How Small Business Can Manage Their Client Risk

small business manage risk

One of the main reasons why small businesses fail is due to poor credit risk management. There is a good reason why banks and lenders give priority to risk management. They understand that if you are clearly aware of your customers’ creditworthiness and the local political and economic climate that may affect a customer’s ability […]

small business manage risk

One of the main reasons why small businesses fail is due to poor credit risk management. There is a good reason why banks and lenders give priority to risk management. They understand that if you are clearly aware of your customers’ creditworthiness and the local political and economic climate that may affect a customer’s ability to pay, protecting your receivables gets easier. The rule of thumb in credit risk management is to act and not to react. Most small businesses react to credit issues and that is why they fail to achieve their full potential.

Although credit risk management is not as straightforward, having the right discipline and making use of a few pro tips can help achieve your goals without the risk of incurring a loss. Here are a couple of tips that will help you improve your insight into credit risk as well as enable you to take the most appropriate measures to maximize the risk/return profile.

Check the credit record of new customers thoroughly

Just because a new client walks in with a fine cut suit does not mean you should ignore his credit record altogether. This is a mistake made by most small businesses. Other times, the need to look into the credit record of a new client is ignored all together. Needless to say, this is the worst mistake you can make as a business owner/manager.

As aforementioned, when you understand the creditworthiness of a client, you will be able to predict his ability to pay. Finding local and foreign corporate information can be hard more so for the emerging markets. The best way forward is to rely on the services of local consulting firms to assist you with the background check.

Establish credit limits

Source: where the credit record is impressive, when dealing with new customers, you have to establish credit limits. This is for the simple reason that you use the first sale to start building a customer relationship. When setting up credit limits, you can use tools like credit-agency reports, bank reports as well as audited financial statements. These will give you a great view of the customer’s financial history, borrowing capacity, level of debt as well as cash flow, profitability and liquidity.

Set clear credit terms

The last thing you want is to lose a case in court against a debtor. This happens when the credit terms of the sale agreement are not clear. A good sales agreement should be well-worded and have comprehensive terms of credit. This will help reduce the risk of disputes as well as improve chances of your getting paid on time and in full.

Pay for political and/or credit risk insurance

Source: business formation, it will be wise to think about credit and political risk insurance. This will keep your business from collapsing in case of non-payment. There are numerous insurance products that have been tailored to protect your small business against contract cancellation, non-payment, expropriation, breach of contract, political violence, currency restrictions and so much more. Make sure the cover you take is comprehensive and that the fee is cost-effective.

Don’t focus only on the new customers

It is human nature to assume that the long-term business relationships are solid and stable and built on trust. The truth, however, is that approximately 80% of bad debts involve the relationships that are years old. Credit risk management should not be treated as a one-time process. You have to constantly evaluate credit risk for all customers, suppliers and vendors. Keep an eye on trends in business credit profiles which signal imminent trouble.

Don’t ignore your colleagues

Source: best credit professionals are not in the credit department. They are in the support, sales, customer service and the executive suite. For example, sales calls can help the sales team know that a current customer is downsizing or the executive officer may hear that a certain customer is having trouble with loan payment. Trusting your colleagues means you have more ears on the ground. The information they bring to the table will help evaluate the credit risk in a more effective manner.

Business fraud should be taken seriously

In an effort to build more relationships with customers, most small businesses overlook signs that a deal may be too good to be true. You must always apply consistent risk management practices to all customer relationships. Every red flag should be investigated. Pay more attention to customers with murky business histories, absurd terms, and unusual references. Put everything on hold until you evaluate the credit risk.

Review and monitor covenants

Source:

Covenants are basically the conditions that are agreed to by borrowers as part of the loan term in commercial loans. These may also be applied in sales. When you monitor these covenants closely and effectively, you will be able to get early signs of loan deterioration or non-payment.

Have regular update of customer key financial data

How often do you review customer report and financial data? If you take too long to do this, you might not notice when the finances of a customer are being depleted. To be able to build a better client relationship and improve credit risk management, you must have the current state of affairs of your customers. The timelier their profit & loss and balance sheet information is, the more likely the ratio analysis will signal deterioration of financial performance.

Closing the doors and going home is the only way to eliminate risk. So long as you are running a business, you will always have to deal with risks. The best you can do is to manage these risks. You have to invest in the right technologies, tools, processes and consulting firms in order to effectively manage credit risk. When you are able to manage credit risk in a cost-effective manner, you will be striking the right balance between risk and reward. The more you learn about credit risk management and the more meticulous and disciplined you are the more effective you will be in running a profitable business.

Author:

Maggie Martin
Ph.D. in Cell Biology
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Who’s Solving the Loan Stacking Problem?

loan stacking online lending

HNC Software, the company that made the Falcon Fraud Tool, which is used to evaluate credit card transaction risk so card issuers can block cards if there is a problem, sold the tool to FICO. Then the founders pivoted and started a new company called ID Analytics. The goal was to provide actionable insight into […]

loan stacking online lending

HNC Software, the company that made the Falcon Fraud Tool, which is used to evaluate credit card transaction risk so card issuers can block cards if there is a problem, sold the tool to FICO. Then the founders pivoted and started a new company called ID Analytics. The goal was to provide actionable insight into credit and identity risk. That was 2002. Lending Times recently spoke with ID Analytics Director of Product Marketing Kevin King.

Rather than focusing on credit card fraud, ID Analytics focuses on new account fraud. They look for indications of identity or intention fraud in applications for loans, credit cards, wireless phones, etc.

Lenders want to know is if an applicant plans to pay back a loan or take the money and run. So ID Analytics built a data consortium of lenders similar to a credit bureau. Companies come to them to evaluate applicants. When the assessment is returned, ID Analytics holds on to borrower information (name, SSN, address, phone number, date of birth, etc.) and asks companies to provide insight on the results of loans issued. What they want to know is, did it turn into fraud or continue to look good?

This business model worked well and the company’s data set became larger as more industries and credit bureaus took an interest. Compliance, authentication, and credit risk were included in the analysis.

Thirteen years later, ID Analytics had formed relationships with several Fortune 500 companies. New industries like FinTech and alternative payments are interested in the power and predictability of knowing the borrower. As they enter new markets, they understand applicants better than the credit bureaus because ID Analytics’ assessment is current.

In addition to knowing whether an applicant pays all their bills, ID Analytics can see how the borrower behaves. For instance, if a borrower applies for five credit cards in the space of one minute, ID Analytics’ score reacts, within seconds, for a high velocity string of behavior. The company employs 150 people, so it can be more responsive and nimble than a larger credit bureau.

The Birth of the Online Lending Network

In 2011-12, ID Analytics started working with P2P lenders and supported them as the industry grew. Those lenders, leading players now, became concerned when loan stacking emerged in 2015. Loan stacking revealed a blind spot in the world of online lending: It was too easy to get loans from multiple lenders at the same time. Since ID Analytics already had relationships with online lenders, this enabled them to see 60%-70% of marketplace behavior. So they built an online lending network.

The Online Lending Network, founded in April 2016, is a group of lenders who have partnered to solve a set of pressing problems in the online lending industry. These problems are disparate because most providers only contribute to one or two bureaus rather than all of them. More relevant and critical, the soft inquiry credit process that developed as a core business model to improve customer experience leaves lenders blind for the short term. They can’t see what a borrower has done in recent activity when an application is made. The network helps to build technology and provide data assets, which makes it unique.

Unlike a lot of fraud behavior, which is nuanced, loan stacking is black and white and involves multiple unsecured loans piled up against the same asset. It needs a black-and-white solution to identify lender risk immediately. ID Analytics offers a two-fold solution.

Adoption by a majority of lenders enables the most complete coverage and visibility of data. Providers can take that visibility and turn it into the intelligence needed to stop stacking. Participation and speed to market wins the day.

When a borrower presents herself to a lender, the critical questions are, “Is this person real?” and “Will they be able to pay me?” The Online Lending Network essentially provides attributes, black and white insights, that count the number of times a particular borrower has been into an online lender in the past three months. It can also zoom into the last hour of activity. These attributes can be drilled down to categories like small business, P2P, subprime, etc.

Members of the network provide their full top-of-funnel velocity. Each time a borrower requires a loan offer, that information is sent to ID Analytics and, in a sub-second, the application is reflected in the information provided. Numbers in the first few test weeks were promising, but there will be much more in the months to come.

It took just five months from concept to live production to get the network up and running. While slow for FinTech, that’s lightning fast for analytics.

What Data Can ID Analytics Tell About Borrowers?

In the top three online marketplaces, 1-1.1% of individuals requesting an offer have been to another marketplace lender in the past three days. In the last hour, 0.3% visit another marketplace lender. ID Analytics can also see that 3% of applicants have applied for another credit product in the last hour even if that application was outside the online lending marketplace.

Sets of attributes showing how frequently credit is sought are “attributes version 1.0,” but in Q1 2017, ID Analytics plans to launch Attributes 2.0. In this set, borrowers are identified as having gone through a truth-in-lending process and commit to moving forward with a loan. That will require members of the network to reveal two distinct points in loan origination: First, when the borrower requests the origination and, second, when the borrower commits to the loan. Looking at these two points can provide a lot of insight. It’s important to discern whether the applicant is a rate shopper who is responsive or someone who really is opening up too many loans.

The problem with loan stacking could be one of fraud, where the fraudster is aware they can open 4-6 loans in two hours and get the funds without planning on repayment. This type of fraud is what TransUnion is trying to solve.

Another scenario is the unintended consequence of the leap forward in customer experience. A borrower goes to the P2P marketplace and gets $10,000. They say, “That was fantastic; I can do home repairs and go on vacation!” Then they look around and see what all they can do with another $10,000 and take out another loan from another lender that they also intend to repay. But in 24 hours they have borrowed $20,000 and will end up defaulting on those loans because they are in over their heads. This is an equally important problem, but it is not of malicious intent.

ID Analytics is focused on a different aspect of the problem than TransUnion is. TransUnion is focused on fraud, building a set of more analytically-driven tools to put a lot of science into the solution. ID Analytics is solving the problem of stacking by utilizing coverage and visibility. They can tell everybody in their Online Lending Network when a borrower comes, when he was seen at other lenders, and when loans were committed to within the last hour. This transparency is a more straightforward approach.

ID Analytics works with marketplace lenders seeking to understand their problems and provide products that solve their unique challenges. There are at least 15 large players in their network with a majority of those brands reading Lending Times regularly.

Authors:

Written with Nicki Jacoby

Allen Taylor

Friday December 2 2016, Daily News Digest

auto loan originations

News Comments Today’s main news: Subprime Auto Debt Grows Despite Rising Delinquencies, Today’s main analysis : Subprime auto debt and delinquencies. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 2017 will be good year for partnering with banks. Rapid growth of alternative finance. Does online lending create less systemic risk? United States Weiss comments at investors conference on marketplace lending. AT: “The […]

auto loan originations

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European Union

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News Summary

United States

Remarks by Counselor to The Secretary Antonio Weiss at The Second Annual Investors Conference on Marketplace Lending (Treasury), Rated: AAA

In recognition of the changing industry dynamics and in response to the feedback we received to the RFI, in May of this year, Treasury published a White Paper entitled Opportunities and Challenges in Online Marketplace Lending.

We proposed six recommendations to public and private sector participants.  First, we support exploring more robust small business borrower protections and effective oversight.  Second, we encourage companies to align interests of borrowers and investors by ensuring sound borrower experience and back-end operations.  Third, to promote a transparent marketplace, we recommend the creation of a private sector registry for tracking data on transactions, issuances, securitizations, and loan-level performance for the public.  Fourth, we suggest the expansion of access to credit through partnerships that ensure safe and affordable credit.  Fifth, we support the use of smart disclosures and data verification sources to improve the borrower experience and make loans and investments safer and more accurate.  And last, we proposed the creation of a standing, interagency working group on online marketplace lending to facilitate regulatory coordination.

Banks, particularly community banks, have traditionally provided the majority of credit to small businesses in the United States.  Community banks are often closest to their borrowers and in a unique position to assess and address the credit needs of their customer base.  This can lead to more effective risk assessments and better outcomes for lenders and borrowers.

However, small businesses are increasingly turning to online marketplace lenders as potential financing sources.  According to the 2015 Federal Reserve’s Small Business Credit Survey, one in five small businesses sought out online marketplace lenders in 2015 as potential financing sources.

Unfortunately, those same survey results found small businesses approved for financing were often dissatisfied with their experience using marketplace lenders.  The top three survey complaints were high interest rates, unfavorable repayment terms, and most critically, a lack of transparency.  These results echoed the comments Treasury received in the RFI.  Commenters across the spectrum, including some industry participants, argued that small business borrowers need enhanced safeguards to ensure terms are well understood.

The need for greater transparency and standardized terms across the full spectrum of small business credit products is necessary to promote competition and ensure customers have relevant and accurate information to make informed financial decisions.

Treasury’s White Paper showed that the use of data for credit underwriting is a core element of online marketplace lending.  It holds both the most promise and the most risk for borrowers.  Data-driven algorithms may expedite credit assessments and reduce operational friction.  In particular, data allows marketplace lenders to reduce the cost of customer acquisition, automate the origination of loans and the collection of loan documentation, and potentially reduce fraud.

However, these algorithms also carry the risk of disparate impact in credit outcomes and the potential for fair lending violations.  There is limited public research on these topics, and therefore, a lack of consensus on the potential benefits and risks.  This is partly because credit scoring models and operations are proprietary, and data sources are expensive to construct or unavailable to outside researchers.

These algorithms continue to evolve, and their ability to generate superior credit outcomes was tested in 2016.  Unsecured consumer loans across a composite of marketplace lending platforms saw delinquency rates rise 30 to 50 basis points from the same time a year ago.  To ensure continued investor confidence in the validity of these new underwriting models, marketplace lenders adjusted to demands by investors for greater transparency, independent due diligence reviews, and heightened data integrity and validation standards.

We also see the potential for marketplace lending to expand credit in underserved markets.  According to the CFPB, at least 45 million consumers have no access to credit because they have either no credit report or insufficient credit histories.  It is estimated that 26 million Americans are credit invisible and do not have credit records maintained by any of the three credit reporting agencies.  An additional 19 million lack a credit score.  Use of alternative data may mitigate this problem.  Importantly, alternative data can also be used to satisfy customer identification requirements and combat fraud.

However, with the proliferation of partnerships, it will be critical to ensure that financial institutions maintain oversight and compliance obligations under the distribution partnership model.  The proposed third party guidance by FDIC is critical in this regard, and extends beyond marketplace lending.

Given the rate of change and innovation occurring in fintech and online marketplace lending, this will continue to remain an area of focus for federal regulatory agencies.

Subprime Auto Debt Grows Despite Rising Delinquencies (Liberty Street Economics), Rated: AAA

The latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit from the New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data showed a small increase in overall debt in the third quarter of 2016, bolstered by gains in non-housing debt. Mortgage balances continue to grow at a sluggish pace since the recession while auto loan balances are growing steadily. The rise in auto loans has been fueled by high levels of originations across the spectrum of creditworthiness, including subprime loans, which are disproportionately originated by auto finance companies.

Originations of auto loans have continued at a brisk pace over the past few years, with 2016 shaping up to be the strongest of any year in our data, which begin in 1999.

Although it remains true that banks and credit unions comprise about half of the overall outstanding balance of newly originated loans, the vast majority of subprime loans are originated by auto finance companies.

Auto loan delinquency data, reported in our Quarterly Report, show that the overall ninety-plus day delinquency rate for auto loans increased only slightly in 2016 through the end of September to 3.6 percent. But the relatively stable delinquency rate masks diverging performance trends across the two types of lenders. Specifically, a worsening performance among auto loans issued by auto finance companies is masked by improvements in the delinquency rates of auto loans issued by banks and credit unions. The ninety-plus day delinquency rate for auto finance company loans worsened by a full percentage point over the past four quarters, while delinquency rates for bank and credit union auto loans have improved slightly. An even sharper divergence appears in the new flow into delinquency for loans broken out by the borrower’s credit score at origination, shown in the chart below. The worsening in the delinquency rate of subprime auto loans is pronounced, with a notable increase during the past few years.

2017 Will Be A Huge Year For Bank Partnerships (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

Both banks and fintech companies have come to the realization that they have core competencies that are complimentary.  According to a recent Manatt survey, a whopping 72% of regional and community banks said that they plan to collaborate with a fintech company in the next 12-18 months.

Banks are naturally conservative so it comes as no surprise that the early adopters have chosen to partner with fintech companies rather than buy or build.  We expect that partnerships are going to rapidly accelerate in 2017.

Bank-Fintech-Bank (BFB): In this scenario the bank uses their channel to originate borrowers, the online lender underwrites the loan, and the bank uses its depositor base to fund the loan.

Fintech-Fintech-Bank (FFB):  In this scenario, the online lender uses their own channel to acquire the borrower, they use their technology to underwrite the loan, and the bank provides the lending capital.

Bank-Fintech-Fintech (BFF):  In this scenario the Bank uses their channel to acquire the borrower but the fintech underwrites the loans and funds it themselves.

Co-Brand or White Label: Each partnership must also decide whether to co-brand or white label.  Regions Bank is most interesting because they chose to white label with Avant but co-brand with Fundation.

Last month Goldman Sachs officially launched Marcus, the first online lending platform built by a bank.  This was a major milestone for the industry.  It signaled that banks and online lending platforms can co-exist.

SunTrust is the only major bank to have actually acquired an online lending platform.

Online Lending Update (Orchard Email), Rated: A

I mentioned in last month’s newsletter that the feeling among most of the industry participants I’d spoken with was that the worst was behind us and the prevailing sentiment was that we’d likely end the year on a positive note. While I believe this is still the case, we won’t know it for sure until we start seeing it in the numbers. November was a month of mixed signals.

A recent

PeerIQ and TransUnion Forge Strategic Partnership to Bring Suite of Data Transparency Solutions to Marketplace Lending (Marketwired), Rated: A

PeerIQ, a leading provider of data and analytics in the marketplace lending sector, and TransUnion (NYSE: TRU), a global information solutions provider, today announced a core strategic partnership to bring enhanced transparency and insight to alternative lending markets. This newly launched partnership will target the most pressing issues facing lending markets to foster greater investor confidence. It also positions PeerIQ as a key facilitator of efficient investment between marketplace lenders and institutional investors.

In addition to building authoritative data and derived analytics solutions for the industry, PeerIQ and TransUnion will collaborate on distribution and integration opportunities. As part of the partnership, Steve Chaouki, executive vice president and head of TransUnion’s financial services business unit, will become a PeerIQ board observer.

Online lenders talk partnerships (Banking Exchange), Rated: A

Banks that partner with online lending platforms can find new opportunities to expand their markets, but key challenges also need to be addressed.

Online lender Avant seeks financial-driven bank partnerships, according to Kevin Lewis, head of business development. Avant partners with banks to provide a bank-branded product for both existing customers and new online customers.

Manny Alvarez, general counsel and chief compliance officer for online lender Affirm, says his company seeks customers who either don’t have or don’t use a credit card for big ticket purchases.

Affirm—started by Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal—works with web-based merchant verticals in segments such as home goods, automotive parts, and luxury apparel.

Richard Neiman, head of regulatory and government affairs at Lending Club, said his company has over 30 bank partners on its platform. He says the banks find these partnerships “attractive and a strong value proposition” because it provides them with the ability to:

1. Acquire attractive assets (consumer credits)

2. Offer a digital system without having to build a new system or adapt a legacy system

3. Fill a product gap

4. Say “yes” to more customers because loans the bank doesn’t want to hold on its balance sheet could be funded by the other investors on its platform.

Lending Club partners with banks to originate and issue its loans. It also partners with large and small banks that invest in loans on its platform or originate loans through white label programs on its platform.

Mastercard roll out AI to detect fraud in card transactions (The Asset), Rated: A

Mastercard has launched Decision Intelligence, a comprehensive decision and fraud detection service. The solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help financial institutions increase the accuracy of real-time approvals of genuine transactions and reduce false declines.

Current decision-scoring products are focused primarily on risk assessment, working within predefined rules.

SFIG Issues First Marketplace Lending Best Practices Report (PR Newswire), Rated: A

The Structured Finance Industry Group, Inc. (“SFIG”) released the First Edition in a series of papers aimed at supporting the responsible growth of securitization in the marketplace lending sector. These papers, termed “Green Papers,” are a product of SFIG’s Marketplace Lending Committee Best Practices Initiative. The Best Practices Initiative was launched in February 2016, and seeks to identify a framework of market standards and recommended best practices through an open discussion among a broad cross-section of market participants.

The involvement by membership in SFIG’s Marketplace Lending Committee and the best practices effort is broad. Each working group differs in size, and SFIG’s Marketplace Lending Committee currently includes 250 individuals, representing more than 70 SFIG member institutions. The initiative has established the following five work streams related to marketplace lending:

  • Disclosure & Reporting;
  • Representations & Warranties;
  • Regulatory;
  • Operational Considerations; and
  • Enforcement.

RealtyShares Announcement: More Than $ 5.1M Has Been Raised For Nashville Dining Franchise Net Lease Deals (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

RealtyShares announced on Thursday a total of $5,144,000 has been raised through its real estate crowdfunding marketplace for the acquisition and development of four free-standing triple net (NNN) leased quick service restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to RealtyShares, the tenants, which includes three Checkers and one Taco John’s, each raised more than $1 million through the crowdfunding platform at an 80% Loan-to-Cost (LTC) ratio. All were fully funded within two weeks of being featured on RealtyShares’ online marketplace, demonstrating the crowd’s strong interest in this type of deal.

FTC FinTech Forum Part II – Crowdfunding and P2P Payments (Venable), Rated: A

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held its first FinTech Series forum exploring the benefits, risks, and regulatory issues applicable to the FinTech industry. The forum, which took place on June 10, 2016, focused on marketplace lending. The second forum in the series took place on October 26, 2016, and focused on crowdfunding platforms and peer-to-peer (P2P) payments. The half-day forum featured opening remarks by FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, panel discussions on crowdfunding and P2P payments, a presentation by the FTC’s Office of Technology, Research, and Investigation, and closing remarks by Malini Mithal, the Acting Associate Director of the FTC’s Division of Financial Practices.

At the second FinTech Series Forum, the FTC discussed its planned regulatory direction for the crowdsourcing and P2P payments industries, and the level of compliance flexibility regulators expected to provide early-stage fintech companies (spoiler: not much). The FTC made clear that although FinTech-specific regulation is still taking shape, the agency will monitor this sector aggressively and expects compliance with long-standing consumer protection laws, including its guidance on unfair or deceptive acts or practices (UDAP).

While crowdfunding has created a new system for individuals and groups to raise money for personal and business projects, the FTC believes such platforms also create a potential for fraud and other abuse. The panelists noted that consumer understanding is always a source of risk and commented that some issues may be driven by consumers viewing crowdfunding platforms (particularly reward-based platforms) as online stores, rather than as an investment in a not-yet-extant product.

For its part, the FTC stated it would continue to take action against fraud by project creators, recalling the 2015 Forking Path case (discussed here), in which the FTC asserted that a project creator’s claims constituted UDAP in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

During the forum, one panelist emphasized that regulations that govern existing funding mechanisms should apply to P2P payment with equal force. Indeed, there are multiple overlapping legal and regulatory frameworks that could apply to P2P payment systems, depending on how they are set up, including the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering regulations, money transmission laws, laws applicable to prepaid programs, payment card network rules, and NACHA rules, to name a few. In addition to such existing regulations, the CFPB’s Prepaid Rule, discussed here, will also likely apply to many P2P transfer systems in the near future.

Bank of America shows off new tech at renovated financial centre at Stanford (Finextra), Rated: B

Bank of America today celebrated the grand opening of its newly renovated Stanford financial center located at 3000 El Camino Real.

Specifically, the financial center features a new design layout and a host of new finishes, such as a digital demonstration counter with iPads showcasing mobile and online banking platforms, new waiting area amenities, and private offices for providing financial advice to clients.

The Final Chapter of the BillGuard Journey (Medium), Rated: B

Today, we mark the last page in the beautiful story of BillGuard. What an exhilarating journey it has been.

From BillGuard to Prosper Daily

Six weeks later, in October 2015, we announced BillGuard was joining forces with Prosper. Barely catching our breath, we felt reinvigorated that added resources and access to bleeding edge financial services capabilities could take the materialization of our mission to a new level. We suddenly could take BillGuard from read-only insights to actually impacting user’s accounts and saving them money, or at least reducing their debt. As a team, we could dream even bigger as we moved from our cash-strapped start-up phase, to aggressive growth planning, including plans to double our team and dramatically grow the product and its user base.

2016 A bad year for everyone, even unicorns

Lenders reacted by quickly changing their strategy from growth to profitability. They started cutting costs and hitting “undo” on all those scaling investments. Prosper, LendingClub and Avant were forced to lay off significant portions of their US workforce early in 2016. Lenders reduced other costs wherever they could and reduced borrower acquisition in pursuit of marketplace equilibrium.

Startup Reality hits hard: Scale down or shut down

Then came the time to set our 2017 strategy and budgets. Tight budgets would continue until market conditions and Prosper’s financials shifted back to growth. No matter how many times we ran the numbers, it was clear expenses had to be reduced further. This meant significantly reducing the size of the Tel Aviv office or consolidating the app operations in San Francisco.

Thus started our final BillGuard/Prosper Daily project — organizing and transferring our work to colleagues in San Francisco. It will take a couple of months to complete, and it comes with some sadness as you can imagine. Still, it’s good to know the app will live on and Prosper will continue to build on what we created at BillGuard.

The BillGuard Mafia — Unleashed

As we close the doors on the Rothschild office (and balcony) we’ve been so lucky to call home for the last four years, it is exciting to think of all the new chapters that will be started by this team. Whether they’re joining some of the most recognized companies or starting their own industry-revolutionizing ventures, they will take these BillGuard learnings and friendships and apply them in new ways.

What’s next?

During this difficult moment of seeing our incredible team disband, I struggle to find the words to articulate how much this group has taught me about what it means to be a team, about building beautiful things that people actually use and love, and about handling the great honor that it’s been to lead during this adventure.

New CTO Plants Product Innovation to Grow Kabbage (Hypepotamus), Rate: B

Chief Technology Officer Amala Duggirala joins lending startup, Kabbage at a great time. The Atlanta unicorn company has experienced astronomical growth over the past year, priming itself for technology advancements in processing direct loans to small businesses across the country.

Duggirala has two decades of experience in building large-scale systems and growing enterprises. Her history of transforming corporations, including ACI Worldwide, which she helped boomed from $260 million in revenue to $1 billion, will lend itself to taking the Kabbage platform to the next level.

Think Finance Leaders To Speak at the Marketplace Lending & Alternative Financing Summit (PR Newswire), Rated: B

Think Finance, Inc., the company behind CortexSM, which provides a flexible and complete solution for financial service providers to enter the online consumer lending market, announced two of its senior executives will speak at the Marketplace Lending & Alternative Financing Summit taking place December 4th through December 6th in Dana Point, California. The Summit gathers fintech industry leaders – including credit issuers, platform providers, underwriters, rating agencies, service providers, investors and other professionals – to share insights on the latest trends and tools in the growing area of marketplace lending.

Think Finance CEO Martin Wong will participate in a panel discussion focused on online consumer lending platforms in the United States>, and Think Finance Senior Vice President of Decision Sciences and Risk Management Scott Morrison will give remarks during a panel discussion on credit risk.

United Kingdom

Watson Wheatley implements iRecs platform at P2P lender ThinCats (Finextra), Rated: A

Watson Wheatley Financial Systems (WWFS) are pleased to announce the implementation of the iRecs reconciliation solution at online peer-to-peer SME business loan specialists ThinCats.

This new deal for WWFS marks the first time the iRecs platform has been used in a peer-to-peer lending environment and adds value to the operational control processes already established at ThinCats.

Lending company Kuflink moves in to former Blockbuster store in Gravesend (KentOnline), Rated: B

A former Transport Minister came to the county to cut the ribbon on a new headquarters for a peer-to-peer lending company.

Stephen Hammond, who is the MP for Wimbledon, was invited by Gravesham MP Adam Holloway to formally open the new base of the Kuflink Group.

The company, founded in 2011, is made up of Kuflink Bridging, which offers development funding, and its peer-to-peer lending platform focused on residential and commercial property.

European Union

THE RAPID GROWTH OF ALTERNATIVE FINANCE (International Banking), Rated: AAA

That being said, alternative finance as a concept still remains somewhat amorphous. Given that the industry has only recently established any significant presence—and given that new forms of alternative finance continue to be created—financing methods now commonly being identified as “alternative” are essentially those that do not originate from traditional sources such as banks and stock and bond markets. Others provide a more stringent definition of the industry as one that has a direct connection between market participants, generally via online platforms.

Furthermore, recent figures show that such financing methods have been experiencing startling growth over the last few years. According to a September report from Cambridge University’s Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), the online alternative-finance market in Europe grew by a massive 92 percent in 2015, hitting €5.4 billion. The UK currently possesses the lion’s share of the region’s industry, with the CCAF recording the country’s transaction volume at €4.4 billion, or 81 percent of Europe’s market share.

China is deemed to be the world’s largest alternative-finance market at $101.69 billion, which represents a rather dramatic ascent over the last few years. The country’s market in 2013 was only $5.56 billion before jumping to $24.3 billion by last year, and then exceeding $100 billion last year. Much of China’s growth has been attributed to the rapid rise of mobile Internet in China, which has allowed 685 million people to get connected, more than any other country in the world. The rest of Asia-Pacific pales in comparison to China, with a market value of just $1.12 billion; but with a staggering 313-percent growth rate from 2014 levels, alternative finance looks set to explode across the entire region.

The World Bank recently estimated that the world’s alternative-finance market could grow to $90 billion of investment by 2020 from $34 billion at present.

Does Online Lending Create Less Systemic Risk than Traditional Credit? (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

One of the frequently touted benefits of peer to peer/marketplace lending is the heightened transparency associated with loan originations processed online.

Today, many online lenders are providing credit from their own balance sheet or doing hybrid lending, perhaps using retail and institutional money. So in some respects, online lending is becoming less transparent than the early days, but these multiple capital channels are helping to propel sector growth. Arguably this added complexity comes with solid benefits and additional cost.

“Every originator and every lender have their own product structures and credit policies. They find ways of originating demand and then say ‘yes’ to some of the applicants.  Saying yes to the right customers using the right policies and products should result in a very resilient portfolio of loans regardless of whether you’re holding the loans or selling them downstream.”

Rotman is not overly enthusiastic about banks these days. He believes they resemble utilities.  Banks must hold higher levels of capital and endure steep overhead costs that are offset with products with a low ROA. All in an attempt to achieve a low return on equity.  The positive to all of this is that a bank can survive if profits fall to zero. For online lenders it’s different, “…zero for marketplace lenders is bad and negative ROA is toxic.”

BitLendingClub to Shut Down: Claims Closure Is Caused By Regulatory Pressure (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

BitLendingClub, a bitcoin peer-to-peer lending platform, announced on Thursday it was shutting down all of its services. The website claimed the closure was due to regulatory pressure.

BitLendingClub’s team shared they are planning to restrict the functionality of the website to either repaying of a loan, deposition to repay or withdrawing funds. They noted there would be no new registrations, loan requests, new users verifications, investments or any other service other than just repaying. They are expecting that service restrictions will begin sometime next week, without knowing a specific date, but will send an email to users when the changes occur.

Latvia’s VIA SMS Group Set to Launch New P2P Lending Platform Viainvest (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Latvia-based VIA SMS Group announced this week it is launching Viainvest, a peer-to-peer marketplace for both private and legal entities offering to invest into consumer loans originating from non-banking lenders.

It was also reported that loans available for investment on VIAINVEST are originated by VIA SMS group and its daughter companies across Europe, so investors are able to create diversified and secured investment portfolios.

China

Female users of online lending platform find their naked pictures leaked (Global Times), Rated: A

An Internet lending platform clarified on Thursday that it has not posted or stored any naked pictures, after a great number of nude pictures of female students were exposed online.

JD Capital’s Jiedaibao, a popular online peer-to-peer lending platform, said on its official Sina Weibo account that the naked pictures were from a small number of desperate users who resorted to private transactions with shady lenders while bypassing the platform.

The pictures, serving as a receipt of the loans, are transmitted through social network app WeChat and instant messenger QQ.

India

Lendingkart Group Featured as the Only Indian Digital Lending Company in the KPMG and H2 Ventures ‘FINTECH 100’ Global Report (Udaipur Kiran), Rated: A

India’s leading online platform that facilitates SMEs in obtaining working capital loans, Lendingkart Group, has been recognized as one among the world’s top fintech innovators by KPMG and H2 ventures in their prestigious 2016 FINTECH 100 Global report. Lendingkart Group’s consistent focus on seamless delivery of quality and hassle-free services in facilitating small business working capital loans, has enabled it to become a part of the celebrated report. It is the only Indian fintech company to be featured thus in the online lending SME space.

Lendingkart Technologies is a fin-tech startup in the working capital space. It has developed technology tools based on big data analytics that facilitates lenders to evaluate borrowers’ credit worthiness.

Lending marketplace IndiaLends gets mn from DSG Consumer, others (TechCircle), Rated: A

Online lending marketplace IndiaLends has secured $4 million (around Rs 27.3 crore) in its Series A funding round from existing investor DSG Consumer Partners. American Express Ventures, Chinese investment firm Cyber Carrier VC and Noida-based early stage fund AdvantEdge Partners also participated in the round.

The company had previously raised $1 million in a bridge round in October 2015 led by existing investor DSG Consumer Partners and two individual investors—Siddharth Parekh and Gautham Radhakrishnan.

India

14 graduating startups from a Google-backed incubator in Pakistan (Business Standard), Rated: B

The incubator is now almost two years old and has seen a total of 79 startups graduate from its four-month-long program.

Credvestor is a peer-to-peer lending platform that wants to circumvent banks by helping borrowers and lenders communicate directly with each other.

 

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor