The Rise of Crypto Lending, a Natural Progression of Peer-to-Peer Financing

Nexo

The rise of new technologies often give rise to new business models. The peer-to-peer lending space is just over a decade old and still have much to grow into. However, not long after the first P2P lender–Zopa in 2005–opened its doors, a new technology that promises to challenge traditional ways to deliver financial services emerged. […]

Nexo

The rise of new technologies often give rise to new business models. The peer-to-peer lending space is just over a decade old and still have much to grow into. However, not long after the first P2P lender–Zopa in 2005–opened its doors, a new technology that promises to challenge traditional ways to deliver financial services emerged. That technology was the blockchain, a distributed ledger that underlies the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Since then, other blockchains have been created along with new business models to suit. As it stands in 2018, crypto lending has not made a big dent in P2P lending services, but the potential is there. This article will highlight some of the more significant blockchain-based P2P lenders, which we hope will inspire a new look at technological innovation in this space.

Think of crypto lending like you would the banking industry: Even if Capital One provided perfect products at every turn, there would still be plenty of room for JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America. There would still be room for the hundreds of other banks that compete for customers.

The companies listed here are not ranked in any manner. Rather, they=se are just some of the choices available for consumers in the market for cryptocurrency loans.

1. SALT (Secured Automated Lending Technology) Lending

One of the best benefits crypto-based lending has to offer is that a lessened importance on traditional credit scores as a factor for risk assessment. SALT Lending touts blockchain-based assets as “the perfect form of collateral.” The company is using this fact to “dramatically reduce the complexity and cost of the loan process.” SALT operates under Regulation D and, in lieu of credit checks, the company does AML and KYC verifications.

Offering three tiers of product, SALT’s loans start at $5,000 and go as high as $250 million. Loan percentages run between 12 and 22 percent APR, but the borrower retains the value of the collateral currency claiming any gains and losses that happen over the life of the loan. SALT accepts Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dogecoin as collateral, and funds loans in USD.

One fact that could be a significant factor when deciding to use the SALT Lending platform is that loans are not transferable on the blockchain, but through existing financial channels. Thus, they become securities.

It’s not foolish to base a good bit of faith in a company that has proven players on its team. Founder Erik Voorhees was also involved in founding several other crypto websites prior to starting SALT Lending. Among these include Satoshi Dice, which he later sold, Coinapult, and ShapeShift.

2. ETHlend

Unlike SALT Lending, Estonia-based ETHlend is a fully decentralized P2P platform built on the Ethereum blockchain for lending Ether as tokens for collateral. Some insiders fear that platforms that allow their loans to become securities might run the risk of being swallowed up by banks.

ETHlend lends Ethereum, Bitcoin, their own LEND tokens, and DAI tokens, as well as 180+ other Ethereum-based tokens. The company offers address-to-address loans that are sent within minutes, with no middle men, assuring that no one, not even Ethlend, can stop one’s lending or borrowing. The company plans to expand beyond Ethereum to other distributed ledger platforms in Q3 of 2019.

The company’s interest rates range from .25 to five percent MPR, and all transactions are carried out on digital wallets. Borrowers that transact in the LEND token can get a no-fee loan.

Announced earlier this week, Aave is a tech-based company designed to expand on the offerings of centralized fintech companies like PayPal and Coinbase. Aave Pocket, Aave Gaming, and Aave Lending (SaaS) are among the offerings this expansion adds to the platform.

Unfortunately, the service is not yet available everywhere including a block to U.S. citizens.

3. Nexo

A new kid on this block is Nexo, and being a new kid means that they are doing things in a new manner. Founded in Zug, Switzerland—even more of an “EF Hutton” mention than Estonia—in 2017, Nexo promises the world’s first instant crypto-backed loans. Available worldwide, Nexo loans start at $1,000 and top out at $2 million.

The process is an easy one.

  • Log on to the website.
  • Verify your account
  • Deposit crypto assets into Nexo wallet
  • Withdraw loan to your bank account

There will be brief pauses while the borrower is verified—the company complies with the highest AML and KYC (provided by Onfido) standards—and while your deposit is confirmed on the blockchain. Overall, the Nexo process reads like a rather quick and seamless process.

The platform loans Euros, USD, and Tether while accepting Ether, bitcoin, Bincance coin (BNB), and Nexo as collateral currency. The interest rate is eight percent if the collateral currency is Nexo and 16 percent for all others. Nexo assets are stored in multi-signature wallets, more than one multiple cryptographic keys are necessary to gain access, and cold storage (wallets not connected to the Internet) at BitGo and PrimeTrust.

4. LendingBlock

LendingBlock predicts that, as digital assets grow as an asset class, demand for hedging, swaps, repurchases, and short selling will increase. The currency crypto market has more than $500 billion in assets circulating with less than one percent used as collateral. That leaves lots of room for growth.

Touted as the first cross-chain lending platform for the crypto economy, the company promises a product that will help its customers access secure, transparent, and fair crypto-to-crypto loans. Not a lender itself, LendingBlock provides the platform upon which parties can enter P2P contracts. The company acts as agent for both lender and borrower, as well as security trustee of the collateral. This ensures that the borrower doesn’t face any uncovered credit risk to the lender.

All collateral deposits are held in cold storage. Those who think regulation will be necessary before the crypto market can fully mature can take comfort in the fact that the company is focused on becoming a regulated business. They have submitted the full regulatory application to the country of Gibraltar and await the regulator’s response. They have also begun regulatory processes with the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodities Futures Trading Commission in the United States.

Basing the platform on its own token (LND), which is used to make payments and receive interest on loans, allows the company to reduce the cost of exchange fees and makes it easier to manage interest payments. The use of smart contracts reduces expenses, risks, and complexity, which makes for lower costs for borrowers and higher returns for the lenders.

5. BlockFi

New York-based BlockFi might be the ideal platform for Americans who want to secure USD loans with Bitcoin and Ethereum, provided that said Americans live in any of the 44 states where the company is currently conducting business.

The attractive thing about the BlockFi platform is that it seems easy enough for a lay person to understand without any kind of financial advice. A borrower needs to meet only two requirements to qualify for a loan: They can have no liens or bankruptcies on their record, and they must have at least $15,000 of crypto assets between their Bitcoin and Ethereum portfolios.

If those criteria are met, the customer can borrow up to 35 percent of their crypto asset value, with loans ranging from $2,000 to $10 million. Interest rates go from 12 to 14 percent APR, and there is an added fee of one to four percent of the loan value. Borrowers can take a loan in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Litecoin.

Unlike other crypto-based lenders on this list, BlockFi does not have its own coin or token.

6. Unchained Capital

Texas-based Unchained Capital could very well be the platform of choice for those who want to liquidate their Bitcoin while maintaining it and seeing it go to work in the world.

Not only is the team at Unchained Capital in the market to make money as a lender, they have an idealistic side as well. Noting that 60 percent of Bitcoin sits around and does nothing, they have a goal to circulate it and use it to strengthen the platform. The company was founded by people who believe cryptocurrencies can change the world only if they’re useful.

The Unchained Capital team has designed its personal loans to be ideal for people who are looking to make large purchases, who hope to avoid tax events, and who want to invest. Their commercial loans are geared to companies that want to free up capital, expand their businesses, buy expensive equipment, and balance their portfolios.

Unchained Capital does not have its own cryptocurrency.

7. Other Companies to Consider

The crypto lending space is expanding. New lenders seem to be popping up quite often, which means that some people in the cryptocurrency space, at least, see a market for crypto-backed lending. Despite the market having taken a downturn in 2018, rebounding from the bull run last year that catapulted Bitcoin to $20,000 in December, this space is expanding. Lately, Bitcoin has been holding around the $6,500 mark. Since the majority altcoins tend to follow Bitcoin’s price, that means the market as  whole is down, yet more crypto lenders are ambling to get in the door.

Some of the other companies in the crypto lending space that might be worth checking out include BitBond, Credible Friends, Bitfinex (a crypto exchange that facilitates crypto financing transactions between parties), Celsius, Poloniex (another cryptocurrency exchange that allows traders to lend to other users), CoinLoan, Nebeus, GetLine, and BTCpop.

Authors:

Written by Paul Keenan and Allen Taylor.

Allen Taylor

Digital Identity Verification for Alternative Lenders

Digital Identity Verification for Alternative Lenders

Trust is the root of all business transactions. For any financial institution to lend money or offer a banking service, being able to identify the counterparty is a must. And though anonymity is a blessing in a lot of situations, business cannot be conducted under the cloak of secrecy. Financial services are a particular focus […]

Digital Identity Verification for Alternative Lenders

Trust is the root of all business transactions. For any financial institution to lend money or offer a banking service, being able to identify the counterparty is a must. And though anonymity is a blessing in a lot of situations, business cannot be conducted under the cloak of secrecy.

Financial services are a particular focus area for the highest standards in identification, especially due to the strong regulatory push on money laundering, terrorism financing, and KYC (Know Your Customer). Also, according to the World Bank, around 1.1 billion people worldwide cannot prove their identity. They form a major chunk of the 2.5 billion people who don’t have access to financial services. This highlights that identity is a fundamental part of financial inclusion.

Mitek Systems, a global leader in mobile capture and identity verification software solutions, is in the forefront of this growing niche industry. We had an exclusive chat with the company CTO, Stephen Ritter. He gave his views on the opportunity and developments in the ID verification space and how it will be an underlying pillar for the growth of fintech lending and blockchain-led services.

Mitek’s Business Model and Technology

Mitek started as a software company and has evolved to become the leader in mobile banking and mobile deposit solutions. It enables bank customers to take picture of checks for depositing, rendering the physical deposit process redundant. It has entered the digital ID verification market and has developed artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-powered proprietary algorithms. It will verify the ID by having the user take a picture of  a government-issued ID and compare it with a selfie. This allows the software to cross verify the selfie face with the picture on the government-issued ID.

Mitek’s solutions specializes in accurately identifying the personal document, and can even recognize and evaluate IDs of multiple countries. It can also extract relevant information from the document. Its advanced forensic algorithms can detect signs of forgery or fake documents. Further, it can distinguish good and bad documents and provide a risk score to determine if the document can be trusted. Its algorithms can also determine if the human face is real or a spoof.

The company’s core competency is computer vision, a specific niche within machine learning. The company has been developing software in the field for the last 15 years and considers itself among the pioneers in the space. With the intense speed of development in the field, the company is actively working with partners for integrating third-party sophisticated technology into their own solutions.

The main solutions provided by Mitek include:

  • Mobile Fill – A solution which allows personal information to be pre-filled in the forms of the applicants, taking help of the Mobile ID capture solution provided by Mitek.
  • Mobile Verify – A combination of Mitek’s computer vision technology and auto capture experience, Mobile Verify validates the authenticity of identity documents thereby simplifying the KYC compliance processes.
  • Mobile Deposit – Mobile deposit is a solution that helps in saving time by allowing the person to deposit checks to the participating banks by uploading the image using the device’s camera.

Mitek’s Competition, and Its Impact on Lending

Mitek has an operating history of over two decades. With more than 6,100 banks and financial institutions as customers, the company has a wide moat compared to startups entering the field. Its direct competitors are few and usually early-stage companies. The more traditional players in the space would be the ones that follow the data bureau approach and are beginning to integrate mobile verify solutions for verification of IDs into their platforms.

Lending will receive a boost across the board as lenders, both traditional and alternative, will be able to onboard customers faster and more securely. Alternative lenders, in particular, should see higher approval rates for prospective borrowers with increased confidence they are not being defrauded. Mitek is currently processing over several million ID documents a month. Both MoneyGram and Kabbage use Mitek’s MobileVerify technology. The company is seeing major traction in the fintech lending industry as players are nimble and the first target for most fraudsters.

Financial Inclusion, Privacy, and Real Life Applications

Ritter believes governments need to step up their efforts in ensuring everyone has access to an identity proof. Financial inclusion is positioned prominently in the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda, and the need for a digital identity goes far beyond the ability to participate in the formal economy. Its impact is multifold and helps to increase overall trade and access to healthcare and government services. Mitek is also focused on data privacy laws, with GDPR the hot topic in Europe. It has taken GDPR as its baseline for information security and is operating with GDPR recommended data security not only in Europe but across the globe.

Kabbage Case Study
Kabbage facilitates easy funding options to small and medium enterprises through its automated technology-backed data platform. With Mitek’s digital identity verification solutions integrated into the Kabbage platform, users are able to automatically populate the loan application form with pre-filled data in less than a second allowing customers to access funding quickly. Mitek’s solution applies advanced algorithms that automatically assess the authenticity of the driver’s license, providing assurance about the identity of the ID’s holder and reducing the likelihood of fraud during the loan application process.

Anonymous Payments Processor Case Study
Customers were facing a lengthy identity verification process, which forced them to leave the platform before completing the transaction. Driven by the need to comply with Anti Money Laundering (AML) and KYC regulations, a leading global payment processor selected Mitek’s Mobile Verify to provide the customers with more efficient ways to reduce the verification process from days to just minutes. Mitek was able to eliminate 92% of the temporary restrictions that the company previously had to place on customer accounts whenever they would reach a certain dollar threshold. By eliminating these temporary restrictions, the company has improved customer experience as well as increased profitability.

Mitek’s Collaboration with Nocks
Mitek’s digital verification identity has enabled blockchain payments platform Nocks to improve their customers’ onboarding by 98%. A cryptocurrency payments platform, Nocks also has to execute AML and KYC compliances. Nocks has now been able to verify the identity of applicants in real-time, dramatically improving new customer conversion rates due Mitek’s Mobile Verify interface.

MoneyGram Case Study
MoneyGram, the money transfer giant, is also using Mobile Verify to validate its customers’ ID. To complete the identity verification step in the money transfer process, MoneyGram customers simply take a picture of their passport or other identity document using their mobile device camera. Mobile Verify then uses advanced machine learning technology to instantly validate the authenticity of the ID.

Mitek is Experimenting With the Blockchain

Mitek is also developing technology to leverage blockchain infrastructure. The public ledger approach in general is interesting as it could allow for generating self-sovereign IDs which are owned and managed by the users themselves. When businesses need their information, people can control their data and allow only limited or conditional access. Moreover, even banking customers are exploring blockchain-based solutions, and Mitek is experimenting to integrate its ID verification systems on a distributed ledger.

Mitek’s Technology Leadership

Mitek was founded in 1985 and is listed on NASDAQ with a market cap of an estimated $250 million. Mitek’s innovative solutions are embedded into the apps of more than 6,100 organizations and used by more than 80 million consumers.

Stephen Ritter is the Chief Technology officer (CTO) of San Diego-based Mitek Systems. He helps in the technological development of the key processes of the company, along with overseeing Mitek Labs. He has more than 22 years of experience bringing new commercial software solutions to market. Ritter worked as tech lead with Emotient (acquired by Apple) before he joined Mitek.

With the increase in regulatory complexities and fraudulent practices, it is critical for businesses to make sure that they are on the right side of the law and yet are simultaneously making their customers’ life easier. Mitek helps them balance this fine line with its suite of sophisticated identification technologies.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

How Blockchain is Changing Alternative Lending

blockchain for alternative lending

Cryptocurrencies entered the mainstream in 2017. The million dollar fortunes made and 1,000% returns hogged the headlines. But behind all the hoopla is blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies, quietly and steadily changing the business universe. The technology has myriad applications. Also called distributed ledger technology (DLT), it can reimagine entire industries in hitherto unknown ways. […]

blockchain for alternative lending

Cryptocurrencies entered the mainstream in 2017. The million dollar fortunes made and 1,000% returns hogged the headlines. But behind all the hoopla is blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies, quietly and steadily changing the business universe. The technology has myriad applications. Also called distributed ledger technology (DLT), it can reimagine entire industries in hitherto unknown ways. From issues of security to scalability and cost effectiveness, entrepreneurs are incorporating DLT to bring the benefits to the masses.

Similarly, alternative lending has changed how Americans borrow. Small business and consumer lending was hard hit when banks decamped en masse after the 2008-09 crisis. Online lending came to the fore with players like Lending Club, SoFi, OnDeck building multi-billion dollar lending platforms.

Almost 10 years since, alternative lending is growing but not at the speed  which experts had imagined. Morgan Stanley had predicted Trillion Dollar funding via such platforms in the coming future. The sector is nowhere close to these figures. Aside from corporate governance issues, fraud and high default rates have been the true bane of the industry. IdentityMind, a RegTech company, reports that fraud caused 12% of losses in P2P online lending. That translates to almost 1.2% of total funding, which is also 2-3 times as compared to banks or retail cards.

Blockchain and Alternative Lending

Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between two parties in a verifiable and efficient manner. Putting digital assets (contracts, documents, financial data, etc.) on blockchain technology helps build a wall against unauthorized access and prevents fraud. Blockchain helps maintains transparency between entities; it could be between buyer and seller, business and employee, or customers and investor.

A World Economic Forum report predicts that, by 2025, 10% of GDP will be stored on blockchains. Amalgamating blockchain and alternative lending has not only a technical appeal but is business common sense. Online finance decentralized lending allows savers to directly fund borrowers; they took away the middlemen, traditional banks, who otherwise used to take the major benefit away from the transaction. Now, it is the alternative lending sectors’ turn to leverage the power of decentralization via blockchain.

The Benefits of a Decentralized Distributed Ledger

Decentralization
Currently, alternative lenders hold their complete data centrally, in either their own servers or on Amazon Web Services-type cloud structures. This is a honey pot for hackers. In 2017, an Equifax data breach collected 145.5 million users’ data. The breach was caused by a software flaw that allowed the hackers to take over the company’s website.

Lenders have access to extremely sensitive data such as bank account numbers, social security numbers, and other personal identification information. Losing control of that data can compromise the entire financial history of an individual or a business. Blockchain eliminates the risk by storing information on a decentralized ledger. So a massive data hack would never be possible because it will be practically impossible for the hackers to have access to each and every part of the distributed record.

Transparency
A distributed ledger also provides transparency and allows that all transactions are recorded are on the blockchain in an immutable manner. Thus, backdating of contracts is not possible under any circumstance (Re: Lending Club backdating loans scandal). Corporate governance improves across the board, and investors and regulators can breathe easy knowing that the data they are seeing is the absolute truth.

Securitization
Digital loans can be tokenized via blockchain and be constructed as a tradeable security. This, in effect, allows securitization for loans; so you don’t need to wait till you are a billion dollar fintech lender. Othera, a blockchain lending platform, is doing just that. It creates an online marketplace where lenders can tokenize their cashflow by putting the loan on the blockchain and selling it to investors.

User-friendly
Apart from this, blockchain technology is more user-friendly as it is open to the public with no authentication or permission issues. It is scalable and cost efficient for businesses to incorporate into their existing systems and allows for all stakeholders to easily extract relevant information about their transactions without risking the entire system’s database.

Digital identity verification
Identity theft is one of the biggest reasons for online lending fraud. That is exacerbated by the fact that the lender and the borrower usually never meet in real life. The old traditional way was to go through the lengthy and costly process of physical verification. But in the age of blockchain, by merging identity verification with decentralized blockchain principles, a tamper proof digital-id can be used as the digital signature for recording and validating all transactions.

How Blockchains Are Revolutionizing Lending

Alternate lending has seen many iterations and pivots since inception. From being a pure peer-to-peer platform, the sector has metamorphosed to one dominated by balance sheet lenders and institutional investors. Now, the era of Alt Lending 2.0 is emerging, which is going to be dominated by players who have co-opted blockchain as an integral part of their business processes.
Here is a brief description of some companies that are doing innovative work in the field.

SAP
The ERP giant is experimenting with blockchain on an enterprise level. One of its applications is focused on KYC.  The distributed ledger solution is to store a customer’s ID and link it to their personal documents, which are not stored on the blockchain. Once the transaction is cleared, the link is established and the documents are accessed to prove identity and the onboarding process continues. In this, SAP provides a solution to KYC issues, with running proof of identity. Thus, there is a single source of truth for all parties.

WishFinance
WishFinance is a Singapore- and Honk Kong-focused lender to merchants and small businesses. It is keeping its entire loan portfolio on a public blockchain to push transparency for investors. The investors can evaluate the performance of a loan at anytime (the data is anonymized so no identifiable borrower information is shared).

SALT
SALT is reversing the model by allowing crytpocurrency holders to cash out without actually selling their crypto assets. It allows loans for Bitcoin. The borrower can redeem his crypto assets once the loan is paid.

Conclusion

Blockchain has the power to allow alternative lending companies to scale effortlessly and solve fraud and KYC issues haunting the industry. Lenders who are able to get their blockchain game right should see renewed investor interest and benefit from higher unit economics.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Thursday April 5 2018, Daily News Digest

Thursday April 5 2018, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: KBRA assigns preliminary ratings to SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2018-2. dv01’s Q1 securitization volume hits $2.58B. Revolut releases open API. RainFin acquires stake in 4AX. Today’s main analysis: International P2P lending volumes for March 2018. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Trends on millennials and money. A tale of two fintech sectors. Amazon could become the third largest […]

Thursday April 5 2018, Daily News Digest

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News Summary

United States

KBRA Assigns Preliminary Ratings to SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2018-2 (Business Wire), Rated: AAA

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) assigns preliminary ratings to four classes of notes issued by SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2018-2 (“SCLP 2018-2”). This is a $544.6 million consumer loan ABS transaction.

This transaction represents SoFi Lending Corp.’s (“SoFi” or the “Company”) 14th rated securitization collateralized by a portfolio of unsecured consumer loans. SoFi currently originates personal loans through its state licenses or complies with certain requirements where a state lending license is not required.

Preliminary Ratings Assigned: SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2018-2

Class Preliminary Rating Initial Class Principal
A-1 AA (sf) $277,700,000
A-2 AA (sf) $127,900,000
B A (sf) $75,000,000
C BBB (sf) $64,000,000

DV01’S Q1 SECURITIZATION VOLUME TOPS $ 2.58B, ENCOMPASSING NINE DEALS FROM SIX ORIGINATORS (DV01), Rated: AAA

dv01 closed out Q1 with nine new securitizations, totaling $2.58 billion in total issuance. This represents a 141% increase from last year’s Q1 volume, which totaled $1.07 billion.

Deals were originated by six different lenders, including Prosper, Upgrade, LendingClub, CommmonBond, SoFi, and Marlette. Three of the deals (UPT I 2018-1, UPT I 2018-2, and CLUBC 2018-2) were trust certificates. dv01 was loan data agent on eight of the nine deals; loan level data and reporting tools for all the deals are accessible through dv01’s Securitizations portal.

Millennials and Money: 30+ Trends Financial Marketers Need to Know (The Financial Brand), Rated: AAA

Here are over 30 facts, statistics and insights about Millennials banks and credit unions need to know to serve this essential market segment more effectively.

  •  Millennials want to learn how to feel financially empowered. Nearly three quarters say they feel confident in their ability to make financial decisions, but they still want to learn more. 92% believe that being educated on personal finances is important. (Source: CSpace)
  • Millennials are so serious about their financial health that more than a third (34%) have a written financial plan, much higher than the 21% of Gen X and 18% of Baby Boomers who have done the same. However, 78% rarely or never make spreadsheets for their finances, and 35% say they’d rather vomit than make a spreadsheet to help them manage their finances. (Sources: Schwab, Varo Money)
  • Maybe Millennials don’t need help from real human beings. With 85% saying artificial intelligence could help them better manage their finances, banks and credit unions should use digital tools and AI to deliver the financial insights they crave. Nearly half of Millennials say they want their bank to be able to anticipate their financial needs and offer them timely advice (Sources: Varo Money, Segmint).
  • Millennials’ top savings priorities are emergency funds (64%), retirement (49%), and buying a house (33%). Nearly half already have $15,000 or more in savings, and 16% have a whopping $100,000 or more in savings. (Source: Bank of America)
  • When it comes to saving, Millennials still have significant headwinds: three in four college graduates today will have a heavy student debt load. (Source: ABA)
  • The average graduate from the university class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt, up 6% from the prior year. (Source: Student Loan Hero)
  • Student loan debt is such a burden that 70% of Millennials say that financial circumstances were a key consideration in deciding whether or not to go to college. (Source: Harvard)

Publicly Listed Fintech Companies – a Tale of Two Sectors (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

(KFTX) is a good place to start.

Since inception in June 2016, the index has returned 46%, outperforming the broad market S&P 500 by a whopping 24%, and even the tech-heavy NASDAQ by a meaningful 9%.

Source: Lend Academy

Amazon could become the third-biggest US bank if it wants to: Bain study (CNBC), Rated: AAA

Amazon could rival the nation’s big banks in as few as five years, capitalizing off its digital prowess and massive consumer base, according to a Bain & Company report.

Pushing customers toward a co-branded banking account also allows Amazon to cut down on transaction costs, Bain said.

Amazon could – according to Bain calculations – avoid more than $250,000,000 in credit card interchange fees every year if finds a bank willing to partner on checking accounts.

Source: Bain & Company

Why Amazon won’t enter the advice market (Investment News), Rated: A

Despite what many see as the inevitability of tech giants entering the financial advice business, the economics of doing so — as well as the intensely regulated nature of the business — make their entry unlikely, according to a new report from Cerulli.

The Boston-based research firm says that “companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (FAANGs) have the tools and data to excel, but face significant obstacles that will likely preclude their entry,”

One major obstacle, Cerulli says, is the relatively small size of the market. The firm estimates that the “digital advice opportunity segment” represents only about 12% of investors, or a segment “that would be difficult to scale to be of strategic interest to the world’s largest technology providers.”

The Credit Junction Secures $ 150 Million Credit Facility from MidCap Financial (Business Wire), Rated: A

The Credit Junction, the first data-driven, asset-based lender for small and mid-sized businesses, has secured a $150 million credit facility from MidCap Financial, a leading capital provider to the middle market specialty finance industry. The facility strengthens and expands The Credit Junction’s ability to deliver comprehensive capital solutions to businesses across the United States.

The Credit Junction combines traditional credit metrics with data intelligence and partners with business owners to deliver asset-based financing alternatives unique to the needs of each borrower. Since its launch in May 2015, The Credit Junction has helped businesses across the country achieve their growth objectives while supporting job creation and development in the communities they serve.

Real Estate Investment Platform, Sharestates, Changes the Game with User Experience (UX) (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Sharestates, an online real estate investment platform, announced today the launch of new online user portals that fully optimize the real estate investment process from beginning to end, providing investors with the first ever UX solutions in the real estate investment industry.

Sharestates’ unique solution was designed by the company’s development team alongside CEO and Co-Founder Allen Shayanfekr with UX and functionality in mind – now offering investors a streamlined “one stop shop” in real estate financing.

Banking Disruptors: Peer-to-Peer Lending and Payments (The Motley Fool), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Prosper and LendingClub (NYSE:LC) have changed the way people can borrow money, and apps such as Venmo and Zelle have made it easier and cheaper to send money.

In this segment from Industry Focus: Financials, analyst Michael Douglass and Motley Fool contributor Matt Frankel talk about the ways that technology is disrupting big banks, and what this trend could mean to the banking industry.

How Affirm Personal Loans Can Help You Finance Smaller Purchases (Student Loan Hero), Rated: A

The average student loan payment is $351. Between such a high monthly payment and rent, finding the money to furnish your home or buy a new computer can seem daunting.

If approved, you can now shop. When you’re ready to make a purchase, you can enter the total from your online shopping cart on Affirm’s site. You then choose an amount between $50 and $10,000. You’ll be provided virtual card information to complete the purchase. With some partner retailers, you might select Affirm at checkout instead.

LendingTree Launches Credit Analyzer, a Free Credit and Debt Analysis Tool (Lending Tree), Rated: A

LendingTree, the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, today announced the launch of its Credit Analyzer, a free credit and debt analyzer tool, which was created to help consumers avoid common credit mistakes, improve debt management skills and find the right financial products for their needs.

Credit Analyzer is a free tool that provides a deeper, instant analysis of consumers’ credit and debt situations and offers personalized recommendations based on individuals’ financial goals. The user experience is designed to make it easier for consumers to understand the most important factors that impact credit scores.

 

What will the financial services industry look like in five years? (Lend Academy), Rated: A

This article briefly touches on many of the themes being explored at our LendIt Fintech USA 2018 conference, which is now just days away:

Audits Will Go the Way of the Dodo Bird

The protocol of trust is here to stay, and it’s going to disrupt everything.

While the blockchain has not rendered audits unnecessary yet, I believe we’ll see it happen within the next five years.

Smart Contracts Are In, Long, Paper-Intensive Financial Processes Are Out

As I write this, Lending Robot is raising a private round of growth capital. The closing process, called “papering” for very obvious reasons, is just as onerous and Microsoft Word-oriented as I remember it back in the early 2000s when I was a young VC.

Fintech is Everywhere

Fintechs are enhancing the customer experience along four axes: choice, price, convenience, and predictability. They are meeting the needs of educated, aware, demanding consumers and they are attacking traditional financial institutions at every angle.

 

Five Things Fintech Startups Must Do In 2018 To Get Noticed, Adopted And Funded (Forbes), Rated: A

Here are five things the winners nailed that newcomers must do to compete:

  1. Build a seamless digital customer experience (CX) customized to each set of eyeballs, across platforms — plus, make financial services ubiquitous, instead of an unfortunate necessity.
  2. Streamline their lead generation and nurturing through automation, machine learning and AI, plus intelligent CRM throughout the customer journey. This powers faster, more accurate processes like loan origination, mortgage underwriting and credit application decisions, among others.
  3. Instead of being scared of increased regulation, embrace it as a driver of innovation.
  4. Upend an established Wall Street business model both by undercutting fees and over-delivering on performance.
  5. Find novel, values-driven ways to increase millennial participation in financial services.

Financing Small Businesses- 6 Tips For Finding An Online Loan (Bizztor), Rated: A

Online business loans are a popular option for financing small businesses. Over the years more small business owners have been turning to online lenders as banks have cut down on loans to smaller businesses.

With the assistance of technology and algorithm, online lenders are able to assess conventional credit standards like cash flow and personal credit score.

DriveWealth Raises $ 21M in Series B Funding (Finsmes), Rated: A

DriveWealth Holdings, Inc., a Chatam, N.J.-based fintech company, closed a $21m Series B funding.

The round was led by Raptor Group Holdings, SBI Holdings, Inc, and Point72 Ventures, LLC, as weel as existing investors Route 66 Ventures.

The company intends to use the funds to develop its technologies and scale its business.

Mosaic Readies New Solar Loan Deal (Global Capital), Rated: A

The San Diego-based company filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday for Mosaic Solar Loans 2018-1. The ABS-15G forms name Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas as banks on the deal.

The transaction, Mosaic Solar Loans 2017-2, was priced at 185bp over interpolated swaps for the senior class, yielding 3.854%. Energy related ABS such as solar and Property Assessed Clean Energy (Pace) deals were heavily subscribed throughout last year, with strong issuance of residential Pace bonds and the first ever issuance of commercial Pace ABS from Greenworks Lending.

Laurel Road And Darien Rowayton Bank Officially Rebrand Under Integrated Laurel Road Name (PR Newswire), Rated: B

Laurel Road, an online lender and FDIC-insured bank, officially announced today that Darien Rowayton Bank and its national online lending division will rebrand under the integrated national Laurel Road brand. The new, unified Laurel Road brand represents a deep understanding of its customer base, best-in-class technology and industry-leading compliance and risk management.

Bankrupt Payday Lender Can’t Move Pa. AG’s Suit To Texas (Law 360), Rated: B

Think Finance LLC, a financial technology firm that critics say uses Native American tribes to skirt payday lending laws, failed to convince a Pennsylvania federal judge on Tuesday to move an action brought by the state’s attorney general to Texas, where it has filed for bankruptcy.

The company has been hit with lawsuits over its alleged role in several “rent-a-tribe” schemes, where a high-interest lender affiliates itself with a Native American tribe to shield itself from legal challenges.

Sarasota-Manatee ranks last for millennials buying homes (Sarasota Herald-Tribune), Rated: B

Millennials rank as the key target in the economic development world setting sights on future prosperity. A new study casts a pall over efforts to build the Sarasota and Manatee population of this prized demographic. Out of the largest 100 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in the country, Sarasota-Manatee ranked dead last among cities favored by millennial homebuyers.

The study, conducted by LendingTree, focused on the percentages of all loan requests to the online loan marketplace that came from millennials. That figure for Sarasota fell far from top-ranked Des Moines, Iowa — 17.9 percent versus 42.4 percent. Fort Myers ranked just above Sarasota, with 19.8 percent.

The Online Lending Policy Institute (OLPI) Appoints Deputy Director (Lendit), Rated: B

Robert J. (Bob) Mullenbach, CRCM, Managing Director – Compliance Division Deputy at ProBank Austin – has been appointed as the Online Lending Policy Institute’s (OLPI) new Deputy Director. Mr. Mullenbach brings 25 years of regulatory compliance experience in billion-dollar financial institutions, regional and community banks, fintech’s, and leading consulting firms. In his current position, Bob audits clients on the myriad of regulatory requirements associated with consumer/commercial lending, bank secrecy act/anti-money laundering, privacy, and non-deposit investment products.

Microloans offer needy a better alternative (The Columbus Dispatch), Rated: B

Central Ohio chapters of the St. Vincent dePaul Society, an international charity run by Roman Catholic volunteers, give needy folks a better option through the society’s microloan program. Information is available through the organization’s website at svdpcolumbus.org.

Anyone of any faith who needs up to $500 for car repairs, school, home repairs or medical bills, can apply for a quick loan with a low interest rate and 12 to 15 months to pay it off.

Contrast that with the typical payday-loan operation, which loans a couple-hundred dollars and demands payment in two weeks. Many borrowers who are strapped enough to go to such a lender in the first place can’t pay it back that quickly. This leads to loans on top of loans, with tacked-on fees that can lead to an effective interest rate of nearly 600 percent.

SunTrust teams with fintech to offer loans for HVAC upgrades (American Banker), Rated: B

SunTrust Banks in Atlanta is teaming up with another fintech upstart to expand its reach in consumer lending.

The $202 billion-asset company said Wednesday that it has struck a partnership with the online lender Microf to offer point-of-sale loans to homeowners looking to replace aging residential heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

SunTrust will hold the loans on its books and a pay a fee to Microf for the referrals. Microf, based in Albany, Ga., offers the loans through its nationwide network of HVAC contractors.

United Kingdom

Revolut unleashes open API to all customers (Fintech Futures), Rated: AAA

APIs and open banking are hotter than a freshly tarmacked road in summer, and Revolut joins the mad-for-it crowd.

On its blog, the bank, which was launched in mid-2015 and offers a money transfer app, says account owners can generate sandbox and production keys, and set whitelisted IPs as an “extra layer of security”.

Away from these API days, the firm adds that over the last few months it’s been making updates to its business accounts.

New fintech fund could boost P2P sector (Peer2Peer Finance), Rated: A

At a time when investment trusts such as Victory Park Capital Specialty Lending have signalled a shift away from P2P opportunities, Augmentum Fintech’s investment adviser has hinted that P2P lenders could be included in the portfolio.

Augmentum Fintech was launched by Augmentum Capital, a venture capital (VC) firm backed by Lord Rothschild’s RIT Capital Partners, last month. The VC firm already had a 7.4 per cent holding in P2P giant Zopa worth £18.5m that has been transferred into the investment company portfolio and its founder Tim Levene, who is acting as investment adviser to Augmentum Fintech, said that the firm is well geared to the P2P sector.

FCA reveals it intervened in Collateral administration to protect investors (Peer2Peer Finance News) Rated: A

THE FINANCIAL Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed that it intervened in the administration of Collateral because the peer-to-peer lender failed to seek its approval when it appointed an insolvency practitioner.

Wigan-based Refresh Recovery was selected by Collateral when the company shut down in February but it was revealed on Tuesday that the City watchdog was looking to appoint a different administrator.

“The Collateral companies were required to obtain the approval of the FCA when appointing an administrator,” the FCA said in a statement on Wednesday.

ISA countdown: The latest IFISAs on the market (Peer2Peer Finance News), Rated: A

March saw the introduction of tax wrappers from peer-to-peer property platforms The House Crowd and Safe as Houses, while EasyMoney, part of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s easy family of brands, launched its second IFISA offering.

Safe as Houses

The Safe As Houses ISA, which invests in loans made to Safe as Houses Group to develop, regenerate and sell on distressed properties, offers investors a return of six per cent.

The IFISA has a five-year term and requires a minimum investment of £5,000.

The House Crowd

The House Crowd’s IFISA invests in secured P2P loans and property development investments and offers a target return of seven per cent.

The House Crowd requires a minimum investment of £1,000, and new investments can be added to the IFISA in £1,000 increments, up to a maximum of £20,000 across an investor’s entire ISA portfolio.

Investors will get a fixed return paid in twice a year in October and April.

EasyMoney

The latest IFISA to hit the market before the deadline came from EasyMoney, offering target returns of 7.28 per cent. This eclipses the 4.03 per cent returns offered by its first product that launched in February.

The P2P lending platform said its new ‘balanced’ IFISA allows individuals to invest in a broader range of property-backed loans, limited to 75 per cent loan-to-value (LTV).

MINOR INVESTOR: An Innovative Finance Isa with a 7% rate is a tempting idea but tread carefully in the investing Wild West (This is Money), Rated: A

Only the peer to peer lending element can be included in an innovative Isa, not the equity version where investors take a stake in a company.

Obviously, innovative Isas don’t qualify for the savings element of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme that protects up to £85,000 per licensed bank.

Crucially, however, neither do they get the FSCS investing element that covers up to £50,000 in case your investing platform goes bust and hasn’t done what it is meant to with your money.

European Union

Robo advisors and the Data Revolution (GDPR) (AltFiNews), Rated: AAA

With just a month to go until the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is implemented throughout Europe in May. We look at how the new regulatory regime will affect the nascent Digital Advice industry. Some of the upcoming regulatory changes issued from the EU and its commissioners should be positive for fintech asset managers.

With a clear focus on transparency, robo-advisors should look forward to the new era of information portability and openness.

The digital advice sector has from inception attempted to gain a competitive edge with clear transparent product engineering and pricing, but it won’t all be plain sailing and there may be headwinds ahead.

BANCO BNI EUROPA grows significantly in 2017 and attracts equity investor (Fintech Finance), Rated: A

2017 was once again characterized by the significant growth of Banco BNI Europa’s activity, increasing 41% in assets (from € 362M in 2016 to € 509M in 2017), 16% in customer deposits (from € 262M in 2016 to € 305M in 2017) and 379% in banking income (€ 2,8M in 2016 to € 13,2M in 2017). 

Net income reached € 2.3M, increasing regulatory capital to € 23.3M and the solvency ratio comfortably above the statutory limit at 13%.

International

International P2P Lending Volumes March 2018 (P2P Banking), Rated: AAA

Milestones achieved this month (overall volume since launch):

  • Landbay reached 100M GBP
  • Estateguru reached 50M EUR
  • Linked Finance reached 50M EUR
Source P2P Banking

Banking at a Tipping Point as Fintech Drives Change (Cash Lady News), Rated: AAA

According to Citigroup consumer banking currently generates around $870bn in revenues across Europe and North America, with digital innovators accounting for just 5% of that total. But if the report’s predictions are correct, by 2023, disruption by fintech companies will account for 17% of a total earnings pot of $1.200bn

Follow the Money

CitiGroup cites figures showing that global investment has risen from around $0.5bn in 2019 to just under $20bn today. And most of that investment – Citigroup puts it at 70% is focused on the key areas of personal and SME banking.

Read the full report here.

ROSCAcoin: A Self-Regulating, Autonomous and Decentralized Financial Platform for the Unbanked (BTC Manager), Rated: A

ROSCAcoin is a new decentralised autonomous and self-regulating platform built on the Ethereum blockchain. The project aims to develop an innovative financial infrastructure that allows creating solutions for people with little or no access to financial services. ROSCAcoin is set upon an ancient model of borrowing very popular in third world countries.

ROSCA, or Rotating and Saving Credit Association, is defined by a method of borrowing where a group of individuals agree to cooperate for saving and borrowing purposes within a pre-established period; is also a form of peer-to-peer banking and peer-to-peer lending. ROSCAcoin strives to introduce this method using the blockchain technology.

The platform is powered by its own currency RCA, which will be the engine of the whole ecosystem. By using smart contracts, ROSCAcoin is trying to build the ultimate financial solution for the unbanked.

“Stars are Aligned” for an Higher US Dollar Against the Swiss Franc (PoundSterling Live), Rated: B

The Dollar has risen 4.4% versus the Swiss Franc since mid-February and could be about to accelarate the move suggest analysts; this despite the sizeable global stock market sell-off which would normally be expected to support the safe-haven Franc.

Safe-haven currencies usually strengthen in times of fear, such as the present, however this does not appear to be the case with USD/CHF which has risen due to the USD outperforming CHF – not the other way round.

White Oak Signs Agreement to Acquire LDF Group (Globe Newswire), Rated: B

White Oak Global Advisors, LLC on behalf of its institutional clients (collectively “White Oak” or the “Company”), announced today that White Oak has agreed to expand its asset-based lending platform to serve clients in the U.K. and Europe through the acquisition of LDF Group (“LDF”), a U.K.-based finance company providing asset finance, business loans, commercial mortgages and education leases to small and middle-market companies.  Established in 1986, LDF is an industry leader and one of the largest independent finance providers for small businesses in the U.K.

India

Faircent brings Shalabh Gupta on-board as national sales head – lending (The Siasat Daily), Rated: A

Leading Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending company Faircent on Thursday announced that the company has hired Shalabh Gupta as national sales head – lending.

As an industry veteran with over 17 years of extensive sales experience with brands like the Times Group, Reliance Capital, HDFC Bank, and ITC Limited, Shalabh will play a crucial role in furthering the company’s impressive growth plans and vision as a part of its leadership team.

Aadhaar-Based EKYC Limitations Cause Trouble For Fintech Startups (Ink 42), Rated: AAA

Since the Supreme Court extended the deadline for linking of Aadhaar to host of services, the fintech segment has been riddled with burdens of limited Aadhaar-based eKYC. The companies have been unable to access Aadhaar database for verification of their customers.

Impact Of Aadhaar KYC On Fintech Startups

According to reports, fintech startups across the insurance, lending and broking sectors are being denied access to authentication agencies for eKYC to verify customer antecedents on the Aadhaar database amidst rising concern over data privacy.

UIDAI revokes e-KYC services for some e-wallets, online lenders (The Times Of India), Rated: A

In a move that seems to have left fintech players scrambling, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) revoked on Tuesday their access to a dozen agencies that provide e-KYC verification and authentication services. Some of these agencies – KUAs (e-KYC user agencies) and AUAs (authorised user agencies) – will no longer be able to provide e-KYC verification to onboard new customers or authenticate financial transactions affecting e-wallets, online lenders, NFBCs and smaller fintech players.

Africa

RainFin acquires stake in 4AX (Business Tech), Rated: AAA

Fintech company RainFin has announced the conclusion of a transaction with 4 Africa Exchange Proprietary Limited (4AX), which will see the company sell to 4AX its corporate debt marketplace, in exchange for a strategic shareholding in 4AX.

RainFin’s credit marketplace technology has been utilised by companies to raise debt funding from both tradition and non-traditional sources since its formation in 2002.

Accra, Ghana to Host 2018 Startupbootcamp Africa (Tech in Africa), Rated: B

Accra, Ghana’s capital city will host the forthcoming Startupbootcamp (SBC) Africa Accelerator program. The SBC sponsors include the Old Mutual, BNP Paribas, RCS, PwC, and Nedbank. During the event, startups present to the panelists for about two hours.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Monday March 26 2018, Daily News Digest

Monday March 26 2018, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: Prosper broadens its capital stack. MarketInvoice nabs 135M GBP from two European banks. Klarna hit by fraudsters. Square intros instant deposits in the UK. Hong Kong-China commuters now have a dual-currency prepaid credit card. Today’s main analysis: PeerIQ’s lending earnings insights. How 6 digital banking startups are challenging the retail banks (A MUST-READ). Today’s thought-provoking […]

Monday March 26 2018, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

India

Other

News Summary

United States

Prosper brings deeper capital stack with latest ABS (Global Capital), Rated: AAA

This year, Prosper broadened its capital stack for the first time, including a ‘D’ class of bonds on its $647.5m offering, which was priced on Wednesday. Credit Suisse and Jefferies led the deal, with the $387.8m ‘A’ notes pricing at 70bp over euro dollar spot forwards. The $112m ‘B’ notes were priced at 125bp over EDSF, while the $79.45m ‘C’ notes were priced at 220bp over interpolated swaps. The $68.25m ‘D’ notes were priced at 300bp over IS.

In contrast to last year, Prosper also strenghtened the collateral mix on its 2018 offering. According to a presale from Kroll Bond Rating Agency, loans from Prosper’s higher quality credit tiers made up 54% of the deal, compared to 38% on its November 2017 transaction. The proportion of lower quality credit tiers also fell to 46% in this deal, compared to 62% on its last deal.

Do Fintech Lenders Penetrate Areas That Are Underserved by Traditional Banks? (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia), Rated: AAA

Fintech has been playing an increasing role in shaping financial and banking landscapes. In this paper, we use account-level data from LendingClub and Y-14M data reported by U.S. banks with assets over $50 billion to examine whether the fintech lending platform could expand credit access to consumers. We find that LendingClub’s consumer lending activities have penetrated areas that may be underserved by traditional banks, such as in highly concentrated markets and in areas that have fewer bank branches per capita. We also find that the portion of LendingClub loans increases in areas where the local economy is not performing well.

TransUnion (2017) reported that, as of 2017:Q3, the personal unsecured loan market had reached nearly $112 billion.

Credit cards account for the lion’s share of unsecuredconsumer debt ($731 billion in 2017:Q3).3 Interestingly, there is evidence that credit card lending is related to geographic location. Carbo-Valverde and Perez-Saiz (2016) find that the probability of obtaining a credit card or line of credit from a bank increases 60 percent when the bank has a branch within 10 km of the household.

Source: Consumer Finance Institute

Read the full Report here.

Amazon vs Costco, PeerIQ’s Lending Earnings Insights (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Continuing our theme of technology lenders like Amazon branching into providing financial services, the obvious question is who might be next. Main street retailers like Walmart, Target and Costco could be likely candidates.

Source: PeerIQ

PeerIQ’s Lending Earnings Insights

Where are we in the credit cycle? Earnings calls indicate CEOs/CFOs are constructive on the health of the US consumer and see a tax reform as improving consumers’ disposable income.

Credit re-normalization continues across all major lending groups. Credit performance this quarter is mixed. We observe improvements, and record low delinquencies from ONDK, OMF, and FinTechs in particular. LendingClub expects 31 bps lower charge-offs going forward due to tighter credit standards. At Discover – a bellwether for personal loan performance – the net charge off rate jumped 92 bps YOY to 3.62% – the largest increase in several years.

Card issuers are increasing loan loss reserves at a higher rate than loan growth, indicating expectations of higher losses going forward. American Express increased loan loss provisions 33% although loan growth was only 14%.

Source: Discover Investor Relations

Behavior-tracking security tech gaining traction at banks (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Source: American Banker

Banks have started to implement behavioral biometrics more and more as it is seamless for customers and helps to better detect fraud; behavioral biometrics firms like BioCatch has provided banks with the type of security they like, customers cannot see if but it also is harder for criminals to spoof; BioCatch reviews more than 5 billion transactions per month and has about 60 million users in their system; another reason banks love this type of security is the privacy regulations are not as strict, the data is not personally identifiable and is based on type of actions.

 

Americans Are Misguided on Emergency Savings, and It’s Going to Cost Them (Madison), Rated: A

That’s because 38% of college-educated adults think an emergency fund of $5,000 or less is sufficient. That’s the latest from online lender Laurel Road, which also found that women — particularly younger ones — are generally more conservative when it comes to building their safety nets. Specifically, millennial women think people should have an average of $9,727 in an emergency fund, compared to millennial men who think an average of $8,040 works just fine.

The majority of working U.S. adults are nowhere close to having three months’ worth of living expenses in the bank. A good 57% have less than $1,000 in savings, according to data released by GOBankingRates last year, while 39% have no savings at all. If you’re part of either statistic, it means your finances aren’t in great shape — and that you need to make changes immediately.

Lendr Partners with MidCap Financial Trust to Close $ 25 Million Senior Credit Facility (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Lendr, a provider of flexible working capital to small- and medium-sized businesses, specializing in business finance and factoring solutions, announced today the closing of a $25 millionsenior credit facility. MidCap Financial Trust served as the Administrative Agent for the transaction. The deal agreement provides Lendr with increased financing power and the expansion of the facility to $50 million.

First RealFund Raises $ 600,000 of Preferred Equity for Brooklyn Apartment Building (Business Wire), Rated: A

First RealFund (“FRF”) has raised $600,000 of preferred equity financing for an apartment building undergoing a renovation and upgrade in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood.

The Sponsor, Duke Properties, owns a portfolio totaling more than 400 rental units with a geographic focus centered around New York City. “We target value-add properties in emerging neighborhoods and we apply innovative and effective renovation strategies based on our 15+ years of experience,” observed Albert Dweck, CEO of Duke Properties. “Our goal is to increase the value of our buildings while contributing to each neighborhood.”

 

THIS CHART SHOWS THE UNEQUAL STATE OF ACCESS TO FINTECH SERVICES IN AMERICA (Pacific Standard), Rated: A

According to a 2015 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, approximately 7 percent of American households are unbanked (meaning they have no checking or savings account), and an additional 19.9 percent are “underbanked.” The percentages are higher—approximately 50 percent—among both low-income and minority households.

New America Report

While approximately 22 percent of adults in high-poverty African-American communities have used online banking services in the past year, a significantly higher percentage (39 percent) of adults in wealthier black communities have used the technology.

Community bank launches digital account targeting the unbanked (American Banker), Rated: A

AxiomGo is a paperless checking account for customers who want an alternative to prepaid cards and traditional checking, the bank said.

The $560 million-asset Axiom partnered with the fintech firm Malauzai to design and deploy a mobile app that “meets the unique needs of a traditionally underbanked community, providing users a dynamic, bilingual, mobile banking experience,” it said Thursday.

Source FDIC, American banker

The app, which had a soft launch in December, has a Spanish-language option and enables users to open and fund an account and set up direct deposit via a mobile device. Other features include the ability to pay bills by snapping a photo; check deposit; fund transfer and peer-to-peer payments; and access to built-in budgeting and personal finance management tools.

Something I Wish I’d Had 20 Years Ago When I Started: Nontraditional Financing (Entrepreneur), Rated: A

Whether they were unable to secure credit because of bad (or nonexistent) credit history, sluggish cash flow or a lack of collateral, these growth-oriented businesses often find they’re not considered a good fit for traditional loans or lines of credit. There are, however, unexpected outlets available to them. I wish they’d been available to me when I started out 20 years ago.

What Student Loan Borrowers Can Expect from the Fed’s Rate Hike (Lend EDU), Rated: A

The short answer: Some student loan borrowers will pay more interest.

Most student loan borrowers depend on federal student loans, which have had a fixed interest rate since 2006. Although 1.4 million people yearly also depend on private student loans, which can have either a fixed rate or a variable rate that’s connected to either the LIBOR, prime or T-bill rates.

When the Fed increases these variable rates, borrowers with variable-rate loans will likely pay more interest. However, it will depend on the benchmark, according to CNBC.

How to Buy a Car with Bad Credit in 2018 (Auto Credit Express), Rated: B

Tips for Buying a Car with Bad Credit in 2018

With the right plan in place, you can prepare for success when financing a vehicle with poor credit. These tips can start you off on the right foot:

  • Check Your Credit 
  • Set Your Budget  
  • Have a Down Payment – Subprime lenders often require that you have a down payment, but it’s in your best interest to have one anyway.

 

AGORA Announces Partnership With Ignite Consulting Partners (Markets Insider), Rated: B

Agora Data, Inc. (“AGORA”), a Texas-based provider of technology solutions for the financial services industry, announces its partnership with industry leader Ignite Consulting Partners (“Ignite”) to provide increased transparency and security to the consumer finance marketplace through the development of a “Certified Seller Program.”

FIC Network Partners with Civic Technologies (Medium), Rated: B

Factury Inc., the company behind FIC Network, today announced a strategic partnership with Civic Technologies Inc. The partnership brings trusted, secure identity services to the token sales participants identification and enables FIC Network to streamline the identification and KYC process, enhancing the token sales privacy and security.

Arizona Becomes First U.S. State To Launch Regulatory Sandbox For Fintech (Forbes), Rated: B

Arizona has become the first state in the U.S. to adopt a “regulatory sandbox” to shepherd the development of new emerging industries like fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrencies within its borders.

The law will grant regulatory relief for innovators in these sectors who desire to bring new products to market within the state.

 

United Kingdom

MarketInvoice secures £135m for businesses from two European banks (Bdaily News), Rated: AAA

Business finance firm MarketInvoice has today (March 26) announced new agreements with two European banks, boosting its platform by £135m.

The London-based firm struck a deal with Portuguese bank Banco BNI Europa (BNI) to add £90m to its platform and another, with German bank Varengold Bank AG, worth £45m.

Banco BNI Europa initially invested £28.3m in 2016, following it up with £45m in May 2017 and a further £90m this month.

Square brings Instant Deposits to the UK (Finextra), Rated: AAA

Square Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey announced the launch of a new Instant Deposit service for UK businesses at an event at London’s British Library last night.

The new product helps to solve one of the biggest challenges small businesses face: managing cash flow.
With the launch of Instant Deposit, sellers can now click a button in the Square App to get their funds into their bank account in around 20 minutes. All they need to do is link their bank account to their Square account. Square offers competitive, flat fees of 1.75% fee when taking in-person payments, and 2.5% for payments made over the phone, online or via digital invoice. Sellers using Instant Deposit will be charged an additional 1%.

Who wants to be a millionaire? Invest in Zopa’s IFISA for 26 years (Peer2Peer Finance), Rated: AAA

IT WOULD take 26 years to become a Zopa Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) millionaire, the peer-to-peer lender has calculated.

Individuals would need to invest the full ISA allowance – which is £20,000 this tax year – into Zopa’s ISA Plus at today’s target return of 4.6 per cent to hit the million pound mark in 26 years.

This would result in an IFISA total of £1,009,509, with interest earned in that year of £44,395, Zopa said in a blog post on its website on Friday.

Innovations to utilise your tax allowance (City a.m.), Rated: A

These peer-to-peer investments broad- ly fall into three sectors: Consumer, SME and Property Lending.

There are two ways to invest in an IFISA. Customers can either invest manually or defer to the platform’s auto- invest function and let this do the hard work. Notably the ‘big three’ lenders – RateSetter, Funding Circle and Zopa – purely offer auto-invest options.

Another peer-to-peer consumer lender with an IFISA on the market is Lending Works. Launched in February 2017 it offers an annual return of six per cent for five-year loans or 4.5 per cent for three-year loans. This is an auto-invest product with a minimum investment of £10.

Proplend are also offering peer-to-peer investment within an IFISA, secured against first charges on commercial property. Investors can expect returns of between five per cent and 12 per cent.

Lloyds is ‘the largest digital bank in the UK,’ CEO says, and it wants to work with fintech startups (Business Insider), Rated: A

The CEO of Lloyds Bank told a conference in London on Thursday that his company is the biggest digital bank in the UK, eclipsing the wave of digital startups that have sprung up in the last few years.

António Horta Osório told the UK Treasury’s International Finance conference that Lloyds is “the largest digital bank in the UK, with a 22% share of new business.”

From Subprime Star to Losses, U.K.’s Provident Tries to Reboot (Bloomberg), Rated: A

If the FCA does reform the home credit market, its past moves could indicate what’s in store for Provident’s door-to-door lending. The FCA’s caps on payday lenders lowered the average cost of a typical payday loan to 60 pounds from 100 pounds and slashed default rates by a third. Leading player Wonga Group Ltd. saw its sales plunge 64 percent in 2015.

Source: Provident Annual Report

Fintech firms embracing Open Banking (London School Of Business & Finance), Rated: A

A report from professional services and Big Four firm EY has shown that fintech businesses in the UK are embracing Open Banking, with 59% seeing the initiative as an opportunity to reconsider their collaborations. 

The study, which surveyed more than 30 UK fintech businesses, found that more than 80% of businesses are getting ready for Open Banking, whilst 29% said that they are fully prepared for the initiative.

The study showed that businesses have started to prepare for the scheme by increasing the amount of staff they have working on Open Banking-related propositions, with 30% of businesses with 50 to 250 employees saying that they had teams of ten working on the changes.

An alternative moneymaker from property (Money Week), Rated: A

Investors looking for a higher yield from property should consider this bond from LendInvest.

Nearly every recent issue over the last few years has been at a rate of between 4% and 6%, which is well above the rate on offer from the government (via gilts) and investment-grade corporate bonds.

The platform is focused on short term, bridging and development loans rather than buy-to-let loans. In total, its initial £50m fundraising has been invested in 89 different loans (implying an average of around £560,000 per loan), with an average loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of about 57% – so the average loan looks to be backing a project worth around £1m.

Of those 89 loans, nearly all are first charge, and at least 19 (of the 87 first-charge loans) have a LTV ratio of under 50%. That means that if there were a sharp property recession, a good proportion of the book should have plenty of equity in case of default. By contrast, 17 of the loans have a LTV of 70% or more, which might seem a slightly more worrying state of affairs in a downturn – you’d only have an equity buffer of around 25% to 30% at most. It’s also worth noting that 63% of the loans are in the Greater London area, which is arguably more vulnerable in a downturn.

Financial services for good: ‘Data Nations’ team wins 24-hour Deloitte datathon (Future Scot), Rated: B

The overall winner of the second annual Datathon, hosted by business advisory firm Deloitte, was ‘Data Nations’, a team of data experts who developed FinTastic; a digital tool to help people make better financial decisions at key moments in their life.

 

China

Dual-currency prepaid credit card for Hong Kong-China commuters (Fintech Innovations), Rated: AAA

HKT and UnionPay International have launched a new Tap & Go UnionPay Prepaid Card for payments across mainland China.

The new card allows customers to instantaneously convert Hong Kong dollars into yuan using their Tap & Go mobile wallets when they are traveling in mainland China.

Customers can settle payments using their cards in mainland China as well as 168 countries and regions worldwide and for online transactions.

Report: China to Have Dynamic Approach to Fintech Innovation (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

A recent report in ECNS indicates China wants to have a “dynamic approach” regarding Fintech or internet finance. The report was referencing a press conference following the 13th National People’s Congress that was held earlier this month that involved the Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank of China.

In many respects, China is the largest  Fintech market in the world. It has the largest online lending (peer to peer lending) market by far and benefits from a population that is widely connected to the internet by mobile devices. A combination of demand from both consumers and businesses has fueled innovations in finance.

 

European Union

Buy-now-pay-later firm Klarna rings changes following fraud reports (Which?), Rated: AAA

Which? received reports that in some cases thieves had entered other people’s names and addresses then intercepted the package. A few weeks later, the victims received a letter from Klarna chasing up the payment, warning the debt will impact their credit rating.

A spokesperson for Klarna said that it takes fraud seriously, and when this issue arose it immediately looked at ways to combat it. Klarna said that anyone affected by fraud should contact the company to dispute the order, and that this will in not affect a customer’s credit rating.

The Challenger Bank Playbook: How 6 Digital Banking Startups Are Taking On Retail Banking (CBInsights), Rated: AAA

Europe has seen the first cohort of challenger banks (Atom BankTandem BankMonzoStarling Bank, Revolut, and N26) break out, collectively attracting $1B in funding and over 2.5M customers since 2014.

How challenger banks have leveraged regulation

Traditional approach: Atom BankTandem Bank, and Starling Bank prioritized having a bank charter prior to launch and built a suite of services that required a charter, believing it would create a moat around the platform. Atom Bank, for example, launched a savings account and SMB lending after regulatory approval. They also plan to launch current accounts but that roll out has so far been delayed.

Semi-traditional bank: Monzo and Germany-based N26 wanted to get customers onto the platform. To do so, Monzo launched a prepaid card instead of a full account product.

Monzo was going through a period of rapid growth, adding a reported 60K users a month when the company was granted a charter. In December 2017, they stopped adding new customers and announced plans to focus on transitioning the 500K existing customers off of prepaid cards and onto Monzo’s own current accounts.

As of February 2018, the company has a waitlist for new current account registrations, which means it’s missing out on roughly 180K potential new customers (at the peak growth rate of 60K per month) as it focuses on transitioning its existing customers off of the prepaid cards.

Fast-lane approach: Revolut challenged the conventional go-to market strategy by applying for an easier-to-acquire e-money license and targeting currency exchange rather than current accounts. Revolut initially focused on frequent travelers, a niche they believed was underserved. It built a digital currency exchange app, which allowed people to exchange money more frequently across countries without establishing multiple bank accounts.

Source CBInsights
Source CB Insights

Mobile adoption has driven uptake

Source: CB Insights

 

Fintech lending platform Loanboox eyes French expansion (Swiss Info), Rated: A

Award-winning Swiss fintech firm Loanboox is planning further expansion into Europe having obtained a foothold in Germany. The digital portal for matching institutions with investors plans a move into France and is also looking at other European markets.

Since its inception, Loanboox has now played a part in connecting around 1,000 clients and facilitating requests of some CHF9 billion ($9.5 billion) in public sector loan deals.

International

Millennials Are Driving One Of The Biggest Trends In Wealth Tech (CBInsights), Rated: AAA

Millennial investors stand to inherit $30T of potential assets from baby boomers. To attract and retain this next-generation of investors, advisors need to offer sustainability, clean energy, and social impact investing strategies.

Source: CBInsights

Why now?

There are massive demographic shifts underway in wealth management. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce and 2x more likely than the average investor to make a sustainable investment.

Social issues like climate change and gun-control are top of mind for the next-generation, and 75% of millennial investors believe their investments can influence change, according to one survey conducted by Morgan Stanley.

Source: CB Insights

Further, impact investing is a growing part of the wealth management market. In 2016, it’s estimated that sustainable investment assets grew to $22.89T globally, up 25% from 2014 according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA).

Source: CB Insider

Australia and UK set up FinTech Bridge to deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies (OpenGovAsia), Rated: A

The Australian Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, signed an agreement in London on 22 March, 2018 to establish a FinTech bridge.

The UK-Australia FinTech Bridge will deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies in the two countries. It will also support improved access for Australian FinTech firms to the UK market.

The FinTech Bridge includes collaboration between Australian and UK governments to identify emerging FinTech trends and policy issues, enabling better policy positions.

How Can Fintech Boost the Micro-loan Scene? (Finextra), Rated: A

While the citizens of Norway, Finland, and Denmark all have at least one bank account, there are developing countries like the Central African Republic, Niger, and Madagascar, where the percentage of the unbanked population rises well above 85%. The poverty rates in such places are quite high, and is part of a vicious circle, since the inability to get a loan or to make deposits keeps people living day to day. The only available financial resource is social borrowing from friends and family. Yet, rapid technological advancements could turn this situation around.

Micro-financial institutions (MFIs) have developed a particular product, the microcredit, as a way to grant individuals the necessary money to expand a small business or to cover some surging costs, like healthcare.

Yet, the current model for these products is far from efficient, with high operational fees which translate to interest rates around 35-40%. It has even been said that micro-loans promote poverty.

 

WHERE DO CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICERS COME FROM? (AllAboutAlpha), Rated: A

PwC forecasts a near doubling in global AUM over nine years, from $84.9 trillion in 2016 to $145.4 trillion in 2025, and predicts the 

Alternative credit scoring partnerships help fintech companies lend better (Business Standard), Rated: A

Financial technology have partnered with scoring to enable faster and more efficient lending. Online lending marketplaces and said their partnerships with information and CIBIL, respectively, to offer free reports to customers, made their lending more efficient.

The entire process is digitized to reduce the cost of operations and to bring speed and scale in the lending process”, said Rajiv Raj, Co-founder and director, is able to provide alternate data using technology we have not developed so far. We can use this data to further refine our existing scoring model,” said RBL Bank’s Toor.

Both and said that alternate data is most beneficial for assesement of new – to-customers for whom centralized or structured data is not available.

Cerberus Capital taps Nicastro as senior adviser (The PE Hub), Rated: B

Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. and its affiliates (“Cerberus”), a global leader in alternative investing, announced today that Roberto Nicastro has become a Senior Advisor to the firm. In this role, Mr. Nicastro will consult with Cerberus as it continues its focus on investment opportunities and strategic partnerships in the European financial services sector.

Australia

Why seller experience is the new battleground in today’s competitive gig economy (Australian Anthill), Rated: A

The battle between taxis and ride-sharing services might be old news already, but today, peer-to-peer lending platforms and other emerging tech-driven financial products are continuing to ruffle the feathers of our stalwart financial institutions.

According to studies, the gig economy could contribute around $2.7 trillion to global GDP by 2025.

India

Top PayU India execs invest in blockchain startup Nuo Bank (VCCircle), Rated: AAA

Mumbai-based blockchain startup Nuo Bank has raised $250,000 (Rs 1.6 crore) from payment gateway firm PayU India’s chief executive officer Amrish Rau and managing director Jitendra Gupta, a top executive has told VCCircle.

Savings are stored on the blockchain and instead of interest on savings, customers gets a virtual share in the revenue of the bank. Nuo Bank will offer around 20% of its 1 billion tokens – Nuo Coins – to customers.

These contracts will stipulate that up to 25% of the bank’s revenue should be reserved for these tokens.

With KYC norms kicking in, mobile wallet customers using gift cards to get around it (Money Control), Rated: A

Even as mobile wallets companies are struggling to ensure that the customers comply with KYC norms in order to load money to their wallets, customers are able to circumvent the process with the use of digital gift cards.

For instance, customers can add money to their Amazon Pay wallet by purchasing gift cards of Amazon. The gift card offers a code that once added to the wallet loads the money.

Users of prepaid payment instruments (PPI) such as mobile wallets were asked to complete the KYC requirements by February 28 by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The regulation bars customers from loading money into their wallets if they haven’t complied with the KYC norms. It also restricts them from carrying out remittance-based transactions. They will also not be allowed to transfer the cash in the wallet to their bank accounts.

SmartOwner: FinTech firm pioneering real-estate crowdfunding in India (Realty Fact), Rated: A

SmartOwner, India’s first and largest online marketplace for real estate investors, aims to make the process of investing in real estate a seamless and streamlined process. It was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs having a considerable amount of experience in the technology and real-estate sectors. In fact, SmartOwner wants to make property investing as simple as investing in Mutual Funds and the Stock Market.

Asia

Long Blockchain Corp. Announces Minority Investment in TSLC with a Strategic Ownership Position in CASHe (Nasdaq), Rated: A

Long Blockchain Corp. (Nasdaq: LBCC) (the “Company” or “Long Blockchain”) today announced that it has closed on a strategic investment in TSLC Pte Ltd. (“TSLC”). TSLC is the parent company of CASHe, a provider of digital money and short-term financial products to young millennials across India.

Latin America

Watchdog Eyes Brazil’s Credit Card Industry On Nubank Complaint (PYMNTS), Rated: AAA

In Brazil, the antitrust watchdog, Cade, is looking into the credit card industry, with an eye on possible anticompetitive practices.

The investigation comes, Reuters reports, after a complaint by Nubank, a Goldman Sachs-funded FinTech. The company offers credit cards and checking accounts to 3 million people in Brazil. Nubank also has approval in place to become a bank. Earlier this month, the company raised $150 million in a financing round that was led by DST Global Investment Partners. Last year, the company was granted a credit line of 455 million reais, or about $137.71 million.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor