Thursday May 11 2017, Daily News Digest

ondeck loan origination

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi to apply for ILC. FC exposes 6K US SSNs. Alipay launches in US. CFA finance exams to gauge knowledge of AI, big data, robo-advice. LendInvest shutting out retail investors. PayU invests 110M Euro in Kreditech. Today’s main analysis: OnDeck’s recovery plan is paying off. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 92% of finance pros not confident advising on […]

ondeck loan origination

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

Australia/New Zealand

India

News Summary

United States

SoFi plans to apply for a bank charter in the next month (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

With an eye on providing banking services later this year, online lending startup SoFi is planning to apply for an industrial bank charter in the next month, according to CEO Mike Cagney. If approved, it would become the first company to receive a new industrial loan company (ILC) charter in a decade.

Industrial bank charters, or ILCs, provide a way for companies that aren’t banks to provide banking-like services to customers. And while ILCs have been around for more than 100 years, they’ve fallen out of vogue in the last decade due to increased regulation against them.

According to Cagney, that’s because companies like John Deere and Harley-Davidson used ILCs as a way to take advantage of FDIC-insured deposits to fund the financing arms of their businesses.

By combining a banking option with its lending products, Cagney said SoFi could offer discounted rates to members who set up auto-pay between their accounts. And with a SoFi-issued credit card, he said the company could potentially use its reward program as a way to help users pay down student loans.

As a result, the company is working on other ways that it could begin offering a SoFi-branded banking product later this year. Even if the company is not able to get approval for an industrial bank charter, it would still be able to offer checking, deposit and credit card services through a regional banking partner.

Funding Circle Error Exposes 6,000 SSNs Of American Clients (Forbes), Rated: AAA

An upcoming London-based business loans provider, Funding Circle, left a database containing 6,000 social security numbers of American clients exposed to anyone on the internet, it emerged Wednesday.

The company, which has helped companies bypass banks to borrow more than $3.5 billion from its peer-to-peer investor network since its founding in 2010, also admitted a misconfigured Amazon Web Services database exposed more than 13 million marketing email addresses for individuals, businesses and government organizations in the U.S., as well as more than 45,000 notes summarizing conversations with customers and partners.

According to the firm that uncovered the unsecured database, Kromtech Security, credit scores and business loan histories of clients were also available to anyone who knew the eight IP addresses of Funding Circle’s American branch.

Additionally, private data sets Funding Circle had purchased from third parties and credit agencies including Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and Powerlytics were left open.

OnDeck’s recovery plan is paying off (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

US online lender OnDeck had a tough

Alipay Launches in US (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Alipay, part of internet conglomerate Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), has launched its payments platform in the US thus challenging other established players in the space such as Apple Pay. Alipay is partnering with First Data (NYSE:FDC) on the US expansion.

Alipay is currently used by more than 450 million people globally and 200 financial institution partners. . Well established in Asia, Alipay is now crossing the Atlantic following the recent announcement by competitor WeChat Pay, owned by Tencent, that is expanding into the US as well.

OnDeck Capital’s Chairman survives challenge from activist shareholder (American Banker), Rated: A

Fending off a challenge from dissatisfied hedge fund investors, OnDeck Capital Chairman and CEO Noah Breslow was re-elected to the company’s board Tuesday by an 84% to 16% margin.

SoFi looks to deepen buyer base with S&P stamp on latest ABS (Global Capital), Rated: A

A $530m consumer loan offering from online lender SoFi is expected to garner interest from a bigger group of investors, with S&P Global Ratings tapped to rate an offering from the issuer’s consumer loan shelf for the first time.

More Than a Quarter of Upstart’s Loans Are Now Fully Automated (Bank Innovation), Rated: A

Upstart — a five-year-old online lender — bets you can (and you must).

In fact, more than 25% of Upstart’s current loans are fully automated, Bank Innovation has learned.

The lender utilizes AI and machine learning algorithms to analyze consumer data points, including education history, employment history, social media, and even web behavior (during the online application process), in order to make underwriting decisions. The company has originated almost $700 million to date, from about 60,000 loans.

How Credit Karma CEO Kenneth Lin Built A Billion-Dollar Brand (Fast Company), Rated: A

Lin founded the company in 2007, with the goal of creating a customer-friendly alternative to trickster credit score services. He has since raised $386 million, vaulting Credit Karma into the ranks of Silicon Valley’s startup unicorns, and figured out how to turn a profit while helping nearly 70 million Americans discover financial services products that meet their needs.

Create a Credit Karma account, and you can monitor your credit score for free. Based on your credit history, the company then generates targeted offers for financial services including credit cards, student loans, and auto loans. If you opt in to one of those offers, Credit Karma gets paid by a referral fee by the bank or lender—a new credit card customer, for example, could be worth as much as $700. In 2015, the company made around $350 million.

Now Lin is embarking on mortgage refinancing recommendations, Credit Karma’s second major launch in less than six months (a free tax service launched in January, in time for April 15 filing).

The company is operating the service in 26 states, with plans to expand nationwide in the coming months. By Lin’s reckoning, 20% of U.S. mortgage debt is represented on the Credit Karma platform, and roughly one-third of homeowners would benefit from refinancing—a major opportunity.

The bank of the future: A (digital) financial mall (American Banker), Rated: A

Assume for a moment that most of the services legacy financial companies provide today could get competed away as innovators extend reach and scale across the landscape of financial products. If so, big financial institutions will look to re-establish a foothold. Their only sure competitive advantage seems to be the regulatory compliance (i.e. anti-money-laundering and know-your-customer capabilities) that the government has forced them to develop.

Bain & Co. estimates “governance, risk and compliance (GRC) costs account for 15% to 20% of the total ‘run the bank’ cost base of most major banks.” That, combined with the long and difficult process to establish and validate credibility with regulators, makes the challenge to potential competitors even more imposing.

That’s right, instead of making money from lending out deposits, or investment banking or capital markets … people will pay banks to simply hold their money and validate their identities and sources of funds.

Application programming interfaces will put a twist on this tried-and-true model. Banks will look to compete. When they do, as always, winning will come down to pricing and service. To do so, they’ll set up “financial malls.”

Conversely, in the financial mall ecosystem, fintech partners (providers with requisite core competency and scale) will open up shop and link with the banks via robust APIs. How this relationship manifests will vary as established players ponder the decision to build, buy or partner. Regardless, front-facing service providers — the fintechs — will operate in the most efficient manner and will lead the charge.

Earnest Operations LLC (SEC), Rated: A

For purposes of our procedures and at your instruction:
·
with respect to our comparison of Characteristics 9. and 13., for any first payment date or original maturity date falling on the 29th, 30th or 31st day of the month (as set forth on or derived from the Servicing System), we were instructed to assume the first payment date or original maturity date, as applicable, as the 1st day of the succeeding month;
·
with respect to our comparison of Characteristic 11., differences of $1.00 or less are deemed to be “in agreement;” and
·
with respect to our comparison of Characteristic 19., for those Sample Loans with a “borrower income” amount, derived from the Transactions Summary, (i) less than $80,000 (as determined above), differences of 10.0% or less of the “borrower income” indicated on the Statistical Loan File are deemed to be “in agreement” or (ii) greater than or equal to $80,000 (as determine above), differences of 20.0% or less of the “borrower income” indicated on the Statistical Loan File are deemed to be “in agreement.”  Further, for those Sample Loans with a “borrower income” amount, derived from Income Verification Documentation, differences of 2.5% or less of the “borrower income” indicated on the Statistical Loan File are deemed to be “in agreement.”

From the company’s filed EX-99.1 Charter, which can be read at Edgar.

Kathryn Petralia – Kabbage (Cheddar), Rated: A

Kathryn joins Cheddar to speak about Kabbage and how they’re assisting small businesses.

Watch the interview here.

Ripple vs Stellar (The Merkle), Rated: A

Stellar uses a consensus mechanism known as Stellar Consensus Protocol. This particular feature is outlined in the project whitepaper, for those who want to know more technical aspects about the mechanism.

Furthermore, Stellar’s native currency is known as Lumens – which we discussed here – whereas Ripple uses XRP. Stellar is mainly designed to target individuals and focuses strongly on technology, rather than making a name for themselves among financial institutions.

Ripple is a project designed to target financial institutions and provide a distributed ledger-based solution to facilitate cross-border payments.

It is also worth noting Ripple has a deflationary currency model. The number of XRP tokens in circulation will gradually decrease as it is used more often to facilitate cross-border currency transactions. Additionally, Ripple has formed several partnerships with banks and other financial institutions all over the world.

Online lending startup EarlySalary raises $ 4 mn from IDG, Dewan Housing (VC Circle), Rated: A

Social Worth Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs online lending platform EarlySalary, has raised $4 million (Rs 26 crore) in its Series A funding from IDG Ventures India and mortgage lender Dewan Housing Finance Corp.

The startup, which offers salary advances and loans to young working professionals, will use the capital to build products and increase its lending book, it said in a statement.

It will also use the money to expand team, specifically in skill sets of machine learning, as well as to grow customer base and provide 200,000 loans in this financial year.

Fintech company launches monopolisation lawsuit (Global Competition Review), Rated: B

TrueEX sued its rival and interest rate swap trading provider MarkitSERV on Monday, accusing it of using its monopoly in the trade processing services industry to crush the financial technology company by refusing to provide a critical service.

United Kingdom

CFA finance exams to grill hopefuls on AI, big data and robo-advice (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

The CFA Institute, the organisation that hands out the coveted designation of “Chartered Financial Analyst” to people who make it through three rounds of exams, more than 300 hours of study and four years of work experience, is to revamp its tests to include questions on artificial intelligence, big data and robo-advice.

The new curriculum will appear in exam papers from 2019, as the global association of investment professionals tries to reshape its course to meet demand from employers for practical fintech skills.

But big data analysis, machine learning, robo-advice and blockchain have shaken up the investment industry in recent years, as investors compete against low-cost passive fund trackers to deliver market-beating returns after fees.

Exam entrants will need to know how to back-test investment algorithms, work out the limits of big data analysis and appreciate the impact of wider trends on the industry, such as how blockchain technology affects trading and how robo-advisers may shape the way financial advice is given.

92% of financial professionals not confident advising on P2P products (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer (P2P) finance is in the ascendancy, yet many brokers still appear to be in the dark about the range of products on offer from this new wave of lenders.

Last month, members of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association exceeded £8bn of cumulative lending following a strong first quarter of 2017.

However, a recent poll conducted by Bridging & Commercial found that 92% of financial professional respondents do not feel confident advising their clients on P2P products at the time of writing.

“I don’t know why it is, but in all my years, I’ve only had one approach from a P2P lender,” explained Stephen Burns of specialist finance brokerage Adapt.

This sentiment was echoed by Liam Brooke, co-founder of P2P platform Lendy, which has recently invested heavily in boosting marketing and communications efforts to improve the understanding of the sector.

“It is the P2P companies themselves that need to take responsibility for improving the public’s understanding of their products.

“This can be achieved in a number of ways, including building more one-to-one relationships with brokers and reaching them through different media.”

LendInvest shifts focus to sophisticated investors, nears £1bn in lending (AltFi), Rated: AAA

LendInvest, the UK’s largest property-focused online lender, is refocusing and restructuring its investment platform. The firm is shutting out retail investors with the introduction of a qualification test, which investors will have to pass in order to lend through the platform.

The average balance for individual investors on the LendInvest platform is roughly £30k.

LendInvest is right on the cusp of crossing the £1 billion mark in cumulative loan originations – a feat that has been accomplished by just four UK-based marketplace/online lenders to date.

Peer-to-peer savings warning: easy access accounts at risk (The Telegraph), Rated: A

Investors in “peer-to-peer” loans are in danger of sleepwalking into accounts that are sold as “easy access” but have no guarantee money will be returned quickly.

A report from 4thWay, an analyst of the sector, warned “easy access” accounts offered by providers could not guarantee the quick return of cash.

Landbay, a property specialist, calls this its “tracker fund”, Assetz Capital has a “quick access” account while Ratesetter offers a “rolling market” option as part of its “everyday account”.

It added in some cases, perversely, it was less risky for investors to tie their money up for longer in a fixed-term deal offering higher interest rates.

The average interest rate offered by early access accounts is 3.2pc, compared to an average of 4.9pc on other types of accounts, according to 4thWay.

Commenting on the firm’s “rolling market” account, a spokesman for Ratesetter, one of the largest peer-to-peer providers, said: “When we launched our account in 2016 40pc of our investors had cited access to their money as a key priority when making investment decisions, and since then, it has become one of our most popular products.”

He added that of the 15,000 requests for customers to withdraw their money Ratesetter has received so far, 99.6pc completed within one working day.

Innovate Finance Publishes Industry Fintech Sandbox Consultation Report (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Innovate Finance has published a report today on industry sandboxes in the Fintech startup community.

According to the authorKey findings of the report include:

  • Addressing Cost and Inefficiency in Validating Innovative Solutions: Responses indicated that there is significant friction, both in terms of resources required and length of process, for startups and institutions in developing multiple Proof’s of Concept or “POCs” bilaterally.
  • Addressing Cost and Inefficiency in Developing Collaborations: Industry feedback has been that an Industry Sandbox could be helpful in bringing participants together in the resolution of shared challenges.
  • Supporting Efficiency in Compliance and Regulatory Engagement: The process revealed that within the startup community, understanding of the need for authorisation and compliance requirements in local and foreign markets could benefit from being accelerated.

 

Fintech: The second wave of challenger banks (Euromoney), Rated: A

In the third quarter of this year, if all goes to plan, ClearBank will go into business as the first new UK clearing bank to open its doors to customers for 250 years.

What distinguishes ClearBank from the mass of fintech newcomers and challenger banks is that its customers won’t be small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that the big banks refuse to lend to at other than punitive rates; they won’t be looking for working capital finance advanced against invoices to be paid by bigger corporations, neither will they be retail investors looking for a better return on their cash than zero-rate bank savings accounts, or wealthier individuals looking for a low-fee allocation to a mainstream asset class.

LendInvest makes largest development loan (PropertyWeek.com), Rated: A

LendInvest has completed its largest-ever development finance package, worth £21m.

41% of SMEs expected to vote Conservative (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: B

Some 41% of small businesses surveyed said they would vote Conservative in the general election, followed by Labour with 13%, Liberal Democrats on 9% and UKIP on 3%.

The survey found that 40% of small businesses believed that tax was the most important policy area, followed by Brexit (26%).

Funding Circle’s research also found that most small businesses are optimistic about their future turnover prospects despite the current uncertainty, with nearly 70% saying they expected it to increase within the next 12 months.

China

P2P Industry News (Xing Ping She), Rated: A

SAC Recommended Fintech as one of the research direction of next year
On May 8th, Securities Association of China (SAC) issued the notice about next year’s research project application, and announced the research theme “Opportunities and Challenges of stable development of Securities Industry”. Fintech is among one of the 8 topics specified by the Notice.

Sharing economy is sweeping China! Public charge pal company Raised 300M RMB within 10 Days.
JUMEI invested 300M RMB in charge pal sharing
On May 4th, JUMEI announced an investment of 300m RMB in a Mobile power leasing company——Shenzhen Street Electrical technology co., LTD(Anker Box). After the financing, JUMEI will hold 60% shares of Anker Box. The money will be used for the upgrade of production lines of charge pal sharing and cabinet etc., as well as the R&D of new series of product. It was also revealed that Leo Chen, the CEO of JUMEI, would become the chairman of Anker Box after this round of strategic investment, and JUMEI would continue to increase its investment amount.

Attitudes on Charge Pal: “National Husband” vs “Headstrong CEO” 
Charge Pal sharing becomes the second popular sharing product after Bicycle-sharing. Sicong Wang, the son of Wanda Group’s chairman Wang Jianlin(China’s Richest man), and Leo Chen, the CEO of JUMEI, holding different views on it.
Sicong Wang takes a negative attitude on the future of charge pal sharing, while Leo Chen think small probability is the feature of venture investment, the sharing project of Street Electricity could be a public welfare even it failed. He also showed his appreciation for Sicong Wang but warned him that personal preference should not be the factor of decision making.

European Union

PayU Invests EUR 110M Into Kreditech (Let’s Talk Payments), Rated: AAA

Kreditech, the leading technology group for digital consumer credit using machine-learning based underwriting, has closed EUR 110 million in investment from global online payment service provider PayU.

The landmark investment is the largest ever equity investment in a German FinTech company and builds on a successful 12-month pilot program in Poland.

The announcement follows a successful pilot program managed by Kreditech and PayU, offering Polish consumers improved access to credit in a real-time online process. The pilot program issued more than EUR 10 million in credit.

Through this major growth financing, PayU has acquired a significant minority stake in Kreditech, joining existing prominent FinTech investors including JC Flowers, Varde, Blumberg Capital, HPE, Peter Thiel, Rakuten and the World Bank’s IFC.

Alexandra Strömberg |Female Leader of the Future (Life at Klarna), Rated: A

This week we saw one of our own, Alexandra Strömberg, recognized as one of Sweden’s top 75 future female leaders (28th actually!).

Can you give me a little timeline on your life at Klarna?

I started at Klarna 4 years ago building up a new function and team named Customer Relations. Today we have an average customer satisfaction of 88% – that is better than best practice!

In recent years I’ve also been part of other Klarna projects. For instance I’m part of the Klarna Executive X network.

It’s been 4 years since you joined Klarna, a lot has changed. Where do you see yourself and Klarna in a further 4 years?

In 4 years I think Klarna will be a global player that not only fosters more and more talents, but also makes life a little bit easier for consumers and merchants by offering an even better and more innovative service. We will continue to disrupt and change. If I am at Klarna in 4 years, it’s because I still bring value to the company and that Klarna does the same for me I enjoy going to work knowing that I am part of this journey.

International

7 Things to Consider Before Launching a Fintech Startup (Entrepreneur), Rated: AAA

1. Regulations

However, fintech has ushered in new ways of viewing and handling money and has become a gray area for regulation. This is something that has been drawing the attention of lawmakers, especially in fintech companies’ charter applications to be “special purpose national banks.” This isn’t as straightforward as it seems since some fintech services such as peer-to-peer lending operate using new models.

In addition, these regulations may vary per market depending on the state, country or region in which you seek to operate. In Europe, there’s the impending implementation of the Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

2. Competition from institutions

While banks have acknowledged the disruption fintech has created, this doesn’t mean that they will just accept defeat and step aside for the new guys. It isn’t exactly banks as institutions that are under threat as much as it’s the way we do banking.

3. Customer trust

Data breaches and cyberattacks are still rampant. With the nature of the information fintech companies handle, they are becoming an optimal target for cybercriminals.

4. The need for a strong team

This might seem obvious, but fintech isn’t exactly an area where there are turnkey tools and free scripts one can use to come up with an app or service. This isn’t like some other tech ventures where barriers to entry are relatively low. Financial, technological and business expertise are all required to develop fintech.

5. Unique and valuable service

The fintech industry is starting to get crowded now that many pioneers have done enough for new ventures to follow. Still, a key entrepreneurial question to ask is if your venture will be able to offer something unique and high value.

6. Technology choices

As a startup, you may have to bet on technologies that would power the service. On the plus side, technologies such as machine learning and analytics engines are now being offered as a service by cloud platform providers like Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, which lowers the barrier for development. However, these technologies have yet to fully mature. You should be prepared for growing pains and hiccups when using them.

7. Funding

Global venture capital investment was $17.4 billion in 2016. However, this excitement only means that competition for funding is also increasing. VCs are getting more selective, seeking out companies with truly game changing offerings, thus making your value proposition all the more important.

WorldFirst launches international payment platform (AltFi), Rated: A

The fintech firm yesterday announced the launch of its World Account – an international payments platform for small businesses and online sellers. The firm says that the new account delivers “international banking functionality”, stripping administrative burden and cost out of operating cross-border.

The opportunity for WorldFirst could be significant. Its own research shows that over 1.5 million UK SMEs are trading £76bn globally every month (see infographic below).

Australia/New Zealand

Financial “robo advice” to be cleared for first time in New Zealand (Voxy), Rated: AAA

The way will be cleared for robo advice to be given on financial investments and services in NZ for the first time, when the reforms of the Financial Advisers Act (2008) are complete. MBIE’s consultation on a draft bill paving the way for robo advice closed on 31 March.

‘Under the current timeline, the law won’t be changed until at least 2019. While MBIE and NZ’s Financial Markets Authority will be scratching their heads for ways to expedite the reforms, the FinTech industry is fast moving and there is a real risk that New Zealand firms looking to operate in the robo-advice area will be left behind by their overseas competitors if the reforms don’t happen sooner,’ he says.

Mr Ward-Marshall says that once robo advice is fully implemented in law and regulation in NZ, it is likely existing financial advisers will team up with clever technology companies to provide it.

India

MobiKwik Reaches for Unicorn Status, Set to Raise Funding from BlackRock (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

MobiKwik is set to raise funds from investors including BlackRock Inc. which will value the innovative Indian Fintech company at about $1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

The company with over 55 million users has been in talks these last months to raise funding that would give the startup this $1 billion valuation, and has forged new ties with banks and offering new financial services on its growing platform, Currently MobiKwik  investors include Sequoia Capital, Taiwan’s MediaTek, Japan’s GMO Venture Partners and hedge fund Tree Line Asia.

Country’s First Loan Marketplace for Used Automobiles Launched by Droom (Legman News), Rated: A

Droom—an online marketplace for used vehicles has launched India’s only loan marketplace for used vehicles, named as Droom Credit. The company has partnered with many non-banking financial companies and finance firms. It has also tied up with various lenders such as HDFC Bank, Kotak Prime, Faircent, and Tata Capital.

The creditworthiness of the applicants will be analyzed by Droom Technology Pvt. Ltd. through its credit risk engine. The loan approval procedure will be processed within 30 seconds based on the credit score validation, Aadhar details, PAN verification, and other credit evaluation platforms.

Aggarwal also revealed about its revenue generation models, which will be bifurcated in multiple ways.

First
The applicant will have to select the take rates that will be dependent on the lenders, borrower profile, and commission structures.

Second
The company will charge Rs 999 from borrowers that include Rs 299 as Cibil score checking fees and rest of the amount will be charged if the borrower makes his or her move toward next step with his loan approval.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Friday April 14 2017, Daily News Digest

millennial asset allocation

News Comments Today’s main news: Marathon Partner calls for change at OnDeck. LC releases mobile app. Ranger slumps after the collapse of Argon Credit. College Ave secures $30M in a fourth equity round. Droom launches first used auto MPL in India. First Circle secures funding to expand into SE Asia. Today’s main analysis: High-Net-Worth Millennials want advice from humans. Ranking the […]

millennial asset allocation

News Comments

United States

  • Marathon Partners calls for change at OnDeck. GP:”There is an entire industry, especially in New York, of funds who buy a minor number of shares in public companies and then mount a public campaign to impose their views to the companies. Examples are Karl Icahn, Bill Ackman, Dan Loeb and Herbalife.  Their objective is a quick appreciation of the share value and not the long-term success of the company. They typically encourage the company to sell assets to quickly raise cash for the share prices to increase quickly. They then sell their shares at a large profit, having double or tripled their investment in months to a year. And over time, the company is left on its own, now without the assets, it sold. All companies have issues and I am sure plenty of people disagree with the choices made at OnDeck. But from there to saying that OnDeck is in big trouble I think the leap is too large. Many companies have the exact same board structure as OnDeck, common CEO and Chairman and more. I see this campaign as a pressure campaign, unfortunately, picked up by WSJ,  who probably saw some pieces of truth and some sensationalism in it but is likely exaggerated. The real issue at OnDeck: they need cash, and soon. Let’s see how they solve that issues while keeping control. Being a public company opens the doors to this kind of attacks. “AT: “More and more, it’s looking like OnDeck may be headed for a sale. It could at least see a changeover in leadership. That new leadership will be expected to turn the company around, and if they can’t, we could see a buyer emerge in the near- to mid-term future.”
  • Activist steps up pressure on OnDeck. GP:” See comment above.” AT: “One influential person is all it takes to impact a change.”
  • LendingClub releases mobile app for investors. GP:”As many of our readers we are surprised they didn’t have a mobile app yet. There is a difference between a mobile responsive website and a native app. When will people be able to apply for a loan using just the app? While the core of Lending Club’s applicants are baby boomers and Gen X, I still think that mobile apps open the door to new features like taking pictures of your IDs and documents in real time, using the mobile phone’s info for underwriting and applying even faster.” AT: “I wonder why they hadn’t already.”
  • SoFi intros new two-step verification process. GP:” A small important step, focused on security. We discussed recently the importance of security, especially of borrower’s data.”
  • HNW Millennials are hungry for advice from humans. AT: “This is interesting since we’ve been hearing a lot about how millennials prefer robo, or at least want a mix of human-robo advice. High-net-worth individuals are different, though, and I think that’s across generations. Significant is the fact that many HNW millennials are in charge of their families’ fortunes, or at least a part of it. I would imagine they would not want to be responsible for losing what their fathers and grandfathers built, therefore, it makes sense they’d want advice from a human mentor in some respects.”
  • Ranking all 50 states by average credit score of citizens. AT: “The interesting thing about this to me is there seems to be a cultural attitude at play here. The top states and bottom states in the ranking are clumped together in regions, which says to me that attitudes toward credit, and behavior driven by those attitudes, are at work within the cultures. Of course, you also can’t deny economic indicators such as unemployment, which tends to be higher in certain areas, probably due to certain industries losing out to automation and other paradigm-shifting forces.”
  • College Ave secures $30M in a fourth equity round. GP:” Student Lending continues to attract nice investments. Congratulations !”
  • CrediFi launches CredifX MPL for commercial real estate lending. AT: “We’re beginning to see the growing RECF market branch out into specialization. It’s an exciting time to be a marketplace lender in the real estate sector.”
  • Startup helps Chinese investors put money into U.S. funds.
  • Could fintech enable a resurgence in predatory lending. AT: “Yes, but this is a scare tactic aimed at borrowers. This thinking takes away from personal responsibility. It’s important for lenders to take note of this attitude and develop responsible-but-profitable lending practices. Anything else could land lenders in the same hot water as those caught up in the S&L crisis and mortgage default crises.”

United Kingdom

European Union

International

Australia

China

India

Asia

Africa

News Summary

United States

Marathon Partners Calls for Change at OnDeck (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

Marathon Partners Equity Management, LLC, together with its affiliates (“Marathon Partners”), announced today that it has released a letter that was sent to the board of directors of OnDeck Capital, Inc. (“OnDeck” or the “Company”) last month expressing concerns about the direction of the Company and making recommendations on steps to improve shareholder value.  Marathon Partners also announced today its intention to vote against the three incumbent directors up for election at OnDeck’s upcoming Annual Meeting scheduled to be held on May 10, 2017.

In its letter to the Board, Marathon Partners recommended two courses of action for OnDeck:

  • Fully rationalize the Company’s cost structure in order to rapidly achieve GAAP profitability and reduce the pressure on the organization to grow its loan portfolio
  • Seek the sale of the Company to a stable partner where OnDeck can thrive without the risks of destabilizing confidence in the business from shareholders and the capital markets.

In addition to the concerns expressed in the letter, Marathon Partners is also disappointed with OnDeck’s corporate governance and executive compensation practices, as exemplified by ISS’s Governance QuickScore of ’10’ – indicating the highest level of concern – at the 2016 Annual Meeting.  OnDeck’s current practices, including plurality voting for director elections, a classified board structure, no special meeting rights for shareholders, and combined CEO and Chairman roles, among others, serve to disenfranchise their shareholders’ rights. Marathon Partners also has concerns around the metrics believed to denote success for the Company, such as adjusted EBITDA that ignores stock-based compensation and is blind to increased balance sheet risk.

Given Marathon Partners’ lack of confidence in the Board’s ability to represent the shareholders’ best interests, it plans on voting against the entire class of directors up for election at the 2017 Annual Meeting.

Activist Steps Up Pressure on On Deck Capital (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Marathon Partners Equity Management LLC, which owned 1.75% of On Deck’s shares as of the end of 2016 according to FactSet data, also publicly released the text of a letter it sent to the company’s board and lead independent director in March urging them to slash expenses and explore a possible sale of the business.

The three directors up for re-election are Noah Breslow, who also serves as On Deck’s chief executive; Jane Thompson, a former financial-services executive at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT -0.39% ; and Ron Verni, a former CEO of Sage Software Inc.

On Deck’s shares, which fell 3.3% Thursday afternoon, are down more than 35% over the past 12 months following the reporting of wider losses and cooler investor demand for its loans.

The LendingClub Investor Mobile App Has Arrived (LendingClub), Rated: AAA

Today, with more than $24 billion invested through the platform, LendingClub is thrilled to introduce its new iOS mobile application – LendingClub Invest.

Investors said that some of the most important functionality they use on a regular basis is checking their account summaries and investing in Notes. Armed with this insight, the team crafted a visually-attractive user interface that consolidates the investor’s total account value, available cash, returns and holdings on the first page.

SoFi Introduces New Two-Step Verification Feature to Offer Users Next Level of Account Protection (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Online lender SoFi recently announced the launch of its new two-step verification feature that will offer users the next level of account protection. The company revealed that two-factor authentication (or 2FA) would provide an additional layer of security to help protect accounts from unauthorized access.

HNW Millennials Are Hungry For Advice… From Humans (Wealth Management), Rated: AAA

High-net-worth millennials enjoy growing influence in the management of their families’ portfolios, but few are fully satisfied with their investment objectives. They have strong opinions, but are hungry for advice and don’t seem particularly excited about getting it from a computer.

Only 32 percent of millennials rate their values-based investment knowledge highly, with roughly a quarter deeming their knowledge either poor or very poor. That being said, there is a continuing hunger for investment knowledge, with 42 percent claiming they would like to learn more about the area.

The other potential reason for this discontent is that millenials simply have differing philosophies on investment than previous generations.

Ranking All 50 States by Average Credit Score of its Citizens (Statistical Future), Rated: AAA

Scores range from 300 to 850, the data comes from Experian. The national average ends up being 673, this is kind of shocking to me since my banker seemed to stress the necessity of a 720 credit score to get a loan with the best rate. Obviously, not everyone owns their home, but even in the state with the highest average – Minnesota – the average is only 706.5. Even then, the state ranks a full 7 points ahead of the runner up – Wisconsin.

Someone has to bring up the rear and for this metric, that someone is the state of Georgia, with an average credit score of 642.

At first glance, the aspect that pops out the most is that the top four states are all bundled in the upper Midwest while 5 of the 6 lowest are basically neighbors in the south.

High unemployment + low wages = lower than average credit scores.

College Ave Student Loans Secures $ 30 Million During Fourth Equity Round (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Student loan marketplace, College Ave Student Loans, announced on Thursday it secured $30 million during its fourth equity round. Investors of the funding round included new and existing participants, which included Comcast Ventures and Leading Edge Ventures.

First data-driven marketplace for commercial real estate loans speeds process to finance commercial properties (PR Newswire), Rated: A

CrediFi Corp., the leading source of data and analytics for commercial real estate (CRE) finance, has announced the launch of CredifX, its online marketplace for financing commercial properties.

CrediFi has already made the commercial real estate market more transparent, by providing data about more than two million properties and thirteen trillion dollars in loans across the U.S. Now CredifX is taking that transparency revolution one step further. In addition to accessing information about commercial real estate finance through the CrediFi platform, CRE borrowers, brokers and lenders will now have unprecedented access to financing opportunities allowing them to close real estate deals through CredifX, CrediFi’s latest fintech solution.

The launch of CredifX follows just weeks after CrediFi secured $13 million for its Series B funding, helping drive the launch of CredifX.

Chinese Fintech Startup Helps Mainlanders Invest Money in US Funds (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

The last method mentioned above, utilizing the $50,000 limit on transfers, is being utilized by Chinese fintech startup, Niu Jiao Suo, to help Chinese investors to move their money overseas. Niu Jiao Suo operates by connecting Chinese investors with foreign mutual funds. Its mobile app allows users to invest in foreign mutual funds like Blackrock, Vanguard, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs with a minimum investment amount of $400. Users are limited to $50,000 in total investments per year in accordance with China’s annual threshold. A $400 investment may not sound attractive to funds by itself, but Niu Jiao Suo is able to attract such prestigious funds by bundling their users’ smaller investments together into a larger investment package.

Could Fintech Enable a Resurgence in Predatory Lending? (Tech.co), Rated: B

The average household carries $134,643 in combined debt which includes mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, and student loans. A good chunk of household income go into servicing these loans as illustrated in how Americans spend their paychecks. The biggest chunks of people’s monthly spending correspond to housing, transportation, and education. For other expenses, Americans continue to rely on plastic. While not necessarily a bad thing, many fail to pay charges in full and carry a balance on their cards, further exposing them to compounded interest and other fees.

Credit card debt is at its highest since 2008. Americans added $60.4 billion to the outstanding credit card debt as 2016. Worse is that, 69 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. 34 percent of respondents revealed that they don’t have any savings at all. When emergency strikes, many are left with little choice but to get more loans. However, with bad credit scores, borrowers are resort to getting them from predatory lenders.

For cash-strapped consumers, the promise of fast and easy money is always enticing. The payday loan industry alone is a $38.5 billion industry.

Late last year, the Office of the Comptroller for Currency started to accept applications from fintech companies that would subject them to federal banking rules. Chartered companies will face controls to prevent money laundering and have to abide by consumer protection rules. However, some argue that a federal charter would also enable fintech companies to bypass state-specific provisions such as interest rate caps. Such flexibility may be abused by enterprising lenders.

You should always go with numbers. Know how much the loan will totally cost you. Calculate the annual percentage rate (APR). Many predatory loans would have APRs of three digits meaning you could pay triple, quadruple, or even more of the loan amount in a year’s time if you fail to pay. While many of these loans are designed to be short term, it’s really dependent on your capacity to pay.

United Kingdom

Ranger slumps as collapsed lender forces write-down (Citywire), Rated: AAA

Shares in Ranger Direct Lending (RDL) have slumped after the investment trust was forced to write down 4% of its portfolio following the collapse of US peer-to-peer lending platform Argon Credit.

Shares in the trust are trading at 996p, down 6.9% since the write-down was announced yesterday, languishing at a 17.3% discount to net asset value.

The £172 million trust holds a position in Princeton Alternative Income, which gives the trust indirect exposure to $28.3 million of a $37.5 million credit facility Princeton has supplied to Argon, which went bust in December.

Numis analyst Charles Cade said the entire position in Princeton represented 12.1% of net assets in December and as Ranger could not determine the exact impact ‘we would not be surprised to see further writedowns’.

RateSetter channels £120k to Essex foster care SMEs (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

A £120,000 loan arranged by RateSetter boosted child care placements in an Essex-based foster care company by almost a quarter.

The peer-to-peer lending platform helped Brighter Futures Foster Care increase the number of new foster households from 67 to 83, making its foray into a sector where it found “finance is desperately needed”.

The borrower works with local authorities in the South East to find foster families for young people amidst a national shortage of 10,000 foster places, and is looking to raise further finance to bring the number of placements to 110-120.

P2P lending platform Assetz Capital to raise interest rates for limited time (Finextra), Rated: AAA

Assetz Capital, one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing peer-to-peer finance platforms, today announced it was raising the interest rate on its popular 30 Day Access Account (30DAA) by 0.5% to 4.75% for a limited time.

Investors will have until midday on 11 May to take advantage of the new rate and will benefit from a capped return of 4.75% for up to 90 days after an investment is made. After this, the account will return to its original rate of 4.25%.

Investors can automatically invest any amount from £1 in a diverse portfolio of secured business loans that have passed Assetz Capital’s strict credit checks.

A quiet crash in bank lending? March industry news (Funding Circle), Rated: A

Bank of England statistics reveal that since the EU referendum, net lending (that’s total lending minus repayments) to British small businesses by 22 of the largest banks dropped from £1 billion in the second quarter of 2016, down to just £220 million in the last three months of the year. Meanwhile, Funding Circle investors lent £167 million on a net basis in Q4 alone!

It was also great to see Samir Desai, Funding Circle CEO, featured in the The Sunday Times Maserati 100 list, which recognises influential entrepreneurs who are disrupting the business world.

And finally, our US business announced that Community Investment Management, an impact investment firm focused on direct lending, is now lending an additional $100 million to American small businesses.

FCA accused of hampering P2P market (FT Adviser), Rated: A

The Financial Conduct Authority’s decision to define peer-to-peer lending too narrowly has hampered the market, it has been claimed.

According to one compliance expert, the FCA’s decision has meant only 40 per cent of the P2P loans which HM Treasury had intended to be covered by the legislation were actually captured by the regulator’s definition.

Chinese firm Hywin Financial buys UK wealth manager (Fund Strategy), Rated: A

Hywin Financial Holding Group has acquired UK wealth manager Azure Wealth, which will now be known as Hywin Wealth.

Shangjia Monica Lin has been appointed chair of the board following the acquisition.

Banks favour lending to the owner-occupier market (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: A

Lendy believes that regulations such as Basel III have incentivised banks to take risks in the owner-occupier market and cut exposure to property developers.

This comes after the peer-to-peer secured lending platform found that the number of new residential mortgages worth over £1m increased by 24% in the 12 months to 30th September 2016.

Lendy discovered that the number of new £1m plus mortgages written by banks in 2015/16 increased to 4,844, up from 3,896 in 2014/15, while the total value of these mortgages grew by 18% from £7.59bn to £8.95bn in the same period.

When blockchain meets online lending: The business using one to improve the other (City A.M.), Rated: A

Sydney-based platform Othera goes a step further: the blockchain lending platform allows lenders and investors to access digital loans. It then chops up those loans – which are backed by businesses’ cashflows – in a process called tokenisation. These tokens can then be sold on an exchange, turning a traditionally fairly illiquid asset into a highly liquid digital asset.

Why did you launch Othera?

The overarching reason for launching Othera and building a blockchain lending platform is to unlock the alternative investment asset class and help it become mainstream.

You use blockchain to provide ongoing credit analysis of borrowing firms. How does that work and why is that so useful?

The blockchain provides what I call “total asset provenance” which means that every single interaction between the borrower and the lender is logged on it.

How does tokenisation work?

When we talk about tokenisation in the context of our platform, I am talking about the process of linking the rights to loan repayment cashflows (the principal and interest of the loan) to a digital cryptographic token similar to a bitcoin. So if you hold (own) the token, you will receive the pro rata portion of the loan repayment that your token represents. Tokens represent a digital form of fixed-income alternative investment. Tokens can be bought and sold just like an equity or bond or cryptocurrency.

Tell us about the importance of the secondary market.

Creating a vibrant secondary market for alternative investment assets is key to the growth of an industry or product sector for several reasons:

  • First, at a basic level, investors will only ever commit a relatively small portion of their investable funds into an asset class or a market with no liquidity.
  • Second, secondary markets are also a very good barometer of the performance of an asset class or specific investment, as the market quickly builds the strength or weakness of an investment into the current market price of that asset.
  • And third: liquidity.

Carney Says Crisis Lessons Are Why BOE Keeps Up With Fintech (Bloomberg), Rated: B

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the crisis shows why regulators and the banking industry must stay on top of the rapid developments in financial technology so that the system is solid enough to withstand shocks.

European Union

Online Lender 4finance Prices $ 325 Million Over-Subscribed Bond Issue (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Riga-based 4finance Holding S.A., a large online and mobile consumer lending group, has placed and priced $325 million of senior unsecured 5 year fixed rate notes. These notes mature in 2022 and were issued with a 10.75% yield, at par.

The new 5 year issue was described as representing a liquid benchmark offering, with the scale to attract over 50 investors and secures 4finance’s long term funding.

These senior notes have a 5 year maturity with a 2 year non-call period and were offered on a Rule 144A / Reg S basis with ISINs XS1597295838 / XS1597294781 respectively. The bond was priced on April 12th, closing is expected on 28 April 2017.

International

FMS.next Alternative Finance platform enhanced with more FinTech functionality (Bob’s Guide), Rated: B

Profile Software, an international financial solutions provider, today announced the latest upgrade in the FMS.next Alternative Finance platform, to offer enhanced capabilities for “Auto-investing” that further boost the marketplace lending processes.

Australia

LendEx, Australia’s leading peer-to-peer marketplace lending platform for direct commercial property lending, appoints new board members (LendIt Blog), Rated: B

LendEx, Australia’s leading marketplace lender, today announced the appointment of Mr Brian Benger and Ms Kim Jenkins to its board as non-executive directors.

Mr Benger is on a number of the Australian subsidiary boards of Mercer Australia.

Ms Kim Jenkins is CEO of the Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA), the peak body for organisations involved in the disclosure, exchange and application of credit reporting data in Australia.

China

CHINA: THE WORLD’S NEW FINTECH LEADER (International Banker), Rated: AAA

In November 2016, a report jointly produced by professional-services firm Ernst & Young (EY) and leading Singaporean bank DBS stated in no uncertain terms that China has now leapfrogged ahead of global technology hubs such as Silicon Valley and London to become “the undoubted centre of global fintech innovation and adoption”. Multiple fintech hubs have now emerged in China alone, most prominently in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Beijing and Shenzhen, which has led to EY and DBS concluding that the country now clearly leads the way in fintech and is “revolutionising many aspects of financial services”.

China also dominates the fintech “unicorn” space—those startups valued in excess of $1 billion. The country is home to eight of the world’s 27 unicorns.

Firstly, the sector has been well supported by the country’s regulatory framework.

Secondly, China’s population appears to be increasingly open to using online finance, with evidence mounting that they are eager to incorporate the support provided by various fintech services into many different aspects of their lives, including online banking, payments, transfers, crowdfunding, investing and shopping. Indeed, e-commerce in China is estimated to be a RMB 16 trillion market, and is now transforming the consumption habits of a rapidly growing number of Chinese people.

A significant chunk of China’s fintech success in recent years can be credited to Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Collectively referred to as BAT, the three tech giants control an intimidating share of China’s e-commerce landscape, as well as online messaging and Internet search platforms. They also control approximately half of the Chinese third-party payments market; whereas their US equivalents—Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Amazon—control a mere 2 percent, as per recent analysis by Citigroup.

Payments/e-wallets is the dominant sector at present, with China having 380 million people shopping online via their phones, as well as nearly 200 million people using their phones as a wallet for in-store payments.

The popularity of online banking is also exploding, with both China’s tech companies and its existing banks making a foray into this world, often in joint initiatives.

P2P (peer-to-peer) lending also deserves a mention, with China almost exclusively leading Asia’s growth in platforms designed to deliver credit to individuals and SMEs.

China P2P lender Dianrong sees market shakeout driving its growth (Reuters), Rated: AAA

Chinese online lender Dianrong.com expects to grow rapidly in the next few years, benefiting from tightening regulation driving a shake-out in the nation’s $100 billion-plus peer-to-peer (P2P) industry and pent-up demand for credit and investment.

Loan originations at the P2P lender, which is backed by investors including U.S. investment firm Tiger Global and Standard Chartered’s private equity unit, more than doubled to 16.2 billion yuan ($2.3 billion) in 2016 from the previous year.

Dianrong.com matches investors with individuals and small and medium-sized businesses in real-time, with loan sizes ranging from 500 yuan to 200,000 yuan for individuals and a maximum of one million yuan for small and medium enterprises.

Nearly half of the 4,000-odd online lending platforms in China were “problematic”, China’s banking regulator said in August when it unveiled the rules.

The P2P lender, founded in 2012 by Guo, a former lawyer, and Soul Htite, a co-founder of LendingClub Corp, is looking to grow loan origination by 50 percent annually over the next three to five years. It expects to broker about 30 billion yuan in loans this year.

India

Droom launches loan marketplace for used automobiles (VC Circle), Rated: AAA

Droom, an online platform for buying and selling used vehicles, has launched Droom Credit, a loan marketplace for pre-owned automobiles it claims is the country’s first.

For the initial rollout, it is going live with a dozen lenders, including HDFC Bank, Kotak Prime, Tata Capital, Faircent, i2i Lending and Capital First, a company statement said.

The platform, which guarantees loan approval within 30 seconds, uses the government-backed Aadhaar stack, apart from PAN verification, credit score validation and several other variables for credit evaluation.

There are three ways we are going to earn money, he said.

“First, the take rate, which will depend on who the lender is (different take rates and commission structures for different lenders). It will also depend on the category and profile of the borrower, and on the fulfilment and disbursal of the loan.”

Second, Droom will charge Rs 999 from borrowers.

Third, it will also charge the lender Rs 999 upon successful loan disbursal.

Droom Credit will initially restrict lending to borrowers purchasing vehicles from Droom. Going forward, however, it plans to open it to other platforms too.

Asia

Crowd Genie Receives Regulatory Approval from MAS (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Crowd Genie, a small business lending platform, has received regulatory approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Crowd Genie was granted a Capital Markets Services (CMS) license from MAS, an important development for the peer to peer lending platform. Crowd Genie has been in operation since mid-2016.

First Circle Secures Funding from Global Investors to Expand Access to Credit in Southeast Asia (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

First Circle today confirmed investments from Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of financial inclusion leader Accion, and Deep Blue VC. First Circle has now reported equity funding of $2.5m USD – from Accion Venture Lab, Deep Blue VC, 500 Startups, IMJ, and Key Capital – along with an undisclosed sum of debt funding.

The investment funds will be used to further develop First Circle’s technology and data analytics platform.

Africa

South Africa’s FSB to rule on crowdfunding by June 30 (Ventureburn), Rated: AAA

South Africa’s Financial Services Board (FSB) has set a date of 30 June by which it plans to rule on whether to craft specific rules or not for equity crowdfunding, an FSB spokesman said this week.

The African Crowdfunding Association has been calling for the FSB to craft a specific regulatory framework on crowdfunding.

“It’s not that it (equity crowdfunding) is illegal – it’s just that there’s no clarity,” he said.

Thundafund chief executive Patrick Schofield said he was not waiting for any regulatory certainty from the FSB and was going ahead with setting up a platform to facilitate equity crowdfunding in South Africa.

His idea is to use venture capital funds to vet deals and provide a certain percentage of the total equity injection, before placing these on the platform to attract investors.

Meanwhile a new lending threshold which came into effect in November under the National Credit Regulations is also likely to limit the ability of peer-to-peer lending platforms to fund startups.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor