Buying and Selling Cars Through a Mobile App

car selling

The first-ever mobile application making automobile transactions possible at the touch of a screen, Blinker eliminates the role of the middleman in the car buying, selling and financing process. How Blinker Works Blinker‘s focus is on facilitating a hassle-free experience for all stakeholders involved in an auto purchasing transaction. Blinker uses a lot of dealer […]

car selling

The first-ever mobile application making automobile transactions possible at the touch of a screen, Blinker eliminates the role of the middleman in the car buying, selling and financing process.

How Blinker Works

Blinker‘s focus is on facilitating a hassle-free experience for all stakeholders involved in an auto purchasing transaction. Blinker uses a lot of dealer tools used to execute trades, but it has leveraged technology to enhance the experience and create a solution that is executable online without any middlemen driving fees. This allows users to buy and sell cars for free on the platform.

The downloadable app simplifies the process of getting approved for credit, and all the user has to do is upload a picture of his driver’s license. Documents are signed with Docusign. The user posts a picture of the car she is selling and the fund transfer is done online, which eliminates the need for any physical interaction as the entire transaction takes place on users’ smartphones.

All transactions start with one picture of the car and, in less than three seconds, the company can find out all the details about the car from the year to the make, model, approximate value, and the number of miles it has been driven. The company has partnered with Carfax and Blackbook for these reports.

Blinker has its own patented technology. Out of 17 patents filed with the U.S. Patent Office, 13 have been issued.

The Blinker Team and Platform

The Blinker platform has the same credit requirements for auto finance as any other bank. It gives instant pre-approvals with a picture of a driver’s license and, upon authorization, for a soft credit pull. The idea is to have the customer approved first followed by the car. Customers have access to unique offers on each vehicle based on credit score, income, and their ability to pay. The platform does not see the seller, the buyer, or the car.

Currently operating in four states, Blinker’s model is able to generate great auto finance deals for its users. Blinker took its own equity to create a loan portfolio to prove the viability of the model. The business caters to a full spectrum of borrowers having FICO scores between 560 and 800. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is usually 20% less than the average dealer offer. The portfolio has faced no delinquencies, highlighting the success of the company’s lending algorithms.

The company has raised a total of $51 million in funding and onboarded 65 professionals in its Denver office, out of which 30 are engineers on the lending side. The company’s president was in senior management at Americredit, a giant in auto finance solutions. All of the above has given birth to a company that is rapidly capturing market share and mind share in the auto industry.

Blinker is now entering into a relationship with Allied Bank and talks are going on with other customers and member groups to expand its reach. Its foundation is to be a fee-based company. It wants to follow an asset light model with no inventory or loans on its books.

Blinker’s Selling Process

The car prices and terms of sale are displayed in the mobile app for full transparency. Car shoppers can set a filter for distance/location, and more, as they search for the perfect vehicle. The average price of cars available on the app is $14,000, but it is not restricted to any particular segment and has even sold a $105,000 Ferrari. Blinker has also partnered with Manheim Auctions, the largest car auctions company in the world, to sell its inventory directly to individuals. The company is extending into selling rental cars and partnering with OEMs to sell cars not picked by dealers.

On average, a Blinker seller gets $2,500 more on a trade than they do through a dealership. Buyers save an average of $2,000 as compared to buying from a dealer. Refinancing from Blinker helps the average customer save $130/ month.

The app has been able to garner a lot of support in a short time since launch. There have been over 175,000 downloads, and Blinker has been successful in generating $44 million in sales. That includes about 3,500 vehicles, 8,000 listings, and the funding of about 650 to 700 loans.

The Changing Auto Industry

Although there are a lot of companies in the market like Shift, Carmax, and Carvana, they are hampered by a model that charges 8%-10% of the sale price, serves only metros and/or focuses only on one part of the trade. There are no players in the market, like Blinker, that facilitate the entire transaction from listing and pricing to car finance. Blinker is able to execute transactions anywhere and anytime. All that is required is access to an internet connection and Blinker will be able to complete a car trade.

Currently, the company is completely operational in Colorado, Texas, Florida, and California. Six more states are ramping up for service. It is looking to expand across the U.S. soon and, by the end of 2018, Blinker hopes to be in all 50 states. The platform will ensure that it is free for buyer and seller. Its model is to generate fees via loans originated.

Target Customers and the Blinker Roadmap

When Blinker entered the marketplace, it had expected that the majority of its clients would be millennials. However, it realized that clients are of all ages and are buying and selling all types of cars. But to ensure optimum portfolio for its loan partners, Blinker does not finance cars below $8,000 in value or over 10 years old.

Blinker is on a mission to empower dealers and customers to transact through their smartphones. It is getting a lot of attention from national strategic partners that love the technology. Its main focus is on acquiring customers as its technology is completely built out. It will tie up with strategic partners to provide complete end-to-end transactions for members and provide revenue share opportunities to make it a win-win proposition. The aim is to become the pre-eminent platform for buying and selling used cars in the U.S.

Blinker’s Founder

Rod Buscher founded the company in 2013. He was into the brick-and-mortar auto space, operating in the industry since 1973. As cofounder of the John Elway dealership, partnering the legendary quarterback until selling the dealership in 2013 to launch Blinker, he has inside knowledge of how dealerships operate and cars are sold.

With deep domain expertise in the space, Buscher realized that people usually do not like what they get for their car trades through the dealer and are not satisfied with the financing experience. Using Craigslist for selling cars is not secure, and selling cars with liens is another headache. Blinker was born to solve this gap in service and provide an app which would “put people in control of buying, selling and financing cars.”

Buscher is out to revolutionize the car selling industry. He’s off to a good start.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Wednesday April 18 2018, Daily News Digest

Wednesday April 18 2018, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: Elevate, Mastercard collaborate on credit card for the New Middle Class. Funding Circle opens IFISA to new investors. Ant Financial’s $150B valuation. Funding Societies raises $25M. Today’s main analysis: Marketplace lending securitization tracker Q1 2018 (A MUST-READ). Why PPDAI is a buy. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Interview with Kabbage’s CEO. Cities with highest share of cash-out […]

Wednesday April 18 2018, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

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News Summary

United States

Elevate to Collaborate with Mastercard on Credit Card Product for the ‘New Middle Class’ (News Channel 10) Rated: AAA

Elevate Credit, Inc. (“Elevate”), a leading tech-enabled provider of innovative and responsible online credit solutions for non-prime consumers, today announced an agreement to collaborate with Mastercard on the development of a new credit product to expand financial opportunities for the approximately 160 million Americans with low or no credit scores.

Elevate is committed to advancing growth and economic opportunity for these households that it has dubbed the “New Middle Class.”

Marketplace Lending Securitization Tracker Q1 2018 (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Seven marketplace lending securitizations priced this quarter totaling $4.3 Bn, the 2nd highest level of quarterly issuance, representing 34% growth YoY. To date, cumulative issuance equals $33.4 Bn across 114 deals.

We observed an unprecedented 21 months of non-stop issuance. Markets remain in a “risk-on” mode and MPL investor appetite continues to grow.

Spreads tightened this quarter, amidst rising rates and increased
volatility, and we saw deals price at record tights. Average spreads at
issuance are tighter in the consumer and student spaces across credit tranches. New issue spreads in the Consumer MPL space on As were tighter by 27 bps and those on Cs were tighter by 107 bps on average. New issue spreads in the Student MPL space were also tighter across the stack, with the Cs seeing a nearly 100bp tightening on average.

SoFi issued the largest consumer and student deals ever seen in the MPL space. SoFi continues to increase deal sizes every quarter with a billion-dollar student deal in 1Q18.

View the full report here.

Inside a Kabbagehead (Banking Exchange) Rated: AAA

Frohwein noted that there are multiple ways that companies can fail when trying to expand their offerings.

1. Trying too long a stretch.

By way of example, Frohwein pointed out that Prosper Marketplace, which offers three- or five-year personal and business loans, tried an expansion in 2016 called Prosper Daily.

2. Cheaping out on brand promotion.

Another error is failing to spend money on the company’s brand. Interestingly, given that the fintech fraternity is a crowd attuned to social media, Frohwein urged listeners to invest real money in their brands. (@KabbageInc, the corporate Twitter handle, has 23,400 followers, while @KabbageRob, Frohwein’s own account, has fewer than 2,000 followers.)

3. Developing customer knowledge.

Frohwein said that all those data connections referred to earlier give Kabbage a strong idea of what its customers look like. Few online lenders have that depth of customer knowledge, he said.

 

How JPMorgan’s CIO decides which startups to partner with, invest in, to buy (Business Insider) Rated: A

Here’s Beer:

“In some cases, we saw in the fintech ecosystem that one of their challenges is the size, scale and complexity of a company like JPMorgan Chase. If you’re trying to build out something in the wholesale payment ecosystem, you’re talking about 200 regulators, $5 trillion dollars we process a day, over 120 currencies and countries. There are multiple layers of complexities considering anti-money laundering rules, fraud requirements and new sanctions. How do you understand that complexity if I’m a startup in the payment space in wholesale?”

These companies could later wind up with an investment from JPMorgan if all goes well.

Here’s why banks need to prioritize digital platforms (Business Insider) Rated: A

With bank earnings season upon us we have seen a continued growth among mobile users at some of the biggest banks; JPMorgan Chase saw active mobile customers jump 13 percent and Wells Fargo saw total active digital users jump 3 percent; mobile banking has become a priority for all banks as the focus has shifted from just offering mobile to increasing engagement on mobile.

99,000 Investors and $ 5.8B in Commercial Properties Now on CrowdStreet (PR Newswire) Rated: A

With a steady focus and at an accelerated pace, CrowdStreet is moving the fundraising component of the $15-trillion commercial and multifamily real estate business online, helping real estate developers and operators raise capital and acquire new investors online, and helping high-net-worth investors build wealth through online real estate investing.

With more than 99,000 investors now on its platform, CrowdStreet is one of the largest platforms for online real estate investing.

LendUp and Nonprofit EARN Launch Cross-Sector Partnership to Combat America’s Savings Crisis (Lendup) Rated: A

LendUp, a fast-growing financial services firm for the emerging middle class, and EARN, a national nonprofit empowering low-income Americans to take charge of their financial lives through savings, today announced a partnership to offer LendUp customers, who represent the nearly half of Americans with subprime credit scores, the opportunity to begin saving with EARN’s SaverLife program.

LendingTree Ranks Cities With the Highest Share of Cash-Out Refinance Borrowers (Lending Tree) Rated: AAA

LendingTree analyzed mortgage requests and offers for refinance borrowers between March 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018, based on the location of the property to be mortgaged. The city rankings are generated from the percentage of total refinance mortgage funded that included a cash-out portion of the loan.

Cities with the highest share of cash-out borrowers

#1 Albany, N.Y.

Share of refinance mortgages funded with cash-out portion: 73% Average loan amount: $166,504

#2 Portland, Ore.

Share of refinance mortgages funded with cash-out portion: 72% Average loan amount: $266,152

#3 Cape Coral, Fla.

Share of refinance mortgages funded with cash-out portion: 72% Average loan amount: $162,975

Source: Lending Tree

What You Need to Know About Peerform Peer Lending Loans (Student Loan Hero) Rated: A

With Peerform, an affiliate company of Versara Lending, you can apply for personal loans via an online platform that connects you with individuals or businesses willing to loan you the money.

You can then use the cash to make home improvements, start a business, buy a new car, or consolidate your credit card debt.

The peer lending company offers unsecured, fixed-rate loans to people with a range of credit scores. Read on to learn the pros and cons of borrowing from Peerform.

 

This fintech partnership could serve as template for small banks (American Banker) Rated: A

New Resource Bank in San Francisco is working with a fintech firm to reach underserved small-business clients.

The $349 million-asset company has been offering asset-based loans to companies with at least $1 million in annual revenue through a partnership with P2Binvestor in Denver, known as P2Bi, since late 2017.

Family Offices: Beware of These Startup Investing Pitfalls (Wealth Mangement) Rated: A

According to PitchBook Data, family offices did $100.6 billion in deals in 2016, compared with $25.1 billion in 2011. These family offices are seeking opportunities that offer better returns than the public market and, therefore, investing in startup companies through longer-term private equity deals.

What Family Offices Get Wrong When They Try to Invest in Startups Alone

In emerging markets, family offices can face a number of challenges when they try to invest in startups.

Most family offices don’t possess specialized knowledge of startups, because the startup ecosystems in emerging markets are very different from the traditional business climate that family offices are used to. Because of limited experience and exposure, they may not always have a comprehensive list of questions or resources at their disposal that would aid them in the decision-making process or to evaluate a deal.

Best Oregon Mortgage Lenders of 2018 (Nerd Wallet) Rated: B

United Kingdom

Funding Circle opens IFISA to new investors (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: AAA

FUNDING Circle has opened its Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) to new investors.

The peer-to-peer business lending platform opened its IFISA to existing users last November but has now said that the tax wrapper, offering projected returns of 7.2 per cent, is open to the wider public.

Mid-sized P2P platforms taking bigger market share (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: AAA

The peer-to-peer investor’s 2018 Direct Lending Report found direct lenders – which include P2P platforms – facilitated more than £4.5bn of lending in 2017, with the ‘big four’ – Zopa, Funding Circle, RateSetter and LendInvest – making up two thirds.

But loanbook growth at the biggest lenders was up just six per cent last year, while mid-sized lenders saw their lending grow 50 per cent to £1.6bn, according to the report.

The report also looked at the performance of P2P and alternative finance-focused investment trusts, finding that if you had invested the same amount in the main funds – P2P Global Investment, Ranger Direct Lending, VPC Specialty Lending, SQN Secured Income Fund and Honeycomb – last year, you would be down 1.69 per cent.

P2P Lender ArchOver Bridges Finance Gap with New Research & Development Advance (Crowdfud Insider) Rated: A

ArchOver, the UK P2P business lending platform, aims to bridge the funding gap to enable businesses to continue to grow while waiting for their R&D tax claim to be repaid. ArchOver’s Research & Development Advance (RDA) service is reportedly the first provided by a P2P lender funding advances upward of £100,000.

According to ArchOver, only 1.67 percent of national income is currently being spent on R&D compared to an average of over 2 percent across the EU. Government initiatives have been put in place to encourage further investment in innovation in the UK. Under the current system, UK businesses can claim cash repayments of up to 33 percent of their R&D expenditure, but it can take up to six months to receive payment from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). ArchOver aims to help qualifying companies to bridge this gap, and connect them with the money they need to invest in the products and services of the future.

 

Update: Landbay is Set to Close Latest Seedrs Funding Round After Securing More Than £1.6 Million (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: A

UK-based peer-to-peer lender Landbay is set to close its latest equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs later this evening with more than £1.6 million from nearly 285 investors. The funding round was launched last month and quickly secured its initial £1.25 million funding target.

All funds from the latest funding round will be used for lender’s growth, which are:

  • Technology – 50%.
  • Marketing & Brand Development – 25%.
  • General Operating Expenses – 25%.

 

More awareness of Open Banking benefits needed (London School of Business and Finance) Rated: A

The study surveyed 2,000 UK consumers and identified some of the barriers that Open Banking will need to address in order for the initiative to be adopted on a wide scale.

Implications

Security was found to be one of the main issues for UK consumers, with 69% citing this as a top reason for being against the idea of Open Banking, whilst more than 45% cited security issues such as data breaches and identity theft as the main implications of the initiative.

Seedrs: £500 Million in Crowdfunding by 2021 (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: A

Seedrs has raised more than £330 million for smaller firms so far but according to CEO Jeff Kelisky they expect growth to ramp up rapidly by 2021. While 2017 was their best year ever, Seedrs is just getting started.

He expects that before 2020 deals will get larger. In 2017, twenty four crowdfunding offerings were over £1 million. Some of these deals are starting to approach the € 5 million hurdle. In the UK, the European directive on doing a prospectus at € 5 million has become a regulatory speed bump of sorts for crowdfunding platforms. But raising that limit to € 10 million, or perhaps € 20 million, is currently under discussion.

Two tribes: fintech versus traditional banking (CLNews) Rated: A

Quietly though, another part of Britain’s finance sector is leading the world and it’s starting to disrupt the traditional financial companies in the UK.

Fintech describes the marriage of finance and technology within one company. The first big growth sector in fintech was the peer to peer marketplace originally launched by Zopa in the UK. Peer to peer finance allows those who have savings who want a better return than they’d get from their bank in interest the opportunity to lend money to those who need quick access to money.

 

China

Ant Financial’s $ 150bn valuation belies glaring risks for investors (Financial Times) Rated: AAA

Ant Financial’s $150bn valuation belies glaring risks for investors. Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his trusty advisers have pulled off a coup in gaining a $150bn valuation for Ant Financial ahead of a mooted listing next year. It is easy to see how the pitch to investors went.

Chinese P2P Players Yirendai And Hexindai On Making It In China’s Lending Industry (Forbes) Rated: AAA

Yihan Fang: The P2P lending industry is in a different stage now, it went from being very wild to heavy regulation, and after that it will be a more rational industry. Yirendai is in compliance with regulations, implementing minor modifications along the way. Compliance was always the highest priority, and from day one we had a very good business model and didn’t change it along the way. We have high quality customers. We have a good business platform and have used a bank as custodian since 2015, even before the regulations came out. Yirendai also strives for transparency. Regulations are good, because the industry has been quite chaotic since other companies don’t do the same things as we did.

Johnson Zhang: Hexindai has had no negative impact of regulation. The new regulations are focused on petty loans. We don’t touch the petty loans market so we have no impact. In this market, all of the borrowers lack the capacity to repay loans, they just borrow more money to repay existing loans. Unlike these other firms, we offer loans in the range of 20,000 to 200,000 RMB to middle class consumers with a stable income. These are borrowers who are upgrading their social class for a better life. The second part of the regulations restricts financial institutions like banks from providing funds to fintech companies, but we do not rely on any financial institutions. All of our fund sourcing is from individuals. Our company is part of the Beijing Internet Finance Association, which alerts us to upcoming regulations. The China Banking Regulatory Commission governs the P2P industry. Government registration for P2P companies is mandatory this year. Those that fail the process will be shut down. The number of competitors will become smaller.

China Looks to Implement Credit Scoring System Without Giving Top Players too Much Power (Financial Times) Rated: A

China has been looking to create a credit scoring system seen in many developed economies like the U.S. and the U.K.; initially asking 8 top companies to be involved, though they found it hard to form as companies were unwilling to share proprietary data with competitors; the PBoC is now tasked with having a industry wide system that does not favor giants like Alibaba and Tencent.

PPDAI Group: China’s ‘Lending Club’ Is In A Buy Range Now (Seeking Alpha) Rated: AAA

  • Net loss was RMB 507.1 million (US$77.90 million) for the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with a profit of RMB 266.0 million in the same period of 2016. More specifically, the loss was due to:
    • Net interest income/(expense) and loan provision losses for the fourth quarter of 2017 was an expense of RMB 13.2 million (US$2.0 million), compared to an income of RMB 3.6 million in the same period of 2016. This was primarily due to a one-time provision of RMB 107.7 million (US$16.3 million) for expected discretionary payments to investors in investment programs protected by the investor reserve funds caused by the increase in delinquency rates.
    • Other income recorded a loss of RMB 694.8 million (US$106.8 million)for the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with income of RMB 124.7 million in the same period of 2016. The loss was caused mainly by an expense of RMB 271.9 million (US$41.8 million) related to the quality assurance fund and an expense of RMB 460.4 million (US$70.8 million) from a fair value change of financial guarantee derivatives due to increased credit risks across the industry which led to upward adjustments to the company’s expected default rate for loans protected by the quality assurance fund and underlying loans in investment programs protected by the investor reserve funds.
Source: Seeking Alpha

Indeed, when we look at the delinquency rate by balance at each quarter, there was a significant jump in every delinquency bucket at 2017 Q4:

As of 15-29 days 30-59 days 60-89 days 90-119 days 120-149 days 150-179 days
March 31, 2015 0.79% 1.75% 1.10% 1.01% 0.87% 0.67%
June 30, 2015 0.88% 1.06% 0.67% 0.54% 0.89% 0.67%
September 30, 2015 0.67% 0.89% 0.61% 0.54% 0.44% 0.35%
December 31, 2015 0.80% 0.93% 0.51% 0.49% 0.39% 0.32%
March 31, 2016 0.62% 0.93% 0.72% 0.61% 0.48% 0.32%
June 30, 2016 0.82% 1.01% 0.63% 0.43% 0.47% 0.44%
September 30, 2016 0.83% 1.11% 0.80% 0.63% 0.49% 0.39%
December 31, 2016 0.63% 0.91% 0.75% 0.79% 0.69% 0.57%
March 31, 2017 0.57% 0.95% 0.79% 0.59% 0.54% 0.51%
June 30, 2017 0.86% 1.11% 0.79% 0.51% 0.55% 0.52%
September 30, 2017 0.89% 1.40% 1.15% 1.02% 0.79% 0.60%
December 31, 2017 2.27% 2.21% 1.72% 1.63% 1.36% 1.20%
 Source: PPDF’s Q4 ER release
European Union

Homelend ICO (HMD Token): Blockchain Mortgage Crowdfunding? (Bitcoin Exchange Guide) Rated: A

Homelend is a mortgage crowdfunding platform built on blockchain technology.

What is Homelend?

Yes, just like we have P2P lending platforms for smaller loans and offers, we now have lending platforms for larger loans – like home mortgages.

The goal of Homelend is to disrupt the $31 trillion global real estate lending market. As of April 2018, Homelend is still preparing to launch. They’ve published a whitepaper online and appear to be preparing for a token sale in the near future.

Spotcap Opens Fintech Fellowship Applications (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: B

Spotcap, an SME focused online lender based in Berlin, announced on Tuesday it has opened applications for its Fintech Fellowship. According to the lending platform, this program offers a £8,000 award to a postgraduate student studying a fintech related course at a UK university. Applications will be open for four months and close on August 1st.

International

HOLD ICO: Cryptocurrency Lending & Investing For Instant Cash? (Bitcoin Exchange Guide) Rated: A

HOLD provides members with unique P2P lending and borrowing capabilities. The platform allows users to leverage their existing cryptocurrency holdings for instant cash advances from other willing users. Through their mobile app and prepaid card, they enable online and offline purchases with over 45 million retailers worldwide and over 3 million ATMs.

BitcoinEthereum, and Litecoin can be used as collateral for cash advances at a competitive rate of 8%, not requiring a good credit history and without geographic restrictions.

HOLD cardholders earn HOLD tokens every time they use their card. On almost all purchases, the HOLD platform will provide a 1% cashback in HOLD tokens, directly into the user’s wallet. The platform will progressively match provided liquidity with cash advances, producing lucrative and low-risk returns of up to 7.5% p.a. for lenders, representing a lucrative money-making opportunity.

Australia

 

Mortgage trust sector has nearly doubled over the past year (Australian Financial Review) Rated: AAA

The size of the mortgage trust sector has nearly doubled over the past year but the quality of underlying loans are healthy with low arrears, research group SQM Research says.

Source: SQM Research

Australian millennials have taken to robo financial advice (Business Insider) Rated: B

In Australia, robo-advice has gained significant recognition among the Australian online share investor population, with 22% saying they are familiar with these services.

Only in the US, where the bulk of innovation in robo-advice is taking place, is familiarity with robo-advice significantly higher (39%).

India

Mumbai-based P2P Lending Platform PaisaDukan Raises $ 650K Through Angel Funding Route (Indian Web2) Rated: A

PaisaDukan.com a P2P Lending marketplace solely owned by Mumbai based FinTech start-up BigWin Infotech, today announced a secured seed funding of USD 650K through Angel funding rout. The fund will be used for marketplace platform and mobile app development.

 

Asia

Homegrown P2P lending platform Funding Societies raised US$ 25m (Singapore Business Review) Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform Funding Societies has raised US$25m in its oversubscribed Series B funding round, which was led by Softbank Ventures Korea, along with Sequoia India, Alpha JWC Ventures (Indonesia), and Golden Gate Ventures. Qualgro and LINE Ventures also participated.

Its Series B funding round was led by Softbank Ventures Korea and Sequoia India.

Ex-law firm boss fined $ 10,000 for failing to report suspicious deal (The Strait Times) Rated: A

The former director of a Singapore law firm decided to find out more about a “high net worth client” who was buying a house in Sentosa Cove – and discovered she was linked to one of China’s biggest Ponzi schemes involving $10.8 billion.

Kang Bee Leng, 56, failed to notify the authorities that a sum of almost $5.5 million involved in the purchase could have been benefits of criminal activities.

Kang, who was a managing director of Sterling Law Corporation during the offence but has since left the firm, was fined $10,000 on Tuesday (April 17) after pleading guilty to the offence last month.

MENA

Why unbanked Egypt is ripe for a FinTech revolution (ZDNet) Rated: A

World Bank data reveals that the Middle East has the lowest level of bank-account penetration in the world, averaging 14 percent of adults, in line with the in-country figure for Egypt.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Tuesday April 3 2018, Daily News Digest

FT Partners

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi issues $2.6B in ABS notes in Q1 2018. GreenSky files for IPO. China’s P2P lenders brace for more regulations. FinanZero raises $3.6M. Today’s main analysis: FT Partners’ CEO alternative lending market analysis. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Cities with highest share of cash-out refinance borrowers. Retailers grow financial services capabilities. India’s unsecured instant loan interest rates […]

FT Partners

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United States

SoFi Issues a Record $ 2.6 Billion in ABS Notes in the First Quarter of 2018 (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

SoFi announced today that it completed $2.6 billion in loan securitizations in the first quarter of 2018, a 35% increase over the prior-year period and its largest-ever quarterly ABS issuance volume.

In Q1 2018, SoFi completed a total of three securitization transactions: two student loan ABS offerings ($960 million SOFI 2018-A Notes and $869 million SOFI 2018-B Notes) and one consumer loan ABS offering ($774 million SCLP 2018-1 Notes). The SoFi 2018-B Notes marked the first time SoFi included medical residency loans as a part of the collateral.

LendingTree Ranks Cities with the Highest Share of Cash-Out Refinance Borrowers (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

LendingTree today released the findings of its study on where cash-out refinancing was most prevalent in the past year.

Cities with the highest share of cash-out borrowers

Source Lending Tree

Cities with the highest cash-out loan amounts

Source Lending Tree

Fintech Firm GreenSky Files Confidentially for IPO (Wall Street Journal), Rated: AAA

Financial-technology firm GreenSky LLC has confidentially filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a sizable initial public offering that could come as soon as this summer, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Atlanta company, which operates a lending platform that enables retailers, health-care providers and home contractors to offer loans to their customers, could seek to raise $1 billion at a valuation of roughly $5 billion, some of the people said.

FT Partners’ CEO Monthly Alternative Lending Market Analysis  (FT Partners), Rated: AAA

This month’s report features an exclusive interview with Manu Smadja, co-founder and CEO of MPOWER Financing, an alternative lender that enables high-potential international students to finance their education. In our conversation with Manu, he discusses the inception of MPOWER, along with the unique opportunities and challenges of lending to this market.

M&A

Source: FT Partners

Read the full report here.

Max Levchin To Participate In A Keynote Fireside Chat At LendIt Fintech USA 2018 (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LendIt Fintech announced today that Max Levchin, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Affirm, a financial services technology company that is reimagining consumer credit and banking, will be featured in a keynote fireside chat on April 9. The world’s most prominent and emerging fintech CEOs from Wall Street to Main Street will gather April 9-11 at Moscone Center in San Francisco to focus on the hot-button topics and issues exploring the future of finance.

In a session titled The future of credit: Reimagining the financing ecosystem, Levchin’s keynote fireside chat will delve into how the retail industry has evolved and how retail experiences are continuing to grow beyond the capabilities of traditional credit and lending. Levchin will share his thoughts on why the industry needs to reimagine the financing ecosystem from the ground up in order to unlock the future of credit. Levchin will also discuss why Affirm is committed to reinventing credit, starting with the belief that it should help improve consumers’ financial lives in addition to financing their purchases.

Kabbage: Small Businesses Turning To Mobile Lending In Big Numbers (Payment Week), Rated: A

Sometimes, businesses need ready cash to get from “the latest bills” to “the next paid invoice,” and that’s where lenders are coming in. A new report from Kabbage says that small businesses are turning to mobile devices to get in on that lender funding in increasing numbers.

Kabbage surveyed almost 150,000 small businesses, and found that loans accessed by mobile device had increased better than three-fold, over 360 percent, of what they were back in April 2014. While the total numbers went through the roof, the value of the loans accessed went through the roof and over the treetops, having increased over 1,220 percent.

Why Marcus Has Changed Everything (Orchard Platform), Rated: A

Fast forward almost 18 months and Marcus is the fastest growing online lender in history. They have lent $2.5 billion in this time to 350,000 customers and have 700 employees spread across three offices. Not only that, but they have grand ambitions in the space. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has repeatedly talked about the importance of Marcus to the future of Goldman Sachs.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal the consumer banking business of Goldman Sachs is expected to generate $1 billion in revenue for the firm by 2020. That is significantly more revenue than LendingClub is expected to generate in 2018 as an 11-year- old business.

We have heard that Barclays and PNC Financial will be launching their own lending platforms in 2018 and there are rumors that many other large banks are going to do the same.

Most people probably don’t know Goldman Sachs offers a savings account with excellent perks — and anyone can use it with just $ 1 (Business Insider), Rated: A

Marcus— named after the Goldman Sachs founder Marcus Goldman — allows any adult (except in Maryland, where Marcus is not yet available) to create a savings account.

The big selling point for Marcus is the 1.5% annual percentage yield offered. Whereas interest rates for many banks have plummeted to as low as 0.01%, Goldman Sachs’ savings accounts create significant interest.

There is also no minimum amount needed to open an account with Marcus, and a deposit of even $1 allows users to earn the 1.5% APY.

Ohio Insurtech Root Insurance Completes Series C Round With $ 51 Million in Funding (Crowdfund Insider), Rated:A

Root Insurance, an Ohio-based car insurtech company, announced last week it secured $51 million in funding through its Series C round, which was led by Redpoint Ventures, with Scale Venture Partners and existing partners Ribbit Capital and Silicon Valley Bank Capital Partners. 

Root will use the new funding to expand into additional states and continue to invest in technology that significantly improves the customer experience.

That Fast Online Loan Could Have Super-high Interest Rates and Hidden Fees That Bankrupt Your Business (Entrepreneur), Rated: A

recent lawsuit against fintech small-business lender Kabbage Inc., charging that it partnered with a bank in order to offer interest rates that exceeded the legal limit, highlights the need for more regulatory oversight of the growing number of online lenders signing deals with small businesses.

Online lenders are getting more scrutiny.

The recent Massachusetts federal case brought by a small business against Kabbage (and its partner Celtic Bank) highlights why non-bank fintech lenders should be regulated. The suit alleges that Kabbage used its relationship with Celtic — which “rented” its balance sheet to Kabbage — as a basis to charge interest rates that violated usury laws.

How Credit Karma is using data to become a central finance hub (Tearsheet), Rated: A

It’s not a bank, but it uses customer data to help banks find customers.

Currently valued at $4 billion, Credit Karma has 80 million customers — half of whom are millennials. The company joins a growing number of financial startups like Clarity Money, SoFi, Chime and Varo Money that are aiming to become one-stop shops for customers’ finances. The field is growing increasingly competitive. Meanwhile, banks are bundling personal finance advice into their mobile apps. But Credit Karma has two advantages its competitors often struggle with — scale and data — and it’s using a chatbot to lock in the relationship with the customer.

A Chase Sapphire experiment is getting revived and expanded after the trial run blew away expectations with millennials last year (Business Insider), Rated: B

Last year, ahead of the spring homebuying season — the busiest of the year — JPMorgan Chase engineered an experiment to gain an edge in the mortgage-lending competition.

So the bank targeted its Sapphire customers, offering another 100,000 in rewards points if they closed a mortgage with the bank — a bonus worth as much as $1,500.

HNW Clients Warming Up To Digital Advice (Financial Adviser), Rated: A

In its report, “The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Retail Investor Edition, 1Q 2018 Issue,” the researcher found that more than one-quarter of investors over 70 who have $2 million to $5 million in investable assets said they would consider online-only engagement. Beyond that, high-net-worth investors in general seemingly are more receptive to digital advice platforms.

In 2015, Cerulli found that 38% of investors with investable assets of $2 million to $5 million said they were willing to engage with digital providers. Last year, that number jumped to 46%. And among investors with $5 million-plus in investable assets, those numbers went from 30% in 2015 to 38% last year.

Why borrower experience will be the principal driver of bank revenue in the lending market (Lendit), Rated: A

Tech giants such as Google and Amazon have rewritten the rulebook for consumers when it comes to what they can reasonably expect from their service providers. Consequently, bank offerings are being judged to the same standard as the most innovative digitally native products in the world.

The benefits of improved customer experience

More generally, banks must focus on improving user experience to remain competitive as digitally native fintech products flood the marketplace. Focusing especially, the motivations for improving customer experience can be described as:

  •  Differentiation Financial services can no longer lean on long-standing relationships and brand positioning to generate new customer business.
  • Positive brand response in addition to research, some customers will also emphasize the emotive impression they receive from a product when making purchasing decisions.
  • Coping with an economic downturn During a recession or other global economic hardship businesses are placed under increased financial strain. Services viewed positively by their existing clients will stand a better chance of retaining their clients as well as growing their client base during the downturn.

Pindrop Introduces New Biometric Solution: Tongueprinting (Finovate), Rated: A

Banking Technology’s Anthony Peyton reports that the Atlanta-based anti-fraud and authentication specialist has unveiled Tongueprinting, a technology that analyses every person’s unique tongue as its newest biometric engine. Banking Technology is Finovate’s sister publication.

The idea is for Tongueprinting to stop fraudsters from taking over legitimate accounts by spoofing the call centre with automated bots, social engineering, and knowledge-based authentication questions.  

HomeUnion Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Individual Investors (Business Wire), Rated: A

HomeUnion, the leader in online residential real estate investing, has launched a crowdfunding platform that allows investors to purchase stakes in funds of single-family rental (SFR) properties on its website. Starting with a minimum investment of $10,000, retail investors now have the ability to acquire interest in the HomeUnion Fix-and-Flip Fund. The fund enables consumers to invest in SFR assets acquired for fix-and-flip purposes in seven HomeUnion markets: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Raleigh and Tampa.

Upstart tests buyer appetite with riskier loans, more sub notes (Global Capital), Rated: A

Online lender Upstart is the latest marketplace loan company to broaden the risk profile of its ABS, announcing a deal this week offering more subordinate bonds and backed by a higher proportion of longer term loans.

The California-based lender, founded by ex-Google employees, uses an underwriting model which incorporates data points beyond borrowers’ FICO scores, utilizing other factors such as schools attended, areas of study, academic performance and work history.

Is low pay hurting banks in the battle for tech talent? (American Banker), Rated: A

Conversations about pay in the banking industry typically focus on whether executives at the top are paid too much or workers at the bottom are paid too little.

But new data available as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act is drawing rare attention to the compensation of employees in the middle. In what will become an annual exercise, publicly traded U.S. companies are now required to disclose annually the median pay of their employees.

Information and Data Integrity: A Two-Way Street (Lendit), Rated: A

For many businesses, data is an important aspect of decision management. When you are choosing with whom to do business, you rely on the validity of data to guide you. If it proves faulty, you may be steered into accepting bad customers or rejecting good ones, which can seriously affect your bottom line. For consumers, inaccurate data can be equally harmful—leading to the appearance of having bad credit, denials of services or products or worse, flagged as potentially fraudulent.

Spanning both digital and real worlds, and encompassing data about identity, financial characteristics, behaviors and more, an integrated view is the foundation of enhanced insights that can ultimately improve financial outcomes. TransUnion understands the importance of current, accurate data and gives its customers access to information—including both highly-regulated and publicly available forms of alternative data—that creates powerful, comprehensive views of consumers.

Here’s Why Millennials Are Choosing Personal Loans (Lendit), Rated: A

When it comes to millennial spending habits, it looks as though they’re rounding a corner to a new kind of credit. With the vast treasure trove of accumulated data available, credit bureaus like TransUnion are seeing spikes in personal loans compared to Generation X’s spending habits in the early 2000s. It’s a tremendous opportunity for marketers to capture a demographic that expects more from their lender.

The Overarching Trends

The newly minted adults of Generation Z are at the very beginning of their financial journey, but millennials are at the age where they’re expected to make major purchases. As they struggle with the economy and student debt, they’re making different financial choices along the way.

Adopting New Technology

Lenders are turning to financial technology (fintech) to help peddle their products, which millennials are all too happy to use. Ironically, applying for a personal loan without the face-to-face connection can be far more attractive than the traditional application process.

A Decline in Credit Card Usage

Right or wrong, credit cards have long been linked to perpetual debt in many people’s minds. In 2009, the CARD Act was introduced to place stricter limits on the marketing of credit cards at college campuses. Debit cards have become more of the rule as opposed to the exception, leaping from 8 billion transactions in 2000 to 60 billion in 2015.

Small Business Confidence Is Up, What Does that Mean? (Lendit), Rated: A

The year 2017 saw small business owners across the United States grow more optimistic about the future than they’ve ever been—at least since the creation of the Optimism Index by the NFIB in the 70s.  “2017 was the most remarkable year in the 45-year history of the NFIB Optimism Index,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan.

The Tax Bill Could be a Boon for Small Businesses

Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations are all examples of what are called pass-through businesses; and make up roughly 95 percent of all U.S. businesses. They also happen to be many of our customers at OnDeck, and other online small business lenders. One of the main components of the new tax bill is a 20 percent tax deduction for those businesses, where business owners can “shield” 20 percent of their business income from flowing through to their personal income tax returns.

Cincinnati-based financial tech startup raises $ 1.2 million (Cincinnati Business Courier), Rated: B

A Cincinnati-based financial tech startup that aims to help users secure low-dollar loans without having to resort to a payday lender raised $1.2 million in venture capital.

Mayor proposes employee loans to offset predatory lenders (Santa Fe New Mexican), Rated: B

A few months after a new annual 175 percent cap on small-loan interest rates in New Mexico went into effect, Mayor Alan Webber is proposing a short-term loan program to help municipal workers avoid payday lending businesses viewed as predatory by consumer advocates.

BlockFi Gives Hodlers Another Option to Borrow Against Crypto Assets (BitcoinMagazine), Rated: B

Options for borrowing and lending with cryptocurrencies are on the rise. One of the latest start-ups to join the likes of SALT and Unchained Capital is BlockFi, a New York City–based startup that issues loans backed by bitcoin and ether to individuals, companies and institutions in 35 U.S. states.

BlockFi takes cryptocurrency as collateral, offering interest rates on loans of around 12 percent. This is generally lower than unsecured loans and higher than loans secured with traditional assets such as securities or real estate.

eBus to offer visitors financial advice, credit reports (The Repository), Rated: B

The eBus is a mobile classroom which is equipped with 14 personal computers and satellite technology staffed by Fifth Third bankers and representatives from nonprofit community organizations. On the bus, visitors can request a credit report and review it with a professional; receive a personalized evaluation of finances; receive internet banking and bill pay demonstrations; speak with nonprofits about housing, money management and business advice; receive consultation on foreclosure prevention; and conduct online job searches.

United Kingdom

Scots ‘side businesses’ generate £1.7bn a year (The Scotsman), Rated: A

More than 500,000 people living in Scotland have started a side business, generating a collective £1.7 billion a year out of more than £33bn UK-wide, according to new research.

Online lender Sunny said many of those north of the Border turning to side businesses are doing so to help with the cost of bills, savings and debts, and bring in an average of £272 a month on top of their main income.

That represents a 20 per cent increase from when they first started their business.

China

China’s P2P lenders brace for renewed regulatory crackdown (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

China will soon be rolling out new licensing requirements for p2p lenders; The system will kick off in April with approvals slated to come at the end of this month, but many lenders aren’t aware of the filing process; in 2016 and 2017 many p2p lenders shut down and according to data there are around 2,000 remaining; it is expected that many of the 2,000 will not pass the new requirements; the new rules won’t allow platforms to guarantee loan payments and also limit loans to individuals and businesses; it will also require that platforms use custodian banks.

China Rapid Finance Executives Selected to Speak at LendIt Fintech USA 2018 (PR Newswire), Rated: A

China Rapid Finance Limited (“China Rapid Finance” or the “Company”) (NYSE: XRF) announced today that the Company will participate as a sponsor and exhibitor at the upcoming LendIt Fintech USA 2018, to be held between Apr 9th and 11th in San Francisco, California.

China: WeiyangX Fintech Review (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

On March 28th, cross-border payment company iPayLinks announced that it had completed, at the beginning of this year, a hundreds of million-yuan B1 round of financing led by Tencent and followed by Legend Capital.

NIFA Issues a Self-Discipline Convention for Debt-Collection Practitioners

The five-chapter convention is mainly applying to regulate the behavior of overdue debt collection within the Internet Finance industry by establishing several basic principles (e.g. observing laws and regulations, prudential regulations, protecting privacy, and strict self-discipline). In other words, the document outlines a framework of debt-collection regulation in terms of discredited punishment, business management, personnel management, information management, outsourcing management, and complaints.

China’s internet lenders fall foul of data privacy rules (Financial Times), Rated: A

More than half of Chinese internet finance lenders are failing to comply with data privacy regulations, research has found, raising risks for investors as China steps up the implementation of laws to protect consumer data.

The breaches include collecting phone numbers from users’ contact lists, which can be used to mount harassment campaigns and shame users into repaying debts.

The survey of 200 finance apps by Renmin University and Nandu Personal Data Protection Research Centre, a Beijing think-tank, ranked 111 apps as having “low” compliance.

It found that almost half — 95 apps — wanted to read users’ text messages, while 97 of them wanted access to users’ contact lists, despite such access not being necessary for the app’s functioning.

International

How retailers are growing their financial services capabilities (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

Amazon isn’t the only retailer encroaching on the financial services space. It may be the scariest — just the rumor of it entering a company’s space will send its stock price down — but ultimately, Amazon only cares about getting more buyers and more sellers to join its platform.

Overstock’s Raj Karkara, vp of loyalty and financial services, echoed that sentiment earlier this year, saying that offering financial services or connecting customers with financial services providers is a natural extension of its retail function of buying and selling consumer goods.

Rakuten
Rakuten is Japan’s largest e-commerce site and has slowly been growing outside of the country. It has a footprint in media, video-on-demand, mobile messaging, e-books, travel, fashion, marketing and even sports. It also operates the largest online bank in the country.

Overstock
For the past few months, e-commerce company Overstock.com has been quietly building out FinanceHub, a sort of marketplace for financial services that includes existing Overstock credit cards and insurance products; loans by LendingTree, Prosper and Sofi; a robo-adviser for automated investing; and, most recently, a discounted trading platform.

Sainsbury (and Tesco)
Amazon may not be interested in becoming a bank but that doesn’t mean it can’t succeed in stealing customer attention from them. The U.K.’s largest grocers have all opened banks attached to their brands —  Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

ETHLend (LEND) Token – Will It Go Down After Kyber Network Partnership? (Hot Stocked), Rated: A

ETHLend has recently partnered up with Kyber Network. The ETHLend (LEND) Token has reached a market capitalization of 45.69 Million US dollars in the last 24 hours. The token traded 9.50%higher against the U.S. dollar during the last 24 hours ending at 10:30 AM EDTon April 2nd. That rise might be as a result of the partnership. ETHLend aims to become another decentralized and secure financial marketplace, but targeting peer to peer lending agreements via Blockchain and Smart Contracts.

Source CoinMarketCap

 

Australia

SMALL BUSINESS LOANS IN AUSTRALIA: SHOULD YOU SEEK FINANCE FROM A BANK OR AN ONLINE LENDER? (Dynamic Business), Rated: A

Considering the small business sector employs nearly half the national workforce and contributes around $380 billion to Australia’s GDP [1], it’s easy to see why it’s frequently referred to as the ‘engine room’ of the economy.

Like all engine rooms, the sector requires sufficient fuel – in this case, working and growth capital – to not only keep running but also accelerate. However, poor access to capital remains a significant barrier to small businesses, accounting for a majority of failures in the sector.

Part of the reason is that banks are reluctant to lend to small businesses in circumstances where the borrower doesn’t have bricks-and-mortar security – especially if a short-term loan is sought.

APRA rejected CBA home loan data as inaccurate and incomplete (Financial Review), Rated: B

Commonwealth Bank was being pressured by the prudential regulator to appoint external consultants and fix its flawed home lending data almost 2½ years before the Hayne royal commission began exposing the big four for sloppy administrative errors and irresponsible lending.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s frustration with the failure of Australia’s biggest home lender to accurately identify what proportion of its loans were taken out by property investors and its level of exposure to big borrowers has been revealed in evidence tendered to the banking royal commission and published in a massive dump of more than 100 documents late last week.

India

Interest rates on unsecured instant loans are high (LiveMint), Rated: AAA

Financial institutions and fintech companies have launched multiple small credit products in India in the past 1-3 years. It is now possible to get loans even on your mobile phone. But how do you pay for this convenience?

P2P lending platform

Peer-to-peer lending companies such as Faircent, i2ifunding and Lendbox connect lenders and borrowers on their platforms. Usually, the lender is an individual and not a financial institution. The interest rates are between 15% and 36% per annum and the loan amount can range from Rs50,000 to Rs5 lakh. The interest rate is decided based on the credit profile of the customer. Usually, the P2P lending companies take into account your Cibil credit score. The loan tenure is 3 months to 24 months.

Fintech eco-system is moving to blockchain and AI: Rajat Gandhi, Faircent (Economic Times), Rated: A

A lot of players have come into the fintech space. There are wallet players, then there are PPI, P2B, crowdsourcing and other payment players as well. So, regulation is one of the key challenges the private players are going through. What is your take on it?

Surprisingly, the Indian regulators, I would say, are strict. You can see the example of NBFC P2P licences regulation. It is a good rule-based model. In fact, the players themselves were pushing for some kind of regulation because financial markets need them. It’s not like e-commerce or running a taxi where the risks are not that high.

India’s Finzy Raises $ 1.3 Mln At Pre Series A Funding (Reuters), Rated: A

Finzy, India’s fastest growing peer to peer lending platform, has raised USD 1.3 million in first round of Pre Series A from investors in the industry. A second round of fundraising is expected to close with pre-identified set of investors within the next 60 days.

Latin American

Brazilian Loan Marketplace FinanZero raises USD 3.6 million in Series A Funding Round (PR Newwire), Rated: AAA

FinanZero is a leading marketplace for consumer loans in Brazil. The business is an independent broker for loans, negotiating the customer’s loan application with several banks and credit institutions, to find the loan with the best interest rate and terms for the consumer. FinanZero handles the lending process from start to finish.

The Series A round was led by Swedish publicly listed investment company, Vostok Emerging Finance, with participation by other Swedish investors, including Webrock Ventures and Zentro Founders.

Africa

Fintech is central to Nigeria’s future success (Financial Times), Rated: A

Central to this opportunity is an acceleration in the development of a modern banking and financial services sector. We are already seeing huge breakthroughs in digital banking and the adoption of fintech-based services by Nigerian consumers — be they retail or business customers. But this expansion must be encouraged by policies that will see greater inclusion of women and rural communities into mainstream banking activity.

Asia

Meet the most disruptive fintech startup in South Korea (Forbes), Rated: AAA

Viva Republica is the most disruptive fintech startup in South Korea. Since the 2015 launch of its simple peer-to-peer payments app Toss, banks are finally revamping their user experiences and customers have easier access to financial products. South Korea’s mobile payments have more than quadrupled in that time to $4.6 billion, according to Bank of Korea data.

The startup, funded at $76 million, hasn’t stopped there. After PayPal joined a $48 million investment in Toss in March, Toss has grown from a simple money-transfer app to a diverse consumer-finance platform generating Viva Republica’s $20 million in expected revenue in 2017. Toss thus joins Asia’s ranks of fast-growing mobile P2P payment services, reaching a $12 billion transaction volume in 2017.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Tuesday April 3 2018, Daily News Digest

FT Partners

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi issues $2.6B in ABS notes in Q1 2018. GreenSky files for IPO. China’s P2P lenders brace for more regulations. FinanZero raises $3.6M. Today’s main analysis: FT Partners’ CEO alternative lending market analysis. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Cities with highest share of cash-out refinance borrowers. Retailers grow financial services capabilities. India’s unsecured instant loan interest rates […]

FT Partners

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

International

Australia

India

Other

News Summary

United States

SoFi Issues a Record $ 2.6 Billion in ABS Notes in the First Quarter of 2018 (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

SoFi announced today that it completed $2.6 billion in loan securitizations in the first quarter of 2018, a 35% increase over the prior-year period and its largest-ever quarterly ABS issuance volume.

In Q1 2018, SoFi completed a total of three securitization transactions: two student loan ABS offerings ($960 million SOFI 2018-A Notes and $869 million SOFI 2018-B Notes) and one consumer loan ABS offering ($774 million SCLP 2018-1 Notes). The SoFi 2018-B Notes marked the first time SoFi included medical residency loans as a part of the collateral.

LendingTree Ranks Cities with the Highest Share of Cash-Out Refinance Borrowers (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

LendingTree today released the findings of its study on where cash-out refinancing was most prevalent in the past year.

Cities with the highest share of cash-out borrowers

Source Lending Tree

Cities with the highest cash-out loan amounts

Source Lending Tree

Fintech Firm GreenSky Files Confidentially for IPO (Wall Street Journal), Rated: AAA

Financial-technology firm GreenSky LLC has confidentially filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a sizable initial public offering that could come as soon as this summer, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Atlanta company, which operates a lending platform that enables retailers, health-care providers and home contractors to offer loans to their customers, could seek to raise $1 billion at a valuation of roughly $5 billion, some of the people said.

FT Partners’ CEO Monthly Alternative Lending Market Analysis  (FT Partners), Rated: AAA

This month’s report features an exclusive interview with Manu Smadja, co-founder and CEO of MPOWER Financing, an alternative lender that enables high-potential international students to finance their education. In our conversation with Manu, he discusses the inception of MPOWER, along with the unique opportunities and challenges of lending to this market.

M&A

Source: FT Partners

Read the full report here.

Max Levchin To Participate In A Keynote Fireside Chat At LendIt Fintech USA 2018 (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LendIt Fintech announced today that Max Levchin, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Affirm, a financial services technology company that is reimagining consumer credit and banking, will be featured in a keynote fireside chat on April 9. The world’s most prominent and emerging fintech CEOs from Wall Street to Main Street will gather April 9-11 at Moscone Center in San Francisco to focus on the hot-button topics and issues exploring the future of finance.

In a session titled The future of credit: Reimagining the financing ecosystem, Levchin’s keynote fireside chat will delve into how the retail industry has evolved and how retail experiences are continuing to grow beyond the capabilities of traditional credit and lending. Levchin will share his thoughts on why the industry needs to reimagine the financing ecosystem from the ground up in order to unlock the future of credit. Levchin will also discuss why Affirm is committed to reinventing credit, starting with the belief that it should help improve consumers’ financial lives in addition to financing their purchases.

Kabbage: Small Businesses Turning To Mobile Lending In Big Numbers (Payment Week), Rated: A

Sometimes, businesses need ready cash to get from “the latest bills” to “the next paid invoice,” and that’s where lenders are coming in. A new report from Kabbage says that small businesses are turning to mobile devices to get in on that lender funding in increasing numbers.

Kabbage surveyed almost 150,000 small businesses, and found that loans accessed by mobile device had increased better than three-fold, over 360 percent, of what they were back in April 2014. While the total numbers went through the roof, the value of the loans accessed went through the roof and over the treetops, having increased over 1,220 percent.

Why Marcus Has Changed Everything (Orchard Platform), Rated: A

Fast forward almost 18 months and Marcus is the fastest growing online lender in history. They have lent $2.5 billion in this time to 350,000 customers and have 700 employees spread across three offices. Not only that, but they have grand ambitions in the space. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has repeatedly talked about the importance of Marcus to the future of Goldman Sachs.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal the consumer banking business of Goldman Sachs is expected to generate $1 billion in revenue for the firm by 2020. That is significantly more revenue than LendingClub is expected to generate in 2018 as an 11-year- old business.

We have heard that Barclays and PNC Financial will be launching their own lending platforms in 2018 and there are rumors that many other large banks are going to do the same.

Most people probably don’t know Goldman Sachs offers a savings account with excellent perks — and anyone can use it with just $ 1 (Business Insider), Rated: A

Marcus— named after the Goldman Sachs founder Marcus Goldman — allows any adult (except in Maryland, where Marcus is not yet available) to create a savings account.

The big selling point for Marcus is the 1.5% annual percentage yield offered. Whereas interest rates for many banks have plummeted to as low as 0.01%, Goldman Sachs’ savings accounts create significant interest.

There is also no minimum amount needed to open an account with Marcus, and a deposit of even $1 allows users to earn the 1.5% APY.

Ohio Insurtech Root Insurance Completes Series C Round With $ 51 Million in Funding (Crowdfund Insider), Rated:A

Root Insurance, an Ohio-based car insurtech company, announced last week it secured $51 million in funding through its Series C round, which was led by Redpoint Ventures, with Scale Venture Partners and existing partners Ribbit Capital and Silicon Valley Bank Capital Partners. 

Root will use the new funding to expand into additional states and continue to invest in technology that significantly improves the customer experience.

That Fast Online Loan Could Have Super-high Interest Rates and Hidden Fees That Bankrupt Your Business (Entrepreneur), Rated: A

recent lawsuit against fintech small-business lender Kabbage Inc., charging that it partnered with a bank in order to offer interest rates that exceeded the legal limit, highlights the need for more regulatory oversight of the growing number of online lenders signing deals with small businesses.

Online lenders are getting more scrutiny.

The recent Massachusetts federal case brought by a small business against Kabbage (and its partner Celtic Bank) highlights why non-bank fintech lenders should be regulated. The suit alleges that Kabbage used its relationship with Celtic — which “rented” its balance sheet to Kabbage — as a basis to charge interest rates that violated usury laws.

How Credit Karma is using data to become a central finance hub (Tearsheet), Rated: A

It’s not a bank, but it uses customer data to help banks find customers.

Currently valued at $4 billion, Credit Karma has 80 million customers — half of whom are millennials. The company joins a growing number of financial startups like Clarity Money, SoFi, Chime and Varo Money that are aiming to become one-stop shops for customers’ finances. The field is growing increasingly competitive. Meanwhile, banks are bundling personal finance advice into their mobile apps. But Credit Karma has two advantages its competitors often struggle with — scale and data — and it’s using a chatbot to lock in the relationship with the customer.

A Chase Sapphire experiment is getting revived and expanded after the trial run blew away expectations with millennials last year (Business Insider), Rated: B

Last year, ahead of the spring homebuying season — the busiest of the year — JPMorgan Chase engineered an experiment to gain an edge in the mortgage-lending competition.

So the bank targeted its Sapphire customers, offering another 100,000 in rewards points if they closed a mortgage with the bank — a bonus worth as much as $1,500.

HNW Clients Warming Up To Digital Advice (Financial Adviser), Rated: A

In its report, “The Cerulli Edge—U.S. Retail Investor Edition, 1Q 2018 Issue,” the researcher found that more than one-quarter of investors over 70 who have $2 million to $5 million in investable assets said they would consider online-only engagement. Beyond that, high-net-worth investors in general seemingly are more receptive to digital advice platforms.

In 2015, Cerulli found that 38% of investors with investable assets of $2 million to $5 million said they were willing to engage with digital providers. Last year, that number jumped to 46%. And among investors with $5 million-plus in investable assets, those numbers went from 30% in 2015 to 38% last year.

Why borrower experience will be the principal driver of bank revenue in the lending market (Lendit), Rated: A

Tech giants such as Google and Amazon have rewritten the rulebook for consumers when it comes to what they can reasonably expect from their service providers. Consequently, bank offerings are being judged to the same standard as the most innovative digitally native products in the world.

The benefits of improved customer experience

More generally, banks must focus on improving user experience to remain competitive as digitally native fintech products flood the marketplace. Focusing especially, the motivations for improving customer experience can be described as:

  •  Differentiation Financial services can no longer lean on long-standing relationships and brand positioning to generate new customer business.
  • Positive brand response in addition to research, some customers will also emphasize the emotive impression they receive from a product when making purchasing decisions.
  • Coping with an economic downturn During a recession or other global economic hardship businesses are placed under increased financial strain. Services viewed positively by their existing clients will stand a better chance of retaining their clients as well as growing their client base during the downturn.

Pindrop Introduces New Biometric Solution: Tongueprinting (Finovate), Rated: A

Banking Technology’s Anthony Peyton reports that the Atlanta-based anti-fraud and authentication specialist has unveiled Tongueprinting, a technology that analyses every person’s unique tongue as its newest biometric engine. Banking Technology is Finovate’s sister publication.

The idea is for Tongueprinting to stop fraudsters from taking over legitimate accounts by spoofing the call centre with automated bots, social engineering, and knowledge-based authentication questions.  

HomeUnion Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Individual Investors (Business Wire), Rated: A

HomeUnion, the leader in online residential real estate investing, has launched a crowdfunding platform that allows investors to purchase stakes in funds of single-family rental (SFR) properties on its website. Starting with a minimum investment of $10,000, retail investors now have the ability to acquire interest in the HomeUnion Fix-and-Flip Fund. The fund enables consumers to invest in SFR assets acquired for fix-and-flip purposes in seven HomeUnion markets: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Raleigh and Tampa.

Upstart tests buyer appetite with riskier loans, more sub notes (Global Capital), Rated: A

Online lender Upstart is the latest marketplace loan company to broaden the risk profile of its ABS, announcing a deal this week offering more subordinate bonds and backed by a higher proportion of longer term loans.

The California-based lender, founded by ex-Google employees, uses an underwriting model which incorporates data points beyond borrowers’ FICO scores, utilizing other factors such as schools attended, areas of study, academic performance and work history.

Is low pay hurting banks in the battle for tech talent? (American Banker), Rated: A

Conversations about pay in the banking industry typically focus on whether executives at the top are paid too much or workers at the bottom are paid too little.

But new data available as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act is drawing rare attention to the compensation of employees in the middle. In what will become an annual exercise, publicly traded U.S. companies are now required to disclose annually the median pay of their employees.

Information and Data Integrity: A Two-Way Street (Lendit), Rated: A

For many businesses, data is an important aspect of decision management. When you are choosing with whom to do business, you rely on the validity of data to guide you. If it proves faulty, you may be steered into accepting bad customers or rejecting good ones, which can seriously affect your bottom line. For consumers, inaccurate data can be equally harmful—leading to the appearance of having bad credit, denials of services or products or worse, flagged as potentially fraudulent.

Spanning both digital and real worlds, and encompassing data about identity, financial characteristics, behaviors and more, an integrated view is the foundation of enhanced insights that can ultimately improve financial outcomes. TransUnion understands the importance of current, accurate data and gives its customers access to information—including both highly-regulated and publicly available forms of alternative data—that creates powerful, comprehensive views of consumers.

Here’s Why Millennials Are Choosing Personal Loans (Lendit), Rated: A

When it comes to millennial spending habits, it looks as though they’re rounding a corner to a new kind of credit. With the vast treasure trove of accumulated data available, credit bureaus like TransUnion are seeing spikes in personal loans compared to Generation X’s spending habits in the early 2000s. It’s a tremendous opportunity for marketers to capture a demographic that expects more from their lender.

The Overarching Trends

The newly minted adults of Generation Z are at the very beginning of their financial journey, but millennials are at the age where they’re expected to make major purchases. As they struggle with the economy and student debt, they’re making different financial choices along the way.

Adopting New Technology

Lenders are turning to financial technology (fintech) to help peddle their products, which millennials are all too happy to use. Ironically, applying for a personal loan without the face-to-face connection can be far more attractive than the traditional application process.

A Decline in Credit Card Usage

Right or wrong, credit cards have long been linked to perpetual debt in many people’s minds. In 2009, the CARD Act was introduced to place stricter limits on the marketing of credit cards at college campuses. Debit cards have become more of the rule as opposed to the exception, leaping from 8 billion transactions in 2000 to 60 billion in 2015.

Small Business Confidence Is Up, What Does that Mean? (Lendit), Rated: A

The year 2017 saw small business owners across the United States grow more optimistic about the future than they’ve ever been—at least since the creation of the Optimism Index by the NFIB in the 70s.  “2017 was the most remarkable year in the 45-year history of the NFIB Optimism Index,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan.

The Tax Bill Could be a Boon for Small Businesses

Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations are all examples of what are called pass-through businesses; and make up roughly 95 percent of all U.S. businesses. They also happen to be many of our customers at OnDeck, and other online small business lenders. One of the main components of the new tax bill is a 20 percent tax deduction for those businesses, where business owners can “shield” 20 percent of their business income from flowing through to their personal income tax returns.

Cincinnati-based financial tech startup raises $ 1.2 million (Cincinnati Business Courier), Rated: B

A Cincinnati-based financial tech startup that aims to help users secure low-dollar loans without having to resort to a payday lender raised $1.2 million in venture capital.

Mayor proposes employee loans to offset predatory lenders (Santa Fe New Mexican), Rated: B

A few months after a new annual 175 percent cap on small-loan interest rates in New Mexico went into effect, Mayor Alan Webber is proposing a short-term loan program to help municipal workers avoid payday lending businesses viewed as predatory by consumer advocates.

BlockFi Gives Hodlers Another Option to Borrow Against Crypto Assets (BitcoinMagazine), Rated: B

Options for borrowing and lending with cryptocurrencies are on the rise. One of the latest start-ups to join the likes of SALT and Unchained Capital is BlockFi, a New York City–based startup that issues loans backed by bitcoin and ether to individuals, companies and institutions in 35 U.S. states.

BlockFi takes cryptocurrency as collateral, offering interest rates on loans of around 12 percent. This is generally lower than unsecured loans and higher than loans secured with traditional assets such as securities or real estate.

eBus to offer visitors financial advice, credit reports (The Repository), Rated: B

The eBus is a mobile classroom which is equipped with 14 personal computers and satellite technology staffed by Fifth Third bankers and representatives from nonprofit community organizations. On the bus, visitors can request a credit report and review it with a professional; receive a personalized evaluation of finances; receive internet banking and bill pay demonstrations; speak with nonprofits about housing, money management and business advice; receive consultation on foreclosure prevention; and conduct online job searches.

United Kingdom

Scots ‘side businesses’ generate £1.7bn a year (The Scotsman), Rated: A

More than 500,000 people living in Scotland have started a side business, generating a collective £1.7 billion a year out of more than £33bn UK-wide, according to new research.

Online lender Sunny said many of those north of the Border turning to side businesses are doing so to help with the cost of bills, savings and debts, and bring in an average of £272 a month on top of their main income.

That represents a 20 per cent increase from when they first started their business.

China

China’s P2P lenders brace for renewed regulatory crackdown (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

China will soon be rolling out new licensing requirements for p2p lenders; The system will kick off in April with approvals slated to come at the end of this month, but many lenders aren’t aware of the filing process; in 2016 and 2017 many p2p lenders shut down and according to data there are around 2,000 remaining; it is expected that many of the 2,000 will not pass the new requirements; the new rules won’t allow platforms to guarantee loan payments and also limit loans to individuals and businesses; it will also require that platforms use custodian banks.

China Rapid Finance Executives Selected to Speak at LendIt Fintech USA 2018 (PR Newswire), Rated: A

China Rapid Finance Limited (“China Rapid Finance” or the “Company”) (NYSE: XRF) announced today that the Company will participate as a sponsor and exhibitor at the upcoming LendIt Fintech USA 2018, to be held between Apr 9th and 11th in San Francisco, California.

China: WeiyangX Fintech Review (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

On March 28th, cross-border payment company iPayLinks announced that it had completed, at the beginning of this year, a hundreds of million-yuan B1 round of financing led by Tencent and followed by Legend Capital.

NIFA Issues a Self-Discipline Convention for Debt-Collection Practitioners

The five-chapter convention is mainly applying to regulate the behavior of overdue debt collection within the Internet Finance industry by establishing several basic principles (e.g. observing laws and regulations, prudential regulations, protecting privacy, and strict self-discipline). In other words, the document outlines a framework of debt-collection regulation in terms of discredited punishment, business management, personnel management, information management, outsourcing management, and complaints.

China’s internet lenders fall foul of data privacy rules (Financial Times), Rated: A

More than half of Chinese internet finance lenders are failing to comply with data privacy regulations, research has found, raising risks for investors as China steps up the implementation of laws to protect consumer data.

The breaches include collecting phone numbers from users’ contact lists, which can be used to mount harassment campaigns and shame users into repaying debts.

The survey of 200 finance apps by Renmin University and Nandu Personal Data Protection Research Centre, a Beijing think-tank, ranked 111 apps as having “low” compliance.

It found that almost half — 95 apps — wanted to read users’ text messages, while 97 of them wanted access to users’ contact lists, despite such access not being necessary for the app’s functioning.

International

How retailers are growing their financial services capabilities (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

Amazon isn’t the only retailer encroaching on the financial services space. It may be the scariest — just the rumor of it entering a company’s space will send its stock price down — but ultimately, Amazon only cares about getting more buyers and more sellers to join its platform.

Overstock’s Raj Karkara, vp of loyalty and financial services, echoed that sentiment earlier this year, saying that offering financial services or connecting customers with financial services providers is a natural extension of its retail function of buying and selling consumer goods.

Rakuten
Rakuten is Japan’s largest e-commerce site and has slowly been growing outside of the country. It has a footprint in media, video-on-demand, mobile messaging, e-books, travel, fashion, marketing and even sports. It also operates the largest online bank in the country.

Overstock
For the past few months, e-commerce company Overstock.com has been quietly building out FinanceHub, a sort of marketplace for financial services that includes existing Overstock credit cards and insurance products; loans by LendingTree, Prosper and Sofi; a robo-adviser for automated investing; and, most recently, a discounted trading platform.

Sainsbury (and Tesco)
Amazon may not be interested in becoming a bank but that doesn’t mean it can’t succeed in stealing customer attention from them. The U.K.’s largest grocers have all opened banks attached to their brands —  Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

ETHLend (LEND) Token – Will It Go Down After Kyber Network Partnership? (Hot Stocked), Rated: A

ETHLend has recently partnered up with Kyber Network. The ETHLend (LEND) Token has reached a market capitalization of 45.69 Million US dollars in the last 24 hours. The token traded 9.50%higher against the U.S. dollar during the last 24 hours ending at 10:30 AM EDTon April 2nd. That rise might be as a result of the partnership. ETHLend aims to become another decentralized and secure financial marketplace, but targeting peer to peer lending agreements via Blockchain and Smart Contracts.

Source CoinMarketCap

 

Australia

SMALL BUSINESS LOANS IN AUSTRALIA: SHOULD YOU SEEK FINANCE FROM A BANK OR AN ONLINE LENDER? (Dynamic Business), Rated: A

Considering the small business sector employs nearly half the national workforce and contributes around $380 billion to Australia’s GDP [1], it’s easy to see why it’s frequently referred to as the ‘engine room’ of the economy.

Like all engine rooms, the sector requires sufficient fuel – in this case, working and growth capital – to not only keep running but also accelerate. However, poor access to capital remains a significant barrier to small businesses, accounting for a majority of failures in the sector.

Part of the reason is that banks are reluctant to lend to small businesses in circumstances where the borrower doesn’t have bricks-and-mortar security – especially if a short-term loan is sought.

APRA rejected CBA home loan data as inaccurate and incomplete (Financial Review), Rated: B

Commonwealth Bank was being pressured by the prudential regulator to appoint external consultants and fix its flawed home lending data almost 2½ years before the Hayne royal commission began exposing the big four for sloppy administrative errors and irresponsible lending.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s frustration with the failure of Australia’s biggest home lender to accurately identify what proportion of its loans were taken out by property investors and its level of exposure to big borrowers has been revealed in evidence tendered to the banking royal commission and published in a massive dump of more than 100 documents late last week.

India

Interest rates on unsecured instant loans are high (LiveMint), Rated: AAA

Financial institutions and fintech companies have launched multiple small credit products in India in the past 1-3 years. It is now possible to get loans even on your mobile phone. But how do you pay for this convenience?

P2P lending platform

Peer-to-peer lending companies such as Faircent, i2ifunding and Lendbox connect lenders and borrowers on their platforms. Usually, the lender is an individual and not a financial institution. The interest rates are between 15% and 36% per annum and the loan amount can range from Rs50,000 to Rs5 lakh. The interest rate is decided based on the credit profile of the customer. Usually, the P2P lending companies take into account your Cibil credit score. The loan tenure is 3 months to 24 months.

Fintech eco-system is moving to blockchain and AI: Rajat Gandhi, Faircent (Economic Times), Rated: A

A lot of players have come into the fintech space. There are wallet players, then there are PPI, P2B, crowdsourcing and other payment players as well. So, regulation is one of the key challenges the private players are going through. What is your take on it?

Surprisingly, the Indian regulators, I would say, are strict. You can see the example of NBFC P2P licences regulation. It is a good rule-based model. In fact, the players themselves were pushing for some kind of regulation because financial markets need them. It’s not like e-commerce or running a taxi where the risks are not that high.

India’s Finzy Raises $ 1.3 Mln At Pre Series A Funding (Reuters), Rated: A

Finzy, India’s fastest growing peer to peer lending platform, has raised USD 1.3 million in first round of Pre Series A from investors in the industry. A second round of fundraising is expected to close with pre-identified set of investors within the next 60 days.

Latin American

Brazilian Loan Marketplace FinanZero raises USD 3.6 million in Series A Funding Round (PR Newwire), Rated: AAA

FinanZero is a leading marketplace for consumer loans in Brazil. The business is an independent broker for loans, negotiating the customer’s loan application with several banks and credit institutions, to find the loan with the best interest rate and terms for the consumer. FinanZero handles the lending process from start to finish.

The Series A round was led by Swedish publicly listed investment company, Vostok Emerging Finance, with participation by other Swedish investors, including Webrock Ventures and Zentro Founders.

Africa

Fintech is central to Nigeria’s future success (Financial Times), Rated: A

Central to this opportunity is an acceleration in the development of a modern banking and financial services sector. We are already seeing huge breakthroughs in digital banking and the adoption of fintech-based services by Nigerian consumers — be they retail or business customers. But this expansion must be encouraged by policies that will see greater inclusion of women and rural communities into mainstream banking activity.

Asia

Meet the most disruptive fintech startup in South Korea (Forbes), Rated: AAA

Viva Republica is the most disruptive fintech startup in South Korea. Since the 2015 launch of its simple peer-to-peer payments app Toss, banks are finally revamping their user experiences and customers have easier access to financial products. South Korea’s mobile payments have more than quadrupled in that time to $4.6 billion, according to Bank of Korea data.

The startup, funded at $76 million, hasn’t stopped there. After PayPal joined a $48 million investment in Toss in March, Toss has grown from a simple money-transfer app to a diverse consumer-finance platform generating Viva Republica’s $20 million in expected revenue in 2017. Toss thus joins Asia’s ranks of fast-growing mobile P2P payment services, reaching a $12 billion transaction volume in 2017.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Upstart to start selling machine learning technology

machine learning credit

The fintech industry is highly competitive, and it’s important to have a moat around your business and/or your technology to carve your own niche. Upstart used proprietary machine learning and AI algorithms to develop its platform and ensure that it remains ahead of the pack. Though the AI technology disruption is at the nascent stage, […]

machine learning credit

The fintech industry is highly competitive, and it’s important to have a moat around your business and/or your technology to carve your own niche. Upstart used proprietary machine learning and AI algorithms to develop its platform and ensure that it remains ahead of the pack. Though the AI technology disruption is at the nascent stage, Upstart founders believe it won’t be long when this technology will take over the entire lending ecosystem. The notion of using machine learning and artificial intelligence is to revamp how credit works fundamentally and not just as an assisting tech for online lending, fraud detection, and automation.

Impact of machine learning

The average credit card interest rate is 18.76 percent and $1,292 is paid by a household as credit card interest each year. Upstart, a fintech lender based out of San Carlos, California, claims to help save its borrowers almost 27% as compared to their credit card rates.

Future of machine learning

The young startup believes they are just starting out and that for machine learning to really kick in will require a ten-year investment into the process. Currently, the advantage is measured only in basis points, but after 10 years with the amount of data generated from 5 million originated loans, it will render the system unbeatable. The company has set a 4% loss rate, it could have easily focused on minimizing default rate but the goal is to expand and expand aggressively. The model has over 400 variables and usually considers on average 100 variables for an application. The company prides itself on developing everything in-house and it is no surprise the entire platform is built in-house, as well. So far, in terms of loan automation output, the company has managed to achieve 20% success, but it plans to achieve 80%-90% automation rate by the end of next year.

Selling technology

It has decided to sell its machine learning algorithms on a SaaS basis to banks, credit unions, and non-bank lenders. Its white label service allows point-of-sale financing for retailers. Its systems are instant and automated, thus facilitating any player looking to lend. The founders understand that their services can be replicated by a JP Morgan, but everyone does not enjoy the same scale or wishes to invest the millions and billions necessary for creating the prerequisite infrastructure. It services includes loan servicing rate request, credit modeling, and verification process as well. Pricing wise it has kept things pretty simple; there are no upfront fees. It is based on a pay as you use basis along with licensing fees.

The company is going a step further from the generic machine learning being executed today. It understands that human fraudsters are also utilizing machine learning to sharpen their skills. So the company is prioritizing adversarial machine learning versus machine learning in a static environment. The company believes it can never have a 100% foolproof system, but with enough data, it should reach a critical mass that creates statistically too many checkpoints for a fraudster to succeed on any meaningful scale.

Data is the new oil

Data is the new oil. And Upstart knows it. It is aware that the machine learning is something which can be replicated, but by pivoting to a SaaS model it is ensuring that it is able to extract data from multiple players versus being concentrated on its own in-house originations. This ensures that it will be the first to cross that Rubicon of critical mass when machine learning will become de rigueur for financing and Upstart will be the tallest if not the last man standing.

Company history

Upstart was founded in 2012 and initially started out as somewhat of a Kickstarter for human potential. It basically leveraged data around person’s educational background and other factors to help sell the person a predetermined percentage of their future cash flow for an initial lump sum payment. So using Upstart, X from Harvard Business School can sell 5% of his monthly income for 10 years for $100,000 today. Though the idea had a unique appeal, the company soon pivoted to the marketplace lending model.

Upstart offers innovative refinancing and lending solutions that help the borrower to consolidate their debts (student loans and credit card loans). Loans offered by the company are unsecured and terms available are between three to five years. Ever since its inception, the company has made rapid strides in terms of growth and it has done $640 million in loan origination and successfully originated over 50,000 loan applications. Its USP of offering lower APR is based on its ability to account for a person’s educational background and other qualitative factors to analyze their possibility of default and overall credit worthiness.

Funding to date

Initially, it raised $1.75 million seed capital from six investors and has managed to raise almost $85.0 million in various rounds of funding till date. The latest was a $32.5 million raised from four investors with Rakuten being the lead. With this cash injection, the company now sits on $40 million cash and is looking to achieve a cash flow positive status by the second half of the year. The company’s goal is not to become the biggest originator but a SaaS innovator focused on AI and machine learning.

Team

Dave Girouard, Founder and CEO, has wealth of experience in information technology, his impressive CV includes positions at Google & Apple. Prior to this, he was working at Google as the President of Google Enterprise. Paul Gu, Co-Founder and Head of Product, previously worked in risk analysis at the D.E Shaw Group. Anna M. Counselman, Co-Founder and Head of Operations, was previously Head of Premium Services and Customer Programs at Google. The magnitude of the success and growth of the company can be measured by the fact that in a short span of time it has a team of over 200 employees.

Authors:

Written by Heena Dhir. Edited by George Popescu.

George Popescu

How Student Loan Borrowers Compare Rates in Real Time

credible student loan refinancing

Considering the one-size-fits-all nature of the federal student loan marketplace and the augmented cash flow stability a borrower has once they graduate and start working, it’s astonishing that, before 2012, no financial institution offered a “credible” student loan refinance product for federal and personal student loans. Today, a range of lenders along with community banks, […]

credible student loan refinancing

Considering the one-size-fits-all nature of the federal student loan marketplace and the augmented cash flow stability a borrower has once they graduate and start working, it’s astonishing that, before 2012, no financial institution offered a “credible” student loan refinance product for federal and personal student loans. Today, a range of lenders along with community banks, credit unions, traditional banks, and alternative lenders have entered the student loan refinancing market.

It’s common sense that customers with traditional student loans will refinance if offered a product that helps them attain their financial goals, typically either lowering their interest rate or monthly payments. One such company is Credible.

The Rise of Credible Student Loan Refinancing

In the last three years, there have multiple entrants into the student loan refinancing market. With reports estimating the market potential for student loan refinancing to be over $200 billion, it’s no wonder. While there is only around $5 billion refinancing occurring right now, this alternative lending segment is poised for runway expansion.

Credible, headquartered in San Francisco, hit the scene in late 2012. After securing $2.7 million in seed funding from fifteen investors, the company raised $11.6 million in a Series A round led by Soul Htite, founder and CEO of Dianrong.com and co-founder of Lending Club, with participation from Prosper President Ron Suber and ConnectUp CEO/Founder Scott Langmack. Understanding the sustainable competitive advantage, multiple avenues of growth, favorable industry trends, and an enormous Total Attainable Market (TAM), investors opened their checkbooks once more for another $10 million in a recent Series B round. Investors included Suber, Regal Funds Management, and Carthona Capital.

Suber was effusive in his praise of the company, commenting that Credible has a talented, focused team that executes, and a passionate CEO.”

Credible plans to use this capital to accelerate the development of technology to help in leveraging data for growth.

Prior to founding Credible, CEO Stephen Dash was an investment director at M.H. Carnegie & Co. in Sydney, Australia. Before that, he founded Quickcharge Media, the largest network of smartphone battery recharge and digital signage kiosk in Australia.

Credible: The Kayak of Student Loans

Following its Series A financing, Credible entered the highly competitive personal loan segment. Borrowers are able to receive instant pre-qualified offers after a soft credit inquiry (that does not affect the credit score), which can be compared on a single dashboard. Most importantly, the platform lets borrowers control their personal contact information.

Credible does for student loans what Kayak.com does for airline fares. The California-based company provides a platform where borrowers can compare available rates. It’s based on the principle transparency to borrowers.

Unlike alternative student loan marketplaces that sell leads to lenders, Credible works by obtaining firm credit offers for its customers. This helps students assess and decide which loan option is best for them. Once a student is accepted to a university, all they (and their parents if required) need to do is go to Credible’s website and fill out a form. Credible then sends the relevant information to its lending partners.

Working with multiple lenders, Credible gets a fast and fixed quote on loans for that individual student loan and lets the student select the credit line that works best for them. The line of credit is legally feasible and set for 30 days. Rather than offer a variety of rates, Credible provides an actual loan and, once accepted, the transaction is completed. The company makes money by charging a transaction fee from the lender when the borrower accepts the credit line. Credible also offers a student loan refinancing product for graduates who want to lower their payments or interest rate on current student loans.

Credible’s Incredible Story: Past, Present, and Future

So far, Credible has managed to serve more than 130,000 customers since launch with 85,000 users qualifying for loan offers in 2016 alone. On average, Credible customers are able to save more than $18,000 over the life of a loan. The company offers simple and hassle-free eligibility criteria: The borrower must be at least 18 years old, be a US citizen, and have student loan debt over $5,000.

Staying true to their philosophy transparency, Credible launched its lender express pre-qualification engine to let borrowers see actual rates they will qualify for from multiple lenders in real time and without affecting their credit scores. The growing stature of the company can be measured by the fact that New Hampshire Education Loan Corporations (NHHELCO) has decided to partner with the company.

NHHELCO’s EDvestinU consolidation loan is available in all 50 states and lets students combine multiple student loans into a new loan with a lower interest rate and monthly payment. With this additional product, Credible now provides access to student loan refinancing options from seven different lenders: Citizens Bank, College Ave, CommonBond, iHELP, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA”), NHHELCO, and the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA).

The student loan refinancing opportunity is massive. More importantly, raising a Series B from the crème de la crème of the alternative lending industry is a big shot in the arm for Credible. Venture capitalists have been picky about their investments in the sector lately. Raising a Series B in this tepid environment proves that Credible is here to stay for the long run.

Authors:

Written With Heena Dhir.

Allen Taylor