Thursday January 25 2018, Daily News Digest

blockchain equity rounds

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi to roll out checking accounts. Zopa re-opens to new customers. Roostify integrates with LendingTree. China regulator says credit market should adopt blockchain. ETHLend hits 1M GBP in P2P crypto loans. Borrowell launches free Equifax credit report monitoring. Brazilian payments company sets post-Snap IPO record. Today’s main analysis: Blockchain equity funding vs. ICOs. Today’s thought-provoking articles: […]

blockchain equity rounds

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United States

United Kingdom

China

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International

Australia

India

Asia

Egypt

Canada

South America

News Summary

United States

SoFi will roll out checking accounts this spring (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

SoFi is rolling out checking accounts without a banking license, demonstrating the new reality that a company doesn’t have to be a bank in order to bank customers.

By partnering with the Wilmington, Delaware-based WSFS Financial, SoFi will roll out a fee-free checking account and debit card this spring in a bundle it’s calling SoFi Money, designed to address the pain points customers have with day-to-day banking products, like high fees and clunky digital interfaces, executives said at a media gathering in New York Tuesday morning. SoFi Money will include peer-to-peer transfers between SoFi customers, mobile check deposit and high yield interest rates on deposits (0.75 to 0.85 percent). It will be available first to current SoFi members before the broader rollout.

Five challenges facing SoFi’s new CEO (American Banker), Rated: A

Reforming SoFi’s culture.

Determining when to go public. SoFi has a number of key shareholders who might like to access wealth that is tied up in the company’s shares. That list includes the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, which led a $1 billion equity financing round in 2015, and the venture capital firm Silver Lake Partners, which led last year’s $500 million round. That round reportedly valued the privately held company at more than $4 billion.

Deciding how to grow. But while student loan refinancing proved to be an excellent way to find new customers during a period of low interest rates, that opportunity is now shrinking, as rising interest rates reduce the spread between what borrowers pay the federal government and what SoFi can offer.

Yes or no on a bank charter? 

Proving that he has the right background. Noto does not appear to have any experience in consumer financial services, which could be viewed as a weakness.

Roostify Announces Integration With LendingTree (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

Roostify, a provider of automated mortgage transaction technology, today announced that it has integrated its online mortgage platform with LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE), the online loan marketplace. The new integration makes it easier than ever for consumers to locate and apply with the right lender.

Lenders can utilize the new integration to create a seamless path for consumers to search, select, apply for, and close a loan online. Consumers selecting an offer on LendingTree from a lender using Roostify will be able to authenticate into the lender’s Roostify-powered online experience, with all information securely pre-populated. The consumer can move from shopping around to getting their loan in just a few clicks, streamlining the experience and improving lead quality for lenders.

The integration will enter general availability in Q1 2018 for all joint clients of Roostify and LendingTree.

2018’s Best Online Checking Accounts (WalletHub), Rated: AAA

More than 6 in 10 people don’t realize that online-only banks offer better rates and lower fees than their counterparts with branch access, according to WalletHub’s 2018 Banking Survey. But it’s true. What online-only accounts lack in terms of face-to-face interaction, they make up for with superior terms. For example, the average online checking account costs 47% less than its branch-based counterpart, according to WalletHub’s latest Banking Landscape Report. And the average online savings account pays 457% more interest than the branch alternative.

Best Online Checking Accounts – Editors’ Picks

Best For… Online Checking Account Best Feature
Overall Aspiration Summit Account APY up to 1.00%
Highest APY Consumers Credit Union Free Rewards Checking APY up to 4.59%
Debit-Card Rewards Bank5 Connect High-Interest Checking Account 1 point per $2 spent
No Monthly Fee BofI X Checking


Capital One 360 Checking Account

No ATM fees


No ATM fees

International Travel Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking No foreign fee
Money Management Tools PNC Bank Virtual Wallet Spending analysis

RealtyMogul Boosts REIT Cred with Hire of Industry Veteran Aaron Halfacre as President (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

RealtyMogul, a leading real estate crowdfunding platform offering Reg D (accredited) and Reg A+ (both accreds and non-accreds) investment opportunities in commercial and residential property, has hired a new President to help lead the firm. Aaron Halfacre, a 20 year real estate executive, has joined RealtyMogul bringing in institutional expertise including in the hot REIT sector.

Aaron Halfacre Becomes RealtyMogul’s First President (Bisnow), Rated: A

A former Campus Crest president and chief investment officer, Halfacre took a year and a half break after the publicly traded student housing REIT was acquired by Harrison Street Real Estate Capital in a $1.9B deal.

As president of RealtyMogul, Halfacre will be responsible for creating a strategy, growing assets and augmenting business growth. He will serve as a voting member of the firm’s investment committee, which has invested in more than $1.4B of real estate since 2013, the company reports.

Juvo Receives Investment from Samsung to Boost Smartphone Usage Among Underbanked (Finovate), Rated: A

Mobile identity company Juvo has received an investment from Samsung NEXT, an off-shoot of Samsung that launched in 2013 to create new software and foster a startup culture at Samsung. The amount of the investment was undisclosed and adds to the San Francisco-based company’s $54 million in equity funding.

The bigger story here is that the investment is a strategic one. Samsung will bring Juvo access to billions of underbanked prepaid users across the globe. This will help Juvo enable MNOs to increase smartphone adoption among prepaid mobile subscribers.

The challenger bank Chime says it has 750,000 millennial customers (American Banker), Rated: A

Chime, a mobile-only neobank for millennials, said Tuesday that it has opened 750,000 accounts to date and is signing up users at a brisk pace this month.

The growth is extraordinary. While there are many other mobile-only challenger banks in the U.S. — including Qapital, Digit and, more recently, Varo and Douugh — few have racked up large numbers yet. Chime touts a low-fee checking and savings account with a debit card and an app that provides automated savings and real-time notifications; there are no monthly or overdraft fees nor minimum-balance requirements. The Bancorp Bank holds the federally-insured accounts.

The reason why most people get rejected for a personal loan (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

LendEDU, a marketplace for loans and financial products, just released data showing that 76% of people who apply for a personal loan are declined. One of the main reasons for rejection? A low credit score. The average American has a credit score of 687. Meanwhile, the average FICO credit score of an approved applicant was 741.

Of those who do get approved, LendEDU predicts that just 35% went on to accept the personal loan.

Currently, 16 million consumers have an unsecured personal loan. According to a TransUnion, personal lending balances grew a steady 10.8% in the second quarter of 2017, totaling $108 billion.

Back in 2010, fintech only made up 3% of personal loan lenders. In 2015, Transunion says that number jumped to 30%.

Why fintech is still a way off disrupting lending (Financial News), Rated: A

But of the many things that banks do, lending to small and medium sized companies (‘SME’ lending) is one of the more complex areas to emulate. It is also politically charged. As such, there is some evidence that the disruption attempted in the area of lending is itself being disrupted by the practicalities of a complex area of finance.

Citi’s mobile app is lagging behind its peers (Tearsheet), Rated: A

The fourth-largest bank by assets grew its total active mobile users 21 percent year over year to nine million, the bank reported last week in its fourth-quarter earnings.

By contrast, Chase reported 30.1 million users, Bank of America 24.2 million and Wells Fargo 21.2 million.

Citi’s growth rate for 2017 was stronger though, at 21 percent year over year, than its peers’. Chase reported 13 percent growth, Bank of America 12 percent and Wells Fargo 8 percent.

Mulvaney outlines new CFPB governing philosophy (The National Law Review), Rated: A

In a memorandum to CFPB staff and a Wall Street Journal article, Mr. Mulvaney described his governing philosophy for the CFPB’s exercise of its authority.

  • While observing that there will be times when “dramatic action” is needed to protect consumers and that, at such times, he expected the CFPB “to be vigorous in [its] enforcement of the law,” Mr. Mulvaney stated that “bringing the full weight of the federal government down on the necks of the people we serve should be something that we do only reluctantly, and only when all other attempts at resolution have failed.”
  • In using its enforcement authority, the CFPB will focus on “quantifiable and unavoidable harm to the consumer” and when such harm does not exist, the CFPB “won’t go looking for excuses to bring lawsuits.”  In addition, there will be “more formal rule making and less regulation by enforcement”  because “the people we regulate should have the right to know what the rules are before being charged with breaking them.”
  • CFPB priorities should be guided by data such as 2016 complaint data which showed that “almost a third of the complaints” received by the CFPB related to debt collection and “[o]nly 0.9% related to prepaid cards and 2% to payday lending.”
  • In light of the Dodd-Frank Act requirement for the CFPB to “consider the potential costs and benefits to consumers and covered persons,” CFPB decisions should be driven by quantitative analysis.  Although qualitative analysis can play a role, it should not be to the exclusion of measurable “costs and benefits.”

Read the memo for yourself here.

What you thought you knew about millennials is wrong (American Banker), Rated: A

Sixty-three percent say they are saving money. This is very close to the rate of Gen Xers (64%) and baby boomers (75%).

Fifty-four percent of millennials say they are on a budget, the same level as Gen X and only slightly below the rate of boomers (57%).

They are diligent about savings and budgeting: 67% of millennials who have a savings goal stick to it. And 73% of millennials on a budget adhere to it regularly.

And 59% say they feel financially secure, compared with 54% of Gen Xers and 63% of baby boomers.

Making it in GR: Lessons in crowdfunding (Rapid Growth), Rated: A

Last month’s “Making it in Grand Rapids” article focused on the ever-expanding alternative financing options for entrepreneurs, such as: impact investment funds, peer-to-peer lending solutions and crowdfunding platforms. Grand Rapids entrepreneur Don Rhoads is Owner/Inventor of At Last Industries (At Last), which created the BedBud Alarm. He is also Head of Development at Cut Through Creative. Rhoads shares his progression from having an idea through the development and launch of his Kickstarter campaign—and the insights he learned along the way.

RG: A recent Small Business Credit Survey reported that “70 percent of startup applicants are in need of funding to support [their growth]” and that “52 percent of startups [have] applied for financing.” Did you pursue any avenues before deciding on crowdfunding?

DR: Yes. I actually applied for and presented at a 5×5 Night. Unfortunately, I didn’t win that one, but as much as I was disheartened, I was still [determined to] fulfill the product. Also, through traditional bank loans, I applied through my current bank. It was a little bit difficult. In a startup, it is difficult to put a value on a business. [Banks] want capital behind it because most startups fail anyway, so they want some substance behind you so they can get their money back. I was told I would need to be a little bit further down the line to get additional funding.

Technology and the Future of Financial Advice (Janus Henderson), Rated: A

Technology arrives in waves and is embraced over an adoption curve. These waves are growing stronger – in large part because technology is becoming ever more powerful. Over time, we have seen these waves play out in financial planning, too.

It is worth looking at two of the challenges faced by the industry now. The first is demographics. Clients have grown older and wealthier, but they are not being replaced within the market for traditional advice services. This is creating an advice gap for firms who need to replenish their client bases.

The second big issue is that consumer engagement is challenging. Long-term thinking hurts. As Daniel Kahneman articulated in Thinking, Fast and Slow, human beings do not easily think about the future in an analytical way and there remains room for improvement in financial literacy among the public. Add to that the low levels of customer trust for the industry and many consumers are not switched on to the benefits of financial advice.

Source: National Financial Literacy Test Results.
United Kingdom

P2P platform Zopa re-opens to new customers (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Zopa, the UK’s first peer-to-peer lender, has reopened its platform to new customers after having to close to new money last year amid high demand for its new Innovative finance Isa (Ifisa) product and a long-running imbalance between lenders and borrowers.

Fintechs impatient as British banks seek extra time to open up (NASDAQ), Rated: A

Financial technology firms were supposed to start breaking into mainstream banking this month when new rules forced Britain’s nine big banks to loosen their grip on the industry.

But many fintech companies are still waiting with frustration on the sidelines after the banks delayed making the changes.

Financial technology firms were supposed to start breaking into mainstream banking this month when new rules forced Britain’s nine big banks to loosen their grip on the industry.

But six of the nine banks have asked Britain’s regulator for an extension to the January 13 deadline for putting in place the ‘open banking’ regulation, which overlaps with a new European Union directive known as PSD2.

UK fintech takes the lead in the Forbes 30 under 30 (AltFi), Rated: A

The gender balance has been particularly notable in the finance sector this year, as Forbes named Starling Bank’s Chief Platform Officer, Megan Caywood, and Lendable co-founder Victoria van Lennep alongside her business partner Martin Kissinger, as ones to watch.

In the technology category, Monzo co-founder Jonas Huckestein and the co-founders of digital receipts startup Flux all found themselves highlighted by Forbes.

China

China’s Banking Regulator Pushes Blockchain Adoption for Credit Market (CoinDesk), Rated: AAA

Blockchain technology should be adopted as part of a plan to boost development of China’s secondary loan market, according to a paper by the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC).

Published on Jan. 19, the paper, drafted by a special committee, covers a variety of topics around developing and regulating financial technologies. In a section on the future development of China’s credit market, it suggests the country should double down its adoption of blockchain technology.

Download and read the report yourself here (in Chinese).

Ant Financial and the Greening of Fintech (The Diplomat), Rated: A

Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba, is one clear example of a company using fintech to encourage a greener world.

Ant Forest is the world’s first largescale, bottom-up pilot in greening citizens’ consumption behavior through the use digital technology and social media. It is an app that Ant users can voluntarily engage with to reduce their carbon footprint and encourage their social networks to do the same. Users that perform carbon-reducing activities, such as paying bills online or walking to work, relative to a predetermined benchmark, are rewarded “green energy” points. As users accumulate enough points virtually, a real tree is planted. To date, Ant Forest has planted saxauls, willows, and Scots pine trees in Inner Mongolia and Gansu.

Ponzi scheme sparks protests (The Standard), Rated: B

Chinese authorities are struggling to quell protests after the collapse of an investment scheme that took about 30 billion yuan (HK$36.7 billion) from millions of depositors.

Hundreds of people marched on Monday in Nanjing, where Qianbao started in 2012, shouting for officials to act. But a video shows police grabbing investors as others yelled about being beaten up.

European Union

Ten User’s Pain Points Digital Banking and FinTech Should Care Of (Finextra), Rated: AAA

Studies have shown that users tend to quickly switch products and services. This also concerns banks as the competition and the number of Open Banking services increase due to the implementation of the European Directive PSD2.

1. Onboarding

Onboarding becomes particularly important in digital era. It can be a productive introduction to a new service or a challenging obstacle that deters customers. The banks of the future should provide a full digital onboarding.

2. Authentication

Log in difficulties or problems shouldn’t create obstacles for the customer. After all, no one would go to a restaurant with a locked door.

5. Transactions

Users should be able to fully control their banking. It is crucial for them to find a certain transaction and download a payment slip. View transaction history is among the TOP 3 customer scenarios. This function should be simple and understandable. Users want to filter their transactions to find specific items, view detailed information, report a violation, check payment status, export and save them, etc.

6. Payments

We are pleased to see that bank payment interfaces are becoming simpler each year. Digital technologies allow us to move complex banking procedures to the background. Challenger Banks ar a good example here.

The purpose of payment limits is to ensure the user’s security. The user should have online access to a flexible configuration of any financial transaction.

8. Notifications

There shouldn’t be too many notifications, only relevant ones.

Conclusion

Being in the users’ shoes and finding pain points in products and services will be a crucial competitive advantage. Companies recognising this issue will take a leading position in the future financial market.

International

ETHLend hits £1m crypto-P2P loans milestone (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

CRYPTO-BACKED peer-to-peer lending platform ETHLend has funded $2m (£1.4m) of loans in just over a month since launching.

The platform, which lets investors back business and personal loans worldwide n the Ethereum (ETH) digital currency, only went live in December but says it has already facilitated 438 loans.

Its biggest loan so far was for 83ETH, equivalent to £58,681.

Blockchain Startups Absorbed 5X More Capital Via ICOs Than Equity Financings In 2017 (CB Insights), Rated: AAA

In Q1’17, 19 ICOs closed for about $21M. Three quarters later, in Q4’17, over 500 ICOs closed for almost $3B. According to CB Insights, 2017 saw over 5x more capital deployed in ICOs than in equity financings to blockchain startups. Q4’17 alone saw that number jump to 7x.

In total, ICOs raised over $5B across nearly 800 deals in 2017. To put those numbers into context, equity investors deployed $1B in 215 deals to the sector.

GDS Link Acquires Fraudscreen, the UK’s Leading Provider of Analytics to Predict Payment Intent (GDS Link Email), Rated: A

GDS Link, a global provider of risk management solutions and consulting for multiple verticals within the financial services industry including marketplace lending, retail finance, alternative financial services, credit card, auto, and business lending and leasing, today announced that it has finalized the acquisition of 

Finastra sees accelerating FusionFabric.cloud adoption (Finastra Email), Rated: A

At its regional flagship thought leadership event, Finastra Universe Paris,Finastra today welcomed new companies to the FusionFabric.cloud open architecture. Among the early adopter Fintechs, consultants, banks and academics using the platform to develop and deploy innovative apps are Efficiency MC, Conpend and BankBI. In addition, Thomson Reuters joins Finastra’s innovation ecosystem as a data provider.

Thomson Reuters is currently embedding its instrument reference data into FusionFabric.cloud.

Paris-based system integrator, Efficiency MC, is using the platform to develop an interest rate derivatives pricing model app.

European Fintech, Conpend, is using FusionFabric.cloud to develop apps for corporate banking.

Cloud focused Fintech, BankBI, has a Performance Management and Analytics application for FusionFabric.cloud to complement the Finastra retail banking solutions, including C-suite dashboards.

Australia

The everyday Aussie is increasingly choosing a peer to peer personal loan – here’s why (mozo), Rated: AAA

ASIC’s second marketplace lending survey revealed that $300 million worth of personal and business loans were written by peer to peer lenders during the last financial year – almost double the amount commissioned during the 2015/2016 financial year.

The snowballing popularity of these types of loans is measured by the fact that, as of June 2017, the industry had 7,768 investors and a further 18,746 borrowers – numbers that had doubled over the preceding 12 months and are only set to grow in the new year.
Comparatively, at the lowest peer to peer rate in the Mozo database of 6.99% (on offer from Harmoney), the average Aussie borrower would pay just $5,634 in interest on the same loan – saving more than $4,000 in the process.

Stuart Stoyan is FinTech Australia’s new chair (Business Insider), Rated: B

Stuart Stoyan, the founder and CEO of Melbourne-based fintech MoneyPlace, which in 2015 became Australia’s second fully licensed marketplace lending platform, has become FinTech Australia’s new chair.

India

RBI Directions On Peer To Peer Lending Platforms: Frequenly Asked Questions (Mondaq), Rated: AAA

2.2  Electronic platforms connecting banks and NBFCs to borrowers

The RBI has clarified that electronic platforms that assist only banks, non-banking financial  companies (“NBFCs”) and other regulated All India Financial Institutions (“AIFls”) to identify  borrowers will not be considered peer to peer lending platforms  (“P2P Lending  Platforms”).   However, in cases where,  apart from banks, NBFCs and AIFls, or other retail lenders use the  electronic platform for lending, the platform will have to register separately as a non-banking  financial platform –  peer to peer lending platform (an “NBFC-P2P”).

2.3  Leverage ratio and investible funds for an NBFC-P2P

The RBI has clarified that for an NBFC-P2P, customers’ funds lent or borrowed by using the platform  is not reckoned as an outside liability of the NBFC-P2P, for the purpose of determining the  leverage ratio of the NBFC-P2P.

(a)  Do the P2P Lending Platforms have to fulfil the 50-50 test issued by the RBI to fall  within the purview of the P2P Directions?

The RBI, with its clarification that an existing NBFC cannot operate as an NBFC-P2P, has clarified  that the 50-50 test set out by the RBI to qualify as a non-banking financial company is not  applicable to an NBFC-P2P.

VC Firm 3one4 Capital Announces Second Fund With An Initial Corpus Of $ 39 Mn (Inc42), Rated: A

With closed commitments for $39 Mn, the 3one4 Capital team will look to enhance its deep involvement model across its investment domains. The fund will invest early stage startups with ticket sizes of $250K to $2 Mn.

Asia

Tryb Group raises $ 30M to develop fintech platforms for Southeast Asia (TechCrunch), Rated: A

Tryb Group, a Singapore-based organization focused on fintech services in Southeast Asia, has landed a $30 million investmentfrom Makara Capital.

For a Western comparison, Tryb aspires to be like LendingClub with a focus on digitizing the predominantly analog systems of financial services and banking in Southeast Asia, a region of over 600 million consumers.

“There’s strong demand to start buying ASEAN credit, with Japanese, Chinese, American and other investors looking to buy up $50-100 million worth. But they don’t know where to start since it’s all on paper,” he said.

Currently, the Tryb business doesn’t make direct revenue. It holds stakes in a number of businesses — including MC Payment which is in the process of going public in Singapore — but Gnirck said it has two acquisitions that he expects to finalize in the coming months.

Genie ICO Adds Cryptocurrency Heavyweight David Drake and Other Experts to Its Advisory Board (CoinTelegraph), Rated: B

Joining the Crowd Genie advisory board is David Drake, Founder and Chairman of LDJ Capital, who is also a global pioneer in the cryptocurrency industry and has written for more than 100 publications on innovative investing. Also joining the board is serial entrepreneur Petter Sehlin, who is a Founding Partner of global angel fund True Global Ventures and founder of the Polarchain blockchain. The founders of one of the world’s most comprehensive online cryptocurrency databases and information resources, AllCoinWiki, Anders Larsson and Joakim Holmer have also joined the board.

MENA

Egypt’s fintech startups are growing in number, value, and specialization (wamda), Rated: AAA

Financial inclusion is critical in reducing poverty and achieving shared economic growth, as mentioned The Global Findex Database 2014: Measuring Financial Inclusion around the World’: When people can participate in the financial system, they are better able to start and expand businesses, invest in their children’s education, and absorb financial shocks.

According to figures shared with Wamda by the World Bank Global Findex database, only 14 percent of adults in Egypt have an account as of 2014, and eight percent use an account to make digital financial payments. The Findex said that about 86 percent of adults in the country do not have an account and are therefore considered unbanked.

The model of Fawry, has demonstrated the validity of such business models, and has driven several concepts to launch.” Fawry, which was launched in 2008, provides payment solutions through ATM machines, mobile wallets, and retail points.

Egypt-based fintech startup Moneyfellows raised $600,000 from a group of investors led by Dubai Angel Investors and 500 Startups. This web and mobile-based platform founded in December 2014, allows users to create, manage, and track money circles (group money lending) online with members of their social networks. The startup makes money by charging users a small fee when they withdraw their payout from their money circle. So far, the startup has around 2,600 paying users and about 240 active circles.

Vapulus, which launched in December 2017, partners so far with 400 retail and F&B merchants in the country, and aims to reach 16,000 within one year of operation. The startup is a mobile app and mobile POS service for both individuals and sellers.

Canada

Borrowell launches free Equifax credit report monitoring, a Canadian first (GlobeNewswire), Rated: AAA

Borrowell today announced that it is providing Canadians with free access to their Equifax credit reports. For the first time, Canadians will be able to monitor important information in their Equifax credit report on a monthly basis, including credit utilization, inquiries and credit account history, for free online.

To date, Borrowell has provided credit information to nearly half a million Canadians.

Canada Venture Capital 2017 (CB Insights), Rated: A

Annual funding to Canada hits high in 2017

  • Total annual funding reached $2.7B, distributed across 333 deals in full-year 2017.
  • Total funding increased 7%, while deal activity decreased by 12%.
Source: CB Insights
South America

NYSE’s Biggest IPO Since Snap Is $ 2.3 Billion for Brazil Fintech (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

PagSeguro Digital LTD, a payments company owned by Brazilian media group Universo Online SA, raised about $2.27 billion in an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, according to Bloomberg data.

The company, which has a similar model to Jack Dorsey’s Square, sold shares at $21.50 each, above the top of the price range of $17.50 to $20.50 in the offering prospectus, with demand higher than underwriters expected. The equity offering is the largest on the New York Stock Exchange since Snap Inc in March 2017. Investors warmed to the stock, which rose as much as 36 percent to $29.25 in early trading.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Tuesday November 14 2017, Daily News Digest

Fed rates

News Comments Today’s main news: Prosper loses $26M with spike in lending. Prosper’s Q3 growth with $1.5B in securitizations for 2017. LexinFintech files for $500M U.S. IPO. Finastra named best in class. The first securities lending platform launched. Compass raises $100M for expansion. Today’s main analysis: The U.S. yield curve flattening. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Have we reached the end of […]

Fed rates

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

India

Asia

News Summary

United States

Prosper reports $ 26M loss despite spike in lending (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Prosper Marketplace recorded a big jump in loan originations during the third quarter, but the San Francisco-based online lender still racked up $26.9 million in losses.

The privately held firm has lost $210 million since the start of 2016, in spite of various cost-cutting measures. In July, Prosper announced plans to discontinue a personal finance app that it acquired in 2015.

Prosper Reports Third Quarter Growth; Closes $ 1.5 Billion of Securitizations in 2017 (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

Prosper, a peer-to-peer lending platform for consumer loans, today reported growth in both transaction revenue and loan originations for the third quarter of 2017. Continued demand for Prosper’s personal loan product resulted in $822 million in loan originations through its platform, up 6% quarter-over-quarter and 164% year-over-year. The company also grew transaction fee revenue 5% quarter-over-quarter and 164% year-over-year.

The following table summarizes the financial highlights from the quarter:

Key Operating and Financial Metrics (Unaudited)
(in thousands)
Three Months Ended September 30,
2017 2016
Loan Originations $ 821,841 $ 311,776
Transaction Fees, Net 37,250 14,086
Servicing Fees, Net 6,976 7,079
Net Loss (26,940) (17,417)
Adjusted EBITDA(1) 7,271 (8,804)
Net Cash Provided by (Used in) Operating Activities 9,881 (4,237)

Summary of Key Financial Highlights:

  • Prosper facilitated $822 million in loan originations through its platform, up 6% quarter-over-quarter and 164% year-over-year, driven by strong demand for its personal loan product.
  • Transaction fee revenue rose to $37.2 million, up 5% quarter-over-quarter and 164% year-over-year.
  • The company reported a Net Loss of $26.9 million in the third quarter of 2017, which included $28.1 million in non-cash charges related to warrants to purchase preferred stock that were issued to a consortium of investors and a third party in connection with a settlement agreement.
  • Prosper generated $9.9 million of Net Cash from Operating Activities and Adjusted EBITDA(1) of $7.3 million in the third quarter of 2017.

The U.S. Yield Curve Is Flattening and Here’s Why It Matters (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

To put it simply, the Treasury yield curve measures the spread between short- and long-term debt issued by the U.S. government. It’s the extra compensation that investors demand to lock away their money for an extended period.

To get a sense of just how dramatic this trend has been, here’s a look at a handful of curve measures now versus the start of 2017. In trading Monday, they were all close to the flattest levels in a decade.

  • From two years to 10 years: 72 basis points, down from 125
  • From two years to 30 years: 119 basis points, down from 187
  • From five years to 10 years: 33 basis points, down from 52
  • From five years to 30 years: 80 basis points, down from 114

The two-year Treasury yield is at the highest level since 2008 as investors prepare for a rate hike in December, and begin to build up expectations for further increases next year.

Source: Bloomberg

Asset-liability managers like insurance companies and pension funds are always seeking duration, and 30-year Treasuries are among the best ways to get it. Combine that appetite with increased demand from passive mutual fund giantslike Vanguard and BlackRock, and you’ve got a recipe for a sustained bid on the long end of the Treasury curve.

Source: Bloomberg

If one does take history at face value though, the $14.3 trillion Treasuries market is sending a warning about the economic outlook. Yield curves are the flattest in a decade, and it’s no coincidence that about 10 years ago marked the start of an 18-month recession.

Source: Bloomberg

While banks’ lending margins have increased slightly from their 2015 lows, they remain below the average of the past 30 years, according to the Fed.

Real estate tech company Compass raises $ 100 million, plans massive expansion (Housingwire), Rated: AAA

That capital raise placed the company’s valuation at more than $1 billion.

Now, one year later, the company’s valuation is nearly double that, thanks to another significant capital raise.

Compass announced this week that it raised $100 million in its Series E investment round, which placed the company’s valuation at $1.8 billion.

All total, the company has now raised $325 million.

PeerStreet Continues to Expand Resources and Technology Services to Lenders (BusinessWire), Rated: A

PeerStreet, an award-winning platform for investing in real estate backed loans, is excited to announce that it is aggressively expanding available resources and tools for private real estate lenders on its platform.

PeerStreet lenders can now access detailed Property Valuation Reports which allow lenders to analyze property data and adjust property details to generate highly accurate valuations that reflect current or future market conditions. The data that makes this possible is licensed by PeerStreet from HouseCanary, a leading provider of real estate valuation data and analytics. PeerStreet is providing this service to our lenders free of charge through our Lender Platform.

“Currently, our platform is a robust secondary marketplace for lenders. We’ve purchased over half a billion in loans from local lenders, but we see great value in developing practical tools to grow lenders’ businesses beyond providing capital to them,” said Brew Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of PeerStreet.

Hornets, LendingTree Announce New Multi-Year Founding Level Partnership Highlighted (NBA), Rated: A

The Charlotte Hornets and LendingTree today announced a multi-year partnership in which the Charlotte-based online loan marketplace’s logo will appear on the team’s jerseys, effective immediately.  LendingTree also becomes a Founding Level Partner of the organization and the Official Loan Shopping Partner of the Charlotte Hornets.  The Hornets will wear the LendingTree logo on their jerseys for the first time on Wednesday, November 15, when the team debuts its new Classic Edition uniform in an 8 p.m. contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers that will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Along with placement on all team uniforms, LendingTree will have fixed signage on the Spectrum Center concourse and on the venue’s mobile entry scanners, as well as digital signage on the scorer’s table, basket stanchion, center-hung scoreboard and 360 LED boards.  LendingTree also receives entitlement of the new Hornets app, the team roster page on hornets.com and score updates on the team’s social media outlets.  Additional advertising elements include banner ads and pre-roll video ads on hornets.com and spots on Hornets television broadcasts on FOX Sports Southeast and radio broadcasts on WFNZ.

Miles Reidy of QED Investors on Regtech (Lend Academy), Rated: A

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Miles varied background in finance and how he landed at QED Investors.
  • His areas of focus at QED.
  • How Miles defines regtech.
  • Why regtech has its origins in the changes brought on by the financial crisis.
  • The comparison of regtech to the changes that happened in consumer credit in the 1980s and ’90s.
  • How automation is making a difference today in KYC.
  • Why consumers should be in control of who has access to their personal information.
  • The most profound change that regtech is going to bring to financial services.
  • The single hardest job at a large bank today.
  • Why integration is the key for any successful regtech project at a large bank.
  • Why the real regulatory innovation will be driven by the UK.
  • Why QED decided to create their own regtech conference in Washington DC.
  • What they will be covering at this event.
  • What Miles thinks are the most interesting areas of regtech today.

Two Startup Acquisitions Within 30 Hours For Plug and Play FinTech (Business Insider), Rated: A

Within 30 hours, two of Plug and Play FinTech’s batch startups were acquired: Vault by Acorns and Qumram by Dynatrace.

The Guarantors Raises €10.07M in Series A Funding (FINSMES), Rated: A

The Guarantors, a NYC-based insurtech startup focused on the real estate industry, raised €10.07M (approx. $11.7M) in Series A funding.

The round was led by White Star Capital and Alven Capital with participation from SilverTech Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Rocket Internet Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, and other investors.

The company will use the funds to continue to develop the product and launch beyond NY in 2018.

The internet name many banks are afraid to use (American Banker), Rated: A

After Farmers & Merchants State Bank in Archbold, Ohio, switched its internet domain from dot-com to dot-bank, it got a handful of calls from customers wondering where its website had gone.

The $1 billion-asset bank also noted some assumed when a sentence ended “.bank.” in its promotional materials, the last period was part of the web address, instead of perfect punctuation.

Farmers & Merchants is one of only a few hundred institutions that have made the switch to the generic top-level domain that became widely available in mid-2015. While the extension is supposed to signal a bank is, in fact, a bank, the domain is still not available to most bank customers.

SEC Says Companies Can Expect New Guidelines on Reporting Cybersecurity Breaches (WSJ), Rated: A

A senior Securities and Exchange Commission regulator said Thursday that public companies will soon face new guidelines for how they report cybersecurity breaches to investors.

The agency will probably update directions that it gave to companies over six years ago, before the spate of high-profile breaches, including at the SEC itself and Equifax , EFX 0.05% Inc., the credit-reporting firm with access to sensitive financial details for millions of consumers.

How to Become an Investor: Startup Capital (Investor Ideas), Rated: A

While it is not encouraged to apply for loans from major financial institutions like big banks (owing to interest rates of 15% – 23%), there are other options such as Lending Club that offer interest rates at just 5.32% for preferred clients. With interest rates that low, it is viable to consider nonconventional options to get your investments up and running. Lending Club is one example of a highly reputable service comprising a community of lenders that can help investors achieve their objectives.

Survey Shows Payday Borrowers Have No Regrets (Credit Union Times), Rated: A

According to the CFPB, payday loan companies collectively raked in roughly $3.6 billion in fee revenue in 2015. The CFPB also estimated that there are 15,766 payday loan stores throughout the U.S., slightly more than the country’s 14,350 McDonalds.

This lending product is commonly targeted at low-income consumers who use payday loans as plugs gaps in expenses in order to keep them afloat. Some credit unions see this an opportunity to help the underserved/underbanked market.

The Hoboken, N.J.-based LendEDU polled 1,000 consumers who have used a payday loan in the last year with some surprising results:

  • The average payday loan borrower used a payday loan 3.80 times in the last year.
  • Eighty-two percent said they looked at the interest rate and fees before borrowing.
  • The average amount borrowed was $442.16.
  • Fifty-one percent said they did not regret using a payday loan.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said they explored other borrowing options (ex. installment loans, credit cards) before using a payday loan.

However, some 75% of respondents indicated they were well informed throughout the application process; and when asked “Did payday loans make your financial situation better or worse off?” more borrowers stated that payday loans made their situations better, (44.2%) than worse, (30.3%).

FinTech Fast Tracks Mortgages (The MReport), Rated: B

According to a report by Sarah Strochak of the Urban Institute, the outpouring of financial technology (fintech) in the mortgage space has brought with it all sorts of innovation, including new ways to capture data, reaching more people and expanding access to credit. The Urban institute also states that in having the ability to reach more people, fintech firms also have the potential to disrupt the inequality status quo in the economy.

For example, the Urban Institute draws on the case of Down Payment Resource, a company that has created a database that matches customers with down payment assistance programs.

United Kingdom

Weekend press review: “…of a return to normality in markets that are still climbing a wall of worry about valuations…” (IFA Magazine), Rated: AAA

The Telegraph asks a question which will evoke a sigh from many readers. Have we seen the end of the peer-to-peer lending boom? Last year’s record £3.2 billion lending total – of which two thirds went to Zopa, Funding Circle or RateSetter – has been impacted by a succession of unrelated bad news stories.

First there’s been the falling rate of returns, which run at barely 3.7% for Zopa Core 4.5% at Zopa Plus – down by a good 1.5% since the good times. Not to mention a deteriorating risk situation: nowadays, the Telegraph says, fully 20% of applicants get Zopa approval compared with barely 0.5% in the old days. That puts Zopa’s approval rate on a par with the mainstream banks.

P2P sector urges chancellor to set bold housing agenda in Autumn Budget (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

THE PEER-TO-PEER lending sector has called on the chancellor to introduce a more ambitious housing programme in this month’s Budget.

There have been several rumours about the content of Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Budget, set for 22 November 2017, including the scrapping of stamp duty for first-time buyers.

Supporters of the policy claim it could help to bridge the UK’s generational divide, but P2P lenders think a more transformative housing policy is required.

Fintech startup Flux partners with Barclays for itemised receipts (TechCrunch), Rated: A

Flux, the London fintech startup founded by former early employees at Revolut, has announced a partnership with Barclays in the U.K. that will see it trial its itemised receipt technology with 10,000 of the bank’s customers.

The young company has built a software platform that bridges the gap between the itemised receipt data captured by a merchant’s point-of-sale (POS) system and what little information typically shows up on your bank statement or mobile banking app.

ThinCats Appoints Alison Whistance to Cover South-West Region (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Alison Whistance, described as a finance expert, joins ThinCats as Origination Manager, South-West, as the peer to peer lender gears up for its next period of growth. Recently, ThinCats announced a £200 million funding program in conjunction with its parent company ESF Capital.

FinTech firms, banks and insurers give evidence to Committee (Parliament.uk), Rated: B

The EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee continues its inquiry on financial regulation and supervision by taking evidence from banks, insurers and FinTech specialists.

Witnesses

Wednesday 15 November 2017 in Committee Room 4A, Palace of Westminster.

At 10.15am

  • Sally Dewar, International Head of Regulatory Affairs, JP Morgan
  • Julian Adams, Group Regulatory & Government Relations Director, Prudential

At 11.15am

  • Flora Coleman, Head of Government Relations, Transferwise
  • Charlotte Crosswell, Chief Executive Officer, Innovate Finance
China

LexinFintech files for $ 500m IPO in US (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

LexinFintech Holdings, a Chinese online consumer lending company, has filed for a $500m initial public offering in the US and in the process revealed that funding costs have spiked this year – just as Beijing has signalled its intent to crack down on the sector in a drive to rein in financial risk.

LexinFintech said in a Securities Exchange Commission filing that it was seeking to raise as much as $500m from its listing on the Nasdaq equities exchange under the ticker symbol “LX”.

The company said total operating revenue for the nine months to the end of September rose 35.3 per cent year on year to Rmb3.99bn ($600.6m), while operating costs rose 19.9 per cent to Rmb3.1bn, shaking out to a net profit of Rmb5.8m for the period, compared to a loss of Rmb193.7m a year prior.

‘Proptech’ follows fintech’s footsteps (China Daily), Rated: A

In the past few years, technology has revolutionized the financial sector, and as fintech continues to swell into more sectors, the real estate industry will welcome its own version, known as proptech, according to a senior executive from international real estate consultancy company Jones Lang LaSalle.

Perhaps the most prominent example of fintech on life in China is the ubiquity of mobile payment. The Better Than Cash Alliance reported earlier this year that Alipay and WeChat Pay enabled $2.9 trillion in Chinese digital payments in 2016, a 20-fold increase in the past four years.

A recent HSBC study finds that 70 percent of Chinese millennials have their own property, with 91 percent planning to buy a house in the next five years, a greater percentage than their counterparts in countries including Canada, France, the US and the UK.

European Union

Orange Bank goes live with Backbase banking platform (Banking Technology), Rated: A

France’s latest mobile-only bank, Orange Bank, has gone live on Backbase’sOmnichannel Banking Platform.

Backbase says Orange is the only French bank to offer for free a service that provides real-time balances, mobile payments and a virtual adviser that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

European Commission to Assess Potential of EU-Wide Blockchain Infrastructure (Coindesk), Rated: B

The European Commission (EC), the economic bloc’s legislative body, is launching a study aimed to assess the feasibility and potential of an EU-wide blockchain infrastructure.

The study, which is set to cost €250,000, will focus on whether blockchain can assist the EC’s objective of creating the conditions for a reliable, transparent and EU law compliant “data and transactional environment.”

International

FINASTRA SOLUTIONS NAMED BEST-IN-CLASS (Finastra), Rated: AAA

Aite Group has awarded Finastra “Best-in-Class” status for its commercial loan origination solutions, including Total Lending powered by LaserPro and FusionBanking Credit Management Enterprise (CME). The standing reinforces Finastra’s position as the industry leader in end-to-end commercial lending.

Aite Group’s bi-annual report, Commercial Loan Origination: Scoping the Market and Comparing the Vendors, is a comprehensive review and ranking of the 10 leading global commercial loan origination vendors. It uses a highly governed and quantitative vendor evaluation methodology known as the Aite Impact Matrix (AIM), which provides an in-depth market assessment of financial technology vendors.

Total Lending, powered by LaserPro (the installed base of which was evaluated based on the long-standing D+H commercial loan origination capabilities that comprise this new “good-better-best” tiered offering) was recognized by Aite Group as having the highest client strength score.

FusionBanking Credit Management Enterprise obtained the highest score for product features, delivering on the largest number of required commercial loan origination functionalities with the least amount of required configuration or custom code.

Finastra also received the “All Things to Everyone” award for its breadth of offerings from a single vendor.

SBL Network Ltd launches peer-to-peer securities lending platform (FTSE Global Markets), Rated: AAA

SBL Network Ltd, the new financial technology company created to provide transaction and information services to the global capital markets industry, is to launch the industry’s first peer-to-peer securities lending platform.

Aquila Network provides the first market place allowing major institutional owners of equities such as Pension Funds, Insurance Companies and Sovereign Wealth Funds, to negotiate and lend directly to Hedge Funds.

SBL has raised approximately £1m this year via two EIS-qualifying funding rounds and now announces the launch of its Aquila Network, the first peer-to-peer securities lending platform, established in response to what the firm says is growing demand for greater transparency in the securities lending marketplace.

What to Expect When Participating in a Token Launch (Consensys), Rated: AAA

When you initially learn about a token launch you’d like to participate in, gather all the information you can. Not every token launch is structured in the same way.

Make sure you do a few things before the token launch begins:

  • Research, research, research
  • Understand the value proposition of the project
  • Know the prerequisites you need in order to be a valid investor
  • Find out how you will pay for the token, and how tokens will be distributed

Watch out for Red Flags

The Ethereum space is exciting and full of opportunities, but there are scammers and phishers of all sorts looking to take advantage of people’s trust.

  • Never share your private key
  • Always do a deep read of the whitepaper, check out the source code
  • Listen to the community

KPMG: In Q3 Global Fintech Investment Hit $ 8.2 Billion (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Overall, global Fintech investment remains solid with$8.2 billion invested across 274 deals.

Some of the larger investments  during the quarter include:

  • Intacct – $850 million
  • Concardis – $806 million
  • CardConnect – $ 750 million
  • Xactly – $564 million
  • Merchants’ Choice Payments solutions – $470 million
  • Access Point Financial $350 million
  • Service Finance Company – $304 million
  • Prodigy Finance – $204 million
  • TIO Networks – $238.9 million
  • Dianrong – $220 million

Insurtech is on course for a record breaking year with VC investments standing at $1.53 billion by the end of Q3 for 179 deals. For the entire year of 2016, Insurtech saw $1.79 billion invested in 203 deals.

Regionally, Fintech deals break down as follows:

  • Americas – $5.35 billion for 158 deals
    • the US claimed $5 billion and 142 deals
  • Europe – $1.66 billion for 73 deals
    • The UK dominated
  • Asia – $1.2 billion fro 41 deals
    • China continued to dominate but deals in Hong Kong, India and Korea were in the top 10
India

How to take a bank loan while working for a blacklisted employer (Financial Express), Rated: A

What happens when a company gets blacklisted? Will the employees have access to credit or will they get declined despite having good credit scores and salaries?

If one lands in such a situation, the logical thing to do is to change the employer. More because it would not only have an impact on one’s credit life, but more importantly, continued employment with a blacklisted employer can lead to financial disruptions sooner or later.

If the need for funding arises while being employed with a such company, one could take the following steps:

# The first lending institution to be contacted has to be the bank with your salary account.

# Each lending institution has its own methodology of categorizing companies and the current employer may not be part of the list with all lenders. So, “there may be some lenders willing to give loans unless one is employed with prominent companies that go bankrupt (as we have seen over past few years). However, one has to be very careful and in the endeavor to procure credit one must not apply with various lenders at the same time since this can have adverse impact on the credit profile. A better option would be to connect with a credit advisor with established repute and seek assistance,” informs Ramamurthy.

# Peer to peer lending is another new age option that can be explored by such individuals.

Asia

Kazakh fintech start-up holds its first global ICO (Astana Times), Rated: A

LendEx financial-tech (fintech) start-up plans to initiate an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) using the Ethereum platform based on block chain technology. The investments will be used to launch the LendEx P2P (peer to peer) lending platform, which will focus on online lending to clients in Central and Southeast Asia.

“The LendEx online platform, built with the help of block chain technologies, will provide crypto investors with access to the platform and will allow issuing microcredits for borrowers checked in national currencies,” said fintech entrepreneur and start-up author Alexey Sidorov.

The LendEx release will be held in two stages: the actual ICO and pre-ICO, which will begin Dec. 1.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Wednesday September 13 2017, Daily News Digest

New Orchard deals platform

News Comments Today’s main news: Orchard connects institutional buyers, loan originators with new Deals platform. Funding Circle lends 91M GBP to UK businesses in August. RateSetter recovering from bad loan. Keynote speakers for LendIt Europe. India’s P2p lending rules have been finalized. Juvo takes financial inclusion to Malaysia with Tune Talk. Today’s main analysis: What Orchard’s Deals platform does, and […]

New Orchard deals platform

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

India

Asia

News Summary

United States

Orchard Unveils Global Network Connecting Institutional Buyers and Loan Originators with New Opportunities in Private Credit (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Orchard Platform has rolled out Deals as a part of its new platform launch. With the addition of Deals to their suite of technology solutions for loan originators and institutional investors, Orchard Platform takes the next step in their evolution. Deals is a global network where loan originators searching for new sources of financing, and institutional investors with capital to deploy, can connect, evaluate opportunities, and move forward with multiple types of transactions.

Deals is operated by Orchard Platform Markets, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary, SEC-registered broker-dealer, and member of FINRA and SIPC. With Deals, qualified investors gain access to a broad range of new investment opportunities, including pools of seasoned loans, forward flow agreements, and credit facilities—along with all underlying deal data and an enterprise suite of credit analytics solutions to evaluate each prospective transaction. Originators with pools of loans to sell can list deals and seamlessly share data within this global network, while working with investors who express interest in a deal to conduct due diligence and analysis, and finalize the transaction’s structure and terms.

Orchard Platform’s new features include:

  • Deals: Global network where pre-qualified loan originators and investors can browse a broad listing of investment opportunities and corresponding data, and utilize Orchard’s enterprise technology to seamlessly exchange information, assess potential transactions, and take the next steps more efficiently.
  • Capital Management: Allocation optimization, facility monitoring, and automated borrowing-base reporting offerings to help originators better monitor utilization across multiple capital sources—and manage them with greater precision and insight.
  • News & Insights: The most recent industry news, economic data, and Orchard research and commentary to keep originators and investors up-to-date on the latest industry trends and thinking. Although Deals information is only available to pre-qualified institutional investors, Orchard also provides free access to anonymized, aggregated industry data to parties seeking to learn more about the industry, including journalists, researchers, and investors.
  • Advanced Analytics: Originators can benchmark origination and performance data against an aggregated and anonymized peer group, and quickly analyze any data set under multiple scenarios, to gain deeper insights into their loan books and funding channels. Investors can also take advantage of scenario testing, data visualization, and benchmarking tools to gain actionable portfolio and market intelligence.
  • High-Quality Data Services: Data integrations with Orchard help originators improve the quality of their data, and streamline the process for client reporting.

Orchard Launches New “Deals” Platform Connecting Institutional Investors and Originators (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

The key piece that I was interested in was the new Orchard Deals platform. The old Orchard Platform provided technology solutions for both originators and institutional investors but Deals is the piece that finally connects the dots. The platform connects institutional investors with origination platforms that have listed specific investment opportunities. Orchard has 55 institutional investors registered on their platform and 25 originators (with several more in the queue). Originators cover the gamut of consumer, small business and real estate lending.

At launch time they had an initial $500 million in active deals from 10 originators listed on the platform. These are both primary and secondary deals.

To be clear, Orchard’s new platform is far more than just a secondary market. It has several new features:

  1. Deals – Pre-qualified investors can browse listings of a range of different investment opportunities offered by originators.
  2. Capital Management – For originators to help monitor and optimize capital utilization across multiple funding sources.
  3. Advanced Analytics – Benchmarking of performance data against an anonymized peer group.
  4. Data Services – Helping originators improve the quality of their data and client reporting.
  5. News & Insights – Industry news and economic data as well as Orchard’s own research and commentary.

                                   Source: Lend Academy

CEO’s Fall Clouds Prospects for Fintech Firm SoFi (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Mike Cagney’s decision to resign as CEO of online lender Social Finance Inc. casts uncertainty over the financial-technology upstart’s business prospects, its attempt to open a bank in Utah and plans for an eventual public offering.

The company has been valued at more than $4 billion by shareholders including private-equity firm Silver Lake and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp.

In recent weeks, however, Mr. Cagney was spending less time on business issues and more on personnel and legal matters.

When the SoFi board met by telephone on Saturday, those issues occupied much of the conversation, according to people familiar with the matter. When the board meeting reconvened on Sunday, Mr. Cagney raised the idea of moving aside, arguing that his presence risked being a burden on the company’s progress. The executive told directors it would be better for SoFi if he resigned, the people said.

How Mr. Cagney’s departure will affect SoFi’s growth plans is unclear. Its management team was thinned following the departure of Chief Financial Officer Nino Fanlo, Chief Revenue Officer Michael Tannenbaum and co-founder Dan Macklin over the past few months.

Regulators require firms that are requesting banking licenses to maintain consistency in their management teams, which will likely delay SoFi’s application, according to a person familiar with the matter.  The company has also been looking to hire a new finance chief to replace Mr. Fanlo who could guide it to an initial public offering. That search is now on hold until Mr. Cagney’s successor is named.

SoFi CEO to step down after claims of managers’ sexual harassment (USA Today), Rated: A

Cagney, who’s also co-founder, plans to remain in the role until the board names his successor, likely by the end of the year. He was replaced immediately as board chairman by venture capitalist Tom Hutton, who has been a board member since 2012.

SoFi, based in San Francisco, is one of the hottest startups in the personal finance sector, with revenue rising 67% year-over-year to $134 million in the second quarter. It also funded $3.1 billion in loans during the quarter.

SoFi Co-Founder and CEO Mike Cagney to Step Down by Year End (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Back in August there was the news of a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former employee. Before that there had been several senior executive departures, we have had a class action lawsuit and one of Silicon Valley’s most valuable and revered fintech companies was starting to lose some of its luster.

The New York Times is also reporting that “Mr. Cagney may have been overaggressive in expanding SoFi’s business, skirting risk and compliance controls.” That is the first I have heard about any compliance issues and if it is true then this could be a much bigger issue for SoFi.

Regardless of the what the real story this is not good for the industry whatsoever. Just when it felt like we had some momentum and the industry was starting to thrive again this is definitely a setback. The press is going to bring up the issues with Lending Club last year and we will have to deal with more negative sentiment.

Personal finance app MoneyLion is experimenting with augmented reality (Tearsheet), Rated: A

MoneyLion is timing its launch of an AR tool to coincide with Apple’s iOS 11 release, which is rumored to be this week. MoneyLion’s feature, called Grow Your Stack, will let customers get a visual representation of their account balance as stacks of cash projected over the customer’s view of the real world. It will use iOS 11’s ARKit technology.

MoneyLion joins a league of banks experimenting with VR and AR technology, advancements that have the potential to transform branch banking. As Tearsheet reported in June, BNP Paribas recently introduced a VR-based app for retail banking that allows users to virtually access their account activity and transaction records. Citi and Wells Fargo are also dabbling in VR technology, while in the PFM space, Intuit has experimented with visualizing one’s financial health as a forest.

Upstart, The Brainchild Of Google Execs, Is Using Fintech To Make Smarter Loans (Benzinga), Rated: A

About 40 to 50 percent of Americans have access to prime credit, yet 83 percent of people who have taken out a loan have never defaulted, said Girouard, the CEO of the San Franciscolending firm Upstart.

The groups who are often denied by traditional credit models — but aren’t necessarily risky — include millennials with a “thin” credit file, recent immigrants and self-employed people, Girouard said.

The average size of a loan from Upstart is between $11,000 and $12,000, and the average age of the company’s borrowers is 28, the CEO said.

Loans range between $1,000 and $50,000, with APRs from 7.39 percent to 29.99 percent and three- and five-year terms.

Upstart borrowers must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and have a FICO score above 620.

Amped advice for the new retired class (Financial-Planning), Rated: A

The financial advice industry exhorts retirement preparedness but provides scant guidance for retirees after they reach that milestone, according to Matt Fellowes, well-known fintech entrepreneur who is launching a new digital advice platform.

Fellowes founded HelloWallet, a software company that Morningstar acquired in 2014 for $52.5 million. After a stint as chief innovation office at Morningstar, Fellowes left to launch United Income, which aims to serve a generation of retirees dealing with very complicated lives after work.

Fellowes finds fault in how the industry approaches its deaccumulation models, claiming its methods and assumptions are outdated. Key considerations for retirees managing their finances, he says — when will they die and how much will they spend before passing — are “two of the least studied questions in asset management today.”

FULL SERVICE
The platform offers different tiers of service, from a digital-only option with a $10,000 account minimum and a 50 basis point annual fee, to advisor-assisted service, with either a maximum 60 basis point fee for a $100,000 account minimum, or a maximum 80 basis points for a minimum $300,000 account, which is advertised as “full service.”

United Income had a goal of reaching $38 million in assets by the end of the year. It has already passed $210 million, Fellowes says.

Scotch Plains Woman Charged With Attempting to Steal $ 241,000 from Online Lender (Tapinto.net), Rated: A

A Scotch Plains woman indicted last year as a leader in an auto-theft trafficking network has been charged in a separate scheme to steal $241,000 from an online lending company.

Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced that Tyisha Brantley, 37, was charged with computer criminal activity, attempted theft by deception and falsifying records for allegedly used her work computer at Pfizer Inc. to create and send phony bank statements to iLoan Residential Mortgage lending in an attempt to obtain a $241,000 mortgage to purchase a home in Newark.

Brantley allegedly used computer software to alter two statements from her boyfriend’s bank account; adding her name as an account holder and changing the account balance from $-525.05 to $15,933.  She then allegedly used the computer to email, from her work account, the fraudulent statements to the lending company, which ultimately did not approve the loan.

Fintech: The Fastest Growing Industry in the U.S. (Them Report), Rated: A

Fintech, or financial technology, had close to $13 billion invested in it in 2016 from U.S. based companies alone.

Fintech allows digital lenders to offer competitive rates due to automation and lack of physical offices. Turner and S&P Global Market Intelligence’s estimates show that 13 of the largest digital lenders in the U.S. originated $28.39 billion in loans last year and a cumulative $68.75 billion since their respective inceptions.

S.F. fintech Plaid moves to larger HQ amid explosive growth (Biz Journals), Rated: B

San Francisco-based Plaid, which connects some of the hottest fintech apps to their users’ bank accounts, has moved to a new headquarters that’s more than double the startup’s previous home base.

Kabbage, Indeed, Microsoft Join A-List Speaker Lineup at the National B2SMB Summit (Benzinga), Rated: B

The national event takes place Oct. 3-4 and is spread over two locations in Chicago’s dynamic West Loop district: 1871 at the Merchandise Mart on Day 1, and the Revel Fulton Market on Day 2.

Other recent additions to the speaker roster include:

  • Pete Steger, Head of Business Development, Kabbage
United Kingdom

Funding Circle lends £91m to UK businesses in August (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle has revealed that it lent a total of £91m to UK businesses during August.

The peer-to-peer platform provided finance to 1,309 UK businesses during the month and reported that investors are set for a current estimated return of 6.7% per year.

Funding Circle reported that of its total lending, 24.7% was provided to businesses based in the South East.

Britain’s RateSetter recovering after ‘asteroid strike’ bad loan discovery (Daily Mail), Rated: AAA

Britain’s peer-to-peer lending platform RateSetter has managed to retain most of its customers despite leaving the industry’s trade body last month after breaching its transparency rules, its Chief Executive Rhydian Lewis told Reuters in an interview.

Peer-to-peer platforms, which bring together individual borrowers and lenders without a bank being involved, have grown rapidly in Britain since 2015 but are starting to come under regulatory scrutiny.

Lewis said that while the platform has lost some business, it has retained 95 percent of its customers despite offering them the chance to sell out at no cost between July 18 and Aug. 31.

Orca Co-Founder & CEO Iain Niblock Shares UK P2P Lending Market Update (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Orca, an independent data, research, and analysis provider in the UK P2P lending market, recently shared an exclusive update via email: the UK P2P lending market outlook is bright.

“We are still seeing very strong growth across the UK peer to peer lending market with cumulative lending surpassing £10 billion at the very start of Q3 2017. In particular business lending has grown by 84.19% when comparing to the same period of 2016,” observed Orca Co-Founder & CEO Iain Niblock.

Goldman Sachs plans consumer lending UK push (Business Insider), Rated: A

The first phase of this expansion will see Goldman Sachs launch online deposit accounts, and the second will see the bank roll out a consumer lending offering.

Besides Goldman Sachs’ obvious clout, there are two reasons UK alt lenders should be worried:

  • The bank has already proven itself adept at dramatic pivots. Goldman Sachs originally operated as a wealth management and investment bank, and only began serving the mass market in 2016, when it eight months later, it had 

    A year in numbers! How P2P firms can help consumers beat inflation (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

    Consumer price inflation when we started in September 2016 was at one per cent. Since then, it has almost tripled to 2.9 per cent today.

    The household savings rate – the percentage of disposable income being saved – was at 5.3 per cent at the end of September 2016, but hit record lows of 1.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, the lowest level since records began in the first quarter of 1963.

    Savings rates have actually increased slightly. The best buy easy access rate this time last year was one per cent from RCI Bank. The same provider now offers 1.2 per cent.

    Starling Bank’s New Platform MarketPlace Integrates with Fintech Flux (Bank Innovation), Rated: A

    U.K.’s Starling Bank is embracing the PSD2 changes in finance with the launch of its Marketplace platform.

    Rewards and receipt provider Flux will be the first company to be integrated onto this platform.

    How to tell the difference between robo-advisers (City A.M.), Rated: A

    Recent research from international banking group ING highlights how cautious consumers feel about using robo-advisers.

    The report found that 29 per cent of consumers want more than just a simple online investment service – they want financial advice to guide their investment journey.

    Interestingly, the study also found that, rather than having a computer manage their money, most consumers would prefer to personally manage their investments, even if it resulted in lower expected returns.

    This 35-year-old banker left Goldman Sachs to start a fintech inspired by his mother (Business Insider), Rated: A

    Goldman Sachs has invested £100 million in a fintech startup founded by two of its former bankers that lets people borrow money and repay through their salaries.

    Neyber, founded in 2014 and launched in 2015, partners with employers to let their staff borrow money at attractive rates.

    Repayments are then deducted from future salaries, lowering the risk for the lender and hopefully helping staff manage money better.

    The startup was founded by three former investment bankers, including two Goldman alums. CEO Martin Ijaha, 35, left Goldman in 2012 and came up with the idea for the business when thinking about the experience of his family as a child.

    From ISAs to authorisations: the big stories of the past year (P2P Finance News), Rated: B

    Nick Harding, chief executive of Lending Works, argued that the arrival of the Innovative Finance ISA  (IFISA) was “far and away the most significant event” for the sector over the past year.

    John Goodall, chief executive and co-founder of Landbay, suggested that the number of Financial Conduct Authority approvals seen in the last year marked a “significant milestone” for the sector.

    Britain’s leading fintechs are banding together to work out a Brexit strategy (Business Insider), Rated: B

    Entrepreneurs from TransferWise, Funding Circle, Onfido, Monzo, FreeAgent, MarketInvoice, and Starling Bank have all joined the Fintech Delivery Panel (FDP), a new industry group that aims to “produce an ambitious post-Brexit vision for the UK’s fintech sector.”

    The panel also includes representatives from big banks such as Barclays, HSBC, RBS and Santander.

China

China’s ICO ban makes more sense in light of its history with fintech (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

Many in the US have chided the PBOC for its apparent overreaction. AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant called the policy a “huge gift to Silicon Valley and its resident financiers.” VC Fred Wilson penned a thoughtful post comparing China’s approach to that of the SEC in the US, opining that “We needed a cooling off period and if China’s actions are that cooling off period, then I welcome them. However, a blanket ban on ICOs seems like bad policy to me.”

From the perspective of US and European financial markets, this reaction seems like a drastic one-size-fits-all policy for a nuanced ecosystem, calling to mind the idiom “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” However, China’s context provides four specific insights that somewhat reframe this policy:

An ever-evolving financial regulatory regime

In a country with a stock market less than 30 years old, it’s little wonder that investor protections may not yet have evolved to be comprehensive enough for the complicated ecosystem of alternative finance. Imagine China having to replicate the regulatory framework that took decades to develop in the US following the 1929 stock market crash – all in less than 30 years!

A sketchy recent past for financial technology in the Middle Kingdom

In the peer to peer lending space (in which I used to work) China is conversationally referred to as the ‘wild west’ of fintech. Thousands of platforms sprung up almost overnight in China, promising to transform mom-and-pop savings into productive debt investments. These exchanges had raised a staggering $59 billion from unsophisticated investors by early 2016.

One in three of the country’s 3,600 platforms failed and shut down, including marketplaces like Ezubao, which defrauded over 900,000 investors out of $7.6 billion. It’s almost impossible to imagine American or European regulators allowing unaccredited investors to be exposed to comparable schemes at such a magnitude of scale.

In the peer to peer space, the PBOC had a very similar reaction to its recent ICO ban, imposing strict limits on the online lending industry to curb the risks of “shadow banking.” The only difference was that the online lending restrictions came too late, in the wake of massive investor losses.

Ping An Technology is the Sole Chinese Firm to Rank Among the Top 50 Firms (PR Newswire), Rated: B

International Data Corporation (IDC), a leading global provider of market intelligence, released the 2017 IDC Fintech Rankings Top 100 list on September 12. Ping An Technology, the top-ranked Chinese firm within the list, came in at number 38, as a result of its cutting-edge innovation and strong technology competence. The rankings serve as further confirmation of the attention and recognition that Ping An Technology is getting from IDC, on the heels of the Chinese firm’s 4th place position on the 2017 IDC China FinTech Pioneer Top 25 list.

European Union

LendIt Europe Announces Keynote Speakers for 2017 Event (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

The conference’s extensive speaker line-up includes:

  • Antony Jenkins, Founder and Executive Chair at 10x Future Technologies
  • Anne Boden, CEO and Founder of Starling Bank
  • Jaidev Janadarna, CEO of Zopa
  • Karen Mills, Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School
  • Renaud Laplanche, Co-Founder & CEO of Upgrade

EstateGuru’s loan volume surpassed €30 million! (EstateGuru Email), Rated: A

In August, the platform’s loan volume was nearly €4 million which was a remarkable 13% from EstateGuru’s historic loan volume. In September the platform celebrates surpassing €30 million loan volume in which already 7900 investors from 39 countries have invested in. An interesting comparison can be drawn with the Baltic’s Nasdaq statistics – the largest amount of transactions were made with Siaulia Bankas (€8.4 million) and Tallink Group (€5.7 million). EstateGuru’s loan volume in August would comprise of roughly 11.5% of the entire Nasdaq Baltic transaction volume.

The growth of the firm is not only illustrated by the loan volumes but also by their strong track record.Due to the short-term nature of the loans, 70 loans worth €12 million have already been repaid to the investors, resulting in an impressive 12.4% historic interest rate. Meanwhile, loss of capital on the platform has remained €0 as the firm has not undergone any loan defaults!

Very soon, our clients will receive financial advice from a chatbot (Business-Review), Rated: A

Since the beginning of the year, BRD – Groupe Societe Generale has been developing a chatbot based on Personetics technology, which will operate via Facebook.

During Business Review’s Country Focus Community Forum in mid-June, BRD – Groupe Societe Generale CEO Francois Bloch announced the lender’s five-year plan to invest tens of millions of euros in digitalization and automation of processes. Soon, BRD clients will be the first among those of the French banking giant to benefit from financial guidance via a text conversation with an AI.

India

Peer-to-peer lending final norms to be out soon: RBI (Moneycontrol), Rated: AAA

The much-delayed peer-to-peer (P2P) lending guidelines have been finalised and will soon be released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) once it is notified by the government.

Jaipur-based Finova raises Series A funding from Sequoia Capital (VC Circle), Rated: A

Jaipur-based non-banking financial company Finova Capital Pvt. Ltd has raised an undisclosed amount in a Series A round from Sequoia Capital India Advisors Pvt. Ltd.

Wait for P2P lending to evolve before investing (livemint), Rated: A

Before we go any further on the subject, the most important aspect on P2P lending in India as of now is that it does not have specific regulations. At the same time, it is not illegal either. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has taken cognisance of the existence of P2P lending and came out with a consultation paper in April 2016. This is expected to be followed by formal guidelines for the sector, which the companies in the segment are expecting soon.

Since P2P lending is unsecured lending, it carries higher risk than other investments. The biggest risk is the borrower defaulting on repayments. These platforms claim to minimise this risk by using a strict filtering of borrowers at the time of registration itself. For instance, Faircent rejects close to 90% of applicants.

This means that there are many more borrowers than lenders. Financial planners advise planning properly before taking a loan. “Look at what is your cost of borrowing elsewhere. People need to understand that lending costs have come down across channels. If you benchmark P2P lending cost against credit card debt, it would look very attractive, but that should not be a benchmark,” said Dhawan.

If a borrower with a good credit score takes a personal loan from a bank, the landing cost of the loan could be 16-17%. The person can get the same loan at around 14% from P2P lending.

Asia

Juvo Partners With Tune Talk To Drive Financial Inclusion In Malaysia (Realwire), Rated: AAA

Juvo, the pioneer in mobile Identity Scoring, today announced its partnership with Tune Talk, the fastest growing Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in Malaysia. The deployment, Juvo’s first in Malaysia, will drive financial inclusion across a population that has rapidly adopted smartphones in a highly saturated market.

‘Pay Later’, created by Juvo and fueled by Juvo’s Identity Scoring, is a digitized service that provides prepaid users with access to progressive levels of financial services, starting with airtime loans. By using Juvo’s proprietary data science and game mechanics technology, subscribers graduate to higher levels of credit based on top-up and repayment history, account information, and every day interaction. Pay Later enables prepaid subscribers to unlock access to advanced financial services. And, for Tune Talk, Juvo’s solution will drive higher levels of engagement, increase retention and develop an identity-based relationship between Tune Talk and its customers.

Smartphone users in Malaysia are estimated to reach 17.8 million this year, and grow to 21.3 million by 2021.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor