Wednesday November 29 2017, Daily News Digest

Qudian

News Comments Today’s main news: Fiduciary rule delayed–again.SoFi prepares sixth student loan refinance ABS.LendingTree secures $250M amended, restated credit facility.Indonesian tech investments hit $3B YTD. Today’s main analysis: Qudian bounces back. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Will Mulvaney back consumers or payday lenders?American consumers say financial crisis had no impact on their lives.Online education startup promises to […]

Qudian

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

India

Asia

News Summary

United States

DOL Officially Delays Start of Fiduciary Rule (The National Law Journal), Rated: AAA

The Labor Department on Monday announced the official 18-month extension for the start of key provisions of the fiduciary rule.

President Donald Trump directed the Department to prepare an updated analysis of the “likely impact” of the fiduciary rule on access to retirement information and financial advice.

The extension will be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.

SoFi readies sixth student loan refi ABS (GlobalCapital), Rated: AAA

SoFi is has entered the post-Thanksgiving pipeline with its sixth student loan refinancing transaction this year, in line with its plans to issue 12 securitizations in 2017.

The California-based online lender filed documents with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley are banks on the deal, according to the deal documents.

SoFi Tackles Consumer Debts in New Ad Push (Lend Academy), Rated: A

While relaxing over the Thanksgiving weekend you might have noticed a new trend occurring in television while watching the games: six second ads.

SoFi is focusing their message on the consumers lifestyle, presenting an understanding as to why someone needed to increase their credit card debt.

They also placed a Black Friday circular with several national newspapers which you can see in the photo below. The ad is a clever take on the typical sales fliers we all see around this time of year. But instead of an ad featuring low prices we see an ad touting much higher prices. The message is that if you are buying gifts on credit cards this holiday season and carrying a balance you will be paying a lot more than the advertised price. It is a message focused on smart spending, giving a better look at the true costs of products when financed.

Would Trump’s CFPB Pick Mulvaney Back Consumers Or Payday Lenders? (International Business Times), Rated: AAA

Demonstrators gathered outside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington D.C.  Wednesday to protest President Trump’s decision to appoint White House budget director Mick Mulvaney to director of the agency.

As a Congressman, Mulvaney accepted $55,500 in contributions from payday lenders during his four successful runs for Congress, including $26,600 during the 2016 election cycle,  according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Before he was tapped to lead President Donald Trump’s Office of Budget Management, Mulvaney took $115,200 from the securities and investment industry, and another $96,564 from the insurance industry in the 2016 cycle, both more than any other industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This record, along with comments Mulvaney made indicating he would shutter the agency if given the opportunity, has led critics to question whether Mulvaney’s priority will be consumers — or the companies the agency is responsible for regulating.

Payday lenders appear to want Mulvaney to lead the CFPB.

Note to Mick Mulvaney: Donuts do not a CFPB director make (The Washington Post), Rated: A

President Trump’s hostile takeover of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, by contrast, relies on the rather less cherished legal principle of habeas cuppedia, Latin for “you shall have the pastries.”

Under the statute that created the CFPB, the watchdog agency set up after the 2008 crash to police lending abuses, it should now be rightfully run by Leandra English, the deputy director who succeeds the just-resigned director, Richard Cordray, until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement. Trump found another statute that he says lets him appoint Mulvaney. English filed suit to defend her legitimacy, Mulvaney submitted doughnuts, and a Trump-appointed federal judge, to nobody’s surprise, ruled in Trump’s favor.

Ten Years Post-Financial Crisis and Americans Say It Had No Impact, According to Hartford Funds Survey (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

New data released today by Hartford Funds revealed that a decade after the Great Recession, Americans are unclear how the economic event impacted their life and financial behavior.

The majority (40 percent) of respondents said that the financial crisis had no impact on their life, yet large numbers reported that they avoid the market (42 percent) and have altered their spending and savings habits (46 percent). Others (26 percent) shifted their retirement timeline and plan to work longer then they’d hoped, and 25 percent had to change jobs or take on additional jobs.

The majority (40 percent) of respondents said that the financial crisis had no impact on their life, yet large numbers reported that they avoid the market (42 percent) and have altered their spending and savings habits (46 percent). Others (26 percent) shifted their retirement timeline and plan to work longer then they’d hoped, and 25 percent had to change jobs or take on additional jobs.

STRATEGIC ADVANCES IN THE USA FUEL MONEVO’S GROWTH (BQLive), Rated: A

The company’s growth is set to continue with ongoing success in the US, Monevo’s newest territory.

Personal loan originations in the US reached new heights by the end of 2016. Total balances reached $102bn for the first time, $14bn higher than the end of 2015. The number of consumers with personal loans at the end of 2016 was 15.82 million.

Fifteen US lenders, including Lending Club, Sofi, and Prosper have joined Monevo’s roster of over 150 personal loan lenders across the world.

GETTING STUDENT FINANCIAL AID MAY BECOME WAY EASIER WITH NEW FAFSA APP (Newsweek), Rated: A

Just like Uncle Sam, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants you…to be able to apply for financial aid on your phone.

DeVos said Tuesday that the government plans to launch an app for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which some 20 million people fill out every year in hopes of getting grants, loans and other money for college or career training. It’s all part of a plan to make the FAFSA much simpler to submit.

HouseCanary Announces $ 31 Million Series B Funding, Comprised of PSP Growth and Existing Investors (HouseCanary), Rated: A

HouseCanary, the data analytics and valuation platform for real estate professionals, today announced it has closed a $31 million series B funding round, bringing the company’s total funding to $64 million to date. Investors in the round include PSP Growth, the venture and growth equity arm of PSP Capital, a private investment firm founded by entrepreneur and former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, as well as Alpha Edison and other existing investors.

Investors can now value over 100 million properties with a median error of 2.5% or less. Lenders and appraisers use HouseCanary technology to reduce the time it takes to complete an appraisal from more than 25 days to less than a week.

Your Sneak Peak of the LendIt Fintech USA Agenda (LendIt), Rated: A

Fintech

How secure is your data? Recent hacks and breaches have re-stressed the importance of the data security and customer information. This track will help young startups and big box financial institutions verify customers, understand data security and utilize tools to improve efficiency. The future of technology is in robotics, machine learning and biometrics, not grasping these changes will make your business extinct.

BlockFin Summit

Bitcoin. Blockchain. Cryptocurrencies. ICO’s. Everyone’s talking about them, but how will these new age concepts change the future of money?

Digital Banking

Banks are looking to fintech partners to transform their business for the digital revolution. This track will explore the crucial role of mobile banking, smart ATM innovations, chatbots’ role, and the digital transformation at all levels—from branch to infrastructure to data storage.

Lending

Learn how to scale your growth like Lending Club, increase access to credit like LendingPoint, and utilize mobile-only technologies like MoneyLion.

Source: LendIt

The secret to reeling in cybersecurity talent at three big banks (American Banker), Rated: B

There will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021, up from 1 million last year, according to the research firm Cybersecurity Ventures. Meanwhile, Frost & Sullivan estimates 1.8 million cybersecurity jobs will go unfilled by 2022, a rise of around 20% since 2015.

The military is skilled at producing what Gary McAlum, the chief security officer at USAA, calls “Jedi Knights.”

Wells Fargo is making a big push to hire veterans, said Rich Baich, its chief information security officer. He has held several positions in the Navy, the North American Air Defense Command, the National Reconnaissance Office and the FBI.

As of August more than 8,500 veterans worked at the San Francisco bank, and at any given time it has 200 team members on active duty.

United Kingdom

LendingTree Enters into a $ 250 Million Amended and Restated Credit Facility (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE), a leading online loan marketplace, announced today it has entered into an amended and restated $250 million five-year senior secured revolving credit facility that will replace LendingTree’s previous $125 million credit agreement.  The amended and restated revolving credit facility provides increased borrowing capacity and improved pricing, along with greater strategic and operational flexibility. The facility can be used to finance working capital needs, permitted acquisitions, capital expenditures, and general corporate purposes.

The amended and restated revolving credit facility will be governed by a maximum net leverage covenant of 4.50x, with step downs to 4.00x over time. Additionally, the amended credit facility contains an accordion feature under which the borrowing capacity can be increased by $100 million or a greater amount, subject to certain conditions.

Why a blockchain startup called Govcoin wants to ‘disrupt’ the UK’s welfare state (MENAfn), Rated: A

The UK chancellor’s recent Budget reminded us that systemic problems continue to plague the government’s delayed roll-out of universal credit – a single monthly welfare payment that will replace six separate benefits.

Govcoin, intent on ‘disrupting’ welfare state provision, has been working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) since early 2016 to develop a solution for welfare payments.

‘Claimants can – voluntarily – download an app, which enables them to create virtual jam jars and apportion money to them. Whether that’s ‘rent’, ‘gas and electric’ – it’s entirely up to them,’ said Kay in an last autumn.

Govcoin will financially empower benefit claimants. But its distribution model involves benefits being paid – not in pounds and pence – but in the form of a cryptocurrency similar to . Govcoin promises to allow claimants to pay for goods and services – such as utilities – linked to the system.

Peer-to-peer Bitcoin lending fund launches (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

Called Bond, the fund lets accredited investors buy securities known as “Bond Units” in an asset portfolio that holds a mixture of property bonds, real estate and cryptocurrency assets.

Each Bond Unit, which digitally represents an equity share of Bond’s asset portfolio, will be issued on the Bitshares Blockchain and traded via the Bitshares decentralised exchange.

The portfolio has 30 per cent exposure to P2P Bitcoin lending; 30 per cent to property bonds and real estate; and 30 per cent to digital currency learning website the Billion Hero Campaign. The remaining 10 per cent is invested in alternative cryptocurrencies.

China

Banker Bulls Still Like Qudian, Despite China’s Crackdown (Barron’s), Rated: AAA

After losing more than 40% of its market value last week — as Chinese regulators tightened rules for online consumer lending — Qudian is seeing a 16% bounce today in its American depositary receipts (ticker: QD), to a recent $14.

Source: Barron’s

China’s fintech is still in its infant phase (TechNode), Rated: A

One of the Chinese fintech players that made their way to the US public market is Rong360 Inc’s Jianpu, an online platform for discovery and recommendation of financial products. The founder and CEO Ye Daqing recently joined its investor James Mi, founding partner of Lightspeed China Partners, on stage at TechCrunch Shanghai to discuss why the fintech is booming in China and what opportunities lie ahead.

There are many fintech companies that are quite controversial because some of them have damaged the reputation of the market. But two of the [fintech] companies you invested in have both filed for an IPO recently. James, what’s your view [on the market]? What makes you such a good investor, landing two IPOs?

Mi: Lightspeed mostly invests in early-stage companies. We usually look at their development in 3-5 years down the road.

We were actually very prudent about P2P. When we finished looking at all the companies we ended up choosing PPDAI because it was offering a real online solution. No offline sales. And this type of business contributes to the society.

Why are so many Chinese [fintech] companies going IPO in the US recently?

Ye: China will see ten to twenty years of significant growth in fintech and micro-finance. The level of digitalization of finance in China is much lower than that of e-commerce, which took more than ten years to reach 14%. Digital finance is currently at less than 5% penetration. In four to five years, or even longer, fintech will surpass retail. For example, lending, car mortgage, credit cards, and insurance.

Let’s look at another buzzword, that is artificial intelligence (AI). Every single industry nowadays is talking about AI. What will happen when AI meets fintech? 

Ye: The financial industry is actually a data industry, wholly relying on data to make risk control decisions and take care of customer service and marketing. Take our platform for example—it has nearly 70 million registered users, more than 2,500 partnered financial organizations, with 170,000 types of products, and each product is facing a changeable set of challenges and varying user behavior.

European Union

Nutmeg and Revolut investor launches new European fund (AltFi), Rated: A

A leading investor in Series A-stage technology companies, Balderton Capital has closed a total of $375m in its latest fund with a new generation of European tech in its sights.

Flender’s lenders throw €400,000 towards €2m funding round (SiliconRepublic), Rated: A

Dublin fintech Flender is hurtling with fierce velocity towards a funding round worth more than €2m, with involvement from some of its customers, who have already pledged €400,000.

“Initially, we offered €100,000 to them but this quickly overfunded and we increased this to €400,000.”

International

An online education startup thinks it can save bankers from losing their jobs to machines (Quartz), Rated: AAA

The attack on banking jobs has been relentless. British banks are set to close almost 800 branches this year, after shutting nearly 600 in 2016. The CEO of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, warned that the company could afford to lose half of its staff to automation. Swiss bank Nordea announced at the end of last month that it was cutting a tenth of its staff, and its CEO said the banking industry could cope with half its current number of personnel. Consultancy Greenwich Associates estimates that 15% of the finance industry’s jobs are at risk of being lost to AI-driven alternatives.

In addition to teaching, Nguyen Trieu is leading by example with the launch of an AI-enabled mobile savings app, which is in the early planning stages.

But there’s a big difference in fintech scenes across the world.

The mindset and the way people use technology and fintech is very different. If you’re in Hong Kong, you have WeChat on your phone and you use it on a daily basis. Here, you don’t use fintech on a daily basis. Some people might use Revolut but they still have a traditional bank account. Here, fintech is seen as innovations on top of existing financial services whereas in Hong Kong, fintech is finance.

So the course is for everyone, everywhere?

And not just for people in finance. When we did the beta test only 40% of the users were from the finance industry—the rest were from tech, or were entrepreneurs or consultants.

So automation, AI, machine learning, and the like are all coming for your job if you don’t retrain?

Banks are thinking today about cutting thousands of jobs and increasing their technology budgets. To me, it is is absurd for a CEO of a bank to think this way.

So, what finance jobs most at risk right now?

In general, anything that can be automated will be automated. But right now, compliance is at risk. Over the past few years there’s been a lot of investment in compliance and KYC [know your customer], because regulators wanted the investment and it was a way for banks to demonstrate they were doing their part after the financial crisis. Now, that has totally changed. It’s starting to cost a lot and regulators have said we want you to show that you are being efficient, not just hiring a lot of people.

Exclusive Interview with Bloom Co-Founder Jesse Leimgruber (ChipIn), Rated: A

Bloom is a global decentralized credit scoring system available to anyone – even the unbanked and underbanked. Bloom’s flexible ecosystem will allow users to have access to credit services which work globally and are extremely secure and transparent thanks to the blockchain’s inherent features.

First off, why did you decide to use the blockchain in building Bloom? 

People shouldn’t be forced to rebuild credit from scratch when they move to a new country. Billions of people around the globe are still considered “credit unscorable,” forcing them into taking out dangerous, informal loans.

To make matters even worse, many governments generate credit scores based on religion, political affiliation, and voting status, instead of data. Even in the United States, 45 Million Americans (including many financially savvy millennials) still do not have a credit score.

What do you think is the biggest problem Bloom will solve and why is the problem important to solve?

3 Billion people cannot access credit, largely due to artificial restrictions from governments.
Tell us more about how BloomID works behind the scenes. The most interesting part about is the vouching process; how does this work and how does Bloom ensure that vouches are not manipulated or faked in any way?
BloomID is the Bloom protocol’s method of both establishing a reliable identity as well as forming the basis of creditworthiness for users who are newly entering the Bloom network. BloomID allows organizations who store information about individual identities to attest to the identity of a Bloom user and mark that information on the blockchain for future re-use. A user’s friends, family, and peers can help an individual bootstrap creditworthiness by vouching for their ability to act responsibly with credit. This is like a reference, similar to co-signing.

Is Bloom already working with notable businesses or firms? Are there any future partnerships in process? If yes, can you explain briefly about it?

We’ve been in touch with 100’s of lenders and partners. We’ve announced quite a few. Peer to peer lending, traditional fiat businesses, crypto lenders… we’re working with people on the whole spectrum.

For example: Self Lender is a credit building lender we are working with, Everex, Lendoit, and ETHLend are crypto lenders. We’re working with partners for anti-fraud such as TypingID.

Download the Bloom white paper here.

Exclusive Interview with ETHLend CEO Stani Kulechov (ChipIn), Rated: A

ETHLend is a Decentralized Lending Innovation using the Ethereum platform as its base.

First off, why did you decide to use the blockchain in building ETHLend?

Finance is where blockchain technology was conceived, and it is in finance that blockchain technology is arguably most transformative. It intrinsically offers greater visibility, scalability, and efficiency – and potentially at a lower cost.

By providing a means of authorizing fully trackable and verifiable transactions, it also offers the potential for truly open-source many-to-many lending. Presented in these terms, it may well seem like a threat to peer-to-peer firms. If blockchain removes the need for marketplaces, why should borrowers and lenders pay fees to these platforms? ETHLend promotes less fees, transparency, and integrity amongst borrowing and lending.

What do you think is the biggest problem ETHLend will solve and why is the problem important to solve?

In today’s world, you are at the mercy of banking institutions for borrowing and lending. We all know the bank pays out minimal interest on investment accounts and charges maximum interest on borrowing. We have partnered up with Bloom who provides credit scoring capabilities so both borrower and lender build a reputation amongst the ETHLend community which is usable elsewhere on the blockchain.

Why do you think the shift from traditional lending to P2P lending is happening right now?

Market research tells us that there are countries at the moment which are paying from 0.5 to 5 percent. For example, here in Finland, it is quite common to have a secured mortgage loan with an interest of 0.4 to 0.8 percent on bank’s marginal. On the contrary, In Brazil, the interest rate tops to 32 percent and Russians pay on average of 11 percent and in India 10 percent (take note that today’s numbers may differ).

The differences in interest rate mean that with a higher interest rate, people and businesses have less access to finance.

Source: ChipIn

Alternative investment LPs want more transparency and co-investment opportunities (HedgeWeek), Rated: A

More than 140 LPs responded to the survey, of whom approximately 52 per cent were based in North America, 31 per cent in Europe and 15 per cent in Asia Pacific. Nearly one quarter (22 per cent) were public pension plans, 15 per cent were consultants and 13 per cent were either endowments or family offices.

Intralinks is a leading financial services company with over USD31 trillion of transactions executed on its platform and over four million users. It has the largest community of GPs and LPs and is used by over 1,000 private equity, real estate and hedge funds on a daily basis. Over USD1 of every USD2 raised globally for private equity was facilitated using Intralinks for a total of USD317 billion in 2016 and 13 out of the 20 largest funds were raised on its platform.

More than one third of investors confirmed that their current allocation was more than 30 per cent, with nearly two thirds confirming that they planned to increase their allocation to alternatives over the next 12 months by 1 to 10 per cent.

Gold, Silver Storage & Lending For Hard Assets in the World’s Safest Jurisdiction (Palisade-Research), Rated: A

Gregor discusses Silver Bullion SG a company he started in Singapore where individuals can securely store their gold and silver. They just hold your precious metals and validate their authenticity. They do this without counterparty risk as your assets are marked, segregated and you hold the title. The company holds over 230 million in hard assets.

Using peer to peer lending you can withdraw up to half of your holdings in loans at low-interest rates.

GoCardless Tops Juniper Leaderboard for Fintech: A Sector Worth More Than 0 Billion in 2018 (BusinessWire), Rated: B

A new study from Juniper Research ranks GoCardless as the current clear leader in the fintech market. GoCardless enables simple payment processing and integration with many popular services, and Juniper believes that its potential for efficient, borderless commerce is disruptive and far-reaching.

Juniper’s Fintech Leaderboard Ranking

1. GoCardless

2. Onfido

3. Square

4. Lemonade

5. Kabbage

India

CROWDFUNDING SET TO GROW (Daily Pioneer), Rated: AAA

Crowdfunding activity in India is driven increasingly by mobile applications and payments. This trend is likely to witness exponential growth.

Rs 300 crore, the Indian crowdfunding industry is at a nascent stage compared to the global standards with the total amount of money raised via crowdfunding in 2016 at USD 738.9 million.

Asia

Investment in Indonesian tech start-ups reaches $ 3bn year-to-date (Oxford Business Group), Rated: AAA

Indonesia’s tech start-ups have been catching the eye of investors, having raised close to $3bn in funding in the year to September 13, a substantial increase on the $631m received in 2016.

Chinese firms are prominent among the foreign investors in Indonesia’s start-up boom, according to research firm CB Insights: Alibaba committed $1.1bn to online marketplace Tokopedia in August, and in May JD.com and Tencent Holdings invested $1.2bn in ride hailing motorbike service Go-Jek, which utilises mobile payment services.

Alternative financing posts 1462% growth

Last year Indonesia posted one of the highest growth rates in the Asia-Pacific region in alternative finance activity. The segment’s total market size expanded by 1462% to $35.4m, according to a report by the University of Cambridge, Monash University and Tsinghua University published at the end of September.

The study found that peer-to-peer (P2P) business lending had come to dominate Indonesia’s alternative finance market, accounting for just over 60% of the 2016 total, with P2P consumer lending representing 18% of the figure, or $6.5m.

Fostering collaboration and growing market opportunities

Indonesian tech start-ups attracted the second-highest amount of investment in South-east Asia between 2012 and September 13, at $4.6bn, behind Singaporean companies, which raised $7.3bn over the same period.

Fintech Challenge seeks to bolster financial inclusion in Vietnam (Nhan Dan), Rated: A

A programme entitled ‘Fintech Challenge Vietnam’ has been launched by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), with the aim of fostering innovation in financial services that promote greater financial inclusion in Vietnam.

Fintech Challenge Vietnam has been organised by the SBV with the support of the Mekong Business Initiative and sponsorship by the Vietnam Bankers Association and the Vietnam Fintech Club.

VN Central Bank launches first-ever fintech challenge (VietnamNet), Rated: B

The focus of the Fintech Challenge is on fintech solutions that can improve the offer of financial services to the underserved and unbanked.

The challenge is an opportunity for Fintech companies from both inside and outside Việt Nam who are interested in collaborating with commercial banks to pilot and scale solutions that improve financial services in the following categories: electronic payments, e-KYC (Know Your Customer)/e-Identification, open APIs, blockchain and peer-to-peer lending to apply.

The deadline for application is January 18, 2018, at fintech.mekongbiz.org.

OJK to issue new fintech regulation in March (The Jakarta Post), Rated: B

The Financial Services Authority (OJK) aims to issue a regulation on financial technology (fintech) businesses by March next year amid robust development of the industry, OJK deputy commissioner Nurhaida said Tuesday.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor