intends to launch other products for “unbanked” consumers, as the company describes its target market.

“My investment thesis is: financial services for the rest of us,” said Sheel Mohnot, the partner at 500 Startups who leads the firm’s fintech investments. “There could not be a better fit (than Finova) for working with a population who is unbanked.”

Warburg Pincus Leads $ 220 Million Round for Solar Lender Mosaic, ( Wall Street Journal), Rated : A

Private-equity firm Warburg Pincus is leading a $220 million equity investment in energy-financing startup Solar Mosaic Inc., according to two people familiar with the situation. The company, known as Mosaic, provides loans for solar installations for homeowners. It is starting to finance other energy-efficiency upgrades that are meant to reduce utility bills.

Warburg Pincus will have a slight majority control of Mosaic through its $200 million investment, one person said. Other investors in the round include financial technology venture firm Core Innovation Capital and Obvious Ventures, a firm, co-founded by Ev Williams, that seeks to invest in startups that offer a positive social impact. Andrew Beebe, managing director at Obvious Ventures, has had a long career in solar energy.

Mosaic has said that it plans to originate about $1 billion in residential-solar loans in the coming 12 months. It secured $200 million in credit from DZ Bank as the lead lender earlier this year. NY Green Bank also participated.

The company’s business model is built around allowing people to own their own solar systems. That contrasts against the predominant model of financing residential solar under lease programs in which homeowners rent the solar power their properties generate.

Privately held GreenSky LLC and Spruce Finance Inc., backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, also operate in the category. Earlier Mosaic investors include Spring Ventures, Serious Change, Blue Haven Initiative and Bronze Investments.

Colorado Inquiry Prompts Avant to Rejig Bonds, Kroll Says, (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Avant Inc., the online lending marketplace, removed unsecured consumer loans made to Colorado residents from a securitization deal after a state regulator sought information about its lending policies, according to Kroll Bond Rating Agency. Colorado concluded that loans mad to its residents must comply with its lending statutes, even if the debts originate through partner banks in another state, as Avant does in Utah, Kroll said in an Aug. 2 report. Such statutes include usury laws and restrictions on late fees and other charges, Kroll said in its evaluation of an upcoming $200 million securitization to be sold by Avant. “In light of the letters from the Colorado regulator, Avant has removed all loans made to Colorado residents,” Kroll said. Carolyn Blackman Gasbarra, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Avant, declined via e-mail to comment while the deal is pending. Kroll said Avant is “proactively addressing any regulator concerns.” Sheila Bair, the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and a frequent proponent of tougher regulation, was added to the company’s board earlier this year.

Inside CommonBond’s 401(k) platform for student loan debt, (Tradestreaming), Rated: AAA

In July 2016, student loan platform CommonBond acquired online loan repayment advisor Gradible. The acquisition of Gradible, which uses an algorithm to recommend what the best repayment options are for student loan borrowers, has enabled CommonBond to roll out a new platform that it’s calling the 401(k) for student loans.

The 401(k) platform will enable employers to contribute to their employees student loans just as they contribute to their employees’ retirement. “What the acquisition of Gradible allows us to do is to marry up certain technologies that they’ve built with technologies that we’ve already built to accelerate the platform,” said David Klein, co-founder and CEO of CommonBond.

Gradible’s merger with CommonBond was two years in the works. A personal connection lead CommonBond to partner with the software company, becoming one of the refinance options Gradible offered on its platform. Eventually, CommonBond’s desire to expand its reach together with Gradible’s intention to accelerate its vision led to the merger.

Klein believes that bringing Gradible in-house will enable CommonBond to reach and meaningfully impact every one of the over 40 million Americans saddled with student debt, and to a certain extent this is true. As a student loan reassessment tool, Gradible can help students discover alternative ways to manage their debt, such as income-based repayment and public service loan forgiveness.

But the 401(k) will ultimately serve the “top talent”, who are the most likely to make it out of student debt in the first place.

CommonBond had one company ask it to implement the platform for them, and Klein has also piloted the 401(k) at CommonBond itself – much to its employees’ delight.

While the CommonBond-Gradible marriage can’t fix what’s broken with the student loan industry at large, its 401(k) product is opening up the traditional closed lender-borrower relationship to employers. So far, this threesome has benefited the entire loan ecosystem: lenders are getting repaid faster, employees are happier, and employers are meaningfully participating in their employees’ financial lives.

Online Lenders Have a Tough Job Ahead, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: AAA

LendingClub Corp. and OnDeck Capital Inc. have suffered through growing pains this year.

They each report second-quarter results Monday [Comment: today].

Jefferies closes Lending Club bonds sale, (Financial Times), Rated: A

Comment: our readers are familiar with this information from last week’s Monday Lending Times. I believe a reminder is a good idea though.

Jefferies has closed a private sale of bonds backed by personal loans originated by Lending Club, marking a step in the rehabilitation of the scandal-hit online lender ahead of its second-quarter earnings. Meanwhile, the Jefferies-led deal is “very positive” for the online-lending industry, said James Gutierrez, chief executive of Insikt, a platform that has sold bundles of Lending Club and Prosper loans to wealthy individuals.

Three months on, Jefferies has sold $105m of bonds backed by Lending Club loans, offering yields of 3.75 to 6.5 per cent.

Offers of unsecured personal loans sent out in the mail dropped 19 per cent in the second quarter from the first quarter, to 507m, according to Mintel Comperemedia, a market intelligence agency. All told, the industry has sent out 4.44bn loan offers to consumers over the past two years, peaking at 749m in the fourth quarter last year.

Goldman Sachs, which had been preparing a securitisation of prime loans from Lending Club before the scandal blew up in May, is prepared to bide its time, according to a person briefed on the bank’s plans.

MPOWER Brings on SoFi and Student-Lending Veteran Renee Suryan as Director of University Relations, (PR Web), Rated: A

Comment: Please see the Lending Times article on MPOWER here.

MPOWER Financing is pleased to formally announce the addition of Renee Suryan to its team. With more than 20 years of experience in student lending, including 10 years as a financial aid administrator, she joins MPOWER as Director of University Relations. Currently growing at a rate of 40 percent month-over-month in loan volume, MPOWER projects it will have more than 200 school partnerships and 21 state licenses by the end of 2016.

MPOWER Partners with FUTR to Support Domestic and International Student Loans, (PR Web), Rated: B

MPOWER Financing today announced that it is partnering with FUTR Corporation to provide superior loan servicing and support to MPOWER borrowers.

FUTR is a privately held and venture-backed higher education finance provider headquartered in San Francisco, with an operational hub in Bryan, Texas. FUTR is focused on bringing together modern technology and quality service to provide new levels of transparency and insight that borrowers need to optimally manage their financial future.

The Time To Start Thinking About Repaying Student Loans Is When You Take Them Out, (Forbes), Rated: B

Comment: article written for borrowers. Probably not useful to our readers.

Credible.com is a multi-lender student loan marketplace. One issue that’s underappreciated is that the time to start thinking about repaying your student loans is not when you graduate, but when you take them out.

The 27 fintech unicorns from around the world, ranked by value, (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Comment: Article would have deserved to be in an international section. However it is only marginally relevant to our readers and we prefer not focus our newsletter on this article. Hence we located it at the end of our US section.

An interesting list. Many of our own industry participants are present. However I had not heard of a few of them. Worth a read.

United Kingdom

VPC Specialty Lending Investments PLC, (VPC Specialty Lending), Rated: AAA

Comment: There is a disclaimer the readers must read and agree to before accessing this article.

In the second quarter of 2016, VPC Speciality Lending Investments PLC (“VSL” or the “Company”) delivered a net return of 0.33%. Although the return wasbelow expectations, it does not reflect what we believe will be the level of long-term returns for our shareholders given our existing portfolio and pipeline. There are several reasons for the decline in short-term performance, which are outlined below along with the steps we are taking to mitigate these factors in the near term.

The decision by U.K. voters to leave the European Union (“EU”) and the subsequent depreciation of the GBP had a negative impact on the Company’s performance as we had to maintain an outsized cash balance related to our currency hedge. Leading up to the EU Referendum, we took a conservative approach to our cash management and credit allocations. A substantial portion of our assets are held in USD and other currencies, which are hedged to GBP via forward currency swaps. The hedging program was put in place when the investments were made following the Company’s March 2015 IPO and September 2015 C share offering. Since then, due to the substantial depreciation of GBP against USD, the Company has had to deposit in cash up to 11.5% of the Company’s NAV. While the direct effect of the currency swings on our income has been limited because our non-GBP exposure is largely hedged, the obligation to settle the hedges upon expiration and the need to maintain additional liquidity in the event the GBP depreciates further has limited our ability to be largely fully invested, as we strive to be. The outlook for the GBP continues to be uncertain – several economists have set target prices for USD/GBP at $1.20 or below with a one-year time horizon – leaving us to remain conservative. We are reviewing all available options to reduce the cash drag related to the margin requirement, including a revolving credit facility for the Company.

The majority of our whole loan portfolio performed in line with our expectations, although certain positions did experience higher than expected losses.

Accordingly, we believe we are now in the period of peak losses for our portfolios (assuming static economic conditions), leading to muted NAV returns in the near term but we expect the returns to even out over the life of the investments.

As previously announced, our portfolio of Funding Circle US loans has continued to substantially underperform our expectations, a trend which continued during the quarter and created a drag on the overall portfolio. We stopped purchasing new Funding Circle US loans late in 2015 so the portfolio continues to amortize down.

We also saw a reduction in the value of three residual interests in securitizations of Avant loans that are held at fair market value.

On a more positive note, our balance sheet loan portfolio continued to show excellent performance with no impairments and coupons ranging from 12% to 16%.

  • On 26 May 2016, the Company made initial investments in West Creek Financial, Inc., a provider of point-of-sale lease-to-own financing to underserved customers enabling purchases of durable goods such as furniture, mattresses, and appliances.
  • On 30 June 2016, the Company made initial investments in Fundbox Ltd., a provider of short-term working capital advances to small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. and the Company funded a new tranche of senior secured debt to Elevate Credit, Inc. Elevate is a provider of cash advances and installment loans to U.S. consumers.

While cash drag as a result of the currency hedge and the performance of certain whole loan investments were disappointing, we are encouraged by the performance of our existing balance sheet investments as well as the attractive terms of newer deals. In order to further demonstrate our commitment to the Company and our confidence in achieving returns of 8% or greater, we have agreed with the Company’s Board of Directors to modify our management agreement such that we will apply 20% of our monthly management fee to purchase shares of the Company at the prevailing market price on an ongoing basis, whilst the shares are trading at a discount to net asset value.

Understanding of risk remains a central issue for P2P industry, (Alt Fi), Rated: A

Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, has written to the outgoing and incoming heads of the FCA – Tracey McDermott and Andrew Bailey respectively.

“Government policies to promote the crowdfunding sector may have the right intention – to increase competition in the small to medium enterprise lending market – but government tax incentives, in effect government subsidies, may be encouraging some consumers into the use of inappropriate products.”

The problem of a perceived lack of understanding of risk by investing consumers has been a common sector theme of late.

Analysis from AltFi Data illustrates that, to date, the lending performance of the largest UK platforms has delivered consistently positive net returns. Zopa, Funding Circle, Ratesetter and MarketInvoice together make up over 65% of the sector’s origination volume and lead the way when it comes to disclosure of their lending track record. 10 years of data representing that track record demonstrates that net returns have remained positive in a range of 5-6.5%. Bad debt performance has also been impressive, coming in at 5% for the worst ever annual cohort i.e. less than 1.7% annualized, and at no worse than 1.66%, i.e. less than 0.55% annualized, over the past 5 years.

Liberum Alt Fi Index. Source: AltFi.com

Assetz Capital Reports: Peer-to-Peer Lending Expected to Thrive As Bank of England Slashes Interest Rates, (Crowdfunding Insider), Rated: A

On Thursday, Assetz Capital one of the UK’s largest peer-to-peer lenders, announced it is predicting that both savers and borrowers will continue to turn to alternative finance companies in increasing numbers as Bank of England slashes interest rates from 0.5% to 0.25%.

Assetz Capital revealed, since launching in 2013, around £130 million has flown through its platform to credit-worthy borrowers, earning investors a total gross interest of more than £12 million to date and this lending is predicted to continue to rise rapidly.

Assetz Capital also predicted the number of business borrowers will also rise as a result of the cut interest rate.

Australia

Fintech B2B small business lending marketplace Bigstone raises million, (Financial Review), Rated: A

Fintech start-up Bigstone has raised $3 million from a range of investors, including ASX-listed diversified investments and venture capital firm CVC, to grow its small business lending marketplace and offer an alternative to the big banks.

Other major investors in the round were the founders of Bangkok-based fund Lighthouse Venture Partners Paniti Junhasavasdikul and Narith Phadungchai, in addition to private investors.

By the end of the year, Bigstone is hoping to have financed $10 million worth of loans to more than 200 small businesses.

A University of Sydney and KPMG study released earlier this year found that Australia’s online alternative finance market grew by 320 per cent in 2015 to $460 million, making it the third largest market in the Asia Pacific behind China and Japan.

Author:

George Popescu

August 8th 2016, Daily News Digest

August 8th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s news pour some cold water on P2P SME lending : SME securitizations and SME yield performance seem to be less than expected. See 1st article in US section and 1st article in UK section. Finova raised $52.5 mil , Mosaic $220 mil. And today’s the day : Lending Club and OnDeck release […]

August 8th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

Australia

News Summary

United States

Funding Circle, and other online lenders, falter in America, (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

“Our portfolio of Funding Circle US loans has continued to substantially underperform our expectations, a trend which continued during the quarter and created a drag on the overall portfolio. We stopped purchasing new Funding Circle US loans late in 2015 so the portfolio continues to amortize down.” [ Comment: see the complete VPC Q2 2016 letter in the UK section below].

That’s from VPC Specialty Lending (VSL) Investments’ second quarter letter, released earlier this week (mea culpa, we didn’t spot it at first).

VSL’s disclosure forced Funding Circle’s listed fund to issue its own filing to the market yesterday, sort of but not outright rejecting the suggestion that loans were underperforming:

The Company’s US Credit Assets are projected to return in excess of 8% per annum on a net unlevered basis – consistent with historic performance observed on the Funding Circle US marketplace.

But that might be downplaying the historic performance a little. When Funding Circle floated its fund last year, this is the US loan performance it revealed in its November prospectus (note the numbers didn’t include expected future losses and showed the to-date performance at that time):

Sachin Patel, Funding Circle’s global co-head of capital markets, said that loans originated in the first half of 2015 had underperformed and are expected to return 7.25 per cent to its large, accredited investors, rather than the 8 per cent or more that it targets.

Funding Circle launched in the US in late 2013 and is run out of San Francisco by Sam Hodges. According to the 2015 prospectus for Funding Circle’s fund, US loans originated in early 2014 also “experienced higher than expected annualised loss rates”.

Similar missteps were seen in Funding Circle’s first years of operation in the UK too:

But Funding Circle isn’t the only online lender to small businesses in the US that is disappointing investors. According to a Morgan Stanley note last month, a second securitisation of loans originated by OnDeck, which is listed, breached its loss trigger in June:

MPLT 2015-OD3 from OnDeck breached triggers in June, joining the 3 deals we had previously highlighted – MPLT 2015- CB1 (Circleback), MPLT 2015-OD1 (OnDeck) and GLCII 2014-A (Lending Club).

That makes four online lending securitisation deals that have hit their loss trigger, meaning that cashflows are diverted to senior bondholders at the expense of the lower tranche investors. Three of those four deals, as far as we can tell, were arranged by Jefferies.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on securitisations of loans from Avant, a US consumer lender that also gets a dishonourable mention in VSL’s letter (note that Victory Park is an equity investor in Avant):

We also saw a reduction in the value of three residual interests in securitizations of Avant loans that are held at fair market value. These markdowns, which flow through capital, reflect loss curves coming in slightly higher than in the first quarter. While the capital markets have recently begun to re-open for marketplace lending loans, we have no current plans to pursue additional securitizations.

FTC Announces FinTech Forum on Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer Payments, (JD Supra Business Advisor), Rated: AAA

The FTC announced it will be hosting the next event in the FinTech Forum series on October 26, 2016.

BNY Mellon sees possible rise of P2P collateral lending, (Global Custodian), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending among buy-siders could emerge due to a challenging regulatory environment for sourcing and optimising collateral, according to BNY Mellon.

In the report, BNY Mellon states that institutional investors may also find further opportunities in a peer-to-peer relationship, where buy-side firms are both the collateral provider and receiver.

The report can be found here.

 Income: any Fintech to fill-in the supply shortage?, ( Daily Fintech), Rated: AAA

The world still needs current [Comment: I believe most people use the word fixed instead of current] income for a variety of reasons: wage stagnation, tax overburdening, and the usual cash flows needs that are not at all well managed.

Source: Pension Partners

Challenger banks in the UK have been offering bonds (3yrs or less) to entice customers to sign up on their platforms.

Source: Daily Finance

There are two Alternative finance options that can generate income, much like high yield bonds or publicly traded REITS have been doing in normal conditions.

Investors in the UK can invest in the LE listed

Finova Financial Raises $ 52.5 M First Round For Car Equity Loans, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: A

Finova Financial has raised $52.5 million in its first institutional funding—much of it in the form of debt—for its consumer lending service that provides car owners with a line of credit.

The funding was led by MHS Capital, with participation from Refactor Capital; CoVenture; Metamorphic Ventures; 500 Startups; Funding Circle co-founder Sam Hodges; NerdWallet co-founder Jake Gibson; and Al Hamra Group, a company owned by a ruling family in the United Arab Emirates.

A “large percentage” of the round was the credit facility, the company said, but declined to give specifics.

Founded in January 2015, Finova provides loans in exchange for liens on consumers’ cars, which the company calls a “car-equity line of credit,” which resembles a home equity credit line. Its loans are typically $1,500 to $1,700.

Finova charges about 70% less than the industry average, according to Mr. Keough said.

In contrast to typical paper applications, with Finova people can apply on a website or mobile device by providing information about their cars and driver’s licenses and receive decisions quickly, Mr. Keough said. About 65% of customers apply via phones.

The car equity loan is Finova’s first product, and the company intends to launch other products for “unbanked” consumers, as the company describes its target market.

“My investment thesis is: financial services for the rest of us,” said Sheel Mohnot, the partner at 500 Startups who leads the firm’s fintech investments. “There could not be a better fit (than Finova) for working with a population who is unbanked.”

Warburg Pincus Leads $ 220 Million Round for Solar Lender Mosaic, ( Wall Street Journal), Rated : A

Private-equity firm Warburg Pincus is leading a $220 million equity investment in energy-financing startup Solar Mosaic Inc., according to two people familiar with the situation. The company, known as Mosaic, provides loans for solar installations for homeowners. It is starting to finance other energy-efficiency upgrades that are meant to reduce utility bills.

Warburg Pincus will have a slight majority control of Mosaic through its $200 million investment, one person said. Other investors in the round include financial technology venture firm Core Innovation Capital and Obvious Ventures, a firm, co-founded by Ev Williams, that seeks to invest in startups that offer a positive social impact. Andrew Beebe, managing director at Obvious Ventures, has had a long career in solar energy.

Mosaic has said that it plans to originate about $1 billion in residential-solar loans in the coming 12 months. It secured $200 million in credit from DZ Bank as the lead lender earlier this year. NY Green Bank also participated.

The company’s business model is built around allowing people to own their own solar systems. That contrasts against the predominant model of financing residential solar under lease programs in which homeowners rent the solar power their properties generate.

Privately held GreenSky LLC and Spruce Finance Inc., backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, also operate in the category. Earlier Mosaic investors include Spring Ventures, Serious Change, Blue Haven Initiative and Bronze Investments.

Colorado Inquiry Prompts Avant to Rejig Bonds, Kroll Says, (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Avant Inc., the online lending marketplace, removed unsecured consumer loans made to Colorado residents from a securitization deal after a state regulator sought information about its lending policies, according to Kroll Bond Rating Agency. Colorado concluded that loans mad to its residents must comply with its lending statutes, even if the debts originate through partner banks in another state, as Avant does in Utah, Kroll said in an Aug. 2 report. Such statutes include usury laws and restrictions on late fees and other charges, Kroll said in its evaluation of an upcoming $200 million securitization to be sold by Avant. “In light of the letters from the Colorado regulator, Avant has removed all loans made to Colorado residents,” Kroll said. Carolyn Blackman Gasbarra, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Avant, declined via e-mail to comment while the deal is pending. Kroll said Avant is “proactively addressing any regulator concerns.” Sheila Bair, the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and a frequent proponent of tougher regulation, was added to the company’s board earlier this year.

Inside CommonBond’s 401(k) platform for student loan debt, (Tradestreaming), Rated: AAA

In July 2016, student loan platform CommonBond acquired online loan repayment advisor Gradible. The acquisition of Gradible, which uses an algorithm to recommend what the best repayment options are for student loan borrowers, has enabled CommonBond to roll out a new platform that it’s calling the 401(k) for student loans.

The 401(k) platform will enable employers to contribute to their employees student loans just as they contribute to their employees’ retirement. “What the acquisition of Gradible allows us to do is to marry up certain technologies that they’ve built with technologies that we’ve already built to accelerate the platform,” said David Klein, co-founder and CEO of CommonBond.

Gradible’s merger with CommonBond was two years in the works. A personal connection lead CommonBond to partner with the software company, becoming one of the refinance options Gradible offered on its platform. Eventually, CommonBond’s desire to expand its reach together with Gradible’s intention to accelerate its vision led to the merger.

Klein believes that bringing Gradible in-house will enable CommonBond to reach and meaningfully impact every one of the over 40 million Americans saddled with student debt, and to a certain extent this is true. As a student loan reassessment tool, Gradible can help students discover alternative ways to manage their debt, such as income-based repayment and public service loan forgiveness.

But the 401(k) will ultimately serve the “top talent”, who are the most likely to make it out of student debt in the first place.

CommonBond had one company ask it to implement the platform for them, and Klein has also piloted the 401(k) at CommonBond itself – much to its employees’ delight.

While the CommonBond-Gradible marriage can’t fix what’s broken with the student loan industry at large, its 401(k) product is opening up the traditional closed lender-borrower relationship to employers. So far, this threesome has benefited the entire loan ecosystem: lenders are getting repaid faster, employees are happier, and employers are meaningfully participating in their employees’ financial lives.

Online Lenders Have a Tough Job Ahead, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: AAA

LendingClub Corp. and OnDeck Capital Inc. have suffered through growing pains this year.

They each report second-quarter results Monday [Comment: today].

Jefferies closes Lending Club bonds sale, (Financial Times), Rated: A

Comment: our readers are familiar with this information from last week’s Monday Lending Times. I believe a reminder is a good idea though.

Jefferies has closed a private sale of bonds backed by personal loans originated by Lending Club, marking a step in the rehabilitation of the scandal-hit online lender ahead of its second-quarter earnings. Meanwhile, the Jefferies-led deal is “very positive” for the online-lending industry, said James Gutierrez, chief executive of Insikt, a platform that has sold bundles of Lending Club and Prosper loans to wealthy individuals.

Three months on, Jefferies has sold $105m of bonds backed by Lending Club loans, offering yields of 3.75 to 6.5 per cent.

Offers of unsecured personal loans sent out in the mail dropped 19 per cent in the second quarter from the first quarter, to 507m, according to Mintel Comperemedia, a market intelligence agency. All told, the industry has sent out 4.44bn loan offers to consumers over the past two years, peaking at 749m in the fourth quarter last year.

Goldman Sachs, which had been preparing a securitisation of prime loans from Lending Club before the scandal blew up in May, is prepared to bide its time, according to a person briefed on the bank’s plans.

MPOWER Brings on SoFi and Student-Lending Veteran Renee Suryan as Director of University Relations, (PR Web), Rated: A

Comment: Please see the Lending Times article on MPOWER here.

MPOWER Financing is pleased to formally announce the addition of Renee Suryan to its team. With more than 20 years of experience in student lending, including 10 years as a financial aid administrator, she joins MPOWER as Director of University Relations. Currently growing at a rate of 40 percent month-over-month in loan volume, MPOWER projects it will have more than 200 school partnerships and 21 state licenses by the end of 2016.

MPOWER Partners with FUTR to Support Domestic and International Student Loans, (PR Web), Rated: B

MPOWER Financing today announced that it is partnering with FUTR Corporation to provide superior loan servicing and support to MPOWER borrowers.

FUTR is a privately held and venture-backed higher education finance provider headquartered in San Francisco, with an operational hub in Bryan, Texas. FUTR is focused on bringing together modern technology and quality service to provide new levels of transparency and insight that borrowers need to optimally manage their financial future.

The Time To Start Thinking About Repaying Student Loans Is When You Take Them Out, (Forbes), Rated: B

Comment: article written for borrowers. Probably not useful to our readers.

Credible.com is a multi-lender student loan marketplace. One issue that’s underappreciated is that the time to start thinking about repaying your student loans is not when you graduate, but when you take them out.

The 27 fintech unicorns from around the world, ranked by value, (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Comment: Article would have deserved to be in an international section. However it is only marginally relevant to our readers and we prefer not focus our newsletter on this article. Hence we located it at the end of our US section.

An interesting list. Many of our own industry participants are present. However I had not heard of a few of them. Worth a read.

United Kingdom

VPC Specialty Lending Investments PLC, (VPC Specialty Lending), Rated: AAA

Comment: There is a disclaimer the readers must read and agree to before accessing this article.

In the second quarter of 2016, VPC Speciality Lending Investments PLC (“VSL” or the “Company”) delivered a net return of 0.33%. Although the return wasbelow expectations, it does not reflect what we believe will be the level of long-term returns for our shareholders given our existing portfolio and pipeline. There are several reasons for the decline in short-term performance, which are outlined below along with the steps we are taking to mitigate these factors in the near term.

The decision by U.K. voters to leave the European Union (“EU”) and the subsequent depreciation of the GBP had a negative impact on the Company’s performance as we had to maintain an outsized cash balance related to our currency hedge. Leading up to the EU Referendum, we took a conservative approach to our cash management and credit allocations. A substantial portion of our assets are held in USD and other currencies, which are hedged to GBP via forward currency swaps. The hedging program was put in place when the investments were made following the Company’s March 2015 IPO and September 2015 C share offering. Since then, due to the substantial depreciation of GBP against USD, the Company has had to deposit in cash up to 11.5% of the Company’s NAV. While the direct effect of the currency swings on our income has been limited because our non-GBP exposure is largely hedged, the obligation to settle the hedges upon expiration and the need to maintain additional liquidity in the event the GBP depreciates further has limited our ability to be largely fully invested, as we strive to be. The outlook for the GBP continues to be uncertain – several economists have set target prices for USD/GBP at $1.20 or below with a one-year time horizon – leaving us to remain conservative. We are reviewing all available options to reduce the cash drag related to the margin requirement, including a revolving credit facility for the Company.

The majority of our whole loan portfolio performed in line with our expectations, although certain positions did experience higher than expected losses.

Accordingly, we believe we are now in the period of peak losses for our portfolios (assuming static economic conditions), leading to muted NAV returns in the near term but we expect the returns to even out over the life of the investments.

As previously announced, our portfolio of Funding Circle US loans has continued to substantially underperform our expectations, a trend which continued during the quarter and created a drag on the overall portfolio. We stopped purchasing new Funding Circle US loans late in 2015 so the portfolio continues to amortize down.

We also saw a reduction in the value of three residual interests in securitizations of Avant loans that are held at fair market value.

On a more positive note, our balance sheet loan portfolio continued to show excellent performance with no impairments and coupons ranging from 12% to 16%.

  • On 26 May 2016, the Company made initial investments in West Creek Financial, Inc., a provider of point-of-sale lease-to-own financing to underserved customers enabling purchases of durable goods such as furniture, mattresses, and appliances.
  • On 30 June 2016, the Company made initial investments in Fundbox Ltd., a provider of short-term working capital advances to small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. and the Company funded a new tranche of senior secured debt to Elevate Credit, Inc. Elevate is a provider of cash advances and installment loans to U.S. consumers.

While cash drag as a result of the currency hedge and the performance of certain whole loan investments were disappointing, we are encouraged by the performance of our existing balance sheet investments as well as the attractive terms of newer deals. In order to further demonstrate our commitment to the Company and our confidence in achieving returns of 8% or greater, we have agreed with the Company’s Board of Directors to modify our management agreement such that we will apply 20% of our monthly management fee to purchase shares of the Company at the prevailing market price on an ongoing basis, whilst the shares are trading at a discount to net asset value.

Understanding of risk remains a central issue for P2P industry, (Alt Fi), Rated: A

Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, has written to the outgoing and incoming heads of the FCA – Tracey McDermott and Andrew Bailey respectively.

“Government policies to promote the crowdfunding sector may have the right intention – to increase competition in the small to medium enterprise lending market – but government tax incentives, in effect government subsidies, may be encouraging some consumers into the use of inappropriate products.”

The problem of a perceived lack of understanding of risk by investing consumers has been a common sector theme of late.

Analysis from AltFi Data illustrates that, to date, the lending performance of the largest UK platforms has delivered consistently positive net returns. Zopa, Funding Circle, Ratesetter and MarketInvoice together make up over 65% of the sector’s origination volume and lead the way when it comes to disclosure of their lending track record. 10 years of data representing that track record demonstrates that net returns have remained positive in a range of 5-6.5%. Bad debt performance has also been impressive, coming in at 5% for the worst ever annual cohort i.e. less than 1.7% annualized, and at no worse than 1.66%, i.e. less than 0.55% annualized, over the past 5 years.

Liberum Alt Fi Index. Source: AltFi.com

Assetz Capital Reports: Peer-to-Peer Lending Expected to Thrive As Bank of England Slashes Interest Rates, (Crowdfunding Insider), Rated: A

On Thursday, Assetz Capital one of the UK’s largest peer-to-peer lenders, announced it is predicting that both savers and borrowers will continue to turn to alternative finance companies in increasing numbers as Bank of England slashes interest rates from 0.5% to 0.25%.

Assetz Capital revealed, since launching in 2013, around £130 million has flown through its platform to credit-worthy borrowers, earning investors a total gross interest of more than £12 million to date and this lending is predicted to continue to rise rapidly.

Assetz Capital also predicted the number of business borrowers will also rise as a result of the cut interest rate.

Australia

Fintech B2B small business lending marketplace Bigstone raises million, (Financial Review), Rated: A

Fintech start-up Bigstone has raised $3 million from a range of investors, including ASX-listed diversified investments and venture capital firm CVC, to grow its small business lending marketplace and offer an alternative to the big banks.

Other major investors in the round were the founders of Bangkok-based fund Lighthouse Venture Partners Paniti Junhasavasdikul and Narith Phadungchai, in addition to private investors.

By the end of the year, Bigstone is hoping to have financed $10 million worth of loans to more than 200 small businesses.

A University of Sydney and KPMG study released earlier this year found that Australia’s online alternative finance market grew by 320 per cent in 2015 to $460 million, making it the third largest market in the Asia Pacific behind China and Japan.

Author:

George Popescu

July 18th 2016, Daily News Digest

July 18th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments United States Moody’s decides against downgrading Prosper’s previous securitizations. Our readers may remember that back in February the news that Moody’s may downgrade a Prosper/Citi securitization bond started the whole p2p loan quality uncertainty media blitz. While that was just the spark, it is nice to see that Moody’s has reconsidered and feels […]

July 18th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

Indonesia

Sweden

News Summary

 

United States

Moody’s Decides Against Downgrade for Prosper Marketplace Loan Deal, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: AAA

The ratings firm said in February that it was watching a Citigroup Inc. securitization of Prosper loans for the possibility that the loans might go bad at rates higher than initially expected, which could force it to lower its rating on some of the notes. It raised its forecast of future losses to around 12% from as low as 8% of the money lent.

But on Thursday, Moody’s said “the absence of substantial deterioration” of the loans was a major reason it decided not to downgrade the notes. It said this “reduces the likelihood of extreme underperformance.” The notes in question will keep their initial rating of Ba3, or three levels below investment grade. Higher-grade parts of the deal weren’t on review for downgrade.

In recent weeks, however, there have been signs of a thaw in the market’s reticence. Social Finance Inc., known as SoFi, completed its first rated sale of bonds tied to personal loans. Marlette Funding LLC this week launched its own sale of bonds tied to loans, the first for the platform since the winter.

An analysis of the online-lending bonds by PeerIQ, which tracks the industry, shows the prices of bonds tied to Prosper loans have risen in recent weeks. Investors had been demanding yields on some Prosper-linked bonds in April of nearly 10 percentage points above benchmark bonds. That spread fell to just roughly 4 percentage points as of the most recent trades in July, PeerIQ data show.

Installment Lender Using Bank Partner Model Needs Maryland License, Court of Appeals Rules, (JD Supra Business Advisor), Rated: AAA

Comment: This could be a really big deal for all the alt lenders who are originating through banks.

The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, in CashCall, Inc. et al. v. Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation, recently affirmed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals (MCSA) directing CashCall to cease doing business in Maryland without a Credit Services Business Act (MCSBA) license and to pay $5.6 million in penalties in connection with loans already made.

While much attention has been focused on the risks created by Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC and the so-called “true lender” issue, the CashCall decision illustrates how the bank partner structure used by many lenders can be threatened by state licensing statutes as well.

The case arose out of CashCall advertising on its website to consumers and offering them a method to apply for loans online. The loans were made by out-of-state, state-chartered banks at interest rates significantly in excess of the maximum rate permitted by Maryland law, and the banks also charged loan origination fees. Shortly after origination, the banks sold the loans to CashCall, which collected all payments on the loans.

The Commissioner contended that CashCall was a “credit services business” as defined by state law, because it assisted consumers in obtaining an extension of credit “in return for the payment of money or other valuable consideration.” CashCall argued that, in the absence of a direct payment to it from the consumer, it could not be properly classified as a credit services business.

According to the court, CashCall was a “credit services business” because it received compensation “in return for” assisting consumers in obtaining loans.

The Court of Appeals reached an ominous conclusion regarding the impact of federal preemption on the CashCall program. As the court noted, the MCSBA prohibits a credit services business from assisting a consumer in obtaining a loan at an interest rate that exceeds the maximum rate permitted by Maryland law “except for federal preemption of State law.” However, according to the court, “[a]lthough federal law allows federally insured banks to charge out-of-state consumers the same interest rate permitted by the bank’s home state, regardless of the interest rate caps imposed by the law of the consumer’s resident state,” the MCSBA does not permit a credit services business to “assist a consumer in obtaining a loan from any in-state or out-of-state bank, at an interest rate prohibited by Maryland law.”

Under the court’s reading, the MCBSA would effectively prohibit CashCall from assisting a bank in the origination of loans at rates expressly authorized by federal law.

Why online lenders should become banks, (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Comment: In my personal view they shouldn’t become banks as that equals having 1 hand tied behind your back. Instead they should find a depositer-like source of capital, maybe in partnership with banks.

Even last year, online lenders more than doubled the size of their loan books on average — wildly outpacing even the raciest bank — and many were still valued on three-digit earnings multiples. But much has since changed in the sector and — believe me — they aren’t jeering now.

If lenders want the sector to be more than a specialist backwater, or a technologically-enabled version of the old finance company model (think Household or GE Capital), platforms need to rethink how they do business. One way off the hamster wheel might be to put more of their loans on their own balance sheets. While that would expose them directly to losses, with consequences for capital requirements and regulatory oversight, it would also provide a more stable income base, making it easier to survive lending downturns. The snag is that it would not get round the problem of having to rely on fickle market funding for support.

Solving that requires online lenders to take a step that many a year ago would have scorned: joining the banking deadbeats to tap regular deposit funding.

Many platforms have been considering whether or not this might be in their interest. But the US regulators aren’t that keen on issuing bank charters to young and flighty marketplace firms.

Which leaves takeovers. Valuations no longer make it totally impossible for an established bank to consider snapping up a marketplace platform. Lending Club is valued at around two times its book, and OnDeck Capital, the other listed platform, at about one times.

LendingClub Names BlackRock’s Dunne Chief Capital Officer, (Bloomberg),Rated: A

Dunne, who previously led BlackRock Inc.’s San Francisco office, will work with LendingClub investors and retail distribution partners, the company said Monday in a statement. “Patrick’s wealth of experience and diverse background across capital markets, strategy, portfolio management, product development and client service will help us drive the next phase of Lending Club’s growth,” Sanborn said in the statement. “Patrick will play a key role in reaffirming our continued commitment to our investors.”

Jefferies Group is again considering selling bonds tied to LendingClub consumer loans after scuttling an effort amid the shakeup there. Many investors are conducting due-diligence checks and have said they may purchase more loans, although maybe initially at muted levels, the CEO said in June.

Dunne’s plan to depart from BlackRock was announced earlier this year. He had worked for Barclays Global Investors before BlackRock acquired it. Dunne has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s in management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, according to the statement from the San Francisco-based company.

LendingClub advanced 3.6 percent to $4.65 in early trading at 8:21 a.m. in New York.

Should investors look at investing in P2P lending?, (CNBC Video), Rated: A

Comment: Ron Suber on CNBC explaining what Prosper does and how they do it. Video covering the basics of Prosper which will not be news for our readers. However worth a watch as it’s well articulated and well presented.

Delinquencies numbers shared: Blended average advertised at 7.4% blended net return. A great yield for fixed income for sure.

Millennials are ditching financial advisors for apps, (New York Post), Rated: AAA

It’s time for many technophobic 50-something financial pros to look for another job. That’s because millennials, many of whom are about to inherit considerable assets, are not looking for a sit-down meeting in a downtown office to discuss investment options.

“Before, change was happening, but it was generational. You could adjust to it. And a business model was, in essence, immortal,” says Bill Hortz, founder of the Institute for
Innovation Development. In the 1950s, he noted, the average company stayed in the S&P 500 for 75 years.

“Today it is 14 years and dropping rapidly,” he says. Change is feeding on itself, and the effects of analytics and artificial intelligence will be expanding. They will dramatically change “client experiences and client interfaces,” Hortz says.

The new client has expectations of “24/7 access to information that is readily available via a smartphone, tablet or computer. Financial issues and questions that once required the advice of a certified professional can now be answered with a click on any digitally enabled device,” according to “The Advisor of the Future,” a 2015 report by Hearsay Social, a company that advises financial firms.

This represents “a potential sales opportunity of almost $2 trillion,” the report said. “In addition, customers will soon be able to search for products via additional technologies, including voice and gesture commands.”

“What’s more important isn’t the initial amount, but that someone makes a commitment to invest on a regular basis.”

“They need an easy way to communicate with advisers, be it on the computer or text messaging,” Raznick says. “They need to see visuals on how investing is more lucrative with an adviser as opposed to an automated solution.”

The top honchos at Andreessen Horowitz sat down for a podcast after raising .5bil ( The financial revolutionist), Rated: AAA

They asserted that with $10 trillion of debt trading with a negative yield throughout the world (now $13 trillion, actually), there’s a limitless abundance of capital sitting on the sidelines just waiting to finance innovation.

Someone should buy Lending Club.

These days, Lending Club’s prestigious board is probably sick of seeing critical articles like this one in The Wall Street Journal. And while Scott Sanborn is doing about as good a job as possible in trying to clean up the mess, he’s constrained by the realities of having to please his badly burned shareholders. Adding to his headaches is the fact that charge-off rates are now rising fast (a bad sign no matter how it’s spun). The article didn’t even mention the industry’s ongoing problem with “loan stacking,” whereby a borrower takes out multiple loans before the loans can be reported to the credit bureaus. That could be the next shoe to drop. Some fund or some company with vision, patience and an appreciation of credit cycles should buy Lending Club and fix it before time runs out.

“Fintech is the new normal,” says Nicols. He also adds that fintech is moving from its “pie-in-the-sky” phase to the application phase where “real companies are learning real lessons.” We couldn’t have said it better. See more here.

Morgan Stanley states the obvious regarding roboadvisors. “Roboadvisers aren’t going away any time soon, and the wealth management industry needs to make some changes if it wants to beat them and a host of other threats it is facing.”

Deloitte backs uber cool microinsurance initiative. The accounting and consulting giant has partnered with two start-ups (Statumn and Lemonway) to launch a proof of concept project named LenderBot. Billed as the first microinsurance solution for the sharing economy, the product aims to allow people to use Facebook’s messenger platform to create a peer-to-peer microinsurance contract for borrowed goods.

Twitter and Bloomberg deepen link.  As Bloomberg continues to fend off a challenge by Blackrock and Goldman-sponsored competitor Symphony, it’s turning to Twitter as a new distribution partner for selected live markets coverage and three of its regular shows.

Paypal gets even more P2P company. Early Warning is not a home alarm company. It’s a P2P solutions provider for banks that recently announced (see its press release) that Chase, Capital One and Wells Fargo are now using its pipes to facilitate P2P money transfers.

Big banks prepare to crush p2p startups with clearXchange, (TradeStreaming), Rated: A

Quietly over the past few months, some of the largest US banks have rolled out P2P payment functionality in their banking apps. Now, 5 of the largest US banking institutions, including Chase and Bank America, enable their customers to send money to one another and eventually, to friends and family who hold accounts at other banks.

Instead of building their own solutions, participating banks have signed up to the clearXchange network, a white label P2P payment platform for financial institutions. After inking deals with leading banks, P2P payments on the clearXchange network are now available to more than 100 million online banking and 70 million mobile banking users in the U.S.

In the first quarter of 2016, customers at banks in the clearXchange network completed more than 46 million P2P transfers, accounting for over $16 billion in combined transaction volume. That number is expected to grow as banks already on the network ramp their marketing of p2p capabilities, and more banks sign up for the service.

Before clearXchange, it wasn’t easy to send payments across banks. A whole industry of P2P payment players has sprung up to help bridge this gap by putting a transaction layer on top of existing banking infrastructure. As a workaround to directly moving money between bank accounts, technologies like PayPal and its faster growing service, Venmo move money between stored value accounts. So, while payments may be instantaneous, it can take days for the receiving party to be able to access that cash directly from her bank account, as money moves from the P2P platforms into the banking system.

clearXchange changes all that. Banks on the network are active participants this time, enabling payments to move freely between banks at the account level. clearXchange’s parent, Early Warning, is owned in part by seven of the largest banks in the U.S. Early Warning has been around for 25 years, providing thousands of banks and credit unions across the country with risk, fraud prevention, and authentication solutions.

clearXchange is a network and joining the network becomes more valuable when they’re more banks on the network.

Consortium efforts can pay off massively, but they’re hard to pull off. Just look at the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, a retail industry consortium that wanted to do an end-around of the credit card networks. Tired of paying interchange fees, companies like Walmart and Target worked for years to roll out a mobile payments solution, dubbed CurrentC. Walmart ended up launching its own payments, Walmart Pay. MCX announced layoffs in May and its future is uncertain.

Why Brexit and Other World Events Have Not Seriously Hurt U.S. Small Business Lending, (Forbes), Rated:A

Loan approval rates at banks increased slightly in June 2016, according to the most recent Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, the monthly analysis of more than 1,000 small business loan applications on Biz2Credit.com. The research shows that loan approval rates at big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) hit 23.3%, a post-recession high, last month. Regional banks are granting nearly half (48.8%) of the funding requests they get. Additionally, institutional lenders continue to grow in force and are approving more than six-in-ten funding requests from small businesses.

So far, the Brexit has not seriously threatened the American economy, nor has it tightened U.S. small business lending. In fact, in some ways, the uncertainty will benefit U.S. small business borrowers:

  1. Foreign money is being invested in the U.S. as the dollar has gotten stronger while the British pound dropped substantially.
  2. Institutional investors from overseas will look to the small business credit markets for yields.
  3. The stability of the U.S. economy eases the minds of bankers, who are traditionally risk averse.
  4. The Federal Reserve has delayed further its long anticipated interest rate hike, which is now unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Following the shakeup of the European Union, the terror attack in Nice, France, and political turmoil in Turkey, more money is likely to flow into the small business lending marketplace from foreign investors.

Orchard is Getting Bigger, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Orchard Platform is growing. So much so they have leased a lot more Manhattan space. Announced this week, Orchard is upgrading from the 7,000 square foot office space at 101 Fifth Avenue, to a 26,242 square foot space by taking over two floors of 386 Park Avenue South.

“At Orchard over the past 6 months, we have seen an uptick in demand from international investors for U.S. credit, including from clients in China, the U.K., continental Europe, Israel, Argentina, and Canada.”

United Kingdom

BoE holds rates, P2P “not linked”?, (Alt Fi News), Rated: AAA

The Bank of England yesterday announced that the base rate would be held at 0.5%, despite widespread claims to the contrary. The markets had priced in an 80% chance of the Bank cutting rates, but the Monetary Policy Committee ended up voting 8-1 against the move.

The effect of movements in the base rate on alternative lenders has been the subject of much discussion over the lifetime of the industry.

Giles Andrews, Executive Chairman of Zopa, responded at the time by arguing that a rise in the base rate would only serve to widen bank spreads, which would be paid for by consumers – making the peer-to-peer lending proposition “even more compelling”.

The Bank of England said yesterday that “most members of the committee expect monetary policy to be loosened in August”. One option could be to cut rates, possibly to 0.25%, which would be a record low.

If rates were indeed cut, then there may be some adjustment to the rates charged by peer-to-peer lending platforms. A number of the big US marketplace lenders have raised rates over the past few months. Prosper raised rates for the second time this year in late May, by an average of 0.29% across its loanbook. The platform’s chief risk officer Brad Pennington said that the rate hike came “in anticipation of action by the Fed to raise rates”.

But Pete Behrens, co-founder and chief commercial officer at RateSetter, says that the cost of funding for his platform is not linked to the Bank of England, and that it finds its own equilibrium.

Zopa’s head of risk Sharvan Selvam posted a column this morning on the potential impact of a shift in interest rates. Selvam first highlights the stable returns that were delivered by Zopa during the last recession, using the graph below.

Selvam also points to the predictability of the platform’s returns over the past decade. As can be seen from the graphic below, 2008 is the only year on record in which Zopa’s actual returns dropped below its expected returns.

UK P2P lender raises £7.2m, (Finextra), Rated: A

MarketInvoice, a UK-based P2P lender has secured more than £7m in its latest round of fundraising, defying the economic uncertainty around startups following the UK’s controversial vote to leave the European Union.

The funding was led by Polish private equity group MCI Capital which has also invested in Azimo, an online money transfer startup. Other investors included existing backer Northzone.

“Recent intervention by the Bank of England suggests we might see a significant reductions in bank lending. As in the aftermath of 2008, P2P lenders can once again step in to provide that funding.”

Lenders to maintain or increase P2P investments post-Referendum, (Financial Reporeter), Rated: A

Lending Works asked around 1,600 active lenders how the Brexit vote and subsequent economic volatility would affect their levels of investment in P2P lending as a relative share of their investment portfolios.

Just over 62% confirmed that they would be leaving it unchanged in the short-term, while 19% said they would be looking to increase their portfolio allocation to P2P.

‘Do investors understand alternative finance risks?’, (Financial Times), Rated: A

The Financial Conduct Authority launched a review of both peer-to-peer lending and equity crowdfunding, two different kinds of investments that are together labelled “alternative finance”.

The FCA review has not come as a surprise to the industry — it had been planned since 2014 — and it was broadly welcomed by all of the lenders and funders.

Cormac Leech, a peer-to-peer analyst at investment bank Liberum, said part of the reason for P2P’s popularity was the perceived “safety” of debt investments compared to volatility in the equities market. Mr Leech said that lumping the different sectors together may lead to confusion. “There’s a huge risk that P2P gets tarred with the same brush [as equity crowdfunding],” he said, believing the latter to have much higher levels of risk.

While the major peer-to-peer lenders have agreed on common definitions and standards, allowing investment returns to be meaningfully calculated and compared with each other, AltFi says the crowdfunding platforms have not.

The government’s Innovative Finance Isa, designed to hold alternative investments in a tax-efficient wrapper, was introduced in April but so far none of the major companies have been given full regulatory permission to launch one.

Although there have only been a handful of successful investor exits over 1,200 crowdfunded deals Mr Zheng has tracked between 2012 and 2015, he said it was too early to make any assumptions.

Asset managers run risks in the rush into peer-to-peer loans, (Financial Times), Rated: A

Asset managers such as Invesco Perpetual, Woodford Investment Management, BNY Mellon, Vanguard, Baillie Gifford and Schroders have been early adopters — but in doing so they are investing in a fledgling and divisive industry.

Cormac Leech, alternative finance analyst at Liberum, says he still considers “fraud risk” the biggest threat to the sector’s growth.

Aside from these incidents, analysts of peer-to-peer lending platforms are quick to point out that their loan books have not come under any significant pressure, and that the asset class remains untested through the credit cycle.[ Comment: everybody always forgets of Zopa and Prosper which were around in 2008 in fact ].

The effects of the UK’s decision to leave the EU may also test the platforms’ robustness. Data provider AltFi has said it will add to a “list of headwinds” for the UK’s alternative finance industry.

Doubts over P2P loans’ credit quality are most keenly expressed in the depressed share prices of the handful of investment trusts specialising in buying them. For the most part, it is through these trusts that mainstream asset managers have looked to gain their P2P exposure, rather than buying loans directly from the platforms as a retail investor would.

Two of the biggest of these funds — VPC Speciality Lending and P2P Global Investments, from US hedge funds Victory Park Capital and Eaglewood Capital respectively — have both proved popular.

Invesco Perpetual, the UK arm of the $790bn US manager, owns a third of both trusts, holding the shares within its retail funds. It also owns half of another trust — UK P2P lender Funding Circle’s SME Income fund, which invests solely in Funding Circle loans to small and medium-sized UK businesses. Woodford Investment Management, run by renowned fund manager Neil Woodford, is the second-largest holder of both the VPC and P2P trusts.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, owns an undisclosed part of an £150m stake in Funding Circle, while Vanguard holds a 5 per cent stake in Lending Club, a company that Baillie Gifford also had a 9 per cent stake in until May this year.

Peer-to-peer’s popularity was in part down to the sector’s ability to “weave a beautiful story”. “We think [the lenders] will come into trouble,” he says. “We like to own the loans, not the equity. We think we’re being better paid here than in many parts of the equity and bond markets.

But doubts over how robust their credit-checking models are remain.

“There’s a complete spectrum — it goes from people who ostensibly use an absolutely classic bank credit model [and] there are others who say they scour the internet and pick up different points [to the banks],” Mr Foottit says.

“We genuinely don’t know. We’ve all got to wait and see, and make a valid judgment.”

Can London remain a fintech hub post-Brexit?, (Growth Business), Rated: A

Given the uncertainty over whether the UK will keep its passporting rights despite Brexit, many tech giants have vocalised their interest in relocating their European headquarters from our capital. Earlier this week, London-based online money transfer firm Azimo told Reuters it was considering moving its HQ to the continent, fearing Brexit would knock London off its pedestal as a fintech capital.

“It is perfectly possible that financial stress in the short term funding markets could cause the banks to slow down or delay lending to SMEs – a repeat of what we witnessed following the financial crisis in 2008,” he tells GrowthBusiness.

Davies believes this post-Brexit uncertainty presents a two-way challenge. “Alternative lenders, like ourselves, have to make businesses more aware of what they have to offer, and SMEs have to be prepared to look at other (non-bank) options,” he says. A recent survey of UK SMEs carried out by his firm revealed that almost one in three entrepreneurs would shelve investment plans if their traditional bank turned them down for finance, which may be indicative of a slow-to-change bank-first mindset.

The post-Brexit environment may also help thin the herd, according to Nucleus Commercial Finance CEO Chirag Shah. “Any AltFi company struggling for lending volumes will be affected by the EU referendum– they were suffering pre-Brexit; Funding Knight’s near collapse is a clear example of this. Post-Brexit, these platforms will struggle even more to attract capital,” he says.

“Post-Brexit, there is the definite potential for losses to increase for funding platforms with lax underwriting standards.  However, there are also lots of opportunities: indeed a medium term lower interest rate environment will entice more investors to platforms. I believe businesses specialising in crowdfunding and property lending will have opportunities for growth.”

Peer-to-peer platforms will be paying much more attention to default risks in certain sectors if our economy does slide into recession, MarketInvoice’s Stocker warns.

While preparing for economic uncertainty may be wise in general, sounding the doom-and-gloom horn post-Brexit may be premature., says Stephen Archer, business analyst and director of Spring Partnerships.

Veteran tech entrepreneur Rupert Lee-Browne is no stranger to uncertain macroeconomic conditions, having braved the Dot.com bubble of the early noughties and the volatility of the 2008 recession at the helm of CaxtonFX. “Secure your funding,” he advises. “The chances of investors backing early or mid-stage British tech business from here on in is slim.”

Indonesia

Indonesian P2P lending KoinWorks seeks new funding round, (Deal Street Asia), Rated: B

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform KoinWorks is looking for a new investment round that will be used for activities expansion. KoinWorks connects lenders and small to medium-sized business owners. According to the company’s website, KoinWorks aims to democratize finance in Indonesia by reducing costs and making it easier for everyone to access capital.

P2P lending platforms – namely Modalku, Investree, UangTeman, GandengTangan, Amartha, and many others – are enjoying a steady increase of popularity in Indonesia, despite only 25 per cent of the population (60 million people) to have bank accounts.

Currently, fintech startups do not clearly fall under the purview of any single authority. While technology startups are regulated by the communication ministry, those engaged in financial services are governed by the Indonesian Financial Services Authority (OJK).

Sweden

How having zero experience in finance helped this founder build a .25 billion payments company, (Business Insider), Rated: A

Swedish payments startup Klarna is now a $2.25 billion company, but when CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski cofounded the company a decade ago, none of the three founders had any experience in finance whatsoever.

That was, he tells Business Insider, actually a blessing.

The cofounders were naive 23-year-olds, who didn’t think the same way that traditional bank and finance executives did, and that gave them an advantage.

One of Klarna’s earliest ideas was to try and separate “buying” and “paying” for online purchases. Everyone knows how annoying it is to input card information when you are trying to check out. The Klarna dream was to have you just input an email address, one click, and then pay later. Klarna would guarantee the payment, and customers would have a week or two to pay up.

The problem was Klarna didn’t have any money to speak of, beyond some seed capital, which was certainly not enough to cover the money during the in-between period. How were they going to get the money to pay the merchants while they waited for customers to make a payment?

Klarna’s solution was to just ask the merchants if they would be ok with waiting to get their money. “Banks would never have dreamed of asking that,” Siemiatkowski laughs. It simply wouldn’t have occurred to them that any merchants would ever agree to that. But the merchants Klarna talked with wanted to grow their online sales, badly, and were willing to experiment.

A decade later “pay after delivery” has become a cornerstone of Klarna. Klarna’s technology instantly assesses whether an online shopper is trustworthy for a particular transaction, taking up to 140 factors into account, and then assumes the risk. The customer puts in his or her email and zip code, and then gets to examine the product before paying 14 days later.

Klarna had $330 million in revenue in 2015, and is profitable, according to Siemiatkowski. It’s also in the midst of a big US push, and has been integrated with retailers like Shoes.com andOverstock.com.

Author:

George Popescu