Thursday October 18 2018, Daily News Digest

Major US Banks Active Mobile Banking Users

News Comments Today’s main news: Upgrade to debut ABS bond. KBRA assigns preliminary ratings to Upgrade Receivables Trust 2018-1. Funding Circle launches free iPad incentive. China’s P2P lending is in trouble. Today’s main analysis: State laws put installment loan borrowers at risk. (A MUST-READ) Today’s thought-provoking articles: SoFi’s data science head on machine learning and non-traditional lending. LendingClub’s Bill Walsh says […]

Major US Banks Active Mobile Banking Users

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United States

Online lender Upgrade prepares debut ABS bond  (International Financing Review) Rated: AAA

Upgrade, an online lending company started by former LendingClub founder Renaud Laplanche, is looking to sell a debut asset-backed bond deal, four people with knowledge of the deal told IFR on Wednesday.

KBRA Assigns Preliminary Ratings to Upgrade Receivables Trust 2018-1 (Business Wire) Rated: AAA

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) assigns preliminary ratings to four classes of notes issued by Upgrade Receivables Trust 2018-1 (“UPGR 2018-1”). This is a $286.390 million consumer loan ABS transaction that is expected to close October 30, 2018.

This transaction represents the first ABS securitization collateralized by unsecured consumer loans originated through the online marketplace lending platform operated by Upgrade, Inc. (“Upgrade”) and the first from the Upgrade Receivables Trust (“UPGR”) shelf. Upgrade Receivables Trust 2018-1 (“UPGR 2018-1” or the “Issuer”) will issue four classes of notes totaling $286.390 million. The proceeds from the sale of the notes will be used to purchase the loans and related rights from Upgrade Receivables Depositor LLC (the “Depositor”), who purchased the loans from the unaffiliated transferors, to fund the reserve account and to pay transaction expenses. The Depositor will in turn sell the loans to the Issuer.

Preliminary Ratings Assigned: Upgrade Receivables Trust 2018-1

Class Preliminary Rating Expected Initial Class Principal
A A (sf) $187,308,000
B BBB (sf) $32,569,000
C BB (sf) $28,440,000
D B (sf) $38,073,000

SoFi’s data science head: Opening the funnel to non-traditional borrowers with machine learning (Thomson Reuters) Rated: AAA

ANSWERS: What are some of the issues in machine learning that you are working to solve for right now?

WU: I think where machine learning plays the biggest role is in datasets that have extremely high numbers of dimensions, very low signal ratios and very sparsely populated values. For example, people in lending use data from the bureau. There are millions and millions of rows, there are thousands and thousands of columns. Each specific field has very little to no signal and each person has very few things that are actually populated. Those are opportunities where machine learning, particularly deep learning, has an extremely high potential.

ANSWERS: How can machine learning assist with lending decisions, and how does one keep bias from creeping into that?

WU: When making a decision on creditworthiness, machine learning can help lenders look at metrics beyond FICO and income. Whether it’s adding more information to traditional metrics versus determining creditworthiness of applicants without a full credit history, machine learning can drive tighter risk management while assessing borrower’s creditworthiness where traditional models cannot.

LendingClub’s Bill Walsh: ‘At its core, marketing is a data problem’ (Tearsheet) Rated: AAA

Today’s marketer on the hot seat is Bill Walsh, LendingClub’s general manager and head of marketing for personal loans. Bill brings an engineer’s approach to marketing. The MIT grad began his tenure at Lending Club in an operations role, where rigorous problem solving was used to solve some of the biggest problems in the business. Now that he’s leading marketing on the consumer side, he brings a similar approach.

We talk about how LendingClub defines marketing and approaches channels. We pay particular attention to a recent TV campaign you might have seen over the summer of 2018. Measuring and responding to the signal is core to LendingClub’s approach and in the course of this four week broadcast campaign, Bill’s team iterated twice. This puts ad agencies on notice — this is the new data-driven fintech marketing world.

Mobile banking is reaching a saturation point in the US (Business Insider) Rated: AAA

JPMorgan Chase counted32.5 million active mobile banking customers in Q3 2018 — an 11% year-over-year (YoY) increase from 29.3 million in Q3 2017.

That’s up from the 31.7 million active mobile customers in Q2 2018, but is also a slight deceleration from the 12% YoY growth in Q3 2017— following several quarters of decelerating growth: Chase has been adding around 800,000 mobile users on a quarterly basis.

Wells Fargo counts 29 million total active digital customers — 22.5 million of which use mobile banking. This marks an 8% annual increase in mobile banking customers, but a 4% YoY increase in total digital customers, demonstrating that most of its new customers are coming from mobile channels.

Source: Business Insider

State Laws Put Installment Loan Borrowers at Risk (PEW) Rated: AAA

Pew’s analysis found that although these lenders’ prices are lower than those charged by payday lenders and the monthly payments are usually affordable, major weaknesses in state laws lead to practices that obscure the true cost of borrowing and put customers at financial risk. Among the key findings:

  • Monthly payments are usually affordable, with approximately 85 percent of loans having installments that consume 5 percent or less of borrowers’ monthly income.Previous research shows that monthly payments of this size that are amortized—that is, the amount owed is reduced—fit into typical borrowers’ budgets and create a pathway out of debt.
  • Prices are far lower than those for payday and auto title loans. For example, borrowing $500 for several months from a consumer finance company typically is three to four times less expensive than using credit from payday, auto title, or similar lenders.
  • Installment lending can enable both lenders and borrowers to benefit. If borrowers repay as scheduled, they can get out of debt within a manageable period and at a reasonable cost, and lenders can earn a profit. This differs dramatically from the payday and auto title loan markets, in which lender profitability hinges on unaffordable payments that drive frequent reborrowing. However, to realize this potential, states would need to address substantial weaknesses in laws that lead to problems in installment loan markets.
  • State laws allow two harmful practices in the installment lending market: the sale of ancillary products, particularly credit insurance but also some club memberships (see Key Terms below), and the charging of origination or acquisition fees. Some costs, such as nonrefundable origination fees, are paid every time consumers refinance loans, raising the cost of credit for customers who repay early or refinance.
    Source: PEW

Read the full report here.

Bank Of America’s Zelle Boosts P2P Transactions 138 Pct In Q3 (PYMNTS) Rated: A

Bank of America cut expenses and reduced its provision for credit losses as the financial institution also beat analysts’ revenue and earnings expectations. Bank of America, in reporting its latest financials on Monday, also said that Zelle P2P payment transactions increased 138 percent year over year.

Revenue increased about 4 percent year over year, hitting $22.8 billion, higher than analyst expectations of $22.67 billion. The financial institution reported earnings per share of 66 cents, which represents a 43 percent year-over-year increase and is above analyst expectationsof 62 cents. Net income grew 32 percent to $7.2 billion.

Bank of America said its provision for credit losses decreased $118 million during the third quarter of 2018, to $716 million. “The net reserve release was $216 million, driven by continued improvement in consumer real estate and energy portfolios,” the bank said in its Q3 financial report.

As digital banks proliferate, so do risks (American Banker) Rated: A

Facing intense deposit competition from online-only banks such as Ally Financial and Goldman Sachs’ Marcus, many traditional banks are looking to turbocharge their deposit gathering by launching — or considering launching — digital banks of their own.

PNC Financial Services Group is the latest big bank to join the fray, recently rolling out a digital-only bank in markets where it lacks a brick-and-mortar presence. Like JPMorgan Chase, Citizens Financial Group and a number of other regional and community banks, PNC is counting on its digital bank to attract low-cost deposits to fuel loan growth while also helping it reach new demographic groups.

Early results have been promising — PNC CEO William Demchak said Friday that he’s been “pleasantly surprised” by the response in the Kansas City, Mo., market — but with the space becoming so crowded, industry watchers are beginning to question if the U.S. marketplace can reasonably support so many new digital banks.

Source: American Banker

Outside Financial Launches to Help Consumers Save up to $ 3,000 on Auto Loan Packages (PR Newswire) Rated: A

Outside Financial, an independent auto loan marketplace, launched its consumer-first platform today to bring transparency to auto finance. The company is the first to offer full auto loan packages outside of the dealership, which can save customers $1,000 to $3,000, along with time and hassle. Outside Financial also arranges refinances for existing borrowers.

In 2017, Americans racked up $568.6 billion in auto loans1, yet 60 percent of buyers don’t know they can bring their own financing to the dealership. The company’s new Outside Financial (OF) Markup Index* reveals that, on average, new car buyers are charged $1,717 in hidden markups when arranging their loans through a dealer.

Individual Investors Can Now One-Click Invest in Commercial Real Estate with CrowdStreet’s “Blended Portfolio” Offering (Benzinga) Rated: A

CrowdStreet, which operates the largest and most diversified online marketplace for direct equity investment in U.S. commercial real estate, is now raising $25 million for the company’s first CrowdStreet Blended Portfolio investment offering. To provide individual investors and registered investment advisors another way to diversify their investments with commercial real estate, the company plans a series of diversified and specialty portfolio investment options that will collectively raise and invest up to $170 million.

The first CrowdStreet Blended Portfolio’s proceeds will be deployed across 30-50 pre-vetted projects on the CrowdStreet marketplace, representing a broad range of commercial and multifamily asset types, risk profiles and geographies.

Credible.com Unveils First Truly Consumer-Centric Mortgage Marketplace (Business Wire) Rated: A

Credible.com, the leading online loan marketplace, announces the launch of its first-of-its-kind mortgage marketplace. Credible.com is the only mortgage marketplace that provides actual rates from top lenders in 3 minutes (without affecting a borrower’s credit score), and a streamlined digital origination process. The platform is designed to save borrowers frustration, time and money.

The Credible.com mortgage marketplace builds on the success of the company’s marketplaces for student loans, student loan refinancing, and personal loans, which have facilitated more than $1.6 billion in loans to date. The first product offered through the mortgage marketplace is mortgage refinancing, which went live today in 20 states that collectively represent 65 percent of mortgage originations.

Talking Regulation at the Online Lending Policy Summit (Lend Academy) Rated: A

The big topic of the day was the OCC’s Special Purpose National Bank Charter also known as the Fintech Charter. The topic was laid out for the audience by the first keynote speaker, Grovetta Gardineer, the Senior Deputy Comptroller for Compliance and Community Affairs at the OCC. She talked about the history of the OCC going back to 1863, with the National Banking Act, when the dollar supplanted state currencies as the sole currency of the United States, a revolutionary idea back then. Ms. Gardineer reaffirmed the authority of the OCC to introduce a national fintech charter and talked about how companies should proceed if they are interested. While she would not comment on specifics she did say that the OCC is currently having preliminary conversations with fintech companies but no formal application has been received yet.

The new head of the CFPB’s Office of Innovation, Paul Watkins, talked about the importance of the regulatory sandbox concept. He was one of the architects of the Arizona fintech sandbox and he is bringing that knowledge with him to Washington. He talked about the two main tools to help facilitate innovation at the CFPB: their trial disclosure program and the no action letter.

How Dealstruck Arrived, “Disrupted,” and Died – A Cautionary Online Lending Tale (deBanked) Rated: A

A self-described member of the “lucky sperm club,” a not-even 30-years-old Senturia went on to successfully raise $30 million of investor capital to fund his business, enough to fuel his rise and price-shame his competitors for years. But it wouldn’t last, as he detailed in book, Unwound, about the behind-the-scenes chaos that ravaged Dealstruck until the company closed for good in late 2016.

AFR Wholesale announces partnership with Floify (Housingwire) Rated: B

AFR Wholesale and Floify shook hands on a partnership, and AFR will now use Floify’s point-of-sale technology.

AFR’s goal in partnering with Floify, a 2018 HW Tech100 winner, is to reduce origination time and increase broker productivity. According to the release, Floify’s POS platform can save up to 15 hours of processing time per loan.

This is only one of an ever-increasing number of companies partnering with software companies or developing their own tech solutions in hopes of increasing productivity and getting some breathing room in the margin department in this tough mortgage market.

iintoo Launches Principal-Protection Product for Retail Investors Supported by Insurance Provided by Everest (iintoo Email) Rated: B

Online Real Estate Investment Management Company iintoo Investments Ltd. (“iintoo”) launched Epiic (Equity Protection Investment Community), the first-of-its-kind real estate investment product that provides principal protection for private accredited investors. Supported by insurance provided by an affiliate of Everest Re Group, Ltd. (NYSE:RE), a leading international reinsurance and insurance organization with operations that span the globe, and a social community pool, Epiic offers two layers of protection for investors’ principal.

iintoo opens up access to real estate investments that were once exclusive to professional funders and high-net-worth individuals. Starting at $25,000, accredited investors can invest in ownership shares in projected high yield, premium real estate projects.  Each project undergoes a rigorous due-diligence and approval process provided by iintoo.  In order to assess the risk factors in real estate investing, iintoo also conducted a thorough analysis of the real estate market in the United States, taking into consideration all sectors in all 50 states over the past 30 years.

TRANSACT Tech San Francisco to Examine the Impact of Software Providers on the Payments Industry (PR Newswire) Rated: B

The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) will bring together executives from leading banking, payments and FinTech companies on November 1, 2018 for TRANSACT Tech San Francisco at the Wells Fargo Connections Center. The event will explore how software services are changing the way key ecosystems players – processors, banks and hardware manufactures – serve merchants and channel partners.

The day-long conference will kick-off with a fireside chat with Secil Watson, Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Solutions for Business at Wells Fargo. “Customer expectations are changing rapidly, and pace of change in technology is accelerating.” said Watson. “Yet we still have cash and checks. What can we learn from today’s customer experiences to build a better payments ecosystem for tomorrow?

Finicity Partners with Freddie Mac to Provide Industry-Leading Automated Income and Asset Assessment Solution (Finicity Corp) Rated: B

Finicity, a leading provider of real-time financial data aggregation and insights, announced today it has been selected as a third-party service provider for the new Freddie MacLoan AdvisorSM automated income and asset assessment capabilities, which provide a faster, easier way for lenders to verify loan application data upfront. Finicity’s digital verification reports greatly improve efficiency and accuracy, while also providing a simpler, more pleasant borrower experience.

Freddie Mac announced its new income and asset assessment capabilities at the Mortgage Bankers Association Annual Convention & Expo earlier today. Finicity’s verification reports are integrated within Freddie Mac Loan Product Advisor®, the cornerstone of Loan Advisor Suite.  When the capability goes live later this quarter, asset verification will be generally available and income verification will be available as a limited release.

United Kingdom

Funding Circle launches ‘free iPad’ incentive (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: AAA

LISTED peer-to-peer platform Funding Circle is enticing new investors by offering a free iPads. But there’s a catch – they have to add at least £30,000 to their Funding Circle accounts before 16 November.

The P2P platform is also offering a number of other cashback and ‘giftback’ incentives to lenders who invest lower amounts of money.

Investors who add £20,000 to their Funding Circle accounts will receive £200 in John Lewis vouchers, while those adding £15,000 will get an Amazon Echo.

LendInvest Update: Accelerates BTL Production Application Volume Thanks to Rate Reductions (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: A

UK-based online lender LendInvest announced last week it has reduced rates and product fees across its Buy-to-Let product range. According to LendInvest, the pay rate for its five year fixed rate product has dropped to 3.60%, with the ICR calculation at a pay rate of 3.60%. Meanwhile, product fees for all BTL mortgages on standard property and HMO cases have been reduced to 1%, with borrowers who prioritize leverage in mind.

The lending platform also reported that for a limited time, valuation fees have been reduced to £100 for all standard property cases. LendInvest will now cover the borrower’s legal fee scale costs for standard property, standard conveyance cases, where dual representation is selected.

You think it’s going to be easy challenging the big banks? Think again (The Times) Rated: A

here has never been a more opportune moment for the pack of digital upstarts looking to topple the institutions that dominate the financial industry. Rarely does a week go by when a big bank does not suffer an IT meltdown, spewing sensitive data into the ether or freezing customers out of their accounts.

A decade after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, public distaste for the high street banks remains at elevated levels. Two thirds of Britons do not trust big banks to act in the best interests of society, according to a recent YouGov poll. The advent of smartphones, meanwhile, has fundamentally altered consumers’ expectations of their relationship with service providers.

Amex brings SME financing to UK with ezbob (Banking Tech) Rated: A

American Express (Amex) has partnered with online financing platform ezbob to offer UK SMEs competitive access to finance.

Through this partnership, eligible Amex business clients will receive a referral to apply for up to £300,000 in finance from ezbob at a fixed annual interest rate from 3%.

Carlos Carriedo, senior vice-president of global commercial services at Amex, says: “We know agility is crucial for smaller businesses to help retain a competitive advantage but accessing the finance needed to react swiftly to changing customer demands, or seize an opportunity, can be a challenge.”

Amex customers taking out a loan with ezbob will also benefit from a 40,000 Membership Reward points offer, the company adds.

Connect for Intermediaries announces new panel (Mortage Strategy) Rated: A

Connect for Intermediaries has announced the launch of a new unsecured lending panel.

Comprising Funding Circle, iwoca, Whitoak and Fleximise, the panel will be open to all of Connect’s AR members, and Connect will be able to obtain terms on behalf of other brokers as referrals.

Loans from £5,000 to £250,000 for up to five years will be available from 1.5 per cent.

Connect sales director Kevin Thomson says: “We have seen an increased demand for unsecured loans for trading businesses, as increasingly, brokers are coming to us with business clients who are looking to ease cashflow or expand their businesses.

P2P Lending Investment Returns Outstrip Many Market Competitors (CL News) Rated: A

P2P lending arrived in the UK back in 2010 with the launch of Funding Circle. The idea was simple. In the wake of the financial crisis, banks were – and still are – paying abysmally low rates of interest to savers. P2P platforms allowed savers to collectively lend money to businesses and individuals, usually over relatively short periods of time. By cutting out the middleman (or to be more precise, banks and other traditional lenders), P2P lenders were able to offer competitive rates to borrowers and superior returns to investors.

The market has evolved over the years. AltFi – which provides specialist news for the alternative investment industry along with a range of analytics services – says the market is growing rapidly. For instance, in 2015, P2P lending platforms brokered around £1.1bn in loans. In the first half of 2018 alone, the figure was £3bn. Separate figures from the Peer to Peer Finance Association reveal that its members have, to date, originated loans to a value of £9bn.

11:FS Foundry’s launch brings digital to banks (Banking Tech) Rated: A

Consultancy firm 11:FS has launched 11:FS Foundry, an approach to delivering digital banking services through a modular core banking architecture. It kicks off with the partnership with DNB, Norway’s financial services group, which has also become an investment partner.

DNB has invested £3 million for a 5% stake in 11:FS Foundry. This investment represents the long-term commitment between 11:FS and DNB to change how banks deliver digital banking services, the two companies say.

Watchdog warns payday lenders over customer complaints (Financial Times) Rated: A

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority encouraged payday lenders to proactively compensate past customers; the industry has come under a lot of heat in recent months after a surge of complaints; companies say a lot of these complaints are bogus and a pushed by professional claims management companies (CMCs)

Wonga was forced to shut down a few months ago after they saw a significant rise in complaints, complaints now cost companies more than $725 per complaint after the first 25 complaints; the rise in complaints has come after new rules were put in place in 2015 where high cost lenders we ordered to drop fees and adhere to stricter standards; a new survey by Kantar TNS showed that 60 percent of payday loan customers still pay more than anticipated.

Fintech offers fresh ways to finance an MBA (Financial Times) Rated: A

According to David Simpson, admissions director at London Business School, MBA students spend just as much time trying to find funding as they do trying to find the right program; while struggling to find his own financing Prodigy Finance CEO Cameron Stevens though there had to be a better way so he started Prodigy with two former classmates.

The company is now growing fast by offering a service few others do, while also collecting credit records from across the globe; “You have talented people who have proved their potential in receiving offers to business school,” says Mr Stevens to the FT. “The only barrier for them is funding, because the banks are still incredibly localised, as they were in the 1500s.”

Arbuthnot Banking Group PLC Third Quarter Trading Update (Arbuthnot Group) Rated: A

Customer Lending balances are 28% higher than at the same time in the prior year and originations of new loans are 18% higher. However, as previously stated, the Group remains committed to maintaining its discipline in both credit underwriting decisions and return on capital when extending credit.

The newly launched Asset Based Lending division continues to develop ahead of the original business plan and has a strong pipeline of new opportunities. The Specialist Finance division has now completed the hiring of its core team of six employees and is currently setting up its operations based in Manchester. It is expected that it will write its first deals toward the end of the fourth quarter or early 2019.

OakNorth appoints form PRA director to board (Finextra) Rated: B

OakNorth – the bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs – today announces the appointment of Martin Stewart, the former Director of Banks, Building Societies & Credit Unions at the Bank of England, as an Independent Adviser on its advisory board.

Stewart joined the Bank of England in April 2013 and spent five and a half years there. In addition to supervising UK banks, building societies, credit unions and new entrants into UK banking, he was a Member of the PRA’s Executive Team responsible for PRA regulatory policy. His regulatory experience also includes spending three years at the FSA between 2010-2013, where he was a member of the leadership team that defined and implemented the UK’s post financial crisis prudential regulatory regime that now underpins the work of the Prudential Regulation Authority. In addition to this, he has almost two decades’ board-level experience having been Managing Director of a group of European subsidiary companies of the IFG Group PLC for almost four years, and as Chairman of the International Credit Union Regulators’ Network for the last six years.
China

China’s P2P Lending Sector Is in Serious Trouble (Money Makers) Rated: AAA

P2P lending has been lucrative in China with little constraining regulation. The industry is worth as much as $120 billion and has been high-risk, but high return.

Chinese regulators have been clamping down on debt and financial risk, the number of loan defaults is rising, capital investments are running out of the sector, and Chinese citizens are losing money. And getting pretty angry about it.

In July 2018, 114 P2P lending platforms in China were shut down or had funds suspended, without warning, by China’s regulators over liquidity concerns. Since June 2018, 243 online P2P lending platforms have gone bust.

Several Chinese Peer-to-Peer Lending Companies Have Submitted Self-Inspection Reports (Capital Watch) Rated: A

With hundreds of peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms having collapsed at the beginning of this year, different district-level financial bureaus recently rolled out a tougher reform on all P2P platforms’ risk compliance to ease a growing panic among investors.

This industry reform involves three major steps. First, all platforms have to complete a P2P Compliance Self-Inspection Report and submit it to the bureau by the end of October. Then, companies will be inspected by its local Internet Finance Industry Association, a non-state association. This will be followed by verification of inspection results by district-level Municipal Bureau of Financial Work with field inspection and a possible final check by higher-level government organizations.

New York-listed Hexindai Inc. (Nasdaq: HX) and PPDAI Group Inc. (NYSE: PPDF) both announced that they have completed and submitted the report.

European Union

A risky investment (Euro Weekly News) Rated: AAA

MANY UK nationals living part of the year in Spain, or visiting often, might spend months here but still retain tax residency in their home country.

This means those looking for investment opportunities can still take advantage of UK tax efficient products such as Finance ISAs – ones which use peer-to-peer lending to offer high rates of return. They may be nothing new but one legal justice firm has upped the ante offering returns of up to 8 per cent a year.

International

Advantages of P2B platforms in lending to SMEs (Lendit Conference Blog) Rated: AAA

In the EU and Australia, SMEs comprise 99.8% of all the firms and employ about 67% of the workforce. To tell the truth, SMEs might be rightfully called the economy, not just the backbone of it. A few other facts that follow are paradoxical. 2 years ago, International Finance Corporation (under World Bank) presented statistics that the gap for underfinanced SMEs around the world stood at 2.6 trillion $. One might expect, the situation got better in recent years with the global economy picking up and showing better and better numbers. On the contrary, most recent statistics from the same institution shows that the gap has widened to 5.2 trillion $.

P2P platforms make lending process global

P2B platforms can connect a business on one side of the world with an investor from another side of the world, and with a third party providing a service from yet another part of the world. All applications for loans can be made online, processed, assessed and the decision made within a matter of a few hours. Compare it to a similar process with the banks and the difference, that of speed and efficiency becomes clear. As an asset (loan) is put on the platform, investors can start investing within a matter of seconds. In such a way, a local business, somewhere in Eastern Europe can get funds from someone (or institutional investors) in UK or Germany and be able to use the collected amount for business operations within a couple of days.

4 developments that will shape the future of fintech (Business Matters) Rated: A

Within the past decade, we’ve seen the landscape of fintech move from a few disruptive start-ups to an industry that’s changing the landscape of business altogether. Consumers are becoming more and more accepting of technology as part of their day-to-day finance, a factor that has stretched the services sector and levelled the playing field with traditional institutions.

For instance, there has been a monumental shift in the way that consumers are managing their money. PwC’s Global Fintech Survey 2017 found that 84% of incumbent financial services providers believed their customers were already making payments with fintech companies, 68% thought customers were conducting fund transfers, and 60% said their clients were using fintech for their personal finances.

Quona Capital leads $ 5 million round for Brazilian small business lender BizCapital (Impact Alpha) Rated: A

Brazilian fintech firm BizCapital launched operations in January to help Brazil’s small business owners secure capital necessary for the day-to-day and growth needs of their businesses. Quona Capital, a financial tech investment firm that spun out of Accion, has led the company’s R$20 million ($5 million) investment round. Two existing investors, Monashees and Chromo Invest, both based in Brazil, also participated.

Roughly 70% of Brazil’s micro and small business owners are shut out of mainstream bank lending and instead resort to taking personal loans, which can carry interest rates as high as 200%. BizCapital offers short-term loans for up to R$150,000 ($40,000) at annual rates in the mid-double digits. The company hasn’t disclosed the size of its loan book but says it’s received more than 100,000 credit requests and serves customers in all 26 Brazilian states.

Australia

Global corporate lending platform, Trade Ledger has warned the Federal Government of substantial weaknesses in its proposed Open Banking implementation plan, when compared to the global best-practice model.

These primarily include the lack of an independent implementation and governance organisation, and limited consumer and small to medium-sized enterprise representation in the development of industry standards.

According to Trade Ledger, these omissions “risk a scaremongering campaign around data security that could stall progress and reduce the scope of the changes, leaving the door open for overseas financial markets to take over our local markets in the new era of Open Banking”.

India

UIDAI Asks Non-Banking Fintech Companies To Stop Aadhaar-Based Services (Inc 42) Rated: AAA

After getting telecom companies to submit their exit plans from Aadhaar-based services, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the Aadhaar regulatory body, has now asked digital payment companies to stop offering any sort of Aadhaar-based service on their platforms.

In a letter, the UIDAI also directed digital payment companies to submit confirmation of closure of Aadhaar-related authentication and their alternative plans to exit from the Aadhaar-based ecosystem.

According to reports, the UIDAI has sent the letter only to non-banking companies such as PayPoint, Eko India Financial Services, and Oxigen Services, among others.

Citing unnamed sources, an ET report stated that banks and payment companies such as Paytm, which have obtained banking licences, have not received the notice.

Africa

Kenya built a reputation as a pioneer of financial inclusion through its early adoption of a mobile money system that enables people to transfer cash and make payments on cellphones without a bank account.

Now, a proliferation of lenders are using the same technology to extend credit to the banked and unbanked alike, saddling borrowers with high interest rates and leaving regulators scrambling to keep up.

This week, the finance ministry published a draft bill on financial regulation which covers digital lenders for the first time. A key aim is to ensure that providers treat retail customers fairly, it said.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

An Overview of African Alternative Lending

African alternative finance

The majority of the African population is underserved and unserved when it comes to banking services. Therefore, a new crop of fintech startups are thriving in Africa by developing innovative products to accommodate the needs of the community. Accenture estimates that over one-third of mainstream financial services revenue is at risk due to disruption in […]

African alternative finance

The majority of the African population is underserved and unserved when it comes to banking services. Therefore, a new crop of fintech startups are thriving in Africa by developing innovative products to accommodate the needs of the community.

Accenture estimates that over one-third of mainstream financial services revenue is at risk due to disruption in the industry from fintech.

Africa: The Land of Opportunity

According to Disrupt Africa’s Finnovating for Africa Report, there has been a boom in fintech startups since 2015. About 301 startups were tracked, and the majority of them were set up in the last two years. They’ve collectively raised around $93 million since 2015.

The reason for this exuberance is smartphone adoption. South Africa and Kenya are the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world. As per 2015 research statistics, 88% of Africans didn’t have a bank account, but they did have smartphones. In 2015, 183 million people in Africa had a mobile wallet. That was 3 times the number of digital wallet users in the U.S. and expanding at 3 times the annual growth rate. If this trajectory continues, every African will have a mobile wallet by 2020. Numbers here clearly suggest that fintech startups have a huge opportunity staring at them.

Potential for Home Grown Peer-to-Peer Platforms

As per the Africa and Middle East Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report, Kenya and South Africa are leading the P2P business lending market in Africa. But a noteworthy point here is that 90% of online alternative lending originated from platforms headquartered outside of Africa.

Source: d/p2p-lending-potential-africa/

The third largest alt-lending model in Africa was P2P business lending, which experienced astronomical growth from a modest $2 million in 2014 to $14 million in 2015. In 2015, Kenya and South Africa were the market leaders, garnering $16.7 million and $15 million, respectively.

“(Source) The East Africa region has the largest market share of the African alternative finance market. In 2015, East Africa accounted for 41% of total African market share, while West Africa accounted for 24% and Southern Africa accounted for 19%.”

Source: d/p2p-lending-potential-africa/

Since the market is still in a nascent stage, there has been no regulatory policy for the alternative finance industry. But positive efforts have been made in recent times to develop a regulatory ecosystem that will help in developing this budding industry in the region.

The Alternative Lending Leaders in Africa

Leading alternative lenders in Africa include:

  • Aella Credit – Started in 2015 by Akin (Akinola) J, Aella Credit’s headquarters is in Mountain View, California. The firm provides instant credit solutions that eliminates the hassle of standard loan applications and enables employees to borrow at competitive and fair rates through their employers.  Company offices are located in the United States and Nigeria. They raised a paltry $150,000 as seed capital but have gone on to raise an additional $1 million. Aella Credit disbursed over $1 million in loans with a 0% default rate to about 1,100 borrowers in the course of its soft launch.
  • Branch – Branch was launched in 2015 by Daniel Jung, Matt Flannery, and Random Bares. They raised over $11 million in various funding rounds. Branch eliminates the challenges of getting a loan by using the data on borrowers’ phones to create a credit score. It encrypts the data, thus ensuring complete privacy. Branch is a for-profit socially-conscious company based in San Francisco and Nairobi.
Source: Branch
  • KiaKia – Founded in 2016 by Chiemeziem Anyadike, Olajide Abiola, and Olajide Abiola, KiaKia is headquartered in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria. Utilizing machine learning, big-data, predictive analytics, digital forensics, and social collateral as part of its proprietary algorithm for credit scoring and risk assessment, the company provides real-time access to consumer and SME capital to underbanked Africans. Loans offer interest as low as ₦10K – ₦200K at 0.80%, durations ranging from 7-30 days, and no collateral. It has managed to raise $50,000 in funding.
  • Microcred Group – Microcred was created in 2005 by Arnaud Ventura with the support of Positive Planet and a number of institutional investors. Its headquarters are in Paris, Ile-de-France, France. A leading digital finance player for financial inclusion in Africa & China, Microcred offers financial services to emerging client segments, particularly the unbanked with a focus on micro & SMEs. The company operates in Madagascar, Senegal, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, and China. The group has raised over € 99 million in various rounds of funding.
  • Musoni – Founded in 2009, Musoni is headquartered in Amsterdam. Musoni BV is a social enterprise that establishes best-practice microfinance institutions and uses technology to lower costs, reduce risk, and improve efficiency. In 2009, Musoni set up the first cashless Microfinance Institution (MFI) in the world using mobile payments for all transactions. Since then, Musoni Kenya has disbursed close to 50,000 loans to micro entrepreneurs with a total value of $12 million. In 2011, Musoni won the award for ‘most innovative use of technology’ at the Global Microfinance Achievement Awards in Geneva.
  • RainFin – RainFin was launched in 2012 by Hannes Van Der Merwe and Sean Emery. Headquartered in Somerset West, South Africa, RainFin was South Africa’s first lending marketplace. It pioneered a viable alternative for quality borrowers looking for access to finance and lenders looking for returns that are higher than fixed deposits or the stock market. It offers loans ranging from 6-24 months and at an APR starting from 10.25%.
  • FarmDrive – Founded in 2014 by Peris Nyaboe and Rita Kimani, FarmDrive is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. This firm is a social enterprise that connects unbanked and underserved smallholder farmers to credit, while helping financial institutions to cost effectively increase their agricultural loan portfolios.

Apart from the above-mentioned lenders, there are a few more who are trying to make their mark in the African market, such Merchant Capital, Lydia.co, and many more.

Conclusion

Africa is not a homogeneous market. It is imperative for alternative lending startups to understand the different cultural nuances so they can develop products that have utility. As the region continues its socioeconomic upliftment, more people will need access to financial services. This makes Africa an exciting market for alternative lending in years to come.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.