Wednesday January 24 2018, Daily News Digest

InsurTech

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi hires Noto to be CEO. StreetShares secures $23M in equity to reach military, veteran market. Zopa fills positions for bank launch. Dianrong raises $70M. Yirendai signs onto Internet Finance Industry Credit Information Sharing Platform. Tera Funding sets Korean fundraising record. Today’s main analysis: FT Partners publishes 2017 InsurTech Almanac (a must-read). Today’s thought-provoking articles: […]

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United States

SoFi Names Anthony Noto Chief Executive Officer (SoFi), Rated: AAA

SoFi today announced that its Board of Directors has named Anthony Noto as chief executive officer and a director, effective March 1.

Twittter executive leaves to run SoFi (SF Gate), Rated: A

In Noto, SoFi has chosen a fast-rising executive in the tech industry. Noto, 49, was one of the most respected bankers at Goldman Sachs before becoming the chief financial officer of the National Football League and then Twitter.

Twitter dips after a key executive leaves for online lending startup SoFi (Business Insider), Rated: A

  • Shares of Twitter slid on Tuesday morning after the online lending startup SoFi announced that Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief operating officer, will be joining the company as its new CEO, effective March 1. 
  • Twitter has suffered from several departures of key executives in the past two years as the company struggles to bring value to shareholders.
Source: Business Insider

SoFi’s Incoming CEO Brings IPO Experience to a Troubled FinTech (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Noto, who worked on technology, media and telecom deals at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. before joining Twitter in 2014, brings to the job a background in tech and finance. Beyond Twitter’s nascent revival, his turnaround abilities are largely untested. But given his history of taking companies public — including Twitter — a SoFi IPO is very much a possibility, according to people familiar with the situation. Furthermore, they say, it’ll be nice to have an adult in the room after all the recent turmoil.

SoFi Wealth, launched last year and harbored ambitions to quickly manage $100 million in assets, Bloomberg News reported in October. It grew slowly until last quarter, when it tripled its assets from September to $42.3 million as of Jan. 18, spokesman Jim Prosser said. The average account holds about $4,300. Other digital wealth startups have north of $10 billion under management.

FT Partners Research Publishes 2017 InsurTech Almanac (FT Partners), Rated: AAA

Highlights of the 2017 Almanac:

  • 2017 was a very active year for the InsurTech sector globally, with the most financings ever (over 200) and more than $2 billion in financing volume
  • While the total announced financing dollar volume for 2017 was lower than in the prior two years, when excluding rounds over $50 million, the volume reached a record high of approximately $1.3 billion
  • Of the four largest financings this year, two were in the Online Health Insurance space (Bright Health and Clover Health), one was in the Telematics space (Nauto) and one was in Online P&C Insurance (Lemonade)
  • 2017 also featured another wave of mid-range to larger financing rounds for InsurTech companies founded in the last several years, including Next Insurance’s $35 mm Series A, The Zebra’s $40 mm Series B, Health IQ’s $35 mm Series C, PolicyGenius’ $30 mm Series C and Trov’s $45 mm Series D
  • Europe had significant increases in financing activity, the largest out of any region this year — financing volume and deal count both grew by more than 2x; the region also recorded its largest InsurTech financing ever: BIMA’s $107 million raise led by Allianz X, which was the fifth largest financing globally in 2017
  • Among the cohort of InsurTech companies founded since 2010, this year marked two milestones:
    • First IPO: China-based ZhongAn (SEHK:6060) raised approximately $1.5 billion
    • Largest acquisition: Guidewire acquired Cyence for $275 million
Source: FT Partners

Download and read the full report here.

California Insurtech Hippo Secures $ 25 Million Through Series B Financing Round (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Hippo, the California-based insurtech company that is transforming home insurance for savvy homeowners, announced on Monday it secured $25 million in Series B funding round, which was led by Comcast Ventures and Fifth Wall. The investment comes less than two weeks after Hippo announced it formed a strategic partnership with Spinnaker Insurance Company.

OnDeck Announces Date of Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 Earnings Conference Call (OnDeck), Rated: B

OnDeck (NYSE:ONDK), the leader in online lending for small business, will report its fourth quarter and full year 2017 financial results on Tuesday, February 13, at approximately 7:00 a.m. EST. The company will host a conference call to discuss the results at 8:00 a.m. EST that same day.

The conference call will be webcast live on the company’s Investor Relations website or listeners can access the call toll free by dialing (833) 227-5836 for calls within the U.S., or by dialing (647) 689-4063 for international calls. The Conference ID passcode is 5468078.

StreetShares Secures $ 23 Million Equity Funding to Scale for the Military and Veteran Market (StreetShares Email), Rated: AAA

StreetShares, Inc., the leading small business funding and government contract financing company serving the military and veteran market, announced today it has completed its Series B funding round, raising $23 million in fresh equity capital. The Series B round was led by a $20 million investment from Rotunda Capital Partners, LLC, and included an additional $3 million from existing investors, including veteran-focused venture firm, Stony Lonesome Group.

AutoGravity Milestone: Exceeds $ 2 Billion in Finance Amount Request in 2017 (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

AutoGravity, a California-based Fintech on a mission to transform car shopping and financing, announced last week it surpassed $2 billion in finance amount requested in 2017.

Central Pacific Bank adds Elevate Credit executive to board of directors (Pacific Business News), Rated: A

Honolulu-based Central Pacific Financial Corp. has appointed Christopher Lutes as director of the boards of CPF and Central Pacific Bank.

Lutes has been the chief financial officer of Elevate Credit Inc. and its predecessor company, which specializes in tech-enabled online credit solutions, since 2007.

LoanDepot to offer agent, contractor referrals to mortgage shoppers (The Orange County Register), Rated: A

Borrowers signing up for a mortgage through LoanDepot soon can get real estate agent referrals from the online lender as well.

And later this year, people getting home-improvement loans will be able to get the names of contractors, architects, roofers and other professionals.

loanDepot Expands mello Brand (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LD Holdings Group, LLC, parent company of loanDepot, the nation’s second largest non-bank consumer lender, today announced continued expansion beyond its profitable mortgage and personal loan businesses.  In Q1, a newly formed venture, mello Home, will connect pre-approved homebuyers with verified real estate agents in their local market, and help consumers find and hire home improvement and other pros.

Fintech startup wants to help advisers find and sell muni bonds (InvestmentNews), Rated: A

It’s like Zillow, but for bonds.

That’s the idea behind Bond Navigator, a cloud-based digital marketplace for advisers to find and evaluate municipal bonds, that launched Tuesday from startup 280 CapMarkets.

Amazon, PayPal to head to Vegas ABS bash (GlobalCapital), Rated: A

Amazon has already tapped the securitization markets as part of a plan to shift the risk of its business lending programme off its balance sheet.

Amazon has stated in previous quarterly reports that it intends to transfer more of the risk of its seller financing programme to third parties.

Similarly, PayPal has expressed interest in funding its credit portfolio through third parties, including bank lending, securitization, private equity and sovereign wealth funds, although the company told GlobalCapital in August that this would unlikely be a near term project.

Acorns wants to bring investing and education together (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Many financial services companies, both startups and incumbents, talk about the importance of customers’ financial education but how they integrate it into their own offerings often manifests as no more than a dedicated content marketing section or blog. Acorns itself has an online magazine called Grow that features news, financial how-tos and interviews with celebrities like Kevin Durant, Ian Kahn and Tony Robbins.

First Bank Goes Big into Peer To Peer Lending, Launches “Cent” (Business Insider), Rated: A

For personal banking customers of First Bank, the largest community bank headquartered in North Carolina, transferring money to family and friends is now as simple as hitting “Cent.”

On January 22, First Bank launched Cent, its new quick-money transfer tool, allowing personal banking users of the bank’s mobile banking application to send money to anyone, anytime, anywhere in the U.S., regardless of if the recipient banks with First Bank or not. And there are no fees.

Marketplace Lending In 2018: A DIY Mindset (mondaq), Rated: A

There is no doubt marketplace lending, by offering speed and flexibility not historically seen in traditional banking, has done its part to foster the “do it yourself” (DIY) era.

The industry’s rapid growth reflects in part the entry of more than 100 new players in the market in less than a decade.

6 Business Loan Scams and How to Spot Them (AllBusiness), Rated: A

1. The peer lending scam

Peer-to-peer lending has become one of the most important sources of online financing. Unfortunately, there are some shadowy operators out there, using Facebook Messenger and other less traditional avenues to hook in victims.

The scam works like this: You’ll be contacted out of the blue and offered peer-to-peer financing, then asked to pay an arrangement fee or fork out for background checks. You’ll never see the promised cash and you could lose quite a bit of money, as well as data that can be used for identity theft.

4. The credit repair scam

Most young businesses have an inadequate credit score. It’s a simple fact of life. However, there are plenty of predators out there who’ll be keen to convince you that they have the expertise and tools to transform your score—in return for a hefty fee, of course.

5. The loan broker scam

Loan brokers exist to identify the right products for your business, make introductions to lenders, and prepare the paperwork to ensure a smooth process. There are plenty of legitimate and professional brokers, who get paid a commission from lenders for arranging loans; unfortunately, there are also quite a few sharks, who charge upfront fees for the same service.

2018 Predictions and Pitfalls In Finance and Investing (AlleyWatch), Rated: A

Online and Alternative Investing Will Remain Strong: The amount of investors using online investing and alternative options will continue to remain strong, especially for both Baby Boomer and Millennial investors. Online investing exposes investors to a larger number of companies driving innovation, and, many online investors are starting to realize an ROI from their online investing activities. In spring 2017, the number of people who lived in a household that used an online investing/stock trading service within the last 12 months amounted to 15.79 million.

LendingTree Announces Top Customer-Rated Lenders by Loan Product for Q4 2017 (PR Newswire), Rated: B

LendingTree®, the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, today released its quarterly list of the top customer-rated lenders on its network based on actual customer reviews for the fourth quarter of 2017. The list features the top lenders in multiple loan product categories, including Mortgages, Personal Loans, Business Loans and Auto Loans, all of which are included in LendingTree’s online loan marketplace.

Mortgage Category

#1 Winner:  LenderFi, Inc.

Personal Loans Category

#1 Winner: Upgrade

Business Loans Category

#1 Winner: Seek Capital

Auto Loans Category

#1 Winner: RefiJet

Don’t Let Payday Lenders Off the Hook (Bloomberg), Rated: A

Payday lending can be a useful service. A two-week loan of $500 at 400 percent annualized interest can make sense if, say, you need to fix your truck to get to work. Unfortunately, the industry has long made much of its money by trapping customers in a series of consecutive loans that can end up costing many times the amount borrowed. A patchwork of state laws has done little to combat such practices.

CFPB Drops Investigation Into Payday Lender That Contributed To Mick Mulvaney’s Campaigns (International Business Times), Rated: A

Payday lender World Acceptance Corporation announced in a press releaseMonday that it received a letter from the CFPB stating that the financial watchdog had closed its nearly four-year investigation into the company’s marketing and lending practices. The company, which is headquartered in South Carolina, has given at least $4,500 in campaign donations to Mulvaney, who represented South Carolina in the House for six years before becoming President Donald Trump’s budget director last year.

Bye, bye, boomers — banks are looking toward millennials (Chicago Tribune), Rated: A

Sorry, boomers, but the world of banking and insurance isn’t so interested in you anymore. You’re getting too old to buy insurance and too conservative with your investments. And your time horizons are too short to be very profitable to the investment world. The financial services industry is aiming at millennials now.

–Six in 10 millennials are hesitant to discuss their situation with friends because they are embarrassed that they make less money or are ashamed of poor financial decision in their past.

–Only 12 percent of millennials feel very prepared for their financial future.

–Only one-third of millennials feel like they make enough to pay for bills and also save for the future.

Todd Ruppert Joins Money360 Board of Advisors (Business Insider), Rated: B

Money360, a technology-enabled direct lender specializing in commercial real estate loans, today announced that effective immediately, Todd Ruppert, former CEO and president of T. Rowe Price Global Investment Services, has joined the company’s Board of Advisors.

Ten Ways Young Can People Build A Strong Credit Record (Forbes), Rated: B

According to a report by WalletHub, young people struggle with low credit scores partially because they don’t have the time behind them to establish wealth and experience.

  1. Set Up Automatic Payments
  2. Get A Low-Limit Credit Card – Charging small items to a credit card and then paying it off in full every month builds credit in no time. You can find offers for these at creditcards.com and similar sites, with many offering cards with a $300 limit or so.
  3. Piggyback Off Of Others First – By becoming an authorized user on someone’s credit card, you can start building credit from their payments.
  4. Build A Credit History – It is not uncommon to get a 0% or 2% auto loan these days, and this way of building credit history is brilliant.
  5. Minimize Unsecured Debt
United Kingdom

Zopa expands executive team ahead of bank launch (Finextra), Rated: AAA

P2P lender Zopa has begun building the executive team for the launch of its new challenger bank later this year, appointing a CFO, chief risk officer and chief customer officer.

Chief financial officer Steve Hulme joins from Tandem Money where he was CFO for the last two years. Before Tandem, Hulme served as CFO for PayPal’s global credit business and as CFO for Capital One’s UK and Canadian business.

He will be joined by former TSB man Phillip Dransfield as chief risk officer. Dransfield has a 20-year track record in risk management taking in two of the counttry’s largest high street banks.

The left-field appointment of chief marketing officer goes to Clare Gambardella from health and fitness brand Virgin Active.

How UK fintech startups are preparing for open banking (ComputerWorldUK), Rated: AAA

Major banks are scrambling fast to not only comply with the regulation by opening up their APIs, but are also looking to leverage the new open landscape to separate themselves from their competitors and avoid being bitten by these fintech startups.

Take HSBC UK, which has proved itself to be an early mover when it comes to PSD2 by announcing a new beta app which will allow customers to see all of their accounts on one screen, even if they are with a rival bank.

However, UK challenger banks like Monzo and Starling, as well as some other fintech startups listed below, have been working towards the idea of open banking for some time now.

Monzo

According to a blog post by Simon Vans-Colina, an engineer at Monzo, the new API, which they are calling the AIS API, “will be made available to particular companies, that have been granted authorisation as AISPs.

Iwoca

As CEO Christoph Rieche explained to our sister site Techworld, real-time access to customers’ transactional data, which the banks have traditionally held onto for current accounts, is very valuable to his company.

Chip

“In a utopia consumers can start to grant affordability criteria to a lender, provide transaction data to a savings mechanism like Chip, or income data to a mortgage lender,” he said. “You can choose exactly which data you want which third parties to access, so it puts control into the customer’s hands.”

TrueLayer

Founder Francesco Simoneschi likes to compare TrueLayer to Twilio or Stripe, two companies that provide simple, secure and regulated access to core infrastructure (be it telco networks or payments infrastructure, respectively) through a core API.

So TrueLayer sits between the new breed of fintech companies looking to deliver value from newly opened customer financial data, and underlying banking infrastructure, charging a small fee for access to the API.

Emma

Cofounder Edoardo Moreni wrote in a blog post at the time: “Emma is currently building the banking app for millennials (iOS and Android), a mobile-only solution that helps consumers avoid overdrafts, find and cancel subscriptions, track debt and save money.

Debt tracker Emma integrates with Monzo (AltFi), Rated: A

After receiving its FCA approval last week as a Registered Account Information Services Provider (RAISP), subscriptions and debt tracking app Emma has now announced its first official integration with digital bank Monzo.

SME bosses aware of P2P lending but cautious about using it (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

Research among 200 SMEs by recruitment specialist Tindall Perry found while 74 per cent of finance directors describe their knowledge of alternative finance as average or above, only a quarter suggested that they were comfortable with accessing crowdfunding, with P2P lending also scoring less than 50 per cent.

In contrast, 85 per cent of companies said that they understood how best to access asset-based lending, while invoice finance, trade finance and venture capital all saw a positive response rate of between 55 and 75 per cent.

Top bankers warn of financial stability threats amid the calm (City A.M.), Rated: B

Speaking at the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of the global elite in the Swiss ski resort, she said: “We have far fewer tools to deal with any event that happens.” Richards predicted an upset could occur “somewhere where none of us are looking”, and highlighted peer-to-peer lending as an example.

Current financial conditions have echoes of the pre-crisis era, according to Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays, speaking at the same event. While he said he believes banks are much less of a threat to stability than a decade ago, he warned that current benign conditions may not last.

China

Dianrong Increases Series D Round Funding by US$ 70 Million (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Dianrong today announced additional Series D round funding of US$70 million that was led by ORIX Asia Capital Limited, a wholly-owned investment vehicle of ORIX Corporation, and included CLSA, the overseas platform of CITIC Securities, China’s largest investment bank, which in turn is a part of CITIC Group, one of China’s largest conglomerates.

Japan’s Orix invests $ 60 mln in Chinese P2P lender Dianrong (Reuters), Rated: A

Orix Corp has invested $60 million in peer-to-peer lending platform Dianrong, in what is the Japanese financial firm’s first investment in a Chinese fintech venture as it looks to tap into the fast-expanding sector, sources said.

Yirendai Connects to NIFA’s Internet Finance Industry Credit Information Sharing Platform (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Yirendai Ltd. (NYSE: YRD) (“Yirendai” or the “Company”), a fintech company in China, announced today that it has connected to the Internet Finance Industry Credit Information Sharing Platform (“the Platform”) established by the National Internet Finance Association of China (“NIFA”). The Platform was established to serve as an industry wide credit data sharing database in aims of reducing credit risk, improving the credit environment and promoting the healthy development of the internet finance industry. Currently, all leading online lending platforms are required to upload their operating credit data to the Platform’s database and members can only make manual inquiries on the Platform through its webpage. Yirendai has been selected by NIFA to participate in a pilot project to enable automatic queries and the Company expects to launch an automated query function in its system shortly.

European Union

Banks and Fintechs Are Duelling In a ‘War For Talent’ (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Payments company GoCardless Ltd., which employs 170 people in London, will open a Paris office in February, said chief product and technology officer Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas. Online lender LendInvest Ltd. said it will make a “concerted effort” to hire additional engineers in London this year, while Salesforce.com Inc.-backed software company Anaplan Inc. says hiring engineering talent is its current priority.

Faes said about 30 to 40 percent of its hires come from major financial institutions, adding that 100 percent of the team’s small risk and compliance team came from banks. For MarketInvoice Ltd., another British online lender, about three-quarters of its 85 employees — roughly a third of which are software engineers and data scientists — came from a large corporate in the financial services or accountancy space, said CEO and co-founder Anil Stocker.

Europe’s fintech industry, which includes challenger banks and online-only lenders, has rapidly expanded over the past 10 years. Traditional financial institutions have faced intense competition as a result, with former Barclays Plc CEO Antony Jenkins saying in July last year that banks could face obsolescence in five to 15 years.

How Adyen Became a $ 2.3bn Payments Company (Forbes), Rated: A

According to a report published in September last year by Innovate Finance and Magister Advisers, VCs poured around $8bn into fintech startups and early stage companies across the continent between 2010 and 2017 and over the course of that period, deal sizes rose significantly. In London – generally considered to be Europe’s Fintech Hub – figures published in January  by London and Partners found that the UK’s fintech sector attracted £1.24bn in 2017 alone.

Established in 2006,  the Amsterdam-based company is currently valued at around $2.3bn and has has built a portfolio of more than 4,000  clients, including Netflix, Facebook, Uber and Spotify, plus retailers such as River Island and Superdry.

International

Cross Border Funds Transfer (CBFT) using Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain (LinkedIn), Rated: AAA

Hyperledger Fabric is a permissioned blockchain platform contributed by IBM and provides plug-and-play modular blockchain components. You can see the commit history visualization of fabric project. Fabric runs chaincode which is comparable to Ethereum’s smart contracts. The consensus protocol is pluggable.

Transaction Flow Let’s see how nodes work together to execute a transaction. For now, let’s assume that the chaincode is already installed on the Peers.

  • Step 1: Transaction requests are proposed by a client. The client must be connected to the required number of peers according to the endorsement policy. A proposed Transaction is forwarded to Peers for Endorsement.
  • Step 2: Each endorsing peer simulates and validates the transaction. Peers reply with their Endorsement and certificate if they agree that the transaction is permitted.
  • Step 3: The client receives results from different Peers and can thus verify agreement among the Peers. Upon verification, the client forwards the transaction to the OS.
  • Step 4: Determining a well-ordered sequence of transactions is the task of the Ordering Service (OS). The OS generates transaction blocks containing validated transactions in the order they are deemed to have occurred, writes them to the ledger and then broadcasts them to all peers that a new set of blocks are now available on the ledger.
Source: Raj M Shimpi

The disappointing arrival of Open Banking … and the optimistic future (The Finanser), Rated: A

All well and good but, in a move that I am fairly sure was carefully orchestrated by the banking community, nearly all of the mainstream media greeted the launch of Open Banking with fear and scaremongering.

Nevertheless, the FinTech community are far more advocates of the new regime:

Note that to find the positive spin on Open Banking, I’ve had to seek out more business or niche news channels than the doomsayers of the mainstream consumer media.

Nasdaq-listed Longfin to open up Ziddu smart contracts to P2P lending (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

GLOBAL fintech group Longfin Corp is planning to make its Ziddu cryptocurrency smart contracts available for peer-to-peer lending.

Ziddu.com provides smart contracts which are available on cryptocurrency Ethereum’s blockchain and can be used as alternative finance solutions within trade finance and FX markets, without the need for a middleman or underwriter.

Building the World’s Most Inclusive Banking Service (Medium), Rated: A

Currently, there are over 2 billion people worldwide who find it difficult to access traditional banking services, often because they are new to the country or do not qualify for credit. I, too, was one of those people. When I arrived in the UK, I didn’t have a proof of address and credit history required to open a bank account, and just like many others in a similar position, I was left in a ridiculous catch-22 situation. I needed a bank account to get a job and a place to live but, in order to get a bank account, I was required to have a place to live and a job.

Monese is laying the foundation of how banks will work in the future by bringing the accessibility and convenience to levels that weren’t possible just a few short years ago. You can now bank locally in 20 different countries, in a matter of a few minutes — all you need is a mobile phone and your passport. You can literally open an account in your home country or an international IBAN in another country whilst standing in a supermarket queue.

Over 270,000 people have signed up to Monese and every day 1,000 more are joining us.

Source: Monese

$ 10 million ICO Success Karma Announces P2P Lending Access, aExchange Listing of KRM Token (The Merkle), Rated: A

Fresh from the success of a well-received ICO that raised $10 million, blockchain start up Karma has now announced open access to its peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform via the use of its native KRM token, which also began trading on CoinLink exchange on January 11th, 2018.

India

NeoGrowth Credit secures funding of Rs300cr from LeapFrog Investments and others (Medianama), Rated: A

NeoGrowth Credit, a lending startup focused at SMEs has secured Rs 300 crore of equity funding from LeapFrog Investments, and existing investors like Aspada Investment Company and Quona Capital through Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund, reports The Economic Times. The report adds that as part of the investment, LeapFrog’s partner Michael Fernandes will join NeoGrowth’s board.

Asia

Tera Funding raised KRW 10 billion from Korean leading investors in Series A funding round (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Tera Funding, a real estate P2P lending company in Korea, announced that it has secured KRW10bn (approx. US$9.3M) through its series A funding round from Woori Bank, Atinum Investment, SBI Investment and Premier Partners on 8 January 2018.

It is the largest single series A investment for Korean P2P lending start-ups, and this comes as a pleasant surprise for the industry as such decision to invest in Tera Funding was made after a thorough due diligence amid general public’s increasing worries about the industry with rising defaults and arrears mainly incurred by late-comers who take riskier approach.

Blockchain will force banks to change their feudal mindset (e27), Rated: A

Having said that, the advent of cutting-edge technologies is pushing banks to change the way they operate. While they have been able to survive many revolutions in the past, they cannot remain aloof to blockchain, one of 21st century’s biggest revolutions.

Lending Times News

Check out our new daily news digest and website Blockchain Times. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter for the best in Blockchain news.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Thursday March 23 2017, Daily News Digest

insurtech

News Comments Today’s main news: Kabbage to raise money for acquisitions, possibly OnDeck. Fundbox partners with Zoho. Goji launches diversified P2P lending bond. HNW Lending launches IFISA. Property Crowd launches IFISA. Today’s main analysis: Ron Suber on Fintech & fraud. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Podcast: Dominic Venturo on creating a model for innovation. Alternative finance for SMEs is even more urgent. Jail […]

insurtech

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United States

United Kingdom

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Canada

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United States

Kabbage looks to raise money for acquisitions (Reuters), Rated: AAA

Small U.S. business online lender Kabbage Inc is in talks to raise a new round of equity funding that could be used for potential acquisitions at a time when many of its peers face funding challenges, people familiar with the matter said.

One of the acquisition targets under consideration by Kabbage is rival On Deck Capital Inc, which has market capitalization of $321 million, according to one of the sources.

Ron Suber on Fintech & Fraud: A Global Challenge (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

How fraud occurs is a never-ending, shape-shifting challenge for individuals, companies and public authorities. There will always be another Ponzi or Madoff looking to separate hard-earned money from honest people via duplicitous actions. As all types of business shift online, fraudster’s will inevitably adapt to pursue their malevolent objectives.

Some of the challenges that impact online lenders include:

  • “Shotgunning” – taking out multiple loans from multiple platforms in under ten days
  • Loan stacking – multiple unsecured loans over several months

Download Ron Suber’s special report “Fintech & Fraud” here.

FUNDBOX PARTNERS WITH ZOHO TO SOLVE CASH FLOW GAPS (Fundbox Email), Rated: AAA

Fundbox, the cash flow optimization platform for small businesses (SMBs), and Zoho, the cloud-based business operating system, today announced a partnership in which Zoho will offer Fundbox to its user base of over 25M. Under the partnership, Zoho will provide access to Fundbox’s technology to streamline and automate the business borrowing experience within the Zoho ecosystem.

Fundbox addresses one of the biggest pain points for small businesses and freelancers: cash flow.  A recent Fundbox study revealed that 64 percent of small businesses are adversely affected by late payments. Over 80 percent of small business invoices are over 30 days due. This integration will allow Zoho customers approved for Fundbox Credit to advance funds tied up in their receivables so they can focus on business growth.

U.S. Bank’s Dominic Venturo on creating a model for innovation (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

Every institution innovates differently. Our approach is to work with the businesses to understand their objectives and strategies. We want to keep a long-term eye on emerging technology and how consumers and businesses interact with technology. We’ll blend that into the product development roadmaps for the businesses. In some cases, emerging technology will look like it has a lot of potential but then you really have to see how it applies to a business, whether it solves a customer problem or pain point, and whether it can scale to a company our size. I don’t know if this is different than others, but it’s definitely our approach.

Ondeck announces extension, upsize of revolving credit facility with Deutsche Bank (Reuters), Rated: A

On Deck Capital Inc – amended its asset-backed revolving credit facility with Deutsche bank to extend facility’s maturity date to march 2019

On Deck Capital Inc – amended credit facility to increase facility’s borrowing capacity by about $52 million to a total of up to approximately $214 million

Online small-business lending recovering (Biz Journals), Rated: A

For online business lenders, 2016 was a rough year.

Two prominent fintech companies saw their market valuations drop. One small-business lender abruptly stopped issuing loans temporarily due to performance issues, while another was forced to shut down.

Lifshitz offers his view on the subject:

1. Fintech loan originations will surge in 2017.

It’s clear to me that the fintech space’s long-term themes are unchanged. The credit gap remains, and fintech companies still provide a much-needed service. Plus, they’re doing so in a far easier and seamless way than has been available to customers in the past.

Those who reacted to the negativity of 2016 are going to be surprised. Fintech companies will recover from the sector’s downbeat view. Demand and originations will continue to grow. I predict that market sentiment will come back as confidence returns.

2. Fintech companies will adapt by diversifying products and target markets.

Fintech also will get a boost from a secular trend. More millennials are joining the workforce and consuming more services online, including financial services. The generational change favors fintech companies.

3. Fintech companies could form partnerships with banks.

4. Fintech will dominate the user experience.

How one startup aims to help ‘credit invisible’ foreign workers in the U.S. (Tearsheet), Rated: A

For millions of immigrants and temporary foreign residents in the U.S., establishing a financial identity here can be complicated and expensive. Since credit reports don’t cross borders, an immigrant with an exceptional credit score in his home country may arrive in the U.S. as ‘credit invisible’ — a status that may render him ineligible for loans or long-term housing.

Nova Credit is an alternative score to assess foreign residents’ creditworthiness based on their home country credit data. It can also be used for Americans returning to the country after years working abroad. The company obtains the data through agreements with major foreign credit bureaus, a process that can only be initiated with the customer’s consent, Esipov said. Though Nova Credit is initially focusing on India and Mexico, it’s entered into arrangements with credit bureaus in Europe, Canada, Australia and the Philippines. Its revenue model is based on fees to lenders who request the reports.

BP Podcast 219: Private Lending, Turnkey Investing, and Crowdfunding Real Estate with Dr. Kenyon Meadows (Bigger Pockets), Rated: A

If you are looking to make your real estate more passive, this is one show you can’t afford to miss!

Humans to Robos: You Can’t Touch This (Think Advisor), Rated: A

Over the past five years, robo-advisors that provide algorithm-based financial advice and online portfolio management have skyrocketed in popularity. Once the robots take over, the argument goes, humans will be no more.

A commoditized approach to investing cannot incorporate potentially high-impact life events in the same way a knowledgeable human advisor can. Humans offer expertise throughout the life cycle of a client’s investments, while a robo-advisor often reduces a client to a formula. Moreover, the human advisor offers another invaluable service that the robo-advisor can’t replicate – emotional intelligence.

Industry research supports our view. The Financial Planning Association and Investopedia found that investors want a low cost, automated platform combined with personal advice from a human adviseor. Moreover, they noted that 40% of the investors surveyed revealed they are very uncomfortable with automated investing during periods of extreme market volatility.

MyPrivateBanking estimates that hybrid human/automated solutions will accumulate AUM of nearly $3.7 trillion by 2020, and $16.3 trillion (slightly more than 10% of all investable wealth) by 2025. They estimate that pure robo-advisors will have a market share of only 1.6% of total investable wealth by 2025.

New US insurtech Fabric targets parents (Business Insider), Rated: A

The number of insurtechs in the life insurance space has been in two minutes online; and Fabric Premium, a more comprehensive 20-year term policy. As of Tuesday, Fabric is live in 32 US states, with license applications in the remainder pending approval. Fabric recently raised a $2.5 million Seed round led by VC firm

Evolve Capital Partners Advises on Acquisition of LeaseDimensions (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Evolve Capital Partners Inc., a specialized investment bank, today announced its client, LeaseDimensions, has been successfully acquired by GenPact (NYSE: G), a global professional services firm focused on delivering digital transformation for clients.

Founded in 1995, LeaseDimensions is a technology-enabled business processing management and information technology services company that specializes in providing finance process and technology domain expertise to equipment, vehicle finance and renewable energy companies. By acquiring LeaseDimensions, GenPact will unlock synergies across its core equipment financing businesses, offering enhanced growth and scalability opportunities while effectively providing onshore servicing capabilities.

Financial Stress Suggests Consumers are Making Impulsive Decisions in the Home Buying Process (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Owners.com, an innovative online brokerage, recently commissioned a survey of more than 1,200 consumers considering a home purchase this year. The theme of this year’s spring real estate season? Stress. In fact, according to the study, 72 percent of potential home buyers stated that they expect stress in the home buying process, with many citing financial aspects as the most concerning. Additional key findings are included below.

When asked about concerns and issues when buying a home, leading financial aspects included:

  • Fear of losing earnest money deposit (64 percent)
  • Becoming “house poor” (61 percent)
  • Bidding wars driving up the price (59 percent)

Despite these financial stressors, when potential home buyers were questioned about their willingness to go over budget in a competitive bid to get into a dream home:

  • More than half (55 percent) said they were willing to go beyond their budget
  • For those willing to stretch their dollars, on average, consumers stated they were willing to go $37,809 over budget

Given these monetary pressures, savvy consumers are considering real estate models that offer opportunities to cut costs in the transaction. When asked about their propensity to handle the home buying or selling process themselves if they would be charged a lower commission, 85 percent said they were likely to consider this opportunity if it meant they had access to some of the more complicated transaction services like the appraisal or legal documents. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) indicated that they would be motivated to work with a real estate agent or broker who would reward them financially for the work they do on their own. These consumers should look for opportunities to work with a brokerage that offers a buyer rebate or sellers an opportunity to save on traditionally high agent commissions.

Detroit Fintech Startup Autobooks Closes $ 5.5M Series A Round (Xconomy), Rated: A

Autobooks, the Detroit-based startup spun out of Billhighway in 2015, has closed on a $5.5 million Series A funding round. The investment was led by Pittsburgh-based Draper Triangle, with participation from CU Solutions Group, Baird Capital, Detroit Venture Partners, and Invest Michigan.

Autobooks, he explains, has created a set of digital tools to automatically handle a range of accounting tasks, including collecting payments owed to a business and disbursing money a business owes to others. The company licenses its software to banks and credit unions, and they in turn make the technology available to their small-business customers.

Autobooks sprang from Troy, MI-based Billhighway, a financial technology company serving large enterprise customers.

Banks are Back in the Game (Forbes), Rated: A

The introduction of online and small business lending has forced banks to rethink their strategies, but banks are now starting to play ball and shift the industry again.

In the lending industry, there’s a perception that extreme competitiveness has developed between banks and non-bank lending, but I don’t believe that’s the case. By working together, they can help small businesses – the backbone of the American Dream.

JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America took two different approaches to building out online small business lending. They were able to learn from non-bank lenders and emulate the customer experience, or partner with a non-bank lender, to improve their own offerings. Non-bank lenders like OnDeck have reinvented the customer journey. Combine that with the advantages banks have with cost of capital, customer base, underwriting credit cycles and access to data, and you have a good recipe for the future of small business lending.

But as Tufail pointed out, the migration from baby boomers to millennials will further emphasize digital channels. Tech savvy folks will want even quicker lending decisions, and that starts online.

5 ways banks are using Snapchat (Tearsheet), Rated: A

American banks have also amped up their Snapchat recruiting efforts. Not long after their launch of Snapchat Spectacles, Citibank employees began shooting videos with them to offer insights of life as a Citibank worker.

Dutch bank ABN Amro launched a Snapchat customer service capability (Snapchat “webcare”), a feature that’s yielded them 2000 followers since its launch a year ago. The bank posts stories to engage users who can ask questions using photos, videos, emojis and filters.

Through Snapchat, banks are affiliating themselves with causes close to customers’ hearts. For example, CIBC, Canada’s fifth-largest bank, launched a Snapchat pride filter to mark LGBTQ pride festivities last summer.

The Bank of Ireland pulled in celebrity influencers who use the Snapchat offer financial tips and advice to younger customers — a part of the bank’s FeelFree student reward program.

Bank of America’s Llama was used as a Snapchat lens was released last summer in conjunction with the MLB All Star Game to promote the bank’s mobile app.

Small Change Announces First Los Angeles-Based Real Estate Offering (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Real estate crowdfunding platform Small Change announced on Wednesday the launch of its first Los Angeles-based offering.

Small Change describes Rosewood as a urban-minded development of four single-family units that are designed to achieve net-zero energy usage and further vitalize the area. Each of the units is designed with energy efficiency and resource conservation in mind and will also be pre-wired for solar panels with sufficient roof space to achieve net-zero energy living.

Small Change added a 10% return is projected on this investment.

Conference of State Bank Supervisors Releases Statement to Congress on OCC FinTech Charters (Buckley Sander), Rated: B

Ryan stated that the OCC’s Proposal “sets a dangerous precedent [by demonstrating that] the OCC has acted beyond the legal limits of its authority [and has] bypassed and ignored bipartisan objections from Congress, [thereby] creat[ing] new risks to consumers.” He asserted that the proposed charter would “preempt existing state consumer protections without a comparable mechanism to replace them. It also exposes taxpayers to the risk of inevitable [F]inTech failures.”

United Kingdom

Goji launches P2P lending bond (FT Adviser), Rated: AAA

Goji’s Diversified Peer-to-peer Lending Bond claims to be the UK’s first diversified peer-to-peer lending proposition with a portfolio of loans from a variety of lenders.

It is targeting returns in excess of 5 per cent over a one or three-year term.

The bond is eligible for inclusion within the Innovative Finance Isa.

HNW Lending unveils Innovative Finance ISA targeting 7% – 15% (AltFi), Rated: AAA

HNW Lending has received full approval from the Financial Conduct Authority approval to offer Innovative Finance ISAs (IFISA), with minimum investments of £5,000 per loan.

It will target returns of between 7 per cent per annum and 15 per cent per annum depending on the risk of the loans in which the investors choose to invest.

Property Crowd launches IFISA with target returns of 7-10% (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Property Crowd, the real estate crowdfunder that’s owned by global secondary market platform Global Alternatives, has launched its Innovative Finance ISA offering just days prior to the April 5th tax cut-off. The product offers investors returns of up to 10 per cent.

The minimum invest amount for the IFISA offering is £5k.

Pollen Street Capital-backed alternative lender Capitalflow has secured a new round of funding valued at £50m to finance its loans to Irish SMEs.

P2P platform Landbay is turning to crowdfunding for capital. The buy-to-let mortgage lending platform, is hosting a £1.5m equity crowdfunding round on SeedrsLandbay is already overfunded, with more than £1.7m invested so far.

Innovative Finance ISA offers sweet deal for investors – if they know it exists (The Investment Observer), Rated: A

The survey, which focused on understanding investors’ intentions for the year ahead, found priorities for savers included a fixed income (17%), the opportunity to self-select how and where their money is invested (18%) and tax efficiency (24%) were top of their list of investment priorities.

Whilst the IFISA aims to meet all of these needs, half of investors questioned said they had never heard of it. 29 percent said they do know the name but don’t know what it is and only one in 20 said they know enough about what an IFISA is to be able to explain it clearly to other people.

However, the survey also found that those that do know about IFISAs and have invested in them have invested more on averagethan in traditional Cash ISAs.  The average amount of £7,013 per person has been invested in Crowdstacker’s IFISA to date; this is compared to £5,810 in cash ISAs between 2015 and 2016.

Master Investor Show: Setting the Standard for Investment Events (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: B

The Master Investor Show brings together private investors of all portfolio sizes to hear keynote talks from celebrity investors and gain access to new investment opportunities.

Ordinary investors will get the opportunity to speak to the CEOs and founders of 100 companies from multiple investment sectors, including equity funds and retirement saving, crowdfunding, life sciences and FinTech, and alternative finance such as film funding and peer-to-peer lending.

This year’s main-stage celebrity line-up:

  • Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, CEO of SyndicateRoom, the innovative online investment platform
European Union

Alternative finance for SMEs is even more urgent (Irish Examiner), Rated: AAA

While recent Central Bank figures found that perception by Irish SMEs of the willingness of banks to provide them with credit have improved considerably in the past three years, other surveys show access to finance is still a high concern for about one-third of Irish small businesses.

This is why SMEs are looking beyond their banks for alternative sources of funding.

Among these options is peer-to-peer lending. The largest platform Linked Finance launched in 2013 and rival Grid Finance arriving the following year.

Ms Kenneally was getting frustrated with the 10-week wait for a decision on an application for a bank overdraft when a friend pointed her towards Microfinance Ireland, a government initiative to provide loans to small businesses. She received a loan of €25,000 and was impressed with the fast turnaround.

Another source is crowdfunding. The idea behind crowdfunding is to pair donors with small businesses, charities or arts events who want to raise funds for a project or campaign. Platforms include Fundit, iDonate, and Seedups.

Warburg Pincus buys stake in Swiss fintech group Avaloq (Financial Times), Rated: A

Warburg Pincus has agreed to pay close to SFr300m for a minority stake in Avaloq, Switzerland’s largest software provider to banks.

The acquisition of a 35 per cent stake by the private equity group values the company, which already serves key financial centres, in excess of SFr1bn ($1bn), the private equity group said.

Avaloq has more than 2,000 employees and serves 155 banks and wealth managers in financial centres, including London, Frankfurt and Paris. It generated revenues of SFr533m in 2016, which represented a 10 per cent increase from a year earlier.

The private equity group has recruited several leading banking figures to sit on the Swiss company’s advisory board. Among them are Javier Marín, the former chief executive of Santander, Stefan Krause, former chief financial officer at Deutsche Bank and Jacques Aigrain, former chief executive officer at Swiss Re.

Here’s why fintech will make banks stronger (City A.M.), Rated: A

Brian McCabe, who chairs the fintech working group at the Fintech and Payments Association of Ireland, says existing banks and financial players won’t get weaker at the expense of new entrants.

Collaboration will be a feature of fintech’s next phase as traditional banks, financial institutions and insurance companies in Europe seem to recognise the importance of becoming smarter, more efficient and customer-focused.

Now is the chance for banks to take what fintech pioneers have to offer, and use it to make themselves more competitive.

Australia

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Austrade sign fintech collaboration agreement (Finextra), Rated: A

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Austrade have signed a new collaboration agreement to support the flow of fintech innovation between Australia and the UK.

The agreement will be used to target and attract fintech investment to Australia, and assist Australian fintech companies to access the UK market.

Canada

Investing in the Fintech Revolution: How Glance Technologies is innovating mobile payments (OTC Markets), Rated: A

Now, the creator of PayByPhone parking app has set his eyes on the restaurant industry, creating the Glance Pay Mobile Payment App under Glance Technologies Inc. (CSE:GET) (OTCQB:GLNNF) to revolutionize a C$650 Billion restaurant bill payment industry. Glance Pay allows diners to pay their restaurant bill in seconds using their mobile phone while automatically receiving exclusive restaurant rewards. Gone are the days of waiting for the server to bring around the card machine. Restaurant owners benefit from automatic bill collection, built-in loyalty programs, turn-key in-app marketing and valuable customer experience feedback.

China

Jail sentences for P2P lending scam (Shangai Daily), Rated: AAA

FORTY-ONE people in the city’s first and high-profile P2P fraud case involving nearly 700 million yuan (US$10.2 million) have been jailed, according to Yangpu District prosecutors.

The 41 were staff members from five outlets of Baiyin Wealth Co, including one in downtown Xintiandi area. Sentences ranged from six to eight months in prison, with some granted a reprieve.

Other suspects are either being investigated or are waiting to be tried.

India

Peer to Peer Lending Advantages and Disadvantages [Case Study] (Scalar), Rated: A

Peer to Peer lending advantages and disadvantages – lenders perspective

Advantages

  1. Higher interest

For example, a 5 year bond with a fixed rate interest of an Indian bank offers 3% AER, while the same amount has the potential to earn 6.32% to 30% p.a. through a peer to peer website, on the same tenure.

  1. Diversification
  2. Freedom to commit

Disadvantages

  1. Waiting period
  2. No legal laws
Asia

How transparency is driving Asian asset managers to technology (The Asset), Rated: A

The need for improved transparency is pushing Asian asset managers to use more sophisticated technology than they’ve ever used before in the management of their portfolios and to boost the overall efficiency of their businesses.

Another trend among Asian asset managers is using technology as a way to drive transparency between what their internal stakeholders and investment teams are actually reading and what is driving their investment decision.

Asset managers are also using this technology to look at broker performance which involves having all their data, primarily data on trading positions and transactions, on one buyside platform.

Latin America

Latin American Venture Capital Firms Invest in MPOWER Financing (NBC12), Rated: AAA

VARIV Capital, a Latin American venture capital firm, and Chilango Ventures, an investment firm with offices in San Francisco and Mexico City, have invested in MPOWER Financing () to help the innovative fintech firm expand its presence in Latin America and attract a greater number of high-potential students to America’s best colleges and universities.

Latin American students already represent 25 percent of MPOWER’s outstanding loan portfolio, with Mexico representing the third-largest student population currently studying in the U.S. through MPOWER’s financial support.

With the addition of these two new equity investors, MPOWER Financing has assembled a diverse global investor base that is enabling the firm to fulfill its mission to provide educational loan support to high-potential, international students who do not fit within traditional credit assessment models. Currently, MPOWER Financing, founded in 2014, has a pipeline of more than $120 million in loan applications from students in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa which it expects to fill in 2017. The recent investments are part of the closing of MPOWER Financing’s Series A funding.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor