Thursday November 21 2019, Weekly News Digest

LexinFintech Vintage Curve

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi helps Pro.com make home improvement loans. BlueVine raises $102.5M. OCC, FDIC propose Madden fixes. Zopa gets banking license. Twino CEO stands down, platform hits 1B euro in loans issued. Today’s main analysis: LexinFintech lending business analysis (A MUST-READ). Today’s thought-provoking articles: Fed rate inversion. 10 cities that cost money […]

The post Thursday November 21 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

LexinFintech Vintage Curve

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

Other

News Summary

United States

Pro.Com Partners with SoFi to Make Home Improvements Even Easier (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Pro.com, the premier digital platform focused exclusively on building custom homes and major remodels from start to finish, announced a new partnership Tuesday with online personal finance company SoFi, aimed at revolutionizing how homeowners finance and complete their remodels, renovations and upgrades.

BlueVine raises $ 102.5M more for banking services that target small businesses (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

The startup, which offers financing and other banking services to SMBs, today is announcing that it has raised $102.5 million, a Series F round of equity funding that is coming from a mix of financial and notable strategic investors.

Led by ION Crossover Partners, the round also includes existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, 83North, SVB Capital, Nationwide (a major financial services player in the UK), Citi Ventures, Microsoft’s venture fund M12, and private investors; as well as new investors MUFG Innovation Partners Co., Ltd, O.G. Tech (the VC connected to Israeli billionaire and property magnate Eyal Ofer), Vintage Investment Partners, ION Group, Maor Investments and additional private investors.

FT Partners Advises BlueVine on its $ 102,500,000 Series F Financing (FT Partners), Rated: B

FT Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to BlueVine and its board of directors on its $102.5 million Series F financing

The OCC and FDIC Both Propose a Madden Fix (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

There is finally some real light at the end of the tunnel. In the last two days we have heard from both the OCC and the FDIC on the Madden issue, something they called unfathomable in a joint amicus brief in Colorado a couple of months ago. They have each given notice of their proposal that would clarify the “valid when made” doctrine once and for all.

At the core of the issue is the ambiguity created by the Madden decision. A loan can be valid when it is made but if it is sold or transferred can suddenly become invalid in the Second Circuit states of NY, CT and VT. This has led to reduced consumer lending to these states and also concern that, given no regulatory clarity, this could expand to other states.

Here are links to the OCC and FDIC proposals. There will be a 60-day comment period where interested parties can weigh in.

Big Tech Race to Own Digital Wallet; GS Robo-advisor on Launchpad (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Refinance demand increased by 13% from the previous week and was 188% higher than a year ago, when rates were 114 basis points higher.

First-time inversion driven by the long-end…

Source: PeerIQ, Blackstone, St. Louis Federal Reserve

In regulatory news, lawmakers are taking aim at payday loan rates. Congress members plan to introduce federal legislation that would cap interest rates at 36%.

The next move for Facebook would be to offer lending products most likely indirectly (e.g., via POS partnerships or via co-brand products such as Amazon Chase Visa, etc.).

Insurance startup Vouch tacks on growth funding to serve startups (Pitchbook), Rated: A

Just two months ago, the ink was barely dry on a more than $24 million Series A that Sam Hodges raised for his startup Vouch Insurance. Now he is back with an even larger funding, led by Y Combinator‘s Continuity Fund, as the company seeks to join a crop of startups that cater to the needs of other startups.

Fireblocks Is Now Securing The Biggest Crypto Lending Company In The US (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Fireblocks (www.fireblocks.com), an enterprise platform for securing digital assets in transit, announced today, Celsius Network, the largest provider of interest income and digital asset loans in over 150 jurisdictions worldwide is enlisting Fireblocks to help protect over $400 million assets and 53,000 active wallets, securing both retail and institutional divisions.

5 Ways to Invest in Real Estate Online (The Motley Fool), Rated: A

The primary difference between using a crowdfunding site versus flying solo on your investment journey is that your investment is managed by a team of real estate professionals. Of course, that is also the biggest risk as you are completely dependent on the project developer to deliver what they promised.

If you are not an accredited investor but want to be involved in real estate crowdfunding, companies such as Fundrise, stREITwise, and RealtyMogul are a great place to start.

ArborCrowd Investors Receive Strong Returns on the Sale of Quarry Station Apartments (BusinessWire), Rated: A

ArborCrowd (the “Company”), the first crowdfunding platform launched by a real estate institution, announced today that its Quarry Station Apartments investment (“Quarry Station”) has been realized in under two years, providing investors with returns quicker and higher than initial projections. The property’s $49.35 million sale price generated an internal rate of return (IRR) of 20.31%, surpassing the original return target of 16% to 19%.

How Crowdfunding Has Changed the Game for Real Estate Investing (The Motley Fool), Rated: A

Through real estate crowdfunding, the developer can utilize an online platform that enables a large group of people to invest small dollar amounts in the project. If the development company chooses to follow the crowdfunding option, here’s how that could work:

  • First, the developer identifies an online platform that is suited to the company or mixed-use development. Each platform is different and most real estate crowdfunding sites receive significantly more project applications than they select.
  • If the investment passes all the legal, physical, and financial due diligence requirements the platform requires, that platform will then allow the developer to solicit funds using their site.
  • An investor can then use that platform to contribute financially to the development.
  • The funds are then tied up until the investor delivers on the project.

The 10 worst US cities for commutes that cost you time and money (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Online loan marketplace Lending Tree published a report on the most expensive commutes in the 100 largest cities in the US in October.

Consider a resident in New York, which Lending Tree ranked as the city with the fifth most expensive commute. Using Lending Tree’s findings via 2017 Census Bureau data, the median annual earnings for a full-time employee in New York is $51,573; their hourly wage is $26. Now, consider the mean time of commuting one way, 41.8 minutes. If you make $26 per hour at your job, and you spend 83.6 minutes daily on your round-trip commute, then your time wasted commuting is worth $37 of time you would have been working.

Five cities in California – Oakland, San Jose, Irvine, San Francisco, and Fremont – took top 10 spots in the ranking, with four of those cities being in the increasingly expensive San Francisco Bay Area.

Read the full report here.

Fintech: The Fourth Platform – Part One (Forbes), Rated: A

While the first generation of fintech companies created billions of dollars of value, because of new enablers like Plaid, Cross River Bank, Finix and Wisetack, we’re now moving past that phase to one where fintech moves from being a business model unto itself, to being the fourth layer in the stack or the “fourth platform,” wherein financial functions like payments, lending and insurance join connectivity, intelligence and ubiquity as layers of the stack upon which new companies can be built.

Source: Forbes

Balboa Survey: Small Business Owners Anticipate Robust Black Friday (Monitor Daily), Rated: A

Online lender Balboa Capital released the results of its 2019 Black Friday Survey, which was conducted to examine how small business owners are preparing for this historically busy shopping day, and to find out what their Black Friday sales expectations are.

The survey reveals that 70% of small business owners are preparing for Black Friday early, and 83% anticipate meeting or exceeding their Black Friday sales goals. Balboa Capital’s survey was sent to a sample of small business owners in a wide variety of industries during the first week of November 2019.

American Financial Exchange, LLC (AFX) Announces AMERIBOR on the Blockchain (Mondovisione), Rated: A

American Financial Exchange (AFX), an electronic exchange for direct lending and borrowing for American banks and financial institutions, announced today the launch of its AMERIBOR on the blockchain. AFX now mints two ERC-721 non-fungible tokens for each AMERIBOR transaction on the AFX platform (for each counterparty to the transaction).  The pair of tokens is automatically minted when the transaction is repaid by the borrowing counterparty to the lending counterparty. Each token contains encrypted transaction data and encrypted counterparty data. The counterparty data is normalized prior to encryption to further preserve counterparty anonymity.

5 Best Alternatives to Traditional Savings Accounts (Nerdwallet), Rated: B

The pros. Peer-to-peer lending tends to be a win-win: Investors get a higher rate of return on their money than a lot of banking products offer, and borrowers get an interest rate on their loan that’s usually less than bank-offered loans and credit cards.

The cons. Peer-to-peer lending won’t give you quick access to your cash if you need liquidity.

Alchemy Partners with Plaid to Enhance Loan Decisioning and Fraud Detection Capabilities (PRWeb), Rated: B

Alchemy, one of the SaaS fintech lending infrastructure companies, has partnered with Plaid to support businesses in account and asset verification for improved lending decisioning.

United Kingdom

UK peer-to-peer lender Zopa gets banking license as it looks to compete with industry giants (Stock Daily Dish), Rated: AAA

British peer-to-peer lender Zopa has obtained a U.K. banking license, clearing a key hurdle in its bid to launch a digital bank and compete with industry giants.

Business Loans Marketplace Funding Xchange Raises $ 10.4 Million via Round Led By Downing Ventures, Gresham House Ventures (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Funding Xchange (FXE), a company that helps people and organizations find suitable business loans and funding options from its marketplace of more than 45 established lenders, has raised £8 million (appr. $10.4 million) through an investment round.

London-based mobile credit card company Tymit secures £4m in funding (AltFi), Rated: A

Tymit, the London-based mobile-enabled credit card company, has secured £4m in a funding round, which it will use to develop its customer service offering.

Arbuthnot Commercial ABL supports EA-RS Fire Engineering’s acquisition of Circum with £2m facility (Business-Money), Rated: A

Arbuthnot Commercial ABL, the specialist asset based lending arm of Arbuthnot Latham, has completed a £2m asset based lending (ABL) transaction in support of the strategic acquisition of Circum Ltd, a fire protection services specialist, by EA-RS Fire Engineering Ltd. (“EA-RS”). The facility comprises a flexible confidential invoice discounting line and a term loan.

Crowd2Fund’s first EIS-approved funding round goes live (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

CROWD2FUND has launched its first funding round since being granted Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) approval from HMRC.

The platform has already raised 19 per cent of its target from current shareholders and has now opened the £1.2m fundraise to private investors.

Buzzy finance startup Starling Bank has lost another senior employee amid an exodus of executives (Business Insider), Rated: A

Starling’s head of banking compliance Rachel Coote has quit to join startup Paybase. Coote is the sixth senior employee to leave the buzzy finance company in 2019.The company’s chief financial officer Tony Ellingham has confirmed he will also depart within the next year.

Trading giant Robinhood makes its UK debut in Revolut challenge (City A.M.), Rated: A

US fintech Robinhood, a commission-free trading startup valued at $7.6bn (£5.9bn), has today arrived in the UK.

Users will be able to invest in more than 3,500 US-denominated stocks, including Apple, Amazon and Tesla. They will also be able to access foreign stocks that are available to trade in dollars through depository receipts, such as Barclays and Burberry.

OakNorth Bank completes GBP3.54m loan to fund aparthotel development in London (Property Funds World), Rated: B

The finance will be used to fund the acquisition of a mixed-use property at 68‐86 Clapham Road in Oval, and in its place, develop an aparthotel with between 120-175 units, subject to receiving planning permission. The site is located within walking distance of several Zone 1 underground stations – Oval, Stockwell and Vauxhall – as well as the South Western railway line, providing services to Clapham, Waterloo, Guildford, etc.

Crypto Lending Platform Nexo Joins FIO, As Usability Remains Top Priority (Chipin), Rated: B

Nexo, the dominant player in the crypto lending space, is joining the Foundation for Wallet Interoperability (FIO), the industry consortia bringing together leading companies in the blockchain ecosystem to solve the biggest problem faced by the industry — usability.

China

LexinFintech: A Rare Quality (Seeking Alpha), Rated: AAA

LexinFintech (LX) reported a solid set of Q3 results with loan origination growing 170% y/y that resulted in a beat on both revenue and EPS. More importantly, loan origination guidance was increased to RMB115-125b vs. the prior forecast of RMB115b.

Source: Seeking Alpha

Overall, asset quality remains stable at the end of Q3 with delinquency rate declining 9bps to 1.4% and the 6-month charge-off rate maintained at just above 2%.

Source: LexinFintech

Institutional funding has reached 75% of the total loan balance. In terms of origination, institutional accounts for 94% of the total loans originated, meaning that LX’s own P2P platform Juzi Licai is becoming less relevant going forward.

Source: LexinFintech
European Union

Twino CEO stands down, as Latvian lender swings into black (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Twino founder Armands Broks is to standing down as CEO and will now focus on new business opportunities and bringing talent on board.

The management change comes as Twino, which offers European investors investment opportunities in unsecured European consumer loans, reports pre-tax profits of €13m  (£11m) for 2018, compared to a €7.2m (£6.2m) loss the year previous.

Twino has also disclosed that it has also issued loans to the value of €1bn (£860m), since it was set up 10 years ago, half of the value of which have been issued in the past three years.

The Best Crowdlending Platforms (The African Exponent), Rated: A

Smart Lenders AM Launches New Investment Fund Specialized in Marketplace Lending (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Smart Lenders AM announces the upcoming launch of a new fund dedicated to financing loans to European SMEs issued through marketplace lending platforms (crowdlending).

Real Estate Crowdfunding Platform EstateGuru Partners with Ober-Haus on Market Research (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Real estate crowdfunding platform EstateGuru and OberHaus, real estate agency operating across the Baltic region, have joined together to produce shared real estate market research and analysis with a specialized focus on the needs of the crowdfunding platform.

International

Profits and Losses of P2P Lending Marketplaces 2017 and 2018 (P2P-Banking), Rated: AAA

Source: P2P-Banking
Australia

What does a competitive mortgage rate look like in November 2019? (finder), Rated: A

The lowest fixed rate in Finder’s database right now is 2.68%, a single basis point lower than the lowest variable. This is unusual (the lowest three year fixed rate this time last year was 3.74%).

Another online lender I spoke to was fine with apartments in the same suburb but didn’t offer pre-approval. This meant I would have to start a full application with them even before I had found a place to buy. For some borrowers, this can be a significant turn-off.

Asia

Ant Financial eyeing S’pore digital bank licence (The Straits Times), Rated: AAA

Billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial Services Group said it may apply for a virtual banking licence in Singapore, a move that would add a heavyweight contender to the race.

OneConnect leads Southeast Asia’s sustainable financing with two smart lending platforms (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

OneConnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. (OneConnect), today announced it is leading Southeast Asia’s sustainable financing with the launch of two smart lending platforms – SeekCap, the Philippines’ first lending platform that helps the underserved micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) manage cashflow and grow their business, as well as a multi-finance platform that will empower millions of unbanked and underbanked Indonesians with easy access to loans to finance their purchase of vehicles essential for their daily transportation so as to improve mobility and their lives.

MSMEs form the backbone of any economy. In the Philippines, more than 99% of all businesses are MSMEs and they contribute to almost 63% of total employment. Yet, at present, only 9% of loans and financing from the country’s major banks go to MSMEs.

Latin America

Brazilian Digital Bank Neon Raises $ 95 Million (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Brazilian Digital bank Neon has reportedly raised $95.27 million in a funding round led by Banco Votorantim and the General Atlantic fund. This is according to a write up in Estado.

Neon claims a customer base of 2 million users. The additional funding will help the digital bank grow with expectations to triple that number by 2020.

How Brazil is leading Latin America’s fintech revolution (Business Insider), Rated: A

There were 380 fintechs operating in the country in May 2019, per Finnovista, and around two-thirds (64%) of Brazilian consumers are defined as fintech adopters by EY — a rate that’s level with the global average and higher than the majority of G7 countries’.

  • Smartphone and internet penetration: Three-quarters of Brazilians used smartphones in 2017, which is expected to tick up to 86% by 2025 — and both figures are the highest across the region.
  • High fees charged by incumbentsBrazil’s four largest banks control almost 80% of the country’s deposits, with similar concentrations in credit and assets.
  • A large underserved population: Around 45 million people in the country don’t have access to or have not used a bank account in the past six months.

Why Mexico’s Fintech Sector Will Be One to Watch in 2020 (Next Billion), Rated: A

The economy in Mexico remains largely informal and cash dependent. An estimated 44% of the adult population in Mexico owns no financial products. This largely unbanked population, coupled with the new fintech legislation, has created immense opportunities for Mexico’s fintech sector to grow. In fact, roughly 100 new Mexican fintechs were established in 2018 alone, representing 52% growth for the industry. Mexico has become a regional leader with more than 273 fintech ventures operating in the country. When combined with Brazil’s 380 fintech ventures, the two countries make up 56% of the region’s total fintech activity.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

The post Thursday November 21 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

Friday March 2 2018, Daily News Digest

Seed

News Comments Today’s main news: How Funding Circle wants to fix the financial system. VPC Specialty Lending, Ranger Direct see dividends move up. Klarna triples net profit, mainly in Nordic countries. Today’s main analysis: International P2P lending volumes. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Can Seed solve banks’ digital onboarding issues? How banking institutions can decentralize (The best read of the day). Institutional […]

Seed

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

International

Asia

News Summary

United States

This neobank believes it can solve banks’ digital onboarding problem (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Since 2014 the neobank Seed has been reimagining one of the sleepier areas of banking: deposit accounts for small businesses.

Rather than walk into a branch — Seed, of course, has none — yoga instructors, food truck owners and other would-be customers can apply for accounts in less than five minutes on the startup’s web or mobile app. If approved, they receive a business debit card in the mail.

Now Seed, led by veterans of the fintech Simple, is selling banks software to help them solve one of their most pressing problems: finding a way to open accounts online as branch transactions continue to decline.

Source: American Banker

Lendio Franchise Announced in Clemson Region (Lendio), Rated: A

Lendio, the marketplace for small business loans, today announced the opening of a new Lendio franchise in the Clemson, South Carolina Region. Through the Lendio franchise program, Andy Ronemus will help local businesses in the community apply for loans, review their options and secure funding, easing the financial hurdles for small business owners.

In A Time of Need, A Woman Rises To Disrupt Fintech In Puerto Rico (Forbes), Rated: A

One notable leader in this endeavor is 

Fintech Startup Magilla Wants to Be the Match.com of Loans (Big Law Business), Rated: A

Since its launch in January 2016, Sacramento-based startup Magilla Loans says it’s originated more than $5 billion in loans and is changing the way lenders connect with borrowers. The platform can shrink into a few days what can often be a weeks- or months-long process of loan applications, data submissions and waiting just to get a loan term sheet.

Crowdlending helped Shorewood business woman’s dreams come true (tmj4), Rated: A

One Shorewood businesswoman did this all on a website called Kiva.

Shelia Long’s business is a workspace that helps ladies who work from home come together to get inspired.

“It was so great as the loans were coming in you can see like Switzerland, Boston, Carlsbad, Texas,” said Shelia Long.

One-hundred-thirty-seven people in total used PayPal to help her get to a goal of raising $8,000 at zero-percent interest.

Validus Specialty Launches Package Policy for Fintech Companies (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Validus Specialty Underwriting Services, Inc. (Validus Specialty) announced on Thursday a comprehensive package policy specifically designed for private U.S. fintech companies. According to the company, the solution is designed to address Fintech’s complex risk management needs, which are traditionally underserved by incompatible and inadequate policy forms.

What’s next for marketplace ABS? Revolvers, ETFs & IOs (Asset Securitization Report), Rated: A

Last year, marketplace lenders learned that maintaining diverse sources of funding is just as important as managing the credit risk in their loans.

LendingClub, Marlette Funding and others developed their own securitization platforms, rather than relying on whole-loan sales to large investors. They also invited some of these investors to contribute seasoned loans to collateral pools for these in-house deals.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS WARY OF PASSIVITY (All About Alpha), Rated: AAA

Geopolitical events are the most worrisome prospect on the minds of the decision makers at institutions looking ahead to 2018. The percentage of respondents who believe such events will have a negative impact this year is at 74%. The second most worrisome? Asset bubbles (65%).

More than three fifths (63%) of those surveyed said that the growth of passive investing has increased systemic valuation risk: 59% believe that flows into passive strategies artificially suppress volatility.

In 2015, Natixis found that 64% of institutions said they were upping their investments with active managers. In 2016, that number rose to 67%. In the latest survey it rose again, to 68%.

Be cautious when seeking income (Money Week), Rated: A

But Square Pie had sold bonds on the Crowdcube platform, offering lenders 8% a year. It illustrates why so many people are suspicious of mini-bonds (debt issued by small, retail-orientated firms). Anyone thinking of lending to just the one relatively new business has to be aware of the risks – and then ask: is 8% enough?

A more diversified option

The latest offering in this category comes from a platform called Goji, which aggregates a variety of direct-lending and peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms. It has just brought out a Renewables Lending Bond, which pays out anything from 5.5% for a three-year term (with regular income) to 7.6% over five years, where the interest is rolled up at repayment. The underlying assets are provided by a direct lender called Prestige Group, which lends to clean-energy projects.

The book of loans – around 39 – has an average duration of four years, with a typical loan-to-value ratio of between 70% and 80%.

2018 LightStream Home Improvement Survey (PR Newswire), Rated: A

More than half (58 percent) of homeowners are planning to spend money on home improvement projects in 2018, according to the fifth annual LightStream Home Improvement Survey. LightStream is the national online lending division of SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI). Budgets for renovations are on the rise: among homeowners planning renovations, 45 percent will spend $5,000 or more — an all-time survey high. Those planning to spend $35,000 or more doubled from 2017.

The survey shows robust enthusiasm for renovation, as well as a thoughtful desire to balance a home’s needs and the homeowners’ budget, so they have the financial confidence to move forward. Specifically, the survey revealed the following trends:

    • Home “Sweat” Home
      The majority of homeowners plan to invest sweat equity, as 65 percent say they’ll do at least some of the work themselves. The 18-34 group is particularly fond of do-it-yourself projects, with 70 percent planning to work on at least a portion of their renovation.
    • Staying — and Aging — in Place
      Only seven percent of homeowners are renovating to prepare their homes to be sold, the lowest percentage since 2015. Instead, 14 percent of homeowners across all age groups — not just baby boomers — are citing “aging in place” as a reason for making a home improvement. Even respondents aged 18 to 34 (11 percent) and 35 to 44 (10 percent) say they’re renovating “to prepare my home so I can stay in it as I get older.”
    • Tax Reform Boosting Budgets
      With recent passage of tax reform, homeowners have already begun calculating how the changes might affect what they spend on home improvements. One in four homeowners who have set a budget for renovation projects stated that tax reform has had an impact, with 18 percent increasing their budget and seven percent decreasing it.
    • Paying for Projects
      The majority of homeowners (62 percent) plan to pay for projects, at least in part, by using savings. Additional payment strategies were further revealed. Intent to fund through home equity lines of credit (HELOC) jumped from 10 to 13 percent. “U.S. economic growth and limited housing inventory have contributed to healthy home equity gains,” said Ellen Koebler, SunTrust head of consumer solutions. “HELOCs can offer a financial solution for many homeowners, as accrued value may be available to tap for renovations.”

At the same time, the percentage of people intending to use a home improvement loan has grown 29 percent from 2017 with 54 percent more 18- to 34-year-olds planning to fund projects through home improvement financing.

Crowdfunding your way to homeownership (Mic), Rated: A

According to recent research from the National Association of Realtors®, 24% of buyers under age 36 saved for their down payment for more than two years.

NAR research also found that 25% of homebuyers ages 36 and younger used a gift from relatives or friends for some or all of their down payment.

Platforms have popped up that simplify this process: HomeFundMe, which launched last year, and Feather the Nest.

An estimated 1,500 “nesters” have used Feather the Nest to crowdfund a down payment since 2014, according to company president Beth Butler, with an average goal of $10,000 to $15,000.

JPMC’s FinLab Launches $ 3M Contest For FinTech Startups (PYMNTS), Rated: B

To help identify FinTech products that may improve the financial health of underserved populations in the U.S., the Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab) launched its fourth annual $3 million challenge. The lab focuses on products that meet the financial needs of overlooked populations, JPMorgan Chase said in an announcement.

Accounts in Transit (O’Dwyer PR), Rated: B

Kwittken signs up Laurel Road, online lender of student loans, personal loans and mortgages. Aaron Kwittken’s firm will be responsible for raising awareness of the company’s products through content marketing, brand activations, thought leadership and traditional media relations. Laurel Road, which is part of Darien Rowayton Bank, recently surpassed $3 billion in student loan originations.

United Kingdom

Keeping the little guys in the loop: How Funding Circle hopes to fix the financial system (City A.M.), Rated: AAA

“When we think about the people we hire, it’s all about energy,” says Funding Circle co-founder James Meekings. “We want staff to share their excitement about what they do with others in the office – even if they’re talking about tax.”

“Even though we now have 800 employees, we still feel like a small business. We still push for opportunity and for people to be creative.”

VPC and Ranger funds see dividends tick up, but remain below target (AltFi), Rated: AAA

The £219m Ranger Direct Lending and £337m VPC Specialty Lending investment trusts have announced their latest quarterly dividends with both portfolios showing an uptick since their last pay-outs.

Leeds offers business loans through peer-to-peer platform (Room151), Rated: A

Leeds City Council is to use a peer-to-peer lending platform to lend money to local businesses.

The authority has decided to use the rebuildingsociety.com platform — based in the city — to provide money for small and medium sized businesses with an LS postcode.

Isas 2018: Innovative Finance Isas hit stumbling blocks (Financial Times), Rated: A

Innovative finance Isas (IF Isas) offer the promise of a good return, sheltered from tax, to investors willing to take on the higher risks of the peer to peer (P2P) finance market.

The market has taken longer than expected to ignite, however, as providers struggle to match growing demand with limited supply. Many new investors will find the door shut, at least for now.

Growing consumer indebtedness in the UK combined with the prospect of rising interest rates could push up default rates on loans, sharpening the dangers for those invested in the highest-risk P2P products.

How does the Isa allowance actually work? (Which?), Rated: B

For the tax year 2017-18, the maximum amount you can pay into one – or a combination – of Isas held in your name, is £20,000.

Once the new tax year for 2018-19 begins on 6 April, your allowance resets – once again to £20,000.

There are five main types of Isas. The current annual limits are as follows:

  • Help to Buy Isa: Money can only be used to buy your first home, and savings receive a government bonus of 25%. You can save £1,200 in the first month, then £200 per month thereafter. Therefore, in the first year you will have a limit of £3,400. In the following years the limit will be £2,400.
  • Lifetime Isa: Expressly for first-time buyers or to be used in retirement once the account holder has reached the age of 60. There’s a 25% government bonus on savings up until the account holder is 50 years old. You can pay in up to £4,000 per year.
  • Cash Isa: A traditional savings account – money you pay in grows with the provider’s interest rate. You can pay in up to £20,000.
  • Stocks & shares Isa: Money you deposit is invested in stocks & shares by the provider. Returns can be higher, but so is the risk that you may end up with less money than you paid in. There will also usually be fees involved for managing your investments. You can pay in up to £20,000.
  • Innovative finance Isa: Money paid in is invested in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending platforms, and you receive the interest when this loan is repaid. There is also some risk involved. You can pay in up to £20,000.
European Union

Klarna’s profits driven by growth in Nordics and Germany (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

The Swedish group posted a 27 per cent increase in revenues to SKr4.53bn ($546m) while net profit more than tripled to SKr346m. Klarna processed about €18bn in online transactions last year, an increase of 42 per cent.

Klarna reports double-digit sales growth (Finextra), Rated: A

As a result, 89,000 retailers globally now use Klarna products, this represents a 20% growth compared to the previous year. Available in 14 countries, retailers are increasingly adopting Klarna solutions which makes the payment processes as smooth as possible for consumers. As a result of the surge in retailer adoption, Klarna now handles 10% of all online payments in Northern Europe.

International

How Banking Institutions Can be Decentralized (CoinTelegraph), Rated: AAA

Decentralized banking is a term that has been construed in the wake of the cryptocurrency boom.

Cryptobanks are decentralized platforms that provide the usual services that centralized banks provide, primarily lending services and credit scoring, but essentially cuts out all of the middlemen that a centralized bank uses. The people needed in a bank to approve loans and structure financial data are replaced in a crypto banking ecosystem by smart contracts and p2p, peer-to-peer, services.

What kind of technologies do crypto banks use?

P2P, Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, Machine Learning, Big Data and smart contracts are used in crypto banking.

All transactions are recorded on the Blockchain.

Machine Learning Big Data.These technologies help to automate the lending process and cut through bureaucracy. AI can work 24/7 and match lenders with borrowers.

Do crypto banks have their own native currency?

Yes. Native cryptocurrencies help make the bank global.

Datarius, the first social p2p crypto bank, for instance, uses their own native token DTRC for all transactions. This helps create a standard for a global payment system within the p2p lending process.

What is social lending?

Thanks to Big Data and AI, crypto banks can see beyond a borrower’s credit score to identify their level of trust. Listings can include Trust Limit, Trust Management and User Ratings which helps AI decide if the participant is justified in borrowing from a specific lender.

Crowdlending: Anatomy of a successful strategy (EurekAlert!), Rated: A

The entrepreneur’s strategy for achieving this can be summarized in three stages. The first consisted of bypassing the banking monopoly on his platform using “cash vouchers,” a tool dating from 1937 that had long been forgotten. They allow personal loans to be made without a bank as intermediary. Secondly, by collaborating with future competitors, the public authorities and the sector’s regulators(2), the entrepreneur contributed to the development of a long-term crowdlending regulation in France. This collaboration relies on the creation of a meta-organization(3) called “Financement Participatif France” (FPF), which worked to define the status of “Intermédiaire en Financement Participatif” (IFP, equivalent to “crowdlending financing intermediary” in English), which regulates this new market.

Asia

Smartag International Signs Agreement to Provide Fintech Solutions to Rural Indonesia (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Smartag International, Inc. entered into a joint venture agreement with PT. Supratama Makmur Sejahtera (“PTSMS”), an Indonesian Fintech company to form a Joint Venture Indonesian PMA company in which Smartag will own 51% equity and PTSMS will own 49%. This follows an earlier MOU signed on October 12, 2017 between PTSMS and PT Rijan Dinamis Selaras (“RDS”) representing Pondok Pesantren Riyadhul Jannah Pacer Mojokerjo, founder of Consultative Assembly of Indonesian Boarding Schools which has a network of 28,000 boarding schools to undertake a Fintech project (the “Indonesian Project”).

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor