Monday May 21 2018 Daily News Digest

ICO red flags

News Comments Today’s main news: Prospa launches $146M IPO. Experian, HSBC UK partner on credit application solution. RateSetter Australia extends green deal. Student Loan Genius raises $3.5M. Australia court rules against Harmoney. Faircent gets certified for NBFC-P2P. Today’s main analysis: WSJ investigates ICO fraud. Today’s thought-provoking articles: One student explains her student loan turmoil. China’s foreign investment restrictions for P2P lending […]

ICO red flags

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United States

United Kingdom

International

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India

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United States

 

Wealthfront’s experiment in risk parity has a rocky start (Financial Times) Rated: AAA

Our case here involves Wealthfront, an automated investing service founded by all-star venture capitalist Andy Rachleff. Boasting over $10.5bn under management, the platform offers a wide-range of thoughtful strategies to the casual investor, including indexes optimised to harvest tax-losses and a smart-beta product, overseen by Random Walk proselytiser Burton Malkiel.

Back to Wealthfront’s risk parity offering. In an attempt to lure investors, it backtested its new strategy versus its competitors at AQR and Bridgewater. Here are the results:

Source: Financial Times

I’ve Paid $ 18,000 To A $ 24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $ 24,000 (Bustle) Rated: AAA

The loan, ironically called a “Smart Option” loan, has a variable interest rate that fluctuates based on changes in the financial market — which may have been explained to me at the time (I truly don’t remember), but I know I didn’t fully grasp what that meant.

Source: Bustle

Now, eight years later, that loan — one of nine that left me $95,000 in debt upon graduation (because, yes, interest does accrue while you’re in school) — very clearly marks the exact moment when I lost control of my own financial destiny.

According to a February 2018 study published by the Levy Economic Institute, a nonpartisan policy think tank at Bard College, there are 44.2 million Americans with student loans, which adds up to about $1.4 trillion in debt. There already exists a myriad of research-driven articles that wax on the impact of the student loan crisis on the future of this country (screwed), our economy (broken), and the weight of the loan crisis (crippling)

Student Loan Genius Raises $ 3.5M in Seed Series Prime Financing (Finsmes) Rated: AAA

Student Loan Genius (SLG), an Austin, Texas-based employee benefits platform, raised $3.5m in Seed Series Prime financing.

The round was led by Vestigo Ventures, with participation from CMFG Ventures, Prudential Financial and Rubicon Venture Capital.

The company intends to use the funds to support commercialization of its offering as well as to grow its technology, sales and marketing teams.

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

Cloudvirga, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of digital mortgage point-of-sale (POS) software provider, closed a $50m Series C funding round.

The round was led by Riverwood Capital with participation from Upfront Ventures. In conjunction with the funding, Riverwood executives Scott Ransenberg and Jay Schneider will join Cloudvirga’s board of directors.

Under-the-radar Wilmington fintech companies burst onto consumer credit scene (Delaware Online) Rated: A

One is Fair Square Financial, which last week snagged a $100 million investment from Vikram Pandit, the former CEO of Citigroup.

It’s an infusion of cash that the online credit card company says will allow it to expand beyond its downtown co-working space this year while doubling its workforce to 100 employees during the next two years.

The expansion decision is the result of surprisingly strong customer demand for its online-serviced, low-fee Ollo cards, Fair Square CEO Rob Habgood said. The credit cards carry a variable interest rate that currently sits at a lofty 24.99 percent.

Fintech is disrupting big banks, but here’s what it still needs to learn from them (The Next Web) Rated: A

Much of the hype around fintech focuses on what traditional banks do wrong: they’re slow to adopt new technology; they don’t center the customer; they’re too big to respond nimbly to change. This narrative is part of why fintech continues to attract massive investment, with $31 billion total flowing into the sector last year, according to KPMG.

The truth is that there’s actually a lot that banks do right — things that fintech startups can struggle to replicate. I mean, there’s a reason why they’ve been successful.

Here are the three areas where I feel fintech’s needs and banks’ expertise overlap.

Will Consumers Take On Too Much Debt In 2018? (PYMNTS) Rated: A

The rate of new delinquencies on credit cards stood at 6.42 percent in Q1, up from 5.9 percent for the same period last year. According to Moody’s, the delinquency trend for the next year is for an “increase.” The Q1 credit card delinquency rate trails the 7.3 percent rate for auto loans but is higher than the 3.4 percent rate for residential mortgages.

Meanwhile, the rate of total new household debt delinquencies was about 4.5 percent in Q1 of 2018, “down slightly from a year ago,” Moody’s said. “Over the next year, we believe delinquencies will rise a bit as lenders modestly loosen underwriting standards.”

Direct Lending Partners Hires Industry Leader as Director of Originations and Capital Markets (PR.com) Rated: B

Dream Live Prosper (DLP), an award-winning family company led by Don Wenner (Founder and CEO), is excited to announce the appointment of Greg E Schecher as Director of Originations and Capital Markets.

Based out of the company’s Southeast headquarters in St. Augustine, Florida, Greg will lead the firm’s CRE bridge loan lending and marketplace lending platform.

United Kingdom

Equifax powers HSBC UK’s first live credit application solution (Fintech Futures) Rated: AAA

HSBC UK has created the “first live” use case of open banking for credit applications using the InterConnect cloud platform from Equifax.

According to Equifax, the solution will help quick affordability assessments by allowing individuals to submit their bank transaction information electronically, in less than five minutes, during an application for credit.

Each submission is presented directly to HSBC UK’s underwriting team in real-time, providing the bank with view of a customer’s affordability and offering faster lending decisions.

Peer-to-peer lending: beware the risks (The Times) Rated: A

About 150,000 Britons have lent nearly £10bn in this way over the past decade, earning around 4.5% interest on average. By contrast, the average interest rate on an easy access savings account is just 0.51%.

The bigger platforms, such as Zopa, Funding Circle and RateSetter, are therefore attractive alternatives for would-be savers.

The market was boosted by the launch in 2016 of innovative finance Isas, which allow people to invest £20,000 a year tax-free in P2P platforms and equity-based crowdfunding, where they buy stakes in companies.

The Disruptive Rise of FinTech (Technative) Rated: A

The fintech industry is one of the fastest growing areas of the British economy and is generating more than £20 billion annually. The sector continues to grow, it currently employs over 60,000 people and has produced more billion pound-valued start-ups than any other British economic sector.

 

P2P lender urges social media firms to allow crypto ads (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: A

A BAN on cryptocurrency adverts will do more harm than good, a crypto-backed peer-to-peer lender has warned.

Lendingblock, which lets individuals lend in a range of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, said rather than Google, Facebook and Twitter pursuing a current ban on cryptocurrency adverts to help clamp down on scams, they should help promote education and awareness.

Lendingblock warned a complete blackout on information may be “the easiest option” but warned that cryptocurrencies aren’t going anywhere so it would be better to partner with the industry and ensure consumers understand the market.

More funding for smes (Manufacturing and Engineering Magazine) Rated: A

The Manufacturer has partnered up with the alternative finance specialist ThinCats to make £100 million of funding available to UK manufacturers, as more and more investors are becoming increasingly keen to help fund SMEs.

The main issue for some SMEs is that they do not have the largest amounts of assets against which the banks are more willing to lend. As a result, many of them can’t invest in their growth, or delay investment until they reach the point they can fund it themselves. The wider knock-on effect of this problem is that the UK’s productivity and growth is being held back.

Crypto world gets most complete and secured crypto exchange with Bitmillex (The Cryptocurrency Analytics) Rated: A

What separates Bitmillex from other crypto exchanges is that the platform was developed out of the long-standing demand of a credible cryptocurrency exchange which will prioritize fund security and also will be able to extend a much wider range of investing and trading options than what is offered by current regular exchanges.  

Speaking further, Mr. Briton highlighted the other state of the art features of Bitmillex which keeps it ahead of other crypto exchanges-

  • Most advanced security and hosting protection through cloud hosted servers that are connected to custom hardware security modules and multiple protective layers to withstand any attack and hack attempts. In addition, 98% of all balances are to be stored in secure offline cold storage.
  • Multiple social trade offerings through Auto-Trade, Peer-to-Peer BTC market and Peer to Peer Lending & Borrowing opportunity. (use the term copy trading)
  • Bitmillex has introduced MTG trading software to ensure a ground-breaking multi-terminal and multi-platform trading experience  (MT4)
  • Traders have the flexibility to hold funds in fiat and trade major forex pairs when the crypto market is bearish
  • Bitmillex is offering its revolutionary Debit Card to users that will be linked to their wallets and will provide them immediate access to their balance at ATMs or POS in fiat currency worldwide

Fintech envoy for Northern Ireland appointed (Open Access Government) Rated: B

Georgina O’Leary, Director of Innovation, Research and Development at Allstate has been appointed as the government’s new fintech envoy for Northern Ireland.

China

Foreign investment restrictions in P2P lending intermediaries (China Business Law Review) Rated: AAA

Current regulations and policies on peer-to-peer lending do not directly restrict or prohibit foreign investment in P2P lending intermediaries.

Relying on a network, a P2P lending intermediary will generally charge a certain consulting fee, service fee, etc., once a lender and borrower that have been brought together establish a lending relationship.

Local financial service office recordal/registration. Article 5 of the measures specifies that, within 10 working days after collecting its business licence, a P2P lending intermediary, or one of its branches, that proposes to launch P2P lending information intermediary services is required to carry out, on the strength of relevant materials, recordal/registration with the local financial regulator of the place where it has its business registration. Once it has completed recordal/registration with the local regulator, the P2P lending intermediary is required to apply for the appropriate telecoms service operating permit in accordance with relevant regulations of the competent telecoms authority before it can launch its services.

European Union

Following the Paypal acquisition: iZettle’s founders are the latest Swedish tech billionaires (Business Insider) Rated: AAA

Mojang founder Markus “Notch” Persson, Skype’s Niklas Zennström and Spotify’s founding duo Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon are Sweden’s richest people in tech today – all worth $1 billion or more.

Following Paypal’s announcement that it would buy the Swedish payments company iZettle for $2,2 billion (19 billion SEK), Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson – founders of iZettle – have joined the few dozen Swedish entrepreneurs worth 1 billion krona or more.

International

Hundreds of Bitcoin Wannabes Show Hallmarks of Fraud (Wall Street Journal) Rated: AAA

In a review of documents produced for 1,450 digital coin offerings, The Wall Street Journal has found 271 with red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Data Centers Take Center Stage in Real-Estate Investing (Barron’s) Rated: AAA

“An autonomous car will need 40 times more bandwidth than the cars we use today,” says East. “The demand for data centers is growing 30% per year in the U.S. and 70% in China, but there are only six public companies in the supplier’s market.” They are: Equinix (EQIX), CoreSite Realty (COR), CyrusOne(CONE), Digital Realty Trust (DLR), QTS Realty Trust (QTS), and Switch (SWCH).

Data centers aren’t easy markets to enter. It’s not hard to purchase a piece of land to build the property, but the facility needs to be outfitted in fiber, equipped with interconnected networks, and wired for massive electric power and top-tier security devices. It takes about $1,000 to build one square foot of data center, said East, compared with the average cost of $300 for conventional real estate.

Capgemini And Efma Launch Innovative FinTech Portal (Payment Week) Rated: A

Capgemini and Efma today announced the launch of FinTechVisor, an innovative platform designed to bring FinTechs and financial institutions together to collaborate. The FinTechVisor portal offers a world-wide networking and collaborative community for FinTechs and financial institutions to become game-changers by co-creating the future of the financial services industry.

Launched today at the CCX Forum in London, the portal, which connects financial institutions and FinTechs, will have a feature that allows bankers and insurers to rate FinTechs and comment on their solutions, as well as a “matchmaker-like” personalized function for financial institutions to find a FinTech partner who complements their needs and interests.

InnerScope Hearing Technologies, Inc. Announces Klarna Bank as a Financing Partner (Globe Newswire) Rated: B

Hearing Technologies InnerScopeInc. (OTCQB:INND) announced today the complete integration of www.Klarna.com for a simple and easy one-click payment solutions for its online customers who shop at www.hearingbenefit.com and www.nohasslehearing.com websites.

InnerScope and Klarna have teamed up to offer a frictionless one-click checkout solution which gives customers a choice of 2 simple no-hassle payment options, Pay Now, or Slice It options.

  • The Pay Now option is for customers who want to pay in full at checkout can do it quickly and securely with a credit/debit card.
  • The Slice it option with its instant financing and a quick and simple credit application process allowing the customers to spread the cost of their purchases over a 6 to 24-month period at 0% annual percent rate (“APR”), depending on transaction value, giving them flexibility and increased purchasing power.
Australia

Online lender Prospa launches $ 146m IPO (News) Rated: AAA

Online lender Prospa has launched a $146 million initial public offering, offering shares at $3.64.

Prospa, which lends to small businesses, says the majority of funds raised in the IPO, which includes institutional, retail and employee offers, will be used to grow its existing business, add new products and expand into New Zealand.

RateSetter Australia extends green deal (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: AAA

RATESETTER Australia has announced an 18-month extension to its green loan marketplace.

The UK peer-to-peer lender’s Australian subsidiary is working with the Australian government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to bring clean energy borrowers and investors together.

In its first year it helped more than 1,000 households and small businesses finance green energy products.

 

High Court backs Commerce Commission over Harmoney (Scoop News) Rated: AAA

The High Court has sided with the Commerce Commission on how to interpret peer-to-peer lender Harmoney’s platform fees, deeming them to be credit fees and falling under the regulator’s purview.

The commission, which oversees the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, claimed Harmoney’s platform fees were an unreasonable credit fee and sought a declaration from the court backing up its interpretation.

Justice Patricia Courtney today backed the commission’s interpretation, saying Harmoney’s documents amounted to a credit contract and that the way the peer-to-peer lender was structured went “beyond mere matchmaking”, providing a nominal creditor to hold loans as a bare trustee for investors and undertaking the full administration of the transactions.

Fintech disruptor will benefit from Banking Royal Commission (Motley Fool) Rated: A

Zip Co Ltd (ASX: Z1P) provides online credit for consumers and businesses at point-of-sale through brands zipMoney and zipPay.

Afterpay Touch Group Ltd (ASX: APT) provides a platform that allows retail merchants to offer consumers to ‘buy now, receive now, pay later’ without having to enter into a traditional loan agreement.

Money3 Corporation Limited (ASX: MNY) started out as a a payday lender, which it plans to exit in the next financial year. The company is predominantly involved in providing secured auto loans, which make up around 80% of its loan book.

Westpac made blind pensioner a guarantor without risk advice, inquiry hears (Reuters) Rated: A

Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp admitted on Monday to signing up a legally blind pensioner as loan guarantor for her daughter’s business without warning her of the risks, then threatened to evict her when the business failed.

The testimony, given to a powerful inquiry into the country’s financial sector, came as Australia’s “big four” lenders all admitted to misconduct in their submissions to a third round of public hearings that focuses on loans to small businesses.

Other transgressions included fraudulent loans and double-charging interest, the inquiry heard, a further hit to the sector’s reputation after previous rounds of hearings uncovered widespread abuses in Australia’s financial planning industry.

FinTech Australia announces new CEO (Fintech Australia) Rated: B

Brad Kitschke has been appointed as CEO of FinTech Australia.

 

India

Faircent Gets RBI Nod For NBFC-P2P Certification (Inc 42) Rated: AAA

Gurugram-based P2P lending startup Faircent has received its non-banking financial companies (NBFC)-Peer-to-Peer (P2P) certification from the RBI (Reserve Bank of India).

The accreditation makes Faircent the first P2P lending platform in the country to receive the certificate of registration as an NBFC-P2P by the national regulator.

FinTech firms assisting banks with customer acquisition (Business Standard News) Rated: A

MoneyTap

People earning more than Rs. 20,000 per month can utilise this app to borrow anywhere between Rs.3,000 to Rs.500,000. Offering flexible payback options, MoneyTap allows borrowers to select their own EMI plans.

CoinTribe

Endeavoring to fill the gaps in SME unsecured loan segment, CoinTribe as a loan marketplace makes it easier for banks to confidently enter the uncharted domains.

Lending on peer-to-peer platforms is fraught with higher risks (Business Standard) Rated: A

Peer-to-peer or P2P lending has emerged as an alternative option for investors who wish to earn higher rates of return than what traditional fixed-income instruments can offer. However, lending on these platforms also entails higher risk, which investors need to be aware of before venturing into this relatively new investment avenue.

6 investments with high return (The Economic Times) Rated: A

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a relatively recent option and is a form of crowd-funding used to raise loans which are paid back with interest by bringing together people who need to borrow, from those who want to invest. For the funds that you invest, the interest rate may be set by the P2P platform or mutual agreement between the borrower and lender.

Risks: Since this is an unsecured loan where there is no face-to-face interaction, a P2P lender, i.e., the investor needs to be aware of the risks involved such as default on the part of the borrowers.

Asia

Finance: RHB plans to win over SMEs with digital agenda (The Edge Markets) Rated: A

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can no longer avoid going digital if they want to stay relevant. And RHB Bank Bhd, which has a new five-year strategy, is looking to help them do just that.

Jeffrey Ng, the bank’s head of group business and transaction banking, says the digital economy is the biggest trend impacting SMEs, and many of them will require assistance to adopt the technology. Ng was previously head of RHB’s SME division.

For RHB, this means onboarding SMEs into its electronic financial supply chain platforms. Suppliers and buyers can perform payments for goods entirely on the bank’s platforms and receive payments instantly. SMEs that want to offer cashless payments can also do so with RHB’s solutions.

How Vietnam’s Fintech Market Could Reach Nearly $ 8 Billion By 2020 (Forbes) Rated: A

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Wedneday March 29 2017, Daily News Digest

ron suber fraud

News Comments Today’s main news: How to build a $100 billion company. Square launches in UK. Century-old Thai bank plans digital revamp. ClaimVantage raises funds to expand into Asia. Today’s main analysis: Tech will lead to new sub-prime crunch. Today’s thought-provoking articles: An unofficial chat with Ron Suber. How technology is changing online credit checks. Legal considerations of running a […]

ron suber fraud

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United States

United Kingdom

China

Asia

MENA

Africa

News Summary

United States

Tech will lead to new sub-prime crunch (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

The tables below demonstrate cumulative changes in interest rates for Lending Club and Prosper. Although the rate for high-grade loans for Lending Club has slightly increased over time, while dropping a little for Prosper, the tendency for both companies is similar: They are widening the gap between low and high-grade borrowers.

Since 2013, the top 40 percent of earners have accounted for 84 percent of all new income and 34 percent of new debt, which led to a material reduction in aggregate leverage relative to income and provided for consistent growth of retail sales, as this cohort represents 65 percent of total consumption. According to the article, the recession will be a result of a material reduction in consumption from these top earners, who have historically followed the deterioration of lower and middle-income households.

With the penetration of technology, more and more labor-intensive work is shifted to computers or machines. People employed in manual labor, who mostly get an hourly wage, are in less demand on the market, which leads to the number of such jobs decreasing. Most jobs that were previously done manually are being substituted by machines, which, accordingly, increases competition among workers of respective industries.

The statement is easily supported by the last data available: A new study by Forrester forecasts that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation will replace 7 percent of U.S. jobs by 2025 (with 16 percent of jobs replaced and the equivalent of 9 percent jobs created).

By the end of 2016 there were more than 4.1 million people who drove for a living, with more than 3.5 million doing it full time. The automatization of driving will lead to all of them being forced to change their jobs, and obviously turning to software and tech industries is not an easily affordable option for these people.

Employment in the tech industry is, on the other hand, quickly growing. According to the results of a Cyberstates 2016 report prepared by nonprofit IT trade association CompTIA, employment in tech hit its highest growth rate in more than a decade in 2015, reaching 6.7 million people for companies with formal payroll in place in the U.S., up about 200,000 from the year prior.

Summarizing the above, we can expect that for workers employed in labor-intensive industries, the wages are not going to rise as a result of increased competitiveness for jobs in these sectors. Stagnating wages will lead to credit of such workers suffering (which is, in fact, already happening), as their anticipated increase in income is not realized even when the economy is doing well in general.

