Friday June 23 2017, Daily News Digest

fintech Australia

News Comments Today’s main news: KBRA assigns preliminary ratings to SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-4. Lending Club closes $279.4M self-sponsored securitization. Wellesley directors paid over 900K GBP last year. Renren’s Q1 results. Harmoney hits $500M. Vindi, Smartbill merge. Today’s main analysis: Recent Fed credit survey exposes clear small business financing opportunities Today’s thought-provoking articles: How the P2P sector has fared […]

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United Kingdom

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News Summary

United States

Kroll Bond Rating Agency Assigns Preliminary Ratings to SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-4 (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) assigns preliminary ratings to two class of notes issued by SoFi Consumer Loan Program 2017-4 LLC (“SCLP 2017-4”). This is a $499.5 million consumer loan ABS transaction that is closing on July 5th, 2017.

Initial credit enhancement levels are 22.69% for the Class A Notes and 12.77% for the Class B Notes. Credit enhancement consists of overcollateralization, subordination (in the case of the Class A Notes), excess spread and a reserve account funded at closing.

Preliminary Ratings Assigned: SoFi Consumer Loans Program 2017-4

Class Preliminary Ratings Principal Balance
A AA (sf) $443,000,000
B A (sf) $56,500,000

LendingClub Closes $ 279.4 Million Self Sponsored Securitization (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

LendingClub (NYSE:LC) has announced its first first self sponsored securitization deal had closed. Announced after the market closed, Lending Club issued $279.4 million in notes backed by consumer loans originated on the LendingClub platform. The Consumer Loan Underlying Bond (CLUB) NP Credit Trust 2017-NP1 (CLUB 2017-NP1) was described as marking the start of LendingClub’s securitization program as Sponsor, Servicer and Administrator.

Kroll rated the securities that included $162.4 million of Class A notes rated “A- (sf)”, $41.2 million of Class B notes rated “BBB (sf)” and $75.7 million of Class C notes rated “BB (sf)” backed by approximately $337 million of collateral.

In a separate note, LendingClub also announced that Brad Coleman, Principal Accounting Officer and Corporate Controller, will be resigning from his position as Principal Accounting Officer to pursue other opportunities, effective on August 10.

There’s A New Way To Pay For IVF, But No Guarantee It’ll Pay Off (BuzzFeed), Rated: AAA

Future Family, which officially launches on Thursday, aims to make the complicated, expensive, and emotionally fraught world of fertility treatments “accessible and affordable,” in the words of CEO Claire Tomkins, a former SolarCity executive. “We think of it as modern insurance for a woman,” she told BuzzFeed News.

Because most insurance plans don’t cover these services, fertility patients tend to have high incomes to begin with. In one survey by FertilityIQ, an online advice resource for patients, 42% reported yearly earnings between $100,000 and $199,999. But not everyone has necessarily saved enough to comfortably afford IVF, which costs around $20,000 on average, according to FertilityIQ. In a 2015 Prosper-commissioned survey of 213 US women, 84% said they had financial concerns about their treatments, and nearly half said that those concerns affected how much treatment they pursued.

Future Family’s standard IVF plan, which covers one cycle, is $250 a month, with no down payment. Customers can sign up for a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years, making the total cost at least $15,000. That would be cheaper than the national average cost of $20,000. The top-tier plan, which covers one cycle as well as egg storage, costs as much as $33,000 ($275 a month for up to 10 years).

Meanwhile, Future Family’s top-tier egg-freezing plan costs as much as $21,000, at $175 a month for up to 10 years of storage. FertilityIQ’s Anderson-Bialis estimates that, nationwide, egg retrieval and freezing costs average $16,000, while storage costs about $3,700 for five years.

Two years ago, Prosper, a peer-to-peer lending service, purchased, for $21 million, a lender with loans for fertility and other non–insurance-covered medical procedures. And in 2014, LendingClub spent $140 million on a similar acquisition. Its fertility loans range from $2,000 to $50,000, while Prosper’s go as high as $100,000.

One year in: How JPMorgan is transforming small-business lending (Tearsheet), Rated: A

For JPMorgan Chase, small business is big. The bank is among the third top lender of Small Business Administration loans by unit in the U.S.

As of May, Chase approved 2,375 loans in 2017 for a total $679 million. But beyond SBA loans, the bank also extended more than $24 billion in credit to 4 million small business customers in 2016 through its business banking, Ink from Chase credit card and commercial term lending. In each of the last four years, it’s extended more than $19 billion in new small business loans.

After the recession, the largest U.S. banks, Chase itself included, halted most of their small business lending, later creating the opportunity for online lenders to enter the market — like Bond Street or OnDeck. Last year, JPMorgan began using OnDeck’s technology for its Chase Business Quick Capital product, a  short-term, quickly funded small business loan. It was one of the first banks to embrace a partnership-type relationship with a fintech startup, at a time when the industry narrative still focused on startups’ potential to displace banks.

Lending Club Decision Provides Guidance For Bringing Section 11 Claims Based on Weaknesses in Internal Controls (National Law Review), Rated: A

We have been following defendants’ motions to dismiss in the In re Lending Club Securities Litigation class action, No 3:16-cv-02627-WHA, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (“the Lending Club Litigation”).

As the Supreme Court noted in Omnicare, generally a plaintiff pursuing a claim under Section 11 “need not prove . . . that the defendant acted with any intent to deceive or defraud.”  However, defendants in the Lending Club Litigation argued that plaintiffs’ claims under Section 11 sounded in fraud because they employed the same factual allegations to allege fraudulent conduct under Section 10(b), and therefore needed to satisfy the heightened pleading standard of Rule 9(b), which requires plaintiffs alleging fraud to state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud.

Plaintiffs argued that their Section 11 claims were not grounded in fraud and therefore did not need to satisfy the heightened pleading standard of Rule 9(b).

Despite this holding, the Court found that lead plaintiff had “met that heightened pleading standard with respect to three of its Section 11 claims.”  Id.  In particular the court held that lead plaintiff adequately pleaded its Section 11 claims relating to representations at the IPO regarding (1) the strength of Lending Club’s internal controls and financial reporting, (2) its relationship with Cirrix, and (3) its data integrity and security.[1]

Henry W. Ramsey Acquires 9,500 Shares of Elevate Credit Inc (ELVT) Stock (Transcript Daily), Rated: A

Elevate Credit Inc (NASDAQ:ELVT) insider Henry W. Ramsey purchased 9,500 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, June 2nd. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $7.17 per share, for a total transaction of $68,115.00. Following the completion of the acquisition, the insider now owns 9,500 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $68,115.

Banks Going Digital – Transforming Branches, Apps and a Focus on Customer Experience (Lend Academy), Rated: A

The big banks have all started to understand that the traditional way of banking is a thing of the past. Keynote speaker Yolande Piazza, CEO, Citi Fintech talked about disrupting from within, changing how they operate to enable the customer and move to a mobile first approach. She explained how this approach is radical for a bank and the layers of compliance did not make the transition smooth. They have completely rethought how they hire, 50 percent of their fintech talent is from outside the company.

Other interesting areas to note while at the event were BioCatch’s innovations in cyber security with keystroke and mouse analysis along with behavioral biometrics. New payments provider Zelle launched with 40 partners, including 34 top level banks, to allow consumers to send and receive money in minutes. Banks are starting to become innovation hubs and fintech companies, once seen as competitors in the past, are helping the banks make this transformation.

Leading fintech companies like SoFi, Lending Club and OnDeck provide a template for a better customer experience and banks are taking notice.

Recent Fed Credit Survey Exposes Clear Small Business Financing Opportunities (Forbes), Rated: A

The Federal Reserve just published its 2016 Small Business Credit Survey examining the current small business conditions and credit environment. The Fed found that although big banks are still the major lenders, small business owners are having trouble accessing credit and are therefore looking elsewhere. However, while many small businesses are turning towards online lenders, SBA loans are largely underutilized.

Overall, 10,000 surveys were completed by employer firms across all 50 states. Of those surveyed, roughly half were profitable and almost two-thirds expected their revenues to grow over the coming year. Even job growth looked good, with 39% of small businesses expecting to add jobs within the next year.

PayPal has jumped into the alternative lending game and now finances as much as $3 billion in total small business capital. What’s more, PayPal recently increased its maximum financing limit to $125k, meaning that a majority of small businesses who applied for credit in 2016 could fulfill their financing needs with PayPal.

Online lenders like SmartBiz have a 62% approval rate, on average.

The Fed’s survey found that CDFIs had a 77% approval rate and small banks had a 67% approval rate. Both of these rates higher than many online lenders that are known to typically have some of the easier qualifications.

By comparison, the overall approval rate among larger banks is 54% and 46% among credit unions.

Banks should avoid replicating their millennial strategy for Gen Z (American Banker), Rated: A

Facebook chatbots (kids love messaging apps!), smartphone-enabled ATMs (they spend so much time on their smartphones!) and an on-demand ATM on wheels that will come to you (Uber is the only way to get around!). Not only are these investments failing to resonate with millennials, but the money spent is also failing to plan ahead for the next generation: Generation Z.

