Friday September 2nd 2016, Daily News Digest

Friday September 2nd 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s US interesting bits: a pattern in a series of FDIC communications; Deloitte claims banks going paperless reduces operations expenses by 25%; Zopa reduces interest rates by 0.2% and my commentary on central bank interest rate impact in US, UK and Australia on P2P lending. In Australia bank savings interest rate is 3%, […]

Friday September 2nd 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

Australia

 

United States

International Growth Is The Next Frontier for FinTech Companies, (Forbes), Rated: AAA

By 2020, global marketplace lending could reach almost a half trillion dollars, Morgan Stanley reports.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that there are 125 million small businesses throughout the world, including 89 million in emerging markets.

Thus, the opportunity is available for FinTech companies such as OnDeck, which began its international expansion by offering loans up to $150,000 (CAD) to small businesses in Canada. OnDeck is by far the biggest U.S. player to enter the market up north. In 2015, the company also expanded into Australia through a partnership with Commonwealth Bank (ASC: CBA) one of that country’s largest banks.

Biz2Credit recently finalized a deal with Australian Finance Group (ASX: AFG), one of Australia’s largest mortgage brokering services providers. The partnership will enable AFG brokers to provide small business borrowers with a broader range of options while allowing faster access to capital. Australia is a hotbed of FinTech activity at the moment.

Earlier this year, Biz2Credit reached an agreement with Tata Capital, the flagship financial services company of the $108 billion Tata Group, to expand the company’s financial footprint in India, and recently partnered with Kotak Mahindra Bank, India’s fourth largest private sector bank. India has 48 million small businesses, almost double the number of the United States, according to the Economic Times.

China remains a tough nut to crack for U.S.-based FinTech firms, however. According to a report by Tech Crunch, tech-savvy Chinese consumers have readily adopted online banking, money transfers, payments, crowdfunding, lending, and investing via mobile platforms. Further, Alipay, an Alibaba subsidiary, attracted 150 million clients and $93 billion within 18 months. China, as always, makes it difficult for outsiders to enter the marketplace.

Moody’s: Tie-ups between marketplace lenders, banks can benefit small businesses, (Moody’s), Rated: AAA

The partnerships that small business marketplace lenders (MPLs) are forming with banks could help them lower their non-credit costs by cutting customer acquisition costs and funding costs, Moody’s Investors Service says in a report. This in turn should lead to benefits for small businesses.

Although many small borrowers are able to borrow from MPLs, they are often unhappy about the level of interest rates that they are charged on their loans. For example, OnDeck reported in its 10-K filing with the SEC that its weighted average APR for the term loan and lines of credit was roughly 41% in Q4 2015.

Moody’s believes that while lending rates reflect credit risk, they are also high partially because the MPLs have higher customer acquisition and funding costs than banks do. The partnership with banks can help reduce both of these costs.

For example, in the OnDeck-JPMorgan Chase & Co. (A3 stable) partnership, small business clients that are approved by Chase can apply for loans up to $250,000 using the OnDeck technology platform. That allows them to benefit from the speed of an MPL’s platform while being charged lower rates than those typically charged by stand-alone small business MPLs.

FDIC on Marketplace Lending, Supervisory Appeals, and Communication, (Lexology), Rated: A

Not taking a vacation this summer, the FDIC recently published three financial institution letters on important issues for banks.

In FIL-50-2016, the agency requested comment on draft guidance regarding third-party lending. The guidance provides safety and soundness and consumer compliance measures that FDIC-supervised institutions should follow when lending through a relationship with a third party, the agency explained, supplementing the FDIC’s existing Guidance for Managing Third-Party Risk, issued in 2008.

The FDIC also asked interested parties to weigh in on updates to guidelines for institutions to appeal certain material supervisory determinations in FIL-52-2016. Intended to expand the circumstances under which banks may appeal a material supervisory determination, the proposed amendments to theGuidelines for Appeals of Material Supervisory Determinations would be effective upon adoption.

Finally, the FDIC reissued a 2011 financial institution letter to reinforce the agency’s expectations for communications with banks. “An open dialogue with bank management is critical to ensuring the supervisory process is effective in promoting an institution’s strong financial condition and safe-and-sound operation,” according to the letter.

To read FIL-50-2016, click here.

To read FIL-52-2016, click here.

To read FIL-51-2016, click here.

Proposed FDIC guidance on marketplace lending could have far-reaching impact on industry, (Lexology), Rated: AAA

Following up on its recent Supervisory Insights article on marketplace lending and Advisory on Effective Risk Management Practices for Purchased Loans and Purchased Loan Participations, the FDIC on July 31, 2016, released its proposed Examination Guidance for Third-Party Lending. If nothing else, this series of recent developments demonstrates the FDIC’s concern with the role of banks in marketplace lending. Unlike the prior two releases, the July proposed guidance is subject to public comment, with a comment period expiring October 27, 2016.

All three issuances share a common set of fundamental concerns. These include concerns that

(a) a bank may rely on a marketplace lending platform to an unjustified extent;

(b) the marketplace lending activity may not fit within a bank’s corporate strategy;

(c) that lending through a marketplace platform may not be consistent with the bank’s underwriting standards;

(d) that the bank may not adequately assure that the activity is being conducted in accordance with applicable law; and

(e) that the bank may not otherwise adequately manage risks inherent in the activity.

While the Proposed Guidance will only apply to state-chartered, FDIC-insured banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System, it could have far-reaching effects given the increased prevalence of state-chartered banks of all types in marketplace lending. Moreover, the Proposed Guidance may strain the tension between financial innovation and comprehensive regulatory oversight inherent in much of FinTech.

China P2P Lender Yirendai Plunges Another 10% As Lawsuits Pile Up, (Forbes), Rated: A

Yirendai’s stock, which trades as depositary receipts, fell by 10% yesterday to $24.09.  It has lost nearly a third of its value since Aug. 18 when it closed at $37.50. China on Aug. 23 announced lending restrictions that have triggered concerns about the growth prospects of an industry that has been hurt by fraud.

Yirendai, which is controlled by lender CreditEase of Beijing, says the U.S. suits are without merit, the government-published Shanghai Daily said today.

Shares in LendingClub of the U.S., whose owners include Chinese businessman Chen Tianqiao and business is comparable with Yirendai’s, lost 1.5%.

Banks, slow as a paper-based process, (Tradestreaming), Rated: A

According to Deloitte, by streamlining the process and adding technology to eliminate paper from the process, operating expenses in the processing divisions can be reduced by as much as 25 percent. Records management associated costs can be reduced by 60 percent to 70 percent.

Though some are experimenting with paperless branches, end-to-end paperless process is still far off. This is especially peculiar considering that since 2000, when the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act was passed, signing and maintaining documents electronically is considered a compliant way to record transactions. Other countries have similar laws.

According to Petrogiannis, there is some confusion within the banking industry about the compliance of esignatures. Additionally, not many companies have changed internal policies with the change in legislation, according to the Deloitte report. Though the report focuses on the South African banking industry, it is representative of trends in banking elsewhere.

The story of paper is symptomatic to the speed of the banking industry. It has been about 16 years since the UETA was passed and almost 10 years since Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone and the mobility revolution that followed. In this case, at least, banks are more than a decade behind both technology and regulation.

United Kingdom

Zopa drops rates, more platforms to follow?, ( AltFi), Rated: AAA

The UK’s largest marketplace lender is cutting lender rates by 0.2 per cent across all three of its products.

Interest rates on Zopa’s Access, Classic and Plus account will fall to 3.3 per cent, 4.1 per cent and 6.5 per cent, respectively, effective as of September 8th.

The rate that Zopa delivers to its lenders is, of course, inexorably linked to the rate charged to its borrowers. And that latter rate was the first to fall, as the platform took steps to remain competitive while maintaining a “high standard of borrower”.

UK peer-to-peer lenders were overwhelmingly positive in the wake of the Bank of England’s decision to cut rates in early August, with a number of sector representatives saying that the move would prompt large swathes of investors to look to P2P in the search for return. But there’ll be nothing for those investors to lend against if the platforms can’t stay competitive on the borrower side, hence today’s adjustment.

According to AltFi Data Analytics, average gross interest rates across Zopa products fell from 7.2 per cent to 6.7 per cent in July. That rate will surely fall further in August.

Rates at rival P2P lender RateSetter are determined by the market, rather than by the platform. And at this stage, the market seems to be following a similar pattern. Average gross interest rates at RateSetter fell from 4.7 per cent to 4.4 per cent in July, and one must assume that they have continued to drop in August. We should be able to say for certain within a week or two. Stay tuned.

‘No evidence’ of peer-to-peer investors underestimating risk, says P2PFA, (Bridging And Commercial), Rated: A

In August, former chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Tracey McDermott, expressed concerns that the rapid growth of the P2P marketplace could leave some investors unaware of the risks.

However, Robert Pettigrew, director of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA), insisted that this was not the case.

Louis Alexander, managing director of The Bridgecrowd, explained that the firm requires all new investors to complete a questionnaire which assesses their level of knowledgeability.

“We only select investors to join that have a suitable level of knowledge of loans, property and investing.”

LendingCrowd recommends that all investors seek independent financial advice before entering into any type of investment, including lending through LendingCrowd. Stuart Lunn, CEO of LendingCrowd, said: “…[We] recommend that investors diversify their investments as much as possible by lending to as many different borrowers as they can, to help reduce the impact of any losses on their portfolio.

European Union

France looks to crowdlending, (WindPower), Rated: A

There are four in France that focus on renewables: Lumo, Lendosphere, GreenChannel, and Enerfip. From 1 October developers will be able to borrow up to €2.5 million a year in certain cases, said Reid Feldman, a partner at the law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel.

They see crowdlending as a way to involve local citizens. When people become involved in financing “their” project, it “allows them to take ownership and become an engine of development of the project, not a spectator”, a spokesperson for developer ABO Wind said.

Meanwhile, local authorities increasingly see crowdlending as “very important for good project development”, said Laura Verhaeghe, co-founder of Lendosphere said, which has raised nearly EUR6 million in 27 funding campaigns for wind projects.

There is a lot of energy in the sector,” Feldman added, while Thomas Verhaege of developer Innovent has high expectations. “We hope in future to be able to raise all the money from private investors,” he said.

Fellow Finance opened a new financing channel for SMEs, (Email), Rated: A

Fellow Finance Oyj is the largest crowdfunding service in the Northern Europe and the first one that offers both peer-to-peer-lending services to consumers and loan-based crowdfunding to companies. Fellow Finance has intermediated loans for over EUR 72 million and the service has 104,000 users from 35 countries.

Fellow Finance has opened a crowdfunding service intended for small and medium-sized companies.

Fellow Finance is the first platform in the Northern Europe that offers loan-based crowdfunding for both companies and consumers.

Australia

The growing popularity of peer-to-peer lending, (Switzer), Rated: A

Now, the banking community is taking notice of these emerging competitors in the lending sphere. As P2P lending moves towards bigger loan offerings, rather than offering small-dollar-amount personal loans, customer bases appear to be decreasing in the big banks. As more borrowers start to outsource their loan options from the big banks, the user-friendly and efficient lending and investing experience of P2P lending could emerge as the preferred option.

Banks and the stock market are, however, not entirely redundant. With the interest rate for a one-year term deposit sitting at 3.00% p.a. with Commonwealth and Westpac, the stability of these institutions seems to be reliable for investors.

So, will P2P lending’s most significant impact be not only how it changes the process of lending, but how it changes the banking industry?

Author:

George Popescu

July 20st 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments United States A very interesting risk that has not been clearly described so far: the risk that small SMB loans end up being regulated like personal loans. A fascinating read on politics and regulators. Goldman announcing their p2p lender will be live in the fall with $16bil in lending capital from depositors. Goldman […]

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

India

Singapore

China

  • The take away from Lendit China per Orchard and Lendit Organizer Jason Jones :
    • There continues to be strong interest from Chinese Wealth Management firms to invest in US Online Lending loans
    • Investor interest is focused on making strategic equity investments in all types of global FinTech firms within Online Lending
    • Chinese Marketplace Lenders continue to increase their focus on offering more diversified products to clients including wealth management, insurance, and other financial services
    • Implementing a robust operational infrastructure is widely understood as a necessity required to successfully invest in the US Online Lending industry
United States

Small-Biz Online Lenders Aim to Dodge Consumer-Loan ‘Nightmare’, (Bloomberg DNA), Rated: AAA

Online marketplace lenders would face significantly higher regulatory hurdles if most of their loans to small businesses were reclassified as consumer loans, as the Treasury Department has recommended, an industry representative and a legal expert told Bloomberg BNA.

Officials discussed the need for greater transparency and noted that small-business loans under $100,000 “share common characteristics with consumer loans, yet do not enjoy the same consumer protections.”

The industry is pushing hard to head off the suggestion.

“They’re very smart in being concerned about that,” said Richard Eckman, a partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP in Wilmington, Del. “There are a whole host of consumer laws that apply to loans that are for personal, family and household purposes; that’s sort of the definition of a consumer loan.”

The federal consumer protection law that ranks as the biggest concern of marketplace lenders such as CAN Capital, which cater exclusively to small businesses, is the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).

“TILA, in particular, is onerous,” Eckman, a specialist in marketplace-lending law, said in an e-mail.

On May 3, 16 members of the committee’s Republican majority and three of its minority Democrats, along with House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sounding themes that foreshadowed Sanz’s testimony. The Treasury Department at that time was preparing its report on marketplace lending, and the House members wrote that they wished “to raise concerns with recent comments by public officials that seem to indicate a preference to regulate lending to small businesses and consumers similarly.”

“[W]e believe it is important for the Department to carefully study and understand key distinctions between commercial and consumer lending markets,” the letter said. “Mistaken efforts to conflate these categories would restrict the availability of capital to small business owners.”

“There’s no reason why small businesses shouldn’t have the same protection as consumers,” Lauren Saunders, associate director of the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center, in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA.

“The research has shown that these small-business owners who borrow smaller loans, under $100,000, are not that sophisticated and at times they really don’t understand the fine print, the hidden terms and conditions that we see in the typical fintech loans to small businesses,” she said. “These contracts are very opaque. The fees and terms are hidden in a way that really makes it impossible for the borrower to do any kind of comparison shopping.”

Goldman’s Shot Across LendingClub’s Bow, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

There wasn’t a ton to get excited about in Goldman Sachs’searnings report on Tuesday.

Sure, per-share earnings beat analysts’ estimates, but how excited can you get over beating an estimate that dropped like this?

However, there was a tantalizing detail or two offered on the conference call by Chief Financial Officer Harvey Schwartz about the firm’s intriguing efforts to tap into the Main Street customer base. Schwartz said that the bank would roll out its consumer lending platform this fall after surveying thousands of consumers on what they would look for in such a thing. The bank developed one product involving unsecured loans, Schwartz said as way of teaser, telling analysts to standby for more information in the fall.

This may not end up being a big enough business alone to return Goldman’s revenue to record highs, at least not in the short term. Rather, the intrigue lies in its potential to disrupt the disruptors — the online startups that have pioneered the brave new world of peer-to-peer or marketplace lending.

With 20,000 customers opening up new savings accounts on top of the $16 billion in deposits it acquired from General Electric’s online bank in the second quarter, Goldman theoretically should be able to fill in the gaps easily at times when investor demand gets skittish.

Will deposit accounts be the next wave of fintech innovation?, (DailyFintech), Rated: AAA

There’s one sector of finance that really doesn’t get a lot of airtime when it comes to fintech – deposits. Checking accounts, savings accounts, transaction accounts – while they’re the bread and butter of banking, they’ve been relatively untouched since they were first invented. You put money in, and, if you’re lucky, earn a little interest before you take the money out.

Is there an opportunity here for a fintech startup to slice away this part of a bank’s core business, by adding a little flavour to the whole deposit experience?

Serial fintech investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel certainly thinks there are opportunity in deposits. In January of this year he invested €1M into a German fintech startup Deposit Solutions.

Deposit Solutions is the first open architecture platform for retail deposits in Europe. Among many things, it solves one of the central problems for account holders related to accessing great deposit products – it eliminates the need to switch banks. Instead, a saver requires just one master account with Deposit Solutions and can then pick and choose their deposit product of choice from the Deposit Solutions marketplace.

There are a number of other fintech startups playing in this space, either building the deposits piece from scratch or interfacing into an existing authorized deposit-taking institution. Digit,SmartyPig and Qapital are a notable few. With lending having taken most of the glory to date, opportunities here are getting thin on the ground. Maybe the humble bank account is the next big fintech play.

Bridging the Great Divide: Collaboration Considerations for Banks and Marketplace Lenders, (Lexology), Rated: A

Online Platforms as Chartered Banks

The increasingly close relationship between banks and marketplace-lending platforms, as well as the uncertainty surrounding the “rent-a-charter” model to avoid state usury limits described above, have led to speculation that marketplace lenders may ultimately obtain bank charters. A fundamental issue is whether the equity and institutional investment markets will provide a stable long-term source of funding for the industry. This issue has garnered attention in recent months as leading marketplace-lending platforms have experienced steep declines in their stock prices and as questions have been raised about how lending platforms interact with fund investors and about weak secondary-market trading of asset-backed securities. The question may acquire renewed urgency in light of the governance issues at a leading marketplace lender that recently made headlines, along with its disclosure that the DOJ is now investigating. [5]

An important prudential regulatory concern with acquisitions of bank charters by marketplace lenders is a desire to avoid making the marketplace-lending industry an attractive supplier of brokered deposits, which are an unstable source of capital and may be particularly risky where a bank has inadequate anti-money-laundering controls or is undercapitalized. Regulators also anticipate grappling with the activities of many lending platforms that may be incompatible with partner banks that have charters limiting their activities to those activities that are considered “incidental to the business of banking”—typically insurance and securities work. The edgy innovations of marketplace-lending platforms that use technology in creative ways to marry finance with social media offerings are a particular challenge in this regard.

Will Madden v Midland Disrupt Loan Sales and Platform Lending?, ( National Law Review), Rated: AAA

Although Madden v. Midland applies directly only to cases where a national bank is selling or assigning a loan, the policy underlying the decision to limit the exporting authority under the NBA might also be applied to a state bank’s rate exportation powers under Section 27 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (the state bank equivalent to section 85 of the National Bank Act). Secondary market participants and marketplace lenders now wait for the decision from the District Court on remand.  If the court upholds the Delaware choice of law provision, market participants may manage the impact of the Madden v. Midlanddecision by electing a favorable choice of law provision in the underlying debt contract.  That at least will provide an option for continuing to work with national banks despite the Madden case.

Unfortunately, that solution will not work for buyers and sellers of existing loans, although presumably such parties are not too inconvenienced by a limit on the post-assignment interest that can be charged on a loan after substantial interest has already accrued, particularly if they have purchased the debt at a substantial discount.   Other lenders may continue to rely on the state banks’ ability to export interest rates.  In that situation, lenders should choose state banks whose state has a generous interest rate cap and is outside the Second Circuit.

The group impacted most by the Madden v. Midland decision appear to be marketplace lenders who acquire a loan shortly after origination and therefore have essentially all accruing interest at risk of challenge.  One alternative option  adopted by one on-line marketplace lender picking up on the “substantial interest” distinction in the Madden decision, is to require the bank loan originator to maintain an on-going economic interest in all loans after sale and receive certain payments on the loans only when borrowers made payments.

What remains following the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Madden v. Midland is an outlier Second Circuit on the issue of the “valid-when-made” rule, and the blueprint for how to apply preemption under the National Bank Act as provided by the Solicitor General in its brief, a brief that as noted above clearly considers theMadden v. Midland decision to be wrong.  Unfortunately, until such time as the right case comes along, market participants will have to make adjustments to accommodate the decision as necessary to address its impact on their particular situation.

The Outlook for Fixed Income: Stagnant Prices, Tighter Money, (Enterprising Investor), Rated: AAA

The start of a new credit cycle means that income investors will have to adjust to stagnant bond prices, and new opportunities in credit markets from peer-to-peer lending will be tested by tighter monetary policy, according to David Schawel, CFA.

Returns for fixed-income investors consist of the coupon; the shortening of the bond, known as the roll; and price appreciation. Since the 1980s, falling interest rates have caused existing bonds to appreciate, as their prices increased to match the yields of bonds issued at lower interest rates. Schawel, a portfolio manager for New River Investments, thinks interest rates are nearing a lower bound.

“Most likely we’re not going to be in a 30-year bull market for interest rates falling again,” Schawel told Will Ortel during a recent Take 15 interview.

Schawel cautions fixed-income investors against assuming that bonds will continue to appreciate. Instead, the coupon and the roll will drive returns from bonds. With the roll becoming more important, investors need to pay close attention to the yield curve. Much of the return from bonds will come from the roll while the bond is on the steep part of the curve. Recently, the curve has flattened, reducing the yield premium, as the US Federal Reserve moved to tighten monetary policy.

Schawel sees the rise of marketplace or peer-to-peer lending as indicative of inefficiencies in yield.

30 Best Workplaces sin Finance and Insurance, (Fortune), Rated: B

#23: OnDeck Capital

# of work sites 3
U.S. employees 625
Global employees 638

United Kingdom

Fintech MarketInvoice Attracts m In First ‘P2P Lender’ Major Fundraise Post Brexit, (Forbes), Rated: AAA

MarketInvoice, a 100-strong firm based on the edge of The City in the confines of London’s Silicon Roundabout, has just announced a multi-million investment totalling £7.2 million (c.$9.5m) led by MCI.TechVentures Fund of MCI Capital, a listed Polish private equity group. Sylwester Janik, a senior partner of MCI Capital, a multi-stage private equity group based in Warsaw with nearly two decades of expertise of investing in digital economy companies, has at the same time joined MarketInvoice’s board.

To date the platform has provided £850m (c.$1.11bn at current exchange rate) worth of funding to UK businesses, and the firm is set on path to reach the £1bn mark before the end of 2016. At present the firm provides over £1.5m (c.$2m) per day in cash flow finance to UK businesses via its platform. At present MarketInvoice has a current market share of around 13% in its P2P alternative financing segment.

MarketInvoice, which has seem 100% year-on-year growth over the last three years, typically charges between 2%-3% on invoices handled for clients depending on the amount of the invoice. Businesses can select those invoices they want to finance, unlocking tied-up cash in 24 hours.

“In the wake of Brexit, we think the coming months present a big opportunity for MarketInvoice. Recent intervention by the Bank of England suggests that we might see significant reductions in bank lending.”

Funding Circle SME Income Fund Raises GBP14.5 Million In Placing, (London South East), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle SME Income Fund Ltd on Wednesday said it has raised GBP14.5 million via a share placing.

The London-listed closed-ended fund, set up to invest in loans originated through peer-to-peer lending marketplace Funding Circle, said it had issued 14.3 million shares at 101.53 pence per share.

Shares in Funding Circle SME were untraded on Wednesday, having last traded at 98.00p.

The new funds from the share placing will be used to back investment plans.

Can it really be “business as usual”, (Alt Fi), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle co-founder James Meekings said “the process of leaving the European Union will take two years and there will be no immediate change to Funding Circle’s day to day operations”.

A few weeks ago, AltFi Data cut its projection for 2016 UK origination by 14%, after the £840m originated in Q2 2016 became the first quarterly volume figure ever to fail to eclipse the sum originated in the preceding quarter.

Matthias Knecht quit Funding Circle Continental Europe at the end of June. Knecht was a member of Funding Circle’s global leadership team and a former co-founder of Zencap, a peer-to-peer lending outfit which Funding Circle acquired in October 2015. An article in Gründerszene suggested that a conflict had arisen between Knecht and Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai over the allocation of resources.

LendInvest, the UK’s largest marketplace for real estate loans, has also been making changes. In the immediate aftermath of the Leave vote, LendInvest tightened its lending criteria for loans worth more than £3m, adjusting the cap on LTVs for these loans to 65%. The company has also temporarily paused lending on new second charge applications.

Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai described 2015 as the year in which “it looked like we were turning water into wine”. He described 2016, by contrast, as a year for getting heads down, and for getting on with building business.

Lately the Wall Street Journal has been set to attack mode. Its coverage of the US marketplace lending sector has become almost exclusively cynical. The Times, The Telegraph and This is Money covered the recent insolvency and subsequent acquisition of the business lender FundingKnight. How many other news items in the history of the peer-to-peer lending industry have enjoyed that level of attention in the national press? Not many!

Ben McLannahan, US Banking Editor at the FT, aptly summed the whole thing up when he posted on Twitter saying “#LendingClub = have we hit the trough of disillusionment?” He was referring to something called the Gartner Hype Cycle, which is an attempt to chart the typical growth trajectory of disruptive technology companies.

UK firm claims largest ever P2P loan, (Finextra), Rated: A

UK-based Nucleus Commercial Finance claims it has made the largest ever P2P loan to date following a £14.5 million financing facility offered to UK steel stockholder Industrial Metal Services (IMS). The company has lent more than £400m to date and Shah claims that 90% of this has already been pad back with just £5,800 incurred in bad debts.

P2P lender launches new website, (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: A

The new BridgeCrowd website features a fully online view of the current live and historic loan book, a loan performance update system and an E-Wallet, where investors can place capital into loans and manage their account and interest.

The BridgeCrowd has launched a new website with added features following strong growth over the last 18 months.

Bridge Crowd offers 68% LTVs across residential owner occupied and buy-to-let properties.

Zopa names Ronen Benchetrit CTO, (Finextra), Rated: B

The UK’s oldest peer-to-peer lending service Zopa, has today announced that Ronen Benchetrit will become the company’s new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in a strategic hire for the fintech business.

Most recently, Ronen served as CTO for leading online gaming operator PokerStars. In this role, Ronen was responsible for the provision of the areas of technology and for management of the company’s product roadmap, ensuring the quality, reliability and security of external and internal systems, networks and platforms.

India

LenDenClub Launches Automated P2P Lending Platform Adhering to Proposed RBI Guidelines, (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LenDenClub has launched its new version of P2P lending platform with features such as end-to-end automation of lender-borrower transaction cycle right from registration, document verification, credit analysis, transaction matching to report generation. An algorithmic-based program, built based on artificial intelligence, will be used for reviewing borrower’s creditworthiness. For the company, the upgradation of P2P platform will accomplish a major milestone and prepare them for payment and digital signature automation to bring 100% automation in lending process through right technology for borrower identification, data collection, digital signature usage, payment automation, etc.
The company had successfully raised seed funding recently.

Singapore

Overview of the Regulatory Framework for P2P Lending and Equity-based Crowdfunding in Singapore, ( P2P Banking), Rated: AAA

From the document published by the MAS on Lending-based Crowdfunding – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)[11], generally, the operation of P2P lending is restricted by MAS under the Securities and Futures Act (Cap. 289) (SFA) and the Financial Advisers Act (Cap. 110) (FFA).

Specifically, the P2P lending business needs to prepare and register a prospectus with MAS in accordance with Section 239(3) of the SFA. In addition, not only the registration of the prospectus but also the P2P lending platform need to follow the licensing requirements, particularly, the P2P lending business which fall within the scope provided by MAS needs to hold a Capital Market Services (CMS) license.

From the document, MAS states in paragraph 10 that “ …Platform operators should now ensure that the participants on their platforms are aware that each lender has to lend at least $100,000 if the borrower is to fall within the Promissory Note Exclusion. Offers of consolidated promissory notes commenced after the date of these FAQs must comply with the Prospectus Requirements” This means, that the P2P lending platforms, which previously used a single promissory note issued by the borrowers, need to apply for a license, if they still want to proceed their lending business; however, as provided in the MAS document, the removal of the Promissory Note Exclusion will be effected after the amendment of SFA.

This will affect many of existing P2P lending platforms such as MoolahSense and Capital Match which have the main function to help businesses to find loan from investors because some of P2P lending platforms are using a promissory note exemption without a Capital Market Services (CMS) license; however, MAS will make it easier for licensed P2P platforms. Therefore, a small offer exemption in accordance with the aforementioned law might be used by many P2P lending platforms.

China

Orchard Platform’s Jeremy Todd Shares Lang Di Fintech Experience Highlights, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

  • There continues to be strong interest from Chinese Wealth Management firms to invest in US Online Lending loans
  • Investor interest is focused on making strategic equity investments in all types of global FinTech firms within Online Lending
  • Chinese Marketplace Lenders continue to increase their focus on offering more diversified products to clients including wealth management, insurance, and other financial services
  • Implementing a robust operational infrastructure is widely understood as a necessity required to successfully invest in the US Online Lending industry

Increased interest in US Online Lenders from Chinese investors and notable US-Chinese partnerships such as those between DriveWealth and CreditEase, Robinhood and Baidu, and Saxo Bank and Lufax — that further emphasize the importance of this series of events.

Author:

George Popescu
George Popescu