Internet 1.0 is HTML websites. Internet 2.0 is a social network and user-created content. How is Internet 3.0 coming along? What is Internet 3.0? Are you familiar with Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent? Today, Bittorent has met Bitcoin and given birth to the following startups, networks, or organizations: Decentralized computing power. Golem, among others, is a […]
Internet 1.0 is HTML websites. Internet 2.0 is a social network and user-created content.
How is Internet 3.0 coming along?
What is Internet 3.0?
Are you familiar with Napster, Kazaa, and BitTorrent? Today, Bittorent has met Bitcoin and given birth to the following startups, networks, or organizations:
Decentralized computing power. Golem, among others, is a peer-to-peer market for putting your computer’s excess CPU power to use for other people. It works because there is no easy way to pay anybody on the planet fractions of a dollar for having used their CPU for 1 minute. This is, however, possible via blockchain.
Decentralized exchanges. Ether Delta, among others, is a cryptocurrency exchange which operates in a decentralized way (i.e., without a central counterparty). Decentralized exchanges allow peer-to-peer trading, which means that when a trade is executed the items are exchanged directly between the traders without touching any third party, and without the traders being able to stop the exchange. This approach eliminates counter-party risk entirely. On the other side, it also allows people to trade completely anonymously.
Decentralized protocol approval. Tezos, among others, is an open-source platform for assets and applications and allows the participants to vote to change its rules and protocols. Participants can choose to change the fee structure, rules, the protocol APIs, nearly everything. This protocol change-mechanism is built within the network rules, and nobody has the right of veto or override. Imagine if eBay merchants could vote to reduce the eBay fees without the eBay management being able to stop it. Of course, this opens the doors to politics, and also to oligarchies as having more Tezos coins obviously gives you more power to influence the votes.
Other similar companies include but are not limited to:
Decentralized file storage (Filecoin)
Decentralized domain naming (Namecoin)
Decentralized cloud storage (Storj)
Decentralized databases (BigchainDB, IPFS)
Decentralized internet address allocation (JACS)
Decentralized Video Encoding and Streaming (Livepeer).
Decentralize financial services (Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc.) and more.
Other online platforms like Facebook or Google don’t share any of the ad revenue earned from the personal-data exchanged through the platform. They keep 100%.
In addition, all centralized marketplaces and platforms exert full control over who can advertise, who and what can be sold, to whom, where, etc.
Their full control, when the company is young or fragile, is not being exercised much. They want to attract users and customers. However, as the company grows, and pressure from investors and the financial markets increases, the platform position of the de facto monopoly in their sector is usually leveraged to increase fees and to control who and what can be transacted on the platform. For example, Google has a history of banning certain ad categories on its platform. Most people agree that the bans, so far, have been legitimate and are targeting harmful or mostly fraudulent industries from selling their products and services. However, Google’s power of life-or-death over entire industries is troublesome.
In comparison, decentralized networks and organizations have so far mostly tried a few different business models.
Financing and crypto coins
Traditional , centralized, startups sell their equity to investors. Equity is scarce by definition, to 100%. And once sold, investors typically have a contractual right preventing startups from creating more shares and diluting them without their approval.
Equity is a problem in a decentralized project. Equity to what? What does an equity holder control?
Most decentralized organizations mentioned above have created their own crypto coins in order to finance their creation. Their usual business model is to make the coin, artificially or legitimately, a required part of each transaction on their network. As the number of transactions grows and the coin inventory is limited, the coins become more valuable. And the network itself uses its own inventory of coins to finance its expenses. In addition, some decentralized networks also take a percentage of the value exchanged on their platforms.
However, the token approach has, so far, failed to work for most networks.
The most successful tokens today have thousands of active daily addresses.
This is not surprising. All these decentralized organizations are new startups. It takes time for startups to build traction. A handful of them will have millions of users after 3-5 years. Most startups may still be viable businesses even though they only have hundreds of daily active users, but their tokens will not have any real value due to over-inventory. Therefore, maybe relying on token activity and scarcity to finance all decentralized projects may not be a viable way to finance these projects.
I believe an alternative token model is needed for most of these projects. A model that will have significant return to investors even if the network only achieves modest success of 100s of transactions per day. However, this may require an increase in network fees.
The X Open questions of decentralized entities
As I think of decentralization, many questions are on my mind:
What are these entities? Are they businesses, networks, organizations, protocols, or something else? The concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organization, or DAO, has been used in the past. But to my knowledge, no actively operating entity using a real DAO model is live and generating revenue today. All entities have executives, employees, bank accounts, offices, etc. Or is it? The Bitcoin network itself, with all the developers in various organizations who are trying to contribute to it, is fairly decentralized.
Governance: Leaders in centralized entities are required. Often, leaders aren’t any good at taking decisions, but making some decision is often better than not being able to make any decision. Many an organization has died because nothing at all was done. Are decentralized organizations able to make decisions fast and efficiently over 5 to 10 years while they grow?
Are decentralized networks cheaper to run, and do they have a disruptor advantage over centralized networks? It is not clear. Lending Club, one of the first P2P lending startups, argued that their cost structure was cheaper than banks’. However, it turns out the cost of capital lending and cost of customer acquisition were under-estimated and banks have cheaper capital and cheaper customer acquisition. Lending Club’s profit margins are not impressive. Neither is Uber’s. Nor are Amazon’s. I believe there is no single answer to this question, but assuming that a decentralized entity is more cost effective than a centralized entity is not obvious. In human history, disciplined centralized organizations (armies, empires, …) have clearly been more successful than federations, communes, etc.
Is there value built, and where is it? The startup/VC model has worked since the Dot Com boom because it was a profitable model for everybody involved. VCs made money, and successful entrepreneurs attracted more smart wannabe entrepreneurs. It is very important to see the founders and investors in these decentralized organizations be successful or there will be no second generation decentralized entities.
What is the innovation here?
I believe that an exchange that can work without counterparty risk is a real innovation.
I believe that a method to pay fractions of a dollars efficiently to anybody on the planet is a real innovation.
I believe one day we will see the Netflix of Internet 3.0 bankrupt the Blockbuster of Internet 0, 1.0, or 2.0.
However, questions remain. Is decentralization in business similar to communism in politics? Does this model really work? In 1990, in Moscow, everything was rationed, bread was extremely scarce. When a communist leader asked the London mayor who is in charge of the bread supply to London so they can learn their secrets, the mayor, confused, answered “Nobody!” Our modern food supply is a decentralized market, and fewer and fewer people are going hungry.
News Comments Today’s main news: 3 top execs exit SoFi. Zopa proclaims end of monogamous banking. LendInvest earnings hit the roof. Financial Conduct Authority sets new rules for UK P2P lending. Quarter of global small firms are significant fintech users. Biz2Credit raises $52M. Today’s main analysis: Alternative lenders steal business from banks. P2P lending will be […]
Three top executives of Social Finance Inc. are leaving the financial-tech startup in the coming weeks, adding to the challenges the company faces as it moves through a tough environment for online lenders.
Marketing chief Joanne Bradford, head of risk Kevin Moss and Ashish Jain, the lender’s top capital markets executive, recently told Chief Executive Anthony Noto about their plans to step down from their roles. All three had been at the company prior to Mr. Noto taking the reins in early 2018.
Banks and lenders are reaping the benefits of their technology investments now. Banks like Citi have been able to offer new products and grow their deposit base, while Capital One has improved its efficiency ratio by 400 bps. Banks and lenders continue to make large technology investments for faster growth at lower cost.
What is less well known is the rapid growth of PayPal as a digital lending alternative. It may be time for banks and credit unions to wake up, however, as the company announced that they had crossed $10 billion in small business lending in only 5 years.
Amazon Joins PayPal as Top 5 Small Business Digital Lender
Amazon has joined PayPal, OnDeck, Kabbage, and Square as a top 5 digital small business lender. In fact, Amazon revealed that it had made more than $1 billion in small business loans to US-based merchants in 2018.
The peer-to-peer business lender, Funding Circle, also revealed its first-quarter trading update, showing that loans under management rose by 44% compared to the first quarter of 2018, while originations grew by 23% (they have originated $9.5 billion in loans).
On May 7, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or the “Bureau”) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM” or “Notice”) to increase regulation of the debt collection industry.1 The much-anticipated Notice is the outgrowth of the CFPB’s 2016 Outline of Proposals (the “Outline” or the “2016 Outline”), which was a cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s efforts to protect consumers and overhaul all aspects of consumer finance (see our August 10, 2016 client alert on the Outline here). One presidential election and two CFPB Directors later, CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger announced a more limited plan to put in place substantial protections, but which rejects some of the 2016 Outline’s more ambitious proposals. The NPRM would overhaul the industry by, for example, requiring that debt collectors make no more than seven attempts by telephone per week to reach consumers about specific debts, and allow debtors to opt out of allowing collectors to contact them via e-mail, text messages, or other media. However, the proposal fails to address many of the Outline’s calls for increased regulation of substantiation of debt, decedent debt, and transfer of information to subsequent collectors (among other things).
Biz2Credit, the online lending platform that helps banks and other financial institutions manage small and medium-sized business (SMB) lending processes, announced Tuesday (June 4) that it raised $52 million in venture funding.
Biz2Credit said the Series B funding round was led by WestBridge Capital.
Lighter Capital announced today that it has launched new financing products to better match the capital needs of growing startups. To date, Lighter Capital has provided over $150 million in more than 500 rounds of financing to over 300 startups. The company has historically provided Revenue-Based Financing and has now broadened its portfolio to include lines of credit and term loans, designed to provide startups capital over time as they need it. Unlike most venture debt, startups do not need to have raised Venture Capital to qualify for funding.
1. Lighter Line of Credit – Startups have fluctuations in capital needs, to make essential payments like payroll or wait for a big customer payment. The Lighter Line of Credit is a revolving working capital line. It enables startups to draw and return capital numerous times, to even out their cash needs.
2. Lighter Term Loan – Provides startups growth capital in a traditional structure with predictable payments. Lighter Capital will also make forward commitments, giving startups the right to get additional capital for a period of time. For example, a startup could get a $500,000 loan today and a commitment from Lighter Capital to provide an additional $500,000 over the following six months.
LendPro Unveils Dynamic Routing Capability to Streamline POS Financing (LendPro Email), Rated: A
LendPro LLC, a provider of Lending-As-A-Service (LaaS) products and platforms for retailers, today unveiled Dynamic Routing —an innovative POS financing solution that automatically matches consumer credit applications with the best-available lending option.
While alternative lending software moves credit applications through a pre-defined, inflexible process, Dynamic Routing by LendPro dynamically guides borrower application data to lenders in the merchant’s financing portfolio based on the attributes of the sale. For example, if the total price for a specific purchase is too large (or small) for a lender’s target loan size, LendPro’s Dynamic Routing system can route the applicant to a different lender. This technological innovation saves time, increases simplicity, and may help the borrower avoid an unwanted credit application.
Using a crowdfunding platform, however, 5,000 individuals might each invest $1,000 into the company. Each of those individual investors is exposed to a very small amount of risk, and the company is able to raise the funds without surrendering ownership.
It’s one reason that venture capitalist Rebecca Lynn, a managing partner with Canvas Ventures and an early investor in the online lending company LendingClub, has largely steered clear of the numerous startups crowding into the industry in recent years. It’s also why she just led a $10.5 million investment in Possible Finance, a two-year-old, Seattle-based outfit that’s doing what she “thought was impossible,” she says. The startup is “helping people on the lower end of the credit spectrum improve their financial outlook without being predatory.”
Even though housing discrimination has been outlawed for 50 years, studies show that the U.S. black homeownership rate isn’t any higher than when the Fair Housing Act initially passed in 1968. In fact, the racial gap between white and black homeowners today is significant. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the homeownership rate among white Americans is 73.2%, while the black homeownership rate stands at 41.1%. In comparison, 42% of black households owned their homes back in 1970, two years after housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, and national origin was outlawed.
According to the report, the U.S. cities that have the highest percentage of black homeowners are San Jose, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and Portland. On the other hand, the cities where black homeownership is lowest relative to overall population are Memphis, New Orleans, Baltimore, Virginia Beach, and Milwaukee, where the median household income for black residents is a mere $28,928.
Real estate crowdfunding platform RealCrowd reports that High Net Worth (HNW) investors are looking to increase their portfolio of real estate investments during 2019. According to a survey by the Fintech platform, 53% of surveyed HNW individuals expect to make “two-to-four direct real estate investments in 2019.” Specific details on the survey process were not revealed.
This is a big improvement over year prior when just 33% planned to do the same thus an increase of around 20%.
The survey also stated that 47% of respondents’ desire to allocate more than 25 percent of their investment portfolio to commercial real estate.
WealthStone LLC announces the launch of its new website, WealthStoneLLC.com, where technology brings increased access to institutional-quality commercial real estate investments to a wider audience, while delivering the best customer experience possible for its growing global investor base.
Peer-to-peer lending is a relative newcomer to the world of investments.Lending Club and Prosper were the first institutions to offer P2P loans beginning in mid-2000, and they’ve changed the way countless loans are handled. Instead of going to the bank, borrowers apply for loans from other people. People who have been denied loans from financial institutions are often approved for P2P loans at rates that are lower than those of larger financial institutions.
Sagent Lending Technologies announced today a strategic initiative to transform the borrower and the lender experience through Microsoft Azure. Sagent will leverage the potential of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, and cognitive services available on Azure that will provide a reimagined experience for Sagent clients and their consumer borrowers.
The U.S. economy is on solid footing except for one potential trouble spot, according to Bank of America Corp.’sChief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan: leveraged loans — a business the bank has dominated for a decade.
Bank of America was bookrunner on some $317 billion of leveraged loans this year, accounting for 10.8 percent of the market share, the Bloomberg data show, which captures all leveraged term loans and revolver facilities that are either new or have been amended.
Moody’s Investors Service said covenant quality for 2018’s last quarter was close to a record low, and the rating company sees no signs of improvement this year. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last month that the market looks a lot like the mortgage industry in the run-up to the subprime crisis.
One of the challenges for the challenger banks like Monzo, Starling and Revolut is to go beyond the young demographic they’ve been successful at attracting to their products; not surprisingly, less than 5% of Monzo’s customers over 60; as more bank branch close they are looking to bring in older customers who are no longer being served by traditional banks; Monzo and Starling have both added the ability to make cash deposits; Starling recently partnered with the post office and Monzo partnered with a payments service which is in 30,000 shops in the UK; these digital banks and their competitors are experimenting in how they can have more physical points of contact with customers; Revolut recently shared a plain English customer contract in a move to help their customers better understand the product.
BlueVine, which provides small- and medium-sized businesses with access to fast and simple online financing, announced today that it has named Silicon Valley technology and engineering veteran, Herman Man, its Chief Product Officer. In this role, Man will focus on developing the next generation of BlueVine products and oversee the company’s product vision, strategy, design and execution to deliver on its mission to provide fast, fair and easy financing solutions every small business needs to thrive.
White Oak Global Advisors, LLC (White Oak) is pleased to announce that Thomas (Tom) M. Affolter has joined White Oak as a Managing Director based in Chicago. Mr. Affolter will focus on originating new investment opportunities and expanding the coverage network for White Oak’s private debt funds.
ZOPA has declared that “monogamous banking is a thing of the past”, as new research reveals that the average UK adult has a relationship with seven different financial providers.
The peer-to-peer consumer lender, which is launching a digital bank, said that the fintech revolution has changed the shape of financial services for consumers.
It cited a survey that found 71 per cent of UK adults said they do not need a relationship with their main bank, while two thirds are actively using products from banks and financial providers other than their main current account provider.
The long awaited changes to P2P lending regulations in the UK are finally here. Today, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced that the new rules for peer to peer lending platforms have been set and will come into effect on December 9, 2019.
Introducing more explicit requirements to clarify what governance arrangements, systems and controls platforms need to have in place to support the outcomes they advertise. These new rules focus particularly on credit risk assessment, risk management and fair valuation practices, especially for platforms with more complex business models.
Strengthening rules on plans for the wind-down of P2P platforms.
Applying marketing restrictions to P2P platforms, designed to protect new or less experienced investors. We have also clarified the practical implication of these new rules as they apply to P2P agreements.
Introducing a requirement that an appropriateness assessment (to assess an investor’s knowledge and experience of P2P investments) be undertaken, where no advice has been given to the investor. We have also provided guidance on what the assessment should include.
Setting out the minimum information that P2P platforms need to provide to investors
Peer-to-peer lender Assetz Capital said it has hit a double milestone, providing over £100m in bridging loans and a further £50m in small business funding, “as the appetite for alternative forms of finance continues to rise across the UK”.
The Manchester-based fintech adds that since it was founded six years ago it has lent over £780m to small firms and property developers, helping build 3,700 homes in Britain.
While investments of varying risk are available, some platforms have tempted consumers with returns of more than 12pc on high-risk projects. But the collapse of one large platform, Lendy, which offered loans on property developments, has concerned investors across the sector.
Payday loan alternative Wagestream has issued a release stating the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has received 47,220 complaints against payday lenders since 2018. Yet while many complaints have been received only a fraction have been resolved. Wagestream states that only one out of three are resolved or just under 17,000.
Arbuthnot Specialist Finance (ASFL) is pleased to announce it has concluded its first loan completion since announcing its launch in late May. The deal is a 70% LTV residential product loan on a property located less than half a mile from the University of Central Lancashire campus in Preston.
China is in debt, significantly. Part of the problem is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to assign a figure to the debt. There are Chinese statistics for official debt, but following the 2008 economic crisis, China implemented new restrictions on lending. Over the past decade, those restrictions have shifted from one type of loan to another so Chinese citizens get creative with how they borrow money for business purposes or to purchase property.
Furthermore, the economic crisis took “shadow lending” to new heights. Shadow lending can include everything from organized crime to banks obfuscating the purpose of a loan or peer-to-peer lending. China cracked down on this lending practice too, but the debt amount is significant and official numbers do not typically include shadow lending.
According to Curve’s Shachar Bialick, the founder and CEO, an app that lets customers to link all their credit and debit cards to just one card, says there are more than 10,000 fintech startups around the world, and even he can’t keep track of them all. Some, or even most, aren’t going to make it.
Quartz: It’s been about four months since Amex blocked Curve. What are your plans now?
Bialick: Amex was never a critical part of Curve. It was always an opportunity to solve a big problem Amex has in the UK and Europe, which is access.
Curve has continued to grow in Europe without Amex.
Have we reached the peak in terms of new fintech startups?
I don’t know if we reached the peak, but we definitely are very close, because today there are over 10,000 fintechs globally. I don’t know over 90% of them.
By eliminating the need for banks, peer to peer lending allows investors to invest in individual and company debt with 5-10% returns – a far cry from the the lowly 1.5% that you’ll received in a regular CD account.
And it works better for borrowers too. Borrowers are able to take out loans with greater ease and lower interest rates, typically offered in the region of 3-4%.
The average default rate at Lending Works is only 3.2% over the last six years. And many P2P lenders allow you to choose secured loans for additional protection.
Transparency Market Research estimates the industry be worth $900 billion by the end of 2024, with an annual growth rate of 48%, up from $26 billion in 2015.
Fintechs are becoming the ‘new normal’ in financial services, said a survey by professional services firm EY.
Fintech adoption is by far the highest in China, where 61 per cent of small businesses use their services, followed by the US, 23 per cent, the UK, 18 per cent, South Africa, 16 per cent, Mexico, 11 per cent, with the average set at 25 per cent.
Trendy U.S. online payments company Stripe, worth some $22.5 billion according to private-market valuations, is joining Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. in warning about the impact of EU rules aimed at getting customers to double-check payments going out from their accounts.
Adyen trades at a gob-smacking 110 times this year’s earnings, with a market value of 20.8 billion euros. That’s almost twice the worth of Deutsche Bank AG, even though the Dutch fintech only employs the equivalent of 1% of the German lender’s staff. Stripe is the sixth most expensive private company in the world, according to researchers at CBInsights.