Born between 1995 and 2010, Gen Z consumers are looking for something more than simple digital updates: They are looking for a partner that offers them solutions for all pieces of their financial life, including their pressing concern over mounting college debt. In fact, offering “digital” solutions to traditional banking products will not be enough to impress Gen Z, as they are the first to grow up in the post-digital era, giving them high standards for technological capabilities.

Gen Z is also a highly skeptical generation with little brand loyalty; if they see a well-researched, proven option available to them, they will have no hesitation jumping ship or avoiding traditional providers altogether. Whereas 45% of millennials favor loyalty programs, only 30% of Gen Z consumers do. In fact, 41% of Gen Z say they would consider banking services from digital power players like Google, Amazon, Apple or Facebook because they are brands that they interact with daily and trust.

Acting comptroller’s wish list echoes long-held demands by banks (American Banker), Rated: A

In his first testimony to Congress, acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika is set to submit a laundry list of detailed proposals to loosen regulatory restrictions on financial institutions of all sizes — recommendations that appear to jibe with those made by the Treasury Department this month.

Noreika is offering 17 specific legislative proposals that echo the banking industry’s wish list for regulatory reform.

LendingTree Subsidiary Purchases MagnifyMoney (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

LendingTree, Inc. (NASDAQ: TREE) announced on Tuesday its subsidiary, LendingTree, LLC, has acquired the company behind consumer-facing media property platform, MagnifyMoney. This news comes just days after LendingTree announced it acquired DepositAccounts.com.

According to LendingTree, the acquisition purchase has a possible total consideration of $29.5 million, which consists of 29.5 million in cash at closing, and contingent consideration payments of up to $10 million.

A former cohead of tech at Goldman Sachs has joined a startup that wants to be the iOS of Wall Street (Business Insider), Rated: A

Paul Walker, the former cohead of technology at Goldman Sachs, has joined the board at OpenFin, a startup that helps electronic-trading firms build their desktop applications.

Bain Capital Ventures, Pivot Investment Partners, and Nyca Partners have already invested in OpenFin, as have the likes of Cris Conde, former CEO of SunGard, and Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters.

Walker retired from Goldman in 2016 after 15 years with the Wall Street titan. Walker joined the firm in 2001 as a vice president in FICC strategies. He made partner at the firm in 2008.

OpenFin is looking to become Wall Street’s version of what the iOS and Android platforms are to the mobile application space.

Orchard Platform Pivot? Not So Fast. (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Earlier this week there was note circulating the Orchard was in the midst of a pivot.  Specifically, the report said Orchard was pivoting from a data/analytics platform to a loan trading platform. This was interesting as the secondary transaction platform for securities based on online loans has been in the works for quite some time.

“We have wanted to have a trading platform for years now,” said Matt Burton, CEO and co-founder of Orchard. “I am not certain where that came from. We have always wanted to facilitate [secondary] transactions. We still have the same vision.”

LENDonate Changes The Game of Nonprofit Financing by Creating Swift Access to High Quality Loans (PR.com), Rated: A

LENDonate, a fintech company, today announced the launch of its distinct hybrid, online lending platform for 501(c)(3) nonprofits. The first-of-a-kind, hybrid platform uses an innovative process that lets nonprofits source loans and donations simultaneously. LENDonate unites nonprofits with lenders, including financial institutions, philanthropic organizations, and accredited investors for quick funding of high-quality, low cost loans. LENDonate is the only marketplace lending platform that enables nonprofits to effortlessly expand their donor base while financing major projects or smoothing out uneven cash flow.

LENDonate was founded by Vivienne Hsu, CEO, a seasoned investment professional and nonprofit fundraiser. She was motivated by a desire to improve nonprofits’ access to the low-cost funding, while providing high-quality, socially impactful investment opportunities for banks and philanthropists.

Which Loans Can Help You Expand Your Small Business? (NASDAQ), Rated: A

Below is an exhaustive list of documents that your lender may request. Online lenders are less stringent and may ask for less, while traditional banks will want the entire suite. Also expect lenders to pull your personal credit score and your business credit score as part of the approval process.

  • Personal financial statement: This SBA form requires you to list your personal assets (cash, investments, real estate and cars) and liabilities (mortgages, other debts and unpaid taxes). Private lenders may ask for a similar statement.
  • Business certificate/license
  • Business plan
  • Loan application history
  • Income tax returns
  • Resumes
  • Business lease

The Small Business Administration (SBA)—which guarantees a percentage of the loan amount to banks rather funding directly—is particularly helpful for expansion loan options. The SBA will guarantee up to 85 percent of loans for as much as $150,000 and up to 75 percent of loans over $150,000. A small SBA loan of $25,000 or less can get an 8% interest rate with a payment term of fewer than seven years. The rate on a loan over $50,000 can drop to as low as 6.5% with the same payment terms. Some banks may offer private loans, but their requirements are even stricter than those of the SBA.