How To Build a 0 Billion Company (Newco Shift), Rated: AAA

Mike Cagney, the CEO of financial services startup SoFi, does not lack for confidence. But then again, confidence is what you need to raise billions of dollars and take on some of the largest and most powerful companies in the world — global financial giants like Chase, Citi, and Bank of America. To get there, Cagney’s got a pretty clever playbook: He’s partnering with those same banks, who buy the loans he originates and profit from SoFi’s unique skill at acquiring new customers.

An Unofficial Chat with Ron Suber, the Tom Brokaw of Fintech (finTEK News), Rated: AAA

If you circulate within fintech, pretty much anywhere on the planet, there is a high likelihood you’ve heard of Ron Suber.  And in case you haven’t, he’s the president of Prosper Funding, the marketplace lending platform that has now funded over $8B in loans, and recently closed a deal with a group of institutional investors to purchase up to $5 billion worth of loans over the next 24 months.

I asked him how he deals with all the travel, plus the highs ($5B deal-yeah!) and lows (Lending Club-OMG!) of the job, and he jokingly responded “Funny – (with) a unique combination of Yin Yoga and Johnny Walker Black”.  He also said he does “intention setting” before he gets out of bed every day, which he has found incredibly helpful.

The full deck for the Lendit 2017 presentation can be downloaded at this link: LendIt.FINAL

The last deck he shared with us from the AltFi Australasia Summit in Sydney.  The event was attended primarily by Australians and New Zealanders, with some Asians in attendance as well and also had a slightly different angle.

The speech compared online lending to online trading, showed a 5 point overview of the industry since inception, and included a picture showing traditional banks already involved in marketplace lending.

How to Start a Real Estate Crowdfunding Platform (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Tech development is not cheap. Those hoping to raise angel or VC capital for a real estate crowdfunding platform have, in my humble opinion, missed the boat by a couple of years.

That said, if venture funding isn’t available, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on technology. Many of the RECF platforms out there today would like to command a tech multiple, but in reality, function more so as technology-enabled brokering or origination shops. For the vast majority of RECF platforms, their value is is not in their technology, but their ability to fund or originate deals.

  • Will this be a personal platform for your own deals, or will the platform raise funds for deals from other parties? If the latter, you may be brokering or dealing, and may need to obtain a license.
  • Will you be selling equity or debt securities? What type of debt will you be selling? What will it be secured by, if anything? What type of equity will you be selling?
  • What type of real estate will you be raising funds for? Will the properties be residential properties? Commercial? Rehab? New development? Is there a geographic scope involved? You should have a specific business plan in mind.

It’s great that RECF platforms are hot right now, but remember – you’re still selling a security, and securities laws really aren’t the type of laws one should take lightly.

RealtyShares Raises Its Largest Joint Venture Capital Investment to Date for Avesta Biscayne Apartment Complex in Miami (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

RealtyShares, a leading online marketplace for real estate investing, today announced that its network of accredited investors has raised $3.5 million in equity capital for the $67.3 million acquisition and renovation of Avesta Biscayne in North Miami, Florida. This is the largest equity investment that RealtyShares has raised to date through its real estate investing marketplace.

Avesta Biscayne is a 402-unit apartment community near the Biscayne Bay shoreline, consisting of six mid-rise buildings and amenities including a clubhouse, two pools and a tennis court. The deal is sponsored by Avesta Communities, a vertically integrated multi-family owner-operator specializing in apartments serving the middle-income renter. Previously, Avesta raised $2.25 million through RealtyShares to recapitalize and renovate Avesta Bridgewater, a 344-unit apartment complex in Orlando, Fla.

Shadow banking is getting bigger, not better (Standard.net), Rated: A

In the U.S. mortgage market as a whole, shadow banks held a 38 percent share in 2015, compared with 14 percent in 2007.

In other markets, financial organizations that are not subject to bank regulation have flourished, too. According to the Financial Stability Board, the august body that makes recommendations to the global financial system from Basel, Switzerland, “other financial intermediaries” — the category that includes non-bank lenders but not insurance companies and pension funds — increased their assets to $80 trillion, or 23 percent of total financial assets, in 2014. Their average growth reached 5.6 percent in 2011 through 2014, while the global banking system’s assets stopped growing during that time.

The reason shadow banks have largely escaped public scorn, regulatory scrutiny and high capital requirements is that they often came in the guise of high-tech disruptors. Quicken Loans Inc., the third biggest mortgage lender in the U.S. in 2015, does business online and on the phone, and that somehow makes it less interesting to regulators than a bank that does the same through an old-style branch network. Lending Club and other “peer-to-peer” lending firms quickly became conduits for large investors, not “peers,” yet they avoided regulation as though they were innovative tech platforms.

By 2015, 85 percent of the mortgages they originated was sold to government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mac, Ginnie Mae, Freddie Mac and Farmer Mac. They benefit from implicit and explicit government guarantees originally supplied to banks — without shouldering the same regulatory burden or facing the same stigma. In other words, they profit from regulatory arbitrage.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency Releases U.S. Consumer Loan ABS Rating Methodology (Business Wire), Rated: A

This report describes KBRA’s rating methodology for U.S. consumer loan asset-backed securities (“Consumer Loan ABS”). This includes transactions secured by collateral originated by traditional consumer loan companies, as well as, through online consumer loan marketplace lending platforms (“MPL Platform”).

Wells Fargo’s Robo is Pricier Than Competitors (Financial Advisor IQ), Rated: A

Wells Fargo is betting that having access to a live financial advisor will convince clients to put up higher minimums and pay more for its robo-advice platform than for its competitors’ platforms, the Wall Street Journal writes.

The company’s Intuitive Investor automated advice service requires a $10,000 minimum investment and costs 0.5% of assets annually, according to the paper.

By contrast, Merrill Lynch’s Edge Guide Investing platform and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios only require a $5,000 minimum, while Wealthfront requires $500 and Betterment has no minimums, the paper writes. All of these platforms charge fees ranging from 0.25% to 0.45% of assets, except Wealthfront, which only starts charging 0.25% on accounts with more than $10,000, according to the Journal. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, meanwhile, comes with a hefty $50,000 minimum but charges only 0.3%, the paper writes.

What’s more, Wells Fargo and other full brokerages aren’t necessarily competing with pure robo-advice pioneers such as Betterment and Wealthfront, William Trout, a senior analyst at research firm Celent, tells the Journal. Rather, they’re aiming to tap into their existing client base, he says. Wells Fargo is targeting its retail bank clients who currently don’t receive any form of advice, Lai tells the paper.

Jed Morey And The Art Of The Publishing Pivot (Innovate LI), Rated: A

So the New York Financial Press, launched in April 2016 by Syosset-based Morey Publishing as an “alternative financial news journal” that would dive deeper than earnings statements and trading indexes (not to be confused with the Wall Street-based media company founded in 2005 by Pierre Alexandre) – is now feeding Mayava Capital Inc., a Syosset startup created to facilitate small-business lending.

The other five sites – each focused on lending in a particular vertical market, such as healthcare or transportation or IT – were created by Morey et al specifically to usher visitors directly into Mayava Capital’s arms.

FUTURE DIGITAL FINANCE AND PERFORMANCE HORIZON RELEASE NEW INDUSTRY BENCHMARKING REPORT (Future Digital Finance Email), Rated: A

Today, Future Digital Finance and Performance Horizon released their findings from their new report titled “Benchmarking Performance Marketing Adoption within Financial Services Strategies”. As the consumer revolution in retail banking continues, the whole financial services vertical has seen dramatic shifts towards electronic interactions across their consumer and business-to-business operations. This new study takes a look at the wider variety of marketing channels firms have begun to leverage, especially ones with clear measurement methodologies that contribute towards revenues.

Key statistics from the survey include:
– Performance marketing, including affiliate marketing, primarily drives customer retention for 21% of financial services companies.
– Almost a third of companies spend at least 20% of their overall media budget on performance-oriented programs, while 21% of companies spend at least 40% of their overall media budget on performance oriented programs.
– Finance companies are looking to grow performance-based marketing programs as 77% of companies prefer to pay new partners based on performance.
– 93% of companies expect mobile website sales will increase, and 92% expect mobile app sales will increase in 2017.
– 86% of companies agree that data and insights from their existing partner marketing programs enable them to make better business decisions.

Mortgage Automation Pioneer cloudvirga Raises $ 15 Million in Series B Funding (PR Newswire), Rated: A

cloudvirga℠, developer of the automated, cloud-based intelligent Mortgage Platform® (iMP), announced today it has raised $15 million in a series B funding round led by Incenter, a Blackstone Group portfolio company. The new funding will support cloudvirga as it scales its technology and expands its product offerings.

Cloudvirga’s flagship mortgage point-of-sale (POS) system, the iMP empowers consumers to take the helm of a completely re-engineered mortgage workflow that automates the entire initial disclosures process and delivers unmatched transaction speed and efficiency to both borrowers and lenders. Central to cloudvirga’s success is its ability to maintain strict regulatory compliance, reduce time to close and save lenders money by moving many traditional back-office tasks to the front of the loan process.

Why squeeze fintech into a bank regulatory box? (American Banker), Rated: A

Within the constraints of its jurisdiction and mission, the OCC is clearly trying to do its part to address the regulatory issues raised by financial service providers in the technology sector. The agency is not simply pursuing a “bank-lite” charter.

The regulation of financial services in the U.S. is highly fragmented, and fintech is challenging every aspect of that structure. Federal and state agencies can stake claim over the regulation of fintech, yet both are ultimately limited by narrow lanes and tightly defined jurisdictional boxes prescribed to them by their respective charters. As a result, even the most well-intentioned efforts are only able to address the trees, but not the forest.

The goal of its proposal is to encourage the entry of fintech firms into federally regulated financial services. But if the actual pool of applicants ends up being extremely small, that’s going to be a real problem.

Random Forest Capital Raises $ 1.75 Million for Strategic Talent Acquisition (Random Forest Email), Rated: B

Random Forest Capital () completed its seed round in January 2017 with $1.75 million led by a very impressive group of angel investors. The money will be used to build out its full stack software and machine learning algorithms and acquire strategic talent for helping institutional investors find the right opportunities in consumer, residential, and commercial credit.

“There are 400+ platforms that originate many types of secured & unsecured debt,” said Kevin Farrelly, chief operating officer, general partner, and co-founder of Random Forest Capital. “We can analyze a massive amount of data from those platforms in seconds whereas a human analyst will take days to weeks.”

Random Forest Capital uses machine learning algorithms and third-party systems with APIs to source investment opportunities from eight platforms (and growing). Their custom algorithms then price the risk and can execute in microseconds.

“Loan originators make money originating loans – so it’s in their best interest to bucket all the loans together. Our goal is to preserve investor capital. These competing interests create a fundamental divide where alpha in marketplace lending is easily found,” said Austin Trombley, chief technology officer and co-founder of Random Forest Capital.

Random Forest Capital recently added two new members to its expert leadership team. Julie Choi, Ph.D. has been named the chief risk officer.  Carl Siemon, Ph.D. has been named the principle data scientist for Random Forest Capital. Siemon is a Physics Ph.D. graduate from UT Austin where he was supported by the prestigious National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship.

MoneyLion Wins Gold at PYMNTS Innovation Project Awards for Best Credit Innovation (MoneyLion Email), Rated: B

MoneyLion, the mobile personal finance platform that puts consumers in control of their financial lives with AI-driven tools and smarter credit products, has won the gold medal for Best Credit Innovation at the PYMNTS 2017 Innovation Project Awards. The award coincides with a major growth milestone for MoneyLion, which now has over a million users.

Real estate crowdfunding platforms raising American real estate prices (STL Real Estate), Rated: B

But, with the rise of third-party crowdfunding platforms, most notably of Chinese origin, middle class people can get in on a piece of the real estate pie – no matter where they live.

Today, Brooklyn is where it’s at, with the price of Brooklyn town homes and apartments growing 16 percent between 2015 and 2016, while Manhattan properties decreased by 1 percent.

United Kingdom

JACK DORSEY LAUNCHES MOBILE PAYMENTS COMPANY SQUARE IN THE UK (Irish Tech News), Rated: AAA

Mobile payments company Square launched for UK based businesses today. This launch is the fifth market for Square since launching in the US in 2010 and since expanding to Canada, Japan and Australia.

Square Point of Sale has actually been available in the UK, among other markets around the world, for a few years already, however the full features of the product that’s available in Square’s four main markets were not available.

LendInvest Property Development Academy Expands Course Offerings (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

LendInvest, a leading UK online property finance lender, is launching the LendInvest Property Development Academy in four more key cities around the country following overwhelming demand for its London & Southeast courses.

In addition to three more courses for London & Southeast candidates this year, the Academy has expanded to:

  • Northern England: Manchester, 25 – 26 May
  • Scotland: Edinburgh, 22 – 23 June
  • Midlands: Birmingham, 7 – 8 September
  • Southwest England: Bristol, 9 – 10 November

All courses are carefully tailored to resonate with common issues facing developers in their respective regions. All modules are taught by industry specialists from the local area who will drawn on locally relevant case studies and anecdotal evidence.

Lendy Integrates Saving Stream Platform to Continue Growth (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Lendy, announced on Tuesday it is integrating its popular investor-facing platform, Saving Stream, under its Lendy brand as part of the platform’s continued growth. According to the company, it is merging Saving Stream, with its borrower-facing brand, Lendy Finance, in order to simplify its branding and to make accessing its loan-based crowdfunding platform easier and more accessible to clients.

Lendy revealed that the total amount loaned to property developers and investors through its peer-to-peer platform has now topped £285 million and its 15,000 registered users have received £20 million of interest from the loans they have written. The company also stated its user base has more than doubled from 5,600 at the start of 2016, with the platform’s popularity among lenders being driven by:

  • The security provided by property-backed loans
  • The additional security provided by Loan To Value (LTV) ratios on all Lendy loans being capped strictly at 70%
  • Returns of up to 12% on loans written through the Lendy service.
China

How technology is changing online credit checks (SCMP), Rated: AAA

It generally takes nothing more than a simple click on the ‘yes’ button to authorise an online peer-to-peer (P2P) lender to go through an applicant’s credit history before approving a loan.

But the assessment may in fact go far beyond the borrower’s imagination.

With vast amounts of data at their disposal, the powerful analytical programs behind the screen are often capable of picking up diverse fragments of an applicant’s life story and piecing together a complete picture. And it all happens in a matter of minutes.

Cloud Atlas, a risk management system developed by Finup, is one such example. After obtaining consumers’ consent to access their mobile contacts book and apps as well as information provided by third-party data agencies, the system is able to carry out a thorough analysis to figure out whether the applicant is eligible for loans on the particular P2P platform.

The pass rate of applicants for loans under the Cloud Atlas system is well below 10 per cent, as the three-year-old company uses strict criteria.

High employee turnover sign of transformation in P2P lending industry (Global Times), Rated: A

With the rollout of new regulations in February, there has been a wave of resignations in China’s peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry, as employees worry about the prospects of the business.

“I resigned in February,” said a woman surnamed Liu, a former employee at one of China’s leading P2P platforms, which she refused to be named.

Liu started her career in Internet finance in October 2016. Half a year later, she worries about the industry’s prospects.

Recently, P2P industry employee turnover has shot up, with some workers joining larger P2P companies and some moving to other industries.

The number of Chinese P2P lending platforms fell from 3,516 in November 2015 to 2,393 in February 2017, according to data from the Shanghai-based P2P lending platform wdzj.com.

Just a few big Chinese P2P lenders seen surviving in sector tarnished by scandal (SCMP), Rated: A

The seemingly relentless proliferation of China’s peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms has finally been contained by stringent measures introduced by the government in a bid to tackle a fraud epidemic that tarnished the industry’s reputation.

The sector, which ballooned to host thousands of firms of varying sizes and specialities, will eventually become limited to just a handful of mega participants, according to Zhang Shishi, a co-founder of the Chinese P2P platform Renrendai.

However, the heated competition that emerged as a wave of profit-hungry new players crowded in, all hunting aggressively for investors and money in the markets, led to a rise in illegal activity. Countless cases of P2P lenders promising high returns from non-existent projects and then running off with the proceeds made the headlines.

Asia

Century-Old Bank Plans Digital Revamp to Fight Fintech Risk (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Siam Commercial Bank Pcl, Thailand’s oldest homegrown lender, plans to reinvent its mobile digital payment platform as a lifestyle app to help fend off competition from upstart financial technology providers.

The lender is working with companies including Accenture Plc, Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. on the project, Chief Executive Officer Arthid Nanthawithaya said in an interview. The long-term goal is an app that allows customers to search and pay for entertainment options such as restaurants and cinemas, going beyond just day-to-day banking, he said.

Siam Commercial Bank’s shares gained 0.6 percent at 10:46 a.m. in Bangkok on Wednesday. The stock has climbed about 4 percent in the past three years, less than the 8 percent advance in the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s Banking Index.

‘Why would we ignore a billion people?’: An Irish fintech firm has raised €2m to expand into Asia (Fora), Rated: AAA

IRISH-BASED FINTECH COMPANY ClaimVantage has secured €2 million in funding to bankroll its move into Asia.

The international firm, which has been headquartered in Dublin since it was founded in 2006, develops and provides cloud-based claim management software for some of the top insurance firms in the US and Canada.

Singapore Inks FinTech Cooperation Pact with France (Cryptocoins News), Rated: A

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Singapore’s central bank and financial authority has signed FinTech cooperation agreements with a pair of French regulators to boost FinTech ties between the two countries.

The cooperation agreement sees Singapore’s central bank partner the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR), the authority monitoring banks & insurance companies in France and the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), France’s stock market regulator.

Under the agreement, the three authorities will adhere to a framework that fosters the sharing of information relating to FinTech trends and services. Joint innovation projects and regulatory hurdles will also be discussed between the two countries.

MENA

MENA Fintech Startup NOW Money Wants To Help Everyone Get Access To Banking (Entrepreneur), Rated: AAA

According to the World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016 report, migrants are sending earnings worth more than US$441 billion to families in developing countries, contributing to the 10% of GDP of some 25 developing countries. With KSA, UAE and Kuwait among the top ten high-income countries categorized as main sources of remittances in 2014, six GCC countries accounted for $98 billion in outward remittance flows in 2014. As the region’s expat population transfer money to respective home countries, there’s a prevalent reality that there is a struggle (especially among blue-collar workers) to access bank accounts- and this is what fintech startup NOW Money is trying to solve.

With a tagline of “empowering the unbanked,” founders Katharine Budd and Ian Dillon launched NOW Money to provide expat workers who don’t have access to banking and remittance services with direct access to a current account, debit card and remittance from their proprietary app and service center.

Compared to outbound remittances sent as cash (which is often hard to follow), the startup tracks “payments from salary, to remittance, to collection by overseas. This is an important step change in the progress the UAE is making towards combatting money laundering and criminal funding.” With respect to security and privacy, facial recognition tech is used to enable users to log in to the NOW Money app- a photo cannot be used to fake an entry, since movement is accounted for by this feature: the user has to blink to log in. It also records the way you hold your phone and type, so suspicious behavior will cause an alert notification. Although pin codes and passwords are still present as per the current compliance laws requirement, the team believes such a system is still susceptible to hackers, and thus Budd asserts the advantage of biometrics.

Alternative Financing in Africa, Middle East (Microcapital), Rate: A

The authors estimate that approximately USD 475 million was made available in Africa and the Middle East via alternative financing methods between 2013 and 2015, with Israel accounting for USD 125 million of this total. The authors conclude that alternative finance as a whole grew more slowly in Africa and the Middle East than in other parts of the world as the development of the market was in its early stages.

Kabbage: working capital for small businesses unable to obtain credit from traditional sources (MENAFN), Rated: A

As a large percentage of small businesses, online retail sales as a percentage of total retail sales have doubled in the past five years. Ecommerce sales overall in 2006 were just over 107 billion, representing 2.7 percent of total retail sales . There are over 100 million Ebay users in the US today, with an estimated 200 million new listings in 2Q, 2008 alone. There are an estimated 5 million power sellers transacting over 48 billion on Ebay and more than 8 million high-volume sellers representing over 70 billion across all marketplaces.

Rob Frohwein founded Kabbage to get small businesses capital quickly, an area in which banks have long struggled.

Kathryn Petralia has 12 years of experience in the consumer credit and payments space.

Amy Zimmerman has spent 15 years building tech companies by identifying and cultivating talent. Her focus at Kabbage is to foster the company’s inventive culture.

Africa

The legal considerations of running a FinTech startup in Nigeria (Techpoint), Rated: AAA

However the alternative method is for a startup to operate on its own steam by meeting the requirements to obtain the requisite licences although this method requires significant capital outlay. As such, FinTech startups that are seeking to exploit the significant market opportunities in Nigeria are bound to run into several regulatory compliance obligations.

The payment and processing segment of the FinTech sector for example — which has shown the most growth and success thus far — is primarily governed by the same general framework as are traditional financial institutions providing offline financial services (e.g. money/payment transfers, clearing, switching, settlement etc), in addition to regulations related specifically to that sub-sector.

Thus, the legal and regulatory framework that is generally applicable to financial institutions — such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act, 2007, the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) and all subsidiary instruments stemming from same — are all relevant to any non-bank led startups providing digital equivalents of offline financial services. This framework brings with it mandatory obligations such as KYC and AML requirements that must be strictly adhered to.

Commercial lending activities are regulated in Nigeria and as such require licensing by either the CBN (for banks and other financial institutions) or the Ministry of Home Affairs of the various states (non-financial institution lenders).

As it stands, insurance penetration in Nigeria is only at 0.6% and the growth of the middle class, alongside increased economic activity, indicates a very bright future for this sector.

The Nigerian Insurance Act provides the overarching framework for operators of all types of insurance business in the country and the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) is the industry regulator. Under the act, one must be duly registered with NAICOM before engaging in the business of insurance.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

July 29th 2016, Daily News Digest

July 29th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today we have a lot of articles about banks and how banks are surfing successfully on the FinTech wave. The bank articles are mostly in the US section but the Australia section has an interesting article as well. Note the 1st article from Bloomberg and the 7th and 8th articles.  In the India […]

July 29th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

  • Today we have a lot of articles about banks and how banks are surfing successfully on the FinTech wave. The bank articles are mostly in the US section but the Australia section has an interesting article as well. Note the 1st article from Bloomberg and the 7th and 8th articles.
  •  In the India section, you will find an article of quotes from P2P lenders in India which are worth a quick read. And in the UK section a very interesting article, the 1st one, just talking about the profitability of Zopa and Funding Circle, but the real interesting piece are the profitability of LendInvest and RateSetter which are not in the title. And a 2nd article that is also very clear and well thought out.

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

India

Australia

 

United States

Big Banks Turn Silicon Valley Competition Into Profit, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

It’s not that the upstarts — often called fintech — are failing to gain traction. Internet ventures pitching loans to cash-strapped consumers, small businesses and home buyers, for instance, have posted spectacular growth in recent years. It’s just that banks have a huge lead in lending and are watching the startups closely. As borrowers embrace new services, traditional firms are riding along.

Here are five examples:

LendingClub’s Backers

In May, LendingClub broke out its sales to banks: Community banks and other old fashioned lenders snapped up about 34 percent of the $2.8 billion of loans it arranged in the first quarter, up from an average of about 25 percent during 2015.

Some of LendingClub’s biggest loan buyers have bolstered their war chests or operations with financing from banks. Colchis Income Advisors entered into a credit agreement with Bawag PSK of Austria, according to regulatory filings. Arcadia Funds arranged for two of its Cirrix partnerships to borrow from Silicon Valley Bank. And MW Eaglewood lined up financing for its main LendingClub fund from Capital One Financial Corp. in 2012. Spokesmen for the funds and banks declined to comment or didn’t respond to messages.

Chasing Entrepreneurs

Small businesses can thank internet ventures for simplifying loan applications, speeding decisions and providing much-needed credit when many traditional banks were pulling back in the wake of 2008’s financial crisis. Nonbanks now provide about one-quarter of the $800 billion in loans outstanding to the sector, according to research by QED Investors and Oliver Wyman. But the interest rates aren’t always low.

For a time, banks were content backing the loans. Goldman Sachs was among firms that entrusted more than $300 million years ago to fund lending by On Deck Capital Inc., one of the largest providers of small business loans over the internet.

Now, established lenders are taking a more active role. JPMorgan announced a deal in December, letting it access On Deck’s proprietary credit-scoring system to quickly evaluate applicants before using its own balance sheet to make loans. On Deck, in turn, gets a foothold in the burgeoning “fintech as a service” market. But the arrangement has done little to stop a 49 percent slide in the company’s stock this year.

More recently, established lenders have announced their own online lending portals for entrepreneurs.

Wells Fargo & Co. said in May that its new “fast decision” platform will help it reach a goal of providing $100 billion in new loans to small businesses by 2019. AmEx, which already provides more than $200 billion of funding to entrepreneurs for business purchases on their credit cards, expects a new online-loan portal will let it handle even more of their spending.

Mortgage Apps

Fintech ventures starred in Super Bowl ads this year, with Quicken Loans toutingRocket Mortgage, a platform letting users apply for home loans on smartphones.

The tidal wave is benefiting banks, too. Behind the scenes, many of the upstarts get support from traditional banks. Detroit-based Quicken, for example, raised $1.25 billion for itself and its parent company last year in a bond sale underwritten by JPMorgan and Credit Suisse Group AG. It also used lines of credit from banks to help close $80 billion in home loans that year.

[Comment: 4th was Blockchain, not very relevant to our readers here]

Robo-Advisers

Top Wall Street firms, seeking stable fee income, are now developing their own robotic arms. Bank of America Corp. will unveil an automated investment prototype this year after assigning dozens of employees to the project in November, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg at the time. Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo also have said they would build or buy a robo-adviser.

US consumer agency seeks to overhaul debt collection industry, (CNBC), Rated: AAA

“Today we are considering proposals that would drastically overhaul the debt collection market,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “This is about bringing better accuracy and accountability to a market that desperately needs it.”

According to a summary, the proposal would make sure collectors “substantiate the debt before contacting consumers,” by confirming their identities and the amount owed, as well as checking for any payments made after a default. Consumers frequently file complaints at the agency about receiving calls for debts that do not exist.

In an attempt to “limit excessive contact,” the proposal would cap agencies’ calls to debtors to six attempts each week. It would also create a 30-day waiting period after a person dies for contacting survivors.

Agencies would have to communicate specific information to consumers, such as when outstanding debt is too old for a lawsuit. They would also have to make it easier to both dispute or pay a debt through tear-off coupons on the bottoms of collection notices.

Roughly 13 percent of consumers have a debt currently in third-party collection, with an average amount of $1,300, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows.

In a survey released alongside its proposal, the CFPB found more than three-quarters of the country’s 3,994 debt collection firms are small, with less than 100 employees. Larger firms pull in about two-thirds of the industry’s $12.18 billion total revenue.

The agency also found credit card, student loan and automobile debts in collection typically have balances of $2,000 or more.

Cloudvirga Raises $ 7.5 M to Automate the Entire Mortgage Process, (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Cloudvirga, the company developing the cloud-based intelligent Mortgage Platform® (iMP) designed to streamline the mortgage process, today announced it has raised $7.5M in its series A funding sponsored by Dallas Capital with participation from Upfront Ventures and Tribeca Angels.

“Increased regulations stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis have made the entire process more labor intensive and time consuming than ever, and those are the pain points we’re alleviating with iMP,”

Come Together – Finding Common Ground in Small Business Lending Associations, (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

So where do we go from here? Advancing the marketplace lending industry’s efforts to create a more transparent and efficient financial system is critical as the industry matures.

The good news is that small businesses today – even those with lackluster or thin credit history – can choose from a dynamic set of loan products including term loans (both traditional and short-term), business lines of credit, loans for startup companies, equipment purpose loans, various SBA loans, accounts receivable financing, merchant cash advances, and peer-to-peer loans. This is a far cry from where we were in 2008-2010, when (according to the Huffington Post) more than 170,000 small businesses shut down.

At Lendio, we’re convinced that there needs to be a single, industry unifier – and we feel the SMART Box is headed in that direction. Lendio will now participate in the 90-day engagement period and I’m asking all those who offer loan products throughout the Lendio platform to consider doing so as well.

How Much Lower Will Your Student Loan Rate Be With a Cosigner?, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: AAA

Undergraduates who qualified for private student loans with a cosigner–often a parent–were offered average interest rates of 5.37% versus 7.46% without a cosigner, according to Credible.com, a student-loan marketplace. Rates for graduate students were also discounted to 4.59% on average with a cosigner compared to 6.22% without one.

The figures from Credible.com are based on five lenders’ responses and offers—which included a mix of fixed and variable interest rates—to nearly 8,000 applicants who shopped for student loans on the site over a 12-month period through early June. The lenders include Citizens Financial Group—which is quickly gaining market share in the private student loan market—as well as online lenders CommonBond and College Ave Student Loans.

Approval rates fall dramatically without cosigners. Fifty-one percent of undergraduates shopping for loans on Credible.com received offers compared with 20% of those without a cosigner. Similarly, 56% of graduate students–who lenders have historically viewed as relatively safer borrowers–received offers with a cosigner versus 45% without.

In some cases, it can be cheaper for parents to join their children on a private student loan as opposed to signing up for a parent-only loan from the federal government. The 5.37% average rate undergraduates received with a cosigner on private student loans is nearly one percentage point cheaper than the interest rate on the federal Plus loan for parents that charges 6.31% for the upcoming academic year. Private lenders also don’t charge origination fees, while the Plus loan currently has a roughly 4.3% upfront charge.

Think twice before you co-sign on a student loan, (CNBC), Rated: AAA

But co-signing is risky. It ties you to that debt, meaning you could be responsible for the entire amount outstanding if the primary borrowercan’t — or won’t — pay up. Nearly 40 percent of co-signers found themselves on the hook for at least part of the bill, according to a June survey from CreditCards.com, and 28 percent saw a drop in their credit score from the primary borrower’s bad credit habits.

How Ayasdi’s machine learning is giving banks an analytical advantage, (Tradestreaming), Rated: AAA

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Banks are increasingly using machine learning to power part of their operations, but the adoption of these new technologies is not uniform.

Top data scientists are employed by financial institutions and working with programming tools like SPCC and R, they filter and analyze huge data sets in order to perform analytical tasks. “No human being can wrap his head around that amount of data,” said Daniel Druker, CMO of Ayasdi, a machine learning company that partners with financial institutions, like Citi and Credit Suisse. Instead, using machine learning algorithms, a computer can surface insights and recommendations from those data sets, while the quants examine and take actions based on those learnings.

According to McKinsey’s 2015 Global Banking Report, banks that have replaced older statistical-modeling approaches to credit risk with machine learning techniques have experienced up to 20 percent increases in cash collections from outstanding loans.

Out of over 20 banks that work with Ayasdi, Drucker said, 100% are either already operating in this stage or actively exploring implementing such technology.

The highest level of machine learning application is the fully automating business processes. Take a life insurer, for example. When a customer applies for a policy, he might be asked to fill out a 40-page long form and get a physical examination. That information is then sent back to the company for approval. The entire process can take over a month to complete.

According to McKinsey, some European banks using these techniques report 10 percent increases in sales of new products, 20 percent savings in capital expenditures, and 20 percent declines in customer churn.

CB Insights has identified 41 companies providing machine learning solutions in the financial industry. Together with the explosion of general applications of  AI, deals and investments in AI companies reached record levels in 2016. Since the beginning of 2016, over 15 fintech AI companies have closed investment rounds.

How Digital Investments Are Changing the Face of Banking, (The financial Brand), Rated: AAA

Investment in digital banking is driving increased customer acquisition, cross-selling and satisfaction while decreasing branch traffic and related costs.

This is confirmed by the J.D. Power research that showed that there is an immediate lift in overall satisfaction when customers use mobile banking (+27 points on a 1,000-point scale), and this impact increases even more when banks provide their mobile banking customers with a highly satisfying experience (+82). According to J.D. Power, “The outlook for Big Banks remains positive, driven by their (big banks) ability to invest in customer-centric innovations (e.g., digital channels, analytics, and branch transformation), as well as their success in growing customer segments.”

Recent disclosures of mobile banking use by the big banks provides a glimpse of the impact of digital investment on mobile use. Of the three largest U.S. banks, JPMorgan Chase leads the way with nearly 25 million active mobile customers as of the second quarter. That was up 18% compared with the same period last year. Bank of America had the second most active mobile users, with 20.2 million monthly active app users, with Wells Fargo reporting 18 million active users.

 

United Kingdom

Britain’s 2 biggest peer-to-peer lenders lost £50 million in the last decade

The two platforms have facilitated almost £3 billion of loans between them but Funding Circle, founded in 2010, has never made a profit, while Zopa, founded in 2005, made a small profit 2 years running, totalling less than £60,000.

Here’s the breakdown of Zopa and Funding Circle’s financial performance, as per accounts filed with Companies House:

  • Zopa: losses between 2005 and 2014 total £21.79 million, according to accounts filed with Companies House, on cumulative revenues of £25.84 million. The platform made a small profit in in 2011 and 2012, totalling £58,648.
  • Funding Circle: cumulative net loss of £28.71 million on total revenues of £20.89 million, according to accounts covering 2010 to 2014. The company has yet to make a profit.

These losses have been funded by investment from venture capitalists: $273 million (£208.1 million) for Funding Circle and at least $56.6 million (£43 million) for Zopa, according to Crunchbase.

Funding Circle, which offers loans to small businesses, declined to comment on its losses when contacted by BI but pointed to comments CEO Samir Desai made to BI last year when we reported the company’s latest financial results. Desai said at the time:

“If you actually look at the core business of doing loans in the UK — strip away the technology investment and all the other extra stuff we’re doing — the business is already profitable in the UK and is moving that way in the US as well. A lot of the investment we’re doing is investing in creating a global business.”

Zopa’s CEO Jaidev Janardana told BI in an emailed statement:

“We have demonstrated that our business model is profitable with two consecutive profitable years in 2011 and 2012. Since then our investors and the business have placed more value on investing in our growth. In doing so we have been able to double our loan volumes last year, deliver positive returns for our customers at the same time investing in talent, technology, and our office.

“This all means we are in the best position to deliver on our strategic plan for continued growth and profitability long-term. Looking forward, I’m glad to say that we expect to be EBIDTA positive in Q4 2016 and profitable in 2017.”

Christian Faes, CEO of the UK’s fourth largest marketplace lender LendInvest, told BI he thinks that loss-making platforms will face increased pressure to turn a profit to “prove that they can.” Remember, the growth that Zopa and Funding Circle are chasing could be disappearing.

LendInvest, which lets investors put money into short-term mortgages for people looking to renovate then sell properties, made a pre-tax profit of £3.1 million in 2015 and £1.1 million in 2014.

A spokesperson for RateSetter told BI: “We have recorded a profit for two consecutive financial years, proving that our model works and is sustainable. We are now investing to scale up, broaden, and deepen our market while continuing to deliver maximum value for investors.”

Is the dream of peer-to-peer lending beginning to fade?, (Thersa), Rated: AAA

Why is this a problem? Because unlike banks, which can make money on captive and repeat business in current accounts, credit cards and remortgages, P2P lenders need to continuously find and process new borrowers in order to earn commission. Should the sluggish times continue, the danger is that P2P lenders may soon be tempted to shoot for riskier borrowers in order to maintain their rate of growth. Remember that these platforms have investors of their own to placate and appease, many of whom will be pushing for decisive action to keep transaction volumes on an upward trajectory.

Finally, there is the question of where the money flows to on these platforms. Nesta and Cambridge University’s research is unequivocal: peer-to-peer lending has helped many thousands of people and businesses access loans in the face of rejection from high street banks. Yet only 20 percent of borrowers using P2P consumer lending platforms are women, and only a quarter earn less than £25k (note that the median wage of workers in the UK is  £27.5k). Although the makeup of borrowers using P2P platforms may simply reflect lending patterns across the financial industry, it challenges the theory that fintech innovations are inherently more inclusive.

The point of raising these red flags is not to pour cold water on the P2P lending phenomenon. Many of these platforms promise users a brilliant customer experience, faster decision making, more choice and – for some – better rates on loans than they can find elsewhere. Indeed, one of the greatest impacts P2P lenders have had is in changing the practices of long-standing incumbents. Take Wells Fargo, which recently launched a rapid turnaround system for small business loans, partly to match the responsiveness of P2P startups. These innovations should linger on even if P2P platforms fade away, and suggests the sector could catalyse positive transformation in financial services without needing to achieve a dominant position in the loans market.

No, this is not to dismiss the real achievements of P2P platforms. Rather, it is a plea to be pragmatic and realistic about what P2P lending – and all forms of fintech for that matter – can ultimately achieve without a more significant structural change in the nature of the financial industry. John Kay, in his brilliantly detailed new book Other People’s Money, rightly reminds us of the fundamental functions of finance: to enable people to save for the future, receive and send money, manage everyday risks, and borrow to invest in a real economy that truly creates value for others.

Ablrate & Access Commercial Finance Tout Origination Partnership, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Asset-backed peer to peer lender Ablrate has released information on an origination partnership with Access Commercial Finance based in Leeds. The arrangement is said to have generated over £2.5 million of loans so far this year. Ablrate launched as a niche P2P lender focusing on aircraft finance but has since branched out into capital equipment and property. Ablrate’s arrangement with Access is thus driving platform growth. Ablrate also offers a secondary market for investors in their loans.

The origination partnership is said to have resulted in sizeable deals for a range of sectors, including an £800,000 funding boost for a previously mothballed Eco Park, near Newcastle. The deal is expected to grow by £1.4 million. The waste management plant in Blaydon suffered following the collapse of Lehman Bros in 2013. The £800,000 in finance  raised through Ablrate and Access is expected to get the plant fully operational by October creating at least 30 jobs.

European Union

BBVA Plans New Management Revamp as Chairman Pushes Digital Bank, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA is preparing its second management reorganization in 14 months as Chairman Francisco Gonzalez streamlines Spain’s second-biggest lender and accelerates its push into digital banking.

BBVA is pushing to offer more products and services online and via mobile phones as Gonzalez predicts few banks will survive competition from technology companies such as Google Inc. or Facebook Inc.

Vicente Rodero, current head of Country Networks, a unit created last year to boost the results of the group’s lenders in various countries, is set to leave his post. Chief Financial Officer Jaime Saenz de Tejada and Javier Rodriguez Soler, head of strategy and M&A, will be given additional responsibilities.

India

Fintech firms to take profit-first approach, say panellists at VCCircle summit

India’s fintech startups will also learn more from China, owing to similar demographic opportunities and challenges, unlike other industries that primarily learnt from the US, the panellists said. While there are no successful models yet, companies are experimenting with different models that include marketplace, bidding process and intermediary, they added.

Adhil Shetty, founder and CEO of Bankbazaar, said the popularity of the company is that its website received 90 lakh visitors in the month of March alone. Hence, it won’t be an extended arm as the platform offers products from partnering financial services companies as well standalone products.

Gaurav Hinduja, co-founder of Capital Float, which operates a hybrid model by lending online through its non-banking finance company, said these data sets will reduce the time taken from application to disbursal to 10 minutes. He added that social data can be used for verification as well as help in recoveries.

Rajat Gandhi of Gurgaon-based Faircent, which operates a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform facilitating borrowers and lenders through a bidding process, said that credit score would continue to be main criteria for disbursal of loans while data from social media can only be a value-add.

Vaddadi also said that fintech companies are increasing focus on customer acquisition, but added that this will not be done by burning cash.

The panellists also said that chances of default by borrowers are lower for fintech companies as these firms monitor the business performance of the borrower through analytics that can give out an early warning. Vaddadi said his firm has a 0.16% default rate.  [Comment: I do not believe this is true unless the fintechs really download the business’s information regularly and reliably. I am not aware of any company who really does this well. ]

Australia

Global banks: Is fintech a threat or an opportunity?, (Financial Review), Rated: AAA

UBS banking analysts surveyed 27,914 customers of more than 210 banks in 24 countries, along with 61 management teams from banks around the world. Local UBS banking analyst Jonathan Mott along with analysts in London, New York and Tokyo.

The survey found that a growing number of Australians are considering trying fintech services in the next 12 months: 15 per cent of Australian respondents said they will use a fintech money transfer business; 14 per cent said they will use a mobile payment fintech; 9 per cent will use peer-to-peer lending; and 9 per cent said they are likely to use a “robo adviser” for digital financial advice.

According to the management survey, 38 per cent of banks have a fintech partnership and this is expected to rise to 51 per cent over the next 12 months. The report said that in developed markets, bank returns on equity could be lifted from an average of 9.8 per cent to 10.2 per cent, as global cost to income ratios fall.

The survey found a high level of satisfaction from customers in the US and Britain using P2P lending which pointed to the threat to banks being real.
Australia’s largest P2P lender, SocietyOne, said this week it had appointed DDB Group to lift brand awareness through a TV, online, radio and print advertising campaign after the company, which is being led by former Westpac senior executive Jason Yetton, raised a further $25 million in equity in May.

UBS also predicted “the use of robo-advisers looks likely to grow exponentially” by between 70 and 150 per cent over the next year.

Cyber security is an area of concern, with 35 per cent of the customer respondents indicating a lack of trust in security as an explanation for not using fintech mobile payment services.

Author:

George Popescu

July 29th 2016, Daily News Digest

July 29th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today we have a lot of articles about banks and how banks are surfing successfully on the FinTech wave. The bank articles are mostly in the US section but the Australia section has an interesting article as well. Note the 1st article from Bloomberg and the 7th and 8th articles.  In the India […]

July 29th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

  • Today we have a lot of articles about banks and how banks are surfing successfully on the FinTech wave. The bank articles are mostly in the US section but the Australia section has an interesting article as well. Note the 1st article from Bloomberg and the 7th and 8th articles.
  •  In the India section, you will find an article of quotes from P2P lenders in India which are worth a quick read. And in the UK section a very interesting article, the 1st one, just talking about the profitability of Zopa and Funding Circle, but the real interesting piece are the profitability of LendInvest and RateSetter which are not in the title. And a 2nd article that is also very clear and well thought out.

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

India

Australia

 

United States

Big Banks Turn Silicon Valley Competition Into Profit, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

It’s not that the upstarts — often called fintech — are failing to gain traction. Internet ventures pitching loans to cash-strapped consumers, small businesses and home buyers, for instance, have posted spectacular growth in recent years. It’s just that banks have a huge lead in lending and are watching the startups closely. As borrowers embrace new services, traditional firms are riding along.

Here are five examples:

LendingClub’s Backers

In May, LendingClub broke out its sales to banks: Community banks and other old fashioned lenders snapped up about 34 percent of the $2.8 billion of loans it arranged in the first quarter, up from an average of about 25 percent during 2015.

Some of LendingClub’s biggest loan buyers have bolstered their war chests or operations with financing from banks. Colchis Income Advisors entered into a credit agreement with Bawag PSK of Austria, according to regulatory filings. Arcadia Funds arranged for two of its Cirrix partnerships to borrow from Silicon Valley Bank. And MW Eaglewood lined up financing for its main LendingClub fund from Capital One Financial Corp. in 2012. Spokesmen for the funds and banks declined to comment or didn’t respond to messages.

Chasing Entrepreneurs

Small businesses can thank internet ventures for simplifying loan applications, speeding decisions and providing much-needed credit when many traditional banks were pulling back in the wake of 2008’s financial crisis. Nonbanks now provide about one-quarter of the $800 billion in loans outstanding to the sector, according to research by QED Investors and Oliver Wyman. But the interest rates aren’t always low.

For a time, banks were content backing the loans. Goldman Sachs was among firms that entrusted more than $300 million years ago to fund lending by On Deck Capital Inc., one of the largest providers of small business loans over the internet.

Now, established lenders are taking a more active role. JPMorgan announced a deal in December, letting it access On Deck’s proprietary credit-scoring system to quickly evaluate applicants before using its own balance sheet to make loans. On Deck, in turn, gets a foothold in the burgeoning “fintech as a service” market. But the arrangement has done little to stop a 49 percent slide in the company’s stock this year.

More recently, established lenders have announced their own online lending portals for entrepreneurs.

Wells Fargo & Co. said in May that its new “fast decision” platform will help it reach a goal of providing $100 billion in new loans to small businesses by 2019. AmEx, which already provides more than $200 billion of funding to entrepreneurs for business purchases on their credit cards, expects a new online-loan portal will let it handle even more of their spending.

Mortgage Apps

Fintech ventures starred in Super Bowl ads this year, with Quicken Loans toutingRocket Mortgage, a platform letting users apply for home loans on smartphones.

The tidal wave is benefiting banks, too. Behind the scenes, many of the upstarts get support from traditional banks. Detroit-based Quicken, for example, raised $1.25 billion for itself and its parent company last year in a bond sale underwritten by JPMorgan and Credit Suisse Group AG. It also used lines of credit from banks to help close $80 billion in home loans that year.

[Comment: 4th was Blockchain, not very relevant to our readers here]

Robo-Advisers

Top Wall Street firms, seeking stable fee income, are now developing their own robotic arms. Bank of America Corp. will unveil an automated investment prototype this year after assigning dozens of employees to the project in November, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg at the time. Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo also have said they would build or buy a robo-adviser.

US consumer agency seeks to overhaul debt collection industry, (CNBC), Rated: AAA

“Today we are considering proposals that would drastically overhaul the debt collection market,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “This is about bringing better accuracy and accountability to a market that desperately needs it.”

According to a summary, the proposal would make sure collectors “substantiate the debt before contacting consumers,” by confirming their identities and the amount owed, as well as checking for any payments made after a default. Consumers frequently file complaints at the agency about receiving calls for debts that do not exist.

In an attempt to “limit excessive contact,” the proposal would cap agencies’ calls to debtors to six attempts each week. It would also create a 30-day waiting period after a person dies for contacting survivors.

Agencies would have to communicate specific information to consumers, such as when outstanding debt is too old for a lawsuit. They would also have to make it easier to both dispute or pay a debt through tear-off coupons on the bottoms of collection notices.

Roughly 13 percent of consumers have a debt currently in third-party collection, with an average amount of $1,300, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows.

In a survey released alongside its proposal, the CFPB found more than three-quarters of the country’s 3,994 debt collection firms are small, with less than 100 employees. Larger firms pull in about two-thirds of the industry’s $12.18 billion total revenue.

The agency also found credit card, student loan and automobile debts in collection typically have balances of $2,000 or more.

Cloudvirga Raises $ 7.5 M to Automate the Entire Mortgage Process, (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Cloudvirga, the company developing the cloud-based intelligent Mortgage Platform® (iMP) designed to streamline the mortgage process, today announced it has raised $7.5M in its series A funding sponsored by Dallas Capital with participation from Upfront Ventures and Tribeca Angels.

“Increased regulations stemming from the subprime mortgage crisis have made the entire process more labor intensive and time consuming than ever, and those are the pain points we’re alleviating with iMP,”

Come Together – Finding Common Ground in Small Business Lending Associations, (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

So where do we go from here? Advancing the marketplace lending industry’s efforts to create a more transparent and efficient financial system is critical as the industry matures.

The good news is that small businesses today – even those with lackluster or thin credit history – can choose from a dynamic set of loan products including term loans (both traditional and short-term), business lines of credit, loans for startup companies, equipment purpose loans, various SBA loans, accounts receivable financing, merchant cash advances, and peer-to-peer loans. This is a far cry from where we were in 2008-2010, when (according to the Huffington Post) more than 170,000 small businesses shut down.

At Lendio, we’re convinced that there needs to be a single, industry unifier – and we feel the SMART Box is headed in that direction. Lendio will now participate in the 90-day engagement period and I’m asking all those who offer loan products throughout the Lendio platform to consider doing so as well.

How Much Lower Will Your Student Loan Rate Be With a Cosigner?, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: AAA

Undergraduates who qualified for private student loans with a cosigner–often a parent–were offered average interest rates of 5.37% versus 7.46% without a cosigner, according to Credible.com, a student-loan marketplace. Rates for graduate students were also discounted to 4.59% on average with a cosigner compared to 6.22% without one.

The figures from Credible.com are based on five lenders’ responses and offers—which included a mix of fixed and variable interest rates—to nearly 8,000 applicants who shopped for student loans on the site over a 12-month period through early June. The lenders include Citizens Financial Group—which is quickly gaining market share in the private student loan market—as well as online lenders CommonBond and College Ave Student Loans.

Approval rates fall dramatically without cosigners. Fifty-one percent of undergraduates shopping for loans on Credible.com received offers compared with 20% of those without a cosigner. Similarly, 56% of graduate students–who lenders have historically viewed as relatively safer borrowers–received offers with a cosigner versus 45% without.

In some cases, it can be cheaper for parents to join their children on a private student loan as opposed to signing up for a parent-only loan from the federal government. The 5.37% average rate undergraduates received with a cosigner on private student loans is nearly one percentage point cheaper than the interest rate on the federal Plus loan for parents that charges 6.31% for the upcoming academic year. Private lenders also don’t charge origination fees, while the Plus loan currently has a roughly 4.3% upfront charge.

Think twice before you co-sign on a student loan, (CNBC), Rated: AAA

But co-signing is risky. It ties you to that debt, meaning you could be responsible for the entire amount outstanding if the primary borrowercan’t — or won’t — pay up. Nearly 40 percent of co-signers found themselves on the hook for at least part of the bill, according to a June survey from CreditCards.com, and 28 percent saw a drop in their credit score from the primary borrower’s bad credit habits.

How Ayasdi’s machine learning is giving banks an analytical advantage, (Tradestreaming), Rated: AAA

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Banks are increasingly using machine learning to power part of their operations, but the adoption of these new technologies is not uniform.

Top data scientists are employed by financial institutions and working with programming tools like SPCC and R, they filter and analyze huge data sets in order to perform analytical tasks. “No human being can wrap his head around that amount of data,” said Daniel Druker, CMO of Ayasdi, a machine learning company that partners with financial institutions, like Citi and Credit Suisse. Instead, using machine learning algorithms, a computer can surface insights and recommendations from those data sets, while the quants examine and take actions based on those learnings.

According to McKinsey’s 2015 Global Banking Report, banks that have replaced older statistical-modeling approaches to credit risk with machine learning techniques have experienced up to 20 percent increases in cash collections from outstanding loans.

Out of over 20 banks that work with Ayasdi, Drucker said, 100% are either already operating in this stage or actively exploring implementing such technology.

The highest level of machine learning application is the fully automating business processes. Take a life insurer, for example. When a customer applies for a policy, he might be asked to fill out a 40-page long form and get a physical examination. That information is then sent back to the company for approval. The entire process can take over a month to complete.

According to McKinsey, some European banks using these techniques report 10 percent increases in sales of new products, 20 percent savings in capital expenditures, and 20 percent declines in customer churn.

CB Insights has identified 41 companies providing machine learning solutions in the financial industry. Together with the explosion of general applications of  AI, deals and investments in AI companies reached record levels in 2016. Since the beginning of 2016, over 15 fintech AI companies have closed investment rounds.

How Digital Investments Are Changing the Face of Banking, (The financial Brand), Rated: AAA

Investment in digital banking is driving increased customer acquisition, cross-selling and satisfaction while decreasing branch traffic and related costs.

This is confirmed by the J.D. Power research that showed that there is an immediate lift in overall satisfaction when customers use mobile banking (+27 points on a 1,000-point scale), and this impact increases even more when banks provide their mobile banking customers with a highly satisfying experience (+82). According to J.D. Power, “The outlook for Big Banks remains positive, driven by their (big banks) ability to invest in customer-centric innovations (e.g., digital channels, analytics, and branch transformation), as well as their success in growing customer segments.”

Recent disclosures of mobile banking use by the big banks provides a glimpse of the impact of digital investment on mobile use. Of the three largest U.S. banks, JPMorgan Chase leads the way with nearly 25 million active mobile customers as of the second quarter. That was up 18% compared with the same period last year. Bank of America had the second most active mobile users, with 20.2 million monthly active app users, with Wells Fargo reporting 18 million active users.

 

United Kingdom

Britain’s 2 biggest peer-to-peer lenders lost £50 million in the last decade

The two platforms have facilitated almost £3 billion of loans between them but Funding Circle, founded in 2010, has never made a profit, while Zopa, founded in 2005, made a small profit 2 years running, totalling less than £60,000.

Here’s the breakdown of Zopa and Funding Circle’s financial performance, as per accounts filed with Companies House:

  • Zopa: losses between 2005 and 2014 total £21.79 million, according to accounts filed with Companies House, on cumulative revenues of £25.84 million. The platform made a small profit in in 2011 and 2012, totalling £58,648.
  • Funding Circle: cumulative net loss of £28.71 million on total revenues of £20.89 million, according to accounts covering 2010 to 2014. The company has yet to make a profit.

These losses have been funded by investment from venture capitalists: $273 million (£208.1 million) for Funding Circle and at least $56.6 million (£43 million) for Zopa, according to Crunchbase.

Funding Circle, which offers loans to small businesses, declined to comment on its losses when contacted by BI but pointed to comments CEO Samir Desai made to BI last year when we reported the company’s latest financial results. Desai said at the time:

“If you actually look at the core business of doing loans in the UK — strip away the technology investment and all the other extra stuff we’re doing — the business is already profitable in the UK and is moving that way in the US as well. A lot of the investment we’re doing is investing in creating a global business.”

Zopa’s CEO Jaidev Janardana told BI in an emailed statement:

“We have demonstrated that our business model is profitable with two consecutive profitable years in 2011 and 2012. Since then our investors and the business have placed more value on investing in our growth. In doing so we have been able to double our loan volumes last year, deliver positive returns for our customers at the same time investing in talent, technology, and our office.

“This all means we are in the best position to deliver on our strategic plan for continued growth and profitability long-term. Looking forward, I’m glad to say that we expect to be EBIDTA positive in Q4 2016 and profitable in 2017.”

Christian Faes, CEO of the UK’s fourth largest marketplace lender LendInvest, told BI he thinks that loss-making platforms will face increased pressure to turn a profit to “prove that they can.” Remember, the growth that Zopa and Funding Circle are chasing could be disappearing.

LendInvest, which lets investors put money into short-term mortgages for people looking to renovate then sell properties, made a pre-tax profit of £3.1 million in 2015 and £1.1 million in 2014.

A spokesperson for RateSetter told BI: “We have recorded a profit for two consecutive financial years, proving that our model works and is sustainable. We are now investing to scale up, broaden, and deepen our market while continuing to deliver maximum value for investors.”

Is the dream of peer-to-peer lending beginning to fade?, (Thersa), Rated: AAA

Why is this a problem? Because unlike banks, which can make money on captive and repeat business in current accounts, credit cards and remortgages, P2P lenders need to continuously find and process new borrowers in order to earn commission. Should the sluggish times continue, the danger is that P2P lenders may soon be tempted to shoot for riskier borrowers in order to maintain their rate of growth. Remember that these platforms have investors of their own to placate and appease, many of whom will be pushing for decisive action to keep transaction volumes on an upward trajectory.

Finally, there is the question of where the money flows to on these platforms. Nesta and Cambridge University’s research is unequivocal: peer-to-peer lending has helped many thousands of people and businesses access loans in the face of rejection from high street banks. Yet only 20 percent of borrowers using P2P consumer lending platforms are women, and only a quarter earn less than £25k (note that the median wage of workers in the UK is  £27.5k). Although the makeup of borrowers using P2P platforms may simply reflect lending patterns across the financial industry, it challenges the theory that fintech innovations are inherently more inclusive.

The point of raising these red flags is not to pour cold water on the P2P lending phenomenon. Many of these platforms promise users a brilliant customer experience, faster decision making, more choice and – for some – better rates on loans than they can find elsewhere. Indeed, one of the greatest impacts P2P lenders have had is in changing the practices of long-standing incumbents. Take Wells Fargo, which recently launched a rapid turnaround system for small business loans, partly to match the responsiveness of P2P startups. These innovations should linger on even if P2P platforms fade away, and suggests the sector could catalyse positive transformation in financial services without needing to achieve a dominant position in the loans market.

No, this is not to dismiss the real achievements of P2P platforms. Rather, it is a plea to be pragmatic and realistic about what P2P lending – and all forms of fintech for that matter – can ultimately achieve without a more significant structural change in the nature of the financial industry. John Kay, in his brilliantly detailed new book Other People’s Money, rightly reminds us of the fundamental functions of finance: to enable people to save for the future, receive and send money, manage everyday risks, and borrow to invest in a real economy that truly creates value for others.

Ablrate & Access Commercial Finance Tout Origination Partnership, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Asset-backed peer to peer lender Ablrate has released information on an origination partnership with Access Commercial Finance based in Leeds. The arrangement is said to have generated over £2.5 million of loans so far this year. Ablrate launched as a niche P2P lender focusing on aircraft finance but has since branched out into capital equipment and property. Ablrate’s arrangement with Access is thus driving platform growth. Ablrate also offers a secondary market for investors in their loans.

The origination partnership is said to have resulted in sizeable deals for a range of sectors, including an £800,000 funding boost for a previously mothballed Eco Park, near Newcastle. The deal is expected to grow by £1.4 million. The waste management plant in Blaydon suffered following the collapse of Lehman Bros in 2013. The £800,000 in finance  raised through Ablrate and Access is expected to get the plant fully operational by October creating at least 30 jobs.

European Union

BBVA Plans New Management Revamp as Chairman Pushes Digital Bank, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA is preparing its second management reorganization in 14 months as Chairman Francisco Gonzalez streamlines Spain’s second-biggest lender and accelerates its push into digital banking.

BBVA is pushing to offer more products and services online and via mobile phones as Gonzalez predicts few banks will survive competition from technology companies such as Google Inc. or Facebook Inc.

Vicente Rodero, current head of Country Networks, a unit created last year to boost the results of the group’s lenders in various countries, is set to leave his post. Chief Financial Officer Jaime Saenz de Tejada and Javier Rodriguez Soler, head of strategy and M&A, will be given additional responsibilities.

India

Fintech firms to take profit-first approach, say panellists at VCCircle summit

India’s fintech startups will also learn more from China, owing to similar demographic opportunities and challenges, unlike other industries that primarily learnt from the US, the panellists said. While there are no successful models yet, companies are experimenting with different models that include marketplace, bidding process and intermediary, they added.

Adhil Shetty, founder and CEO of Bankbazaar, said the popularity of the company is that its website received 90 lakh visitors in the month of March alone. Hence, it won’t be an extended arm as the platform offers products from partnering financial services companies as well standalone products.

Gaurav Hinduja, co-founder of Capital Float, which operates a hybrid model by lending online through its non-banking finance company, said these data sets will reduce the time taken from application to disbursal to 10 minutes. He added that social data can be used for verification as well as help in recoveries.

Rajat Gandhi of Gurgaon-based Faircent, which operates a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform facilitating borrowers and lenders through a bidding process, said that credit score would continue to be main criteria for disbursal of loans while data from social media can only be a value-add.

Vaddadi also said that fintech companies are increasing focus on customer acquisition, but added that this will not be done by burning cash.

The panellists also said that chances of default by borrowers are lower for fintech companies as these firms monitor the business performance of the borrower through analytics that can give out an early warning. Vaddadi said his firm has a 0.16% default rate.  [Comment: I do not believe this is true unless the fintechs really download the business’s information regularly and reliably. I am not aware of any company who really does this well. ]

Australia

Global banks: Is fintech a threat or an opportunity?, (Financial Review), Rated: AAA

UBS banking analysts surveyed 27,914 customers of more than 210 banks in 24 countries, along with 61 management teams from banks around the world. Local UBS banking analyst Jonathan Mott along with analysts in London, New York and Tokyo.

The survey found that a growing number of Australians are considering trying fintech services in the next 12 months: 15 per cent of Australian respondents said they will use a fintech money transfer business; 14 per cent said they will use a mobile payment fintech; 9 per cent will use peer-to-peer lending; and 9 per cent said they are likely to use a “robo adviser” for digital financial advice.

According to the management survey, 38 per cent of banks have a fintech partnership and this is expected to rise to 51 per cent over the next 12 months. The report said that in developed markets, bank returns on equity could be lifted from an average of 9.8 per cent to 10.2 per cent, as global cost to income ratios fall.

The survey found a high level of satisfaction from customers in the US and Britain using P2P lending which pointed to the threat to banks being real.
Australia’s largest P2P lender, SocietyOne, said this week it had appointed DDB Group to lift brand awareness through a TV, online, radio and print advertising campaign after the company, which is being led by former Westpac senior executive Jason Yetton, raised a further $25 million in equity in May.

UBS also predicted “the use of robo-advisers looks likely to grow exponentially” by between 70 and 150 per cent over the next year.

Cyber security is an area of concern, with 35 per cent of the customer respondents indicating a lack of trust in security as an explanation for not using fintech mobile payment services.

Author:

George Popescu