Singapore Fintech Market: Overview

southeast asia fintech lending

South East Asia (SEA) is finally embracing financial technology and marketplace lending is at the heart of this boom. The breadth and depth of solutions across FinTech Lending in the region is quite impressive and clearly signifies that a digital revolution is underway in the South East Asian lending industry. Top and Emerging Fintech Sectors in […]

southeast asia fintech lending

South East Asia (SEA) is finally embracing financial technology and marketplace lending is at the heart of this boom. The breadth and depth of solutions across FinTech Lending in the region is quite impressive and clearly signifies that a digital revolution is underway in the South East Asian lending industry.

Top and Emerging Fintech Sectors in South East Asia by Country

Singapore in particular has become a hub for the nascent fintech lending industry. It is the runaway leader in the region and holds 52% of the market share (both by number of deals and money invested). It is followed by Philippines which accounts for 14%, Thailand 13% and Indonesia 12%.

However, with so many different governments involved, SEA poses an overregulation risk. Already, P2P lenders here have to criss-cross through various layers of regulations that their competitors in other regions don’t have to face.

Singapore Fintech Market: Overview

Singapore has always been known as the technology capital of Asia; MNCs and financial institutions have considered it a natural choice as HQ for their Asian operations. Though Singapore has deep roots in technology and innovation but ironically it got on the Fintech bandwagon rather late. But with the support of regulators, Singapore has established itself as the “Fintech Hub” of South East Asia. Singapore fintech market crossed $83 million in deals during the second quarter of 2017. In 2016, investment in Singapore based fintech companies dropped by staggering 65 percent (US$605 million to US$214 million), as per KPMG International study- Pulse of Fintech. But interestingly the number of deals decreased by only two to 28 during the same period. The main reason for the fall was complicated authorization process for fintechs, but Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working aggressively to streamline the authorization process, in order to attract more fintechs to Singapore.

Regulatory Ecosystem

“Over the longer term, MAS hopes to see more fintechs using Singapore as a base to pilot and then deploy solutions to other countries within South-east Asia, such as Indonesia and Thailand,” said Mr Chia Tek Yew, the head of financial services advisory at KPMG Singapore.

Monetary Authority of Singapore; the regulatory body has backed the fintech industry right from the get go and that is the reason why Singapore has become the leader in South East Asia. Some of those favorable regulations are mentioned below:

  • Last year, under the “FSTI” scheme, MAS committed S$225 million (US$164.2 million) over the next five years to foster the innovation ecosystem in Singapore.
  • It also developed the road map that showed the central bank’s move toward an open Application Programming Interface (API) architecture.
  • In association with National Research Foundation, it announced the establishment of a dedicated FinTech office to facilitate the use of technology and innovation in the financial sectors (FinTech office to review, align and enhance FinTech-related funding schemes across government agencies).
  • It also released a consultation paper on proposed guidelines for a ‘regulatory sandbox’ that will enable financial institutions (FIs) as well as non-financial players to experiment with financial technology (FinTech) solutions.
  • Struck partnership with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to help FinTech companies from their respective countries scale into each other’s markets and help reduce regulatory uncertainty and time to market and it is trying to strike such more partnerships with other countries as well.
  • MAS have also announced it will be opening a fintech innovation hub “the looking glass” to promote innovation.
  • It also released a consultation paper on proposed changes to the payments regulatory framework and establishment of a National Payments Council, whose key initiatives are to promote interoperability and adoption of common standards.

This highlights that though the regulator was slow from the blocks, but has aggressively covered ground to create a supportive environment for the fintech lending community.

Leading players in the Singapore Market

Capital Match ( an online peer-to-peer lending marketplace for SMEs based in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It provides SMEs with affordable working capital from professional investors through its online platform. It was founded in 2014 by Arnaud Bailly, Kevin Lim, and Pawel Kuznicki. Since inception, it has facilitated over S$60 million in cumulative origination. It has raised S$1,000,000 from three investors; Innosight Ventures being the lead investor. It offers business and SME loans and invoice financing facilities of S$50,000- S$200,000 with loan duration ranging from 3-12 months.

Minterest ()- Minterest is a peer-to-business financial technology platform founded by a team of former bankers with more than 120 years of collective experience in corporate and structured finance. It was founded in 2016 by Charis Liau, Ronnie Chia, and Wei Choong Loo. It offers various flexible funding options with interest rate as low as 1% and loan terms ranges from 3-12 months.

SmartFunding ( is a platform that provides trustworthy alternative financing solutions that are 100% focused on small and medium businesses. It was founded in 2016 and raised S$700,000 as seed funding. It offers invoice financing to SMEs.

FinAccel ( FinAccel is a financial technology company creating products for the retail credit sector for Southeast Asia. With an all-star team of investors, founders and employees, FinAccel is currently focused on disruption in the unsecured lending space. It was founded in 2015 by Akshay Garg, Alie Tan, and Umang Rustagi. It raised S$1,100,000 from various rounds of funding. Kredivo is the flagship product developed by the company; it gives ecommerce shoppers instant credit financing based on real-time decisioning. Jungle Ventures led the funding round in the company.

InvoiceInterchange ( is a peer-to-peer invoice-trading marketplace that provides working capital solutions to fund growth for small- to medium-sized enterprises. It offers both selective invoice discounting and the whole turnover invoice discounting to SMEs. It was founded in 2015 by Brian Teng and Nalinee Chinowuthichai. Investor fee is typically between 0.8% – 1.5% (per 30-days) of the advanced amount. Transaction fee is typically between 1.0%-1.5% of invoice amount.

Conclusion

Singapore has emerged as an undisputed leader in the SEA region but considering it has always been the gateway to Asia, it will certainly want to have a bigger share of the fintech lending pie. The MAS has laid out a well-thought out road map to attract startups and investments. With a massive demand-supply mismatch in credit, Singapore is poised to witness a marketplace-lending boom.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Thursday June 1 2017, Daily News Digest

India fintech venture capital

News Comments Today’s main news: Fitch rates Prosper Marketplace Issuance Trust, Series 2017-1. Zopa raises 32M GBP to start a bank. Evolute raises 5.5M Euro. Capital Match hits S$40M originations. Today’s main analysis: Fintech startups hit purple patch, VCs make a beeline. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 80s generation team made a difference. Family offices eye real estate online. United States […]

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United States

Fitch Rates Prosper Marketplace Issuance Trust, Series 2017-1 (FitchRatings), Rated: AAA

Fitch Ratings-New York-25 May 2017: Fitch Ratings has assigned the following ratings and Rating Outlooks to the notes issued by Prosper Marketplace Issuance Trust, Series 2017-1 (PMIT 2017-1):

–$311,300,000 class A ‘A-sf’; Outlook Stable;
–$70,670,000 class B ‘BBB-sf’; Outlook Stable.

Collateral Quality: PMIT 2017-1 has a weighted average (WA) FICO score of 706, including 28.1% of non-prime borrowers with FICO scores below 680. The introduction of PMI7, the latest generation of Prosper’s credit model, shifted the company’s risk appetite toward lower credit grades. Due to this, Fitch assigned cumulative gross default (CGD) assumptions for the 36- and 60-month loans in this pool of 13.75% and 20.75%, respectively, increased from previous transactions.

Form 8-K Elevate Credit, Inc. For: May 31 (Street Insider), Rated: A

On May 31, 2017, Elevate Credit, Inc. issued a press release announcing the Elastic line of credit product surpassed $200 million in outstanding loans. A copy of the press release is attached hereto as Exhibit 99.1.

Massachusetts AG Obtains Judgment Against Online Auto Title Lender for Illegal Loans (JD Supra), Rated: A

On May 25, 2017, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (“Massachusetts AG”) announced a final judgment and permanent injunction entered in Suffolk Superior Court against an unlicensed online auto title lender, permanently banning the company from operating in Massachusetts and voiding over 200 loans made by the company to Massachusetts borrowers. The judgment also prohibits the title lender from repossessing any of the vehicles connected to the loans, and orders the company to pay $1.135 million in civil penalties and nearly $200,000 in restitution.

Why traditional financial service firms are having difficulty competing with technology startups for talent (Orchard Platform), Rated: A

Figuring out how best to approach fintech has many traditional financial institutions scratching their heads. According to a report earlier this year, almost 60 percent of them are developing fintech capabilities in house. Of these, only 2.8 percent say they’ve successfully embedded innovation into their company cultures. Even “moderately structured” fintech initiatives challenge these companies; less than a third (29.2%) have managed to implement such projects. Building a creative culture of innovation within a large, risk-averse institution is turning out to be a much more complicated problem than many of them expected.

It’s easy to dismiss big financial institutions as slow and sclerotic compared to startups. In reality, it’s not even fair to compare the two. Traditional banking and financial service firms operate under very different constraints and attract an entirely different type of employee. An engineer who is best suited for a startup likely won’t be a good fit at a traditional firm and vice versa.

Open source libraries, modern software design, the availability of cheap hardware, and the support of venture capital have provided the foundation for the current explosion of startups focused on developing financial technology. These attributes make them a big draw, attracting both top engineering graduates, battle-tested coders, and recent MBAs alike.

Lenders Optimistic that Policy Changes Could Benefit the Lending Environment (Altisource Email), Rated: A

A large majority of lenders surveyed (73 percent) believe the new administration’s policies will have a positive impact on the lending environment, according to the 2017 Lenders One® Mortgage Barometer, a survey of 200 mortgage lending professionals.

Lenders are also ready to make investments in their organizations’ business operations. In fact, 42 percent of lenders indicate their biggest investment is in operational changes (hiring new staff, compliance support and software support), and 25 percent of lenders surveyed say they are currently making the greatest investment in marketing. While these investments are necessary for the industry to keep pace with consumer demand, they may also be driving up the cost per loan, with 65 percent of respondents indicating that the cost per loan will continue to increase.

Regulations Don’t Weigh Quite as Heavy on Lenders in 2017
Lenders are ready for new regulatory requirements, such as updates to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), with two-thirds (65 percent) indicating they are very prepared for HMDA changes. Yet, the biggest HMDA compliance challenge for lenders is around additional resources needed to report transactional data, such as home equity lines of credit (HELOC) and dwelling secured loans for apartments. While lenders are investing in staff and technology, about one-third (32 percent) of them cite challenges with securing additional resources to report, connect and analyze transactional data.

E-closings See Broad Adoption a Decade after Their Inception
Though 39 percent of lenders report they are not using electronic closings (e-closings) on mortgage loans, a third of those respondents expect their organizations to implement e-closings in one to two years, on average. The majority (61 percent), however, say their organization has implemented e-closings while seasoned lenders — those in the business for 10 or more years — are the predominant category of lenders utilizing them (67 percent).

Banks’ emerging strategy for digital advice: All channel access (Financial-Planning), Rated: A

As banks wade into digital advice, they do so knowing they will need to appeal to every stripe of client, rather than a specific niche.

The strategy then calls for relying on an advantage banks still have over virtual competitors and even wealth management firms, says Mark Jordahl, president of U.S. Bank’s wealth management group: meeting clients in multiple channels, including bank branches.

U.S. Bank is one of several institutions that paired with BlackRock to launch a digital wealth platform, and Jordahl says that it is on track to be launched this year.

Fintech goes to Washington: Regulators, financial firms discuss wave of future (The Hill), Rated: A

As financial technology (fintech) startups enhance collaboration with traditional financial institutions to diversify and modernize financial services, a better understanding of how the regulatory environment impacts a company’s operations is becoming increasingly critical.

Two-way conversations: Regulators have set up new initiatives to allow them to engage directly with fintechs. Many of the regulators have designated a single entry point to make it easier for fintechs to open a dialogue.

Both the CFPB and OCC have begun holding office hours for fintechs in New York and elsewhere and have dedicated personnel to fostering engagement with fintechs.

Dissemination of information: The regulators are interested in learning about new technologies‎ to ensure that information about emerging technology is spread throughout and between agencies.

Clear expectations: Regulators are focused on potential operational risks associated with the use of novel technologies and expect financial institutions to meet high standards for the due diligence and monitoring of their third-party service providers, especially around cybersecurity and data security.

No silver bullet: The regulatory landscape in financial services is complex, and there is no silver bullet for the adoption of new technologies.

5 Startups Using Machine Learning And Behavioral Biometrics To Fight Fraud (CB Insights), Rated: A

Using CB Insights database we identified 5 cybersecurity startups to watch that are working on fighting fraud with a mix of behavioral biometrics and machine learning. We selected these private companies based primarily on CB Insights’ Mosaic scoring algorithm, which uses financial and non-financial signals to assess the health of private companies.

Ravelin offers a fraud detection and prevention platform that allows organizations that rely on online payments to automatically examine customer behavior in real-time and identify fraudsters before they do damage.

Simility offers a fraud prevention platform which combines machine learning and data visualization technology with a rules engine to help protect enterprises from fraud.

Shift Technology is a SaaS company designed to detect potential insurance fraud.

Socure’s social biometrics solution helps organizations detect fraudulent users on websites and in mobile applications using machine learning algorithms.

Sift Science provides machine learning software that automatically learns and detects fraudulent behavioral patterns, alerting businesses before they or their customers are defrauded.

How to identify and fight online fraud (TransUnion), Rated: A

Read Leveraging Collective Data to Combat Lending Fraud to uncover:

  • What types of online fraud to be wary of
  • How an integrated fraud solution helps eliminate gaps and weaknesses
  • How to leverage collective data across the industry

Key to acquire HelloWallet from MorningStar in latest fintech bid (Crain’s Cleveland Business), Rated: B

KeyCorp has announced plans to acquire software platform HelloWallet from Morningstar Inc.

Terms of the deal, which marks yet another fintech partnership for the Cleveland-based bank holding company, were not disclosed.

Fin-tech firms offer ways to diversify investments: Dusty Wunderlich (RGJ), Rated: B

In January, the Dow Jones surpassed 20,000 for the first time and the Case-Schiller Housing Index hit all time high at 185.56.

What then is causing the markets to continue to rise? Artificially low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve have allowed for cheap borrowing.

Thankfully there are many great financial technology companies giving individual investors new ways in which to diversify away from traditional markets.

  • Cryptocurrency
  • Precious Metals
  • Fine Art
  • Peer-To-Peer Lending: Lending Club and Prosper built the first platforms to directly invest in consumer loans. Low interest rates policy means low fixed income returns in the bond market. Peer-to-peer lending is one of the few fixed income investments left to obtain 8 percent plus in returns.

6 of the best crowdfunding sites for commercial real estate (Realty Biz News), Rated: B

There are numerous crowdfunding platforms available on the market, and Realty Biz News has identified six of the best for those interested in buying commercial real estate.

  1. PATCH OF LAND
  2. ACQUIRE REAL ESTATE
  3. FUNDRISE
  4. REALTY MOGUL
  5. CROWDSTREET
  6. REALTYSHARES

Family Office Networks Launches Los Angeles Family Office Association for Wealthy Families (PR Newswire), Rated: B

Family Office Networks announced today the launch of a new division in Los Angeles led by local resident James R. (Jim) Hedges, IV. Family offices, high net worth individuals and the top advisors who serve them are invited to join the Los Angeles Family Office Association, which will host events on a regular basis across Los Angeles. The group will celebrate its local kick off with an exclusive, invitation-only networking event this summer at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The Los Angeles Family Office Association (losangelesfoa.org) will serve one of the most intellectually astute family office regions in the country. The group is designed to serve the extremely accomplished single and multi-family office community by creating an environment in which to share intellectual capital, leverage their years of industry expertise, and bring unique industry-generated deal flow and opportunities.

United Kingdom

Zopa completes fundraising ahead of bank transition (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

ZOPA has closed a £32m investment round led by Indian financial conglomerate Wadhawan Global Capital (WGC) and European venture capital fund Northzone, following which WGC’s chairman will join the peer-to-peer platform’s board, the firm confirmed on Thursday.

Kapil Wadhawan will join the consumer lender’s management board to help lead its transition towards a double-operation model comprising new banking propositions such as credit, savings and insurance products.

Zopa’s plans to become a “next-generation bank”, which first emerged last November, will enable the firm to expand its product range to service UK consumers more thoroughly.

Victory Park Capital fund toughens fees, exits Funding Circle US loans (AltFi), Rated: AAA

The board of the £358m VPC Specialty Lending Investments fund is introducing a hurdle on its performance fees payable to its investment manager Victory Park Capital.

The new hurdle, which came into effect from 1 May 2017, means the payment of the performance fee to the investment manager will be conditional portfolio achieving at least a 5 per cent per annum total return for shareholders. This will be relative to a high water mark starting from 30 April 2017.

Woodford and Artemis ramp up RateSetter stakes (Citywire), Rated: AAA

Neil Woodford and fund group Artemis have added to their stakes in RateSetter, after the peer-to-peer lender conducted a funding round to finance the launch of its Innovative Finance ISA.

RateSetter has raised £13 million from existing shareholders, including Woodford and Artemis, in a fundraise that valued the unquoted business at over £200 million.

RateSetter has now raised more than £40 million from investors since its launch in 2010.

Growth Street sees strong demand from millennials (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

ALMOST 40 per cent of Growth Street’s investors are under 35 years old, research from the peer-to-peer lending platform showed.

The firm, which channels funds to small- and medium-sized enterprises, said that 37.5 per cent of its retail lenders are 35 years old or younger, contradicting recent criticism that millennials lack savings and investment skills.

Major banks add crowdfunder to alternative lender panel (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: A

Seedrs has been invited to join NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) select panel of alternative funding solutions.

The crowdfunder has become an equity funding partner in the banks’ Capital Connections programme.

The panel allows NatWest and RBS relationship managers to offer UK business and commercial customers an alternative solution if their standard finance offerings aren’t suitable.

A third of people put no money away last quarter (Rochdale Online), Rated: A

More than a third of UK adults (37 per cent) have not saved or invested a penny in the last three months, according to a quarterly tracker launched by RateSetter this month.

On average, people put away £211 each month in the last quarter.

Men saved significantly more than women over the period (£246 a month, compared to £175).

25-34 year olds put away the most over that period (averaging £245 a month), followed by those of retirement age (£228 a month – aged 65+). Younger adults, aged 18-24, put away the least (£141 per month).

One in five (19 per cent) say that they currently have no savings at all, and two in five (43 per cent) no investments.

Average total savings and investments stand at £17,811 and £20,138 respectively.

Fintech firm partners with broker for Mifid II solution (Citywire), Rated: B

Fintech firm Red Deer has partnered with brokerage firm Westminster Research Associates to provide what they describe as an end-to-end Mifid II solution for the asset management industry.

The two businesses will offer research valuation and payments solution that meet Mifid II regulatory requirements around research consumption and valuation—whilst at the same time improving operational efficiencies.

China

Standing in the Right Wind, the 80’s generation team made a difference. (Jade Value), Rated: AAA

Several years ago, the best-selling book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” convinced people that a person knowing how to invest would be the winner of his life. If we see this as a criteria, then Yang Li, the founder of Xeenho, would be a “winner” already in young age. At his time in 2012, Yang Li was still pursuing his PhD at Central South University. Due to his research in P2P projects, he became considered as the “master of investment” by his friends and family,and even started investing their money for them.

P2P finance started to grow in China around 2008, but did not become well known among the public until 2012. Suddenly, individual investors discovered that the internet also could serve as an instrument for financial investment, allowing them to lend their money to other people for a financial return. This became attractive, especially as P2P companies started to promise clients over 10% returns. However, due to the large increase in number of platforms and lack of good practice, many scandals and bad press arose, consequently bankrupting a lot of the P2P platforms or getting them shut down. In addition, most P2P platforms were run from tier-1 cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, far away from investors in sub-tier cities, i.e.borrowers and lenders on P2P platforms were located in areas with different capital needs and risk tolerance.

Although Yang Li researched P2P platforms from an academic perspective, he discovered a golden business opportunity, as there was an obvious demand from individual investors for professional investment advice. At the same time, the market for online investment advisory was just in its infant stage, with no players offering Robo-advisory services for investors, consequently a whole untapped market full of opportunities.

Yang Li founded Xeenho in 2014, a financial asset management platform, which evaluates P2P platforms risk profiles, and re-packs P2P assets into their own low-risk portfolio. He chose to headquarter Xeenho in Changsha, Hunan province, a second-tier Chinese city, with a clear purpose: “Since there are no financial institutions locating their headquarters in Changsha, many students cannot find a financial job in the city after graduation. They can only work in marketing or other areas.”

At that time, Yang Li only had one other partner, the co-founder Huang Zhenyu. The third co-founder Yang Xue, was still working with a large financial institution in Changsha, but realized that in order to advance in her professional development in her current company, she would have to re-locate to another province. Yang Xue and Yang Li studied their PhD together, and through her work experience she has developed a unique understanding of financial risk management. Yang Li finally managed to persuade her to join after many attempts, and as they already had known each other for many years, trust was already established between them.

Another key member of the team, Ding Yan, used to be a researcher in a listed company in Hengyang, Hunan province. She was not only a classmate to Yang Li before, but also his partner in several math contests. Consequently, she was an obvious choice when built the team.

Although Xeenho has strong theoretical know-how, the reality of building a company is tough with everyday ups and downs. Yang Li nicely told this with his anecdote of a special day. On the 2nd of May 2015, when his daughter was born, Xeenho also experienced a huge increase in number of fake users signing up to receive the registration reimbursement promoted through 10 RMB digital ‘Hongbao’s’, attracting thousands of new users daily. During normal days, this number was normally under 100. The fast increase offake users coupled with the inadequate marketing cost of acquiring them, forced Xeenho to start doing fraud assessment on each new registered manually by phone.

Xeenho’s business may look simple on the outside, but is actually complex looking under the hood. Through Xeenho’s platform, investors are introduced to and guided to the right P2P asset investment for their specific requirements. Compared to registering directly on a single P2P platform, Xeenho’s approach has several advantages. 1) Each asset package is composed of a range of P2P platform assets, which diversifies their portfolio and reduce risk. 2) Xeenho conducts in-depth research and risk management of each platform listed on their platform, in order to detect sudden changes and give investors first-hand information to lower their investment risk. In other words, Xeeno serves like an investor risk management assistant, which they are also earning commissions for.

This comes with a certain operational complexity, as Xeeno has to deal with more than a thousand different P2P platforms, on a real-time information basis. If investments has to be withdrawn from a platform, they need to monitor the original creditors’ rights and debts from the packaged assets. This is the core value of Xeenho, to have first-hand information before any retail investor in regards to debtors and P2P platforms.

Micro-loan network to share shares shares Yangquan Bank holding 9.76% (01 Caijing), Rated: A

According to WeChat public number “P2P intelligence agency” news that micro-loan network has been shares Yangquan City Commercial Bank Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Yangquan Bank).

European Union

Swiss fintech startup Evolute raises €5.5 million Series A (Tech.EU), Rated: AAA

Swiss fintech startup Evolute has raised €5.5 million in Series A financing. The investors were not disclosed. Evolute has also just been accepted into the Swiss Startup Factory’s Growth Accelerator Program.

The company says the new capital will be used for further development of its wealth management platform, and to develop more innovative technologies for personalized portfolio optimization.

Russian Banks Launch FinTech Lab Incubator (PYMNTS.com), Rated: A

Mastercard announced Monday (May 29) that Russian financial firms working within the collaborative FinTech acceleration program Fintech Lab has chosen 12 FinTech startups they plan to mentor and guide through the program.

International

TECH-SAVVY FAMILY OFFICES EYE REAL ESTATE ONLINE (CampdenFB), Rated: AAA

A new generation of tech-savvy investment officers are providing family offices with access to buoyant global property markets via new innovative online real estate portals, says Emmanuel Lumineau, chief executive at BrickVest, the London-based online real estate investment platform.

Maintaining wealth across generations has always been a complex task and the fallout from the financial crisis of 2008 resulted in many family offices focusing upon avoiding risk. Preventing the permanent loss of capital, counterparty and credit risk and a lack of liquidity have been an ongoing concern in the family office sector in recent years. There are about 3,000 single family offices globally, at least half of which were set up during the past two decades, according to a white paper published in 2014 by Credit Suisse. Administrative family offices are estimated to have assets of between $50 million and $100 million US dollars, according to the Zurich-based investment bank.

Family offices and high net-worth investors – with €8 billion of assets – make up the bulk of investors using the platform. These investors are poised to deploy €300 million on the platform over the next year, primarily in European and US real estate. The BrickVest platform has attracted about 200 real estate sponsors with €170 billion of assets under management.

Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance Releases Their Second Americas Report (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Here are some highlights of the report.

Market size and growth

  • The online alternative finance market in the America’s grew to $35.2 billion in 2016, up 23% from 2015.
  • The 2016 US market volume of $34.5 billion marked a 22 per cent year-on-year increase from 2015.
  • Canada’s alternative finance market grew to $334.5 million, a 62 per cent year-on-year increase from 2015.

Prevailing online alternative finance models

  • In the US, consumer marketplace lending continued to account for the largest share of market volume with $21 billion recorded in the US in 2016 (up 17 per cent).
  • Balance sheet business lending became the second largest model in the US in 2016 with $6 billion originated, surpassing balance sheet consumer lending which had $3 billion.
  • In Canada, donation-based crowdfunding remained the top alternative finance model with $105.9 million, but balance sheet business lending rose at a rate of 282 per cent to $103.3 million in 2016.

Businesses tapping alternative finance

  • An estimated 218,188 businesses raised funds across the Americas from online alternative finance channels in 2016, led by the US with 143,344.
  • A total of $9.2 billion in alternative business funding was raised in 2016, which is distributed largely to the US ($8.8 billion).
  • Equity-based Crowdfunding reached $569.5 million.
  • Over two-thirds (71 per cent) of Latin America/Caribbean online alternative business finance came from Chile ($97.1 million) and Mexico ($69.5 million).

An Interview with Grégoire de Lestapis, CEO of Lendix Spain (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Gregoire de Lestapis has left traditional banking, most recently the direction of BBVA France, for the world of fintech entrepreneurship. In 2016, he joined Lendix, the French SME lending group, as head its Spanish subsidiary and member of the executive team.

Spain is home to very large banks and has among the highest density of commercial bank branches in Europe, why did Lendix decide to enter this overbanked market?

Firstly, the rapid consolidation of the Spanish banks after the financial crisis of 2008 has fractured the relationship between SMEs and their bank.

The credit crunch that followed the crisis made many otherwise viable SMEs bankrupt. Scandals such as the abusive practice of the “floor lending rate clause” emerged. SMEs felt betrayed. The shock was all the greater as they were completely dependent on banks.

Secondly, regulatory requirements such as Basel II are making it less profitable for Spanish banks to serve SMEs. They would prefer to limit their exposure to 25% of the overall liabilities of a given SME.

The third point is that Spanish banks’ credit processes are still very inefficient.

Contrary to what the term “alternative lending” says, we don’t view Lendix as an alternative to banks. All our customers, lenders as well as borrowers, have one or several established banking relationships. Our strategy is to position our offering as complementary to banks’.

What about the competition from other SME lending marketplaces?

Since our first operation in February 2017, we have completed about 10 loan transactions of an average value of €350,000 and an average maturity of 47 months.

Isn’t the Spanish default rate of business loans quite high? 

Indeed, the default rate has steadily decreased from its peak of 13%, but it remains high at 8%. We are therefore very cautious. However, the main cause of defaults was the real estate sector. Outside of this sector, the default rate is much lower. Spain’s GDP growth rate is a solid 3% per year.

Olivier Goy, the founder and CEO of Lendix talks about the company’s international expansion as being multilocal, can you explain?

What mutilocal means is that, while sharing the European goal, vision and values, local teams are on the ground and fully immerse themselves in the local context. They make sure that the company respects local regulations. For example, a Spanish retail investor can lend a maximum of €3,000 per project and a total of €10,000 per year, whereas there is only a limit of €2,000 per project in France. As we enable French, Spanish and Italian investors to lend across borders, implementing these different thresholds is quite challenging.

India

Fin-tech startups hit purple patch as VCs make a beeline (VC Circle), Rated: AAA

A VCCircle analysis shows that since the beginning of the year, at least 24 fin-tech startups have raised venture funding. And the inflows have been well-distributed across the broader fin-tech space—while digital wallet firm Paytm may have got the biggest slice of the funding pie, raising a whopping $1.4 billion from SoftBank, online lending and payment gateway startups are also hot in terms of investor interest.

Wealth and expense management, financial advisory and investment platforms have also managed to raise capital over the last five months.

The most recent one was US-based Ebix Inc. acquiring an 80% stake in India’s ItzCash Card Ltd for $120 million (Rs 778 crore), a move aimed at gaining a foothold in India’s fast-expanding digital payments market.

Rahul Chandra, co-founder and managing director at Helion Venture Partners, is looking to raise $100 million for early-stage fund Unitary Helion. Rahul Chandra, co-founder and managing director at Helion Venture Partners, is looking to raise $100 million for early-stage fund Unitary Helion.

Banks now bank on fintech companies for more customers (India Times), Rated: A

Banks are no longer fighting financial-technology startups, instead they are gaining from them in terms of acquiring more customers and reducing operational costs leading to a flurry of partnerships in recent months.

RBL Bank, which has partnerships with more than 90 startups, has been able to acquire 30% of its total 2.8 million customers through these tieups, said Rajeev Ahuja, head of strategy retail and financial inclusion at RBL Bank.

MoneyTap, a startup that has tied up with RBL Bank to give lines of credit to customers, was able to bring 2,00,000 users to the bank through downloads of its app, chief executive Bala Parthasarathy said. The app targets the lower-middle income group and offers chatbot tech to be the “front end of the bank”, he said.

Another bank to have seen significant impact from such partnerships is Yes Bank, which acquires nearly 20% of its customers through digital channels, such as through its partnerships with PaisaBazaar and Niyo.

“Constructive Synergy”: Indian P2P Lender Faircent Introduces New Student Loan (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Indian online P2P lending platform Faircent.com announced a new semi-secure student loan product in collaboration with Bangalore-based micro-lending startups.  Lenders ay also opt for a partly-secured alternative-investment opportunity that delivers a higher return. Under the partnership, college students may fund purchase of items such as laptops, books and smart mobile, by registering their loan requirements on the platform at a “reasonable rate” with a flexible loan period ranging between 6 and 36 months.

Singapore

Singapore’s biggest marketplace lender hits S$ 40 million originations (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Singaporean marketplace lender Capital Match has hit S$40 million in loans funded and has started rolling out infrastructure to onboard European investors.

The company, the largest marketplace lender in Southeast Asia, is hoping Singapore’s strong fintech scene and the chance to diversify into Singaporean dollars will lure foreign investors.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Wednesday May 31st, Daily News Digest

Wednesday May 31st, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: Behind the scenes as Orchard platform struggles, Earnest Prices $175 million Securitization, Peer-to-peer lender Wellesley & Co. pauses origination, RateSetter raises funds as it prepares to list, China Minsheng Investment leads $262m pre-IPO Today’s main analysis : LendingClub Files Presentation in Advance of Annual Shareholders Meeting, Parallels to the High Yield Bond Market, Today’s thought-provoking articles: Blackrock’s Consumer […]

Wednesday May 31st, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

Korea

Australia

India

Singapore

News Summary

United States

Victory Park Capital sells Funding Circle US and Upstart loans, (Peer2Peer), Rated: AAA

The London-listed investment trust said that the loans sold represented 3.65 per cent and 1.48 per cent respectively of the company’s net asset value (NAV) as of 31 March. The firm said it will retain its non-performing Funding Circle US and Upstart loans, which represented 0.68 per cent and 0.21 per cent respectively of NAV as of 31 March 2017.

VPC announced in November 2016 that it was winding down its P2P lending portfolio, after losses triggered substantial writedowns.

Taking into account the loan sales, the company’s balance sheet investments accounted for 63 per cent of the NAV as of 31 March 2017, as compared to 17 per cent for the marketplace loans.

“The company expects to re-invest substantially all of the sale proceeds into balance sheet investments, as well as other strategic uses,” it said in a stock exchange announcement on Friday.

Fintech has peaked, claims Morgan Stanley report, (Alt Fi News), Rated:AAA

In a pessimistic new report, researchers from Morgan Stanley have concluded that while fintech companies style themselves as disruptors they will do more to strengthen than undermine incumbents in the long term.

“Only five disruptors have survived as standalone entities out of over 450 fintech firms launched during the dotcom era,” the report said.

Fintech has been most promising in areas lacking infrastructure and where established players have been weakest. This was particularly true of blockchain and robo-advice.

However, these trends are reversing as major financial institutions have started building their own robo-advisors and acquiring blockchain startups.

“Independent start-ups in the robo-advisor space will struggle to be profitable given the high cost of acquisition and intensifying competition.

“We think however that established financial advisors, banks, insurers, etc. will keep automating parts of their value chain…to improve the infrastructure for established incumbents.”

“Marketplace lenders are poised to grow at a… moderate pace leveraging traditional institutions as primary sources of capital; in essence serving as a more efficient customer acquisition and servicing channel for traditional lenders.

“We remain bullish on the potential for marketplace lenders to take share, as they benefit from regulatory arbitrage and changing consumer behavior.”

Behind the Scenes at Orchard Platform, a Struggle to Innovatete, (NY Times), Rated: AAA

“We’re launching a full marketplace from scratch,” Mr. Burton said a few months later, at Orchard’s Flatiron district office, and we “hope everyone shows up.” But they didn’t.

More than a year after Mr. Burton revealed his big plans, Orchard has completed just a scattering of transactions. Over that time, it burned through more than $5 million in legal fees and other expenses.

Next month, hoping to add momentum, Orchard plans to unveil a scaled-back version of the platform, eight months later than first planned.

But regardless of the company’s fate, its struggles thus far reveal just how hard it can be for a new entrant — even one with successful founders, a promising service and big-name investors — to break into a highly regulated industry.

Seeking financial expertise, Orchard recruited a few Wall Street veterans from Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns. In late spring of last year, Mr. Burton had more than a dozen roadshow meetings with executives from the largest loan platforms, including Lending Club, Prosper Marketplace and Social Finance.

He hoped to charge them monthly fees of $2,500 to $5,000 to participate. Orchard also offered them the ability to be its “data partners,” so Orchard could standardize their data for trading purposes — which Mr. Burton called “the big heavy lift.”

Orchard also enlisted the help of Meredith Cross, a lawyer at WilmerHale and the former head of corporate finance at the Securities and Exchange Commission, as it met with Wall Street regulators.

But in July, S.E.C. officials told Orchard that they would consider loans being traded as securities, potentially imposing a tougher level of oversight. That made some lenders nervous about participating. Some lenders were also concerned about exposing investors they had cultivated to loans from competitors.

“We do not have a current need for a trading platform,” said Ryan Rosett, a chief executive of Credibly, which offers small-business loans. “Our capital markets team has the ability to sell our loans directly to a pool of institutional investors.”

Orchard was also fighting a separate headwind. The broader market for online loans was being buffeted by higher consumer loan defaults and investor fears. Some online lenders cut staff members, and others shut down as loan growth dried up.

As Orchard X struggled to get going, he said, legal documents for trades had “ballooned to 150 pages from a 20-page contract,” leaving him exasperated. “I’m a tech guy!” he said.

As it moves forward, Orchard has played down the regulatory issue, proceeding without an explicit formal S.E.C. ruling on whether the loans are securities. It is a potentially risky move, but one the company believes will work in part because it has dropped its goal of legal standardization, cutting the need for lending platforms to agree on regulation issues. The S.E.C. declined to comment.

In January, Orchard X arranged its first sale of about $30 million in loans from an ailing platform, a small-business lender called CAN Capital. The auction took a lengthy four weeks to complete. But Orchard X did receive a fee of 0.5 percent of the sale price.

Looking back, Mr. Burton said on April 4, Orchard should not have tried to persuade lenders to join the trading platform all at once. Having raised $30 million in 2015, Orchard plans to announce next month that it has raised an additional $20 million or more and to formally roll out its revised Orchard X transaction platform.

LendingClub Files Presentation in Advance of Annual Shareholders Meeting, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

The file can be found here.

LendingClub (NYSE:LC) has filed a new form with the SEC (DEF 14A) in advance of the annual shareholders meeting which is scheduled to take place on June 6, 2017. The addition to the Annual Meeting Proxy Statement, a standard filing, includes a presentation on the company asking shareholders to support Director nominees, executive compensation and ratification of the auditor.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the filing is the synopsis of the events in 2016 that led to the departure of founding CEO Renaud Laplanche and the ensuing aftershocks that pummeled the online lender.

Law firm-issued collections letters continue to pose high risks, (Pepper Hamilton), Rated: AAA

The CFPB has pursued lawsuits, as well as formal enforcement actions, concerning misrepresentations of attorney involvement in debt collection-related communications.

On April 17, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a lawsuit in Ohio district court against the Weltman, Weinburg & Reis law firm (WWR), alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) stemming from the firm’s issuance of debt collection demand letters. The CFPB’s allegations against WWR closely resemble the FDCPA allegations that were considered by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Jones v. Dufek, 830 F.3d 523 (D.C. Cir. 2016). Dufek also concerned a debt collection letter that was sent by an attorney acting as a debt collector and not as legal counsel. On March 20, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Dufek plaintiff’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review the Court of Appeals’ decision in favor of the defendant attorney/collector. Notwithstanding Dufek, however, debt collectors and first-party creditors are well-advised to be extremely diligent when using law firms as debt collectors.

In actuality, the CFPB’s complaint alleges that “no attorney had assessed any consumer-specific information . . . [a]nd no attorney had made any individual determination that the consumer owed the debt, that a specific letter should be sent to the consumer, that a consumer should receive a [collections] call, or that the account was a candidate for litigation.” Thus, according to the CFPB, the subject letters contained numerous misrepresentations that violated both the FDCPA and the prohibitions of the Consumer Financial Protection Act against unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices.

The specific deficiencies cited in the CFPB’s complaint against WWR include the fact that subject letters were printed on law firm letterhead, which prominently included the phrase “ATTORNEYS AT LAW” (in bold type and in all caps) and included the law firm’s name in the signature line.

In determining whether the Dufek letter violated the FDCPA as a false, deceptive or misleading representation, the Court of Appeals noted, as a threshold matter, that “if an attorney is acting only as a debt collector and has not formed a legal opinion about the case, he or she cannot send a letter [stating or implying] otherwise” without misleading the recipient/debtor..

Misrepresentations regarding attorney involvement in collections letters and other communications continue to be a “hot button” issue with the CFPB. The collections letters targeted in the CFPB’s lawsuit against WWR are distinguishable from the letter at issue in Dufek in that the Dufek letter included a disclaimer regarding the attorney’s review of the underlying account. Yet, the CFPB’s complaint against WWR can be read as implying that the use of attorney letterhead and the inclusion of the law firm’s name in the signature line were per se improper.

Earnest Prices $ 175 million Securitization of Refinanced Student Loans; Achieves AA (High) Rating by DBRS, (Market Wired), Rated: A

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwired – May 24, 2017) – Earnest today announced the close of the $175 million Earnest 2017-A transaction backed by refinanced student loans. The offering received an AA (high) rating on the senior notes by DBRS which is now only one notch below the highest attainable rating of AAA. The transaction was three-times oversubscribed and traded at the tight end of market guidance.

Earnest has now completed five securitizations of refinanced student loans since February 2016 for a total value of over $877 million. In 15 months, the company has increased its rating on the senior notes from A to AA (high), a progression that often takes several years. This speaks to the quality of the underlying collateral and the advancement Earnest has made as a programmatic issuer in the capital markets.

“This marks another strong securitization for Earnest, providing us the opportunity to welcome new investors and continue building our capital markets program. We’re thrilled at the appetite and investor confidence in our offerings,” said Louis Beryl, CEO and co-founder of Earnest.

Elastic line of credit surpasses $ 200 million in outstanding loans, (Email), Rated: A

More than $680 million funded and 155,000 customers served since 2013 validates need for expanded access to credit in the U.S.

FORT WORTH, TX – May 31, 2017 – Elevate Credit, Inc. (“Elevate”), a leading tech-enabled provider of innovative and responsible online credit solutions for non-prime consumers, today announced the Elastic product has surpassed $200 million in total principal outstandings, with more than 120,000 open accounts.

Elastic, a bank-issued line of credit offered by Republic Bank & Trust Company (“Republic Bank”), has loaned over $680 million dollars to more than 155,000 customers, since its launch in 2013. The $200 million in total principal outstandings includes the 10% of outstandings Republic Bank retains. Elastic passed the $100 million in outstandings mark in May 2016.

About Elevate
Elevate (NYSE: ELVT) has originated $4 billion in non-prime credit to more than 1.6 million consumers to date. Its responsible, tech-enabled online credit solutions provide immediate relief to customers today and help them build a brighter financial future. The company is committed to rewarding borrowers’ good financial behavior with features like interest rates that can go down over time, free financial training and free credit monitoring. Elevate’s suite of groundbreaking credit products includes RISE, Elastic and Sunny. For more information, please visit .

Interest Rates on Connext™ Private Student Loans Decrease as Federal Student Loan Rates are Set to Rise, (Email), Rated: A

ReliaMax®, the complete private student lending solutions provider, today announced that the banks and alternative lenders participating in the Connext® Private Student Loan program will lower the interest rates on those loans. EffectiveJune 1, 2017, the lowest rates for variable- and fixed-interest rate Connext® loans for undergraduate and graduate programs will be reduced to 2.87 percent APR* and 5.40 percent APR*, respectively, and the borrower will not be charged an origination fee.

Federal student loan interest rates on new loans are scheduled to increase on July 1 for the 2017-2018 school year. These interest rates are adjusted each year based on the annual Treasury Department auction plus a set percentage amount added for each type of loan program. According to 

Blackrock’s Consumer ABS ETF and Parallels to the High Yield Bond Market, (PeerIQ Email), Rated: AAA

Shares of Lending Club and OnDeck surged last Monday 3.9% and 9.5% respectively, on reporting from the

MPOWER Financing Secures Add-on Investment from 1776 Ventures, (Email), Rated: A

MPOWER Financing (www.mpowerfinancing.com) announced today that 1776 Ventures (www.1776.vc) has doubled-down its investment in the company with an additional $500,000 investment ahead of MPOWER’s planned Series B for this summer. 1776 Ventures is an investment fund focused on seed-stage investments seeking to transform complex industries. In addition to being seed and Series A round investors, their partners have also served as a mentor and close advisor to MPOWER Financing.
MPOWER Financing is an innovative fintech company and provider of educational loans to high-promise international students who do not fit the traditional credit criteria of banks or lenders.

SoFi and JetBlue Help Customers Managing Student Loans Earn Reward Travel, (PR News Wire), Rated: B

Through the partnership, JetBlue’s TrueBlue members who refinance their student loans with SoFi will now earn 1 TrueBlue® point for every $2 they refinance through the lender, up to 50,000 points. With average monthly savings of $288*, refinancing student loans with SoFi frees up extra money that members can use to pursue travel plans, save and invest for the future, or buy a home.