Online lenders offer loans with higher rates. But the online lenders often have a faster approval process than banks originating SBA loans.

Another borrowing source on the rise is peer-to-peer lending, or marketplace lending, for businesses.

OCC, CSBS Exchange Views on OCC’s Special-Purpose Charter (Banking Journal), Rated: A

The OCC’s proposed limited-purpose charter for fintech companies was the subject of a lively discussion at the American Bankers Association’s Payments Forum today, as regulators from the OCC and Conference of State Bank Supervisors exchanged at-times opposing views.

Margaret Liu, SVP and deputy general counsel at CSBS reiterated her organization’s view that in moving forward with the limited-purpose charter, the OCC overstepped its authority under the National Bank Act (the CSBS previously filed a lawsuit against the OCC on those grounds).

Kathy Oldenborg, director of payments systems policy at the OCC, emphasized that under the limited-purpose charter, fintech companies would be held the same high regulatory standards as banks, based on the products and services they provide to consumers. She added that while much of the focus around the OCC’s work on innovation has centered on the charter proposal, “the broader initiative was… the ability to signal to banks that it’s okay to innovate. You can work with fintech companies, you can partner with fintech companies, you can buy one if you want. There’s nothing that says you can’t work with fintech companies outside this whole chartering discussion.”

Home Point Financial Establishes Institutions Group (Marketwired), Rated: B

Home Point Financial Corporation (“Home Point”) a national multi-channel mortgage originator and servicer, today announced the formation of its new Institutions Group. This group will include Correspondent Lending, Capital Markets and Home Point’s wholly-owned warehouse lending subsidiary, NattyMac. Led by Maria Fregosi, Chief Capital Markets Officer, the Institutions Group will be able to efficiently and effectively serve correspondent clients with services and products that capitalize on the financial resources, technology and expertise of Home Point Financial.

Cross River on OCC Comptroller’s testimony calling on clarification of the applicability of the “Valid when Made” doctrine (Cross River Bank Email), Rated: B

Cross River Bank, a marketplace leading originator and pioneer in the banking financial technology space, released the following statement on the recommendation by acting OCC Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika to clarify the applicability of the “Valid when Made” doctrine.

It is of the utmost importance to deliver regulatory certainty and foster innovation while providing access to credit to all consumers in a compliant, safe, and sound environment. We commend Comptroller Noreika for his testimony this morning recommending clarification of the applicability of the “Valid when Made” doctrine. Cross River remains a steadfast supporter of the Comptroller’s, and the entire regulatory agency community’s, efforts to bring clarity to the regulatory framework and advance the interests of the consumers while ensuring their protection.

Aspire Retains SenaHill (Aspire Email), Rated: B

“Aspire Financial Technologies Inc. (“Aspire”) is announcing today that it has retained SenaHill Advisors LLC (

Crowdfunding Becoming Viable Way to Fund Real Estate (Realty Biz News), Rated: B

It’s estimated that by 2025 the crowdfunding real estate industry will be worth more than $300 billion. One of the reasons for this prediction is that it provides individual investors the opportunity to participate in large real estate deals even if they only have a small amount of capital to invest. Just a few years ago things were very different as crowdfunding had yet to gain traction. In 2010 the crowdfunding industry was worth $880 million but is now worth $34.4 billion which is an incredible rate of growth.

CFPB details complaint process at Comply2017 Conference (JD Supra), Rated: B

At the Comply2017 conference held earlier this week in New York City, Scott Steckel, a member of the CFPB’s Office of Consumer Response, gave a presentation in which he detailed the CFPB’s complaint process and how the CFPB shares complaint data through its complaint database.

United Kingdom

Wellesley directors were paid more than £900,000 last year (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

WELLESLEY & Co’s directors collectively pocketed £923,000 last year, while the property lender reported a full-year loss of £210,288.

Chief executive and founder Graham Wellesley was awarded the highest salary of £342,000, while co-founder Andrew Turnbull took home £244,000, according to the latest annual report filed with Companies House earlier this month.

Former Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Eric Daniels, who stepped down as non-executive chairman at the end of May 2016, received £50,000. Daniels has now joined the board of Funding Circle.

How has the P2P sector fared in the year since the Brexit vote? (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle, which received full FCA authorisation last month, has seen new lending grow each quarter since the referendum, from £151,803 lent in the second quarter of 2016 to £182,854 in the third and £305,970 in the fourth. It lent £328,059 in the first three months of this year.

Similarly, Zopa, also now fully authorised, has seen lending increase each quarter, from £154m in the second quarter of 2016, to £175m in the third. There was £194.3m of lending in the fourth quarter and £246.4m at the start of the year.

RateSetter, the last of the big three still awaiting full FCA approval, has seen both consumer and business lending increase.

New business lending was at £59.8m in the second quarter of 2016, rising to £73.8m in the following three months before dropping to £60.5m at the end of the year. It bounced back to £72.5m at the start of 2017.

Landbay has been more mixed, with new lending dropping from £5m in the second quarter to £282,820 in the third and £193,800 in the final three months of the year. New lending was back up to £833,300 at the start of the year.

RateSetter has seen the biggest increase, taking on 9,573 up to the first quarter of 2017 to 44,402.

Funding Circle was a close second, taking on 8,604 to 59,740, while Zopa took on 6,091, taking the total number of lenders to 60,755.

Only MarketInvoice saw a drop by 47 to 220.

Zopa has taken on the most new borrowers at 41,310 since the referendum to 171,607 while RateSetter has taken 30,286 to 203,994.

Landbay and Thincats have taken on the least, at four and 34 respectively.

The FCA received 77 submissions for the second phase of the regulatory sandbox, more than applied for cohort one. 31 applications met the sandbox eligibility criteria and were accepted to develop towards testing. The current cohort consists of the 24 firms that are ready to begin testing shortly.

AssetVault

AssetVault enables consumers to catalogue all of their assets in a secure online register and better understand their total value. AssetVault then works with insurance providers to protect the consumer and their assets with appropriate insurance products.

Beekin

Leverages artificial intelligence and data sharing to build transparency and liquidity in alternative assets (real estate, angel investments), and offers risk management and analytics services to small investors.

Experian

A mortgage eligibility tool that can be used to help consumers who are in the research phase of buying a home by increasing awareness of their eligibility, based on the lender’s affordability criteria.

FloodFlash

FloodFlash provides event-based flood insurance, even in high-risk areas.

Insure A Thing

An alternative insurance business model where the consumer makes payments at the end of the month, based on the exact cost of claims settled during that period.

Nimbla

Nimbla provides flexible trade credit insurance and credit and invoice management tools to UK SMEs, via an online platform

Paylinko A DLT-based payments solution enabling users to send and receive payments using a link.

We are now accepting applications from firms to be part of our third sandbox phase. Firms have until 31 July 2017 to submit their applications.

Departing Bank of England rate-setter takes swipe at Mark Carney in final speech (Belfast Telegraph), Rated: A

A departing rate-setter at the Bank of England has taken a final swipe at dovish Governor Mark Carney, saying record-low interest rates are no longer justified.

In her final speech as an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), Kristin Forbes questioned the continued need for “emergency” level interest rates, as well as the “substantial amount of stimulus” rolled out in the wake of the Brexit vote, stressing that forecasts for a recession and higher unemployment after the referendum have failed to materialise.

No sign of decreasing P2P appetite, claims lender (Bridging & Commercial), Rated: A

There has been no sign of a decrease in demand for peer-to-peer finance, online platform RateSetter has told Bridging & Commercial.

“…We’ve seen steadily increasing demand from advisers, and the value of IFA-administered accounts on our platform has doubled over the last year.

“Although there are clearly hurdles – for example, direct investments in peer-to-peer lending are not currently available through investment platforms commonly used by IFAs to buy products on their clients behalf – we see no signs of decreasing appetite.”

Jane Dumeresque, CEO at Folk2Folk, explained that the FCA process was extremely tough and was not too surprised that some had withdrawn.

Peter McDermid: help to build (The Scotsman), Rated: A

Today marks the Scottish launch of the LendInvest Property Development Academy, an adult education course that puts development skills at the fingertips of aspiring house builders.

The first London course was ten times oversubscribed and to date more than 120 “students” have completed our courses. Now we’ve rolled out countrywide to satisfy demand.

Sessions are led by experienced and, as importantly, local advisers who know what it takes to get small-scale property developments delivered on time and on budget.

Development issues

Access to finance continues to be the biggest hurdle. A severe lack of lenders in Scotland is problematic.

Any experienced developer knows that applying for and awaiting planning permission can be a long, exhausting and expensive process. This is where it pays to do your research.

Structuring a professional team is one of the most important aspects of planning for a development, and a task that can be more complex than it first appears. There are various questions that a developer needs to ask: what are the key development costs? How long will a project take?What consultants are involved in a development project and how should they all work with one another? How do developers insure their teams against delays and accidents?

Sales and marketing are commonly regarded as an afterthought, something to worry about “later”, when in fact marketing needs to be in the forefront of a developer’s mind from the very beginning.

Three out of four investors refuse to pay for financial advice (Money Observer), Rated: A

A survey conducted by investment management company Legg Mason has found that only 24 per cent of investors would be prepared to pay the typical hourly fee for financial advice – which works out on average at £150 per hour, according to unbiased.co.uk.

Just 10 per cent of those who answered said they would be willing to pay £150 or more, while an additional 11 per cent agreed that they would pay between £50 and £149.

Over a third of respondents (36 per cent) said they would refuse to pay for financial advice outright, while 15 per cent said they were unsure what they would be happy to pay.

Why Financial Advisers Won’t Succumb To The Robots Any Time Soon (Huffington Post), Rated: B

Add to this, low levels of financial education, low levels of trust in financial services generally and overwhelming product choice (e.g. 2,000+ investments) and engaging customers without a human adviser is tough. That’s why, according to the industry’s regulator the FCA, of the £208 billion invested by consumers last year 78% was through advisers.

The vast majority of investment advice consumers now get from advisers is supported by online, model driven, financial technology (FinTech) which helps advisers more scientifically assess their risk profile and develop probability based investment strategies which give them a higher chance of meeting their goals at an acceptable risk level.

There are four developments now emerging, which will almost certainly change the game:

  1. Simple, automated advice
  2. Account aggregation
  3. Social networks
  4. Artificial intelligence
China

Renren Announces Unaudited First Quarter 2017 Financial Results (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

  • Total net revenues were US$20.9 million, a 94.3% increase from the corresponding period in 2016.

    • Advertising and IVAS net revenues were US$11.6 million, a 90.2% increase from the corresponding period in 2016.
    • Financing income was US$9.3 million, a 99.7% increase from the corresponding period of 2016.
  • Gross profit was US$6.4 million, a 172.6% increase from the corresponding period in 2016.
  • Operating loss was US$17.6 million, compared to an operating loss of US$19.2 million in the corresponding period in 2016.
  • Net loss attributable to the Company was US$16.2 million, compared to a net loss of US$23.2 million in the corresponding period in 2016.
  • Adjusted net loss(1) (non-GAAP) was US$11.0 million, compared to an adjusted net loss of US$15.9 million in the corresponding period in 2016.

P2P Industry News (Xing Ping She Email), Rated: AAA

Internet Finance Giants Ant Financial, Baidu etc., working with bank for new opportunities on fintech. 

It seems a trend that internet financial giants working with traditional banks in China. Recently, Baidu built a strategic partnership with Agricultural Bank of China (ABC). The cooperation focuses on fintech areas, including co-building of financial brains and portraits of clients , precise marketing, customer credit evaluating, risk monitoring, robo-advising, etc.

Previously, both Jingdong Finance and Ant Financial Services Group have announced partnerships with banks. On 16th June, Jingdong signed a framework agreement on financial business cooperation with ICBC, planning to conduct cooperation in fintech, retail banking, enterprise credit, etc. While in the late of March, the CCB has signed a tripartite cooperation agreement with Alibaba and Ant Financial. According to the agreement, Ant financial would help CCB to boost the online credit card business. They are going to strength cooperation in offline & online channel and electronic payment business, so as to open up the credit system.

Bank of China Set Up the Inclusive Finance Division

On 20th June, the Inclusive Financial Division of BOC was founded officially. The new division aim at providing financial services in comprehensive coverage of rural and urban. According to reports, China Construction Bank (CCB), Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) have all set up their Inclusive Financial Division at the general bank level.

Baidu and the Agricultural Bank reached a strategic cooperation in the layout of intelligent finance (Sina), Rated: A

In accordance with the strategic cooperation agreement, the cooperation mainly focused on the field of financial technology, including the construction of financial brain and customer portrait, precision marketing, customer credit evaluation, risk monitoring, intelligent investment, intelligent customer service and other specific applications, Around the financial products and channel users and other areas to start a comprehensive cooperation.

Bank of China Begin Fintech Move (AI Topics), Rated: B

Bank of China (BOC) and Tencent have established a joint financial technology laboratory, the lender said in a statement this week. The lab will work on cloud computing, big data, blockchain and artificial intelligence to promote financial innovations.

European Union

IDA ‘confident’ of Brexit investments pipeline, banking event told (Irish Times), Rated: A

IDA Ireland’s head of international financial services, Kieran Donoghue, has said he is “confident” that the Republic will secure a number of wins as his organisation “aggressively” pursues the opportunity to lure financial activity from London following Brexit.

Luxembourg’s politicians pin economic hopes on fintech drive (Financial Times), Rated: A

Britain’s planned departure from the EU has provided policymakers with an incentive to build a fintech hub in Luxembourg that could attract UK technology companies looking to maintain a foothold in the EU.

Prime minister Xavier Bettel has made the country’s digital transformation a priority since succeeding the long-serving Jean-Claude Juncker in December 2013. Mr Bettel launched the Digital Lëtzebuerg [Luxembourg] initiative the following year as a platform for encouraging new technology in the financial industry as well as society as a whole.

The flagship project to encourage fintech is the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology, opened with much fanfare in April with backing from the government and business groups.

Its focus is on insurance, banking and fund technology in areas such as digital investment and portfolio management, blockchain applications, payment platforms, data analytics, artificial intelligence, security and authentication.

International

How Fintech is Disrupting Banking for Businesses Around the Globe (Due), Rated: A

Same day bank transfers were rolled out in the United Kingdom almost a decade ago. NACHA, the regulatory organization responsible for the ACH system, announced efforts for faster transfers two years ago. However, very few banks are actually implementing faster transfers.

Digital wallets are a key concept in bringing financial services to the unbanked and underbanked.

Multiple large banks have added bot features to their customer service toolset, and there is no limit to how far it can go. Just a few months ago at LendIt I captured a video of someone asking a computer for help picking a credit card.

Over $36 billion were poured into FinTech ventures in 2016 alone, and about a quarter of that went to banking related ventures. Payments, investments, and wealth management were other major categories for 2016 FinTech investment.

Australia/New Zealand

Harmoney’s Marketplace Hits $ 500,000,000 (Scoop), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending marketplace Harmoney announced today that $500,000,000 in lending has been transacted through the platform in just under three years of operation. 30,000 Kiwis have made the choice to join the Harmoney community with additional support from two challenger NZ owned banks TSB and Heartland.

Kiwis have borrowed for all sorts of reasons;

  • 12,000 to pay off debt, mainly expensive Credit Card debt
  • 4,000 have completed home improvements and renovations
  • 3,000 have taken a special trip or holiday
  • Almost 2,000 have upgraded their car and;
  • 10,000 have borrowed for a vast array of other reasons, from dream weddings, book publishing to achieving their dreams at the Paralympics.

Consultation on personalised robo-advice (JD Supra), Rated: AAA

There is a clear demand, from both industry and the regulator, to allow personalised robo-advice to be provided ahead of the FAA reforms. As a result, the FMA is consulting on an exemption to allow this to happen – the exemption consultation can be found here.

The exemption will be subject to conditions but these are very similar to those that regulators have imposed in other jurisdictions (such as Australia) where our offices have been advising on for some time. We don’t expect there to be too much objection to these.

Limits:

  • Service: The exemption will be limited to financial advice or investment planning services and won’t cover the provision of DIMS under the FAA or the FMCA.
  • Product type: The robo-adviser will be limited to advice on financial products that are highly liquid or easily transferable. The FMA’s over-riding concern here is that consumers should be able to easily unwind their holdings if the robo-advice is poor or unsuitable. The proposed product list for robo-advice will be:
  • KiwiSaver and managed funds that are continuously offered and redeemed at a price based on the value of the scheme property
  • Listed equities and listed debt
  • Government bonds
  • General insurance products (home, contents and vehicle) and
  • Savings products and credit contracts (other than mortgages).

Conditions: 

  • Pre-notification procedure: A robo-adviser will need to give prior notice to the FMA setting out ‘good character’ declarations in relation to senior managers and directors and giving details of any criminal convictions in New Zealand or overseas. The FMA will need to issue a no objection confirmation in relation to the good character declarations before the robo-adviser starts business.
  • Status disclosure: The robo-adviser will need to clearly disclose that it is relying on the exemption and that the FMA has not in any way endorsed, approved or reviewed the service.
  • Disclosure: Before giving advice to a client, the robo-adviser will need to give the client sufficient information to make an informed decision, including:
  • The nature and scope of the service and whether the service is limited to a particular range of products. This will need to include:
  • Clarification of the extent of human involvement
  • Clarification that the advice provided will depend solely on the information provided by the client
  • An explanation of any limits on the advice or portfolios generated by the algorithm
  • A concise explanation of the benefits and risks of the service.
  • An explanation of the fees that must be paid.
  • Details of how the robo-adviser is paid and disclosing any actual or potential conflicts of interest that may influence the services provided.
  • An explanation of how complaints can be made.

Regulator seeks feedback on robo-advice exemption (NZ Adviser), Rated: A

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) is seeking feedback on its proposals that would enable entities to provide robo-advice.

The current law, passed in 2008, did not contemplate digital advice, meaning that personalised advice, or advice that takes into account an individual’s financial situation or goals, can only be given by “a natural person”.

The purposes of the Financial Advisers Act (‘FA Act’) are aligned with the Financial Markets Conduct Act, which include “promoting innovation and flexibility in financial markets.”

Global Credit Investments gives OnDeck Australia A$ 22.5m financing (AltFi), Rated: A

Asset manager Global Credit Investments has hit up its network of rich Australian families and raised A$22.5 million to refinance OnDeck Australia’s small business loan book.

A press release issued by both companies said the capital raise was “significantly oversubscribed”, with wealthy Australians attracted to the returns offered by OnDeck‘s loans, typically in the high-single-digits.

FinTech Australia releases fintech ecosystem map (Fintech Australia), Rated: A

Australia’s fintech industry body today released its first member ecosystem map, which helps build domestic and international understanding of the nation’s fintech strengths and diversity, particularly in wealth generation and lending.

The ecosystem map shows that wealth and investment, and consumer and business lending, are Australia’s two largest fintech sub-sectors – an outcome that is consistent with findings from last year’s.

Online Lender Prospa Appoints Damon Pezaro as Chief Product Officer (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Prospa, an Australian online lender for small businesses, has appointed Damon Pezaro as its first Chief Product Officer.

Pezaro joins Prospa from Domain, where as CPO he led major transformation across the business and, apparently, a dramatic period of growth.

Asia

Asian Fintech Scene ‘Leapfrogging’ Over US In Innovation (Benzinga), Rated: A

While fintech companies proliferate in the United States, driving the expansion of a well-established financial sector with flourishing credit card and personal banking industries, Orchard Platform CEO Matt Burton is turning an eye to the east.

“In a lot of Asia, that doesn’t exist whatsoever,” Burton said at Benzinga’s 2017 Fintech Awards. “The population there are getting loans for the first time ever. There’s no credit bureaus there, so any data set that you’re able to acquire is completely proprietary.”

Matt Burton, CEO of Orchard Platform, at the 2017 Benzinga Global FinTech Awards

Africa

End of the road for mobile money loan defaulters (Standard Media), Rated: AAA

Credit reporting firm TransUnion yesterday said it had introduced into the Kenyan market a mobile score card that profiles borrowers using mobile lending platforms, which it will be sharing with banks and other lenders.

TransUnion Kenya Chief Executive Billy Owino said the Mobile Score Card would enable lenders access predictive and customised risk views while offering consumers alternative access to credit and an opportunity to build a positive credit score.

This wil be made possible by making use of mobile lending platforms. He added that the mobile money ecosystem has outgrown necessity-based transactions and peer-to-peer lending and is now transiting into mobile credit and loans.

Latin America

Two Brazilian Companies Merged to Create a Super Fintech (Crossroads Today), Rated: AAA

Vindi, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based provider of subscription/recurring billing and payment solutions, merged with Smartbill, a Sao Paulo, Brazil-based provider of a subscription management system.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the merger of the two companies aims to consolidate the market of payments focused on the service sector in Latin America.

Companies like Thomson Reuters, Movile, B2W, Empiricus, Serasa Experian, Buscape, Smartfit, Editora Abril and the most important subscription businesses are using Vindi and Smartbill solutions.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Mark Carney: housebuilder, educator, social activist

The Bank of England has topped up its corporate bond buying programme to include housing association and university debt
Continue reading: Mark Carney: housebuilder, educator, social activist

The Bank of England has topped up its corporate bond buying programme to include housing association and university debt

Continue reading: Mark Carney: housebuilder, educator, social activist

Canadian federal election due in late 2019, Bank of England announces

Area man not keen on keeping current job if it means losing out on new one
Continue reading: Canadian federal election due in late 2019, Bank of England announces

Area man not keen on keeping current job if it means losing out on new one

Continue reading: Canadian federal election due in late 2019, Bank of England announces

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

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

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

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

United States

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

United Kingdom

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

Hong Kong

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

France

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

China

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

 

United States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

United Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hong Kong

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

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

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

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

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

 

France

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

China

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

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

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

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

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

Author:

George Popescu