Thursday May 25 2017, Daily News Digest

P2P global investments

News Comments Today’s main news: Investors pressure OnDeck to make bigger expense cuts. LendingClub celebrates 10 years in business. Zopa launches ISA. Earnest is not for sale, after all. Orca to launch new P2P rating service. Moody’ downgrades China on debt risk. The first ETF for ABS. Today’s main analysis: Orchard Platform reports Q1 results. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 10 years of excellence […]

P2P global investments

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

  • Moody’s downgrades China on debt risk. GP:”Unclear if this will have a real effect on the capital markets but it will certainly anger the Chinese government. If I were the Chinese government I would setup my own rating agency and build it into a real credible agency and not a government puppet so that the day when I need my own rating agency to maybe skew a little bit the ratings it will be credible enough.”
  • Chinese investors among majority of EB-5 visa recipients. AT: “It’s not surprising. One reason cited in this story is the harsh treatment offered to Christians by the Chinese government, so many of these families are using financial concerns as a cover up for religious oppression concerns. Both are legitimate.”

European Union

International

Australia

India

Asia

Middle East

News Summary

United States

OnDeck under pressure to make bigger cuts to cost base (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Activist investors are turning up the heat on OnDeck, the online lender, which said this month it would curb originations and cut costs in an attempt to turn a profit by the end of the year.

The company still needed to think bigger, according to Mario Cibelli, managing partner at Marathon Partners Equity Management, who wrote to board members in April urging them to take an axe to the $194m annual cost base and explore a sale of the business. Net revenues, after loan-loss provisions and funding costs, came to $109m last year.

Pressure on OnDeck is likely to come from other quarters too. EJF Capital, an activist investor, has built a stake equivalent to about 9 per cent of the shares outstanding since the turn of the year, according to disclosures tallied by Bloomberg. In February the Arlington, Virginia-based group, which ranks as OnDeck’s second-largest shareholder with more than 9 per cent, said it may seek talks with management.

LendingClub Celebrates Ten Years of Online Lending (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

LendingClub (NYSE:LC), the largest marketplace lender in the US, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. It is pretty hard to believe that LendingClub is now ten years old.

To paraphrase the LendingClub history:

  • Within the first 100 days of its existence, LendingClub originated its first $1 million in loan. The average interest rate, at that time, stood at 12.6%. By the end of 2007,  LendingClub had originated about 500 loans for a total of $3.5 million.
  • In 2010, LendingClub originated $10 million in a single month.
  • By 2012, LendingClub has originated $1 billion loans as institutional money becomes more interested in the Fintech platform. The following year, the first banks start investing on the LendingClub platform.
  • In 2014 Lending Club launched its IPO – the second largest for the year.
  • By 2017, LendingClub has originated more than $26 billion in loans as it enters the next decade of financial innovation.

10 Years of Excellence & Innovation (LendingClub), Rated: AAA

  • 2007 By August, the LendingClub website launches. By year’s end, approximately 500 loans worth over $3.5 million are made. 
  • 2008 The subprime mortgage crisis spreads; global markets sell off and the Great Recession takes hold. Despite the chaos and potential risk of halting its burgeoning business, LendingClub demonstrates its commitment to working with regulators, entering a six-month quiet period to register with the SEC and prepare to issue a security (the Note) that can be offered and sold to investors through its website.
  • 2009 LendingClub continues to stay focused on the opportunity to deliver investment alternatives to investors and introduces LendingClub IRAs to allow investors to use the platform to work toward their retirement goals.
  • 2010 Propelled by its SEC registered Notes and a robust investor base, LendingClub crosses $100 million in loans and 10,000 borrowers in the first quarter. By March, the company captures 79% of the U.S. marketplace lending market after facilitating $8,664,750 in monthly loan originations.
  • 2011 LendingClub continues to innovate on its borrower and investor offerings, surpassing $200 million in loans for borrowers at the beginning of the year. 
  • 2012 In 2012 alone, U.S. banks close 2,267 branches and approve a record-low 14.8% of small business loan requests. LendingClub is named to the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2012 list and originations top $1 billion.
  • 2013 LendingClub welcomes its first bank investor partners to the platform – Titan Bank and Congressional Bank.
  • 2014 A big year for tech IPOs, LendingClub is one of the biggest of the year, coming in second to Alibaba and listed on the NYSE alongside others, including Virgin America and GoPro.
  • 2015 Big banks continue to cut back on loans to small businesses, making it difficult for them to get access to credit. LendingClub becomes a founding member of the Small Business Borrower’s Bill of Rights and expands small business products to include a small business line of credit. 
  • 2016 LendingClub launches its auto refinance product, delivering a lower-cost alternative to car owners. 
  • 2017 LendingClub looks toward a new decade of financial innovation, leveraging the power of its marketplace model to deliver more value to both borrowers and investors. An investor mobile application is launched, making it easier than ever for retail investors to track their progress.

Thank you for 10 years (LendingClub Email), Rated: AAA

From the LendingClub newsletter:

Over the past 10 years, you have helped power the loans facilitated by LendingClub’s platform for borrowers looking to finance their financial lives. Together, we have helped nearly 2 million borrowers access affordable credit. That means we’ve helped finance debt consolidation, home improvement projects, medical expenses and weddings for millions of people in the United States.

  • More than 160,000 retail investors have gotten unprecedented access to invest in consumer credit through LendingClub’s platform
  • Nearly 2 million borrowers have gotten access to affordable credit through LendingClub’s marketplace
  • 98% of investors who invest in 100+ Notes of relatively equal size have seen positive returns
  • 1,700 loans are reviewed per day, and more than 50,800 loans per month
  • Loans receive full commitment in 3-4 days on average
  • Auto refinance customers saved an average of $1,500
  • Borrowers pay 24% lower in interest than they were paying on their outstanding debt or credit cards
  • 73% of borrowers experience a FICO score increase three months after obtaining their loan–with an average score increase of 28 points!

Consumer Unsecured Q1 2017 (Orchard Platform), Rated: AAA

Key Insights

  • Origination volume increased in Q1, continuing the trend that began last quarter. Q1 origination volume was up 4.6% from Q4, though still down 44% from Q4 2015, when the market reached its highest originations. Early indications in 2017 are that investor sentiment is improving, and we believe we’re likely to see increased investment over the next quarter.
  • 2014 and 2015 vintage charge-offs have increased more steeply than in prior years. We believe there are two main sources driving this increase. First, individual platforms have shown increasing charge-offs during these years. We do not have strong evidence of the reasons for this deterioration, but in recent months, some of the larger platforms have reworked their credit models which they believe should address the increases they have seen. Second, and also important to note, is that 2014 and 2015 vintages experienced substantial growth in subprime originations, which tend to charge-off at higher rates. The increase in subprime loans as a percentage of the overall market skews the results for recent years upward when compared with the originations from previous years that had a smaller percentage of subprime loans.
  • Borrower rates rose slightly in Q1, increasing 24bps from Q4 levels. The long-term trend over the last three years has been decreasing interest rates, in part driven by the decline of subprime originations in the past year. This will be an interesting statistic to monitor in the coming year as the Fed continues to raise interest rates in line with their tightening policy.
Source: Orchard Platform Quarterly Industry Report
Source: Orchard Platform Quarterly Industry Report
Source: Orchard Platform Quarterly Industry Report

With an Asset-Backed Debt ETF, the Bet Is If You Can Pay What You Owe (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

BlackRock Inc.’s planned iShares Consumer Asset-Backed Securities ETF will invest in notes supported by consumer loans, such as student debt and credit cards, according to a regulatory filing on Friday. If approved, it will be the first ETF to target the ABS market.

Consumer debt has ballooned in recent years as Americans ramp up borrowing and capitalize on historically low interest rates. Household debt topped $12.7 trillion in the first quarter, up 1.2 percent from the end of 2016. Signs of trouble are however brewing, with suspicions of fraud in some auto loan applications, a decline in credit-card recovery rates and an increase in late payments on private student loans.

The iShares MBS ETF has $10.6 billion under management while the iShares CMBS ETF oversees $240 million, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Futuristic Fintech, With a Female Focus (WSJ), Rated: A

SCOTT SAUNDERS, CEO of the online lending company Payoff, did not set out to build a personalized financial coaching app for women. In 2014, he began assembling a team that eventually included a cognitive neuroscientist, a marketer, an advertising executive and the data scientist behind eHarmony’s match algorithm. The goal: to build an app that used psychological testing to match users of both genders with artificially intelligent financial coaches. By focusing on the intersection of money and psychology, Saunders hoped to minimize financial stress and maximize the pleasure users get from spending and saving.

Earnest Not for Sale. Securitization is Moving Forward (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Last week, Crowdfund Insider referenced a report in Bloomberg that Earnest was looking for buyers as it struggled to raise new funds. A company representative has now stated that Earnest is not looking to sell the company.

Zibby Announces $ 13.5 Million Investment led by CURO Financial Technologies Corp. and MissionOG (LendIt), Rated: A

Zibby, the omnichannel lease‐to‐own payment option for online and in‐store shopping, today announced a $13.5 million investment led by CURO and MissionOG, with participation from Blumberg Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners and other institutional investors. This brings Zibby’stotal capital raised to more than $150 million. With the investment, Zibby will further expand its presence among retailers to offer non‐prime and near‐prime customers a monthly payment option for furniture, appliances, electronics and other consumer durables.

Baltimore fintech startup Blispay raises $ 12 million (Baltimore Sun), Rated: A

Blispay, a Baltimore-based financial technology company, has raised $12 million to accelerate the marketing and sales outreach for its financing platform.

The Series A round was led by FirstMark, Accomplice and NEA. New investors included Camden Partners and F-Prime Capital. The round brings the company’s total funding to just under $25 million.

Frost & Sullivan Commends AutoGravity for Transforming Automotive Financing Industry (Frost & Sullivan), Rated: A

Based on its recent analysis of the automotive financing industry, Frost & Sullivan recognizes AutoGravity with the 2017 North American Frost & Sullivan Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award. AutoGravity’s first-of-its-kind FinTech platform empowers car buyers to browse any new or used car, get multiple binding financing offers in minutes and select the deal and lender that’s right for them. Just months after launching its native mobile app in the summer of 2016, AutoGravity introduced new car leasing and used car loan features with the aim of transforming the auto financing industry.

While simplifying the financing process for customers, AutoGravity’s app also saves dealers the effort of educating customers on various models and financing options. Additionally, it saves time by eliminating the need to apply for financing at the dealership and process pages of paperwork. Most significantly, it supports dealers by providing them with qualified, enthusiastic car buyers.

Currently, AutoGravity has 60+ employees, and has recorded 350,000 app downloads in just one year. It has expanded to 48 states in the United States and has on-boarded many of the nation’s top-20 automotive lenders, as well as 1,500+ dealers. Due to these successes and its ability to break new ground in the auto financing industry, Frost & Sullivan is pleased to present AutoGravity with the 2017 North American Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award.

Fintech Tools That Can Change The World Of Finance (Forbes), Rated: A

According to an EY study last year, fintech is growing in popularity, with roughly 15.5% of digitally active consumers using financial tech products — a figure that was likely to double within 12 months. The United States had the second-highest adoption rate of fintech tools (16.5%), following Hong Kong with 29.1%.

  • 1. Artificial Intelligence – Fenergo deploys A.I. to analyze unstructured data, including social media, intracompany communication and linguistics in order to more effectively satisfy Know-Your-Customer and Anti-Money-Laundering requirements. – Jason LeeDailyPay
  • 2. Peer-To-Peer And Apple Pay 
  • 5. Riskalyze, RetireUp and Asset-Map – Riskalyze provides a user-friendly and client-facing software that allows us to tell the story of risk, which we believe is crucial for an investor to understand in order to have success. RetireUp, a user-friendly income planning tool, and Asset-Map offer very visual understandings to clients on where they stand when it comes to their finances. – Lance ScottBay Harbor Wealth Management
  • 7. PeerStreet And WorldRemit – Services like WorldRemit are empowering immigrants with better choice, security and transparency in sending money back home to their loved ones. – Binna KimVested
  • 8. Faster Payment Rails – Our old ACH network is improving. Instead of settling payments once per day, as it has for decades, it will start to settle multiple times per day. This will improve settlement success rates and prevent e-check kiting. Coming right behind this improvement are a number of real-time payment initiatives. – Charlie YouakimSezzle
  • 9. Decision Logic – I’m excited about Decision Logic because it provides lenders the ability to verify a borrower’s sensitive information and understand their borrower’s financial history. – Chad OtarExcel Capital Management, Inc.
  • 10. Peer-To-Peer Lending
  • 11. Robo-Advisers
  • 12. Greenlight – I just got my ten-year-old daughter a Greenlight card. It allows me to automate her allowance and potentially control the spaces where she spends money. – Matthew MayAcuity 

Fintech reinvents lottery bonds (Financial Times), Rated: A

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have a knack for taking old things and making them look new. The latest example of which is Long Game, which TechCrunch tells us is “a bank account, with a twist”:

The personal finance app allows users to play games and win cash prizes up to $1 million. It may sound like a gimmick, but these are FDIC-insured accounts backed by Blue Ridge Bank in Virginia.

[…]

In addition to the possibilities of cash rewards, users accrue .1 percent interest. She hopes that participants will take saving seriously and view the games as a bonus.

While Long Game touts the $1 million prize possibility, so far the largest check they’ve written is $1,000. Like the actual lottery, it’s an odds-based game and the chances of the app making you a millionaire are 1 in 227 million.

Here is the GAO Report on Fintech that was Delivered to Congress (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

This one falls under recently discovered. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on Financial Technology, or Fintech, for Congress this past April.

The GAO explained;

“You asked us to provide information on the fintech industry, including the marketplace lending subsector, such as its structure and development over the last several years, as well as how federal regulators supervise fintech firms. This report, the first in a series of planned reports on fintech, describes four commonly referenced subsectors of fintech: marketplace lending; mobile payments; digital wealth management; and distributed ledger technology and their regulatory oversight.”

Ann Fulmer Joins FormFree as Chief Strategy and Industry Relations Officer (PR Newswire), Rated: A

FormFree today announced that it has hired mortgage loan quality subject matter expert and analyst Ann Fulmer as its chief strategy and industry relations officer. FormFree’s flagship product, AccountChek, is an asset verification app that streamlines the loan underwriting process for both borrowers and lenders, resulting in higher borrower satisfaction and shaving more than a week off the time it takes to close a loan.

In her role, Fulmer will drive FormFree’s strategic planning and implementation, manage the firm’s institutional relationships and interactions with federal and state regulators and oversee outreach to industry associations and advocacy groups. In addition, she will spearhead the firm’s long-term development of a comprehensive mortgage compliance solution.

New fiduciary rule for financial advisers expected to go into effect in June (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Rated: B

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta on Tuesday made it clear that the U.S. Department of Labor would not delay the implementation of the rule,  announcing the agency’s intentions in a Wall Street Journal opinion column.

Tuesday’s announcement that the rule is going forward may not be the end of the discussion.

How Small Businesses Can Benefit from Loyalty Programs (Kabbage), Rated: B

Almost all companies find that they have to spend less money to keep customers than they have to spend to attract new people through the door or to their shopping website. Some companies may access small business loans for their initial investment. They understand that they can benefit from this investment because it provides them with an efficient way to market. The extra profits will allow them to pay the loan back and keep more for themselves.

United Kingdom

Zopa announces ISA launch (Finextra), Rated: AAA

Zopa, the pioneering financial services company, announces today that it will launch its Innovative Finance ISAs in June (pending HMRC approval). With demand expected to be high, existing customers will be given priority access ahead of new customers.

In preparation for the Innovative Finance ISA, Zopa is also revamping its investor products by introducing Zopa Core and announcing the retirement of Zopa Access and Classic. Investors in Zopa Core will lend in the same risk markets as Access and Classic (A*-C) but will not be covered by the Safeguard fund. Zopa Core will offer a higher target return of 3.9% after fees and expected credit losses, as compared to 3.7% and 2.9% for Classic and Access.

The Innovative Finance ISA will be launched in four phases:
1. The first stage (from 15th June) will be focused on existing customers who want to open a new IFISA (limit of £20,000) and lend through Core and Plus.
2. The second stage (1st July 2017 to 31st July 2017) will enable existing customers to sell their current loans and re-purchase similar loans in an IFISA wrapper. This will allow investors to retain Safeguarded loans in the IFISA. Any investing through new lending, or relending as capital is returned, will be onto Plus or Core only.
3. The third stage (from August 2017, but dependent on meeting demand for new IFISAs) will allow existing customers to transfer existing ISA investments with other providers to Zopa.
4. And finally, once we have met demands of existing customers, we will welcome investments from new customers.

UK P2P Lending Market Researcher Orca Dives into P2P Provider Rating Services (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Orca, an independent data, research and analysis providers on the UK P2P lending market has announced its plans to launch its own four-factor rating service for individual P2P providers, the Orca Rating. The rating will be designed in partnership with Dublin City University’s Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce research team, to respond to the growth of the asset class and the demand for more independent analysis and information on P2P lending.

The Orca rating will individually analyze four factors — performance, liquidity, operator health and security — aiming to go beyond existing single platform ratings and enable advisers and investors to assess all fundamental criteria at once when comparing and choosing P2P lending platforms.

According to Orca data, the P2P market has now surpassed £9B cumulative total lent with 2016 alone seeing a 40% increase in investment in the asset class.

P2P lender ArchOver granted full FCA authorisation (Finextra), Rated: A

ArchOver, the peer-to-peer (P2P) business lending platform, has secured full authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to operate as a P2P lending platform (Article 36H).

Since launching in September 2014, ArchOver has facilitated over £35 million of investment over its platform, operating under interim permissions granted by the FCA. Full authorisation will support ArchOver in attracting new lenders to the platform and allow it to continue working with businesses to make access to funding as easy and simple as possible.

M&A hits Alternative Credit: MW Eaglewood to merge with Pollen Street Capital (AltFi), Rated: A

The respective managers of the £822m P2P Global Investments and the £200m HoneyComb investment trusts will merge, creating one of the largest specialist asset management  firms focused on non-bank lending.

MW Eaglewood and Pollen Street Capital, the respective two parties, are under discussion as to adjustments to their mandates but Lindsey McMurray, managing partner of Pollen Street, will become head of the new firm which will be called Pollen Street Capital.

P2P Global Investments is the largest closed-ended fund investing in non-bank lending in the UK, having launched three years ago. While, as its name suggests, it originally was a vehicle for exposure to the P2P and marketplace lending market it has moved more into niches within the alternative Credit spectrum in recent months.

Should more bridging lenders launch mobile apps? (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: A

Moving to an app-based approach is something that many players in the bridging industry would like to do sooner rather than later, according to LendInvest.

The comments follow the news that bridging lender Henley Finance will be releasing its first app on 1st June in order to make applying for finance easier.

Are FinTech brands a real alternative to traditional banking? (The River Group), Rated: A

Now, mobile banking has been a ‘thing’ for more than a decade and, according to research by ING, 55 per cent of us in the UK are managing our finances this way, with a further rise of 12 per cent expected this year.

Atom pitches itself as so customer-centric that you can personalise the app and actually choose the colours of the logo and how the name of your bank appears on your phone. Its tone is highly conversational, quirky without seeming unprofessional.

Atom pitches itself as so customer-centric that you can personalise the app and actually choose the colours of the logo and how the name of your bank appears on your phone. Its tone is highly conversational, quirky without seeming unprofessional.

Whereas traditional banks are still perceived as slow, Monzo demonstrates the speed of its technology.

Both businesses are inviting collaboration to help develop their services – Monzo through sharing its API so customers can build apps using their own data, and Atom through inviting members to join its community.

China

China Hit by First Moody’s Downgrade Since 1989 on Debt Risk (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Moody’s Investors Service cut its rating on China’s debt for the first time since 1989, challenging the view that the nation’s leadership will be able to rein in leverage while maintaining the pace of economic growth.

Stocks and the yuan slipped in early trading after Moody’s reduced the rating to A1 from Aa3 on Wednesday, with markets paring losses in the afternoon. Moody’s cited the likelihood of a “material rise” in economy-wide debt and the burden that will place on the state’s finances, while also changing the outlook to stable from negative.

Total outstanding credit climbed to about 260 percent of GDP by the end of 2016, up from 160 percent in 2008, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. At the same time, China’s external debt is low by international standards, at around 12 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund, meaning that a downgrade isn’t likely to be as disruptive as it would be for nations more reliant on international funding.

While China’s debt risks have been swelling for years, the cut by Moody’s comes as some of those pressures ease. Nominal economic growth in the first quarter rose at the fastest pace since 2012 — 11.8 percent in current-price terms — making the problem of excess leverage a little more manageable, while the return of factory price inflation is beefing up profits for indebted state-owned industries, helping them service and repay loans.

Moody’s lowered China’s credit-rating outlook to negative from stable in March 2016, citing rising debt, falling currency reserves and uncertainty over authorities’ ability to carry out reforms. About a month later, S&P Global Ratings also warned that rising local debt was pressuring the nation’s rating.

S&P currently rates China’s foreign and local-currency long-term debt at AA- with a negative outlook, and Fitch places an A+ rating on both foreign and local currency long-term debt with a stable outlook.

Chinese Investors Among Majority Of EB-5 Visa Recipients (NPR), Rated: A

The EB-5 visa grants permanent U.S. residence to anyone investing a half million dollars in a U.S.-based development project. Eighty percent of EB-5 recipients are Chinese.

WANG: (Through interpreter) Actually, everyone I know has applied for EB-5s. We’re just ordinary people. We’re not wealthy.

WANG: (Through interpreter) I’m only doing this for my son’s education. He is in a good local school, but all they do is study for tests. The Chinese education system turns everyone into the same type of person.

European Union

Narrow Escape for German RECF, Green Crowdinvesting Now in Legislator’s Crosshairs (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

The Financial Committee therefore rejected the proposal to extend the prospectus exemption of crowdinvesting ‒which currently applies only to the suboptimal shareholder loans, to all securities, including equity shares. The committee also concluded against raising the threshold of fundraising requiring a prospectus from €2.5 million to €5 million, and in favor of keeping the crowdinvesting ceiling per project per retail investor at €1,000 (€10,000, if qualified investor).

On one issue, however, the German crowdfunding sector breathed a sigh of relief: the proposal made by credit institutions to exclude real estate crowdfunding from the KASG has been taken off the table.

The opponents to real estate crowdfunding had alleged that real estate should be excluded from the crowdfunding exemptions because real estate projects did not foster innovation, as projects in crowdfunding should, and because crowdfunding them could trigger to a real estate bubble. These arguments were successfully rebuffed.

Next to real estate, green Crowdinvesting is also a very successful branch of German crowdinvesting. Its most common form is the refinancing of existing renewable energy (photovoltaic, wind and bioenergy) plants through platforms such as fairzinsung, Greenvesting, GreenXmoney LeihDeinerUmweltGeld und Wiwin. The yield is guaranteed by feed-in tariffs. Other platforms, such as Bettervest, specialize in energy-efficiency projects. Several, such as ecoligo facilitate investments in renewable energy in developing countries. Many of the platforms are not only financial brokers between issuers and investors, they are also expert advisors, shareholders, or service operators for the issuers.

In the eyes of the legislator, human or capital ties between issuers and platforms pose a risk of conflict of interest and should be forbidden. According to the committee, a platform tied to an issuer would not be able to vet its projects with the necessary objectivity, hence would not properly defend the interests of the investors.

International

Ant Financial close to buying MoneyGram (New York Post), Rated: AAA

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial is moving closer to getting regulatory approval to buy MoneyGram, The Post has learned — despite concerns in Washington about money laundering.

“Ant and its advisers are working very constructively with [federal regulators]” to close the $1.2 billion MoneyGram acquisition, a source close to the situation said, referring to the Congressional Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which must approve the transaction as it involves a major foreign investment in a company in a key business sector.

Shareholders of Dallas-based MoneyGram, a money-transfer company, approved the sale to Ant for $18 a share on May 16.

How to Make it as a Woman in FinTech: “Don’t Wait to Become a Leader” (Finovate), Rated: A

Adding to our stellar line up of leading women in FinTech, we speak to Alex Foster about how she has become Head of Insurance & Finance Sector & Post Trade Services at BT, and what she would suggest if you were just starting out as a woman in tech.

What was your light bulb moment?

My light bulb moment came about four to five years ago, when I began working with bankers, some who were friends, leaving their traditional roles on the trading floor to create new and exciting FinTech, RegTech, and InsurTech companies. As we know, these start-ups are a growing source of innovation in the financial markets industry.  But their small size can create challenges around market adoption, delivery and meeting the stringent contractual or compliance expectations of large financial institutions. We started to work with these companies to help them scale-up to obtain a global reach. I realised the monumental impact that these technologies and FinTech firms could achieve when the right partnerships are in place.

Peter Leonidou Parts Ways with Leverate to Head Early-Stage Fintech Firm (Finance Magnates), Rated: B

Leverate, a technology provider specializing in brokerage solutions for the financial services industry, has parted ways with its Head of B2B Sales Peter Leonidou, who ends a two-year tenure with the technology provider, Finance Magnates has learned.

Peter leaves Leverate to join PROTECHFX LTD, a fintech startup, which according to its website is just starting out on its journey, or at best still operating in its early stages.

Australia

FinTechs Afterpay, Ratesetter and Society One pick up Finnie awards (Mozo), Rated: AAA

The winners of FinTech Australia’s inaugural Finnie Awards have been announced, with familiar names Afterpay, Ratesetter and SocietyOne among them.

The awards were handed out across 17 categories, including workplace diversity, insurtech and peer-to-peer lending, to recognise innovation and excellence in the FinTech space.

Online lender RateSetter was a finalist for the FinTech of the Year award, and also successfully took out two spots, for Excellence in both consumer and business lending. These awards were both focused on “outstanding B2B lending results through innovative yet stable, sustainable operations.”

SocietyOne, another online challenger to the big banks, won for Excellence in Peer-to-peer Lending. The award recognised a peer-to-peer platform that showed stringent security measures, a strong market reputation, ease of application and competitive interest rates and loan terms.

India

Startup Insurance Company Acko General Insurance Raises $ 30M (IndianWeb2), Rated: A

Set-up by Varun Dua, previously founder of Coverfox, Acko General Insurance  has received it’s in principle regulatory clearance to launch a General Insurance business in India.

In a regulated business, Acko has raised $30mn, which in effect makes it one of the largest seed rounds for a startup in India.

Asia

The first Internet life insurance company and Thai life opened (STCN), Rated: AAA

Recently, the first domestic Internet life insurance company and Thai life officially opened. It is understood that the original vice president of insurance and property insurance Li Yuquan in the life of the ceremony was held. In August 2016 the Insurance Regulatory Commission to the peace and life of the preparation and approval, the general manager is the former deputy general manager of the sea life Wang Hao.

In January this year, Hetai Life Insurance was approved by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. Registered capital of 1.5 billion yuan, registered in Jinan City, Shandong Province. The legal representative of the company Liu Xin.

Middle East

Dubai Regulator Launches Special Testing Licensing for Fintech Startups (Finance Magnates), Rated: A

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) today released the details of its Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) which allows fintech firms to go through a special testing stage prior to their approval as fully operational firms.

Fintech operators will be able to use the ITL licence to test their products for a period of 6 to 12 months, which could be extended upon DFSA’s discretion.

Successful applicants will then be required to obtain a full financial services licence to continue formally operating. By contrast, fintech firms that fail to meet the outcomes detailed in the regulatory test plan will have to cease activities.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Thursday May 4 2017, Daily News Digest

auto loan originations

News Comments Today’s main news: Banks pull back on car loans as used-auto prices plummet. Trump’s expected OCC pick, a banker, signals paradigm shift. Elevate Credit rated a buy. RateSetter rejigs relationships with former wholesale lending partners. China Rapid Ffinance raises $60M in IPO. Today’s main analysis: Goldman Sachs embraces banking’s bland side. Global money transfer. Today’s thought-provoking articles: German […]

auto loan originations

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

International

Australia

China

India

Asia

News Summary

United States

Banks Pull Back on Car Loans as Used-Auto Prices Plummet (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Wells Fargo & Co., one of the largest U.S. auto lenders, last month reported a 29% fall in its auto loan originations for the first quarter from a year earlier. The decline, the biggest for the San Francisco-based bank in at least five years, was part of a common refrain in quarterly announcements from lenders including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. , Ally Financial Inc. and Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc.

Bankers’ caution is increasingly showing up in car sales, which Tuesday came in worse than expected for April. The declines are mostly occurring in lending to riskier borrowers, in particular those with low credit scores, where lending had ramped up for years.

Some banks, including regionals Fifth Third Bancorp and  Citizens Financial Group Inc.,  are beginning to retreat from higher-quality “prime” auto loans as new risks emerge.

Some anticipated the market would cool off after record new car sales in 2015 and 2016. But banks are also posting higher losses on defaulted auto loans, hit by a mix of more borrowers falling behind on payments and the declining value of used cars.

When lenders repossess cars, they resell the vehicles and use the proceeds from the sale to recover as much of the unpaid balance as possible. Declining values mean that lenders are recouping a smaller share of those balances. Lenders who are repossessing cars tied to prime auto loans that were securitized in 2015 are recovering about 51% of the unpaid loan balances on average, down from 56% for 2014 loans and 65% for 2011 loans, according to S&P Global Ratings.

Car loans have been among the fastest-growing consumer lending categories since the last recession.

 

Mimecast Limited versus Yirendai Ltd. Head to Head Compare (CMLVIZ), Rated: AAA

We will compare the two companies on revenue growth, earnings, revenue per employee, operating margins, free cash flow and valuation.

  • Yirendai Ltd. has larger revenue in the last year than Mimecast Limited.
  • YRD is showing a profit while MIME has negative earnings over the last year.
  • YRD generates substantially larger revenue per employee ($344,000) than MIME ($202,000).

  • Both companies are growing revenue. Yirendai Ltd. is growing revenue massively faster than Mimecast Limited.
  • For every $1 in revenue, the stock market prices in $6.42 in market cap for MIME and $3.66 in market cap for YRD.

Goldman Sachs Embraces Banking’s Bland Side: Lending Money (WSJ), Rated: AAA

The firm has been opening its checkbook for the past several years to finance corporate takeovers, lend against mansions and art, and make personal loans for things such as kitchen remodels and fixing broken windshields.

It is exploring new credit businesses such as trade finance, equipment leasing and extending credit that consumers use for online purchases, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Loans outstanding across Goldman have doubled to $95 billion since 2011, filings show. Real-estate loans are up 10-fold. Business lending has tripled, while loans in its private-wealth division, secured by everything from stock portfolios to rare artwork, have quadrupled. Goldman doesn’t report revenues tied to lending, which remains a small part of its overall business.

 

Elevate Credit Inc (ELVT) Now Covered by William Blair (The Cerbat Gem), Rated: AAA

They set a “buy” rating and a $12.00 price objective for the company. Compass Point reissued a “neutral” rating and set a $9.00 price objective on shares of Elevate Credit in a report on Tuesday, April 18th. One analyst has rated the stock with a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $11.00.

Shares of Elevate Credit (NASDAQ:ELVT) opened at 7.64 on Monday. Elevate Credit has a one year low of $7.00 and a one year high of $8.86. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $8.05 and its 200-day moving average is $8.05. The firm’s market capitalization is $99.33 million.

State Regulators Mount Counter-Offensive Seeking to Stop OCC’s Fintech Charter (Lexology), Rated: A

Clearly, CSBS is mounting a legal counter-offensive to the OCC’s attempt to license entities historically regulated by the states. While state and federal regulators currently are arguing as to who should control the regulatory sandbox, the true focus of regulatory concern should be on the development of innovative financial services, consistent with safe and sound operations, with viable and effective consumer protections. While, historically, payments companies and lenders have been regulated by the states, the OCC’s SPNB Charter has sparked a dialogue as to whether the current regulatory system for fintech operations is viable. Innovation of financial services may also require innovation of financial services regulation. Rather than trying to pigeon-hole financial services into traditional regulatory models, perhaps it is time for regulators, at both the federal and state level, to act in concert to develop a system of licensing, regulation, and enforcement for financial products and services that is efficient, not redundant, and minimizes the regulatory burden on financial institutions while it provides for the continued protection of consumers. Setting aside the merits of the pending suit, the right policy prescription will likely involve the federal and state governments working together to minimize the regulatory burden while appropriately protecting the safety and soundness of FinTechs and provide necessary consumer protection.

Trump’s Expected OCC Pick Signals Shift at Regulator That Could Ripple Through Financial Markets (WSJ), Rated: A

President Donald Trump’s expected move to replace the Comptroller of the Currency signals a change in direction at the bank regulator that could ripple through the financial markets, from private-equity buyouts to financial technology—and even municipal securities.

Comptroller Thomas Curry, whom people familiar with the matter say could be replaced as soon as this week, is a career regulator appointed by President Barack Obama. Mr. Curry used his office to tamp down on what he viewed as overly risky lending practices in the banking industry.

His expected replacement—Joseph Otting, a former chief executive of OneWest Bank—would be the first former banker to hold the comptroller’s job since the 1990s.

Wall Street Pushes Back on Mnuchin’s Idea of Ultralong Debt (WSJ), Rated: A

A committee of Wall Street advisers is pouring cold water on a proposal by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to issue superlong 50-year and 100-year U.S. government bonds, arguing that the big pension funds and insurers expected to buy the securities won’t have much interest.

The committee meets quarterly, in advance of a regular release by the Treasury on its plans for financing the U.S. debt. Currently, the U.S. Treasury issues no debt longer than 30 years. Mr. Mnuchin has argued that ultralong bonds could be a useful tool for locking in today’s low borrowing costs for a very long time. Last month, the Treasury requested the advisory committee analyze the viability of bonds longer than 30 years.

The 30-year bond strengthened Wednesday, after the advisory committee cast doubt on the idea 50- and 100-year bonds. The yield on the 30-year Treasury dropped to 2.963% from 2.982% on Tuesday, according to Tradeweb. Yields fall as bond prices rise.

A key question for the Treasury is what types of investors would buy ultralong bonds, especially if the members of its advisory committee aren’t interested. Relatively few individual investors have 100-year or even 50-year investing horizons.

Real Estate Crowdfunding to Take Center Stage at Crowd Invest Summit (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Crowd Invest Summit, the country’s largest crowdfunding investment conference, taking place on September 6 th and 7th at the Los Angeles Convention Center, has today announced that it will be expanding its focus on Real Estate crowdfunding.

Since the signing of the JOBS Act in 2012, Real Estate Investing has been the fastest growing segment of the new Crowdfunding Industry. According to Fundingtree.com, over $3 Billion Dollars has been raised so far.

Crowd Invest Summit is the largest investment focused crowdfunding event in the country. It was founded by pioneers in the equity crowdfunding sector Josef Holm and Alon Goren. The conference was developed with the vision that every American – whether accredited or not – can now become equity investors.

Nav raises $ 13 million to help small businesses with credit scores (TechCrunch), Rated: A

Goldman Sachs is leading a $13 million investment in Nav, a startup that helps small businesses with financial advice and credit scores. Billionaire Steven Cohen’s Point72 Ventures is also investing, along with Clocktower Ventures and the CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund.

This follows $25 million that was invested in the company last year, and is considered part of the same Series B round, bringing the total to $38 million.

Characterizing Nav as a Credit Karma for small businesses, King believes his startup will “materially decrease the death rate of small businesses in the U.S.” They currently have over 200,000 customers, most of whom don’t pay anything for their credit score, but can opt to pay about $20 per month for added financial advice.

Data Suggests That Venmo Is Winning Mobile Payments (Seeking Alpha), Rated: A

  • 68% of mobile payments users are using Venmo most often.
  • Venmo processed $6.8B in mobile payments in Q1.
  • Rapid smartphone adoption, alongside a large unbanked population, makes the theme of mobile payments an attractive investment.

In the days leading up to the quarter, a new survey of 2,170 Millennials found that Venmo is leading the category. The researchers asked the following question: “Which of the following mobile payment apps do you use most often?”

Researchers found that 44% of respondents answered “Venmo”, 1% of respondents answered “Square Cash”, 14% of respondents answered “My bank’s mobile payment app”,and 4% of respondents answered “Other”. However surprisingly, 35% of respondents answered “I don’t use a mobile payment app”.

Colorado versus Fintech (OLPI), Rated: A

On February 15, 2017,  the Administrator of the Uniform Consumer Credit Code for the State of Colorado (“Colorado”) sued Avant and Best Egg (in separate actions), claiming in both actions that they violated Colorado’s usury rate and entered into loan agreements containing a governing law provision other than Colorado.

Shortly after, WebBank and Cross River separately sued Colorado seeking Declaratory Judgement and Injunctive Relief.

On April 25, 2017, Colorado filed a Motion to Dismiss both Complaints for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief.

Colorado initially argues that WebBank’s action for declaratory judgement should be dismissed based on the well-pleaded complaint rule. There seems to be two issues with this position: (1) WebBank was purposely left out of Colorado’s initial complaint (although this theory might apply if Avant brought the federal action for declaratory judgment), and (2) diversity jurisdiction does apply as to Avant and WebBank vis-a-vis Colorado.

Second, Colorado argues that WebBank’s action should be dismissed because WebBank’s injury is too attenuated. Colorado does not directly address WebBank’s contention that the suit challenges WebBank’s overall business model.

Finally, Colorado argues that “interest exportation does not preempt the application of state usury laws to non-banks as a matter of law.”   Colorado seems to acknowledge WebBank’s right to preempt Colorado’s usury rate based on DIDA (the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 – extending the National Bank Act’s preemption to FDIC-insured state banks).  Colorado argues that WebBank is trying to assign its preemption to Avant – that Avant is the lender.

Colorado also argues that the valid when made doctrine is not applicable because “there is no ‘subsequent usurious transaction’ between WebBank and Avant that is alleged to invalidate a consumer’s loan obligation.  Instead, Avant merely purchased the subject consumer loans from WebBank.”  This is a difficult argument to follow.  Colorado sued Avant claiming that Avant loans are usurious and Avant, and not WebBank, is the true lender.  Colorado points out that Avant buys the loans from WeBank within two business days of the loans being made.  Relying on Midland in the Avant action, Colorado states that Avant cannot “enforce a bank’s federal interest rate exportation rights when they purchase loans from banks (or purchase loan receivables) because banks cannot validly assign such rights to non-banks.”   It seems to imply that Colorado is not saying the loans are invalid (due to Avant having a Supervised Lender’s License), but rather the loans just need to be limited to the Colorado usury rate –yet, as noted, the argument is difficult to follow.

What fintech is going to do to banking (Financial Times), Rated: A

  • Fintech is ultimately about taking away frictions.
  • I guessed that there was a 25 or 30 per cent chance that 10 years from now, there was about a 25 per cent chance that there would be a fintech company with the kind of $250bn market cap that some big American banks have. I do not expect that in the foreseeable future fintech will have the kind of existential impact on banks that Netflix has had on Blockbuster. But I do think in some areas fintech companies are likely to have the kind of effect Skype has had on the big telephone companies — forcing drastic reductions in pricing and profit margins on some key products.
  • I was quite serene about the impact of fintech on financial stability.
  • By providing for faster settlements, more transparency, and diversification, fintech is likely to have as many stabilising as destabilising effects.
  • If the large banks of today are not as large five or 10 years from now, I think it is more likely to be because of bad lending, heavy regulation or market pressures to break up because the whole is valued less than the sum of the parts than because of disruption from fintech. I say this because much of what fintech does depends on the banking system and because I doubt that over this horizon banks can be completely disrupted.

FinTech Funding in New York Declines (Cryptocoins News), Rated: A

In the report from data provider CB Insights, The Global FinTech Report: Q1 ’17, it found that during the first three months of the year, fintech funding to venture capital-backed New York companies dropped by 35 percent on a quarterly basis. However, while financial technology deals in the state rose by 26 percent from Q4 ’16, it registered a 33 percent drop below the same quarter last year.

During the first three months there were three New York City companies – Namely, Trumid, and Payfone – who were among the top ten U.S. financial technology backed deals.

Namely raised $50 million in Series D funding from Altimeter Capital, Scale Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, Four Rivers Group, Matrix Partners, and Greenspring Associates.

Trumid raised $27.6 million in Series D funding from Thiel Capital, and Payfone raised $23.5 million in Series E funding from BlueCross Blue Shield and Andrew Prozes.

First Associates Implements AI to Enhance Customer Satisfaction and Boost Portfolio Performance (PRWeb), Rated: A

First Associates has announced today that it has implemented A.I. enabled speech analytics as part of its third-party loan and lease servicing. The speech analytics platform facilitates higher quality customer interactions while ensuring compliance with financial industry regulations.

Using speech analytics, First Associates monitors, scores and provides agent feedback on 100% of voice interactions with consumers using data-driven benchmarking. Traditional loan servicing management techniques call for a 1% sample size of voice interactions using human quality assurance agents to assess quality and effectiveness. The company has already seen significant improvements across quality and performance metrics from the implementation.

Adams Business Credit Rebrands as Context Business Lending (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Adams Business Credit, a national asset-based lender, will rebrand as Context Business Lending, bringing the firm in unison with the family of businesses and affiliates under Context Capital Partners, an alternative investment firm. The newly named Context Business Lending will continue to focus on providing flexible working capital solutions for businesses that do not qualify for traditional bank financing.

Context Business Lending typically provides loans of up to $15 million for lower middle-market businesses that may be experiencing some type of challenge, which may include: rapid growth; seasonal fluctuations; supply chain and vendor pressure; operating losses/negative net worth; turnaround and restructuring; merger or acquisition and debtor-in-possession financing. The firm is sector agnostic and works with businesses in the manufacturing, distribution, wholesaling and service sectors.

‘Hybrid’ Approach To Robo Investing Models a Winner (Insurance News Net), Rated: A

Investors who rely on “robo-only” investment models are making a big mistake, financial advisor tells InsuranceNews.Net.

McElwee provides three specific reasons why that’s the case:

  • Robo advice assumes that the past is destined to repeat itself.
  • People make bad financial decisions when they are under financial stress.
  • Questions, questions, questions. Robo advisors build financial profiles of clients based on a set of questions designed to reveal how a client thinks about risk, return, and financial planning.

MoneyLion Shortlisted for Top Industry Award (MoneyLion Email), Rated: B

 May 11th.

Usage of MoneyLion’s app nearly quadrupled in the second half of 2016, allowing them to track $12bn in transactions from more than one million users. To date, users have saved over $5 million in rate reductions through MoneyLion.

De Rito Partners Chooses RealtyShares for Acquisition of Shops at Fry’s Marketplace Shopping Center (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: B

RealtyShares, a leading online marketplace for real estate investing, has just announced an $800,000 commercial equity investment in Mesa, Arizona, funded through the company’s network of accredited investors. The deal is sponsored by De Rito Partners, one of Arizona’s largest retail investment and brokerage firms.

De Rito Partners acquired the property in 2016, and is seeking to capitalize on a temporary tenant turnover in a formerly fully-leased retail property. The firm intends to use the funds raised through RealtyShares to invest in tenant improvements and implement a leasing strategy to achieve market-level rents.

The property is shadow-anchored by a Fry’s Marketplace, one of the largest grocers by sales in the Phoenix metropolitan area according to Chain Stores Guide. The shopping center is comprised of more than 20,000 square feet of rentable retail space, and is currently leased to tenants including Starbucks, H&R Block and Subway. It is located at the intersection of two major thoroughfares, four miles from downtown Mesa.

De Rito Partners owns 20 properties, manages approximately 1.9 million square feet of retail space, represents 180 shopping centers in a leasing agency capacity, and is currently developing a Fry’s Marketplace-anchored shopping center and a strip center located in Chandler, AZ.

Download a complimentary copy – ALTERNATIVE CREDIT GUIDEBOOK (NN Investment Partners), Rated: B

United Kingdom

RateSetter rejigs relationships with former wholesale lending partners (AltFi), Rated: AAA

The acquired motor finance companies are Vehicle Stocking Limited and Vehicle Credit Limited. Both firms were acquired out of their parent company’s administration, and both have previously received wholesale funding from RateSetter. RateSetter will now lend directly to these companies’ customers.

The size of these two motor finance firms’ combined loanbooks is roughly £30m. These portfolios are said to be “performing well”, and we’re told they would have continued to be serviced had RateSetter not stepped in.

Another of RateSetter’s former wholesale lending partners is George Banco, a guarantor lender with a representative APR of 49.7 per cent. RateSetter has now taken an equity stake in the company, and will lend directly to its 10,000 customers.

Lendy: 2017 is the Year that P2P Lending Finally Matures (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Lendy, a UK based peer to peer lending platform in the secured property sector, believes 2017 is the year for P2P lending to finally mature. Management says that P2P will shift from alternative finance to “main challenger to the traditional banks.”  But to accomplish this goal, P2P lending platforms must build upon best practices and operate more like mainstream lenders while providing rigorous due diligence and superlative service.

Lendy advocates on four key steps in providing a better service than traditional financial firms:

  • Initial due diligence – carry out an extensive ‘know your customer’ (“KYC”) process when they first source a loan.
  • Legal panel – after the loan has passed the first stage it is then reviewed by a legal panel. Solicitors ensure that a legal charge is properly made against each security property, and that each of the security properties has good title.
  • Valuation – use a highly rated independent firm to value security properties.
  • Credit checks – put each lending proposition under extensive scrutiny to determine its viability.

Robots and responsibility (FT Adviser), Rated: A

Robo-advice has become a widely-known concept in the financial advice community over the past 12 months, as more and more firms launch their own proposition.

In addition, it is important to have someone understanding the algorithm from the client experience, and for advisers to grasp the inputs into the algorithms.

One of the areas that needs to be tackled, according to Mr Strachan, is the grey area between fully automated guidance and full-on advice.

The report, The Next Frontier: The Future of Automated Financial Advice, outlines the amount people will be prepared to pay for the use of a robo-adviser. By the far the largest cohort said they would be prepared to pay £125, with popularity rapidly declining the more the price goes up.

Automated advice on investing £11,000 charged at £225 only received support from 16 per cent of people, while a £360 fee saw support from 6 per cent.

Fintech startup Curve names Callum McCaig as its first PR hire (Gorkana), Rated: A

London fintech startup Curve has made its first PR and comms hire with the appointment of Burson-Marsteller’s Callum McCaig, as the business prepares to scale out of ‘beta’ and launch its digital banking platform to the mass market. 

Curve has raised £3m in seed funding from investors, including Seedcamp and the founders of Transferwise, Betfair, Azimo and Google Wallet, and plans to announce a Series A funding round later this year.

MarketInvoice joins UK FinTech Financial Crime Exchange (Finextra), Rated: B

MarketInvoice, the world’s largest peer-to-peer online invoice finance marketplace, has joined the UK FinTech Financial Crime Exchange (FFE), a joint initiative by think tank RUSI and risk consultancy FINTRAIL, launched today.

The FFE brings together FinTech firms who have agreed to collaborate, by sharing best practice and pooling information on financial crime typologies to protect their customers and strengthen their sector’s ability to detect and counter the global threat of financial crime, including money laundering, terrorist financing, bribery and corruption, tax evasion and market manipulation.

The UK FinTech sector is at the forefront of the global FinTech revolution, contributing £7b to the UK economy.

European Union

German Crowdfunding Association Urges Regulator Not to Exclude Real Estate from Crowdfunding Regulation (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Invited to defend their views vis-à-vis the financial commission of the parliament, representatives of the German Crowdfunding Association have challenged the government’s position and presented substantial counterarguments.

As a reminder: crowdfunding regulation at European Union (EU) level was so far deemed “premature” by EU authorities and is therefore not included in the Capital Markets Union, the EU’s effort to harmonize capital market regulations at EU level. Hence, each EU country currently issues its own regulation which creates a legal patchwork and hinders cross border deals.

The German government’s report firstly notes that German real estate projects represent 10% of the successful projects and 33% of the capital raised through crowdinvesting, that is €36 million. Projects are typically residential property development, mostly construction, the reminder being renovations. German real estate crowdinvesting nearly doubled in size last year while the growth of startup crowdfunding slumped.

The government finds this trend negative. It justifies its proposal to exclude real estate from the scope of the crowdfunding exemptions as follows:

  • The large share of real estate in crowdinvesting represents a deviation from the intention of the legislator which was to foster the funding of high-growth startups.
  • There is no lack of funding for real estate projects. Social real estate, for example, can be funded through schemes that are specific to social housing. 
  • Real estate crowdinvesting could be considered as a form of deregulation of real estate finance which could, bearing in mind the role played by real estate in the 2008 financial crisis, create a price bubble, and ultimately pose a threat to financial stability.

The Crowdfunding Association and crowdinvesting platform leaders found many of the government’s arguments “incomprehensible” and offered point-by-point rebuttals:

  • Crowdfunding counters price bubbles and real estate overheating. The current real estate market boom is in no way due to crowdfunding, which is much too small to influence market prices, but rather to macroeconomic factors such as the currently low interest rates.
  • Crowdfunding helps finance real estate SMEs and innovative entrepreneurs. There is no sensible criterion for distinguishing real estate financing from other types of business financing.
  • The risk of subordinated debt instruments is not specific to real estate. It would therefore be more appropriate to open crowdinvesting to all securities, including profit sharing securities, rather than to exclude real estate from crowdinvesting.

Currently, the German crowdfunding market is disproportionately small. It is surpassed on the Continent by the French market (28% smaller GDP) and dwarfed by the UK market (15% smaller GDP).

This guy is quickly but quietly building Sweden’s next fintech giant – already operating in 65 markets (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Johan Tjärnberg is quietly building a fintech business that may prove as successful as Klarna. During 2016, his payments company, Bambora, grew 20% to revenues of SEK 2 billion.

Bambora is a platform that aggregates hundreds of payments services, and it’s currently available in 65 markets. Bambora’s clients can even choose to use Klarna as their payment service.

During 2017 the business will expand to North America, where the number of merchants using the service will increase by 10,000 over the year. That will boost the sales of the group by 30% to EUR 260 million, Johan Tjärnberg said to Bloomberg News.

Currently, the company has about 100,000 clients, of which 30,000 are located in the US and Canada.

Can a Public-sector Organization Become a Fintech Disruptor? (ValueWalk), Rated: A

In 2010, Klaus Regling, the head of the euro-area rescue fund for the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), asked me to join the board. I agreed, and said that I wanted to build the Google of the public sector. He looked at me and asked: “Why Google? We can be better than that.” And of course, he was right.

The ESM provides financial assistance to Eurozone countries that have lost market access. It was set up at the height of the euro crisis. Without the ESM, countries such as Greece would have defaulted, and the euro would have broken up. The ESM is the institution that kept the euro together during the crisis. Our total lending capacity is $742 billion. We have provided assistance to five countries: Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus. In all, we have provided $281 billion in loans, which is three times as much as the IMF over the same period of time.

Here is how we are planning to move forward to build a modern public institution.

Digital at Heart

First of all, we wanted a lean model, and so we kept only the strategic functions in-house, like funding, economics and investments. We outsourced support functions and non-strategic functions as much as we could. We were the first financial institution worldwide to use a fully cloud-based trading system.

Secondly, we wanted to leverage new technology where possible.

Finally, our workforce of tomorrow, made up of millennials, is the first in our field to consist almost entirely of technology natives.

A Public Sector-driven Fintech solution

Europe has launched the capital markets union, an ambitious effort to harmonize corporate, tax, and bankruptcy laws across the countries of Europe. The differences between these laws are vast because of centuries of history in the 28 members of the European Union. Now we hope to make the laws more similar, because it would create a truly pan-European financial market. For example, the union would break down borders for private equity investment and venture capital, and open up an alternative channel of funding for small- and mid-sized enterprises. Thus, it would reduce Europe’s heavy reliance on bank lending.

The ECB idea is about the centralization of settlement and payment processes for securities. This is a very important initiative, and one that could be complemented by a similar initiative for the primary issuance of securities. It is worth considering a European public sector issuance platform to help distribute debt more efficiently: a fintech solution, driven by the public sector.

One could even think of using new technologies, such as blockchain, to set up the new issuance platform.

International

P2P MONEY TRANSFERS TO DRIVE DIGITAL PAYMENT GROWTH AS MARKET APPROACHES $ 3.9 TRILLION IN 2017 (Juniper Research), Rated: AAA

A new study by Juniper Research has found the value of digital payments will approach $3.9 trillion this year, representing an increase of more than 14% on last year’s total. While the bulk of transaction value (55%) will be accounted for by online retail purchases for physical goods, P2P (Person to Person) money transfers will see the largest year-on-year net increase in value ($200 million).

The new research – Digital Payment Strategies: Online, Mobile & Contactless 2017-2021 – argued that the US would see particularly strong growth, with the bank-backed Zelle Network expected to build on its successful debut in 2016 as additional banks come on board.

The research also emphasised that the demonetisation policies employed by India’s government had encouraged a surge in mobile wallet adoption and, with it, sharp increases in both P2P and mobile retail transactions.

Global Money Transfer (FT Partners), Rated: AAA

Download this must-read report here.

Australia

CFA considers AI, robo-advice in exams (Financial Standard), Rated: AAA

The CFA Institute believes artificial intelligence, fintech and robo-advice will have the greatest impact on the financial services industry – to the extent it is considering including such topics in its examinations.

An overwhelming majority (70%) of CFA members globally who took part in a study said affluent investors will be positively affected by automated financial advice tools in the form of reduced costs, improved access to advice product choices.

Respondents (46%) however, were concerned about automated financial advice algorithms being the biggest risk emanating from robo-advice, followed by mis-selling (30%) and data protection concerns (12%).

China

VC-backed China Rapid Finance raises $ 60m in US IPO (AVCJ), Rated: AAA

China Rapid Finance (CRF), a VC-backed peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform, is trading up 32% on its IPO price following an offering on the New York Stock Exchange that raised $60 million.

The stock closed on May 2 at $7.90, giving the entire company a market capitalization of around $448 million.

India

P2P funding platforms or traditional banking systems (India Info Online), Rated: AAA

India’s P2P Lending sector is poised to grow at a rapid pace thanks to favourable demographics, rising computer literacy, internet connectivity and the ongoing wave of digitalisation among others. With the higher economic growth, the credit-backed consumption growth may jump too.These could be the possible triggers for the growth of P2P Lending Industry.

There is no official assessment suggesting the size of the market in India. But it is estimated to be around Rs 200 Cr. The P2P lending industry may grow 25 to 30 times over next 5-6 years. Talking about the interest rate, the yield on 10-Year Sovereign benchmark bond hovers in the range of 6.45% to 6.95%.

However, it is also important to note that the P2P Lending sector is unregulated.

On the other hand, in P2P lending projects, investors can earn in the range of 14% p.a. to 30% p.a. on a reducing balance method. In P2P Lending, interest rates are decided depending upon the creditworthiness of borrowers.

Asia

5 Korean Fintech Startups to Watch in 2017 (Seoul Space), Rated: AAA

Blocko is a blockchain technology startup that developed the platform called CoinStack v3.0 and was able to raise $1.3 million in their series A funding led by Samsung Venture Investment Corporation.

Korean fintech startup company Honest Fund is a P2P crowdfunding company that raised over $6 million in funding led by KB Investments, Shinhan Capital, Hanwha Investment, and others.  It is a peer to peer personal loan lending service that connects borrowers and lenders directly without the need of banks.  These funds will not impact the borrower’s credit rating and will charge between 5% to 15%with the average being 9%.  They offer a different personal credit review model compared to the banks that only look at a person’s credit rating.

PeopleFund is the first Peer-to-Peer lending platform through a Bank in Korea focused on unsecured personal loans.  In 2015 alone PeopleFund has processed over $13 million in loans.

8 percent is a P2P lending company that raised over $13 million.  Their APR is set at 8 percent which is why the company is called 8 percent.  Established in late 2014 this P2P lending company has become the pioneer in this industry.  8 percent reviews an application and based on credit score and other measures.  It is cheaper for clients to use 8 percent than a bank and therefore 8 percent has been able to grow every month.  Loans for startup employees and a bridge for big companies have been their new model in 2016.  They made news in 2016 for getting funding of $10 million from KG Inicis, one of the leading payment gateway companies in Korea.  Bringing together investors and creditworthy borrowers are what 8 percent brings to the table.

Viva Republica runs a money transferring service called TOSS which raised over $48 million in funding from Altos Ventures, Goodwater Capital, Paypal, and KTB Network. They are known for Toss, which is a financial services platform that makes payment system easier by only asking users for 1 password to go along with three easy steps.  The max they can transfer per transaction is $430 which makes everyday payments easy.  Now they have over 6 million registered users in Korea and Toss has already processed over $3 billion in transactions. Toss now does credit scoring as well as micro-loans and is looking into cross-border money transfers and loan brokerages.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor