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

Wednesday April 12 2017, Daily News Digest

REITs vs. RECF

News Comments Today’s main news: Further comments on Elevate’s IPO. Aspire announces new ALD Data and Analytics Module. Funding Circle to stop property development lending. Morningstar assigns MOR RV1 Residential Vendor Ranking to First Associates as Consumer Finance Servicer. Today’s main analysis: Texas real estate market great for RECF. Today’s thought-provoking articles: UK VC investment up, European funding […]

REITs vs. RECF

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

China

News Summary

United States

Elevate Announces Closing of Initial Public Offering (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

Elevate Credit, Inc. (NYSE:ELVT) (“Elevate” or the “Company”) today announced the closing of its initial public offering of 12,400,000 shares of common stock at a price to the public of $6.50 per share. In connection with the closing, the underwriters fully exercised their option to purchase an additional 1,860,000 shares.

Elevate has now sold a total of 14,260,000 shares of its common stock in connection with its initial public offering for total net proceeds to the Company, after deducting estimated underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by Elevate, of approximately $81 million.

Elevate will use approximately $15 million of the net proceeds to repay a portion of the outstanding amount under its convertible term notes, approximately $65 million of the net proceeds to repay a portion of the outstanding amount under its financing agreement and the remainder, if any, for general corporate purposes, including to fund a portion of the loans made to its customers.

UBS Securities LLC, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, and Jefferies LLC acted as joint book-running managers and as representatives of the underwriters for the offering. Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated and William Blair & Company L.L.C. also acted as joint book-running managers for the offering.

Texas Real Estate Market Active for Real Estate Crowdfunding (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

RealtyShares, a leading online marketplace for real estate investing, has just released data showing the total amount of crowdfunded real estate investments in Texas. To date $28.1 million has been raised for 31 real estate deals, ranking Texas among the most popular states for investors on the RealtyShares platform along with California and Florida.

Nearly half of all deals funded in Texas to date have been for multifamily properties with a trend favoring equity over debt. Investments have been spread throughout the state, with the most investments centered around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, followed by Austin and Houston.

The average investment in Texas since inception is $907,000, with the largest being a $3.25 million Class A multifamily property in Grand Prairie sponsored by Ventures Development Group.

Aspire Financial Technologies Announces New Asset-Level Disclosure (ALD) Data and Analytics Module (Aspire Email), Rated: AAA

Aspire Financial Technologies Inc. (“Aspire”), announced today the release of a new Asset-Level Disclosure module that will provide free access to market participants looking to access and analyze loan-level characteristic and performance data for asset pools of US public securitizations. On an ongoing basis, issuers publish these files to the SEC’s Edgar website. They currently cover the asset verticals of auto-loans, auto-leases, and CMBS, but will soon expand to RMBS and other debt securities. The module is part of Aspire’s more broadly focused Gateway TM platform, which enables users to seamlessly research, workflow, monitor, and forecast their consumer or SME loan risk exposure, across multiple use cases.

The release of consumer credit ALD data publicly provides for unique opportunities. For the first time, Aspire Gateway ABS ALD module gives participants the ability to stratify and compile performance views both within individual trusts and across trusts with similar asset pools on the same platform. Aspire released the product with an initial focus on auto loan asset pools, and will be expanding coverage to other verticals with filings on the SEC website. Aspire also makes available individual raw CSV files converted directly from the issuer postings on its platform.

Morningstar Credit Ratings Assigns MOR RV1 Residential Vendor Ranking to First Associates Loan Servicing as a Consumer Finance Servicer (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Morningstar Credit Ratings, LLC today assigned its MOR RV1 residential vendor ranking to First Associates Loan Servicing, LLC as a consumer finance servicer. Morningstar’s forecast for the ranking is Stable.

First Associates, headquartered in San Diego, provides third-party loan and lease servicing for originators and institutional investors. The company was founded in 1986 as First Associates Mortgage Corporation. The current management team subsequently acquired the company in 2008 and reformed it as First Associates Loan Servicing, LLC.

The Morningstar ranking is based on a variety of factors, including:

  • First Associates’ pervasive enterprise risk management culture that consists of consumer finance compliance protocols, internal audit, self-risk assessment protocols, quality assurance, call monitoring scoring and feedback, and a robust vendor management oversight program.
  • The company engages a third-party auditing firm to produce a SOC 1 audit report on an annual basis.
  • The effectiveness of First Associates’ servicing platform is evidenced by above-average call center metrics, portfolio volume growth, strong client diversity, and minimal client turnover.
  • First Associates benefits from a solid technology environment that includes a third-party consumer finance servicing system, a well-defined project management process, effective network security protocols, and a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that leverages the company’s cloud-based infrastructure and multiple office locations for geographic data redundancy and processing.

Real Estate Crowdfunding Is Riskier Than You Think (Seeking Alpha), Rated: A

Real estate crowdfunding is increasingly becoming an alternative to REITs (NYSEARCA:VNQ) for individual investors seeking real estate exposure.

The arguments in favor of real estate crowdfunding are typically the following:

  • Their deals provide higher risk adjusted returns
  • Crowdfunding assets are uncorrelated with the stock markets and are hence more stable than REITs.

Below I provide my counter arguments to real estate crowdfunding:

1. If you are not a real estate expert, you cannot perform adequate due diligence to evaluate individual properties for investment.

Most crowdfunding websites directly target individual investors who are not experts in commercial real estate investing or finance in general. The issue is that without these specialized skills, how are you then supposed to properly assess a given deal on a real estate crowdfunding website? It is simply impossible.

2. Success in real estate investing is largely a function of the management team

Lastly, you would have the same issue here concerning due diligence. It is very difficult to perform proper due diligence of the management team when investing through crowdfunding platforms.

REITs on the other hand are very large and have great resources. They can attract the best talent and retain the best in class managers of the whole industry.

3. Crowdfunding deals are riskier in many ways compared to REIT investments.

Private market sponsors tend to use substantially more leverage than REITs and often target riskier properties. While REITs utilize today on average about 30% leverage, it is not uncommon for private investors to use up to 80% loan to value.

Real estate crowdfunding is also highly illiquid and it may be difficult to exit your investment when desired; especially if the real estate market went into a down cycle.

4. Private sponsors may charge high fees

Most REITs are today internally managed and have great scale which reduces the impact of the G&A expenses. Crowdfunding deals, on the other hand, will be sponsored by asset management firms or real estate developers that will want to earn their fees to make a profit.

5. REITs have historically outperformed private real estate investments.

Over the last 40 years, REITs have returned more than 13% per year to investors according to NAREIT.

 

NCSS Partners with Kabbage, Inc. to Help Small Businesses (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Today, the National Cybersecurity Society (NCSS) entered into a strategic partnership with Kabbage Inc., an online financial technology company that provides funding directly to small businesses through its automated lending platform.

A recent study by FireEye revealed that 77 percent of global cybercrime affects small and medium sized businesses. NCSS is a non-profit organization created to educate and advise small business owners on the complex and changing world of cybersecurity.

NCSS works with victims of cybercrime, government and businesses of all sizes to help fortify cybersecurity on a continual basis to help thwart evolving cyber threats and to mitigate the effects of cyber incidents when they occur.

Mortgage Lenders Maintain Positive Sentiment for 2017 (Marketwired), Rated: A

The Lenders One® Cooperative, a national alliance of independent mortgage bankers, correspondent lenders and suppliers of mortgage products, has issued the results of the second annual Lenders One Mortgage Barometer, a survey of 200 mortgage lending professionals. According to the 2017 Lenders One Mortgage Barometer, a large majority of lenders (94 percent, up from 62 percent last year) expect an increase in mortgage purchase production.

Continued economic improvement should give first-time home buyers the boost they need to enter the market. In fact, about three in five lenders (59 percent) say it is very likely that there will be an increase in first-time home buyers in 2017. The optimism around first-time home buyers aligns with the recent report from the National Association of Realtors® that showed the share of sales to first-time home buyers grew from 2015 to 2016 and was the highest it’s been since 2013. However, many lenders are predicting some challenges to mortgage industry growth with respondents seeing consumer debt as the highest risk factor this year (41 percent).

Lenders Analyze Growth Opportunities
The populations that are most frequently cited as offering robust opportunity in 2017 include Generation X (86 percent) and millennials (85 percent, up from 79 percent last year). Following closely are nontraditional buyers, those who are in the rental and vacation home markets (84 percent, up from 70 percent last year); boomerang buyers, those people who can now qualify for a mortgage after undergoing a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy (83 percent, up from 68 percent last year) and baby boomers (82 percent).

Lenders Identify Strong Jumbo Loan Activity
A large majority of lenders (93 percent) report that they already originate non-qualifying mortgage (non-QM) loans. Bolstering one part of the non-QM market is continued home appreciation, especially in higher end markets, which has created demand for jumbo loans. Indeed, 91 percent of lenders project a significant increase in jumbo loan origination volume in 2017 for their organization.

Lenders’ Take on Emerging Trends
Given the growth of the sharing economy and services such as Airbnb, 82 percent of mortgage lending professionals anticipate an increase in people looking to finance larger homes to take advantage of rental incomes.

FinTech’s Shifting Landscape (The M Report), Rated: A

The ever-shifting landscape of technology has leaked into mortgage originations.

mello™ is loanDepot’s new digital mortgage platform including the customer facing platform.  It serves borrowers, sales, operations, and the entire ecosystem of realtors, builders and the title industry on a single platform that allows us to continuously improve and iterate the experience.

What other kind of technologies aren’t being implemented in the mortgage industry that can be brought in? What do think can be implemented to streamline the mortgage application process?

There are numerous foundational technologies that have existed in the mortgage industry and other related industries for a long time that have limited implementation.  In the early 2000s, we saw the first digital mortgage. Since then there has been incremental improvements but limited adoption.  E-Sign is another example of technology that has existed for the last fifteen years, also with limited adoption. With the regulatory changes brought on by TRID, they are becoming a little bit more main stream.  Technical change requires business drivers, effective change management and a platform to enable adoption.

Kabbage Co-Founder & Head Fintecher Kathryn Petralia: Power Lending, Predictions & Progress (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Since launching in November 2008, team Kabbage has grown its global advanced lending infrastructure to enable small businesses to borrow necessary funds through its direct SMB lending product which has been adopted by banks and non-banks worldwide. The FinTech innovator has provided over $3B since its founding and has raised $236M in equity since its formation as well as more than $1 billion of debt.

Kathryn: The Office of the Comptroller’s “FinTech charter” is an exciting proposition for Kabbage. While the details are still being discussed, there is no denying that Fintech is here to stay when the “Big Bank” regulator is talking about bringing our platform into the mainstream of the U.S. financial system. Folks in Washington should think about what the technology actually does instead of how to box it into a rule or regulation.

Kathryn: Every executive hates uncertainty. We currently interact in one way or another with the FDIC, FTC, SEC, CFPB, SBA, Federal Reserve, OCC and other parts of the Treasury and state agencies. I don’t see that as a very efficient or navigable system, and I think the agencies agree because they are always vying with one another for authority. Washington is in a state of (uncertain) transition, and we hope to make our little slice of D.C. a lot more efficient and work to protect customers’ rights instead of checking boxes.

Europe is a different animal altogether. There is plenty of uncertainty in the EU, but I am not planning on a “Frexit” or a “Beljump” this year. We are chugging along with our European partner banks and preparing for GDPR, the EU’s solution to unified data protection for European citizens. Europeans are pragmatic people. They want to share their data with third parties but also know that the process is safe. Safe and open data is squarely with our culture and goals at Kabbage.

Kathryn: I haven’t been shy about my view on brokers—I generally don’t like them. Kabbage avoids the broker model because we want to interact directly with our customers.

As I mentioned, this is the year of the platform model. I expect to see large and medium banks beginning to integrate with third-party Fintech platforms to better serve their customers and expand their product offerings. It makes economic sense—do what you’re good at (working with customers and managing cheap capital) and partner with other specialized firms for technology and innovation. The U.S. market is amazingly under-tapped from both mega-banks to local institutions and we hope to continue to expand here, Europe and elsewhere.

Kathryn: Our strategic, referral and white label partnerships are vital to driving new customers to Kabbage.

US fintech regulation: a divided picture at the federal level (Banking Tech), Rated: A

Marketplace lending has been a topic of regulatory and industry conversation for the last several years.

Currently, marketplace lending is attempting to fill gaps still left in credit availability after the financial crisis, especially in small dollar small business loans. In this case, small dollar means $250,000 or less. Community banks have generally provided the lion’s share of small business and agriculture loans in the US, but the financial crisis and the response to it both eliminated many community banks and created a credit crunch. Marketplace lenders have stepped up to fill in the resulting gaps for both small business and personal loans. While the first generation of marketplace lenders tended to be distinct, separate entities, many are now partnering with banks. Marketplace lenders are not the only ones: money transmitters are exploring bank partnerships in order to avoid costly and time consuming fifty state licensing solutions.

Treasury received about 100 responses to its RFI and the white paper is generally positive about the potential for online marketplace lending to expand access to credit. Treasury offers its view of the RFI responses and provides some advice and recommendations for moving forward in this space. It found that online marketplace lending has expanded access to credit, especially small businesses, though the majority of the loans originated were for consolidating debt. The expansion of data used for underwriting was one of the more exciting innovations by online lenders and is being adopted by a larger segment of the financial services industry. However, these “data-driven algorithms” do not provide the borrower the opportunity to correct information and they may result in fair lending violations and disparate impacts. It’s really too early to determine the impact, but the expansion of data and modeling are an area on which Treasury will continue to focus. In addition, online marketplace lending has emerged in the low cost of credit environment during the Obama years; these lenders have not been properly tested during a higher cost of capital environment.

The SEC is also getting into the game on fintech. It has established a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Working Group to investigate the new technology and its potential uses and abuses. Further, the SEC is looking at the growing field of crowdfunding, both its Regulation Crowdfunding equity crowdfunding model and others, including debt crowdfunding. In addition, the marketplace lending market, especially securitisation of loans, is of particular interest to the SEC.

In the US, Cook County, Illinois, is currently running a pilot program to use blockchain to transfer and track property titles and other public records. The Cook County Recorder’s Office is the second largest in the US, so the adoption and success of a DLT system there would likely encourage other states and counties to use the technology.

On top of DLT, the advent of “smart contracts” has the ability to change payments drastically.

While the CFPB’s policy is quite friendly, its no-action letters are not binding on other agencies, so that leaves a fintech company vulnerable to the determination, by another regulator, that it is not in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. This is obviously true of any agency’s no-action letter, but considering most of the federal financial regulators are having trouble deciding what to do with fintech, many companies may decide not to take the chance of relying on the CFPB’s say-so. Again though, regulating by No-Action Letter is much less desirable than actually going through the Administrative Procedure Act-mandated rulemaking process.

The CFPB is likely the most vulnerable agency in a Trump government. Its broad mandate and limited congressional oversight has made it a target of Trump and Congressional Republicans. While it is incredibly unlikely the CFPB would actually be dismantled, its structure and leadership will almost certainly change, likely relatively early in President Trump’s term. The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s recent decision in PHH Corporation, et al. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found the current structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional.

States are also involved in regulating fintech and their role may grow if President Trump follows through on his early moves to cut down on federal regulation.

Over 50? Welcome to the New Frontier of Fintech! (Finovate), Rated: A

Meet the most financially challenged generation in American history. There are over 111 million Americans aged 50 and older, confronting a financial future with high anxiety, great struggle, and kitchen table economics that are more complex than any generation has ever faced. Financial decisions are numerous and amplified in importance with longevity. Much is at stake.

Although the 50-plus community represents only 35% of the entire U.S. population, they account for $116.8 billion in revenue in 2017 for the traditional banking industry. They are avid users of digital tools, services, and products, and they are increasingly finding that their needs are not met by the bank offerings alone. As a result, they are turning to alternative financial services and products. For 2017, AARP forecasts the 50-plus consumers will spend $15.3 billion in the fast-emerging alternative financial services sector.

To win over this market, innovators need to:

  • Remove friction from the user experience
  • Improve customer service
  • Proactively deliver personalized insight and advice
  • Transform consumer financial anxiety into digital empowerment
  • Influence regulatory change and financial policy to encourage healthy digital disruption

Regions recruits CIO from marketplace lender Kabbage (American Banker), Rated: B

Regions Bank in Birmingham, Ala., has plucked its new chief information officer from the fintech world.

Amala Duggirala, formerly the chief technology officer at the small-business lender Kabbage, is set to become CIO on April 17.

At Kabbage, Duggirala led the technology team’s efforts in advancing the scalability of the lending platform. Her tenure at Kabbage was brief — she joined the firm in November 2016.

Fidelity Investments, American Express and Bank of America Are the Top Scoring TotalSocial(TM) Brands (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: B

In a new, first of its kind analysis of combined online and offline consumer conversations, Engagement Labs released its TotalSocial rankings on the top performing financial services brands (banks, investment companies and credit card companies) in the U.S.

The analysis finds that, of the conversations taking place about financial services brands, the majority of them are happening offline (face-to-face) as opposed online (social media).

One financial institution that stuck out in particular is Citibank. The financial institution has the biggest discrepancy between its online and offline scores. The bank scores significantly better offline than online through all components measured — volume, sentiment, brand sharing and influence. This is what Engagement Labs calls a Social Misfit, brands that perform strongly offline but not online, or vice versa.

Another brand that stands out in the analysis is American Express. This is a brand propelled by particularly strong offline brand sharing, meaning people are talking about their marketing or advertising efforts.

United Kingdom

Funding Circle to stop property development lending (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle has announced plans to stop all property development lending by mid-2018.
The decision will allow the company to focus resources on its core small business lending product in the UK, US, Germany and the Netherlands.
Funding Circle will continue to service existing property loans and meet facilities to which it has already committed over the next 12 to 18 months.
Funding Circle stated its property loans continue to outperform expectations from a credit risk perspective, generating a 7% return each year and £22m of earnings for investors since 2014.

Advisers urged to be cautious on ‘esoteric’ P2P investments (New Model Adviser), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending company Goji is launching the UK’s first diversified P2P lending bonds.

The Goji Diversified P2P Lending Bond is a fixed-term product that spreads risk by investing across a range of P2P lending platforms. It is eligible for inclusion in an Innovative Finance ISA. The one-year fixed-term bond has already launched, while the three-year bond is set to launch in April or May, with the five-year bond following soon after.

He said the current fund contains around 600 companies, ‘so there’s loan diversification’. Goji targets a 5% annual yield, and said the current yield after fees (after three months for the one-year bond) is 6.8%.

Phil Young, managing director of support services provider Threesixty, has concerns. ‘Advisers should steer clear of these products,’ he said. ‘It has an impact on PI [professional indemnity] insurance, as these insurers are sceptical of P2P lending.

Numerous advisers have also voiced concerns. ‘I don’t think the market is mature enough,’ said David Bashforth, partner at Derbyshire-based Belmayne Independent. ‘It’s untested in a downturn,’ said Mark Begg, director at London-based Mark Begg Asset Management. ‘We would need at least a three-year track record,’ said Andrew Brady, director of East Sussex-based Prosperity IFA.

FCA prepares for the march of ‘robo advisers’ (Financial Times), Rated: A

New rules aimed at “robo advisers” have been set out by the Treasury and the City watchdog as part of their efforts to make financial advice more widely available.

The guidelines are intended to free online providers from the heavier regulation associated with traditional financial advice, making it easier for them to offer low-cost help for less wealthy investors.

The regulator said it wanted to encourage the growth of “robo-advisers” — websites that suggest investment portfolios to investors based on online questionnaires — as a way to offer investment help to a greater number of people.

AltFi Data brings needed industry transparency (Bankless Times), Rated: A

An originator participating in independent verification of their data is motivated to continue to source good and well-priced assets, because the track record is there, in a clear and concise format, for all to see.

But there’s little transparent about dumping megabytes of data on investors and thinking you can go to sleep at night with a clear conscience, not in the era with the data aggregation and interpretation capabilities of ours.

This added transparency is especially necessary now that marketplace lending is out of the novelty stage and beginning to scale, Mr. Taylor said. It is no longer enough for platforms to originate assets which were previously hard to access. Investors need to be able to definitively understand what return the assets have delivered historically and to identify originators that have an ongoing motivation to keep originating assets based on quality not quantity.

Equally interesting is that Funding Circle, Zopa, MarketInvoice and RateSetter, the UK platforms that provide this enhanced disclosure, have gained market share relative to the rest of the market. Having represented 65% of UK market origination when they began to offer this disclosure, they now represent 75%.

Revenue-Based Finance Provider Fleximize Closes £16.3M Financing Facility (Finsmes), Rated: A

Fleximize, a London, UK-based revenue-based finance provider, closed a £16.3m financing facility.

Hadrian‘s Wall Secured Investments Limited, a specialised investment fund, provided the financial resources.

The company intends to use the funds to increase its lending capacity, towards its goal of lending over £100m to SMEs by 2019, to further develop and diversify its product offering, and continue to advance its proprietary technology platform with the introduction of dedicated areas for brokers and direct clients.

Britain’s finance watchdog is worried about ‘wild west’ fintech in some parts of the world (Business Insider), Rated: A

Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s director of strategy and competition, said in a speech earlier this week that that some regulators are using “sandboxes” to let fintech companies operate with little or no supervision.

Woolard said in a speech at the Innovate Finance Global Summit in London on Monday:

“But in a world where many governments and regulators have begun to show an interest in innovation there are challenges.

“As different jurisdictions begin to set up their own sandboxes, with different models and standards, some believe a ‘Wild West’ version could emerge.”

Fintech is now worth £7 billion to Britain’s economy and employs 60,000 people (Business Insider), Rated: B

The Treasury said ahead of the event that the UK’s fintech sector — which includes everything from online lending to applying blockchain to capital markets — is now worth £7 billion to the UK economy and employs 60,000 people.

Growth Street announces two senior hires (P2P Finance News), Rated: B

GROWTH Street has unveiled two new senior appointments that it hopes will aid the peer-to-peer lender’s expansion plans this year.

The platform, which was purely a business-to-business lender until it receivedregulatory permission to accept retail investors last December, has hired April Nardulli (pictured) as general counsel and Chris Weller as commercial director.

European Union

UK VC investment up in Q1 2017, but funding across Europe is down (Real Business), Rated: AAA

While UK VC investment may be up, European funding has fallen however. The KPMG Venture Pulse Q1 2017 revealed UK VC investment over the quarter reached $1.02bn, having dropped to under $1bn in Q4.

That was achieved despite a lower number of completed deals, with 196 secured versus 219 the previous quarter. KPMG suggested the “robust levels” of UK VC investment signals optimism and confidence for British business this year despite Brexit.

Imbach pointed to financial services, life sciences and biotech as key sectors where startups are securing UK VC investment and highlighted firms such as Currency Cloud, Funding Circle and Atlas Genetics.

While UK VC investment rose in Q1, there was a fall in VC investment across Europe overall, reaching $3.4bn, which was attributed to fewer angel and seed rounds. Meanwhile, deal volume was at its lowest for five quarters.

Lend Closes CHF3.5M Series A Funding (Finsemes), Rated: A

Lend, a Zürich, Switzerland-based fintech startup, closed a CHF3.5m Series A funding.

Backers included angel investors and Polytech Ecosystem Ventures.

The company will use the funds to further develop its platform and market its brands, LEND and splendit, enhancing automation, customer usability and increasing marketing efforts within Switzerland.

China

China’s Banking Regulator Clamps Down on Illegal P2P Lending (YiCai Global), Rate: AAA

China’s Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) issued its Guiding Opinions on Risk Prevention and Control in the Banking Sector yesterday, requiring banking institutions to step up risk prevention efforts related to internet finance businesses, focusing on ten types of high-priority risks. The P2P lending risk rectification program will be pushed forward, alongside the clean-up of student and microcredit businesses.

The regulator called for an effective clampdown on illegal student loan operators. Online lending agencies are prohibited from offering loans to people failing to meet the minimum income requirement, or to students aged under 18. They are also banned from engaging in misleading marketing or sales activities, or extending usurious loans.

With microloans, online lending agencies must ensure the legitimacy of funds provided by lenders in compliance with the law, and fraudulent marketing is prohibited. Provisions laid down by the supreme court regarding interest rates on private loans must be rigorously observed to prevent usury and the use of violence in debt collection.

To ward off risks associated with illegal fund-raising schemes, the CBRC required regulators at all levels to ramp up investigation into illegally-established banking organizations, and suppress illegal absorption of public funds and illicit lending businesses carried out under the guise of banking services.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

July 21st 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments A lot of news today, and today we have an especially good international section. Please do pay attention to the Australian, Singapore and China sections in particular. (And Lending Times technical team reports that yes, Mailchimp has not answered any of the multiple requests for support from a paying client in 17 hours. […]

News Comments

  • A lot of news today, and today we have an especially good international section. Please do pay attention to the Australian, Singapore and China sections in particular.
  • (And Lending Times technical team reports that yes, Mailchimp has not answered any of the multiple requests for support from a paying client in 17 hours. We will send today’s newsletter by hand again using the older design template.)

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

Switzerland

India

Singapore

Australia

China

News Summary

 

United States

The marketplace lending market has received an influx of positive news recently, (Peer IQ), Rated: AAA

The WSJ reports that Moody’s removed Class C mezzanine bonds issued by CHAI 2015-PM1, 2015-PM2, and 2015-PM3 from downgrade review and confirmed Ba3 rating.

At the time of downgrade review in February, Moody’s cited a faster build-up of delinquencies and charge-offs than expected. Moody’s also increased the expected cumulative lifetime net loss from 8% to 12% (bringing revised estimates in-line with platform and market expectations).
As of the June 15, 2016 distribution date, losses on the CHAI 2015-PM1, 2015-PM2 and 2015-PM3 pools have reached 3.6%, 1.5% and 0.5%, respectively.
Improvement in Credit Spread on MPL ABS bonds
The ratings action was presaged by the ABS market which showed spread tightening from 1000 to 400 bps. Readers may seek to review the May month-end newsletter to see the analysis cited in the WSJ report:
PeerIQ credit spread on MPL ABS bonds
Leading up to the CHAI 2016 PM-1 offering in April, the culmination of ratings actions, regulatory chatter, delinquency fears, and volatile credit markets created an inhospitable environment for new deals. The auction resulted in limited participation and wide initial pricing–10.26% coupon priced to 12.5% yield on the CHAI 2016 PMI-1 C tranche.
Investors that bought the CHAI C tranche at new issuance without any leverage would have seen about 15% price appreciation in 3 months. Investors that performed the up-front credit work and applied analytics to separate the signal from headlines were able to earn outsized returns.
Dislocation creates opportunity
Ironically, the dislocation in recent months has created substantial investor interest in MPL ABS and whole loans. The CHAI 2016-1 PM1 offering prompted investors that were historically dismissive of marketplace lending to do a double-take
Repeat ABS investors are now looking upstream to capture additional whole loan economics.
Large asset managers with double-digit return objectives in a negative to low rate world are looking to strike bargains with platforms. There is still much more to be done. Nevertheless, the climate for establishing relationships with platforms may be as good as ever.

Little Change in LendingClub Loans Since Madden Decision, (BNA), Rated: A

So far, LendingClub loans haven’t changed in average interest rate or risk, either in the 2nd Circuit or nationwide.

Both the total number and value of loans and the amounts arranged through the company have only grown, not diminished, while average FICO scores measuring a borrower’s credit rating remain consistent, and internal loan grades have remained the same. One exception is that the average value of borrowers’ previously requested FICO score did increase steadily since the decision, even though FICO scores at the time of loan issuance did not.

LendingClub has also continued to arrange loans to borrowers in the 2nd Circuit that surpass the interest rate caps in those states. The Madden decision does not prevent national banks from providing loans above a state’s interest rate cap. Instead, it applies to debt collection agencies that purchase those loans.

Lending club changes after Madden vs Midland

As a result of the court’s decision, LendingClub in February renegotiated terms with WebBank—the Utah bank that originates all of the loans through the online service (40 BBD, 3/1/16)

Under the new arrangement, WebBank maintains ongoing accounts for the borrowers and receives regular payments from LendingClub—called “loan-trailing fees”—rather than a single lump sum fee on every loan it originates. The loan trailing fee is based on the total amount serviced by the bank and a “loan fee factor.” A LendingClub representative told Bloomberg BNA that the company does not publicly disclose the amount of the loan fee agreement with WebBank.

Different picture for Prosper

Prosper loan volumes

Representative for Prosper attributed any changes in lending to general market fluctuations but would not comment further for this story.

A 2009 paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta said that loans sold into the secondary market through originate-to-distribute underperformed other loans by 9 percent. A 2010 academic paper funded by the FDIC’s Center for Financial Research also implicated the originate-to-distribute model in the subprime crisis.

Author and University of Michigan Finance Professor Amiyatosh Purnanandam told Bloomberg BNA that part of the problem with the originate-to-distribute model is that once the debt is sold, the originating bank has nothing at risk and the debt buyers don’t always have the skill in evaluating good borrowers as national banks do.

Jefferies revives stalled Lending Club bond: sources, (Reuters), Rated: AAA

Comment: We covered these news last week as well. At that time it was more of rumor. It seems it’s real news now.

Jefferies has revived its stalled Lending Club loan securitization in a club-style deal it has begun to pre-market to only a few select investors, two buyside sources with knowledge of the trade told IFR.

The bank is now looking to sell a two-tranche trade that could offer yields in the 4.25%-7% range, one of the investors said.

The top class of notes of slightly less than one-year were about 60% subscribed, while a longer 2-year tranche was already fully covered, the investor said.

The near-prime loan securitization was shelved after Lending Club said it had repurchased a US$22m pool of loans sold to Jefferies under Laplanche’s watch that included falsified documentation.

Goldman Sachs also hit pause on its potential bond sale of prime Lending Club loans.

But bankers told IFR that Goldman could now look to revive its bond deal, if the Jefferies trade finds favor with investors.

Goldman Sachs Sets Its Eyes on Retail Banking (GS), (Investopedia), Rated: AAA

Fast Start
According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 20,000 new customers have opened internet bank accounts with the Goldman unit since it launched three months ago. Unlike other Internet-only retail banks that tend to offer a wide range of services, Goldman’s products are geared towards long-term savings, and it solely offers its customers the option to open traditional savings and certificate of deposit (CD) accounts. As of July 20, 2016, the bank’s interest rate on online savings accounts was 1.05% while its interest rate on a 5-year CD was 1.85%. In many cases, these rates are a lot higher than what traditional banks pay their customers. For example, Wells Fargo (WFC), Citibank (C), Bank of America (BAC) and Chase (JPM) all pay less than 0.03% APY on regular savings accounts. GS Bank can offer above-average interest rates to its depositors because they do not have the overhead expenses of a typical brick and mortar bank. (See also, The Pros And Cons Of Internet Banks.)

Retail Diversification
For Goldman Sachs, savings accounts may not be as exciting as the main investment banking business. Yet, the company still benefits from expanding into retail banking, enabling Goldman Sachs to diversify its customer base and tap into a segment of the market, retail investors, that they have been unable to serve in the past. GS Bank will also help boost Goldman’s overall liquidity, and keep the company compliant with new regulations calling for more liquidity from financial institutions. Around the same time GS Bank was launched, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) proposed new rules that would require banks to own sufficient ‘‘easy-to-sell’’ assets that would be able to cover any and all liabilities coming due within a one year period. (See also: The History Of The FDIC.)

The Realities Of Alt-Lending Regulation Begin To Set In, (Pymnts), Rated: A

Comment: we covered this yesterday as head news. However it is so important that we would like to remind our readers just in case.

“I suspect more regulation will come to the space, and I think that will suit us well,” said PayPal VP and General Manager of Small Business Lending Darrell Esch in an interview with Forbes last year.

When asked by PYMNTS whether he was concerned about incoming regulation on the space, OnDeck Vice President of External Affairs and Associate General Counsel Daniel Gorfine simply stated, “No, not concerned.”

Reports from Bloomberg BNA this week, however, could signal a shift in how alternative lending players are reacting to the incoming threat of regulation.

“Strong evidence indicates that small business loans under $100,000 share common characteristics with consumer loans yet do not enjoy the same consumer protections,” the Treasury stated in its May report. “Treasury is willing to work with members of Congress to consider legislation that addresses both oversight and borrower protections.”

“I would have to do everything differently,” said CAN Capital Chief Legal Officer Parris Sanz in an interview with the publication. “I can’t give you a rundown of all the various moving parts that would be affected, but I can tell you for sure that it would be significant.”

In a separate interview with Bloomberg BNA, Richard Eckman, a partner at Delaware-based Pepper Hamilton LLP, said alternative lenders are probably wise to pay attention to this possibility.

REFILE-Marlette gets second ever online loan ABS over the line, (Reuters), Rated: AAA

Marlette Funding got its second-ever bond backed by personal loans easily over the line on Wednesday, but investors said the primary market was still wary of deals from the online lending industry.

Marlette’s deal narrowed its pricing from guidance, but investors said global low rates had turned all types of US consumer debt-related assets with yield into a hot commodity.

And similar deals from a year ago were pricing far tighter.

Marlette priced its top US$149m of 1-year Single A (rated by Kroll) notes at 225bp over EDSF, tighter than a 235bp-250bp area guidance, two investors said.

Last July, Citigroup cleared its top class of A3 (rated by Moody’s) bonds – one notch lower – of Prosper Marketplace loans at 140bp over EDSF, according to IFR data.

Riskier Ba3 notes from Citigroup priced at 385bp over interpolated swaps, whereas Marlette’s BBs Wednesday printed at a whopping 825bp over swaps.

By another measure, the BBs were about 75bp more than a deep subprime auto ABS sold this week by lender Consumer Portfolio Services, according to IFR data.

“Marlette’s business model ensures an alignment of interests among the company, the originating bank and institutional loan buyers,” Kroll Bond Ratings wrote in its presale report.

The hunt for yield, meanwhile, has prompted two banks with exposure to online loans to revive postponed deals in the primary market, buyside sources said.

Non-bank Jefferies has rekindled a roughly US$140m bond deal of near-prime Lending Club loans, which was shelved for two months after Laplanche stepped down from Lending Club.

Bankers said that Goldman Sachs could also look to bring out its paused prime-quality Lending Club deal after Jefferies.

United Kingdom

Oxford economist John Kay: Where the opportunities are for fintech, (Alt Fi Credit), Rated: A

Large scale financial services firms are still ripe for disruption, according to the economist John Kay, who believes the City of London and other major financial centres have taken a wrong turn.

Kay explains that he sees four main ways that fintech can be successful and help the real economy by disrupting financial services.

These are firstly; the payments system This is the system that enables the payment of wages and salaries as well as bills. Secondly; capital allocation. This how peoples’ savings become invested in the physical assets and infrastructure of a country. Risk management is third, i.e mitigating the risks of everyday life such as insurance. Lastly is wealth management in a broader sense.

Technology will take over a lot this spectrum and he argues wealth management “is an area of major disruption”, encompassing P2P lending/investing, robo-advice and other discretionary investment services. However, he says payments is the one that will most clearly disrupt things and change our lives. He thinks cash will “seem crazy” in 20 years’ time.

Kay has a sizeable investment in online investment management firm Nutmeg, however, which is one of the dominant players seeking to disrupt the fund management and wealth management industries although they have yet to announce a P2P/market place lending function.

City regulator warns on peer-to-peer lending, (Financial Times), Rated: A

Chris Philp, a Conservative MP on the Treasury committee, said many consumers do not understand the dangers they are exposed to through P2P.

He said the way P2P sites are paid fees without taking on the risk of loans on a balance sheet is akin to the securitisation of subprime loans before the financial crisis.

Mr Bailey said in response, “I agree with you on the risks”.

Mr Bailey noted that although some platforms have so-called reserve funds to pay out to investors in the event that borrowers default, there is “no guarantee in that fund”.

European Union

Renowned investor Peter Thiel increases investment in leading European fintech, Deposit Solutions, (Press Release), Rated: AAA

Prominent venture capital firms today announce they have invested €15 million in European fintech company Deposit Solutions GmbH, a fast growing fintech innovator operating in the €9 trillion market for retail deposits in Europe.

The key highlights include:  PayPal co-founder and Facebook’s first outside investor, Peter Thiel, and German leading fintech investor FinLab jointly increase their share in the company  US investor Greycroft Partners, the global growth fund of e.ventures as well as Valar Ventures come on board as three new partners  The funding round increases the valuation of Deposit Solutions to €110 million.  This is the second successful investment round for Deposit Solutions within a year, following last year´s investment into the Company of €6.5 million. Since then the valuation of the company more than quadrupled.  The funds raised will be used to further develop the proprietary technology platform and continue Deposit Solutions´ international expansion, having already recently expanded to the UK and Switzerland.  Deposit Solutions will increase the number of employees at its UK HQ in the City of London and is expected to launch its retail platform in the UK in 2017.

“We are seeing substantial demand from banks looking to offer their clients attractive deposit products under the existing account relationship. As a result we have gained access to millions of clients and billions of deposit appetite in a very short amount of time. This in turn is very attractive to banks wanting to raise deposits through our platform.”

Max von Bismarck, Chief Business Officer and Managing Director of Deposit Solutions, said: “We address an important structural problem in European banking today for banks and retail customers: Many banks are unable to offer attractive interest rates to their clients. At the same time other banks find it difficult and costly to gain access to retail deposit funding. Our platform provides a solution for both while savers find it easier to get access to better rates.”

ECrowd! Spanish Crowdlending Platform Receives License by the CNMV, (Crowdfunding Insider), Rated: A

Debt-based crowdfunding platform ECrowd! is one of the first Spanish sites to receive a formal operating license from the Comision del Mercado de Valores (CNMV), the securities regulatory agency in Spain. ECrowd!, based in Barcelona, has joined Crowdcube Spain, Lendix and MyTripleA in receiving official approval as a Collaborative Finance Platform under regulations enacted in 2015.

They were on track to achieve 100% growth during 2016. [Comment: Some authors have issues with important verb tenses, it is unclear if the author meant they are or they were.]

Switzerland

The era of Crowlending opens new market for startups, (Startup Ticker), Rated: AAA

In Switzerland significant growth in Crowdlending was achieved in the previous year. The Crowdfunding monitoring report 2016 published by theUniversity of Applied Sciences Luzern early this year reported a significant increase in the total amount of money raised through Crowdlending in the year 2015. A total sum of CHF 7.9 Million was collected through crowdlending with a growth rate of +126%. 266 campaigns were financed. Crowdlending has continued to become more popular not only among start-ups but also among investors.

The crowdlending market in Switzerland is booming and has opened new opportunities for entrepreneurs. New startups operating crowdlending platforms are been established and many projects have been successfully financed. Today, there are 7 crowdlending platforms: the pioneer Cashare for both SMEs and private ventures, CreditGate24 for private and institutional investors, creditworld for both private and on SME loan, Lend, splendid that is specifically focusing on education loans,swisspeers for SMEs and Wecan.fund for SMEs. Other platforms – such as Miteinander-Erfolgreich and Raizers – also operate alongside other models as crowdlending platforms.

India

India’s Mywish Marketplaces raises $ 15 M to expand to new financial products, (Tech Crunch), Rated: AAA

This isn’t a huge round compared to what other companies have closed, but it is entirely strategic. The capital was proved by Franklin Templeton, the U.S. banking giant with more than $700 billion in assets under management. Puru Vashishtha, who is board director at Mywish Marketplaces, told me in an interview that the company didn’t need to raise the funds and it wasn’t short of interest, but it did so for growth opportunities and was very deliberate with the capital that it did close.

“We were chased by a lot of venture capitalists and investors globally,” Vashishtha said. “Because we were profitable, we did not need to raise a lot and didn’t want to dilute too much too soon — that’s one of the reasons we chose Franklin Templeton. Also, Franklin Templeton has built a very big emerging market business, we want to leverage the experience and leadership of their team.”

To backtrack a little, Mywish Marketplaces operates Deal4Loans, a price comparison and loan aggregation website in India. Its products include credit cards, home loans, business loans and personal loans.

Like Credit Karma in the U.S. and countless others worldwide, it works with banks, credit card companies and other financial institutes to help drive customers, while for its users, it tries to provide a holistic look at financing option and which one suits best for each case. The Deal4Loans site claims to have served more than 6.3 million “satisfied” customers, while the company says it has dispersed a total of $2 billion loans in the last six years at a current rate of $400-$450 million per year.

So why is this profitable company — profitable from day one, it claims — raising money?

I hinted at it earlier, but Mywish Marketplaces wants to expand into more verticals with new financing products for Indian consumers.

P2P lender Faircent makes strategic C-suite appointments, (Economic Times), Rated: B

India’s largest peer- to- peer (P2P) lending marketplace, Faircent.com, on Wednesday announced the appointment of Shivam Gupta, who was a part of the global risk management team of Standard Chartered Bank based in Singapore, as chief risk officer and Karun Thareja, who was a part of the leadership at an analytics startup called WyzMindz, as head of marketing.

Thareja, on the other hand has extensive experience in Marketing, Sales and Business Management spanning more than 20 years. His domain expertise includes Analytics, Enterprise Systems, Contact Center Management and Process Management. In his prior roles he has led multi-fold growth in business units at companies like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Dassault Systems and NIIT.

Singapore

Online lending platform to offer investor insurance, (Straits Business), Rated: AAA

Online peer-to-peer funding platform Validus Capital has partnered home-grown insurance provider EQ Insurance to offer investor protection on some of the financing it provides to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

It will be the first platform in Singapore to provide investor insurance on its invoice financing services, the company said.

The platform, which was founded last year, has had a zero-per-cent default rate to date thanks to its “rigorous due diligence”, the company said. In the last few months, the company has had 27 SMEs approved for invoice financing services, each with an average revenue of $5 million.

Mr Prakash Somosundram, co-founder of Pealo – an aggregated marketplace for SMEs to access working capital – said the firm is looking into investor protection products. “This will definitely help us to attract more investors, and more people will see this form of investing as an asset class,” he added.

Pealo’s platform was launched in January – 300 SMEs have signed up and there are 46 live campaigns under way.

Mr Brian Teng, chief executive of InvoiceInterchange – which allows SMEs to put up their unpaid invoices for auction – also said the platform hopes to eventually make insurance available to investors.

Mr Teng declined to reveal how many SMEs have used the platform, but said there is significant room for invoice financing to grow as a source of funds for SMEs here.

“The penetration rate of invoice financing in Singapore is still low when compared with nations like Britain and the United States,” he noted. The company has funded $4 million of invoices since its launch in 2015.

Mr Roger Crook, chief executive of Capital Springboard – which runs a crowdfunding platform for invoice financing – said more than 100 SMEs have used the service.

The platform has funded over $85 million worth of invoices over the past year, with over 50 accredited and institutional investors taking part.

Australia

Online home loan marketplace exceeds billion in loans, (Broker News), Rated: AAA

HashChing, an online home loan marketplace, has surpassed $1 billion of home loans as momentum builds for the Sydney fintech company. The platform officially launched in August 2015 with just a few brokers on board across Australia. Now, more than a billion dollars’ worth of loans have been received and more than 1,200 mortgage brokers across the country have signed up. The platform works as an online marketplace connecting consumers to mortgage brokers.

“Customers aren’t just looking to save time. The key to our success is that our offer extends far beyond convenience. We’re able to offer pre-negotiated home loan deals from different lenders with equal features, the same products, but with an even better rate,” Sodhi, co-founder and CEO said.

Narang, co-founder and CIO added: “Our broker registration process has been automated to make it really easy and quick by allowing them to digitally sign the contract which instantly activates their account and saves the paper clutter at both ends.”

As the platform continues to build momentum, Sodhi and Narang have welcomed Claire Wivell Plater of The Fold Legal to their advisory board. Wivell Plater is a long standing member of the Business Advisory Committee to ASIC’s Licensing Division and was recently appointed to the Treasurer’s Fintech Advisory Group.

Narang explains HashChing 2.0 will involve more intelligent use of analytics for a better consumer experience.

China

How Chinese Search Giant Baidu Is Getting Deeper Into Banking, (Fortune), Rated: AAA

Chinese search giant Baidu is investing more deeply in financial technology startups as it seeks to expand its own lending efforts.

On Monday, Baidu announced an investment in ZestFinance, a startup taking on the credit scoring industry by using machine learning and a wide variety of data about borrowers to rate their ability to repay loans.

While the amount of the backing was not disclosed, Baidu also invested Bitcoin payments startup Circle Internet Financial last month, the Nikkei Asian Review reported on Wednesday.

Both investments followed Baidu’s decision last year to form an online bank in partnership with Citic Group’s banking unit. The new bank would be the first in China that “truly understands both the Internet and financial services,” Baidu CEO Robin Li said at the time.

Baidu had also made several notable hires from the finance sector, the Nikkei paper reported, including executives with experience from American Express , online financial marketplace Lufax, and Everbright Bank in China.

While online lending sites like Lending Club LC -0.22% have faltered in the United States, the market is strong in China. The peer-to-peer lending market reached almost $67 billion last year, the largest in the world, Nikkei reported citing data from Citigroup.

Baidu will use ZestFinance’s credit rating technology to assess the creditworthiness of its own users. Unlike the U.S., China lacks centralized credit bureaus, and only a small portion of the population has a credit card.

Author:

George Popescu
George Popescu