Tuesday November 14 2017, Daily News Digest

Fed rates

News Comments Today’s main news: Prosper loses $26M with spike in lending. Prosper’s Q3 growth with $1.5B in securitizations for 2017. LexinFintech files for $500M U.S. IPO. Finastra named best in class. The first securities lending platform launched. Compass raises $100M for expansion. Today’s main analysis: The U.S. yield curve flattening. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Have we reached the end of […]

Fed rates

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

India

Asia

News Summary

United States

Prosper reports $ 26M loss despite spike in lending (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Prosper Marketplace recorded a big jump in loan originations during the third quarter, but the San Francisco-based online lender still racked up $26.9 million in losses.

The privately held firm has lost $210 million since the start of 2016, in spite of various cost-cutting measures. In July, Prosper announced plans to discontinue a personal finance app that it acquired in 2015.

Prosper Reports Third Quarter Growth; Closes $ 1.5 Billion of Securitizations in 2017 (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

Prosper, a peer-to-peer lending platform for consumer loans, today reported growth in both transaction revenue and loan originations for the third quarter of 2017. Continued demand for Prosper’s personal loan product resulted in $822 million in loan originations through its platform, up 6% quarter-over-quarter and 164% year-over-year. The company also grew transaction fee revenue 5% quarter-over-quarter and 164% year-over-year.

The following table summarizes the financial highlights from the quarter:

Key Operating and Financial Metrics (Unaudited)
(in thousands)
Three Months Ended September 30,
2017 2016
Loan Originations $ 821,841 $ 311,776
Transaction Fees, Net 37,250 14,086
Servicing Fees, Net 6,976 7,079
Net Loss (26,940) (17,417)
Adjusted EBITDA(1) 7,271 (8,804)
Net Cash Provided by (Used in) Operating Activities 9,881 (4,237)

Summary of Key Financial Highlights:

  • Prosper facilitated $822 million in loan originations through its platform, up 6% quarter-over-quarter and 164% year-over-year, driven by strong demand for its personal loan product.
  • Transaction fee revenue rose to $37.2 million, up 5% quarter-over-quarter and 164% year-over-year.
  • The company reported a Net Loss of $26.9 million in the third quarter of 2017, which included $28.1 million in non-cash charges related to warrants to purchase preferred stock that were issued to a consortium of investors and a third party in connection with a settlement agreement.
  • Prosper generated $9.9 million of Net Cash from Operating Activities and Adjusted EBITDA(1) of $7.3 million in the third quarter of 2017.

The U.S. Yield Curve Is Flattening and Here’s Why It Matters (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

To put it simply, the Treasury yield curve measures the spread between short- and long-term debt issued by the U.S. government. It’s the extra compensation that investors demand to lock away their money for an extended period.

To get a sense of just how dramatic this trend has been, here’s a look at a handful of curve measures now versus the start of 2017. In trading Monday, they were all close to the flattest levels in a decade.

  • From two years to 10 years: 72 basis points, down from 125
  • From two years to 30 years: 119 basis points, down from 187
  • From five years to 10 years: 33 basis points, down from 52
  • From five years to 30 years: 80 basis points, down from 114

The two-year Treasury yield is at the highest level since 2008 as investors prepare for a rate hike in December, and begin to build up expectations for further increases next year.

Source: Bloomberg

Asset-liability managers like insurance companies and pension funds are always seeking duration, and 30-year Treasuries are among the best ways to get it. Combine that appetite with increased demand from passive mutual fund giantslike Vanguard and BlackRock, and you’ve got a recipe for a sustained bid on the long end of the Treasury curve.

Source: Bloomberg

If one does take history at face value though, the $14.3 trillion Treasuries market is sending a warning about the economic outlook. Yield curves are the flattest in a decade, and it’s no coincidence that about 10 years ago marked the start of an 18-month recession.

Source: Bloomberg

While banks’ lending margins have increased slightly from their 2015 lows, they remain below the average of the past 30 years, according to the Fed.

Real estate tech company Compass raises $ 100 million, plans massive expansion (Housingwire), Rated: AAA

That capital raise placed the company’s valuation at more than $1 billion.

Now, one year later, the company’s valuation is nearly double that, thanks to another significant capital raise.

Compass announced this week that it raised $100 million in its Series E investment round, which placed the company’s valuation at $1.8 billion.

All total, the company has now raised $325 million.

PeerStreet Continues to Expand Resources and Technology Services to Lenders (BusinessWire), Rated: A

PeerStreet, an award-winning platform for investing in real estate backed loans, is excited to announce that it is aggressively expanding available resources and tools for private real estate lenders on its platform.

PeerStreet lenders can now access detailed Property Valuation Reports which allow lenders to analyze property data and adjust property details to generate highly accurate valuations that reflect current or future market conditions. The data that makes this possible is licensed by PeerStreet from HouseCanary, a leading provider of real estate valuation data and analytics. PeerStreet is providing this service to our lenders free of charge through our Lender Platform.

“Currently, our platform is a robust secondary marketplace for lenders. We’ve purchased over half a billion in loans from local lenders, but we see great value in developing practical tools to grow lenders’ businesses beyond providing capital to them,” said Brew Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of PeerStreet.

Hornets, LendingTree Announce New Multi-Year Founding Level Partnership Highlighted (NBA), Rated: A

The Charlotte Hornets and LendingTree today announced a multi-year partnership in which the Charlotte-based online loan marketplace’s logo will appear on the team’s jerseys, effective immediately.  LendingTree also becomes a Founding Level Partner of the organization and the Official Loan Shopping Partner of the Charlotte Hornets.  The Hornets will wear the LendingTree logo on their jerseys for the first time on Wednesday, November 15, when the team debuts its new Classic Edition uniform in an 8 p.m. contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers that will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Along with placement on all team uniforms, LendingTree will have fixed signage on the Spectrum Center concourse and on the venue’s mobile entry scanners, as well as digital signage on the scorer’s table, basket stanchion, center-hung scoreboard and 360 LED boards.  LendingTree also receives entitlement of the new Hornets app, the team roster page on hornets.com and score updates on the team’s social media outlets.  Additional advertising elements include banner ads and pre-roll video ads on hornets.com and spots on Hornets television broadcasts on FOX Sports Southeast and radio broadcasts on WFNZ.

Miles Reidy of QED Investors on Regtech (Lend Academy), Rated: A

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Miles varied background in finance and how he landed at QED Investors.
  • His areas of focus at QED.
  • How Miles defines regtech.
  • Why regtech has its origins in the changes brought on by the financial crisis.
  • The comparison of regtech to the changes that happened in consumer credit in the 1980s and ’90s.
  • How automation is making a difference today in KYC.
  • Why consumers should be in control of who has access to their personal information.
  • The most profound change that regtech is going to bring to financial services.
  • The single hardest job at a large bank today.
  • Why integration is the key for any successful regtech project at a large bank.
  • Why the real regulatory innovation will be driven by the UK.
  • Why QED decided to create their own regtech conference in Washington DC.
  • What they will be covering at this event.
  • What Miles thinks are the most interesting areas of regtech today.

Two Startup Acquisitions Within 30 Hours For Plug and Play FinTech (Business Insider), Rated: A

Within 30 hours, two of Plug and Play FinTech’s batch startups were acquired: Vault by Acorns and Qumram by Dynatrace.

The Guarantors Raises €10.07M in Series A Funding (FINSMES), Rated: A

The Guarantors, a NYC-based insurtech startup focused on the real estate industry, raised €10.07M (approx. $11.7M) in Series A funding.

The round was led by White Star Capital and Alven Capital with participation from SilverTech Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Rocket Internet Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, and other investors.

The company will use the funds to continue to develop the product and launch beyond NY in 2018.

The internet name many banks are afraid to use (American Banker), Rated: A

After Farmers & Merchants State Bank in Archbold, Ohio, switched its internet domain from dot-com to dot-bank, it got a handful of calls from customers wondering where its website had gone.

The $1 billion-asset bank also noted some assumed when a sentence ended “.bank.” in its promotional materials, the last period was part of the web address, instead of perfect punctuation.

Farmers & Merchants is one of only a few hundred institutions that have made the switch to the generic top-level domain that became widely available in mid-2015. While the extension is supposed to signal a bank is, in fact, a bank, the domain is still not available to most bank customers.

SEC Says Companies Can Expect New Guidelines on Reporting Cybersecurity Breaches (WSJ), Rated: A

A senior Securities and Exchange Commission regulator said Thursday that public companies will soon face new guidelines for how they report cybersecurity breaches to investors.

The agency will probably update directions that it gave to companies over six years ago, before the spate of high-profile breaches, including at the SEC itself and Equifax , EFX 0.05% Inc., the credit-reporting firm with access to sensitive financial details for millions of consumers.

How to Become an Investor: Startup Capital (Investor Ideas), Rated: A

While it is not encouraged to apply for loans from major financial institutions like big banks (owing to interest rates of 15% – 23%), there are other options such as Lending Club that offer interest rates at just 5.32% for preferred clients. With interest rates that low, it is viable to consider nonconventional options to get your investments up and running. Lending Club is one example of a highly reputable service comprising a community of lenders that can help investors achieve their objectives.

Survey Shows Payday Borrowers Have No Regrets (Credit Union Times), Rated: A

According to the CFPB, payday loan companies collectively raked in roughly $3.6 billion in fee revenue in 2015. The CFPB also estimated that there are 15,766 payday loan stores throughout the U.S., slightly more than the country’s 14,350 McDonalds.

This lending product is commonly targeted at low-income consumers who use payday loans as plugs gaps in expenses in order to keep them afloat. Some credit unions see this an opportunity to help the underserved/underbanked market.

The Hoboken, N.J.-based LendEDU polled 1,000 consumers who have used a payday loan in the last year with some surprising results:

  • The average payday loan borrower used a payday loan 3.80 times in the last year.
  • Eighty-two percent said they looked at the interest rate and fees before borrowing.
  • The average amount borrowed was $442.16.
  • Fifty-one percent said they did not regret using a payday loan.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said they explored other borrowing options (ex. installment loans, credit cards) before using a payday loan.

However, some 75% of respondents indicated they were well informed throughout the application process; and when asked “Did payday loans make your financial situation better or worse off?” more borrowers stated that payday loans made their situations better, (44.2%) than worse, (30.3%).

FinTech Fast Tracks Mortgages (The MReport), Rated: B

According to a report by Sarah Strochak of the Urban Institute, the outpouring of financial technology (fintech) in the mortgage space has brought with it all sorts of innovation, including new ways to capture data, reaching more people and expanding access to credit. The Urban institute also states that in having the ability to reach more people, fintech firms also have the potential to disrupt the inequality status quo in the economy.

For example, the Urban Institute draws on the case of Down Payment Resource, a company that has created a database that matches customers with down payment assistance programs.

United Kingdom

Weekend press review: “…of a return to normality in markets that are still climbing a wall of worry about valuations…” (IFA Magazine), Rated: AAA

The Telegraph asks a question which will evoke a sigh from many readers. Have we seen the end of the peer-to-peer lending boom? Last year’s record £3.2 billion lending total – of which two thirds went to Zopa, Funding Circle or RateSetter – has been impacted by a succession of unrelated bad news stories.

First there’s been the falling rate of returns, which run at barely 3.7% for Zopa Core 4.5% at Zopa Plus – down by a good 1.5% since the good times. Not to mention a deteriorating risk situation: nowadays, the Telegraph says, fully 20% of applicants get Zopa approval compared with barely 0.5% in the old days. That puts Zopa’s approval rate on a par with the mainstream banks.

P2P sector urges chancellor to set bold housing agenda in Autumn Budget (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

THE PEER-TO-PEER lending sector has called on the chancellor to introduce a more ambitious housing programme in this month’s Budget.

There have been several rumours about the content of Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Budget, set for 22 November 2017, including the scrapping of stamp duty for first-time buyers.

Supporters of the policy claim it could help to bridge the UK’s generational divide, but P2P lenders think a more transformative housing policy is required.

Fintech startup Flux partners with Barclays for itemised receipts (TechCrunch), Rated: A

Flux, the London fintech startup founded by former early employees at Revolut, has announced a partnership with Barclays in the U.K. that will see it trial its itemised receipt technology with 10,000 of the bank’s customers.

The young company has built a software platform that bridges the gap between the itemised receipt data captured by a merchant’s point-of-sale (POS) system and what little information typically shows up on your bank statement or mobile banking app.

ThinCats Appoints Alison Whistance to Cover South-West Region (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Alison Whistance, described as a finance expert, joins ThinCats as Origination Manager, South-West, as the peer to peer lender gears up for its next period of growth. Recently, ThinCats announced a £200 million funding program in conjunction with its parent company ESF Capital.

FinTech firms, banks and insurers give evidence to Committee (Parliament.uk), Rated: B

The EU Financial Affairs Sub-Committee continues its inquiry on financial regulation and supervision by taking evidence from banks, insurers and FinTech specialists.

Witnesses

Wednesday 15 November 2017 in Committee Room 4A, Palace of Westminster.

At 10.15am

  • Sally Dewar, International Head of Regulatory Affairs, JP Morgan
  • Julian Adams, Group Regulatory & Government Relations Director, Prudential

At 11.15am

  • Flora Coleman, Head of Government Relations, Transferwise
  • Charlotte Crosswell, Chief Executive Officer, Innovate Finance
China

LexinFintech files for $ 500m IPO in US (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

LexinFintech Holdings, a Chinese online consumer lending company, has filed for a $500m initial public offering in the US and in the process revealed that funding costs have spiked this year – just as Beijing has signalled its intent to crack down on the sector in a drive to rein in financial risk.

LexinFintech said in a Securities Exchange Commission filing that it was seeking to raise as much as $500m from its listing on the Nasdaq equities exchange under the ticker symbol “LX”.

The company said total operating revenue for the nine months to the end of September rose 35.3 per cent year on year to Rmb3.99bn ($600.6m), while operating costs rose 19.9 per cent to Rmb3.1bn, shaking out to a net profit of Rmb5.8m for the period, compared to a loss of Rmb193.7m a year prior.

‘Proptech’ follows fintech’s footsteps (China Daily), Rated: A

In the past few years, technology has revolutionized the financial sector, and as fintech continues to swell into more sectors, the real estate industry will welcome its own version, known as proptech, according to a senior executive from international real estate consultancy company Jones Lang LaSalle.

Perhaps the most prominent example of fintech on life in China is the ubiquity of mobile payment. The Better Than Cash Alliance reported earlier this year that Alipay and WeChat Pay enabled $2.9 trillion in Chinese digital payments in 2016, a 20-fold increase in the past four years.

A recent HSBC study finds that 70 percent of Chinese millennials have their own property, with 91 percent planning to buy a house in the next five years, a greater percentage than their counterparts in countries including Canada, France, the US and the UK.

European Union

Orange Bank goes live with Backbase banking platform (Banking Technology), Rated: A

France’s latest mobile-only bank, Orange Bank, has gone live on Backbase’sOmnichannel Banking Platform.

Backbase says Orange is the only French bank to offer for free a service that provides real-time balances, mobile payments and a virtual adviser that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

European Commission to Assess Potential of EU-Wide Blockchain Infrastructure (Coindesk), Rated: B

The European Commission (EC), the economic bloc’s legislative body, is launching a study aimed to assess the feasibility and potential of an EU-wide blockchain infrastructure.

The study, which is set to cost €250,000, will focus on whether blockchain can assist the EC’s objective of creating the conditions for a reliable, transparent and EU law compliant “data and transactional environment.”

International

FINASTRA SOLUTIONS NAMED BEST-IN-CLASS (Finastra), Rated: AAA

Aite Group has awarded Finastra “Best-in-Class” status for its commercial loan origination solutions, including Total Lending powered by LaserPro and FusionBanking Credit Management Enterprise (CME). The standing reinforces Finastra’s position as the industry leader in end-to-end commercial lending.

Aite Group’s bi-annual report, Commercial Loan Origination: Scoping the Market and Comparing the Vendors, is a comprehensive review and ranking of the 10 leading global commercial loan origination vendors. It uses a highly governed and quantitative vendor evaluation methodology known as the Aite Impact Matrix (AIM), which provides an in-depth market assessment of financial technology vendors.

Total Lending, powered by LaserPro (the installed base of which was evaluated based on the long-standing D+H commercial loan origination capabilities that comprise this new “good-better-best” tiered offering) was recognized by Aite Group as having the highest client strength score.

FusionBanking Credit Management Enterprise obtained the highest score for product features, delivering on the largest number of required commercial loan origination functionalities with the least amount of required configuration or custom code.

Finastra also received the “All Things to Everyone” award for its breadth of offerings from a single vendor.

SBL Network Ltd launches peer-to-peer securities lending platform (FTSE Global Markets), Rated: AAA

SBL Network Ltd, the new financial technology company created to provide transaction and information services to the global capital markets industry, is to launch the industry’s first peer-to-peer securities lending platform.

Aquila Network provides the first market place allowing major institutional owners of equities such as Pension Funds, Insurance Companies and Sovereign Wealth Funds, to negotiate and lend directly to Hedge Funds.

SBL has raised approximately £1m this year via two EIS-qualifying funding rounds and now announces the launch of its Aquila Network, the first peer-to-peer securities lending platform, established in response to what the firm says is growing demand for greater transparency in the securities lending marketplace.

What to Expect When Participating in a Token Launch (Consensys), Rated: AAA

When you initially learn about a token launch you’d like to participate in, gather all the information you can. Not every token launch is structured in the same way.

Make sure you do a few things before the token launch begins:

  • Research, research, research
  • Understand the value proposition of the project
  • Know the prerequisites you need in order to be a valid investor
  • Find out how you will pay for the token, and how tokens will be distributed

Watch out for Red Flags

The Ethereum space is exciting and full of opportunities, but there are scammers and phishers of all sorts looking to take advantage of people’s trust.

  • Never share your private key
  • Always do a deep read of the whitepaper, check out the source code
  • Listen to the community

KPMG: In Q3 Global Fintech Investment Hit $ 8.2 Billion (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Overall, global Fintech investment remains solid with$8.2 billion invested across 274 deals.

Some of the larger investments  during the quarter include:

  • Intacct – $850 million
  • Concardis – $806 million
  • CardConnect – $ 750 million
  • Xactly – $564 million
  • Merchants’ Choice Payments solutions – $470 million
  • Access Point Financial $350 million
  • Service Finance Company – $304 million
  • Prodigy Finance – $204 million
  • TIO Networks – $238.9 million
  • Dianrong – $220 million

Insurtech is on course for a record breaking year with VC investments standing at $1.53 billion by the end of Q3 for 179 deals. For the entire year of 2016, Insurtech saw $1.79 billion invested in 203 deals.

Regionally, Fintech deals break down as follows:

  • Americas – $5.35 billion for 158 deals
    • the US claimed $5 billion and 142 deals
  • Europe – $1.66 billion for 73 deals
    • The UK dominated
  • Asia – $1.2 billion fro 41 deals
    • China continued to dominate but deals in Hong Kong, India and Korea were in the top 10
India

How to take a bank loan while working for a blacklisted employer (Financial Express), Rated: A

What happens when a company gets blacklisted? Will the employees have access to credit or will they get declined despite having good credit scores and salaries?

If one lands in such a situation, the logical thing to do is to change the employer. More because it would not only have an impact on one’s credit life, but more importantly, continued employment with a blacklisted employer can lead to financial disruptions sooner or later.

If the need for funding arises while being employed with a such company, one could take the following steps:

# The first lending institution to be contacted has to be the bank with your salary account.

# Each lending institution has its own methodology of categorizing companies and the current employer may not be part of the list with all lenders. So, “there may be some lenders willing to give loans unless one is employed with prominent companies that go bankrupt (as we have seen over past few years). However, one has to be very careful and in the endeavor to procure credit one must not apply with various lenders at the same time since this can have adverse impact on the credit profile. A better option would be to connect with a credit advisor with established repute and seek assistance,” informs Ramamurthy.

# Peer to peer lending is another new age option that can be explored by such individuals.

Asia

Kazakh fintech start-up holds its first global ICO (Astana Times), Rated: A

LendEx financial-tech (fintech) start-up plans to initiate an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) using the Ethereum platform based on block chain technology. The investments will be used to launch the LendEx P2P (peer to peer) lending platform, which will focus on online lending to clients in Central and Southeast Asia.

“The LendEx online platform, built with the help of block chain technologies, will provide crypto investors with access to the platform and will allow issuing microcredits for borrowers checked in national currencies,” said fintech entrepreneur and start-up author Alexey Sidorov.

The LendEx release will be held in two stages: the actual ICO and pre-ICO, which will begin Dec. 1.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Friday April 14 2017, Daily News Digest

millennial asset allocation

News Comments Today’s main news: Marathon Partner calls for change at OnDeck. LC releases mobile app. Ranger slumps after the collapse of Argon Credit. College Ave secures $30M in a fourth equity round. Droom launches first used auto MPL in India. First Circle secures funding to expand into SE Asia. Today’s main analysis: High-Net-Worth Millennials want advice from humans. Ranking the […]

millennial asset allocation

News Comments

United States

  • Marathon Partners calls for change at OnDeck. GP:”There is an entire industry, especially in New York, of funds who buy a minor number of shares in public companies and then mount a public campaign to impose their views to the companies. Examples are Karl Icahn, Bill Ackman, Dan Loeb and Herbalife.  Their objective is a quick appreciation of the share value and not the long-term success of the company. They typically encourage the company to sell assets to quickly raise cash for the share prices to increase quickly. They then sell their shares at a large profit, having double or tripled their investment in months to a year. And over time, the company is left on its own, now without the assets, it sold. All companies have issues and I am sure plenty of people disagree with the choices made at OnDeck. But from there to saying that OnDeck is in big trouble I think the leap is too large. Many companies have the exact same board structure as OnDeck, common CEO and Chairman and more. I see this campaign as a pressure campaign, unfortunately, picked up by WSJ,  who probably saw some pieces of truth and some sensationalism in it but is likely exaggerated. The real issue at OnDeck: they need cash, and soon. Let’s see how they solve that issues while keeping control. Being a public company opens the doors to this kind of attacks. “AT: “More and more, it’s looking like OnDeck may be headed for a sale. It could at least see a changeover in leadership. That new leadership will be expected to turn the company around, and if they can’t, we could see a buyer emerge in the near- to mid-term future.”
  • Activist steps up pressure on OnDeck. GP:” See comment above.” AT: “One influential person is all it takes to impact a change.”
  • LendingClub releases mobile app for investors. GP:”As many of our readers we are surprised they didn’t have a mobile app yet. There is a difference between a mobile responsive website and a native app. When will people be able to apply for a loan using just the app? While the core of Lending Club’s applicants are baby boomers and Gen X, I still think that mobile apps open the door to new features like taking pictures of your IDs and documents in real time, using the mobile phone’s info for underwriting and applying even faster.” AT: “I wonder why they hadn’t already.”
  • SoFi intros new two-step verification process. GP:” A small important step, focused on security. We discussed recently the importance of security, especially of borrower’s data.”
  • HNW Millennials are hungry for advice from humans. AT: “This is interesting since we’ve been hearing a lot about how millennials prefer robo, or at least want a mix of human-robo advice. High-net-worth individuals are different, though, and I think that’s across generations. Significant is the fact that many HNW millennials are in charge of their families’ fortunes, or at least a part of it. I would imagine they would not want to be responsible for losing what their fathers and grandfathers built, therefore, it makes sense they’d want advice from a human mentor in some respects.”
  • Ranking all 50 states by average credit score of citizens. AT: “The interesting thing about this to me is there seems to be a cultural attitude at play here. The top states and bottom states in the ranking are clumped together in regions, which says to me that attitudes toward credit, and behavior driven by those attitudes, are at work within the cultures. Of course, you also can’t deny economic indicators such as unemployment, which tends to be higher in certain areas, probably due to certain industries losing out to automation and other paradigm-shifting forces.”
  • College Ave secures $30M in a fourth equity round. GP:” Student Lending continues to attract nice investments. Congratulations !”
  • CrediFi launches CredifX MPL for commercial real estate lending. AT: “We’re beginning to see the growing RECF market branch out into specialization. It’s an exciting time to be a marketplace lender in the real estate sector.”
  • Startup helps Chinese investors put money into U.S. funds.
  • Could fintech enable a resurgence in predatory lending. AT: “Yes, but this is a scare tactic aimed at borrowers. This thinking takes away from personal responsibility. It’s important for lenders to take note of this attitude and develop responsible-but-profitable lending practices. Anything else could land lenders in the same hot water as those caught up in the S&L crisis and mortgage default crises.”

United Kingdom

European Union

International

Australia

China

India

Asia

Africa

News Summary

United States

Marathon Partners Calls for Change at OnDeck (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

Marathon Partners Equity Management, LLC, together with its affiliates (“Marathon Partners”), announced today that it has released a letter that was sent to the board of directors of OnDeck Capital, Inc. (“OnDeck” or the “Company”) last month expressing concerns about the direction of the Company and making recommendations on steps to improve shareholder value.  Marathon Partners also announced today its intention to vote against the three incumbent directors up for election at OnDeck’s upcoming Annual Meeting scheduled to be held on May 10, 2017.

In its letter to the Board, Marathon Partners recommended two courses of action for OnDeck:

  • Fully rationalize the Company’s cost structure in order to rapidly achieve GAAP profitability and reduce the pressure on the organization to grow its loan portfolio
  • Seek the sale of the Company to a stable partner where OnDeck can thrive without the risks of destabilizing confidence in the business from shareholders and the capital markets.

In addition to the concerns expressed in the letter, Marathon Partners is also disappointed with OnDeck’s corporate governance and executive compensation practices, as exemplified by ISS’s Governance QuickScore of ’10’ – indicating the highest level of concern – at the 2016 Annual Meeting.  OnDeck’s current practices, including plurality voting for director elections, a classified board structure, no special meeting rights for shareholders, and combined CEO and Chairman roles, among others, serve to disenfranchise their shareholders’ rights. Marathon Partners also has concerns around the metrics believed to denote success for the Company, such as adjusted EBITDA that ignores stock-based compensation and is blind to increased balance sheet risk.

Given Marathon Partners’ lack of confidence in the Board’s ability to represent the shareholders’ best interests, it plans on voting against the entire class of directors up for election at the 2017 Annual Meeting.

Activist Steps Up Pressure on On Deck Capital (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Marathon Partners Equity Management LLC, which owned 1.75% of On Deck’s shares as of the end of 2016 according to FactSet data, also publicly released the text of a letter it sent to the company’s board and lead independent director in March urging them to slash expenses and explore a possible sale of the business.

The three directors up for re-election are Noah Breslow, who also serves as On Deck’s chief executive; Jane Thompson, a former financial-services executive at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT -0.39% ; and Ron Verni, a former CEO of Sage Software Inc.

On Deck’s shares, which fell 3.3% Thursday afternoon, are down more than 35% over the past 12 months following the reporting of wider losses and cooler investor demand for its loans.

The LendingClub Investor Mobile App Has Arrived (LendingClub), Rated: AAA

Today, with more than $24 billion invested through the platform, LendingClub is thrilled to introduce its new iOS mobile application – LendingClub Invest.

Investors said that some of the most important functionality they use on a regular basis is checking their account summaries and investing in Notes. Armed with this insight, the team crafted a visually-attractive user interface that consolidates the investor’s total account value, available cash, returns and holdings on the first page.

SoFi Introduces New Two-Step Verification Feature to Offer Users Next Level of Account Protection (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Online lender SoFi recently announced the launch of its new two-step verification feature that will offer users the next level of account protection. The company revealed that two-factor authentication (or 2FA) would provide an additional layer of security to help protect accounts from unauthorized access.

HNW Millennials Are Hungry For Advice… From Humans (Wealth Management), Rated: AAA

High-net-worth millennials enjoy growing influence in the management of their families’ portfolios, but few are fully satisfied with their investment objectives. They have strong opinions, but are hungry for advice and don’t seem particularly excited about getting it from a computer.

Only 32 percent of millennials rate their values-based investment knowledge highly, with roughly a quarter deeming their knowledge either poor or very poor. That being said, there is a continuing hunger for investment knowledge, with 42 percent claiming they would like to learn more about the area.

The other potential reason for this discontent is that millenials simply have differing philosophies on investment than previous generations.

Ranking All 50 States by Average Credit Score of its Citizens (Statistical Future), Rated: AAA

Scores range from 300 to 850, the data comes from Experian. The national average ends up being 673, this is kind of shocking to me since my banker seemed to stress the necessity of a 720 credit score to get a loan with the best rate. Obviously, not everyone owns their home, but even in the state with the highest average – Minnesota – the average is only 706.5. Even then, the state ranks a full 7 points ahead of the runner up – Wisconsin.

Someone has to bring up the rear and for this metric, that someone is the state of Georgia, with an average credit score of 642.

At first glance, the aspect that pops out the most is that the top four states are all bundled in the upper Midwest while 5 of the 6 lowest are basically neighbors in the south.

High unemployment + low wages = lower than average credit scores.

College Ave Student Loans Secures $ 30 Million During Fourth Equity Round (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Student loan marketplace, College Ave Student Loans, announced on Thursday it secured $30 million during its fourth equity round. Investors of the funding round included new and existing participants, which included Comcast Ventures and Leading Edge Ventures.

First data-driven marketplace for commercial real estate loans speeds process to finance commercial properties (PR Newswire), Rated: A

CrediFi Corp., the leading source of data and analytics for commercial real estate (CRE) finance, has announced the launch of CredifX, its online marketplace for financing commercial properties.

CrediFi has already made the commercial real estate market more transparent, by providing data about more than two million properties and thirteen trillion dollars in loans across the U.S. Now CredifX is taking that transparency revolution one step further. In addition to accessing information about commercial real estate finance through the CrediFi platform, CRE borrowers, brokers and lenders will now have unprecedented access to financing opportunities allowing them to close real estate deals through CredifX, CrediFi’s latest fintech solution.

The launch of CredifX follows just weeks after CrediFi secured $13 million for its Series B funding, helping drive the launch of CredifX.

Chinese Fintech Startup Helps Mainlanders Invest Money in US Funds (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

The last method mentioned above, utilizing the $50,000 limit on transfers, is being utilized by Chinese fintech startup, Niu Jiao Suo, to help Chinese investors to move their money overseas. Niu Jiao Suo operates by connecting Chinese investors with foreign mutual funds. Its mobile app allows users to invest in foreign mutual funds like Blackrock, Vanguard, JP Morgan, and Goldman Sachs with a minimum investment amount of $400. Users are limited to $50,000 in total investments per year in accordance with China’s annual threshold. A $400 investment may not sound attractive to funds by itself, but Niu Jiao Suo is able to attract such prestigious funds by bundling their users’ smaller investments together into a larger investment package.

Could Fintech Enable a Resurgence in Predatory Lending? (Tech.co), Rated: B

The average household carries $134,643 in combined debt which includes mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, and student loans. A good chunk of household income go into servicing these loans as illustrated in how Americans spend their paychecks. The biggest chunks of people’s monthly spending correspond to housing, transportation, and education. For other expenses, Americans continue to rely on plastic. While not necessarily a bad thing, many fail to pay charges in full and carry a balance on their cards, further exposing them to compounded interest and other fees.

Credit card debt is at its highest since 2008. Americans added $60.4 billion to the outstanding credit card debt as 2016. Worse is that, 69 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. 34 percent of respondents revealed that they don’t have any savings at all. When emergency strikes, many are left with little choice but to get more loans. However, with bad credit scores, borrowers are resort to getting them from predatory lenders.

For cash-strapped consumers, the promise of fast and easy money is always enticing. The payday loan industry alone is a $38.5 billion industry.

Late last year, the Office of the Comptroller for Currency started to accept applications from fintech companies that would subject them to federal banking rules. Chartered companies will face controls to prevent money laundering and have to abide by consumer protection rules. However, some argue that a federal charter would also enable fintech companies to bypass state-specific provisions such as interest rate caps. Such flexibility may be abused by enterprising lenders.

You should always go with numbers. Know how much the loan will totally cost you. Calculate the annual percentage rate (APR). Many predatory loans would have APRs of three digits meaning you could pay triple, quadruple, or even more of the loan amount in a year’s time if you fail to pay. While many of these loans are designed to be short term, it’s really dependent on your capacity to pay.

United Kingdom

Ranger slumps as collapsed lender forces write-down (Citywire), Rated: AAA

Shares in Ranger Direct Lending (RDL) have slumped after the investment trust was forced to write down 4% of its portfolio following the collapse of US peer-to-peer lending platform Argon Credit.

Shares in the trust are trading at 996p, down 6.9% since the write-down was announced yesterday, languishing at a 17.3% discount to net asset value.

The £172 million trust holds a position in Princeton Alternative Income, which gives the trust indirect exposure to $28.3 million of a $37.5 million credit facility Princeton has supplied to Argon, which went bust in December.

Numis analyst Charles Cade said the entire position in Princeton represented 12.1% of net assets in December and as Ranger could not determine the exact impact ‘we would not be surprised to see further writedowns’.

RateSetter channels £120k to Essex foster care SMEs (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

A £120,000 loan arranged by RateSetter boosted child care placements in an Essex-based foster care company by almost a quarter.

The peer-to-peer lending platform helped Brighter Futures Foster Care increase the number of new foster households from 67 to 83, making its foray into a sector where it found “finance is desperately needed”.

The borrower works with local authorities in the South East to find foster families for young people amidst a national shortage of 10,000 foster places, and is looking to raise further finance to bring the number of placements to 110-120.

P2P lending platform Assetz Capital to raise interest rates for limited time (Finextra), Rated: AAA

Assetz Capital, one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing peer-to-peer finance platforms, today announced it was raising the interest rate on its popular 30 Day Access Account (30DAA) by 0.5% to 4.75% for a limited time.

Investors will have until midday on 11 May to take advantage of the new rate and will benefit from a capped return of 4.75% for up to 90 days after an investment is made. After this, the account will return to its original rate of 4.25%.

Investors can automatically invest any amount from £1 in a diverse portfolio of secured business loans that have passed Assetz Capital’s strict credit checks.

A quiet crash in bank lending? March industry news (Funding Circle), Rated: A

Bank of England statistics reveal that since the EU referendum, net lending (that’s total lending minus repayments) to British small businesses by 22 of the largest banks dropped from £1 billion in the second quarter of 2016, down to just £220 million in the last three months of the year. Meanwhile, Funding Circle investors lent £167 million on a net basis in Q4 alone!

It was also great to see Samir Desai, Funding Circle CEO, featured in the The Sunday Times Maserati 100 list, which recognises influential entrepreneurs who are disrupting the business world.

And finally, our US business announced that Community Investment Management, an impact investment firm focused on direct lending, is now lending an additional $100 million to American small businesses.

FCA accused of hampering P2P market (FT Adviser), Rated: A

The Financial Conduct Authority’s decision to define peer-to-peer lending too narrowly has hampered the market, it has been claimed.

According to one compliance expert, the FCA’s decision has meant only 40 per cent of the P2P loans which HM Treasury had intended to be covered by the legislation were actually captured by the regulator’s definition.

Chinese firm Hywin Financial buys UK wealth manager (Fund Strategy), Rated: A

Hywin Financial Holding Group has acquired UK wealth manager Azure Wealth, which will now be known as Hywin Wealth.

Shangjia Monica Lin has been appointed chair of the board following the acquisition.

Banks favour lending to the owner-occupier market (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: A

Lendy believes that regulations such as Basel III have incentivised banks to take risks in the owner-occupier market and cut exposure to property developers.

This comes after the peer-to-peer secured lending platform found that the number of new residential mortgages worth over £1m increased by 24% in the 12 months to 30th September 2016.

Lendy discovered that the number of new £1m plus mortgages written by banks in 2015/16 increased to 4,844, up from 3,896 in 2014/15, while the total value of these mortgages grew by 18% from £7.59bn to £8.95bn in the same period.

When blockchain meets online lending: The business using one to improve the other (City A.M.), Rated: A

Sydney-based platform Othera goes a step further: the blockchain lending platform allows lenders and investors to access digital loans. It then chops up those loans – which are backed by businesses’ cashflows – in a process called tokenisation. These tokens can then be sold on an exchange, turning a traditionally fairly illiquid asset into a highly liquid digital asset.

Why did you launch Othera?

The overarching reason for launching Othera and building a blockchain lending platform is to unlock the alternative investment asset class and help it become mainstream.

You use blockchain to provide ongoing credit analysis of borrowing firms. How does that work and why is that so useful?

The blockchain provides what I call “total asset provenance” which means that every single interaction between the borrower and the lender is logged on it.

How does tokenisation work?

When we talk about tokenisation in the context of our platform, I am talking about the process of linking the rights to loan repayment cashflows (the principal and interest of the loan) to a digital cryptographic token similar to a bitcoin. So if you hold (own) the token, you will receive the pro rata portion of the loan repayment that your token represents. Tokens represent a digital form of fixed-income alternative investment. Tokens can be bought and sold just like an equity or bond or cryptocurrency.

Tell us about the importance of the secondary market.

Creating a vibrant secondary market for alternative investment assets is key to the growth of an industry or product sector for several reasons:

  • First, at a basic level, investors will only ever commit a relatively small portion of their investable funds into an asset class or a market with no liquidity.
  • Second, secondary markets are also a very good barometer of the performance of an asset class or specific investment, as the market quickly builds the strength or weakness of an investment into the current market price of that asset.
  • And third: liquidity.

Carney Says Crisis Lessons Are Why BOE Keeps Up With Fintech (Bloomberg), Rated: B

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the crisis shows why regulators and the banking industry must stay on top of the rapid developments in financial technology so that the system is solid enough to withstand shocks.

European Union

Online Lender 4finance Prices $ 325 Million Over-Subscribed Bond Issue (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Riga-based 4finance Holding S.A., a large online and mobile consumer lending group, has placed and priced $325 million of senior unsecured 5 year fixed rate notes. These notes mature in 2022 and were issued with a 10.75% yield, at par.

The new 5 year issue was described as representing a liquid benchmark offering, with the scale to attract over 50 investors and secures 4finance’s long term funding.

These senior notes have a 5 year maturity with a 2 year non-call period and were offered on a Rule 144A / Reg S basis with ISINs XS1597295838 / XS1597294781 respectively. The bond was priced on April 12th, closing is expected on 28 April 2017.

International

FMS.next Alternative Finance platform enhanced with more FinTech functionality (Bob’s Guide), Rated: B

Profile Software, an international financial solutions provider, today announced the latest upgrade in the FMS.next Alternative Finance platform, to offer enhanced capabilities for “Auto-investing” that further boost the marketplace lending processes.

Australia

LendEx, Australia’s leading peer-to-peer marketplace lending platform for direct commercial property lending, appoints new board members (LendIt Blog), Rated: B

LendEx, Australia’s leading marketplace lender, today announced the appointment of Mr Brian Benger and Ms Kim Jenkins to its board as non-executive directors.

Mr Benger is on a number of the Australian subsidiary boards of Mercer Australia.

Ms Kim Jenkins is CEO of the Australian Retail Credit Association (ARCA), the peak body for organisations involved in the disclosure, exchange and application of credit reporting data in Australia.

China

CHINA: THE WORLD’S NEW FINTECH LEADER (International Banker), Rated: AAA

In November 2016, a report jointly produced by professional-services firm Ernst & Young (EY) and leading Singaporean bank DBS stated in no uncertain terms that China has now leapfrogged ahead of global technology hubs such as Silicon Valley and London to become “the undoubted centre of global fintech innovation and adoption”. Multiple fintech hubs have now emerged in China alone, most prominently in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Beijing and Shenzhen, which has led to EY and DBS concluding that the country now clearly leads the way in fintech and is “revolutionising many aspects of financial services”.

China also dominates the fintech “unicorn” space—those startups valued in excess of $1 billion. The country is home to eight of the world’s 27 unicorns.

Firstly, the sector has been well supported by the country’s regulatory framework.

Secondly, China’s population appears to be increasingly open to using online finance, with evidence mounting that they are eager to incorporate the support provided by various fintech services into many different aspects of their lives, including online banking, payments, transfers, crowdfunding, investing and shopping. Indeed, e-commerce in China is estimated to be a RMB 16 trillion market, and is now transforming the consumption habits of a rapidly growing number of Chinese people.

A significant chunk of China’s fintech success in recent years can be credited to Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Collectively referred to as BAT, the three tech giants control an intimidating share of China’s e-commerce landscape, as well as online messaging and Internet search platforms. They also control approximately half of the Chinese third-party payments market; whereas their US equivalents—Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Amazon—control a mere 2 percent, as per recent analysis by Citigroup.

Payments/e-wallets is the dominant sector at present, with China having 380 million people shopping online via their phones, as well as nearly 200 million people using their phones as a wallet for in-store payments.

The popularity of online banking is also exploding, with both China’s tech companies and its existing banks making a foray into this world, often in joint initiatives.

P2P (peer-to-peer) lending also deserves a mention, with China almost exclusively leading Asia’s growth in platforms designed to deliver credit to individuals and SMEs.

China P2P lender Dianrong sees market shakeout driving its growth (Reuters), Rated: AAA

Chinese online lender Dianrong.com expects to grow rapidly in the next few years, benefiting from tightening regulation driving a shake-out in the nation’s $100 billion-plus peer-to-peer (P2P) industry and pent-up demand for credit and investment.

Loan originations at the P2P lender, which is backed by investors including U.S. investment firm Tiger Global and Standard Chartered’s private equity unit, more than doubled to 16.2 billion yuan ($2.3 billion) in 2016 from the previous year.

Dianrong.com matches investors with individuals and small and medium-sized businesses in real-time, with loan sizes ranging from 500 yuan to 200,000 yuan for individuals and a maximum of one million yuan for small and medium enterprises.

Nearly half of the 4,000-odd online lending platforms in China were “problematic”, China’s banking regulator said in August when it unveiled the rules.

The P2P lender, founded in 2012 by Guo, a former lawyer, and Soul Htite, a co-founder of LendingClub Corp, is looking to grow loan origination by 50 percent annually over the next three to five years. It expects to broker about 30 billion yuan in loans this year.

India

Droom launches loan marketplace for used automobiles (VC Circle), Rated: AAA

Droom, an online platform for buying and selling used vehicles, has launched Droom Credit, a loan marketplace for pre-owned automobiles it claims is the country’s first.

For the initial rollout, it is going live with a dozen lenders, including HDFC Bank, Kotak Prime, Tata Capital, Faircent, i2i Lending and Capital First, a company statement said.

The platform, which guarantees loan approval within 30 seconds, uses the government-backed Aadhaar stack, apart from PAN verification, credit score validation and several other variables for credit evaluation.

There are three ways we are going to earn money, he said.

“First, the take rate, which will depend on who the lender is (different take rates and commission structures for different lenders). It will also depend on the category and profile of the borrower, and on the fulfilment and disbursal of the loan.”

Second, Droom will charge Rs 999 from borrowers.

Third, it will also charge the lender Rs 999 upon successful loan disbursal.

Droom Credit will initially restrict lending to borrowers purchasing vehicles from Droom. Going forward, however, it plans to open it to other platforms too.

Asia

Crowd Genie Receives Regulatory Approval from MAS (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Crowd Genie, a small business lending platform, has received regulatory approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Crowd Genie was granted a Capital Markets Services (CMS) license from MAS, an important development for the peer to peer lending platform. Crowd Genie has been in operation since mid-2016.

First Circle Secures Funding from Global Investors to Expand Access to Credit in Southeast Asia (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

First Circle today confirmed investments from Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of financial inclusion leader Accion, and Deep Blue VC. First Circle has now reported equity funding of $2.5m USD – from Accion Venture Lab, Deep Blue VC, 500 Startups, IMJ, and Key Capital – along with an undisclosed sum of debt funding.

The investment funds will be used to further develop First Circle’s technology and data analytics platform.

Africa

South Africa’s FSB to rule on crowdfunding by June 30 (Ventureburn), Rated: AAA

South Africa’s Financial Services Board (FSB) has set a date of 30 June by which it plans to rule on whether to craft specific rules or not for equity crowdfunding, an FSB spokesman said this week.

The African Crowdfunding Association has been calling for the FSB to craft a specific regulatory framework on crowdfunding.

“It’s not that it (equity crowdfunding) is illegal – it’s just that there’s no clarity,” he said.

Thundafund chief executive Patrick Schofield said he was not waiting for any regulatory certainty from the FSB and was going ahead with setting up a platform to facilitate equity crowdfunding in South Africa.

His idea is to use venture capital funds to vet deals and provide a certain percentage of the total equity injection, before placing these on the platform to attract investors.

Meanwhile a new lending threshold which came into effect in November under the National Credit Regulations is also likely to limit the ability of peer-to-peer lending platforms to fund startups.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor