August 24th 2016, Daily News Digest

August 24th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s interesting articles are the thought provoking piece in American Banker; the fact that German fintech raised 80% more money than British ones in Q2; and a great article on banks key numbers, a must read. Also OnDeck’s marketing is on fire : new site, new smart marketing campaign and , less for […]

August 24th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

 

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

China

Australia

News Summary

United States

It Should Be Obvious Now that Marketplace Lending Is Unsustainable, (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Comment: We would like to remind out readers that plenty of companies in marketplace lending have been profitable or are profitable.

The title is of course attention grabbing through its provocative message. Beyond the title, I think we need to really to company marketplace lending to the average startup which doesn’t make money.

Facebook was not profitable for a very long time. Tesla is not. ZipCars was never profitable. Uber still isn’t profitable. Not being profitable is not the only indicator of a company’s success for a given period of time.

Of course, never being able to be profitable is a reasonable indicator that a company is nonsustainable. But as I mentioned at first: Zopa, Lending Club, Lend Invest and other companies have been profitable at times and they made the conscient choice to trade profitability for growth. 

The company I’m pitching to you has revenues that rise and fall as much as 50% or more on a quarter-to-quarter basis. Its quarterly earnings and losses are equally volatile. Almost all its revenue comes from new product sales — it has very little continuing revenue. Operating expenses generally increase a little more slowly than revenue when sales are rising, but when sales fall, expenses keep increasing anyway because of accounting charges for layoffs and office closures when management downsizes.

Management can’t plan ahead because the company sells most of its products to a few large customers. Those customers dictate sales volume and product pricing and their purchases determine whether the company makes or loses money in any given period.

Management’s only lever for controlling the company’s earnings volatility is to try to guess how much and at what price those customers may buy in the future. The company increases or decreases personnel and marketing expenses based on that guess.

The company also has a large ongoing technology investment program that it can’t afford to cut much if it wants to compete. Oh, and the company isn’t growing — sales in the most recent quarter were flat compared to the same quarter two years earlier — and it is only marginally profitable even when things are going well. [Comment: The author is stating, to my knowledge true facts. However, the author is citing a single company out of 507 companies Lending Times keeps track of in this market. 

The company I just described is Prosper Marketplace, a fintech “unicorn” with a billion-plus private market valuation and the granddaddy of the marketplace lenders. [Comment: As an industry insider I believe that what we need to read here is “this is a lesson we all need to learn from”. I am not convinced that once can’t do P2P lending without avoiding these problems. All the problems described here are not must haves in order to enable P2P lending. ]  

Companies like Prosper and Lending Club have done a fantastic job revolutionizing the front end of the consumer lending experience — and in doing so have created real value for some borrowers — but their vision of a “disintermediated” loan marketplace is proving itself unable to handle even minor financial market bumps without running off the road.

There is another view on the viability of MPLs. Lending Club’s $2 billion-plus market capitalization shows that many people still believe that the sector’s recent problems are temporary and that the MPL model can work to create shareholder value.

Lending Club has lost a cumulative $115 million over the last four and a half years [Comment: Of which it lost $81m due to corporate procedures and not due to their business model. Losing $34m while growing at the pace they did over the last 4.5 years is in-fact outstanding results.]. (Prosper has lost a cumulative $125 million over the same period) and nothing suggests that will change anytime soon.

The path ahead is clear if boards, venture investors and management want to salvage something before the string runs out. Stable funding is everything for a lender,[Comment: entirely agreed]. and the best place to find that is to fund lending directly with bank deposits. [Comment: there are other sources of capital that behave like a depositor capital, like 401k, self-directed IRA, etc. ] .

While this won’t result in the type of equity valuation dreamed of by the MPLs’ tech boosters, it will provide something real for the venture and institutional investors who put up the equity to fund companies like Prosper. [Comment: the valuations indeed may have been a little unrealistic. But valuations are made by offer and demand. It takes 2 to make a valuation, the buyer and the seller. ]

[Final Comment: I find this article extremely helpful in sorting out what are real problems for the space and what is not. I also find the last 6 months are the best possible lesson on what works and what doesn’t work. That is an amazing amount of useful information. We now know what in which direction to build. And the fact that despite all its problems Lending Club still originated $2bil in volume approximatively means there is a real business, there is real demand. ]

Fintech’s License to Fail, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Comment: one of the most interesting articles I’ve read this month.

Who would want to be a bank these days? Quite a few technology startups, it seems.

Mondo received a commercial banking license in the U.K. this month and plans to offer checking accounts next year. Atom Bank, backed by Spain’s BBVA, and Starling now have U.K. licenses. Germany’s Number26, received its own permit last month.

The apparent rush to enter a business that has destroyed shareholder capital and jobs over the past decade reflects a certain confidence that incumbent lenders are stuck in a rut.

It also reflects a desire to fully control the back-end plumbing of their offerings rather than just the funky user interface.

But that comes at a price: Mondo will need to raise as much as 20 million pounds ($26 million) of additional funding to make the transition to a full-fledged bank. That may sound like small beer for a startup that once crowd-funded 1 million pounds in 96 seconds. But the long-term picture is more troubling: with a license, these firms will have a larger cost base and a higher barrier to profit.

Lending is an expensive trade with high capital costs. For every 100 pounds of mortgage lending in the U.K., a new bank would have to have about 2.80 pounds of capital, according to regulators.

Present an entrepreneur with these realities and you’ll likely be told that their new banking model will involve less balance sheet and more data.

E-invoicing specialist Tungsten failed to deliver on its banking bet and agreed to sell its license in 2015.Tungsten, a U.K. electronic-invoicing specialist, sold its banking arm last year, saying regulatory approval was “incompatible with profitable growth”. Japanese network operator NTTDoCoMo sold its stake in a German private bank back in May.

Doubtless, a startup somewhere will find a way to profit from its banking license — but in the absence of a proven business model this will look less like a one-way street and more like a revolving door.

Goldman Signs 0 Million Credit Facility For Online Lender Fundation, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: A

Fundation Group LLC, which makes online business loans, this week completed a $100 million credit facility with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., according to the lender’s chief executive.

The new credit line will help the firm expand its recent partnerships, including those with traditional banks, such as Regions Financial Corp. and a network of community banks, to extend loans to the banks’ business customers.

Through its partners, Fundation offers term loans of up to $500,000 with annual rates under 30%.

In addition to banks, and a small amount via its own website, Fundation partners with business-service providers such as Wolters Kluwer N.V. to make loans. It also recently began working with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency to facilitate lending.

Fundation is majority owned by Garrison Investment Group, a credit investment firm.

On Deck Capital’s unit, Ondeck Asset Funding I, establishes new asset-backed revolving debt facility, (Reuters / SEC 8-k filing), Rated: AAA

Comment: I am not certain if this is a new structure OnDeck is setting up or a routine structure they have been using all along. More research is necessary.
On August 19, 2016, OnDeck Asset Funding I, LLC (“ODAF I”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of On Deck Capital, Inc. (the “Company”), established a new asset-backed revolving debt facility (the “ODAF I Facility”). On that date, ODAF I entered into that certain Credit Agreement (the “ODAF I Credit Agreement”) by and among ODAF I, as Borrower, the Lenders party thereto from time to time, Ares Agent Services, L.P., as Administrative Agent for the Lenders and Collateral Agent for the Secured Parties, and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as Paying Agent.
The Company may now obtain funding (subject to customary borrowing conditions) through the ODAF I Facility, including to finance certain of the Company’s loans not currently financeable by the Company’s other funding sources due to concentration limitations and to finance the Company’s larger term loans with a maximum original principal amount of up to $400,000.
The following table summarizes certain aspects of the ODAF I Facility:
Facility Size
$100 million
Borrowing Base Advance Rate
Up to 80%
Interest Rate
LIBOR (minimum of 0.0%) + 7.25%
Commitment Termination Date
August 19, 2018
Under the ODAF I Facility, the Lenders party thereto commit to make loans to ODAF I, the proceeds of which are used to finance ODAF I’s purchase of small business loans from the Company.
The revolving pool of small business loans purchased by ODAF I serves as collateral for the loans made to ODAF I under the ODAF I Facility. ODAF I is required to repay the borrowings from collections received on the loans.

Why banks refuse to upgrade core banking systems, (Tradestreaming), Rated: A

At the center of the bank are the core banking systems. This is the big book in which the bank writes who withdraws or deposits money. These systems, many of which were built when the 8-track tape was still around, is updated only once a day.

When you see a withdrawal instantly on your mobile phone, it’s done by a slew of mirror sites, or backend reconciliation to fake the system out. There is no such thing as real time banking. Sometimes, the system lags.

“Are you really going to build a Tesla from a Model T foundation?” asked Peter Olynick, senior practice lead for retail banking at NTT DATA, a business and IT services provider. Banks have done a good job in pimping out their Model T with ‘wrap around’ solutions, but this approach has limits.

Replacing the core system isn’t just costly, it’s also risky. A migration mistake might affect every service the bank provides.

  • Only 15 percent of bankers expect to build a new core deposit system in the next three years.

  • Banks find it increasingly difficult to launch advance products on top of aging core systems.

Yantra Financial Technologies Enable Disbursement of Loans in Real Time with BlastPay, (Business Wire), Rated: A

Yantra Financial Technologies, a financial technology firm specializing in designing, developing and managing electronic payment systems, has enabled lenders to deliver funds in real time with BlastPay, an FDIC insured business bank account that gives users complete control over disbursements.

Founded in 2012, Topeka, Kan.–based Yantra Financial Technologies is a financial technology firm specializing in designing, developing and managing electronic payment systems, and focuses on creating secure contextual and conditional ways of moving money.

OnDeck New Website and Brand Identity, (OnDeck), Rated: A

OnDeck’s brand new website which just launched.

The new site – www.ondeck.com –  marks an inflection point for the rapidly growing online lending industry as pioneers like OnDeck shift their brand voice to reflect the maturing industry and the fact that the company is no longer a start-up, but is now the largest online lender to small businesses, with almost a decade of experience and expertise in providing billions of dollars in capital that helps small businesses grow.

MoneyLion Offers Free Credit Monitoring Tools Through TransUnion, (Business Wire), Rated: AAA

MoneyLion, the mobile-first personal finance platform, is helping consumers gain a clearer picture of their credit health with free credit monitoring tools provided by credit bureau, TransUnion®. Data collected by MoneyLion since Q1 2016 has shown that loan takers that use their credit monitoring tools are 28 percent less likely to default.

MoneyLion’s credit monitoring tools allow users to:

  • View their individual credit report
  • Use a credit simulator to forecast the impact of financial decisions on their credit score
  • Set up real-time alerts informing users of critical changes to their credit report

Founded in 2013 by a team of leading technologists and financiers, MoneyLion uses superior analytics and machine learning-based risk technology to gain a 360-degree view of its users’ personal finances, enabling better underwriting and the development of tailored financial product offers.

LendIt Announces Partnership with Capital One to Co-Host their Annual Fintech Start-up Competition, (Press Release), Rated: A

LendIt, the largest conference series dedicated to connecting the global online lending community, today announced a partnership with information based lending company Capital One to co-host PitchIt @ LendIt, a competition to find a future star of the fintech world.

he competition is aimed at firms innovating within the online lending and fintech space. It provides a showcase for eight high growth fintech firms to pitch their business case to a panel of expert judges as well as some of the technology industry’s leading figures attending the forthcoming LendIt Europe 2016 conference in London. (

OnDeck Launches Initiative to Help Small Business Owners with Time Management, (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Half of the survey respondents agreed that: “As a business owner, work/life balance is an illusion,” with even more – 61 percent – saying that “they constantly feel like they are racing against the clock.”  When asked, “How many hours per week would you need to successfully run your business?” those surveyed felt they would need 69 hours on average.

“Our research shows that small business owners are pressed for time and need to find ways to free up more time in their day,”

According to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, small business owners spend an average of 33 hours searching and applying for a traditional bank loan.

OnDeck will provide time management tips to streamline common time-intensive areas of running a business, including marketing, customer service and people operations. The advice, which also includes work/life balance best practices, comes from OnDeck executives, SCORE President David Bobbitt, small business owners and other small business experts. SCORE is a non-profit organization comprised of 11,000+ volunteer mentors who provide free and confidential small business mentoring and advice :

Facebook Live Chat: 7 Ways Small Business Owners Can Be More Efficient Marketers

Quickbooks Online Essentials Contest: Streamline Your Accounting

Q&A: Kabbage CEO & Co-Founder Rob Frohwein, Originating B Loans & Growing, ( Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Before founding Kabbage,Rob Frohweinestablished, led and advised a number of successful businesses, including LAVA Group, U.S. Micro Corporation and Surgical Biologics. Additionally, he served in business development and legal capacities for ZapMedia and Security First Network Bank. The Villanova law and undergrad alum practiced law with Troutman Sanders LLP, co-authoredthree books on intellectual property including and co-hosted a career-centered radio program sponsored byUSA TODAY.

Kabbage is funded and backed by leading investors including Reverence Capital Partners, SoftBank Capital, Thomvest Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, BlueRun Ventures, the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, ING, Santander InnoVentures, Scotiabank, and TCW/Craton. All Kabbage U.S.-based loans are issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC. When did Kabbage gain traction and make good on its name?

The idea for Kabbage first came about when we recognized that many companies were offering automated access to data via APIs like eBay’s. There was a lot of rich transaction-level data that could be extremely useful for decision-making on underwriting.

In fact, we now work with some of the world’s largest banking institutions. ING in Spain, Santander in the U.K., Scotiabank in Canada and Mexico now leverage the Kabbage Platform to better serve their SMB customer base.

Kabbage is to FinTech what Amazon is to e-commerce. Just as Amazon powers e-commerce for thousands of merchants, Kabbage is the first fully-automated, data-driven platform that is scalable and easily adopted.

There are several difference between Kabbage and Marketplace Lenders. Kabbage partners with a federally insured, industrial bank to provide a line of credit to businesses. Unlike a marketplace platform, Kabbage and this bank retain all of the credit risk.

I would say that banks simply haven’t been equipped to serve businesses seeking smaller loan sizes under $250,000, even though they likely want to.

United Kingdom

UK peer-to-peer platforms are benefitting from government policies, (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

So far, only a handful of platforms have received authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to offer the Innovative Finance Savings Account (IFISA), due to regulatory holdups. But for those that have a live product, it has resulted in a significant uptick in business. We spoke to two P2P lenders that offer IFISAs about the impact it’s had on their businesses:  Crowd2Fund and Crowdstacker.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

Property lending will make up the largest share of P2P activity in the UK in 2020, followed by business lending and consumer loans.
Traditional lenders will reclaim some P2P lending volume by building or acquiring the technologies that are proving successful.
While the general concept of P2P lending is the same, there are major differences between the UK and US P2P lending markets.

VPC Specialty Lending Investments PLC Appointment of Principal at Victory Park Capital Advisors, LLC, (MoneyAM), Rated: AAA

Victory Park Capital Advisors, LLC, (“VPC”), the investment manager to the Company, has appointed Cormac Leech as Principal to the firm. Cormac will be based in London and act as the European representative for VPC and will be working across all aspects of its business including the London listed VPC Specialty Lending Investments PLC. He will start his role in September.

Cormac was previously a Director and Co-Founder of Alternative Finance at Liberum, the London based investment bank.

New head of HR for LendInvest, (Mortgage Introducer), Rated: B

LendInvest has appointed Erin Stewart to lead the company’s growing HR department. Stewart was most recently head of HR for EMEA and APAC at Essence, the global digital agency and the world’s largest independent buyer of digital media. During four years at Essence, Erin oversaw the launch of several of the agency’s Asian offices in cities including Singapore, Tokyo. In each location she established the HR functions to support the business’ fast expansion.

ErinStewart joins a growing team at LendInvest in the company’s central London headquarters. Since spring 2015, the LendInvest team has increased threefold from 30 employees to 105 full time members of staff. Other senior hires made in the past year have included specialists from OneSavings Bank, RBS, IG Group and CBRE. Today, 40% of the team works on technology and product development, with 30% committed to originating, underwriting and servicing property finance loans.

Financial Technology in the UK Gets a Boost From Octopus Investments, (Payment Week), Rated: A

A common model when it comes to technology investment is the “accelerator investment” model, which works with other strategies to help bring startup investment in technology to the mainstream. Organizations like Barclays have been said to use similar methods for some time now.

Octopus’ methods, meanwhile, are a little different, launching what’s known as Octopus Labs to help drive development, and not just investment.

One big example of this is the Octopus Choice system, a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending system that fills in the gap in P2P lending.

Jane Dumeresque: The adviser’s guide to P2P due diligence, (Professional Adviser), Rated: A

The peer-to-peer (P2P) market offers some excellent investment opportunities but before diving in, says Jane Dumeresque, advisers need to do thorough research and ensure they and their clients pick a quality provider.

Once the decision to invest in P2P has been taken, there are a whole host of criteria lenders and advisers should look for to evaluate which P2P provider to use. For starters, it is important to know who owns the business and whether they are looking to build a sustainable business or to quickly build market share and then exit before the loan book has gone through an economic cycle.

Does the business have the financial expertise to assess the loan risk and is this done by people or using algorithms?

These are the types of questions that should be answered before your client makes the decision to invest in a platform and some companies will be better equipped to answer them than others.

For years now we have all known there is no such thing as a free lunch and, not surprisingly, there is a correlation between risk and reward – invariably, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

It is important for an investor to understand how long their money will be tied up, what return they are getting, when they are getting it and what security they have in the event the borrower is unable to pay? What processes are in place?

For those prepared to invest the time, there are some excellent investment opportunities in the peer-to-peer market, where investors can not only earn an attractive return with good security but can also help businesses gain access to capital they would otherwise not have.

European Union

German fintech startups raised 80% more than British ones in the second quarter, (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Germany overtook Britain as the fintech funding capital of Europe in the second quarter of the year, with German startups pulling in $186 million (£142 million) compared to $103 million for British businesses.

The three largest fintech funding deals in Europe in the second quarter were all in Germany: marketplace lender Finanzcheck raised $46 million; digital-only bank N26 raised $40 million; and payment provider AEVI raised $34 million.

But the report adds: “Regardless of Brexit, the UK will not give up its role as Europe’s fintech leader easily, demonstrated by the country’s regulatory sandbox and its recent announcement of a fintech bridge with Singapore aimed at making it easier for UK-based fintech companies to operate in that country and vice versa.

Globally, KPMG and CB Insight’s “Pulse of Fintech, Q2 2016” report found fintech funding hit $9.4 billion, boosted by Ant Financial’s bumper $4.5 billion injection in China. Funding to VC-backed fintech firms fell by 49%.

Funding for fintech companies in North America saw the biggest drop off globally, declining 28% on the first quarter of the year.

The report also found a big increase in the number of corporate venture capital funds — mainly off-shoots of banks — getting involved in funding, while the number of VCs putting money on the table is in decline. A third of fintech funding deals globally involved some sort of corporate investment.

China

Is P2P Lending Out Of Control In China?, (China Tech News), Rated: A

Chinese regulators are considering new rules to cap P2P (peer-to-peer) lending ito control risk and protect investors, eight months after it initiated a campaign to “clean up” faulty P2P lenders, according to Chinese media reports.

An individual lender can provide loans of no more than RMB200,000 (US$29,976) on one P2P platform, and can lend no more than RMB1 million (US$150,000) in aggregate across different P2P channels.

For other non-individual legal entities, the cap is RMB1 million on a single platform and RMB5 million across all P2P channels, according to Chinese media reports citing an insider.

A total of 515 P2P lenders in China have closed doors or exited the sector during the first half of the year. There are 2,349 P2P lenders currently in operation in China, compared to over 4,000 P2P lenders that have been in existence, cumulatively.

Australia

Former Aussie CEO steps down as chairman of online lender, (The Adviser), Rated: A

In a trading update this week DirectMoney announced that Mr Nantes, a current director, replaces Stephen Porges who has stepped down from the chairman role and will remain as a non-executive director of the company.

DirectMoney has recently completed a $5.7 million capital raising which will fund further development of the company’s technology platform, the marketing of the DirectMoney Personal Loan Fund and underpin new institutional funding initiatives, which are currently in due diligence.

Mr Nantes has over 20 years of experience in financial services. Prior to being the CEO of Adcock Private Equity, he was group head of financial Services at Crowe Horwath, which held over $10 billion in funds under management and was Australia’s largest SMSF provider with over 10,000 funds.

Author:

George Popescu

July 20st 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments United States A very interesting risk that has not been clearly described so far: the risk that small SMB loans end up being regulated like personal loans. A fascinating read on politics and regulators. Goldman announcing their p2p lender will be live in the fall with $16bil in lending capital from depositors. Goldman […]

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

India

Singapore

China

  • The take away from Lendit China per Orchard and Lendit Organizer Jason Jones :
    • There continues to be strong interest from Chinese Wealth Management firms to invest in US Online Lending loans
    • Investor interest is focused on making strategic equity investments in all types of global FinTech firms within Online Lending
    • Chinese Marketplace Lenders continue to increase their focus on offering more diversified products to clients including wealth management, insurance, and other financial services
    • Implementing a robust operational infrastructure is widely understood as a necessity required to successfully invest in the US Online Lending industry
United States

Small-Biz Online Lenders Aim to Dodge Consumer-Loan ‘Nightmare’, (Bloomberg DNA), Rated: AAA

Online marketplace lenders would face significantly higher regulatory hurdles if most of their loans to small businesses were reclassified as consumer loans, as the Treasury Department has recommended, an industry representative and a legal expert told Bloomberg BNA.

Officials discussed the need for greater transparency and noted that small-business loans under $100,000 “share common characteristics with consumer loans, yet do not enjoy the same consumer protections.”

The industry is pushing hard to head off the suggestion.

“They’re very smart in being concerned about that,” said Richard Eckman, a partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP in Wilmington, Del. “There are a whole host of consumer laws that apply to loans that are for personal, family and household purposes; that’s sort of the definition of a consumer loan.”

The federal consumer protection law that ranks as the biggest concern of marketplace lenders such as CAN Capital, which cater exclusively to small businesses, is the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).

“TILA, in particular, is onerous,” Eckman, a specialist in marketplace-lending law, said in an e-mail.

On May 3, 16 members of the committee’s Republican majority and three of its minority Democrats, along with House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sounding themes that foreshadowed Sanz’s testimony. The Treasury Department at that time was preparing its report on marketplace lending, and the House members wrote that they wished “to raise concerns with recent comments by public officials that seem to indicate a preference to regulate lending to small businesses and consumers similarly.”

“[W]e believe it is important for the Department to carefully study and understand key distinctions between commercial and consumer lending markets,” the letter said. “Mistaken efforts to conflate these categories would restrict the availability of capital to small business owners.”

“There’s no reason why small businesses shouldn’t have the same protection as consumers,” Lauren Saunders, associate director of the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center, in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA.

“The research has shown that these small-business owners who borrow smaller loans, under $100,000, are not that sophisticated and at times they really don’t understand the fine print, the hidden terms and conditions that we see in the typical fintech loans to small businesses,” she said. “These contracts are very opaque. The fees and terms are hidden in a way that really makes it impossible for the borrower to do any kind of comparison shopping.”

Goldman’s Shot Across LendingClub’s Bow, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

There wasn’t a ton to get excited about in Goldman Sachs’searnings report on Tuesday.

Sure, per-share earnings beat analysts’ estimates, but how excited can you get over beating an estimate that dropped like this?

However, there was a tantalizing detail or two offered on the conference call by Chief Financial Officer Harvey Schwartz about the firm’s intriguing efforts to tap into the Main Street customer base. Schwartz said that the bank would roll out its consumer lending platform this fall after surveying thousands of consumers on what they would look for in such a thing. The bank developed one product involving unsecured loans, Schwartz said as way of teaser, telling analysts to standby for more information in the fall.

This may not end up being a big enough business alone to return Goldman’s revenue to record highs, at least not in the short term. Rather, the intrigue lies in its potential to disrupt the disruptors — the online startups that have pioneered the brave new world of peer-to-peer or marketplace lending.

With 20,000 customers opening up new savings accounts on top of the $16 billion in deposits it acquired from General Electric’s online bank in the second quarter, Goldman theoretically should be able to fill in the gaps easily at times when investor demand gets skittish.

Will deposit accounts be the next wave of fintech innovation?, (DailyFintech), Rated: AAA

There’s one sector of finance that really doesn’t get a lot of airtime when it comes to fintech – deposits. Checking accounts, savings accounts, transaction accounts – while they’re the bread and butter of banking, they’ve been relatively untouched since they were first invented. You put money in, and, if you’re lucky, earn a little interest before you take the money out.

Is there an opportunity here for a fintech startup to slice away this part of a bank’s core business, by adding a little flavour to the whole deposit experience?

Serial fintech investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel certainly thinks there are opportunity in deposits. In January of this year he invested €1M into a German fintech startup Deposit Solutions.

Deposit Solutions is the first open architecture platform for retail deposits in Europe. Among many things, it solves one of the central problems for account holders related to accessing great deposit products – it eliminates the need to switch banks. Instead, a saver requires just one master account with Deposit Solutions and can then pick and choose their deposit product of choice from the Deposit Solutions marketplace.

There are a number of other fintech startups playing in this space, either building the deposits piece from scratch or interfacing into an existing authorized deposit-taking institution. Digit,SmartyPig and Qapital are a notable few. With lending having taken most of the glory to date, opportunities here are getting thin on the ground. Maybe the humble bank account is the next big fintech play.

Bridging the Great Divide: Collaboration Considerations for Banks and Marketplace Lenders, (Lexology), Rated: A

Online Platforms as Chartered Banks

The increasingly close relationship between banks and marketplace-lending platforms, as well as the uncertainty surrounding the “rent-a-charter” model to avoid state usury limits described above, have led to speculation that marketplace lenders may ultimately obtain bank charters. A fundamental issue is whether the equity and institutional investment markets will provide a stable long-term source of funding for the industry. This issue has garnered attention in recent months as leading marketplace-lending platforms have experienced steep declines in their stock prices and as questions have been raised about how lending platforms interact with fund investors and about weak secondary-market trading of asset-backed securities. The question may acquire renewed urgency in light of the governance issues at a leading marketplace lender that recently made headlines, along with its disclosure that the DOJ is now investigating. [5]

An important prudential regulatory concern with acquisitions of bank charters by marketplace lenders is a desire to avoid making the marketplace-lending industry an attractive supplier of brokered deposits, which are an unstable source of capital and may be particularly risky where a bank has inadequate anti-money-laundering controls or is undercapitalized. Regulators also anticipate grappling with the activities of many lending platforms that may be incompatible with partner banks that have charters limiting their activities to those activities that are considered “incidental to the business of banking”—typically insurance and securities work. The edgy innovations of marketplace-lending platforms that use technology in creative ways to marry finance with social media offerings are a particular challenge in this regard.

Will Madden v Midland Disrupt Loan Sales and Platform Lending?, ( National Law Review), Rated: AAA

Although Madden v. Midland applies directly only to cases where a national bank is selling or assigning a loan, the policy underlying the decision to limit the exporting authority under the NBA might also be applied to a state bank’s rate exportation powers under Section 27 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (the state bank equivalent to section 85 of the National Bank Act). Secondary market participants and marketplace lenders now wait for the decision from the District Court on remand.  If the court upholds the Delaware choice of law provision, market participants may manage the impact of the Madden v. Midlanddecision by electing a favorable choice of law provision in the underlying debt contract.  That at least will provide an option for continuing to work with national banks despite the Madden case.

Unfortunately, that solution will not work for buyers and sellers of existing loans, although presumably such parties are not too inconvenienced by a limit on the post-assignment interest that can be charged on a loan after substantial interest has already accrued, particularly if they have purchased the debt at a substantial discount.   Other lenders may continue to rely on the state banks’ ability to export interest rates.  In that situation, lenders should choose state banks whose state has a generous interest rate cap and is outside the Second Circuit.

The group impacted most by the Madden v. Midland decision appear to be marketplace lenders who acquire a loan shortly after origination and therefore have essentially all accruing interest at risk of challenge.  One alternative option  adopted by one on-line marketplace lender picking up on the “substantial interest” distinction in the Madden decision, is to require the bank loan originator to maintain an on-going economic interest in all loans after sale and receive certain payments on the loans only when borrowers made payments.

What remains following the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Madden v. Midland is an outlier Second Circuit on the issue of the “valid-when-made” rule, and the blueprint for how to apply preemption under the National Bank Act as provided by the Solicitor General in its brief, a brief that as noted above clearly considers theMadden v. Midland decision to be wrong.  Unfortunately, until such time as the right case comes along, market participants will have to make adjustments to accommodate the decision as necessary to address its impact on their particular situation.

The Outlook for Fixed Income: Stagnant Prices, Tighter Money, (Enterprising Investor), Rated: AAA

The start of a new credit cycle means that income investors will have to adjust to stagnant bond prices, and new opportunities in credit markets from peer-to-peer lending will be tested by tighter monetary policy, according to David Schawel, CFA.

Returns for fixed-income investors consist of the coupon; the shortening of the bond, known as the roll; and price appreciation. Since the 1980s, falling interest rates have caused existing bonds to appreciate, as their prices increased to match the yields of bonds issued at lower interest rates. Schawel, a portfolio manager for New River Investments, thinks interest rates are nearing a lower bound.

“Most likely we’re not going to be in a 30-year bull market for interest rates falling again,” Schawel told Will Ortel during a recent Take 15 interview.

Schawel cautions fixed-income investors against assuming that bonds will continue to appreciate. Instead, the coupon and the roll will drive returns from bonds. With the roll becoming more important, investors need to pay close attention to the yield curve. Much of the return from bonds will come from the roll while the bond is on the steep part of the curve. Recently, the curve has flattened, reducing the yield premium, as the US Federal Reserve moved to tighten monetary policy.

Schawel sees the rise of marketplace or peer-to-peer lending as indicative of inefficiencies in yield.

30 Best Workplaces sin Finance and Insurance, (Fortune), Rated: B

#23: OnDeck Capital

# of work sites 3
U.S. employees 625
Global employees 638

United Kingdom

Fintech MarketInvoice Attracts m In First ‘P2P Lender’ Major Fundraise Post Brexit, (Forbes), Rated: AAA

MarketInvoice, a 100-strong firm based on the edge of The City in the confines of London’s Silicon Roundabout, has just announced a multi-million investment totalling £7.2 million (c.$9.5m) led by MCI.TechVentures Fund of MCI Capital, a listed Polish private equity group. Sylwester Janik, a senior partner of MCI Capital, a multi-stage private equity group based in Warsaw with nearly two decades of expertise of investing in digital economy companies, has at the same time joined MarketInvoice’s board.

To date the platform has provided £850m (c.$1.11bn at current exchange rate) worth of funding to UK businesses, and the firm is set on path to reach the £1bn mark before the end of 2016. At present the firm provides over £1.5m (c.$2m) per day in cash flow finance to UK businesses via its platform. At present MarketInvoice has a current market share of around 13% in its P2P alternative financing segment.

MarketInvoice, which has seem 100% year-on-year growth over the last three years, typically charges between 2%-3% on invoices handled for clients depending on the amount of the invoice. Businesses can select those invoices they want to finance, unlocking tied-up cash in 24 hours.

“In the wake of Brexit, we think the coming months present a big opportunity for MarketInvoice. Recent intervention by the Bank of England suggests that we might see significant reductions in bank lending.”

Funding Circle SME Income Fund Raises GBP14.5 Million In Placing, (London South East), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle SME Income Fund Ltd on Wednesday said it has raised GBP14.5 million via a share placing.

The London-listed closed-ended fund, set up to invest in loans originated through peer-to-peer lending marketplace Funding Circle, said it had issued 14.3 million shares at 101.53 pence per share.

Shares in Funding Circle SME were untraded on Wednesday, having last traded at 98.00p.

The new funds from the share placing will be used to back investment plans.

Can it really be “business as usual”, (Alt Fi), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle co-founder James Meekings said “the process of leaving the European Union will take two years and there will be no immediate change to Funding Circle’s day to day operations”.

A few weeks ago, AltFi Data cut its projection for 2016 UK origination by 14%, after the £840m originated in Q2 2016 became the first quarterly volume figure ever to fail to eclipse the sum originated in the preceding quarter.

Matthias Knecht quit Funding Circle Continental Europe at the end of June. Knecht was a member of Funding Circle’s global leadership team and a former co-founder of Zencap, a peer-to-peer lending outfit which Funding Circle acquired in October 2015. An article in Gründerszene suggested that a conflict had arisen between Knecht and Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai over the allocation of resources.

LendInvest, the UK’s largest marketplace for real estate loans, has also been making changes. In the immediate aftermath of the Leave vote, LendInvest tightened its lending criteria for loans worth more than £3m, adjusting the cap on LTVs for these loans to 65%. The company has also temporarily paused lending on new second charge applications.

Funding Circle CEO Samir Desai described 2015 as the year in which “it looked like we were turning water into wine”. He described 2016, by contrast, as a year for getting heads down, and for getting on with building business.

Lately the Wall Street Journal has been set to attack mode. Its coverage of the US marketplace lending sector has become almost exclusively cynical. The Times, The Telegraph and This is Money covered the recent insolvency and subsequent acquisition of the business lender FundingKnight. How many other news items in the history of the peer-to-peer lending industry have enjoyed that level of attention in the national press? Not many!

Ben McLannahan, US Banking Editor at the FT, aptly summed the whole thing up when he posted on Twitter saying “#LendingClub = have we hit the trough of disillusionment?” He was referring to something called the Gartner Hype Cycle, which is an attempt to chart the typical growth trajectory of disruptive technology companies.

UK firm claims largest ever P2P loan, (Finextra), Rated: A

UK-based Nucleus Commercial Finance claims it has made the largest ever P2P loan to date following a £14.5 million financing facility offered to UK steel stockholder Industrial Metal Services (IMS). The company has lent more than £400m to date and Shah claims that 90% of this has already been pad back with just £5,800 incurred in bad debts.

P2P lender launches new website, (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: A

The new BridgeCrowd website features a fully online view of the current live and historic loan book, a loan performance update system and an E-Wallet, where investors can place capital into loans and manage their account and interest.

The BridgeCrowd has launched a new website with added features following strong growth over the last 18 months.

Bridge Crowd offers 68% LTVs across residential owner occupied and buy-to-let properties.

Zopa names Ronen Benchetrit CTO, (Finextra), Rated: B

The UK’s oldest peer-to-peer lending service Zopa, has today announced that Ronen Benchetrit will become the company’s new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in a strategic hire for the fintech business.

Most recently, Ronen served as CTO for leading online gaming operator PokerStars. In this role, Ronen was responsible for the provision of the areas of technology and for management of the company’s product roadmap, ensuring the quality, reliability and security of external and internal systems, networks and platforms.

India

LenDenClub Launches Automated P2P Lending Platform Adhering to Proposed RBI Guidelines, (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LenDenClub has launched its new version of P2P lending platform with features such as end-to-end automation of lender-borrower transaction cycle right from registration, document verification, credit analysis, transaction matching to report generation. An algorithmic-based program, built based on artificial intelligence, will be used for reviewing borrower’s creditworthiness. For the company, the upgradation of P2P platform will accomplish a major milestone and prepare them for payment and digital signature automation to bring 100% automation in lending process through right technology for borrower identification, data collection, digital signature usage, payment automation, etc.
The company had successfully raised seed funding recently.

Singapore

Overview of the Regulatory Framework for P2P Lending and Equity-based Crowdfunding in Singapore, ( P2P Banking), Rated: AAA

From the document published by the MAS on Lending-based Crowdfunding – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)[11], generally, the operation of P2P lending is restricted by MAS under the Securities and Futures Act (Cap. 289) (SFA) and the Financial Advisers Act (Cap. 110) (FFA).

Specifically, the P2P lending business needs to prepare and register a prospectus with MAS in accordance with Section 239(3) of the SFA. In addition, not only the registration of the prospectus but also the P2P lending platform need to follow the licensing requirements, particularly, the P2P lending business which fall within the scope provided by MAS needs to hold a Capital Market Services (CMS) license.

From the document, MAS states in paragraph 10 that “ …Platform operators should now ensure that the participants on their platforms are aware that each lender has to lend at least $100,000 if the borrower is to fall within the Promissory Note Exclusion. Offers of consolidated promissory notes commenced after the date of these FAQs must comply with the Prospectus Requirements” This means, that the P2P lending platforms, which previously used a single promissory note issued by the borrowers, need to apply for a license, if they still want to proceed their lending business; however, as provided in the MAS document, the removal of the Promissory Note Exclusion will be effected after the amendment of SFA.

This will affect many of existing P2P lending platforms such as MoolahSense and Capital Match which have the main function to help businesses to find loan from investors because some of P2P lending platforms are using a promissory note exemption without a Capital Market Services (CMS) license; however, MAS will make it easier for licensed P2P platforms. Therefore, a small offer exemption in accordance with the aforementioned law might be used by many P2P lending platforms.

China

Orchard Platform’s Jeremy Todd Shares Lang Di Fintech Experience Highlights, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

  • There continues to be strong interest from Chinese Wealth Management firms to invest in US Online Lending loans
  • Investor interest is focused on making strategic equity investments in all types of global FinTech firms within Online Lending
  • Chinese Marketplace Lenders continue to increase their focus on offering more diversified products to clients including wealth management, insurance, and other financial services
  • Implementing a robust operational infrastructure is widely understood as a necessity required to successfully invest in the US Online Lending industry

Increased interest in US Online Lenders from Chinese investors and notable US-Chinese partnerships such as those between DriveWealth and CreditEase, Robinhood and Baidu, and Saxo Bank and Lufax — that further emphasize the importance of this series of events.

Author:

George Popescu
George Popescu

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments We believe that today we finally fixed the hyperlinks for the pictures in the analysis and events section of the daily newsletter. We apologize it took us so long to fix them. We also believe the hyperlinks to the articles in the “News Summar” section of the newsletter are also working. We have […]

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

  • We believe that today we finally fixed the hyperlinks for the pictures in the analysis and events section of the daily newsletter. We apologize it took us so long to fix them.
  • We also believe the hyperlinks to the articles in the “News Summar” section of the newsletter are also working. We have tested on all our devices, OSs and email clients we own but our tests are still limited. We would like to kindly ask our readers to report if you have any particular problems reading Lending Times in your favorite environment and we will continue improving in all ways possible. 

United States

  • Debt-to-EBITDA multiples for private equity deals with U.S. targets in 2016 has hit a whopping 6.8x. Are US companies over-leveraged ?
  • After testing the waters with Lendio,(as seen in our article here), AmEx is jumping both feet in with the poorly named “Working Capital Terms” venture. Why not name it AmEx Small Business Loans? In all cases, the SME lending space is heating up with a gorilla-size new entrant.
  • As our readers build origination platforms or lend on p2p platforms, perhaps a scenario they are not setup to handle yet is how to face low-probability-events. Such an example is “what happens in case of death of a lender”. An article surveying a few answers from different platforms.
  • Avant, while downsizing, does offer a buyout to all employees. Readers may want to understand this offer through the example of Zenefit’s down round at $2bil valuation and implications for Zenefits employees.
  • Blackmoon, helping balance sheet lenders to sell whole loans, is entering the US market with a New York office. Our previous article on the company can be found here.

United Kingdom

  • UK Banks expected to lend £150bn , freed by Bank of England’s capital buffer rules relaxation. Since 2008 we have seen that making cheap capital available to banks has not correlated with higher bank loan origination volumes. Is, this time, different ?
  • Interesting discussion of different choices fund managers can make in the search for yield and the advantages of p2p fund’s yields.

Hong Kong

  • LendIt rebrands  “largest conference series dedicated to connecting the global fintech community” from ” largest online lending conference”.

France

  • A great survey of the French p2p market with company names and differences (“prets participatifs” in French).

China

  • Cai Jincong, the founder of Zhejiang Yinfang Investment, was sentenced to life behind bars for running a fake peer-to-peer lending scheme that conned over 88 million yuan (about 13 million U.S. dollars) from 1,200 investors.

 

United States

Pitchbook reports that debt-to-EBITDA multiples for private equity deals with U.S. targets in 2016 has hit a whopping 6.8x, (Term Sheet), Rated: AAA

S&P LDC reports a global average of 5.36x for Q1 2016,  although the figure did top 6x in the third quarters of both 2015 and 2014. Moreover, S&P LDC data shows that large-market deals typically have higher leverage ratios than do mid-market deals, with the Q1 16 large-market figure hitting 5.6x (and, remember, that’s a mean, not a median).

It has been more than three years since the Federal Reserve and FDIC issued leveraged loan guidance to banks, suggesting that any debt-to-EBITDA ratios in excess of 6x (for most industries) is too high. Or, put another way, both lenders and private equity firms are regularly ignoring the Fed’s guidance — and appear to be easily getting away with it (likely because no individual deal is likely to present a systemic risk, and loan syndication makes the “baskets” more like a sieve).

AmEx Challenges Square, On Deck With Online Loan Marketplace, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

AmEx’s venture, Working Capital Terms, will approve loans in minutes for existing small-business cardholders, who can use the money to pay vendors. Debts may range from $1,000 to $750,000 with fees of 0.5 percent for a 30-day loan to 1.5 percent for a 90-day loan. AmEx will deposit funds directly into vendors’ accounts in as soon as two days.

AmEx has been looking for new streams of revenue to rejuvenate earnings after deciding last year to part ways with its biggest co-brand partner, Costco Wholesale Corp. In addition to its new in-house loan product, the card issuer offers longer-term small-business loans — ranging from $35,000 to $2 million — through its partnership with Lendio, another online marketplace.

“AmEx can do this because they have good credit knowledge,” said Karen Mills, former head of the Small Business Administration, who’s now a paid adviser for Working Capital Terms. “This will challenge the online competitors, whether or not they respond.” Amex declined to disclose their target for Working Capital Terms’ loan volume.

Working Capital Terms represents “a new type of product for American Express that could eliminate the need for the very expensive, unsustainable products from Square and other online lenders,” said Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc.

AmEx isn’t the only big lender pushing into the fray. Wells Fargo & Co., the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, said in May it was starting a program to offer small businesses online loans in as soon as one day. Larger rival JPMorgan Chase & Co. is collaboratingwith On Deck to speed up the process of providing loans to some of the bank’s 4 million small-business customers.

AmEx shares fell 2.7 percent to $59.08 at 2:46 p.m. in New York. On Deck tumbled 6.9 percent to $4.89, while Square declined 3.6 percent to $8.94. Representatives from On Deck and Square declined to comment.

In the Case of Death, (p2p-banking.com), Rated: AAA

‘What happens when I die’ is a concern occasionaly voiced by investors. Investments in p2p lending will be inherited like any other assets.

Luke O’Mahoney of Ratesetter explained: ‘If an investor dies, we work with the next of kin to establish how they would like the account to be dealt with. Generally they would either use our Sellout function (effectively liquidating their investment) or they would allow the account to run down over time – of course we assist the next of kin or executor with this process’.

Only Assetz Capital mentioned that they have a process to do regular checks on dormant accounts that are in funds to ensure that lenders are aware of those funds.

Personally I wonder, if it would be good practise for marketplaces to contact those investors that have not logged in for a very long period (2 years?) and ask them to update/verifying their data. Failure to do so could then trigger a letter with the same request via postal mail.

Sign of the Times: Avant Offers Buyouts to All Employees, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Avant, an online lender, has offered the option for buyouts to all 760 of the company’s employees. It was not clear how many Avant employees would accept the offer. The news is a painful reminder that online lending is still struggling to regain its footing following indications of a slowing economy and the unexpected departure of former Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche – a now tarnished industry icon.

Russian Lending Marketplace Expands to U.S. in Search of Growth, ( Bloomberg), Rated: A

Blackmoon, a Russian financial technology startup that screens and prices loans issued by others to sell on to investors in a marketplace, is opening a U.S. office to expand in the world’s biggest market for non-bank lending.

Blackmoon is partly counting on an expansion into the U.S. from its new New York base to reach a goal of $1 billion in cumulative loans by the end of next year.

To achieve that, the company will target all kinds of unsecured credit in the largest market for alternative lending: consumer, small-business, student and car loans. Blackmoon currently works with several dozen European online lenders, from Finland to the Czech Republic.

Blackmoon functions as an intermediary between institutional debt investors and lenders — both alternative providers and traditional banks — allowing them to scale their business without additional leverage, while mitigating the risks of default.

Moscow-based Target Asset Management agreed in February to form a $100 millionfund to invest in Blackmoon’s loans.

 

United Kingdom

Carney frees up £150bn in bank lending, (Alt Fi News), Rated: AAA

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, yesterday took steps to reduce capital buffers for UK banks. The Financial Policy Committee (FPC) has reduced the UK countercyclical buffer rate from 0.5% of the banks’ UK exposures to 0%, with immediate effect. The FPC began to supplement regulatory capital buffers with the UK countercyclical buffer in March of this year, and had intended to increase the buffer to 1% in due course. But now the countercyclical buffer is expected to remain at 0% until at least June 2017.

This reduction is expected to free up £5.7bn in bank lending. The banking sector, in aggregate, targets a leverage ratio of 4%. This means that the £5.7bn in spare capital will allow the banks up to an extra £150bn in lending to UK households and businesses.

While the FPC’s actions would appear to be good news for UK borrowers, they may well herald a more competitive stretch for alternative lending platforms.

Peer-to-peer investing website holding cash of 900 savers goes bust, (This is Money), Rated: A

Comment: this is old news, but a good reminder for people who did not read last week’s Lending Times.

Savers were lured into Funding Knight with promises of returns of up to 8 per cent for lending their cash to small businesses. Last week, the peer-to-peer firm was rescued by investment firm GLI Finance, whose bosses said customers’ money was safe and that they could withdraw it whenever they liked.

Will Neil Woodford’s new higher income fund hold P2P to boost its dividends?, (Alt Fi News), Rated: A

Star fund-manager Neil Woodford is mulling the launch of a new equity income fund that will aim to deliver a higher yield than is currently offered by his hugely popular £8.6bn CF Woodford Equity Income fund.  A 4.5 per cent target yield has been widely reported. Higher yielding equity income portfolios offering an ‘enhanced income’ mostly use call options alongside normal income stocks to boost income pay-outs.

Woodford is bullish on P2P/marketplace lending and has invested in the two specialist investment trusts P2P Global Investments and VPC Speciality Lending – which offer attractive yields of 6 per cent and over for his income fund. He also owns an unquoted positon in P2P platform RateSetter.

The manager currently has 0.96 per cent of his fund’s assets in the P2P Global Investments trust and 0.64 per cent in VPC Speciality Lending trust. These are, respectively, his 28th and 39th largest holdings.  In total he has 109 holdings.

His existing fund is currently hitting a yield of 3.7 per cent. P2P GI and VPC Speciality Lending’s yields are currently a whopping 7.4 per cent and 9.7 per cent, respectively. However, that is partly a function of thier near 20 per cent discounts at present.

LendInvest boosts tech offering with VP of Engineering, (Financial Reporter), Rated: A

Comment: I find surprising that a company of the size and volume of Lend Invest did not, apparently, have a person in charge of technology, until now.

LendInvest has recruited its first VP of Engineering as it continues to drive its technology strategy.

Mike Nuttall joins LendInvest with over 15 years’ senior management experience and has led technology development for companies in sectors such as e-commerce, payments and gaming.

At LendInvest, Mike will be responsible for managing the direction, goals and efficiency of the technology team which now represents over 40% of LendInvest’s workforce.

Free tool launched to help low-carbon businesses source funding, (Startups), Rated: B

Business in the low-carbon, clean technology (cleantech), and sustainability sectors looking for finance can take advantage of a new digital tool launched this week.

Created by Shell Springboard, the Access to Finance Navigator is an interactive database where eco-friendly entrepreneurs can search for funding opportunities and filter funding sources by their location, stage of development, financial requirements, and the user’s business sector.

So far, the database features 84 low-carbon funding sources – said to represent a total value of £157m – from government organisations, angel investors and syndicates, crowdfunding platforms and venture capital (VC) funds.

Sources listed include Funding Circle (crowdfunding), Advantage Business Circle (angel), EcoMachines Ventures (VC), Horizon 2020 (government grants), and funding competitions ran by Innovate UK.

 

Hong Kong

LendIt and AMTD Group Co-Host the First Global Fintech Investment Summit in Hong Kong, (Press Release), Rated: B

AMTD Group Company Limited (“AMTD Group”, “the Group”) is a non-bank financial services group based in Hong Kong offering a wide spectrum of capital markets, asset management, insurance brokerage and risk management solutions to clients across Asia.

LendIt is the largest conference series dedicated to connecting the global fintech community.

LendIt China and AMTD Group will co-host the first Global Fintech Investment Summit in Hong Kong (“Global Fintech HK Summit” or the “summit”) on July 13.

More than 80 leading Asian investors and over 35 international fintech companies are expected to attend the ground-breaking summit.

 

France

The Vibrant Marketplace Lending Industry in France, (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

The French marketplace lending industry is still in its infancy. Due to a very strict regulatory structure there is only one online consumer lender operating in France, Younited Credit (formerly Pret d’Union) and small business lending platforms have only begun operating in the last 18 months. In late 2014 the French government made it legal to make loans to small businesses without a banking license. This has led to a large number of new platforms, they say the count is around 50, to launch since then.

The French government is also actively involved in the industry through an entity called BPI – setup with similar goals to the British Business Bank. It wants to stimulate lending to small businesses. BPI will take small equity positions in fintech companies, it will invest on platforms and it will make interest free loans to qualifying companies.

Younited is still relatively small compared to the US or UK platforms – they are currently issuing around €17 million in new loans every month in France. With 130 employees they are easily the largest platform in France and one of the largest in Continental Europe.

Earlier this year Younited opened an office in Rome in their first international expansion. One of the great benefits of being part of the European Union is that they can “passport” their banking license to other countries which is what they have done in Italy.

Younited is focused on prime borrowers in both France and Italy offering competitive interest rates to banks. They offer four funds for investors with historical returns ranging from 2.2% for their lowest risk borrowers up to 5.1% for the highest risk fund.

The first online small business lender to launch in France was Unilend – they issued their first loan in November of 2013 a full year before the regulation changed to allow small business lending. The reason is that their loans are setup differently – as a direct contract between the borrower and the investors. They are actually an IOU instead of an actual loan.

Unilend has issued €20 million in loans to date and are currently issuing around €1 million a month. Loan terms range from 3 months to 60 months with interest rates of 4% to 10%. They run a Dutch auction, which allows investors to bid down the rates to a minimum set by Unilend. They have a large investor base of over 10,000 active investors with an average return of 5.25%. They average 700 investors per loan.

BPI has invested in Unilend as an equity holder – they do not own loans. Like every small business platform we met with the loans issued by Unilend are unsecured with no personal guarantees in place. The average loan size is €75,000 with the typical small business doing revenue below €2 million.

One of the curious things about France is that many of these loans are done in partnerships with banks. The small business might be seeking €500,000 in funding but the bank will only issue €400,000. So, they will seek the other €100,000 from a platform like Unilend.

Lendix is a relatively new small business platform, having issued their first loan in April 2015 but they are already one of the leading platforms in France. They currently originate €4 million a month, making them the largest small business lender.

The co-founders of Lendix have all invested their own personal money in the fund which has grown to €29 million in size and is currently yielding 6.5%. They are about to launch a second fund which will be in the €50-70 million range.

As for the loans the average size is €200,000 with a maximum amount of €2 million. The loan terms range from 18 months to 5 years although they have just added short term loan options down to 3 months. They currently have zero defaults although there was one case of fraud where they were able to get the money back.

Finexkap has taken a completely different approach to financing French small businesses. They are providing working capital via receivables financing. But the regulators do not allow invoice financing outside of banks unless it is done in a securitization.

They did €15 million in originations in 2015 and are on track to do €100 million in 2016. Because this is invoice finance the loans are very short in duration. So, even though they have only been issuing loans for a couple of years they have already had 9 turns of their loan book. Of the more than 5,000 transactions they have done they have only had losses on one transaction. So they are developing a solid track record.

The company with the most memorable domain name is Credit.fr. They are part of the new breed of platforms focused on small business loans. They are growing fast and have just crossed €1 million in loans per month issued.

They are open to individual and institutional investors and they have 5,000 registered investors on their platform today. Like Lendix they are also creating a debt fund that they expect to launch in September and that should help them reach scale much faster. The target return for this fund will be around 5% after fees.

Credit.fr has a solid borrower funnel with leads coming from digital, partnerships with companies like Younited and others and also business brokers. The average loan size is €60,000. They feel that their competitive advantage is their risk management where they have an experienced team in place.

Lendopolis is one of the more unique platforms in France. It is actually part of theKissKissBankBank (yes, that is the official name) group of companies that consists of three divisions:

  1. KissKissBankBank – a donation-based crowdfunding site created in a similar vein to Kickstarter focused on primarily cultural and artistic projects. They have financed 15,000 projects since being founded in 2009.
  2. Hellomerci.com – based on the Kiva model of microfinance. These are small loans (less than €10,000) at 0% interest rates loaned out to very small companies.
  3. Lendopolis – launched in 2014 as a more typical p2p small business lender. They have loaned €7 million over 100 loans in their first 18 months.

Like many platforms here Lendosphere also launched soon after the regulations came into effect in late 2014. They are the first platform to be 100% focused on sustainable development projects.

To date they have loaned €6.7 million across 33 projects – either wind turbines or solar panels. The loans are typically 2-5 years at interest rates of 4-8%. They have 3,500 registered investors funding these projects. While it is still a young loan book Lendosphere has had zero defaults and delinquencies.

Most platforms are focused on small business where there has been a lot of entrepreneurial activity in the last 18 months. The French government recognizes that small businesses need more choices when it comes to access to capital so they have helped to create a regulatory environment that enables new approaches to this challenge.

 

China

Lending scheme fraudster jailed for life, (CRI English), Rated: A

A court in east China’s Zhejiang Province has sentenced a man to life behind bars for running a fake peer-to-peer lending scheme that conned over 88 million yuan (about 13 million U.S. dollars) from 1,200 investors.

Cai Jincong illegally raised more than 200 million yuan through Zhejiang Yinfang Investment and Management Co., where Cai fabricated investment products promising over 20 percent in annualized returns, the court said on Tuesday.

Cai, who was under a lot of debt, founded the P2P lending platform in October 2013. It offered returns on investment of up to 50 percent.

The funds were used to service Cai’s own debt and fund the operation of the P2P platform. Cai turned himself to police on January 20, 2015.

Author:

George Popescu