TIME Magazine Calls These Two Online Lenders ‘Genius’

CommonBond

In early October, TIME Magazine released its inaugural list of the top 50 Genius Companies, and two online lending companies, CommonBond and Oportun were included. The magazine asked its global network of editors and correspondents to nominate companies that are inventing the future. They then evaluated the candidates by such factors as originality, influence, success, […]

CommonBond

In early October, TIME Magazine released its inaugural list of the top 50 Genius Companies, and two online lending companies, CommonBond and Oportun were included. The magazine asked its global network of editors and correspondents to nominate companies that are inventing the future. They then evaluated the candidates by such factors as originality, influence, success, and ambition.

What they were looking for

A video titled How We Chose the 50 Most Genius Companies of 2018 includes snippets of interviews from founders and CEOs whose companies made the list. Viewing these gives us more insight into what the magazine saw as worthy of “genius” thought. Bob Igor, CEO of Walt Disney, talks about having “constant curiosity, constant desire for more knowledge about what is new.” Luis von Ahn, CEO of Duolingo, whose company’s goal is to give “equal access to education to everybody,” reminds us that it’s “OK to fail.” Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe, says that “it’s not that taking risks is essential, it’s that being open-minded to a different way of looking at a problem is essential.” She adds: “Risk…is essential to creating a new path and making change.”

These are all revelations that the 50 companies represented have made, whether they are time-tested and proven companies or promising start-ups.

Notables on the list

The list has a good mix of both types of companies, those which are proven winners and those that are trying to make their mark by helping to better the world. Long proven household names like Apple, Disney, and Lockheed Martin are joined by newer companies that now define so much of our world, like Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and Pinterest, and those who look to shape the future more differently than the past, like SpaceX, Slack, and Lishtot.

And then there are the two online lending standouts–Oportun and CommonBond.

Oportun and CommonBond are moving to make money more easily accessible for sectors of the population that need it. Oportun is working to make loans available to higher risk borrowers than those that have access to more traditional means of lending while CommonBond is looking to transform access to student loans.

Oportun

Oportun is a Menlo Park California company that provides emergency loans for low-income consumers who can’t get a loan from a traditional bank and who don’t want to get into the vicious cycle of high fees and triple-digit interest rates of payday lenders.
Oportun began with a focus on serving the Latino community but has expanded to open borrowing to the estimated 45 million Americans who have little or no credit history. In lieu of credit scores, Oportun relies on other data to assess applicants, such as the length of time that a person has had the same job or address.

Vision

CEO Raul Vazquez says that Oportun is “committed to building a sustainable business that helps people shut out of the financial mainstream.”

Proven Track Record

To this point, the company has proven it can make a profit while providing $5.4 billion worth of loans to people who didn’t meet banks’ criteria. In so doing, the Oportun team has helped some 600,000 customers establish credit scores and open themselves to future borrowing by reporting successful payments to credit bureaus.

A CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution), Oportun issued its first securitization in June 2013, and it announced its twelfth securitization last week, issuing $275 million of three-year asset-backed bonds secured by a pool of its investment loans. Morgan Stanley and Co. LLC served as lead book-running manager, and Goldman Sachs and Co. LLC and Jefferies LLC were joint book-runners.

Availability

As of now, the company has loans available at retail locations in nine states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. Online loans are also available in Idaho, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

Rates of Service

The company’s interest rates average about 35 percent, a reasonable rate for high-risk borrowers.

Good Reviews

The Economist, Consumer Reports, and The Wall Street Journal are among the publications that have reviewed the company favorably. Oportun was even named one of the three finalists in The Wall Street Journal’s 2018 Financial Inclusion Challenge.

The Team

The team heading up the company has many notables, including Vazquez, who is the former CEO of Walmart.com. Chief Credit Officer, Patrick Kirscht, previously served as Senior VP of Risk Management for HSBC Card Services Inc., and Johnathon Coblentz, who serves as CFO and CAO, is the former CFO and Treasurer of MRU Holdings Inc. and was Vice-President of Fortress Investment Group LLC.

CommonBond

With the rising price of college tuition and the more than $1.5 trillion in active student loans in the United States today—more than car loans and credit card debt—the market is ripe for new players in the scholastic financial space. CommonBond has been working to put a new face on student loan refinancing since 2011.

Vision

By staying small and using technology to keep costs down, CommonBond seeks to offer borrowers refinancing rates lower than those of the federal government and private banks. The firm estimates that it saves borrowers on average $24,000 over the life of their loans.

Offerings

CommonBond offers three types of loans (Undergrad, Graduate, and MBA) and repackages and refinances existing loans at lower rates.

The firm offers loan terms of five, 10, and 15 years, with amounts ranging from $5,000 to the cost of tuition. The loan cap for any borrower is $500,000. The company offers the customer a personalized rate before he or she applies. Loan origination fee is two percent, and the company charges no prepayment penalties. CommonBond’s late fees might be especially attractive to college-age students, who might not always get their payments in on time. The late fee is only the lesser of $10 or five percent of the monthly payment.

Source: Studen Loan Hero

Good Press

Being a father of school-age children, CommonBond is a company I could see myself using in five or six years, and I read the reviews of the company as a potential customer. The reviews aren’t all glowing, but they give me an overall feel that this is a firm I could do business with, if I so needed. Fast Company named CommonBond the Most Innovative Company in Education earlier this year, and thecollegeinvestor.com, despite thinking the rates could be more competitive, continuously puts the company on its Best Companies to Finance Your Student Loan list. CommonBond is also one of only three lenders the site recommends for finding the best student loans.

Double Bottom Line

Charitable work and philanthropy being so important in today’s world, it can’t hurt for a company to have a strong double bottom line. This is one area where CommonBond sets itself apart from others in the space. Every time a loan is funded, CommonBond covers the price of a child’s education through its “Social Promise.” The firm’s partnership with Pencils of Promise has provided schools, teachers, and technology to thousands of students in the developing world, and its commitment to social equality also distinguishes it as a true difference maker in the United States. Loans and restructuring are available to anyone with a degree from a not-for-profit American university regardless of citizenship, as long as the customer meets the other criteria.

Conclusion

Those of us in and around the online lending space can be heartened by the addition to these two companies to this list. We can also be heartened by the continued efforts of business founders to make funds available more easily and affordably for Americans just trying to navigate the business aspects of life. Both of these companies should be recommended to those who may benefit from their services.

Author:

Written by Paul Keenan.

Small Dollar Lenders Are More Beneficial Than You Realize

Small Dollar Lenders Are More Beneficial Than You Realize

Sam has a side business repairing fences and one of his bids was just approved to begin work immediately. Now he needs to come up with the money to buy supplies a few weeks before he receives payment from the customer. Because of unpaid medical bills from several years ago, he has a low credit […]

Small Dollar Lenders Are More Beneficial Than You Realize

Sam has a side business repairing fences and one of his bids was just approved to begin work immediately. Now he needs to come up with the money to buy supplies a few weeks before he receives payment from the customer. Because of unpaid medical bills from several years ago, he has a low credit rating, and applications for small business loans have been denied.

Joan is an artist with a promising jewelry line. She’s invited to sell her products at a popular bridal show that will result in big sales and future business opportunities at local boutiques. However, Joan must come up with money upfront to pay for booth space, displays, and material to make the jewelry. Since Joan has high credit card debt, she can’t access traditional financing.

The FDIC says nearly a quarter of U.S. households used alternative financial services in the past 12 months. One major factor is that two out of five Americans experience income swings of more than 30 percent month to month. In fact, 15 percent of U.S. consumers — approximately 37 million adults— do not have a bank account, according to a 2016 Pew Charitable Trust Study.

These statistics underscore the need for alternative financial services to assist unbanked, underbanked, and sub-prime consumers who have credit scores under 600.

It’s clear that consumers need to be fully educated on responsible borrowing, managing finances, and budgeting. There’s a reason why the CFPB established new regulations on certain lenders, including payday loans, auto title loans, deposit advance products, and longer term loans with balloon payments.

In general, regulations seek to provide consumer protection and ensure that lenders are acting in an ethical and professional manner. The concern is regulation that impacts and limits consumers’ access to credit. In an ideal market, regulated lenders provide financial services that meet a market need. As lenders compete for business (providing credit), it becomes the consumer’s responsibility to review the options and make the best choices for themselves.

An open market will foster competition and ensure that the appropriate lenders survive. Competition fosters innovation and drives new choices for consumers without the need for externally imposed limits.

Consumers Need Access to Emergency Cash

A major consideration that can’t be overlooked is that certain customers with poor credit scores many times need access to emergency cash. If their credit scores are too low, they are not able to borrow from banks or may not be able to obtain help from friends and family.

By definition, a subprime consumer (550-620 FICO) is likely to default on a loan 50 percent of the time. That’s a costly business decision for any lender.

If the market steps in and imposes more regulations on alternative financial service providers, the likely result is that loan requirements will become more conservative. Banks and traditional financing options will remain unavailable for borrowers with the lowest credit scores, and the increased cost of doing business could push some small-dollar alternative lenders out of the market.

Now, before you jump for joy and say that this is exactly what needs to happen, consider the potential consequences.

With many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, getting laid off, medical bills, an unexpected car repair, or emergency trip to a sick relative may require quick cash. Where will the consumers with low credit ratings turn in difficult circumstances and emergency situations?

One possibility, in the absence of small-dollar lenders, is that borrowers will get loans from less desirable lenders that operate under the radar, off the grid. Consumers who are desperate to pay bills, rent and car repairs, or buy medicine and other necessities of life may turn to loan sharks and other nefarious entities.

Does this seem like an unlikely scenario? Probably not.

Another possibility is that these consumers who tried to take care of themselves by borrowing emergency cash simply give up. With fewer options to fix their temporary liquidity problems, the need for government assistance will rise. If these consumers can’t pay for car repairs, can’t get to work, and lose their jobs, the result may be increased unemployment claims. Even more troublesome, the snowball effect could increase welfare programs and housing subsidies.

The reality is that underbanked consumers and borrowers with imperfect credit need alternative financial services. There are responsible alternative financial services and lenders who can provide small-scale, short-term funding.

If underbanked consumers and borrowers with poor credit ratings aren’t permitted to access credit, social welfare programs will be required to offset the consumers’ inability to meet short-term cash needs. This catastrophic situation will increase the cost and number of citizens on social assistance. Ultimately, all taxpayers will be burdened with increases in social welfare.

The question is rather than over-regulating this sector of the credit market, doesn’t a free market on certain alternative financing options seem to be a better alternative?

Author:

Guy Dilger is vice president of marketing at Plain Green, LLC. With more than 12 years of experience designing groundbreaking marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies and financial technology brands, Dilger is known for generating engaging content and compelling concepts that resonate with targeted consumers. Prior to Plain Green, Dilger held senior positions within fintech and retail spaces where he managed national marketing campaigns and customer-centric loyalty initiatives for Sears and Kmart. Previously, he was part of the management team at Limited Brands where his marketing work in support of Express brand included CRM, email, web-based programs and the redesign and relaunch of a private label credit card. Dilger has an MBA, as well as a bachelor of science in economics, from Southern Methodist University.

Monday February 12 2018, Daily News Digest

credit immigrants

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi loan performance suffers, earnings projections missed. Ant Financial to pursue equity fundraising at potential $100B valuation. Elevate publishes FY 2017 results. Symphony, OpenFin join forces. Openwrks, Zopa, TrueLayer get into open banking. Rupeek raises $6.8M. Today’s main analysis: MPL securitizations comparison (SoFi 2018-A, MFT 2018-1, SCLP 2018-1). Today’s thought-provoking articles: Silicon Valley investors fund […]

credit immigrants

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

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APAC

News Summary

United States

SoFi Reports Disappointing Earnings as Loan Performance Suffers (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Customers of online lender Social Finance Inc. are missing their loan payments at an unexpectedly high rate, a misstep for a company that has boasted that its focus on high-earning individuals would yield better borrowers.

The privately held San Francisco-based company said it missed its internal fourth-quarter earnings projections, due in part to a markdown in the “value of certain personal loan assets due to lower-than-expected credit performance,” according to a letter to investors that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The company also cited increased hiring costs and expenses related to recent management changes.

You won’t believe how much grads from these top business schools rake in (Moneyish), Rated: A

SoFi examined 60,000 student loan refinancing applications to determine which MBA programs churn out the highest earners, and which produce grads who are mired in student debt.

According to SoFi, these are the top 10 business schools, ranked by average salary three years after graduation:

1. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School of Business): $224,034
2. Columbia University: $189,295
3. Stanford University: $186,534
4. Harvard University: $184,463
5. University of California, Berkeley: $171,270
6. Dartmouth College: $169,498
7. Northwestern University: $167,770
8. Cornell University: $167,544
9. University of Chicago: $166,215
10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: $165,666

These 10 programs have the best salary-to-debt ratio in the US:

1. University of Wisconsin-Madison: Avg. salary = $122,532; avg. debt = $52,568
2. Brigham Young University: Avg. salary = $114,559; avg. debt = $50,224
3. Harvard University: Avg. salary = $184,463; avg. debt = $83,337
4. Stanford University: Avg. salary = $186,534; avg. debt = $85,443
5. Villanova University: Avg. salary = $136,464; avg. debt = $63,014
6. University of Pittsburgh: Avg. salary = $149,157; avg. debt = $71,471
7. Loyola University, Maryland: Avg. salary = $122,915; avg. debt = $59,029
8. North Carolina State University: Avg. salary = $92,184; avg. debt = $46,140
9. University of Florida: Avg. salary = $110,942; avg. debt = $56,035
10. University of Houston: Avg. salary = $105,476; avg. debt = $54,308

Elevate Announces Full Year 2017 Results (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Elevate’s  Fourth Quarter 2017 Financial Highlights are the following:
  • Fourth quarter GAAP net loss due to federal tax law charge, but fourth consecutive quarter of net income on an adjusted basis: Fourth quarter 2017 net loss totaled $12.2 million, or $(0.29) per diluted share, reflecting a one-time $12.5 million charge associated with the change in the federal tax law resulting from the tax reform in 2017. Excluding the impact from the tax law change, net income for the fourth quarter of 2017 would have been $0.3 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, versus a net loss of $4.4 million, or $(0.34) per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2016. The net loss for full-year 2017 totaled $6.9 million, or $(0.20) per diluted share. Excluding the impact of the federal tax law, net income for full year 2017 would have been $5.5 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $22.4 million, or $(1.74) per diluted share, for full-year 2016.
  • 16% year-over-year revenue growth: Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2017 increased 14.5% from the fourth quarter of 2016 and were up 16.0% for full-year 2017 versus 2016. Revenues totaled $193.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to $169.0 million for the prior-year period. Full-year 2017 revenues totaled $673.1 million compared to $580.4 million for full-year 2016.
  • More than 28% year-over-year growth in combined loans receivable – principal: Combined loans receivable – principal totaled $618.4 million, a 28.5% increase from $481.2 million for the prior-year period. The Rise installment loan and Elastic line of credit combined loans receivable – principal balances as of December 31, 2017 were up 19.6% and 47.4% over the prior year-end balances, respectively.
  • Adjusted EBITDA up 45% compared to prior year: 2017 Adjusted EBITDA totaled $87.5 million, up 44.7% from $60.4 million in 2016. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 13% for both the fourth quarter of 2017 and full-year 2017.
  • The ending combined loan loss reserve as a percentage of combined loans receivable was 14.3%, lower than the 16.1% reported for the prior-year period due to the improved credit quality and the continued maturation of the loan portfolio. Charge-offs as a percentage of originations for full-year 2017 continued to trend below previous years at less than 25% of principal originations.
  • The total number of new customers acquired during the fourth quarter of 2017 was approximately 95,000 with an average customer acquisition cost of $231, below the targeted range of $250-$300. This represented a 34.6% increase over the approximately 70,000 new customers acquired in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Equity Market Volatility, GS Dialing Up M&A (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Volatility made an abrupt return to capital markets after a nearly 18 month hiatus. Equity markets dropped almost 10% from their peaks, as investors focused on rising US treasury yields. 10-year yields touched 2.88% – nearly a four-year high. Corporate bonds (CDX.IG spreads) widened 5bps this week to 60bps, while high-yield widened 16bps to 353bps.

US consumer credit grew by $18.4 Bn in December 2017, at an annualized growth rate of 7.7%. Revolving credit card debt increased by $5.1 Bn to $1.03 Tn, the highest on record. Consumer spending has boosted US GDP, although the increasing cost of leverage and rising rates could create a drag on growth.

GS M&A Accelerating

Source: PeerIQ

 

Source: PeerIQ

Taking a cut of student’s future paychecks has Silicon Valley investors funding education (Quartz), Rated: AAA

The model is attracting a new generation of startups, as well as investors, eager to bail out American students drowning in $1.3 trillion in student debt. The Brookings Institute estimates as much as 40% of students who entered college in the early 2000s may default on their loans by 2023, based on historical trends.

One of the first firms to enter the US market was the Chilean firm Lumni founded in 2002 (although it only came to the US in 2009) followed by 13th Avenue (2009), Cumulus Funding (2011), Upstart (2012), Pave (2012), and Vemo (2015). Not all are still signing ISAs, but current interest seems to be based on growing demand.

Are income-sharing arrangements a good deal for students?

The federal government already provides more than $200 billion (paywall) in grants, loans, and work-study assistance for students’ post-secondary education each year. Private lenders hand out about $8 billion in student loans annually, estimates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Parents and family contribute still more.

Almost 60% of college graduates in the US carry student debt, and about 57% of Americans regard it as a major problem, reports the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Yet many are not even confident their college educations are still the golden ticket they once were. A 2017 survey of 32,000 college students revealed only one-third felt prepared to enter the job market, while only half said their major will lead to a good job.

Four-year universities like Purdue are using them as a way to show their commitment to students as much as reduce their financial burden. The school’s program, Back a Boiler (an abbreviation of the nickname for the student body known as Boilermakers), is offering 175 students almost $2 million in ISA funding. Graduates with high income never pay more than 2.5 times their original ISA amount, while those earning less than $20,000 a year see their payments go to $0.

MissionU, a one-year training program in data analytics and business intelligence, offers students a blended online (80%) and in-person curriculum (20%), and work experience. It charges no tuition. After graduates earn at least $50,000, they pay back 15% of their income for the first three years.

 

2 startups are joining forces — and together they could pose a threat to Bloomberg (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Symphony, a messaging service that has gained some traction among Wall Street firms, has been integrated into OpenFin, an operating system built for financial-services, the two companies announced Thursday.

OpenFin hosts more than a hundred applications on its platform, and the integration means Symphony will be “interoperable” with those apps, the same way social media apps on your phone are able to talk with one another.

In total, Symphony has 230,000 users across 200 firms, whereas OpenFin can be found on more than 100,000 desktops across the Street.Symphony, a unicorn, announced a $63 million fundraise in May, bringing the total amount the company has raised to $234 million. OpenFin finished a $15 million round of venture funding backed by JPMorgan in February 2017. It has raised $22 million in total funding.

For new immigrants, buying a home or getting a cellphone is complicated and expensive. Even if they have financial identities and wealth in their home countries, they have no credit history in the U.S.

It’s a challenge for millions of people, and a handful of fintechs, including Nova Credit, CreditStacks, and Petal, see an opportunity to help with some creative solutions.

Others, like Deserve (formerly SelfScore) and Petal have been hoping to woo immigrants and other thin files with their own credit products, while still others like eCredable are crunching alternative data to help people build up their credit history.

And in January, CreditStacks announced a credit card product aimed at immigrant professionals who want to have a U.S. credit card in hand when they arrive in America.

San Francisco mortgage fintech Lenda expects growth spurt in 2018 (San Francisco Business Times), Rate: A

San Francisco mortgage fintech Lenda, which offers mortgages faster and at lower cost than traditional rivals, expects growth to accelerate this year as it expands into a dozen states and puts to work the $5.25 million it raised in its first venture round.

New Retail P2P Investment: The Worthy Bond (P2P Lending Expert), Rated: A

When I wrote my book on P2P Lending for the retail investor, P2P Investing 101 (the paperback version here), that came out in November, there were only 7 options for retail investors.  Those options were Lending Club and Prosper, as well as 5 options that take advantage of the adjustment to SEC Regulation A known as Reg A+.

We now have an 8th investment option.  The Worthy Bond, which uses Reg A+ and comes from Worthy Financial. By using Reg A+, the Worthy Bond is available to retail investors as a proxy savings account within the p2p lending landscape.

Prices up for January, Subaru 0-percent financing (Kelley Blue Book), Rated: A

While the average transaction price (ATP) for light vehicles hit $36,270 in January, a whopping $1,360 or 3.9-percent gain over a year earlier, the ATP declined from December’s record, dropping $486 or 1.3 percent month over month.

Subaru 0-percent financing

Subaru, which has been setting sales records, typically runs tight inventories and keeps a close rein on incentives. However, through the rest of February it is offering 0-percent financing for 63 months on select models along with a couple of enticing fleet deals.

The 0-percent deal for 63 months is being extended on 2017/18 Legacy models, 2017/18 Outbacks and 2017 Foresters. On the 2018 Legacy, there’s also a $185 per month lease for three years with $2,595 down. The 2018 Outback is being offered on a 3-year lease deal for $239 per month with $1,739 down, while the 2018 Forester can be leased for 36 months at just $219 with $1,719 down.

Interest rates climb

According to Bankrate.com, the average 60-month new car loan is averaging 4.51 percent interest, a two-basis point increase over rates being offered at the end of November. Shorter 48-month loans are slightly cheaper, averaging 4.44 percent, again, two basis points higher than two months ago. On the used car side of the ledger, rates are closing in on the 5 percent level, averaging 4.97 percent on 3-year loans. That’s up from an average of 4.78 percent at the end of November.

Eyeing robo advisors, IBDs to launch new client portals (FinancialPlanning), Rated: A

Independent broker-dealers are rebuilding their online presences for a digital investing era, ushering in new client portals and offering automated investing for smaller accounts.

Advisors have pushed the firms to mimic the speed and look of digital investment platforms. Digital advice clients of all kinds will soar 844% to more than 17 million by 2021, according to a September study by Aite Group. In a nod to incumbents’ services, robos have also started offering human advisors to clients.

Narmi integrates top fintech companies into digital banking platform for credit unions (CUInsight), Rated: A

Narmi, a financial technology company, showcases two of its remarkable fintech integrations – Billshark and Lemonade.

Billshark – Helping Reduce Monthly Bills for Millions of Americans

Billshark helps consumers reduce monthly bills on cable, satellite TV, wireless phone, internet and many other categories. There are currently approximately 375 million monthly bills in America and roughly 80% can be negotiated. The average amount saved per bill is $280-300.

Lemonade – Reinventing Insurance Through Artificial Intelligence

Lemonade provides a mobile-first, artificial intelligence-infused way to obtain a home insurance policy. The company’s focus is on homeowners and renters insurance, and policies start at $25 a month and $5 a month, respectively.

When fintech lite is the right small-business lending strategy (American Banker), Rated: A

Adding a community touch to automation has proved a profitable lending strategy for one bank.

Marquette Bank in Chicago has been able to digitize its lending processes and improve its credit memo creation time by upwards of 25% using technology from the cloud-based loan origination software firm Baker Hill.

Small-business lending has long been a staple of community banking, but in recent years customers have turned to online lenders and other fintechs for credit, in large part due to the speed and digital aspect of the experience.

Zelle’s next phase takes shape at BNY Mellon (American Banker), Rated: A

The banks behind the Zelle network had more in mind than P-to-P payments between consumers, and BNY Mellon is beginning the network’s evolution by targeting the business payments market.

Zelle will help support tokenized digital payments for institutional and corporate clients in a market that is notoriously resistant to automation. BNY Mellon hopes corporates will see the Zelle network’s ability to increase control over cash flow through near-instant processing.

Webster Bank Offers Customers An Automated Digital Investment Platform (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Webster Investments, a division of Webster Bank, N.A., now offers Guided Wealth Portfolios (GWP), an advisor-enhanced, digital investment platform designed to enhance customer experience by providing an additional option to manage their investments. The online investment platform was designed as an innovative option for clients seeking a technology-enabled investment solution combined with the opportunity to have a relationship with a financial advisor.

We’re partnering with SURE to bring you Small Business Insurance (Inc Authority Email), Rated: B

Small Business Insurance is an all-in-one policy that protects you and your growing business from critical risks. Your policy will cover:

  •   General liability
    • Get up to $2 Million of coverage in legal and litigation issues tied to 3rd party claims of property damage, and bodily injury and associated medical costs.
  •   Business personal property
    • Replace lost or damaged property owned by your business, such as computers, furniture, and machinery.
  •   Lost business income
    • Receive up to $250,000 in lost income if your business has to close due to a covered loss.
  •   And other coverage
    • Includes coverage for data breaches, litigious employees, non-business automobiles, and more.
United Kingdom

Openwrks, Zopa and TrueLayer get into Open Banking groove (Finextra), Rated: AAA

The UK’s major banks are being shown a clean pair of heels by non-bank competitors in the Open Banking space, with new announcements by TrueLayer in tandem with Zopa, and Openwrks demonstrating the determination of third party providers to open up access to consumer account data.

Zopa has worked with TrueLayer to create an income verification product which removes the need to manually upload documents to verify income – replacing it with Open Banking data.
Separately, Openwrks – which likewise enables providers of consumer and small business products and services to access consumer’s financial data – has become the first third party provider to successfully connect to all of the banks currently providing functional APIs (Lloyds, RBS, AIB, HSBC and Danske).

Elliott takes majority stake in new Welsh online bank (The Times), Rated: A

China

China’s Ant plans equity fundraising at potential $ 100 billion valuation – sources (Reuters), Rated: AAA

China’s Ant Financial Services Group is planning to raise up to $5 billion in fresh equity that could value the online payments giant at more than $100 billion, people familiar with the move told Reuters.

The new round should start with a valuation of between $80 billion to $100 billion, the people said.

China Fintech Watchdog to Step Up ICO Oversight (CoinDesk), Rated: A

A self-regulatory association that draws support from China’s banking and securities sectors is vowing to increase its oversight over cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings (ICO) in 2018.

In its annual meeting held on Feb. 9, China’s National Internet Finance Association (NIFA) revealed that while it has put special efforts into overseeing the sector in 2017, it expects this work to become a regular part of its 2018 agenda.
Australia

Loans.com.au slashes home loan rates for owner-occupiers, investors (mozo), Rated: AAA

Online lender, loans.com.au has today slashed rates for both owner-occupiers and investors on certain home loans, and is now offering some of the lowest mortgage rates in the market.

One of the changes was to cut the Essentials Variable 80 rate for owner-occupiers looking to make principal and interest repayments by 12 basis points, bringing it to a red hot 3.52% – the lowest rate for a loan of its kind in the Mozo database.

The rate on loans.com.au’s Offset Variable 80 for owner-occupiers making principal and interest repayments was also slashed by 12 basis points, bringing it down to a competitive 3.60%.

India

Online gold loan platform Rupeek gets $ 6.8 mn from Accel, Sequoia (VC Circle), Rated: AAA

Bengaluru-based Rupeek, which operates an online marketplace for gold loans, has raised $6.83 million (Rs 44 crore) in a fresh funding round led by Accel Partners.

Eduvanz Financing raises funds from Blinc Advisors (livemint), Rated: A

Eduvanz Financing Pvt. Ltd, an education technology start-up that provides loans for skill development to students, has raised $500,000 in a round of funding led by Blinc Advisors, a venture capital fund, a senior executive at the start-up said.

Fintech start-up EarlySalary is making emergency loans more affordable (Business-Standard), Rated: A

Neha Kumari needed a new phone urgently after her old one was damaged during a Saturday night party. To add to her difficulties, it was the beginning of the last week of the month and the salary day was 10 days away. Missing client calls for more than a couple of days was out of the question and the weekend was expensive anyway.

Neha, who did not have a credit card, could have borrowed from friends, but most of them were as broke as she was then. And borrowing from the family was ruled out. The last time she had borrowed Rs 10,000 from a friend to book emergency tickets was three …

Preventive measures (The Hindu Business Line), Rated: A

This is with reference to reports on market volatility. Regulators must ensure that this trend does not end up promoting alternative investment avenues of an uncertain nature. Investor interests demand that risk-based P2P lending via online/social marketplaces be regulated. Peer lending has significantly grown and enabled borrowers with a sub-par credit history. P2P lending is highly prone to performance risks on account of a higher probability of a borrower-default, credit risks owing to poor loan-sanctioning decisions & lack of fund-monitoring post disbursal, cash drag risks because of a larger borrower-population than the available lenders, platform Risks driven by borrower insolvency or frauds or technology risks/cybersecurity breaches and market risks owing to interest rate fluctuations and unemployment risks leading to non-payments.

What’s Driving India’s Fintech Boom? (Wharton), Rated: A

With more than 200 million active users in India — the largest anywhere in the world — WhatsApp is expected to drive large volumes on peer-to-peer (P2P) payments and also become a popular platform for merchant payments. India is slated to be the first country globally to get the payments facility from WhatsApp.

Other global giants, too, are zeroing in on this space. For instance, Google has already launched its payments app Google Tez (“Tez” in Hindi means fast), while Samsung has launched Samsung Pay and Amazon has introduced Amazon Pay.

Paytm, India’s largest online payments and mobile wallet company, has invested Rs. 5,000 crore ($786 million) in mobile payments to date.

This was 13% less than $14.6 billion in 2015. On the other hand, fintech investments in Asia increased to $5.4 billion in 2016, up 12.5% from $4.8 billion in 2015.

Fintech Will Change How We Bank (Business-Standard), Rated: A

In the not too distant future, there may come a time, where we cease to interact with the as we know it. which were monolithic organization who created the products, sold it directly and owned the customers are being slowly ceding ground to so called new breed companies chipping away at the edges. While regulations and strict KYC/AML regulations still enable to continue to be in business, the power they once wielded is diminishing. As Niti Aayog Chairman, Amitabh Kant said “Debit cards, credit cards and ATMs might lose relevance in the next four years”.

Peer to peer lending picks pace (Telengana Today), Rated: B

According to the latest annual report of RBI, during Q1 of FY18, as against negative incremental rise in bank credit, the non-bank sources gained space in lending. The total flow of funds to the commercial sector from non-bank sources during the period increased to Rs 1,16,600 crore while the formal banking system trailed behind.

In terms of financial assets, NBFCs recorded a healthy growth — a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19% in the past few years — comprising 13% of the total credit and are expected to reach nearly 18% by 2018-19.

APAC

Asia-Pacific Fintech Market to reach US$ 72 billion by 2020, finds Frost & Sullivan (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Active support and initiatives by financial regulators such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Bank Negara Malaysia and Bank Indonesia has enabled the Asia-Pacific Fintech ecosystem to grow significantly in 2017.

The Fintech industry in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow at a CAGR of 72.5% from 2015 to 2020, reaching US$72 billion.

Future of Cashless Payments in Singapore

According to Ms Quah Mei Lee, Industry Principal, ICT, Asia-Pacific, the mobile payments market in Singapore was estimated to be worth US$1.4 billion in 2017. The market is still small but is growing fast. There are many supportive regional and local regulations and initiatives that will help Singapore move towards a cashless Society.

Fintech in Singapore’s SME Landscape

In the wake of the global Fintech boom, disruptive market innovations have forced a radical shift of business models in the Financial Services industry, notably within the P2P Lending segment. Frost & Sullivan believes that leading banks and financial institutions are driven to be lean and agile on multiple fronts, including but not limited to new digital services, elevated customer experiences and innovative technological solutions.

Online loan providers have recently begun targeting young adults here in their 20s and 30s in Korea in the name of “providing pocket money.” Other peer-to-peer lending platforms promote their services as an investment fund or shared wallet to relax young people’s vigilance toward the money lenders.

Blockchain spending surges in China and Asia (Shine), Rated: B

Blockchain spending in Asia Pacific excluding Japan will jump 91 percent in the five years until 2021, thanks to applications in finance and supply chain industries, said IDC in a report today.

China will see a five-year annual growth rate of 95 percent, compared with about 81 percent growth worldwide, said IDC in the report, the first blockchain report released by the company.

For example, PPDai, China’s first online P2P (peer-to-peer) lending platform listed in the US market, said in January it would invest 1 billion yuan (US$156 million) within three years to set up a new research institute.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor