Loan Supermarket: Taking on LendingTree

SuperMoney personal finance

The traditional bank with limited financial products has given way to a financial supermarket where consumers are spoilt for choice. But hundreds of options also leave them feeling clueless. When it comes to financial decisions, it becomes imperative to have in-depth knowledge about the pros and cons of all the products that are available in […]

SuperMoney personal finance

The traditional bank with limited financial products has given way to a financial supermarket where consumers are spoilt for choice. But hundreds of options also leave them feeling clueless. When it comes to financial decisions, it becomes imperative to have in-depth knowledge about the pros and cons of all the products that are available in the market. Though there are many platforms focused on selling financial services and products, few concentrate on truly helping people make better financial choices. Sensing the opportunity, Miron Lulic launched SuperMoney with the goal of helping “people make smart financial decisions.”

SuperMoney was launched in 2013 in Santa Ana, California. Lulic, founder and CEO, is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about technological innovation. Prior to this, he founded LoanNow and Swagsy and worked as VP at a tax resolution firm. SuperMoney has no outside investors. Lulic himself has pumped almost $1 million into the business. He does not want to raise capital until the company achieves meaningful scale.

SuperMoney’s Humble Beginnings

When Lulic started SuperMoney, it was nothing but a small personal finance blog. Taking a cue from the Yelp business model, he built a similar platform for personal finance. Using an advanced algorithm, it ranked financial products and companies on multiple parameters. But by 2016, the platform started generating serious traffic, especially for personal loans. Then, in 2017, SuperMoney launched a loan offering engine.

The underlying principle behind SuperMoney is to provide financial transparency and help people make better financial decisions. It has partnered with a handful of lenders, and by using real-time APIs the company scores and rank products offered by those lenders on various parameters, such as origination fees, repayment costs, APR, and more.

SuperMoney’s Technology and Business Model

Since startup, SuperMoney has diversified into several verticals including personal lending, auto loans, student loans, and business lending. It sells clicks as well as leads, but it’s mainly focused on a performance-based advertising model. As such, it only gets paid when advertising partners are successful. The company charges by the loan.

The underlying technology is developed in-house and uses a proprietary segmentation system. SuperMoney has built its own weighted sorting algorithm based on attributes such as user review score, average revenue, and more. This means it is able to store tons of attributes from different lenders and help narrow the target audience for each loan offer. Its partners do not influence ratings and offering decisions. Rather, SuperMoney provides data that helps consumers make better financial decisions for their situation.

With the help of a soft credit pull that does not affect the consumer rating in any way, SuperMoney pre-approves the consumer for multiple offers they can then compare, and pick the best one.

What Differentiates SuperMoney From the Competition

Most consumer finance platforms providing similar services make a profit selling leads to the highest bidder. SuperMoney is more transparent. Instead, it calculates the total repayment cost, interest expense, origination fees, and other lending parameters for the consumer. It directly integrates with all its partners via APIs, which helps give consumers a better perspective in terms of cost associated with each product. This ability to offer apples-to-apples comparison in a clear and transparent manner is the hallmark of the marketplace.

The platform has tasted major success in recent years, and its organic search results have grown exponentially. SuperMoney currently witnesses nearly 1 million visitors per month.

Last April, it launched its personal loan engine and has received financing requests topping $400 million, with close to 1,000 personal loan applications per day. The personal loan has quickly become its biggest vertical. In August 2017, SuperMoney ventured into auto loans. It is also looking at the mortgage space and other niche verticals for future expansion.

Comparison to LendingTree

LendingTree is SuperMoney’s biggest competitor. An online lending exchange that connects consumers with multiple lenders, banks, and credit partners, it is not a direct supplier of loans, but a broker. Their core business model is selling leads to lenders. Lulic believes this is bad for consumers as they are deluged with dozens of tele-callers hawking their products.

SuperMoney is different. It does not let lenders contact the borrower unless the borrower has moved ahead with an offer. Its performance-based model enables them to align interest with end users and partners in a more fruitful manner. Even its marketing strategy is different from other platforms; SuperMoney concentrates on content marketing believing in “quality over quantity.”

Future Trends in Consumer Lending

Lulic believes the industry will witness a prolonged consolidation phase in order for market dynamics to settle. Strong performance of platforms like Golman Sachs’ Marcus will give the banking community self-belief to bring their own direct ventures into this space.

Moving forward, the big solution will be focusing on underserved niches. One such initiative is a dealer financing solution. Lately, a lot of traction has been witnessed in home improvement loans. SuperMoney wants to focus on individual contractors like roof installers, pool installers, and other service providers who do not have good financial solutions at their disposal.

Specialty financers available in the consumer lending space charge high discount rates from contractors, and that has had a ripple effect on contractor’s charges inching higher. To tackle this problem, SuperMoney tweaked its loan offering engine framework to launch a dealer-financing solution with a co-branded landing page. This will help contractors receive multiple competitive offers. It has tested the prototype with 100 dealers and further plans to move into other verticals like elective medical, funeral homes, legal service providers, and more.

SuperMoney also wants to strike additional partnership with banks, add more partners to its marketplace platform, and include dealers for the home improvement space. It is looking to collaborate with a wide variety of financial institutions and financial service providers. If everything goes according to plan, it will raise fresh capital in 2018 to fuel its growth.

Conclusion

The company has laid the blueprint to become one of the leading financial service research tool providers. By venturing into a variety of verticals, SuperMoney has made clear it has big ambitions and wants to become the premier go-to-resource for personal and business finance decisions.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Monday October 23 2017, Daily News Digest

Mosaic

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi discussed acquisition with Schwab. Victory Park Capital dumps Avant loans, moves away from MPL. Banco BNI Europa partners with Parcela Já on payments solution. Skystar Capital to raise third fund in 2018. Today’s main analysis: Mosaic prices, Nelnet, and Avant. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Asian stocks outpace U.S. since Alibaba IPO. When payday loans […]

Mosaic

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United States

United Kingdom

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International

India

Asia

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News Summary

United States

SoFi held talks for possible $ 8bn sale this year (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

SoFi, the highly valued online lender, explored a sale earlier this year, holding talks with companies including Schwab, the San Francisco-based broker, according to people familiar with the matter.

The sale discussions at SoFi, which has since been rocked by sexual harassment allegations, were triggered by an indicative offer of $6bn from a foreign bank, according to two people familiar with the matter. That offer came soon after SoFi raised $500m in a fundraising round led by Silver Lake, which valued it at more than $4bn.

After the initial approach, SoFi held talks with other possible acquirers with a targeted price of $8bn-$10bn. Several US companies, including Schwab, discussed a possible deal but none matched the desired price. SoFi decided to wait for an initial public offering, tentatively scheduled for 2019.

Mosaic Prices, Nelnet Acquires Great Lakes, FinTech Financings (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Earlier this week, Mosaic priced MSAIC 2017-2, their second solar ABS. The deal was heavily oversubscribed, with over $1.7 Bn in orders for a $307.5 Mn deal.

On Thursday, Nelnet announced it would acquire Great Lakes Education Loan Services for $150 Mn in cash.

In other securitization news this week Avant filed ABS 15-G for is AVNT 2017-B deal. KBRA assigned preliminary ratings to three classes of notes issued by Avant Loans Funding Trust 2017-B (“AVNT 2017-B”). The transaction is a $232.648 Mn consumer loan ABS transaction that is expected to close on October 31, 2017. We took a close look at Avant’s first deal of 2017 in a prior newsletter.

Mosaic Background
With over $1.1 Bn loans funded, Mosaic maintains a proprietary origination channel consisting of a high-quality network of approved solar installers. These installers are carefully screened as Mosaic must rely on these partners to refer quality borrowers because the loans are secured by the installed solar systems.

Last month, Mosaic inked a deal with Goldman Sachs for a $300 Mn forward purchase agreement. In addition to the ~$450 Mn the company has raised through securitizations, other significant sources of financing include a $220 Mn series C equity raise led by Warburg Pincus in 2016 and $650 Mn in warehouse commitments from a diverse mix of banks.

Source: PeerIQ

Asian Companies Sell Most Stock in U.S. Since Alibaba’s IPO (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Fifteen Asian companies have raised $3.2 billion in U.S.-listed IPOs and seen their shares climb 46 percent since their listings this year, according to weighted-average share price data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares to an 11 percent climb for the 105 U.S. businesses that listed domestically and raised a combined $23.6 billion.

Combined with other listings, those three have put October on track to be the biggest month of the year for U.S. IPOs. The $29 billion raised in 2017 has already outpaced the $15.2 billion in stock offered by new U.S.-listed companies through this time last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The 13 Asian companies that raised a combined $1 billion in 2015 are up 117 percent, beating the 19 percent rise for U.S.-based companies that had domestic listings that year. In 2014, 20 Asian companies including Alibaba raised a combined $30 billion. Those stocks are up 152 percent on average. The $50 billion in U.S.-based companies’ shares sold that year have climbed only 35 percent.

When Payday Loans Die, Something Else Is Going to Replace Them (The Atlantic), Rated: AAA

But the regulations will do little to address the other side of the problem: consumers’ demand for small, fast, easy-to-obtain loans. Solving that problem, while ensuring that new predatory loans options don’t pop up, will fall to the financial industry and state legislators—who’ve struggled in the past to protect financially vulnerable Americans.

Some of those options are already out there, and won’t be covered by the CFPB’s new rule, says Nick Bourke, the director of the consumer-finance program at Pew Charitable Trusts. According to Bourke, many of the same payday and auto-title lenders that will be shelving shorter-term loans ahead of the CFPB’s onerous new rules already have other loan options available. And they’re available in about half of all states.

To prevent that, Bourke says, states could mandate that small and installment loan options include affordable repayment structures, reasonable repayment times, and lower fees. That’s an option that has already been implemented in some states such as Colorado, and one that might work elsewhere.

There are few places for poor, underbanked Americans to turn when they’re in need of a couple hundred dollars in a pinch. In the past, many traditional banks have said that the risk and cost of underwriting small-dollar loans simply isn’t worth it: Small loans, coupled with borrowers with low incomes and spotty or nonexistent credit history, don’t really appeal to large, profit-seeking banks.

One of the main alternatives provided by credit unions is the Payday Alternative Loan—which allows federally backed credit unions to provide their members with small loans in amounts ranging from $200 to $1,000, with repayment terms of one to six months. But when you compare the accessibility of PAL loans to the demand for payday products, it’s clear that they can’t meet the need. In 2016, only about 20 percent of the country’s fewer than 4,000 federal credit unions offered the loans. And to get one, a borrower must be a member of a credit union for at least a month, and sometimes complete a financial-education requirement in order to fulfill a loan application. That’s an imperfect swap for many of the 12 million Americans who use payday loans each year to receive an instant cash infusion.

How Often Do Mortgage Lenders Follow-Up via Calls And E-mails? (Tenfold), Rated: A

I conducted a study where I applied for home loans with nine different lenders and then tracked their follow-up attempts over two weeks. During this time, I also did not respond to their follow-up calls and e-mails.

  • Over the course of two weeks, Quicken Loans made the most follow-up attempts. 18 to be exact.
  • Lenders at Citigroup came second with 17 follow-up attempts.
  • loanDepot, in third place, attempted 13 follow-ups.
  • During the same period, Chase Mortgage and PennyMac Loan Services tied for fourth with 11 follow-up attempts.
  • Sales reps at Bank of America only followed-up on the home loan application five times.
  • U.S. Bancorp followed-up twice, and CapitalOne and HSBC Mortgage Services tied for last with just a single follow-up attempt.
Source: Tenfold
Source: Tenfold

Varo Money Announces New Product Features to Help Customers Save More Money (Varo Money Email), Rated: A

SmartBiz Loans brings banks back to SBA lending (Biz Journals), Rated: A

The company, which offers an online Small Business Administration loan marketplace, was the top facilitator of traditional SBA 7(a) loans under $350,000 in fiscal 2016.

As S&P Global Ratings noticed collateral performance in the U.S. subprime auto loan asset-backed securities (ABS) market deteriorated moderately on a sequential basis in August, Davis & Gilbert’s Insolvency, Creditors’ Rights & Financial Products Practice Group fears investors could be in for a surprise if that market segment makes a more notable move.

S&P Global Ratings indicated the subprime net loss rate increased to 7.95 percent in August 2017 from 7.38 percent in July but decreased year-over-year from 8.35 percent.

Between August of last year and the same month this year, analysts noted about 35 new deals with a total collateral amount of approximately $17 billion were added to their index. These additions pushed the outstanding collateral amount up to approximately $35.6 billion compared to $32.0 billion a year earlier.

Fundera Report: The Traditional SME Lending Process Pretty Much Sucks (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Fundera, an online lending comparison site, has partnered with Oliver Wyman on a report about SME lending. Entitled, “Great Expectations: Improving the loan application process for small business borrowers, the document effectively labels the traditional borrowing process as broken.

On the flip side, banks still have an advantage in a lower cost of capital so if you can suffer through the frustration you loan (if ever approved) may come at a lower cost.

So what is the big takeaway from all of this?

The report explains that alternative lenders have a higher cost of capital because they lack access to low cost deposits that banks and credit unions use to fund their loans. The average cost of funds for a bank is around 0.06%. In comparison, OnDeck reported a cost of funds in Q1 2017 of 5.9%.

This App Will Loan You $ 75 Interest Free to Avoid Overdraft Fees (Lifehacker), Rated: A

Another solid solution: Dave. Not your buddy from college, the app.

Once it’s tied to your bank account (using the same military-grade 128-bit SSL encryption technology used by big banks), the app will monitor your finances and reoccurring expenses and then let you know when you’re running at risk of overdrafting your account.

Within the app you can ask to borrow $25, $50, or $75 to get you through until your next paycheck comes. Loans are free, but when you pay them back you’re given the option to leave a 5-15% tip. For every % of tip you give, the app will plant a tree.

Using the app costs $1 per month.

Real Estate Crowdfunding Firm Targets Institutional Investors (InstitionalInvestor.com), Rated: A

First RealFund will offer property investments in high-growth neighborhoods such as Brooklyn.

The New York-based firm will provide short-term real-estate investments in high-growth neighborhoods, according to co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Dan Drew. First RealFund will offer opportunities to co-invest alongside the firm in residential and commercial real-estate deals.

He projects returns of 12 percent to 24 percent on investments lasting one to three years.

First RealFund has a $5 million pipeline of deals and plans to co-invest $100,000 in each of its first two offerings, according to Drew. He said investors can allocate between $500,000 and $3 million in each of the real estate assets offered by First RealFund.

Rory Eakin of CircleUp (Lend Academy), Rated: A

In this podcast you will learn:

  • The circuitous route Rory took through South Africa before founding CircleUp.
  • The huge untapped opportunity that Rory and his co-founder discovered.
  • Some examples of consumer goods companies that have raised capital on CircleUp.
  • How they approach the due diligence process.
  • How and why they are tracking 1.2 million companies in the consumer sector.
  • Why building their own data analysis tools has been a key ingredient in their success.
  • The typical size of the companies that are raising money and the typical equity rounds.
  • The number of companies that have raised money on the platform.
  • The average revenue CAGR for those companies.
  • Their current mix of investors and the average investment on the platform.
  • Why they decided to launch a loan product earlier this year.
  • The typical loan terms they are offering.
  • Who is providing the capital for their loan product.
  • Why they remain focused on the consumer goods vertical for this loan product.
  • What the future holds for CircleUp.

OneMain Increases eSignLive E-Signatures Roll-Out to 1,700 Branches (Globe Newswire), Rated: A

VASCO Data Security International, Inc. today announced that longtime customer OneMain Financial, the largest responsible personal loan company in the U.S., has extended its use of eSignLive e-signatures for loan applications to more than 1,700 U.S. branches in 44 states. The lender has seen 99 percent adoption of the technology, which translates into an annual savings of approximately 500,000 administrative hours and $500,000 in toner costs alone, and enables OneMain to deliver an omni channel experience to improve the customer experience while reducing in-branch costs.

OneMain selected eSignLive in 2012 to enable virtual personal lending, including unsecured loans across online and call center channels.

Real Estate Crowdfunders Turn to Auto-Invest (Patch of Land), Rated: A

Automatic investment tools are gaining traction with real estate crowdfunding platforms as a way for investors to obtain greater access to transactions that meet their investing criteria.

The benefits of automatic investing to the real estate investor are multifold:

  1. It levels the playing field.
  2. It improves flexibility.
  3. It may allow for higher investments.
  4. It increases portfolio diversity. 
  5. Investors gain access even when demand is high.

How auto investing helps lenders

While the multiple benefits of automatic investing are fairly obvious to investors, real estate crowdfunding lenders stand to benefit as well. Using data gathered from investor parameters selected in a respective platform’s auto invest feature, the lender is able to see if a loan will fully fund or by what percentage it will fund before the loan documents are ever signed or approved.

This data helps determine whether an appetite exists on a particular real estate crowdfunding platform for a specific loan. If there’s a huge appetite for a particular loan type, then more of those types of loans may be offered.

Lenders who have built-out this type of auto-investing technology in an intelligent way will have an audit history to see how investing parameters have changed over time, which will help to make smarter lending decisions now and into the future.

Lenders, armed with auto-investing data, will be able to draw trend lines on how investors are or are not changing their investing parameters.

This could mean making a decision to deny a loan application because “crowd” investors have no appetite to fund it while prioritizing another loan through the approval and funding process because of high demand from investors.

Fears of commercially owned banks are unfounded: OCC’s Noreika (American Banker), Rated: A

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika on Thursday pushed back against concerns that his agency’s proposed fintech charter will unduly benefit nonfinancial firms.

Why Fintechs Want More Access to State Banking Regulators (Law.com), Rated: A

This week, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced more than 30 companieswill participate in its newly formed Fintech Industry Advisory Panel. The panel is part of the CSBS’s Vision 2020 initiative, which seeks to “modernize state regulation of non-banks, including financial technology firms.”

At financial startup Social Finance Inc. (SoFi), general counsel Rob Lavet, who oversees compliance professionals and is used to interacting with state and federal regulators, will be the one to serve on the panel. Kabbage’s head of global privacy, Sam Taussig, will represent the Atlanta-based small-business lending company.

Some companies have chosen other executives to participate in the regulatory conversation. At CommonBond, for instance, CEO and co-founder David Klein will represent the student loan company.

Judge OKs LendingClub Investor Class, Competing State Suit (Law360), Rated: B

Investors in LendingClub Corp. who accused the online lender of stock fraud were recognized as a class in California federal court on Friday, but the judge allowed a competing state-court case to advance despite his skepticism that it would result in a better outcome for investors.

Payments M&A, deals and financings all happened (The Financial Revolutionist), Rated: B

First Data accidentally let it slip that it was thinking about buying payments processing partner BluePay and 

Lendio Joins Innovative Lending Platform Association (OnDeck), Rated: B

The Innovative Lending Platform Association (ILPA), consisting of the nation’s leading online small business lending platforms, today announced that small business platform Lendio has joined the trade organization as an associate member. Lendio will work with other ILPA members to advance online small business lending education, advocacy, and best practices.

United Kingdom

VPC offloads Avant loans as part of shift from marketplace lending (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

VICTORY Park Capital (VPC) Specialty Lending Investments has offloaded the majority of its loans from US personal loans platform Avant.

The alternative lending investment trust said in a portfolio update on Monday that the move is part of its strategy of shifting from marketplace to balance sheet lending.

The investments sold represent 7.6 per cent of the company’s net asset value as at 31 August 2017.

Why investing in your neighbour is the new finance revolution and Cornwall’s leading it (CornwallLive), Rated: A

Crowd sourced funding has transformed the way we do business, whipping up a sense of entrepreneurship and encouraging all of us to think about investing more locally.

According to SWIG Finance which has a base in Truro, more than £10billion has been loaned to UK businesses and consumers by the alternative finance sector as a whole since 2005.

Crowdfunder’s growth has been meteoric with 25,000 members joining the platform every month and raising some £2m a month for UK projects.

ThinCats Expands in Midlands By Appointing Ravi Bagri As New Origination Manager (Crowfund Insider), Rated: B

Peer-to-peer lending platform ThinCats announced on Friday it has appointed Ravi Bagri as its new Origination Manager, who will cover the Midlands region. According to the online lender, Bagri is considered one of the most well-established names in the Midlands finance sector and has nearly 30 years of experience in retail and commercial banking.

Debt collector Cabot plans to float on London Stock Exchange (Financial Times), Rated: B

Cabot has also appointed Andy Haste, chairman of payday lender Wonga, as independent chairman-elect, to help oversee the debt management group’s transition to a public company.

China

Third-quarter funding for China’s fintech hits a speed bump as state tightened reins on capital outflow (SCMP), Rated: AAA

Total funding raised by China’s venture capital-backed financial technology start-ups fell to US$800 million across 26 deals between July and September, a drop of 27 per cent from last year, as the central government kept a tight rein on capital outflows from this sector.

That amount was down from US$1.1 billion in the same period last year and below the US$1 billion recorded in the quarter to June, according to a recent online briefing by Lindsay Davis, an intelligence analyst at venture capital research firm CB Insights.

Davis said deal activity of mainland fintech start-ups in the third quarter dropped 19 per cent from 32 transactions recorded in the second quarter.

Dianrong, the Shanghai-based operator of a popular online lending marketplace, recorded the region’s largest fintech deal last quarter – a US$220 million Series D funding round led by China Minsheng Investment, Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and South Korean private equity firm Simone Investment Managers.

That was followed by the US$200 million Series C financing round of Shenzhen Suishou Technology, which runs a personal finance management platform on the mainland. Its investors included Hong Kong-listed conglomerate Fosun International, global investment firm KKR & Co, Sequoia Capital China and Beijing-based venture capital company Source Code Capital.

Source: SCMP
European Union

BANCO BNI EUROPA AND PARCELA JÁ SIGN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP TO LAUNCH SOLUTION FOR PAYMENT OF PURCHASES (Global Bnking & Finance), Rated: AAA

Banco BNI Europa and Parcela Já, Portuguese Fintech, have entered into a partnership to launch an innovative solution for the Portuguese market, which aims to enable any retailer to offer its customers the instalment of any purchase without costs to the consumer.

This product is open to all consumers with a credit card. To benefit from this service, the final customer will only have to make the purchase with his usual credit card, deciding at the terminal, at the time of purchase, the instalment he intends to make, between 2 and 12.

PayKey Launches Smart Mobile Payments Keyboard (PYMNTS), Rated: A

Mobile banking startup PayKey, which offers a smartphone keyboard designed for millennial banking customers, has raised $10 million in Series B funding, bringing its total raised to $16 million.

According to news from TechCrunch, this latest round was led by MizMaa Ventures, with participation from other investors that include SBI Group, Siam Commercial Bank’s financial tech subsidiary Digital Ventures, SixThirty and Fintech71.

PSD2 signals a return to relationship banking, says Temenos (AltFi), Rated: A

Jeroen Broekema, online lender Funding Circle’s lead in the Netherlands, recently told us that PSD2 “has the potential to be a game-changer”, but that its success in the short-term will depend on the willingness of the big banks to engage.

Temenos is a software provider to banks and other financial services firms, helping them to keep pace with a rapidly changing market. It’s the fourth largest software company in Europe, with profits of over $185m and a market capitalisation of more than $5bn. (Clearly, selling technology to banks is big business.)

ENEMY TURNED INTO BROTHER: CRYPROCURRENCIES AND BANKS TO INTEGRATE IN JUST ONE YEAR (Bitcoinist), Rated: A

Two factions have formed on their own – people who stay loyal to banks and observe the cryptocurrency market from afar, only dreaming about 30–60% p.a. deposit rates. And then there are those who have switched over to cryptocurrencies and are happy with the state of things but shudder every time they hear about the latest hacking of cryptocurrency wallets. Why make this choice? The market needs a service at the intersection of these factions.

We are finally solving the issue of debit card linkage to cryptocurrency wallets. About 10 companies promise to issue their Master Card or VISA cards – all to no avail… Our marketplace will solve the problem of online lending, including p2p lending, as well as deposits in cryptocurrency assets. Sure, the market may offer similar services, however only Narbonne has the team with that much experience in finance.

Many microfinance companies like to mention that 2–3 billion people are currently unable to get a loan in a bank.

International

The ECN Updates Review of Crowdfunding Regulation in the EU, Israel & the USA (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

On October 20, at its 6th Convention in Vilnius, Lithuania, the European Crowdfunding Network (ECN), the European association of alternative finance platforms, released its Third Edition of the Review of Existing Regulations of crowdfunding and related alternative financing in the 28 countries of Europe, as well as in North America and Israel.

The 720-page long report was written by local offices of law firms in each country coordinated by international law firm Osborne Clarke under the direction of Tanja Aschenbeck-Florange and her colleague Thorge Drefke.

In response to the new alternative financing models, some 11 EU countries have implemented national level regulations for securities-based and lending-based crowdfunding:

Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and The United Kingdom.

A few other countries, such as Romania and Ireland, are preparing to issue such crowd-funding-specific regulations.

The result of this lack of regulatory harmonization is a market fragmentation which clearly hampers the development of the industry.

A Call for Action

The aim of the report, in addition to providing a reference document for the platforms and their partners, is to present the European and national regulators and legislators with a clear picture of the fragmented regulatory landscape and to suggest directions for improvements inspired from the best practices observed in each country.

Sovereign funds’ corporate deals halve in Q3, Asians stay active (The Star), Rated: A

The value of corporate deals with sovereign wealth fund (SWF) participation halved in the third quarter as oil-driven funds continued to take a back seat.

GIC participated in the top three deals, the largest being a US$6.4bil offer for Danish payments processor Nets by newly-formed company Evergood 5. The deal was backed by a consortium that included GIC, led by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman.

The second largest was the US$1.6bil acquisition of Hong Kong-based insurer MassMutual Asia by another investor group that included GIC.

GIC also led a US$220mil funding round for Chinese peer-to-peer lending platform Dianrong.

Fintech startup, Trade Ledger, launches world-first tech to help banks fight off global tech giants (Business Insider), Rated: A

Career technologists, Martin McCann and Dr. Matthias Born, are launching a world-first lending tech for banks and traditional lenders that will help to equip them against competition from tech giants such as Facebook, Tencent, and eBay wanting to enter financial services.

Trade Ledger is the world’s first business lending platform that transforms digital data from business supply chains in real time, allowing banks to assess and regularly update credit and default risk of businesses they lend to. Currently this is only done on a one-off or infrequent basis on a very small sample of invoices, and not on any other trade documents.

How Cryptocurrency Loans Are Reinventing Credit (International Business Times), Rated: A

The blockchain nonprofit Celsius, headquartered in New York, now has an initial coin offering to fund the launch of its beta loan platform for Americans in January.

One of the biggest barriers for taking out a loan is credit worthiness. The traditional way banks and lenders assess credit is widely considered outdated in the modern economy.

Users will download the app and log in through Facebook or LinkedIn to authenticate their identities. Ebay or Amazon sellers can upload their transaction histories to show their reliability. Borrowers can even have a guarantor, say a friend anywhere in the world with a cryptocurrency wallet, put up her digital assets to boost your Celsius credit limit.

Borrowers receive their credit in dollars even though lenders are giving them ether.

The plan is to eventually go global. Meanwhile, a Buenos Aires-based startup called the Ripio Credit Network will soon offer similar cryptocurrency services in Latin America. Ripio will focus on short-term microloans, ranging in value from $20 to $2,000. Ripio founder and CEO Sebastian Serrano told IBT the bitcoin wallet platform already has 140,000 users, mostly in Argentina and Brazil.

According to the World Bank, around 2 billion people still doesn’t have any type of bank account.

Like Nubank in Brazil and the fintech startup Tala in Africa and Asia, Ripio will also use cellphone data to help bolster the user’s credit score.

NerdWallet reported the average credit card rate was around 12.3 percent in 2016, accounting for inflation.

Salt has a KeepKey hardware wallet and a digital lending platform set to launch near the end of this year, altogether bringing in more than $45 million in revenue thanks to 25,0000 users.

The Cambridge study estimated there are between 5.8 to 11.5 million active cryptocurrency wallets worldwide.

India

How alternative financial services ecosystem has become big boon for India (Financial Express), Rated: AAA

J Venkatesh had always wanted to gift his college-going daughter a phone. But the machine operator, who works in a tobacco-manufacturing unit in Secunderabad, could never save enough money to buy a smartphone. Though he had a savings account in a large nationalised bank, he wasn’t able to procure a personal loan due to poor credit score. That’s when Home Credit India, a consumer finance provider, came into the picture. Last year, the company gave Venkatesh a small-ticket loan of Rs 10,000 to buy a smartphone. The small-ticket loan boosted his credit score, following which he was able to avail two personal loans of Rs 1 lakh and Rs 73,000 within a gap of less than six months between the two loans.

“With less than 20 million consumers in this country having credit cards and 70% of the formal consumer credit availed by only 24 million households, the opportunity for fintechs is immense,” says Lizzie Chapman, co-founder and CEO, ZestMoney, a fintech firm. At ZestMoney, the ticket size of loans ranges from Rs 3,000 to Rs 3 lakh. “But our sweet spot is in the Rs 20,000-Rs 50,000 space. These are purchases that are too small to warrant taking a personal loan for, but too big to put in one lumpsum for most people,” Chapman adds.

Today, nearly one-third of the customers availing loans through these financial institutions are new to credit.

As per data released in 2016 from the finance ministry, only 28-32% of Indians have access to financial institutions, including post offices and banks.

Online lending startups thrive as banks with bad loans become cautious (Deal Street Asia), Rated: A

Online lending start-ups such as Faircent, Wishfin and Loantap as well as large e-commerce firms are helping expand consumer credit at a time when banks burdened by bad loans have become cautious about lending.

Personal loans advanced by banks grew 15.7% in August, slower than the 18.1% growth that the segment reported a year ago, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data.

Faircent (Fairassets Technologies Pvt. Ltd) is now processing around 300 loans per month, with an average loan size of Rs1.5 lakh on a monthly basis, compared with 130 loans given in November and December last year.

Wishfin (Mywish Marketplaces Pvt. Ltd), a company which aggregates loan and credit products from banks, has also experienced a huge increase in loans after demonetisation. The firm claims to get around 300,000 applications every month for various financial and credit products, up 2.75 times from a year ago.

LazyPay (owned by PayU) and Simpl (owned by Get Simpl Technologies Pvt. Ltd) also provide a buy-now, pay-later option to customers on their platforms by tying up with online vendors.

Loantap (LoanTap Financial Technologies Pvt. Ltd) is one such platform that provides instant finance to salaried consumers. It has categorized loans for specific-use cases including weddings, holidays, car/bike loans and credit card re-financing, among others.

Now, a safer marketplace for loans (The Hindu Business Line), Rated: A

If you want to raise money quickly for business or personal use, the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform has now become more transparent and safer. The RBI last week laid down directions that bring more credibility to the online platform.What is it ?A P2P lending platform brings lenders and borrowers together.

FundPitch to cater to SMEs (The Hindu), Rated: B

While Bodhtree Consulting Limited will launch its operations in the Fintech Valley-Vizag within a few days, two other companies Lycos Internet Ltd (erstwhile Ybrant Digitals) and Kissht will also invest in the city.

The three companies have given the commitment to start their operations in Fintech Valley-Vizag with a total job opportunity for 600.

Besides Bodhtree, its subsidiary FundPitch would also facilitate funding for SMEs — a long needed requirement for innovative entrepreneurs in Andhra Pradesh — J.A. Chowdary, Special Chief Secretary and IT Advisor to Chief Minister, told The Hindu.

Asia

Indonesia’s Skystar Capital to raise third fund in 2018, to target late-stage funding (Deal Street Asia), Rated: AAA

Indonesian early-stage venture capital firm Skystar Capital is expected to hit the fundraising course for its third fund by the second half of next year, a top executive told DEALSTREETASIA.

The VC is now deploying its second fund – which it closed mid-2016 – with check sizes ranging between $100,000 and $1 million. It plans to start the fundraising process when it has utilized at least 50-60 per cent of the current fund.

Lifestyle inflation could be the reason you’re struggling (The Star), Rated: A

WHAT is lifestyle inflation? Quite simply it’s when you increase your spending when your income level goes up, for instance, each time you get a salary increment. It’s a simple idea that when you make more, you spend more.

But aside from that, did you know the Malaysia Employers Federation (MEF) has reported that the average salary increase in 2017 is estimated at 5.3% for executives and 5.43% for non-executives.

Inflation is floating between 3.6% to 3.9%, that only gives you a salary increase of 1%-2%.

Propelling Singaporean SMEs to greater heights with fintech (SBR.com.sg), Rated: A

According to the January 2017 report by Hootsuite and We Are Social Singapore, there are currently 644.1 million people in Southeast Asia. Of which, 53% are internet users making the region ripe for growth and expansion for Fintech adoption.

Paired with the Smart Financial Centre, with funding of $225 million, this has reduced the barriers to entry for fledgling startups and SMEs.

Payments
As a sector that contributes between 23 and 58 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the region’s various countries, many transactions arise from SMEs. These may include the use of paper money or cheques, processes that are labour-intensive and time-consuming. However, with the rise of payment services like Omise in Thailand, M_Service in Vietnam, and Doku in Indonesia, SMEs can now reach customers without credit cards to transact on an e-commerce platform.

In Singapore, the introduction of PayNow, a payment service that allows transactions to be made to the user’s mobile number on mobile banking apps, has made banking transactions more convenient than ever.

Lending & Financing
Whilst SMEs are key to driving economic growth in Southeast Asia, the fact that they are small and medium enterprises also mean that they encounter difficulties in securing loans from traditional financial institutions. A report by Deloitte states that less than 60% of SMEs in five countries the region have access to bank loans.

Finance Management 
Another key issue SMEs face is the lack of financial literacy or financial literacy tools available to managers.

Improve policy framework to promote consumer finance (Viet Nam News), Rated: A

Experts agreed that the consumer lending market has high potential in Việt Nam, given the low penetration and significant size of the population that remained unbanked and unserved despite increasing income.

Statistics of the State Bank of Việt Nam revealed that total outstanding consumer loans were at VNĐ960 trillion (US$42.1 billion), or 15.7 per cent of the total outstanding loans in the economy, in 2016, of which VNĐ74 trillion was provided by finance companies.

She cited the World Bank’s statistics according to which the population with loans accounted for 46.84 per cent in Việt Nam, but the percentage of population with loan at financial institutions was much smaller at 18.45 per cent.

MENA

Brace yourselves for the future of finance (Khaleej Times), Rated: A

The financial services industry is experiencing a time of unprecedented change. And the principal driver for this change is fintech.

Investment in fintech in the Middle East alone for 2017 was forecast to increase by 270 per cent at the beginning of the year, with this figure expected to rise exponentially in the short to medium-term.

With the number of people owning at least one smartphone in the UAE – forecast to reach 789 million by 2019 – mobile banking plays a large and very important part in our everyday lives. Indeed, research leading up to the annual Gitex Technology Week in Dubai shows substantial growth in the banking habits of the high-earning, always-connected under-35s who require and expect constant mobile banking access.

In addition to mobile banking apps – robo-advisers, peer-to-peer lending and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum – have all played a role in this colossal upheaval of the financial services industry.

HONEST FINANCING FOR TURKISH FARMS (Delano.lu), Rated: A

Tackling the challenges of the underbanked, the EFSE Fund and the SANAD Fund for MSME, advised by Finance in Motion, have partnered with Village Capital and the LHoFT to develop the Fincluders Bootcamp 2017, unique investment readiness program designed for entrepreneurs offering inclusive financial products.

We caught up with founders from each of the 12 selected startups, this time with Mehmet Memecan, founder of Tarfin:

What does ​’financial inclusion’ mean to you?

In farming, you achieve higher profitability by either planting more value-added crops, or plant more acres of the same crop. Both of these options require additional to capital.

Could you describe the mission of Tarfin?

Tarfin uses technology and its vast retailer network to deliver competitive financing options for farmers’ purchases of farm inputs. Farmers can buy fertilisers, seeds and chemicals today, and only pay after harvest. We bridge the financing gap, and we do it at a cheaper rate than what’s otherwise available to the farmer.

What are the unique challenges and opportunities of your home market?

Unfortunately, we have very low financial literacy in Turkish agriculture.

Africa

Ghanian FinTech Bloom Impact attracts Canadian investment (CFO), Rated: AAA

Ghana’s Bloom Impact, a machine learning loans marketplace accessible from smartphones has raised undisclosed funding from Engineers Without Borders Canada, EWB Ventures, an early-stage investor in innovative Africa-based social enterprises.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Friday April 21 2017, Daily News Digest

mobile payments

News Comments Today’s main news: Wealthfront to start lending money. Orange,telecom and ISP company, is launching a bank. Avant files new ABS-15G form with SEC. RateSetter investors have lent 400M GBP to SMBs in UK.  Yirendai makes progress with ABS loan structure. Today’s main analysis: Alipay, WeChat processed $3T in 2016, 10x the volume of Paypal. Today’s thought-provoking articles: […]

mobile payments

News Comments

United States

  • Wealthfront to lend money. GP:”A very interesting move. SoFi is moving from lending to wealth management. Wealthfront from wealth management to lending. The vision is likely to be a single point of contact for all financial needs of the population segment which prefers to interact digitally with their financial institutions. Other potential services that could be added : life insurances ( SoFi has it), other insurance (nobody has it to my knowledge), payments (combine Paypal and your accounts), checking or cash management, savings, mortgages (SoFi has it again), credit cards for payments (UpLend has it for example for non primes), etc. The opportunities in fintech/online lending are still immense. ” AT: “Personally, I’ve never understood the concept of borrowing your own money, but there is a market for it, I suppose. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts can do it, so why not robo-advisors?”
  • Three steps lenders can take to mitigate synthetic ID fraud. GP:”A must read especially for new lenders. Fraud rings tend to attack new lenders first and the most”. AT: “This may very well be the biggest threat to the online lending industry. I have confidence that some very smart people will figure out how to defeat it. My crystal ball says it will likely be a machine learning algorithm that does the trick.”
  • Avant Loans Funding Trust 2017-A. GP:” ABS market continues to be healthy and growing.”
  • Key trends in equipment finance. GP:” Supply chain financing is relatively untouched and I think a great opportunity for digital lenders.”
  • Yieldstreet surpasses $100M loans funded in less than 8 quarters. GP:”Congratulations.” AT: “Great achievement. Congratulations.”
  • Americans may not know which real estate investment types have performed best. AT: “The general population probably doesn’t know, but I would hope that real estate investors know.”
  • Brelion acquires PeerRealty. GP:” A real estate tech company acquiring a real estate crowd funding company, a very interesting move. Not sure if the acquisition was for cash or just a token acquisition.
  • Harvard recommends consumer finance policy overhaul. AT: “When you have a paradigm shift in technology and business practices, a new look at regulation is necessary.”
  • 4 Fintech tools coming out of New York Tech Day. GP:”Very interesting innovation.” AT: “I like the concept of a kid’s bank.”
  • eOriginal names Brian Maddocks CEO.
  • Trust Stamp invited to Money 20/20 Startup Challenge.

United Kingdom

European Union

  • Orange is launching a bank. GP:”This is a very interesting move for a large company. GE and other large companies have and have had banks to help in their b2b sales of equipment usually. I am not aware of many B2C companies with small ticket items ( phones, phone bills, ISP, etc…) who offers a bank. I do think that they can leverage the data they have , brand, customer reach and much more. Imagine if each Orange cell phone cutomer receives pre-approved offers underwritten by the data from their bill payment history, their phone usage and their meta data…”

International

China

Canada

News Summary

United States

Robo-Adviser Wants to Lend You Money, Not Just Manage It (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Wealthfront Inc. said in a blog post Wednesday that it will offer loans, calling the move a first among robo-advisers, which are known for wealth management using automated investing platforms. By providing clearing and custody services with RBC Capital Markets LLC, clients with at least $100,000 in a taxable account can take out loans of as much as 30 percent of their account value, using their portfolios as collateral.

To get a loan, Wealthfront’s clients must meet the balance requirement in a taxable account, which eliminates the majority of its customers. The credit program could introduce more risk for the firm, according to George Pearkes, an analyst at Bespoke Investment Group LLC.

Other robo-advisers have looked into lending as well, but decided to focus on different services first.

Three Steps Your Lending Operation Should Be Taking to Mitigate Synthetic Identity Fraud (Biz Journals), Rated: AAA

Synthetic identity fraud is emerging as a key migration point in the post-EMV era, as criminals refocus on application fraud and exploit easy access to sensitive consumer data.

At an alarming rate, fraudsters are using that data to create fake personas – hybrids of stolen and fabricated personal information – and open new lines of credit. In fact, the share of financial losses stemming from application fraud, which includes the creation of synthetic identities, grew by 42% in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to ACG data. Fraudsters’ migration to application fraud is particularly impactful because perpetrators behave like true customers for months or even years before “cashing out,” leaving lenders with massive losses and little recourse for collection and recovery. To make matters worse, a single fraudster can cultivate tens or even hundreds of high-value accounts, greatly increasing financial exposure.

The lending community is mobilizing against synthetics. But a series of obstacles stand in the way: With no true customer, fictitious accounts can be virtually impossible to pinpoint; conventional countermeasures are ineffective; and reporting is underdeveloped, obscuring the true scope of the problem.

A potential solution – cross-checking applicants’ information against Social Security Administration (SSA) records – is out of the industry’s reach, at least for now. The SSA’s existing verification service requires the written consent of the SSN holder, an impractical condition when dealing with synthetic identities. Regulatory reform to open up SSA records, either to lenders or the credit reporting agencies (CRAs), is moving slowly, and there’s no guarantee it will make the legislative agenda.

“SSA validation is considered the holy grail,” said Ira Goldman, Director of ACG’s Synthetic Identity Fraud Working Group, “but it could take years to orchestrate. In the meantime, the industry needs to find other solutions to mitigate mounting losses.”

Without collaboration with peer institutions, mitigating systemic fraud at this scale is virtually impossible. The good news is that the lending community is banding together to find solutions, as it has with more traditional fraud types. In March, ACG’s Synthetic Identity Fraud Working Group held its second meeting to promote industry collaboration on the issue. The introductory sessions have brought together fraud prevention managers and government relations personnel from more than 20 leading credit card lenders, along with payment network risk executives, the national credit reporting agencies, and industry trade associations.

Here are three risk mitigation strategies from the session you can apply to your lending operation:

1.   Strengthen Front-End Detection and Prevention

Massive credit losses aren’t the only financial risk associated with synthetic identity fraud: By the time a synthetic account defaults, the lender has invested potentially years’ worth of marketing, servicing, and other operational costs. Meanwhile, the fraudster has moved on to the next identity. While collections and fraud departments usually deal with the aftermath, lenders are increasingly looking to marketing, acquisitions, and underwriting teams as the first lines of defense.

“Risk detection is vital at each stage of the account lifecycle,” Goldman said, “beginning with more intelligent prospecting to avoid booking bad accounts in the first place.”

Lenders are refining their pre-screening processes to look for anomalies in applicants’ credit profiles and considering supplementing traditional, credit-based criteria with more robust data. The existence of employment information, payroll accounts, and utility records, for instance, can increase confidence that an identity is legitimate. There’s also a push to strengthen identity verification at account opening with knowledge-based authentication (KBA) and enhanced know-your-customer (KYC) techniques. Based on risk tolerance, lenders may queue suspicious applications for manual review, request additional proof-of-life documentation, or decide not to offer credit.

Lenders are also stepping up monitoring at the acquisition and account management stages to detect high-risk behavioral patterns. Warning signs include the velocity of applications submitted under a single name, requests to add a high number of authorized users to an account, and suspicious retail transaction patterns and money movement activity.

2.   Use Data Analytics to Learn from Synthetic Accounts

While synthetic identity fraud is not a new phenomenon, lenders are still developing and refining data-centric identification strategies. Collections and fraud departments are turning to reverse engineering – analyzing confirmed bad accounts to determine how synthetics are constructed and to identify behavioral patterns that signal malicious activity. This postmortem analysis can shed light on attributes lenders can use in fraud modeling and portfolio scoring to strengthen detection. It can also uncover a wealth of data elements – identity, location, and device information – that can be shared with front-end teams for use in pre-screening (a bad IP address, for instance, may be linked with multiple fictitious identities).

3.   Enrich Reporting and Information Sharing

With more robust internal reporting in place, the next logical step is to share information on bad accounts. In the near term, lenders should document known or suspected synthetic identities and report them to law enforcement and the CRAs, which can use the data to cleanse the ecosystem of known synthetics and investigate fraud rings.

“For lenders, there’s mutual benefit in removing bad accounts from the system,” Goldman said. “Information sharing is key.”

In the long term, fraud prevention managers envision a consortium model housing bad account data across industries, from banking to telecommunications, that lenders can use to cross-check applicants. This type of widespread data sharing, which ACG is working with charter members to develop, will require unprecedented collaboration across the industry and with external stakeholders.

Avant Loans Funding Trust 2017-A (SEC), Rated: AAA

We have performed the procedures described below, which were agreed to by Avant, Inc. (the “Company”) and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC (collectively, the “Other Specified Parties” and, together with the Company, the “Specified Parties”) related to their evaluation of certain information with respect to a portfolio of unsecured consumer loans in conjunction with the proposed offering of Avant Loans Funding Trust 2017-A, Asset Backed Notes.

On April 14, 2017, representatives of the Company provided us with a computer-generated data file and related record layout containing data, as represented to us by the Company, as of the close of business April 13, 2017, with respect to 41,250 unsecured consumer loans (the “Initial Loan File”). At the Company’s instruction, we randomly selected 200 unsecured consumer loans from the Initial Loan File (the “Sample Loans”).

Further, on April 18, 2017, representatives of the Company provided us with a with a supplemental data file containing, as represented to us by the Company, the “representative mix indicator” and the “payment to discretionary income (PTDI (Looker)) percentage” for each of the Sample Loans (the “Supplemental Loan File”). We were instructed, by representatives of the Company, to append the Initial Loan File with the information set forth on the Supplemental Loan File. The Initial Loan File, as adjusted, is herein referred to as the “Statistical Loan File.”

From EX-99.1.

Key Trends in Equipment Finance – by the Alta Group’s Patricia Voorhees (LendIt), Rated: A