Monday May 21 2018 Daily News Digest

ICO red flags

News Comments Today’s main news: Prospa launches $146M IPO. Experian, HSBC UK partner on credit application solution. RateSetter Australia extends green deal. Student Loan Genius raises $3.5M. Australia court rules against Harmoney. Faircent gets certified for NBFC-P2P. Today’s main analysis: WSJ investigates ICO fraud. Today’s thought-provoking articles: One student explains her student loan turmoil. China’s foreign investment restrictions for P2P lending […]

ICO red flags

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

International

Australia

India

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News Summary

United States

 

Wealthfront’s experiment in risk parity has a rocky start (Financial Times) Rated: AAA

Our case here involves Wealthfront, an automated investing service founded by all-star venture capitalist Andy Rachleff. Boasting over $10.5bn under management, the platform offers a wide-range of thoughtful strategies to the casual investor, including indexes optimised to harvest tax-losses and a smart-beta product, overseen by Random Walk proselytiser Burton Malkiel.

Back to Wealthfront’s risk parity offering. In an attempt to lure investors, it backtested its new strategy versus its competitors at AQR and Bridgewater. Here are the results:

Source: Financial Times

I’ve Paid $ 18,000 To A $ 24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $ 24,000 (Bustle) Rated: AAA

The loan, ironically called a “Smart Option” loan, has a variable interest rate that fluctuates based on changes in the financial market — which may have been explained to me at the time (I truly don’t remember), but I know I didn’t fully grasp what that meant.

Source: Bustle

Now, eight years later, that loan — one of nine that left me $95,000 in debt upon graduation (because, yes, interest does accrue while you’re in school) — very clearly marks the exact moment when I lost control of my own financial destiny.

According to a February 2018 study published by the Levy Economic Institute, a nonpartisan policy think tank at Bard College, there are 44.2 million Americans with student loans, which adds up to about $1.4 trillion in debt. There already exists a myriad of research-driven articles that wax on the impact of the student loan crisis on the future of this country (screwed), our economy (broken), and the weight of the loan crisis (crippling)

Student Loan Genius Raises $ 3.5M in Seed Series Prime Financing (Finsmes) Rated: AAA

Student Loan Genius (SLG), an Austin, Texas-based employee benefits platform, raised $3.5m in Seed Series Prime financing.

The round was led by Vestigo Ventures, with participation from CMFG Ventures, Prudential Financial and Rubicon Venture Capital.

The company intends to use the funds to support commercialization of its offering as well as to grow its technology, sales and marketing teams.

Cloudvirga Raises $ 50M in Series C Funding (Finsmes) Rated: A

Cloudvirga, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of digital mortgage point-of-sale (POS) software provider, closed a $50m Series C funding round.

The round was led by Riverwood Capital with participation from Upfront Ventures. In conjunction with the funding, Riverwood executives Scott Ransenberg and Jay Schneider will join Cloudvirga’s board of directors.

Under-the-radar Wilmington fintech companies burst onto consumer credit scene (Delaware Online) Rated: A

One is Fair Square Financial, which last week snagged a $100 million investment from Vikram Pandit, the former CEO of Citigroup.

It’s an infusion of cash that the online credit card company says will allow it to expand beyond its downtown co-working space this year while doubling its workforce to 100 employees during the next two years.

The expansion decision is the result of surprisingly strong customer demand for its online-serviced, low-fee Ollo cards, Fair Square CEO Rob Habgood said. The credit cards carry a variable interest rate that currently sits at a lofty 24.99 percent.

Fintech is disrupting big banks, but here’s what it still needs to learn from them (The Next Web) Rated: A

Much of the hype around fintech focuses on what traditional banks do wrong: they’re slow to adopt new technology; they don’t center the customer; they’re too big to respond nimbly to change. This narrative is part of why fintech continues to attract massive investment, with $31 billion total flowing into the sector last year, according to KPMG.

The truth is that there’s actually a lot that banks do right — things that fintech startups can struggle to replicate. I mean, there’s a reason why they’ve been successful.

Here are the three areas where I feel fintech’s needs and banks’ expertise overlap.

Will Consumers Take On Too Much Debt In 2018? (PYMNTS) Rated: A

The rate of new delinquencies on credit cards stood at 6.42 percent in Q1, up from 5.9 percent for the same period last year. According to Moody’s, the delinquency trend for the next year is for an “increase.” The Q1 credit card delinquency rate trails the 7.3 percent rate for auto loans but is higher than the 3.4 percent rate for residential mortgages.

Meanwhile, the rate of total new household debt delinquencies was about 4.5 percent in Q1 of 2018, “down slightly from a year ago,” Moody’s said. “Over the next year, we believe delinquencies will rise a bit as lenders modestly loosen underwriting standards.”

Direct Lending Partners Hires Industry Leader as Director of Originations and Capital Markets (PR.com) Rated: B

Dream Live Prosper (DLP), an award-winning family company led by Don Wenner (Founder and CEO), is excited to announce the appointment of Greg E Schecher as Director of Originations and Capital Markets.

Based out of the company’s Southeast headquarters in St. Augustine, Florida, Greg will lead the firm’s CRE bridge loan lending and marketplace lending platform.

United Kingdom

Equifax powers HSBC UK’s first live credit application solution (Fintech Futures) Rated: AAA

HSBC UK has created the “first live” use case of open banking for credit applications using the InterConnect cloud platform from Equifax.

According to Equifax, the solution will help quick affordability assessments by allowing individuals to submit their bank transaction information electronically, in less than five minutes, during an application for credit.

Each submission is presented directly to HSBC UK’s underwriting team in real-time, providing the bank with view of a customer’s affordability and offering faster lending decisions.

Peer-to-peer lending: beware the risks (The Times) Rated: A

About 150,000 Britons have lent nearly £10bn in this way over the past decade, earning around 4.5% interest on average. By contrast, the average interest rate on an easy access savings account is just 0.51%.

The bigger platforms, such as Zopa, Funding Circle and RateSetter, are therefore attractive alternatives for would-be savers.

The market was boosted by the launch in 2016 of innovative finance Isas, which allow people to invest £20,000 a year tax-free in P2P platforms and equity-based crowdfunding, where they buy stakes in companies.

The Disruptive Rise of FinTech (Technative) Rated: A

The fintech industry is one of the fastest growing areas of the British economy and is generating more than £20 billion annually. The sector continues to grow, it currently employs over 60,000 people and has produced more billion pound-valued start-ups than any other British economic sector.

 

P2P lender urges social media firms to allow crypto ads (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: A

A BAN on cryptocurrency adverts will do more harm than good, a crypto-backed peer-to-peer lender has warned.

Lendingblock, which lets individuals lend in a range of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, said rather than Google, Facebook and Twitter pursuing a current ban on cryptocurrency adverts to help clamp down on scams, they should help promote education and awareness.

Lendingblock warned a complete blackout on information may be “the easiest option” but warned that cryptocurrencies aren’t going anywhere so it would be better to partner with the industry and ensure consumers understand the market.

More funding for smes (Manufacturing and Engineering Magazine) Rated: A

The Manufacturer has partnered up with the alternative finance specialist ThinCats to make £100 million of funding available to UK manufacturers, as more and more investors are becoming increasingly keen to help fund SMEs.

The main issue for some SMEs is that they do not have the largest amounts of assets against which the banks are more willing to lend. As a result, many of them can’t invest in their growth, or delay investment until they reach the point they can fund it themselves. The wider knock-on effect of this problem is that the UK’s productivity and growth is being held back.

Crypto world gets most complete and secured crypto exchange with Bitmillex (The Cryptocurrency Analytics) Rated: A

What separates Bitmillex from other crypto exchanges is that the platform was developed out of the long-standing demand of a credible cryptocurrency exchange which will prioritize fund security and also will be able to extend a much wider range of investing and trading options than what is offered by current regular exchanges.  

Speaking further, Mr. Briton highlighted the other state of the art features of Bitmillex which keeps it ahead of other crypto exchanges-

  • Most advanced security and hosting protection through cloud hosted servers that are connected to custom hardware security modules and multiple protective layers to withstand any attack and hack attempts. In addition, 98% of all balances are to be stored in secure offline cold storage.
  • Multiple social trade offerings through Auto-Trade, Peer-to-Peer BTC market and Peer to Peer Lending & Borrowing opportunity. (use the term copy trading)
  • Bitmillex has introduced MTG trading software to ensure a ground-breaking multi-terminal and multi-platform trading experience  (MT4)
  • Traders have the flexibility to hold funds in fiat and trade major forex pairs when the crypto market is bearish
  • Bitmillex is offering its revolutionary Debit Card to users that will be linked to their wallets and will provide them immediate access to their balance at ATMs or POS in fiat currency worldwide

Fintech envoy for Northern Ireland appointed (Open Access Government) Rated: B

Georgina O’Leary, Director of Innovation, Research and Development at Allstate has been appointed as the government’s new fintech envoy for Northern Ireland.

China

Foreign investment restrictions in P2P lending intermediaries (China Business Law Review) Rated: AAA

Current regulations and policies on peer-to-peer lending do not directly restrict or prohibit foreign investment in P2P lending intermediaries.

Relying on a network, a P2P lending intermediary will generally charge a certain consulting fee, service fee, etc., once a lender and borrower that have been brought together establish a lending relationship.

Local financial service office recordal/registration. Article 5 of the measures specifies that, within 10 working days after collecting its business licence, a P2P lending intermediary, or one of its branches, that proposes to launch P2P lending information intermediary services is required to carry out, on the strength of relevant materials, recordal/registration with the local financial regulator of the place where it has its business registration. Once it has completed recordal/registration with the local regulator, the P2P lending intermediary is required to apply for the appropriate telecoms service operating permit in accordance with relevant regulations of the competent telecoms authority before it can launch its services.

European Union

Following the Paypal acquisition: iZettle’s founders are the latest Swedish tech billionaires (Business Insider) Rated: AAA

Mojang founder Markus “Notch” Persson, Skype’s Niklas Zennström and Spotify’s founding duo Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon are Sweden’s richest people in tech today – all worth $1 billion or more.

Following Paypal’s announcement that it would buy the Swedish payments company iZettle for $2,2 billion (19 billion SEK), Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson – founders of iZettle – have joined the few dozen Swedish entrepreneurs worth 1 billion krona or more.

International

Hundreds of Bitcoin Wannabes Show Hallmarks of Fraud (Wall Street Journal) Rated: AAA

In a review of documents produced for 1,450 digital coin offerings, The Wall Street Journal has found 271 with red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Data Centers Take Center Stage in Real-Estate Investing (Barron’s) Rated: AAA

“An autonomous car will need 40 times more bandwidth than the cars we use today,” says East. “The demand for data centers is growing 30% per year in the U.S. and 70% in China, but there are only six public companies in the supplier’s market.” They are: Equinix (EQIX), CoreSite Realty (COR), CyrusOne(CONE), Digital Realty Trust (DLR), QTS Realty Trust (QTS), and Switch (SWCH).

Data centers aren’t easy markets to enter. It’s not hard to purchase a piece of land to build the property, but the facility needs to be outfitted in fiber, equipped with interconnected networks, and wired for massive electric power and top-tier security devices. It takes about $1,000 to build one square foot of data center, said East, compared with the average cost of $300 for conventional real estate.

Capgemini And Efma Launch Innovative FinTech Portal (Payment Week) Rated: A

Capgemini and Efma today announced the launch of FinTechVisor, an innovative platform designed to bring FinTechs and financial institutions together to collaborate. The FinTechVisor portal offers a world-wide networking and collaborative community for FinTechs and financial institutions to become game-changers by co-creating the future of the financial services industry.

Launched today at the CCX Forum in London, the portal, which connects financial institutions and FinTechs, will have a feature that allows bankers and insurers to rate FinTechs and comment on their solutions, as well as a “matchmaker-like” personalized function for financial institutions to find a FinTech partner who complements their needs and interests.

InnerScope Hearing Technologies, Inc. Announces Klarna Bank as a Financing Partner (Globe Newswire) Rated: B

Hearing Technologies InnerScopeInc. (OTCQB:INND) announced today the complete integration of www.Klarna.com for a simple and easy one-click payment solutions for its online customers who shop at www.hearingbenefit.com and www.nohasslehearing.com websites.

InnerScope and Klarna have teamed up to offer a frictionless one-click checkout solution which gives customers a choice of 2 simple no-hassle payment options, Pay Now, or Slice It options.

  • The Pay Now option is for customers who want to pay in full at checkout can do it quickly and securely with a credit/debit card.
  • The Slice it option with its instant financing and a quick and simple credit application process allowing the customers to spread the cost of their purchases over a 6 to 24-month period at 0% annual percent rate (“APR”), depending on transaction value, giving them flexibility and increased purchasing power.
Australia

Online lender Prospa launches $ 146m IPO (News) Rated: AAA

Online lender Prospa has launched a $146 million initial public offering, offering shares at $3.64.

Prospa, which lends to small businesses, says the majority of funds raised in the IPO, which includes institutional, retail and employee offers, will be used to grow its existing business, add new products and expand into New Zealand.

RateSetter Australia extends green deal (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: AAA

RATESETTER Australia has announced an 18-month extension to its green loan marketplace.

The UK peer-to-peer lender’s Australian subsidiary is working with the Australian government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to bring clean energy borrowers and investors together.

In its first year it helped more than 1,000 households and small businesses finance green energy products.

 

High Court backs Commerce Commission over Harmoney (Scoop News) Rated: AAA

The High Court has sided with the Commerce Commission on how to interpret peer-to-peer lender Harmoney’s platform fees, deeming them to be credit fees and falling under the regulator’s purview.

The commission, which oversees the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, claimed Harmoney’s platform fees were an unreasonable credit fee and sought a declaration from the court backing up its interpretation.

Justice Patricia Courtney today backed the commission’s interpretation, saying Harmoney’s documents amounted to a credit contract and that the way the peer-to-peer lender was structured went “beyond mere matchmaking”, providing a nominal creditor to hold loans as a bare trustee for investors and undertaking the full administration of the transactions.

Fintech disruptor will benefit from Banking Royal Commission (Motley Fool) Rated: A

Zip Co Ltd (ASX: Z1P) provides online credit for consumers and businesses at point-of-sale through brands zipMoney and zipPay.

Afterpay Touch Group Ltd (ASX: APT) provides a platform that allows retail merchants to offer consumers to ‘buy now, receive now, pay later’ without having to enter into a traditional loan agreement.

Money3 Corporation Limited (ASX: MNY) started out as a a payday lender, which it plans to exit in the next financial year. The company is predominantly involved in providing secured auto loans, which make up around 80% of its loan book.

Westpac made blind pensioner a guarantor without risk advice, inquiry hears (Reuters) Rated: A

Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp admitted on Monday to signing up a legally blind pensioner as loan guarantor for her daughter’s business without warning her of the risks, then threatened to evict her when the business failed.

The testimony, given to a powerful inquiry into the country’s financial sector, came as Australia’s “big four” lenders all admitted to misconduct in their submissions to a third round of public hearings that focuses on loans to small businesses.

Other transgressions included fraudulent loans and double-charging interest, the inquiry heard, a further hit to the sector’s reputation after previous rounds of hearings uncovered widespread abuses in Australia’s financial planning industry.

FinTech Australia announces new CEO (Fintech Australia) Rated: B

Brad Kitschke has been appointed as CEO of FinTech Australia.

 

India

Faircent Gets RBI Nod For NBFC-P2P Certification (Inc 42) Rated: AAA

Gurugram-based P2P lending startup Faircent has received its non-banking financial companies (NBFC)-Peer-to-Peer (P2P) certification from the RBI (Reserve Bank of India).

The accreditation makes Faircent the first P2P lending platform in the country to receive the certificate of registration as an NBFC-P2P by the national regulator.

FinTech firms assisting banks with customer acquisition (Business Standard News) Rated: A

MoneyTap

People earning more than Rs. 20,000 per month can utilise this app to borrow anywhere between Rs.3,000 to Rs.500,000. Offering flexible payback options, MoneyTap allows borrowers to select their own EMI plans.

CoinTribe

Endeavoring to fill the gaps in SME unsecured loan segment, CoinTribe as a loan marketplace makes it easier for banks to confidently enter the uncharted domains.

Lending on peer-to-peer platforms is fraught with higher risks (Business Standard) Rated: A

Peer-to-peer or P2P lending has emerged as an alternative option for investors who wish to earn higher rates of return than what traditional fixed-income instruments can offer. However, lending on these platforms also entails higher risk, which investors need to be aware of before venturing into this relatively new investment avenue.

6 investments with high return (The Economic Times) Rated: A

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a relatively recent option and is a form of crowd-funding used to raise loans which are paid back with interest by bringing together people who need to borrow, from those who want to invest. For the funds that you invest, the interest rate may be set by the P2P platform or mutual agreement between the borrower and lender.

Risks: Since this is an unsecured loan where there is no face-to-face interaction, a P2P lender, i.e., the investor needs to be aware of the risks involved such as default on the part of the borrowers.

Asia

Finance: RHB plans to win over SMEs with digital agenda (The Edge Markets) Rated: A

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can no longer avoid going digital if they want to stay relevant. And RHB Bank Bhd, which has a new five-year strategy, is looking to help them do just that.

Jeffrey Ng, the bank’s head of group business and transaction banking, says the digital economy is the biggest trend impacting SMEs, and many of them will require assistance to adopt the technology. Ng was previously head of RHB’s SME division.

For RHB, this means onboarding SMEs into its electronic financial supply chain platforms. Suppliers and buyers can perform payments for goods entirely on the bank’s platforms and receive payments instantly. SMEs that want to offer cashless payments can also do so with RHB’s solutions.

How Vietnam’s Fintech Market Could Reach Nearly $ 8 Billion By 2020 (Forbes) Rated: A

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 

George Popescu
Allen Taylor