Tuesday December 12 2017, Daily News Digest

P2P investors

News Comments Today’s main news: Affirm raises $200M at almost $2B valuation. Elastic Line of Credit surpasses $1B in funding. Klarna signs 500 online retailers in U.S. Zopa makes changes to Isa. Mintos adds first Russian loan originator. Flexiti offers online financing for e-tailers in Canada. Today’s main analysis: UK alternative finance is still healthy. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Cross River […]

P2P investors

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

International

Asia

Russia

Africa

Canada

News Summary

United States

Max Levchin’s Affirm raises $ 200 million at a nearly $ 2 billion valuation (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

The San Francisco-based company confirmed that it’s raising $200 million, led by GIC, a Singaporean sovereign wealth fund. Existing investors Khosla Ventures and Spark Capital are also participating.

Affirm’s valuation is estimated to be between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Investors are betting on Max Levchin, the PayPal co-founder who runs Affirm.

Elastic Line of Credit Surpasses $ 1 Billion in Total Funding (Morningstar), Rated: AAA

Elevate Credit, Inc., a tech-enabled provider of innovative and responsible online credit solutions for non-prime consumers, today announced the Elastic product has originated more than $1 billion, and has served over 200,000 customers since 2013.

Elastic, a bank-issued line of credit offered by Republic Bank & Trust Company (“Republic Bank”), currently has more than $260 million in total principal outstandings across over 150,000 open accounts.

Klarna North America Sees Surge In U.S. Merchant And Consumer Adoption Of Its ‘Smoooth’ Financing Solution (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Since Klarna introduced its financing solution in the U.S. in October 2016, 500 online retailers have already enrolled in the simple and ‘smoooth’ credit solution that is fully integrated into the online checkout process. Available in 10 countries via a single API, retailers include powerhouse global brands like Microsoft, TaylorMade, Overstock and Lenovo.

Why Cross River Bank and Mastercard are collaborating on cardless ATM access (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

Cross River Bank, the bank of fintech startups, is working with Mastercard to give consumers cardless access to ATMs through an offering called Mastercard Cash Pick-Up. It allows businesses or individuals to send cash payments by logging in to the Cash Pick-Up platform via their bank’s website or mobile app and entering the necessary transaction and recipient. When they’ve done that, recipients receive a text message with the order number, PIN and a link that helps them locate a participating ATM nearby.

The offering highlights the role of mobile phones in banking’s new normal — mobile is more than just a channel, it’s the thing that’s guiding both financial incumbents and consumers alike through  the shift from physical to digital banking, which still hasn’t been fully realized.

For now, Mastercard Cash Pick-Up is only available at enabled ATMs in the U.S., where the postal service plays far too big a role in payments, particularly low dollar disbursements, Isaacson said.

 

Once Shunned, Regulated Industries Now a Lure for Some Investors (Xconomy), Rated: AAA

Niehenke theorized that consumers whose trust in traditional banks had eroded might become a willing customer base for financial technology startups. But it was a bumpy time for tech companies entering the highly regulated financial sector.

Among those startups was Prosper, a peer-to-peer lending startup that had been temporarily shut down in 2008 by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC maintained that the company was, in effect, selling securities rather than merely functioning as a marketplace connecting lenders and borrowers, TechCrunch reported.

CAN Capital Makes Three Strategic Hires to Strengthen Sales and Technology Teams (PR Newswire), Rated: A

CAN Capital, a small business specialty finance company, today announced three strategic hires as the company continues to invest in its technology and growth strategies. Mike Dodson, Vice President, Technology, Michael O’Brien, Director, Business Development, and Liping Deng, Director, Modeling & Analytics, have joined CAN Capital to focus on accelerating the company’s expansion.

China’s JD partners with accelerator program Plug and Play to reach US startups (TechCrunch), Rated: A

E-commerce giant JD.com, the closest rival to Alibaba in China, is broadening its presence in Silicon Valley after it announced a collaboration with accelerator firm Plug and Play to seek out and work with promising U.S. startups.

Robo-advisors hit lull in everything but VC backing as reality fragments their identity (RIABiz), Rated: A

Last summer, Sallie Krawcheck took a seat before 18 venture capitalists to raise capital for Ellevest Inc., her New York-based robo-advisor for women. See: Sallie Krawcheck astonishes industry observers by raising another $32.5 million for her robo-advisor — perhaps on strength of ‘unit economics’.

The role reversal reflects broader changes occurring across automated advice. BlackRock Inc. originally bought San Francisco-based FutureAdvisor as a retail product, then made it into a B-to-B offering. See: Why FutureAdvisor orphaned its B2C book of business, how post-Invesco Jemstep is doing and other learnings at CFA Society’s robo-panel in San Francisco

News out of Betterment has slowed to a crawl.

Wealthfront Inc.‘s Andy Rachleff leaned into the irony of robo-advisors moving away from digital-only in a September blog post.

Yet, in an autumn largely devoid of news from robo-advisors, Acorns had a blistering announcement of a much deeper integration with one of its VC backers, PayPal, which has 218 million users. See: As Acorns grapples with monetizing 1.1 million micro-accounts, the laid-back LA robo-advisor brings Wealthfront’s former chief exec onto its board.

In the case of Irvine, Calif.-based Acorns, the nudging took the form of A/B-style testing of giving investors choices of how much to invest.

Robo-adviser launches using chatbot technology (FT Adviser), Rated: A

Nuvo has launched what it describes as an “artificially intelligent digital broker powered by chatbot technology”.

The launch of the robo-adviser, which uses AI to learn about customers to pick prices for mortgages and protection products tailored to them in less than a minute, comes just days after a US company claimed to be the first in the world offering financial advice with artificial intelligence.

US Banks Look to Silicon Valley as Fintech Booms (PaymentsJournal), Rated: A

More than eight out of ten (82%) US commercial banks have pledged to increase fintech investment over the next three years as the sector continues to expand, with 86% of senior managers planning an imminent rise in investment.

The in-depth research commissioned by global Fintech provider Fraedom, polled decision-makers in commercial banks including shareholders, middle managers and senior managers.

The study also found that more than seven out of ten (71%) respondents believe that the rise of technology within commercial banking threatens traditional one to one bank and customer relationships. This disruptive impact was felt greatest by shareholders (95%) as opposed to 67% of middle managers.

Need a Shot of Capital for Business Growth? Here’s How to Find a Working Capital Loan This Year (AllBusiness.com), Rated: A

Startup founders know to look for grants, crowdfunding, and angel investors, and established small business owners understand the ins and outs of bank loans. However, another form of financing for established small businesses—working capital loans—is a little less familiar to many owners, yet working capital loans can be the ideal financial tool to handle opportunities (or problems) that present themselves in the shorter term.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • You don’t need to lay out a detailed plan of what you want to do with the money. Paperwork is minimal.
  • If your credit score is at least 500, you’ll need to show an annual profit of $50,000; if your credit score is at least 600, that gets cut in half to $25,000. If you’ve been denied a bank loan, your chances may still be good for a working capital loan.
  • You have the flexibility of choosing the type of working capital loan that best meets your needs: a term loan, cash advance, invoice factoring, revolving line of credit, or purchase order advance.

Today In Data: Consumer Spend, Venture Capital And Bitcoin Reach Record Highs (PYMNTS), Rated: A

$682 billion | Amount that consumers are expected to spend on presents and other holiday preparations this holiday shoppingseason, with retailers going the extra mile to meet them where they are in a simpler and faster way. That means upping mobile and online shopping experiences, offering a buy online pick up in-store model and launching services like curbside pickup and better shipping options.

Broker-Dealer Firms Raise Alarms That SEC’s CAT Database Isn’t Secure (Financial Advisor), Rated: A

Broker-dealer firms aren’t confident the SEC’s consolidated audit trail (CAT) – a single, comprehensive database expected to store an unprecedented amount of sensitive trade data and personal identifiable information (PII) – is secure, according to testimony delivered before the U.S. House of Representatives.

National securities exchanges, Finra, alternative trading systems and broker-dealer firms have been required to submit information on trading activities – including customer information and prices – to the CAT daily since November 15 of this year. Large broker-dealers will be required to start submitting information to the CAT by November 15, 2018, while small broker-dealers are expected to do so by November 15, 2019.

The CAT is expected to take in 58 billion records daily – including orders, cancellations, modifications, executions and quotes for the equities and options markets – and maintain data for more than 100 million customer accounts and their unique customer information, according to parties involved in the CAT.

.46 Billion in Extra Credit Card Charges Due to Upcoming Fed Rate Hike (WalletHub Email), Rated: A

Forecasts call for a 99%+ chance of a Federal Reserve rate hike on Wednesday, which would make three for 2017. The move couldn’t come at a worse time for consumers, according to WalletHub’s 

Use your 2017 budget before you lose it (LendIt), Rated: B

Having an exhibitor booth or sponsoring this event is your best chance to do business with companies shaping the fintech industry. 100+ companies have picked their spot. Download the sponsorship brochure today now and our team will help you seal the deal before your budget runs out.

Take advantage of the current ticket price and save $1,200 vs. the standard ticket.

Angie Herbers Launches Online FA Education Platform (Financial Advisor), Rated: B

Financial advisor consultancy founder Angie Herbers has launched an online training platform aimed at helping advisors grow their firms.

Beyond U offers advisor education via videos, online seminars and assessments, covering such topics as operations, management, sales and marketing, client services, compensation and more, according to a press release from the firm.

United Kingdom

Zopa announces changes to its Isa (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: AAA

Zopa investors can now redirect their repayments into an Isa, allowing investors to gradually transfer their funds into an Isa without having to sell loans or pay fees throughout the process.

The UK alternative finance market is still healthy (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

The UK’s alternative finance market — including marketplace lending, crowdfunding, and invoice trading — grew 43% year-over-year (YoY) in 2016, from £3.2 billion ($4.3 billion) to £4.58 billion ($6.17 billion), according to a recently released study from the 

Source: Business Insider

UK positioned to win in fintech, despite Brexit uncertainty (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Just this week the 

Small Businesses Drive 43 Percent Growth In UK Alternative Finance (PYMNTS), Rated: A

Researchers said about 72 percent of market volume in 2016 can be traced back to demand for lending options among startups and small businesses, up from 50 percent the year before. That amounts to more than $4.4 billion driven by startups and SMBs in 2016.

Peer-to-peer businesses lending was 2016’s largest alternative finance market segment, which saw 36 percent year-over-year growth.

Squirrel Extends Crowdcube Campaign After Achieving £400,000 Funding Target (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Squirrel, a personal finance app designed to help users have more control over their money, has successfully secured its initial £400,000 funding target from 450 investors through its equity crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube.

Downing enters property development space with Funding Circle hires (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

DOWNING has hired two real estate experts from Funding Circle’s property division as it enters the property development space through its crowd bonds platform.

Investors on Downing’s crowd bonds platform are being offered returns of five per cent for one year or six per cent for two years by investing in Downing Development Finance (DDF) through the DDF Property Bond.

 

Investors put trust in Scotland’s canniness (The Scotsman), Rated: B

Edinburgh Worldwide is another Baillie Gifford managed trust, though rather obscured by the group’s better known trusts. Notable performers (not a Scottish name among them) were Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a gene silencing company, LendingTree, an online loan marketplace, and IPG Photonics, a manufacturer of fibre-lasers used in metal processing.

China

 

How asset managers like FinEx Asia are using AI to disrupt traditional bank lending (SCMP), Rated: AAA

Banking disintermediation – essentially, taking out the middle man – has taken a new twist. While in recent years peer-to-peer (P2P) lending has become the poster-child for threatening banks’ lending business, a new type of hybrid disrupter is apparently starting to emerge: asset managers backed by financial technology.

One such firm attempting to cut banks out of the consumer-lending equation is FinEx Asia. The newly-licensed asset manager connects Asian investors with American consumer-credit assets, using artificial intelligence to select the loans based on risk appetite.

Founder and chief executive Maggie Ng said the company’s three funds now have US$100 million under management. They are backed by a portfolio of more than 10,000 US-based borrowers who have obtained loans from multiple online lending platforms, she said without specifying which ones.

Thomson Reuters platform to help further develop Hong Kong’s fintech offerings (SCMP), Rated: A

Thomson Reuters, the news and market data giant, is partnering with a Hong Kong government-backed body to help the city’s banks and fintech firms develop new technology, cut costs and create new products.

Celebrating its 150th anniversary in Hong Kong next year, the new arrangement will see Thomson Reuters offer its platform to financial firms to distribute their products as well as use its technology, tools and data to create products, for free.

International

Growth of Investor Numbers on P2P Lending Platforms (P2P-Banking), Rated: AAA

Today I take a look at how investor numbers are developing at several platforms.

Source: P2P-Banking

FinTech Startup Nanopay Is For Banks, Not Against Them (PYMNTS), Rated: A

Whether bank customers are consumers or businesses, chances are good that they do at least some of their banking online. This month, startup nanopay is announcing a partnership with Canadian nonprofit interbank network Interac to help businesses manage the complexity of working across borders.

The partnership creates access for any bank account holder in the country to send funds to or receive funds from any other bank account served by nanopay. So far, that’s a short list including just India. But, according to nanopay CEO Laurence Cooke, coverage will be supported in the U.S. and China as well in Q1 of 2018.

The First Social P2P Cryptobank Datarius to Launch a Pre-Sale on December 12 (Coinspeaker), Rated: B

The Datarius main characteristics are the use of blockchain, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency operations and a special designer of the customer-adapted tariffs.

P2P lending is another characteristic of Datarius. It provides millions of people around the world with the possibility to receive and make loans using a Personal Account in the browser or through a smartphone application. It is a fast, reliable and easy way to get a loan wherever a person is. This is an opportunity to earn without involving brokers.

The pre-ITO round starts on December 12 on the official website of the Datarius Cryptobank and will last till December 31. 1 DTRC token = $ 1, but during the Pre-sale every buyer receives a 35% bonus. Soft Cap: $ 125,000.

Asia

ANNOUNCING THE LAUNCH OF THE iFX EXPO ASIA 2018 (NewsBTC), Rated: B

CONVERSION PROS, a marketing agency within the retail finance sector and founding company behind the iFX EXPO series of financial B2B events, has announced their next event, the iFX EXPO Asia 2018, which will take place in Hong Kong from the 23rd to the 25th January 2018 at the HKCEC (Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre).

This event holds special significance, according to Gal Ron, CEO of CONVERSION PROS:

“This will be our 12th show to date and we expect to showcase this steady growth as we present an expanded floor plan with more exhibitor and sponsor areas tailored to the needs of our attendees. We are also placing special focus on Crypto as well as Peer to Peer lending as we are sure that this is part of the future of the online trading industry.”

Russia

Mintos, an Online Marketplace for Loans, Adds First Russian Loan Originator to Platform. (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

The Mintos marketplace for loans has added its first Russia based loan originator: EcoFinance. The online lender offers investments in unsecured personal loans issued in Russia under its CreditPlus brand. Mintos reports that EcoFinance loans on its marketplace will initially be listed in Euros with investors able to earn up to 11% annually.

Africa

Kiakia — get real-time capital as a business owner or working class (Techpoint), Rated: AAA

It’s no longer news that many individuals and SMEs in Nigeria have limited access to finance, especially from commercial banks.

Kiakia, an AI and machine learning powered alternative credit scoring, customer service, direct and a P2P lending platform has launched a virtual agent called “Mr K” to help working adults and SMEs access credit.

According to the Co-founder, Olajide Abiola (who also doubles as the Chief Data Scientist), millions of naira in loans have been successfully granted to and repaid by hundreds of borrowers across 22 States in Nigeria. This comes with a loss/default/NPL ratio of below 2.3%, which is consistently maintained over a 12-month period, all thanks to Kiakia’s algorithm.

Canada

FLEXITI FINANCIAL ANNOUNCES ONLINE FINANCING TO GROW E-COMMERCE SALES FOR CANADIAN RETAILERS (Flexiti Financial), Rated: AAA

Flexiti Financial, a provider of Point-Of-Sale (POS) financing and payment technology, announced today that its award-winning POS consumer lending platform is now available for online transactions. Retailers across Canada now have access to a powerful, online financing platform that easily integrates into any e-commerce engine, offering a low-cost solution. This is a critical new offering for Canadian retailers as it overcomes two key hurdles – speed of implementation and cost – as e-commerce continues to grow as a critical sales channel.

Flexiti Financial’s POS lending platform offers low rates for retailers who want to offer their customers flexible payment options, such as 0% interest financing. Customers do not require an existing credit card to apply.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Tuesday January 24 2017, Daily News Digest

SMB loan borrower satisfaction

News Comments Today’s main news: Trigger breaches may magnify reputational risk for originators. LendingTree announces top customer-rated lenders for Q3 2016. Landbay, Octopus Choice receive HMRC ISA approval. Ppdai.com plans US IPO. Today’s main analysis: The state of online SMB lending. Is China’s FinTech sector just another knockoff? Today’s thought-provoking articles: Risk assets enter short-term […]

SMB loan borrower satisfaction

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

Australia

China

News Summary

United States

Trigger Breaches May Magnify Reputational Risk for Originators (PeerIQ Email), Rated: AAA

Triggers are a structural feature that provide senior bondholders with protection against a reduction in credit support. Triggers applying pre-defined tests (e.g., minimum excess spread, cumulative loss levels, delinquency rates, violations of reps & warranties, etc.) and may re-direct cashflows to senior noteholders if one or more tests are violated.

A trigger breach may force originators/sponsors to divert capital to repay noteholders rather than re-invest precious capital into revenue-generating origination activities. Such a “double whammy” is associated with headline risk, which can leader to reputation damage, and negatively impact future financing activities, either in a warehouse facility setting or during ABS transactions.

Trigger breaches are a manifestation of unexpected credit performance, poor credit modeling, or unguarded structuring practice.

The average time to breach performance triggers for consumer MPL ABS deals was approximately 11 months as collateral losses ramped up within the deal.

The negative headlines associated with trigger breaches increases the cost of capital for originators, and reduces the availability of funding.

If an early amortization trigger is violated, excess spread (e.g., collateral cashflows less financing costs payable to noteholders) are diverted from equity investors to senior noteholders with the goal de-risking the senior noteholders as quickly as possible. Therefore, although senior noteholders may be structurally insulated from first loss-risk, senior noteholders are nevertheless exposed to high levels of prepayment and reinvestment risk.

From the equity investor’s perspective, tighter triggers allow higher potential equity returns in the absence of any collateral losses. However, if losses exceed the available cushion before the triggers are breached, cashflows to the equity investors will be cut off faster and cause a reduction in the expected equity returns.

Conversely, less restrictive triggers allow more cushion for losses before the coverage tests are breached.

Cumulative Net Loss (CNL) Rate Trigger Example: This prevalent trigger can be defined in a number of ways as issuers and originators work together in the deal structuring phase. Exhibit 2 illustrates a contrived trigger threshold profile. The trigger breach level is defined and increases with respect to the deal age. A trigger event occurs if the realized cumulative net loss rate exceeds the trigger threshold of the collateral.

The state of online SMB lending in 4 charts (Tradestreaming), Rated: AAA

It’s no wonder that SMBs aren’t optimistic about their futures. The median SMB holds 27 buffer days of cash in reserve, according to the JPMorgan Chase and Co. Institute. And when they look to access small working capital loans to improve their cash flows, they aren’t finding a lot of lenders willing to work with them.

It’s not like the average SMB has a major appetite for cash, either. 76 percent of loans that SMBs apply for are less than $250,000 and amost half of them are under $50,000, according to a paper co-written by authors at the Harvard Business School and business loan marketplace, Fundera.

As more SMBs turn to online lenders, they’re not always coming back happy. That’s mostly due to the high costs of some of these early loans.

Approximately one-in-six small businesses considering a loan will apply to an online lender this year. But because there’s a lack of data collection on overall loan originations in the U.S., it’s tough to accurately size the effect of new entrants in the SMB lending space.

LendingTree Announces Top Customer-Rated Lenders for Q3 2016 (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

LendingTree®, a leading online loan marketplace, released today its quarterly list of the top customer-rated network lenders for the third quarter of 2016. Winners were based on a five-star quality review system for overall customer experience as determined by actual LendingTree users. The list features the top lenders in LendingTree’s core financial marketplace categories: Home Lending, Personal Loans, Auto Loans, and Business Loans.

The top lenders of Q3 2016 by rank are:

Home Lending Category

1.    Veterans United Home Loans
2.    Triumph Lending
3.    Royal United Mortgage
4.    HomePlus Mortgage
5.    Wyndham Capital Mortgage
6.    North American Savings Bank
7.    Pulaski Bank Home Lending
8.    AmeriSave Mortgage Corporation
9.    ConsumerDirect Mortgage, A Division of FirstBank
10.  Insight Loans (tie)
10.  Seckel Capital, LLC (tie)

Personal Loans Category

1.    Lending Club
2.    OppLoans
3.    First Midwest Bank

Auto Loans Category

1.    rateGenius
2.    up2drive – a division of BMW of North America
3.    iLendingDIRECT

Business Loans Category

1.    Credibly
2.    RapidAdvance

Risk Assets Enter a Short-Term Holding Pattern (Morningstar Email), Rated: A

Between the uncertainty driven by the change in the administration and the arrival of fourth-quarter earnings season, risk assets entered into a short-term holding pattern last week. The average corporate credit spread of the Morningstar Corporate Bond Index, our proxy for the investment-grade bond market, was unchanged at +127 last week. In the high-yield market, the credit spread of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master Index was also unchanged at +402. In the equity markets, the S&P 500 was essentially unchanged for the week, declining 0.10%. Price action in the commodity markets was mixed, but overall price changes were modest.

A significant portion of investors’ caution toward the corporate bond market is the acknowledgment that corporate credit spreads are trading at very tight levels compared with recent and historical averages. The current level is the tightest that credit spreads have registered since late 2014 and significantly tighter than long-term averages. The average spread of the Morningstar Corporate Bond Index is 41 basis points tighter than the long-term average of +168 since the end of 1998. The average spread of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master Index is currently 178 basis points tighter than its longterm average of +580 basis points since the end of 1996.

In addition to the volatility that earnings can generate, with the change in the administration, many investors are treading cautiously in the market until there is greater clarity regarding the policies that President Donald Trump will pursue in the near term. As such, defensive issuers generally traded better last week, although there did not appear to be a significant sector rotation toward a defensive portfolio posture.

Diversification Strategies for Investors of P2P Lending (Equities.com), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending is gaining a momentum among investors. P2P loans have less volatility, a low correlation, and yield much higher returns compared to other fixed-yield investments. Median adjusted returns average 7% on a 36-month loan.

And this is not an asset basket into which you put too many of your investment eggs.

The low minimum investment at these services makes diversification easy. However, loan selection takes time, and speed is key to getting the best loans.

Although default rates are higher on grades D–G at Lending Club, and grades D–HR at Prosper, the ROI is higher too. Loan filtering can mean successful investing in these lower grades.

Beyond robo-compliance: How bots will soon permeate banking (American Banker), Rated: A

As banks become more comfortable with the relying on software robots to replicate the actions of a human interacting with machines to handle rote tasks, experts say they will be quick to deploy the technology companywide as a way to trim expenses and redirect employees to more crucial tasks.

This could include areas in finance departments that are heavily manual, such as accruals and managing and clearing payments. Human resources and administrative functions is also an area where robotics can be deployed.

Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International AG is among the first to work with Accenture and Blue Prism to automate various business functions. Additionally, it is in the process of creating an in-house robotics center dedicated to experimenting with how the technology can be used in different functions at the bank.

The bank started out with four pilots implementing robotic process automation in tasks that had “low-to-medium complexity; rule-based processes with a logical order of steps, repetitive process patterns with clearly defined process options,” said Markus Stanek, head of group efficiency management at the bank.

With the center, Raiffeisen will experiment with how to implement robotics in in a whole host of banking functions.

FORD CREDIT, AUTOFI DEBUT PLATFORM FOR DIGITAL VEHICLE BUYING AND FINANCING (Ford), Rated: A

There’s a new way for customers to purchase or finance a new Ford vehicle in minutes – right from a dealership website from anywhere, on any device – through a new platform from Ford Motor Credit Company and financial technology company AutoFi.

In addition, Ford Credit has made an investment in AutoFi as Ford Credit continues pursuing technological advances to make the financing experience better.

The AutoFi platform can be used now at Ricart Ford in Groveport, Ohio, and will roll out over time to more Ford and Lincoln dealerships across the United States. The introduction comes as 83 percent of Americans say they would like to spend as little time at the dealership as possible when shopping for or buying a car, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Ford Motor Company. Many of those same people, however, still want to touch and feel their new vehicle before signing on the dotted line. The new platform provides the best of both worlds.

Through the dealer website, customers have a transparent and seamless purchase and finance experience from anywhere on their mobile phone, tablet or computer. Once the online part of the transaction is complete, all customers need to do is sign the paperwork when they collect their new Ford.

Consumers may shop for a new Ford in the showroom or from anywhere via the Ricart Ford website. After selecting a vehicle, they can apply for credit and receive a decision, choose the financing terms that make sense for them, and then review and select optional vehicle protection products – completely online on their own time. Customers then can review a final summary of the financing terms and schedule time to complete the transaction and pick up the vehicle.

Why Banks and Alternative Lenders Will Play Ball in 2017 (deBanked), Rated: A

According to the Wall Street Journal last year, big banks have decreased the number of loans to small businesses by more than 38 percent since 2006.

But the recession helped pave way for another industry – alternative lending – which has significantly improved access to capital for small businesses. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the 2016 fiscal year was a record setting year for loans, with more than 70,000 approved that totaled $28.9 billion and supported nearly 694,000 jobs.

More and more headlines show that banks are shifting their strategies to keep up with America’s technology and alternative lending habits, making 2017 the year banks finally get back into the fray and play ball with alternative lenders to improve the lending process.

No longer content to be sidelined, banks are starting to play ball, and they will continue to do so at an even faster pace. The fact that banks are moving in now and increasing small business loans validates alternative lending.

Real Estate as an Alternative Investment for Non-Accredited Investors (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

So what are some of the options for both non-accredited, as well as accredited, investors today. Below we have highlighted several opportunities to invest in real estate assets online.

Today Fundrise has moved away from single property crowdfunding having trailblazed a new fund structure labeled the eREIT.  Using Title IV of the JOBS Act which updated old Reg to a more flexible security exemption called Reg A+, their eREITs have grown from one to now five (2 of them are sold out).

Small Change is on a mission to become the first real estate funding portal to utilize Reg CF. Created by Title III of the JOBS Act, Reg CF allows issuers the ability to raise up to $1 million online from both accredited and non-accredited investors.

Originally only for accredited investors, this changed when RealtyMogul.com created their MogulREIT (using Reg A+) to offer non-accredited investors the chance to join in on the real estate offers listed on their platform. Minimum investments used to be $2500 but have since been lowered to $1000 to facilitated a wider audience.

American Home Preservation or AHP purchases distressed mortgages at a discount. The platform reports the discount can be up to 50%. They then try to work out a sustainable solution for the home-owners in a win-win scenario.  The people keep their home and investors earn some income. AHP strives to pay a return 12% per year on invested capital in the fund (Reg A+). AHP not only has a unique approach to real estate investing but also has probably the lowest investment minimum at just $100.

2017 Americas Alternative Finance Industry Study (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

The Polsky Center and the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and the University of Cambridge Judge Business School are working together once again on their benchmark research on alternative finance.  The America’s study, first completed in 2016, will be reviewing sector growth in North, Central and South America.  Widely cited as the very best data available on the growth of Fintech, the study will quantify marketplace/peer to peer lending, crowdfunding and other forms of alternative finance.

While the research has been described as industry leading, there is a question as to how policymakers are using the data. Ziegler believes that regulators have recognized the value in academic and evidence based research that is unbiased.

Last year’s alternative finance report found that the Americas online alternative finance industry grew to $36.49 billion, a 212% annual increase from the $11.68 billion in 2014.

United Kingdom

Landbay and Octopus Choice Receive HMRC ISA Approval (Invezz), Rated: AAA

On Monday, the buy-to-let mortgage specialist Landbay announced that it had passed the 2nd step in regulatory proceedings allowing the P2P lender to offer IFISAs to its investors. Landbay was granted full FCA authorisation in December, making it a member of a niche, but growing, group of peer-to-peer platforms with full permissions – a necessity if a platform wishes to offer the IFISA. The P2P platform has facilitated over £42million worth of investments, in over 421 loans to UK property borrowers, since its inception.

Octopus Choice, a recent entrant into the UK P2P market (early 2016 launch), announced that it’s also been approved as an ISA manager by the Board of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).The product of Octopus Investments, the Choice platform has made waves in the P2P lending industry since inception, facilitating more than £45m worth of loans to asset-backed property borrowers, inside one year.

Goji Selected to Launch IFISA for Landbay, Downing, Peer Funding and UK Bond Network (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Specialist provider of P2P and marketplace lending products and services, Goji, has announced that Landbay, bond investment platform UK Bond Network, crowd bond provider Downing, and SME-focused P2P platform Peer Funding have each selected their platform to offer the Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA). Goji said expectations were to launch the IFISAs before tax year deadline.

In an increasingly competitive crowdfunding market, Goji says that firms offering the new investment vehicle are finding themselves a step ahead of the competition as the IFISA quickly becomes an easy differentiator in the eyes of investors.

A peer-to-peer puzzle (Financial Times), Rated: A

Saving Stream is a “peer-to-peer” lending startup that provides “short-term bridging loans, secured against UK property” and is waiting to be fully authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority*.

Late last year, the P2P lender started to borrow money by issuing unsecured mini-bonds with three or five year fixed terms. The proceeds of the mini-bonds are used to fund the same loans that P2P investors snap up through its marketplace. But while P2P investors earn 12 per cent per year, mini-bond investors earn half that, six per cent.

But the question is still bothering us: why would anyone buy the bond? After all, passive management is meant to be cheaper, not more expensive.

A Whole Generation May Never Be Able To Retire From Work (Voice Online), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending platform Lending Works surveyed 1,500 non-retired adults in the UK (YouGov) and made some worrying discoveries.

Firstly, over 1 in 5 of those who aren’t yet retired – 22% – gloomily believe that they’ll never be financially secure enough to retire. This suggests they have visions of working until they drop, as they won’t be able to afford to stop earning money. This pessimistic view is highest in the 35-44 year old category, with 25% of them not seeing themselves as ever being financially secure enough to retire, although only 17% of 18-24 year olds, who technically have more time to start saving, agree. Countrywide, the outlook is bleakest in the West Midlands (27%), perhaps due to relatively high unemployment, compared to only 19% in London, where there are, theoretically, more jobs.

The main reason, of course, that we can’t see ourselves retiring is because we can’t afford to. Over a third of non-retired adults – 34% – don’t save a single penny towards retirement each month. Women are proving to be worse at saving than men, with 41% of non-retired females not saving towards retirement, compared to 26% of men.

Why investors are likely to see more robo-input from their financial adviser (Money Observer), Rated: A

The Treasury consultation highlighted that many people rely on digital services for information and guidance on key financial decisions and the new body will have a ‘well optimised’ website as well as telephone, webchat and face-to-face guidance.

We strongly believe that digital communications can help streamline the financial advice process and allow people to choose how they consume information, and are pleased to hear that the new guidance body will recognise this.

There is no question that there is a role for automated advice. To make advice more inclusive the industry needs to develop alternative distribution channels that potentially appeal to a new generation of customers.

In its current guise automated advice is perfectly positioned for those people who have simple investment needs, or who are not looking for a holistic financial review. It can offer a personal recommendation, which differentiates it from self-select or execution-only strategies.

European Union

ASOS partners with Klarna to launch pay after delivery in Nordics (Retail Times), Rated: A

Klarna’s pay after delivery allows retailers to bridge the gap between the online and offline shopping experience. When making a purchase on desktop or mobile, customers in the Nordics will now have the option to pay for their products up to 14 days after delivery – giving them the chance to try on their purchases before paying.

Australia

New Year’s gift for SMEs: Lending to small business in Australia looks set to improve (Australian Anthill), Rated: A

Until relatively recently, a bank rejection meant a business had to forsake growth, stretch its own payments or extend terms to the ATO. But more recently, business owners are being referred to a bank’s lending “partner” of choice, which typically charge interest rates of at least 20 per cent, and in some cases can even reach triple digits.

Luckily a new group of non-bank intermediaries is emerging to provide direct access to the extremely profitable asset classes that have long been solely the domain of banks. The combination of huge volumes of new data, virtually unlimited computing power, and omnipresent networks is enabling innovations like robo-advisers and marketplace lenders to provide lower cost, highly diversified investments for generating reliable, robust and lower capital risk returns.

Business owners and investors are beginning to take notice of the opportunity this represents. In 2014, there was $0 marketplace lending for business conducted in Australia, but according to Morgan Stanley, in 2015 the market reached $25million, and by 2020 it is forecast to grow to $11.4billion, representing 12 per cent of the total addressable market.

Marketplace lending addresses the concerns small business has with banks, and the needs for investors for stable fixed-income returns. Businesses can gain access to funding without the need for collateral, being subject to outdated models of risk, or enduring application processes spanning weeks. Sophisticated investors are empowered to take control of their own portfolios, choose the risks they are willing to take, and effectively “be the bank”.

China

Chinese Peer-to-peer lender Ppdai.com plans US IPO (South China Morning Post), Rated: AAA

Ppdai.com, one of the mainland’s largest online lending platforms, is reportedly planning to raise US$200 million in a US initial public offering (IPO) ahead of Beijing’s tightened regulation on the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sector.

It would become the second mainland P2P firm to go public in the United States, following Yirendai.com’s US$75 million IPO in late 2015.

Is China’s FinTech Sector Just Another Knockoff? (TheStreet), Rated: AAA

The number of counterfeit products pumped out of China is unprecedented. Their total value adds up to $1.2 trillion, which accounts for 63.2% of the world’s total. Chinese make fake Gucci clothing and Cartier watches, open Apple stores that aren’t authorized retailers and have even duplicated global investment bank Goldman Sachs.

So whether China’s technology sector is another pirated import is a fair question. And the answer isn’t black and white.

Eight of the 27 fintech outliers in the world are located in China and are valued at more than $96 billion combined. The four largest outliers are Chinese. Antfinancial, which operates the payment affiliate of Chinese online retailer Alibaba, is the largest by a big margin. Meanwhile, the U.S. is home to 14 fintech outliers that are collectively worth $31 billion.

What’s Driving China’s Rise?

First, over the past few years, central banks have worked to develop digital finance in China by providing a supportive regulatory framework.

Surpassing the U.S. in 2013, China now makes up 47% of the world’s digital retail sales, and demographics suggest that share will continue to rise. The country has 721 million internet users (around 52% of the population). In comparison, 89% of the U.S. population uses the internet.

Third, a large segment of China’s population remains underserved by traditional banks.

Two Groups Are Accelerating the Process

As we can see below, 20% of Chinese adults do not have access to banking services. China has 8.1 commercial bank branches (and 55 ATMs) per 100,000 people. This is much less than the 28.2 branches (222 ATMs) in the U.S. and Canada, and the 28 branches (81 ATMs) in Europe.

Despite accounting for 60% of GDP and 80% of employment in urban areas, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get less than one-quarter of loans in China. In growing numbers they are seeking online finance solutions for their payments, credit, investments and insurance needs. Peer-to-peer lending networks make it possible for businesses to receive loans far faster than they could through a bank.

China’s fintech sector is particularly dependent on payment solutions. Currently, about 40% of China’s banking services customers use fintech platforms for domestic and international payments. Almost 58% of all internet users use fintech payment applications, meaning that 380 million Chinese people shop on the internet with their phones. Slightly less than 200 million people substitute their phones for a wallet for in-store payments.

China Rapid Finance Named a Finalist for LendIt “Innovator of the Year” Award (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: B

China Rapid Finance Limited (“CRF” or “the company”), China’s largest consumer lending marketplace in terms of number of loans facilitated, was named a finalist for “Innovator of the Year” honor at the first annual LendIt Industry Awards.

CRF is the only Chinese company nominated in this top category, which will honor the company that has demonstrated a strong culture of innovation, producing groundbreaking changes in the industry. CRF was selected as one of seven finalists, out of hundreds of applicants worldwide, by more than 30 industry experts who judged finalists representing innovation, emerging talent and top performers.

The company will compete for the honor at the LendIt Awards Ceremony on March 7, 2017, at the LendIt conference in New York City. LendIt is the world’s largest show in lending and fintech.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor