Thursday April 20 2017, Daily News Digest

real estate technology

News Comments Today’s main news: California SC finds arbitration agreement waiver unenforceable. BondMason first P2P provider to launch SIPP. China’s internet finance thrives as fraud fades. Marvelstone plans robo-advisor for family offices. Today’s main analysis: Real estate tech deals tick up. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 5 areas of fintech attracting investment. UK still fintech unicorn capital of Europe. Millennials favor search […]

real estate technology

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

Australia

China

APAC

News Summary

United States

California Supreme Court Finds Arbitration Agreement Waiver of ‘Public Right’ Unenforceable (JD Supra), Rated: AAA

On April 6, the California Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in McGill v. Citibank, finding that a pre-dispute arbitration agreement was unenforceable to the extent it required the plaintiff to waive her right to seek public injunctive relief. According to the court, the right to pursue a public injunction constitutes an “unwaivable public right” under California law. Therefore, “a provision in any contract ― even a contract that has no arbitration provision ― that purports to waive, in all fora, the statutory right to seek public injunctive relief . . . is invalid and unenforceable under California law.”

The California court further explained that its partial unenforceability finding is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 628 (1985). In that case, the Court stated that “[b]y agreeing to arbitrate a statutory claim, a party does not forgo the substantive rights afforded by the statute; it only submits to their resolution in an arbitrable, rather than a judicial forum.”

The court also acknowledged, but found no reason to address, the plaintiff’s related claim based on what is known under California law as the “Broughton-Cruz” rule, asserting that a request for a public injunction cannot be decided in arbitration. Finally, the decision remanded the case to the California Court of Appeals to consider ― if either party should raise the issue ― the question of whether the rest of the arbitration agreement remains enforceable in light of language contained in the most recent version of the underlying account agreement stating that, “if any portion of the arbitration provision is deemed invalid or unenforceable, the entire arbitration provision shall not remain in force.”

Pepper Points

  • The decision of the California Supreme Court in McGill v. Citibank will likely be appealed.
  • In light of this decision, providers of consumer products and services should review their existing arbitration agreements to determine whether the consumer’s ability to pursue a public injunction or other “public rights” is completely foreclosed.
  • McGill v. Citibank also highlights the risks of including language in an arbitration agreement (or in any contract) stating that the agreement will be invalid if any portion of the agreement is deemed invalid or unenforceable. Given the impossibility of predicting how courts may interpret even well-settled questions of law, standard severability language is always preferable unless different language is specifically mandated.

Five areas of fintech that are attracting investment (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

At the same time, some of the steam has come out of the sector. Overall investment and merger and acquisition activity in fintech almost halved from a record high of $46.7bn in 2015 to only $24.7bn last year, according to KPMG.

Another negative factor was the governance scandal last year at Lending Club, the biggest online lender in the US, combined with disappointing performances by some of its rivals, which turned investors off peer-to-peer lending.

China

Total fintech investment in Asia inched up to a new record of $8.6bn last year, although the number of deals fell by more than 8 per cent. More than half the region’s total fintech investment came from one deal: Ant Financial’s $4.5bn funding round.

Artificial intelligence

The launch of voice-activated assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Voice has opened up possibilities for making online banking easier for customers. Banks such as Capital One have already latched on to this trend.

Cyber security

Cyber security shot to the top of the boardroom agenda for banks after one of the biggest bank robberies in history was carried out by cyber thieves on the Bangladesh central bank via the Swift payments system in February 2016. The crooks made off with $81m that was on deposit at the US Federal Reserve.

Blockchain

Most big financial groups remain convinced of the potential for blockchain to revolutionise parts of their industry and several central banks are examining the potential for using the technology to create digital currencies. Venture capital investment in blockchain companies rose by a fifth to $544m last year, according to KPMG.

Insurtech

The insurance industry has been slower than other areas of finance to wake up to the digital disruption at its door. But recently start-ups such as So-sure, Friendsurance, Lemonade, Guevara and Brolly have emerged with plans to transform the sector. Venture capital investment in insurance technology companies doubled last year to almost $1.2bn, according to KPMG.

Real Estate Tech Deals Tick Up, But Still Well Below Peak (CB Insights), Rated: AAA

2016 was a banner year for real estate tech with over $2.6B in funding to the category across 277 deals. At the current run rate, 2017 could very well reach another consecutive funding high, even as deals are on track to come in slightly below last year’s total.

So far this year, real estate tech companies have received $733M across 61 deals.  At the current run-rate investment activity is on track to reach $2.9B invested across 247 deals.

On a quarterly basis, deals have materially declined since Q3’16.

Funding, on the other hand, has increased in each of the last three quarters and Q1’17 received the second-largest quarterly funding total ever, behind Q2’16.

Why I Don’t Believe in the Hybrid Advice Model (Lend Academy), Rated: A

On paper, it looks pretty good: let the robot do the simpler stuff, like a modern-portfolio-theory allocation between a few ETFs, and have a human being intervene to provide more sophisticated and personalized advice.

In practice, I think it’s nonsense. If you believe the market is truly efficient, then there’s no point in using an advisor, robot or human. Just invest in a broad market ETF and be done with it (except for tax harvesting).

If you think the market is efficient-ish, then low cost optimization is the solution. Go robot. If you think you need an active manager, you should read the trove of statistical analysis that demonstrate you’re simply paying for someone’s yacht. Indexes beat stockpickers [92% of time]…

It does make sense for robo-advisors to move to the hybrid model, since it allows them to differentiate and de-commoditize their service, but for their clients, not so much.

Machine learning algorithms have become so good in the last 10 years, that any number-crunching and quantitative decisions a smart but junior employee can do, the machine will do better, faster, and cheaper.

Wealthfront Now Offers Securities-Based Lending (Financial Advisor IQ), Rated: A

As its first move into lending, robo-advice provider Wealthfront has revealed it will let clients borrow money against their investments, Reuters reports.

Along with robo rival Betterment, the robo-advisor has increased competition in the wealth management space against the likes of wirehouses Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, brokerages like Charles Schwab and even fund houses with direct-to-consumer offerings like Vanguard.

Investors with at least $100,000 with Wealthfront can now borrow up to 30% of their balance for loans for anything except purchasing more investments on the firm’s platform, the company announced Wednesday.

Reuters reports loans will cost between 3.25% and 4.5%, and any money a client deposits into their account after taking out a loan will pay off the balance rather than investments.

Edward Jones partners with SixThirty to support financial technology startups (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Financial services firm Edward Jones today announced a multi-year partnership with SixThirty, a St. Louis-based venture fund that invests in financial technology (FinTech) startup companies. Backed by the St. Louis Regional Chamber, SixThirty was founded in 2013 and to date has funded more than 25 startups across the globe.

As part of the partnership with SixThirty, Frank LaQuinta, a general partner with Edward Jones, has joined the organization’s Investment Committee which evaluates the investment pipeline and selects FinTech startups that SixThirty invests in.

Pi Capital Advises Money360 on $ 250 million South Korean Financing Vehicle (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Pi Capital International LLC (“Pi Capital”) is pleased to announce that it was the exclusive financial advisor and placement agent to Money360, Inc. for a structured debt facility of up to $250 million. The financing vehicle is designed to allow Money360 to employ funding as it provides commercial real estate loans to its U.S. client base. The fund provides Korean investors with a short-duration, high-yield fixed-income instrument.

“The fund raise by Pi Capital will allow us to substantially increase our assets under management,” said Evan Gentry, M360 Advisors’ CEO. “We believe this gives us a competitive advantage with an anticipated $250 million investment from one of South Korea’s most reputable financial institutions.”

ApplePie Capital Announces Appointment of Chief Development Officer and Franchise Finance Company Acquisition (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

ApplePie Capital, the first online lender solely dedicated to the franchise industry, today announced the appointment of franchise industry veteran Ronald Feldman as chief development officer, as well as the acquisition of Funding Solutions, LLC, a well-established national franchise lending consultancy that specializes in SBA, conventional and equipment finance loans. Feldman and Funding Solutions’ managing partner Randy Jones will join ApplePie’s leadership team.

These additions position ApplePie’s financial platform to exponentially expand upon its hallmarks of speed, flexibility and efficiency with new product options, an expanded network of lending sources and an extraordinary wealth of franchise finance expertise for its growing list of franchisor partners. Currently, ApplePie serves more than 40 franchisors including Orangetheory Fitness, Jimmy John’s, Jersey Mike’s and Marco’s Pizza.

Responsible for growing ApplePie’s brand portfolio and contributing to product strategy, Ronald Feldman comes to the company with more than 20 years of experience in franchise leadership and franchise financing.  He previously served as chief development officer at FranData, the industry leader in market research, and as a principal and co-founder of Franchise America Finance (FAF) and The Siegel Financial Group. Feldman was also an early franchisee of The Goddard School system. As an active advocate of the franchising business model, Feldman currently serves the International Franchise Association (IFA) as chair of the Supplier Forum Advisory Board and sits on both the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the association.  Feldman was awarded the Sid Feltenstein MVP Award for service to the IFA’s Political Action Committee (FRANPAC) in 2013.

Why More Millennials Would Rather Visit The Dentist Than Listen To Banks (Forbes), Rated: A

Unfortunately, some Millennial stereotypes are rooted in fact. A 2015 PWC survey showed that only 24% of us have basic financial knowledge, and even so, only 27% of us seek financial advice on saving and investing.

When it comes to jobs, we’re not the deadbeats that people assume. In fact, a 2015 Deloitte report found that 54% of Millennials had started or had planned to start their own businesses by year-end. Although we may work differently than generations past, many of us are passionate, entrepreneurial and looking to make a difference.

“Advisors need to understand how truly connected this new generation is to each other and to information.” When it comes to trusting a financial advisor, Kamine highlights this outsider oversight as a road block.

Millennials currently represent a meaningful fraction of U.S. wealth that will grow as baby boomers continue to pass down an astounding $30 trillion over the next 30 years. When this transfer of wealth happens, an estimated 66% of Millennials will fire their parents’ financial advisor, according to InvestmentNews Data.

This year, 86% of Millennials said they are interested in socially responsible investing, according to Morgan Stanley.

The Millennial Disruption Index reports 71% of us would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks tell us. In our financial planning, we have shorter-term goals that we’re trying to align with the things we care about.

With an average age of 51, many advisors still build financial plans based on their view of a traditional life cycle with set ages for when we start a family, buy a house, climb the corporate ladder and retire. But their view is not our reality. Kamine adds, “Financial advice has been like a structured box without much creativity or understanding of the individual. Advisors need to become more dynamic because we’re revolting against structure. I’ve told my advisors I don’t envision buying a house for at least the next five years. And I’m definitely not focused on planning for retirement 40 to 50 years from now.”

Miami fintech company DadeSystems receives $ 2 million in funding (Miami Herald), Rated: A

DadeSystems, a Miami-based provider of account receivable automation solutions, raised $2 million in funding to accelerate its growth from Miami early-stage venture firm Ocean Azul Partners.

New GAO Study Examines Fintech Industry Regulation (Banking Journal), Rated: B

The report, the first in a series on regulation in the fintech industry, focuses specifically on marketplace lenders, mobile payments, digital wealth management platforms and distributed ledger (also known as blockchain) technology.

While the GAO did not issue any recommendations in the report, it noted that regulation of these four subsectors was varied depending on the types of products or services offered and the way in which they are delivered to consumers.

College Ave Student Loans Kicks off the Naked Financial Truth Digital Tour Featuring Financial Advice for Parents and Students (BusinessWire), Rated: B

College Ave Student Loans, the leading next-generation student loan fintech lender, has teamed up with America’s #1 College Life Expert Harlan Cohen to help families get comfortable with the uncomfortable when it comes to college and money. Hosted by Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate, the Naked Financial Truth Digital Tour will feature a series of free webinars and videos focused on financial advice, strategies and tips to help parents and students plan for post-secondary education.

The first webinar, “The 7 Biggest Financial Mistakes College Students Make (And How Parents Can Help)” will be held on Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. ET. Registration for the webinar is free and available online at

Ben Franklin’s Fintech Accelerator is First of its Kind in the Region. These 8 Startups Made the Cut (Biz Journals), Rated: B

These eight companies — which are required to have a presence in the region to receive an investment — will begin the 12-week accelerator on April 24, meeting with mentors and advisors selected to help guide them toward growth and fundings. They run the gamut of the financial industry, from creating data visualizations of personal assets to a student loan repayment benefit program. Four focus on putting financial technology to use solving social issues.

  • Asset-Map (Philadelphia)
  • Bright Idea Energy (Philadelphia)
  • College Affordability (Wynnewood)
  • Factury (Silicon Valley and New York City)
  • FinPay (King of Prussia)
  • FixList (Philadelphia)
  • NeedsList (Philadelphia)
  • PeopleJoy (Philadelphia)

RayJay Adds Real-Time Client Updates to Planning Tools (Financial Advisor IQ), Rated: B

In the next several weeks Raymond James is setting its sights on rolling out a revamped suite of “longevity” planning tools. The updated software comes with the kinds of bells and whistles that advisors might expect from a nearly five-year-old package – a “new look and feel” as well as a “more conversational design,” as company execs put it.

Other notable enhancements, they say, include more flexibility for analyzing portfolio return patterns and capabilities allowing real-time updates as clients’ household budgets and retirement goals change over time.

TAMARACK IMPLEMENTS ITS SALESFORCE.COM LEASE/LOAN ORIGINATOR FOR CHANNEL PARTNERS CAPITAL (NEF Association), Rated: B

Tamarack, a leader in providing independent software solutions in the equipment finance and commercial lending industry, has added Channel Partners Capital as its newest client to utilize Tamarack’s Lease/Loan Origination Accelerator on Salesforce.

Channel Partners, a leading provider of small business working capital loans, will benefit from added flexibility, streamlined operations and enhanced audit controls, as a result of using Tamarack’s Lease/Loan Origination Accelerator on Salesforce.

Tamarack’s Lease/Loan Origination Accelerator on Salesforce is a scalable solution offering users the ability to automate work queues,increase throughput of loans without additional head count and customize notifications from lead generation through to funding.

United Kingdom

UK is capital of Europe for fintech unicorns (The Telegraph), Rated: AAA

The UK dominates the European financial technology industry, with figures showing it boasts more billion-dollar fintech companies than the rest of the continent put together.

Britain houses four fintech “unicorns” – companies valued at $1bn (£780m) or more – with a combined valuation of $18.5bn, according to a report by the technology investment bank GP Bullhound.

This compares to two in the rest of Europe, which are worth $4.6bn between them.

Globally, fintech investment grew slightly to $13.6bn, although there was a decrease in the number of investments from 942 to 840.

BondMason is first P2P provider to launch a SIPP product (AltFi), Rated: AAA

BondMason has become the first peer-to-peer service provider to launch a self-invested personal pension (SIPP) product. The service aims to offer investors a flexible and tax-efficient way to save for retirement.

The new retirement product, which selects loans across P2P lending platforms, will grant UK savers exposure to higher-return assets than traditional pension savings products. Starting from a minimum investment of £5,000.

Just Google it! Millennials favour search engines over financial advice (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

MILLENNIALS are favouring search engines over professional financial advice when it comes to managing their own money, research claims.

A poll of more than 2,000 adults by Zurich UK claims 15 per cent of millennials, referring to those aged 18-34, are turning to search engines such as Google instead of seeking professional financial advice, more than any other age group.

Only three per cent of 35-44 year olds and nine per cent of those aged 45-54 and over 55 respectively, opt for web-based information.

Asked why they eschew professional help, one in five millennials cited confidence in their ability to sort their own financial futures as a reason for not initially seeking professional help, while 37 per cent felt they do not earn enough to need to speak to a financial adviser, and almost a quarter said they were too young.

Loan searches on the internet ‘may affect credit rating’ (BBC), Rated: B

High Street bank TSB said some loan providers make a “hard mark” on credit files when someone asks for a loan price or quote.

TSB chief executive Paul Pester said: “We estimate that consumers are losing out by as much as £400m each year, which is going straight into the pockets of aggressive loans providers. It is time the industry comes clean on these costly underhand tactics.”

P2P lending is fast becoming the go-to option (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: B

P2P lending offers an innovative funding option for businesses – including developers – and is fast becoming the go-to option.

It’s essential that the development finance sector stays competitive and vibrant, and alternative lending allows that to happen. Far from just being a back-up for situations that the traditional lending sector can’t cater to, crowdfunding and P2P platforms can actually be a more efficient source of funding.

European Union

2018 is shaping up to be a regulatory nightmare for financial services (Information-age.com), Rated: AAA

Achieving compliance will not happen overnight. Indeed, MiFID II is widely considered to be one of the most sprawling pieces of financial legislation ever devised, and thus it presents numerous challenges. One of which being that recording calls will become mandatory for all areas of financial advice.

Then, if you add GDPR (the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation), coming into effect in May 2018, into the equation, 2018 is shaping up to be a regulatory nightmare for financial services firms. Under GDPR, we all have a‘ right to be forgotten’ or a right to erasure of all personal information held on us by a particular company. This places a duty on companies to be able to quickly access and delete the information they hold on specific individuals, on request.

However, comparing the responses of IT professionals and those responsible for managing Risk & Compliance within a business shows IT teams have a better overall understanding of the consequences of non-compliance. 62% of risk and compliance managers admitted to not knowing a company can be fined up to five million euros or 10 per cent of annual turnover, compared to only 42% of IT managers and decision makers.

Tinder for microloans: How to share lending risk with strangers (Russia Beyond the Headlines), Rated: A

A stranger’s photograph appears on your smartphone screen, and you decide whether to give him or her a loan or not. The money is not yours, but instead is provided by microfinance organizations. That’s the main difference from traditional American P2P (peer-to-peer) lending, and with Suretly you can earn or lose depending on whether the recipient of your largesse proves to be a reliable borrower or not.

Suretly is geared exclusively to short-term loans of up to one month; in other words, those with the highest interest.

The money itself is loaned by the microfinance organization that the borrower applies to, but only if they attract enough sureties to cover the whole amount, plus interest. Users share the risks, and depending on whether the individual returns the money or not, they can lose or earn from $1 to $10.

On the app, borrowers are divided into seven categories from A to G depending on their trustworthiness. The higher the risk that the loan won’t be repaid, the higher the price of its surety. The maximum commission is $1.5.

Australia

Goldfields Money makes Australian BaaS play with Singapore’s Instarem (Daily Fintech), Rated: AAA

Listed Australian deposit taking institution Goldfields Money (ASX:GMY) looks to be making good on its intention to become a leading player in the digital banking product distribution and BaaS market in Australia, announcing last week that it had signed an MoU with Singapore headquartered remittance fintech Instarem.

What is interesting about the MoU is the intent to move beyond remittance towards a broader banking play for cross-border SMEs and products orientated towards visa holders visiting or living in Australia.

The two companies should have a healthy market ready to capitalise on. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over the last 10 years the proportion of the Australian population born in China alone has increased from 1.2% to 2.2%, coming in just behind New Zealanders and British immigrants. Those born in India currently make up 1.9% of the population, while citizens from the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia collectively add up to further 2.7%.

Migration isn’t going away. And the degree to which an individual’s assets are spread across countries is also on the increase thanks to globalization.

China

China’s Internet finance thrives as fraud fades (XinhuaNet), Rated: AAA

China has four large state-owned banks, and state-owned enterprises generally have easier access to financing. Many small companies are troubled by the financing bottleneck, creating pent-up demand.

Meanwhile, working-class families struggle to figure out where to invest their savings to seek higher returns, and many of them move money online. The country, home to the world’s biggest online population, also has a number of groups, such as college students, who are underserved by banks.

By March 2017, 3,607 Chinese P2P lending platforms had run into trouble or been forced to close, with only 2,281 platforms in normal operation.

On top of P2P lending, Internet finance also covers business such as third-party online payment, crowd funding, and other financial services.

Risk caused by the Internet finance industry has wide repercussions. Some P2P lending platforms resembled hybrid financial institutions providing clients with various financial services online, analysts said.

Businesses such as P2P lending, Internet-based insurance, third-party online payment, and online asset management were among key areas for strengthened supervision, industry observers said.

Internet finance last week appeared on the top banking regulator’s list of ten most important areas for enhanced risk control, with targeted measures to be taken to stem emergence of a financial crisis.

Wang said 2017 will be a watershed year for Chinese Internet finance as the rules are tightened, bringing the industry out of the wilderness.

Tishman Speyer, CreditEase team up to invest $ 1.4b in China (Deal Street Asia), Rated: A

New York-based developer Tishman Speyer is teaming up with China’s CreditEase Wealth Management to invest $1.4 billion in China and other countries within the next three years.

The strategic partnership is aimed to extend “global cooperation in resource sharing, fund investment, buyouts and business development,” the firms said in a joint statement.

APAC

Marvelstone Capital plans a robo advisor platform for family offices (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Singapore-based Marvelstone Capital plans a robo advisor platform for the under-served family office market in Asia.

The platform is being developed with Singaporean fintech startup Smartfolios, and will be launched in the third quarter of 2017. It will be available on desktop and mobile for Marvelstone Capital’s clients.

Marvelstone will target family offices based in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, as well as India. The company points out that Malaysia is an important market and Cho added: “It is a huge market and the culture is quite unique as well, there’s a huge Shariah-compliant market, so it is definitely one of the most important markets for us.”

No Uber Moment for Fintech Just Yet (Broadridge), Rated: AAA

 

Thursday April 13 2017, Daily News Digest

small business fintech lenders

News Comments Today’s main news: Small businesses hate fintech lenders more than big banks. All is not well in the world of student loans. UK equity crowdfunding investments set new record in March 2017. Lending Works registers 8.8M GBP in ISA since launch. Today’s main analysis:  VC funding report. Small biz lending approval rates. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Portfolio review – […]

small business fintech lenders

News Comments

United States

  • All is not well in the world of student loans. GP: “There are many parallels between credit crisis in general: investors wrong feel of safety is, I think, the main one. And in this case student debt can only be releaved in bankruptcy in very exceptional cases, in short, nearly never. So investors feel that student debt is safe. The same way as mortgages perhaps? I think we are far away from a crisis or bubble. However student debt is growing and questions have to be asked of where this is going and why. Brian from BlueElephant told me one day that any market that is being skewed by government intervention from its normal equilibrium should be avoided as the price doesn’t reflect the risk. Is the government skewing the student debt market? Certainly. I have no issue with the risk in the student debt market, I am worried about the price pressure from non-profit participants. ”  AT: “Lenders need to get better at judging risk and cutting down on defaults.”
  • Small biz lending approval rates. GP: “We now see for a few quarters an improvement in small bank’s approval rate for small business loans.”AT: “Small banks and institutional investors are doing better at approving loans than big banks and alt lenders. I wonder what this means. Could be a trust issue.”
  • Small businesses hate fintech lenders more than big banks. GP:”As a small business you have a choice to borrow money below 10% from a bank, a product you will not qualify for, or to borrow moey from MCAs and fintech at rates often above 20%, a product you will nearly always qualify for. Who do you have more? The people who have a great product they don’t want to sell to you or the ones who have an expensive product you have no choice but to buy? To me this is a huge issue for the SME fintech lending sector. This means that as soon as credit from any other institution is anywhere close to being competitive the small businesses will not use a fintech offering. The second question is why are fintechs ranked so low? My personal believe is that it’s due to the onerous terms fintech usually charge small businesses especially in comparison to banks.  “AT: “This is interesting. Significant is the fact that this data comes from successful applicants, not non-borrowers. Driving this data could be the varied nature of borrower profiles. Small banks are likely lending to prime borrowers whereas online lenders are heavily weighted toward sub-prime borrower who likely expect to be treated like prime borrowers and can’t get a loan from a bank. This requires further investigation.”
  • VC funding report Q1 2017. GP:”Unaccredited investors had no scalable legal way to invest in private stocks before. The money inventory for unaccredited investors is fixed or at best stable given the wage stagnation, and the small inflation. And I think crowdfunding also includes more entertainment thant the stock market with the benefit of often also receiving a product. “AT: “I think it’s interesting that fewer people in the U.S. are investing in stocks? Does that mean they are investing in crowdfunding asset classes?”
  • Elevate Credit not trading at elevated price. GP:” I would compare them to Yirendai more. “AT: “The comparison to Square is interesting.”
  • Should fintech startups buy banks? GP:”If you want a bank, there is rent, buy or build. These approaches are standard business questions. The real question is should you work with a bank or not. Why not an insurance company? Why not with another deposit taking structure that is not a bank? ”  AT: “I don’t see why not. The most likely targets would be community banks, if they can get there before the big banks swallow them up.”
  • Diversification 101 in MPL. AT: “Basic investing advice.”
  • Podcast: Economic analysis of real estate, Part 2.
  • Redfin vets raise pre-seed round, launch digital mortgage platform.
  • Opus releases new version of OpusNotes.

United Kingdom

European Union

International

Asia

News Summary

United States

All is Not Well in the World of Student Loans (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

It is clear that burdensome student debt is now holding many people back financially. Student loan debt now stands at a staggering $1.3 trillion (as of the end of 2016) an increase of 170 percent over the preceding 10 years. There are three contributing factors to this increase:

  1. More students are taking out loans.
  2. The loans are for larger amounts.
  3. Borrower repayments have slowed down.

Borrowers are now leaving school with over $30,000 in student loan debt and they are defaulting more. This is particularly true of those borrowers with balances of $100,000 or more. Over 20% of borrowers who left school in 2010 or 2011 owing that amount have already defaulted on this debt (a default means they are at least 270 days past due). That is an astonishingly bad default rate.

Small Biz Lending Approval Rates Improve at Institutional Investors and Small Banks, Stall at Big Banks in March 2017 (Biz2Credit), Rated: AAA

Loan approval rates at institutional investors and small banks improved in March 2017, according to the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending IndexTM, the monthly analysis of more than 1,000 small business loan applications on Biz2Credit.com. Big banks’ ($10 billion-plus in assets) loan approval were stagnant in the last month, but remained at an all-time Index high. Meanwhile, loan approval rates at credit unions and alternative lenders continues to falter.

Small businesses hate fintech lenders more than big banks (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released its 2016 small business credit survey, which gives us an idea of the experiences of over 10,000 firms across the US. As Matt highlighted yesterday, one of the things we learn from the research is that small business expectations doesn’t tell us much about the economy. But we also get some information on how small business owners view various sources of credit. The results for fintech startups, specifically online lenders, are not as great as you might expect:

So, the hype about streamlining processes and building better customer experiences is not all hype, though they do just slightly worse in terms of transparency.

But there is something going on with the cost of credit provided by online lenders, and the terms they demand. The survey defines ‘online lenders’ as “nonbank alternative and marketplace lenders, including Lending Club, OnDeck, CAN Capital, and PayPal Working Capital”, so there are potentially two things going on here.

One is that online lenders typically have a higher cost of capital than banks, and so they also charge higher interest rates, which is what drives the dissatisfaction. The second is that online lenders are targeting riskier businesses, who wouldn’t be able to borrow from a bank. That would suggest the higher level of dissatisfaction about repayment terms and interest rates arises from the fact they are lending to businesses that generally encounter high borrowing costs, no matter who they are borrowing from.

Venture Capital Funding Report Q1 2017 (CB Insights), Rated: AAA

US VC-backed companies saw $13.9B in total financing across 1,104 deals in Q1’17, up 15% and 2% from Q4’16, respectively.

While Asia saw an increase in unicorn births from Q4’16, North America remained flat with a total of 3 new unicorns. Notably, Europe has not seen a new VC-backed unicorn since the first quarter of 2016.

Source: Gallup

Elevate Credit: Not Trading At An Elevated Price (Seeking Alpha), Rated: A

The fintech has funded more than $4 billion in loans for 1.6 million customers by using machine learning to lower fraud scores while providing quick lending decisions based on data inputs for a high-risk borrowing group.

Revenues grew 34% to $580 million last year while operating income expanded to $48 million, up from $9 million in 2015. The fintech is still losing money; that typically is a large negative in the recent IPO market, though other offerings have rallied despite large losses.

In total, Elevate sold 14.26 million shares at $6.50 including the over allotment amount. The company raised about $81 million after fees.

The company has a fully diluted market cap of only $350 million using a share count of 41 million and nearly 4 million of outstanding stock options.

The reality is that Square had a very subdued IPO similar to Elevate Credit. The initial price range target was $11 to $13 while the actual offer price dipped to only $9, though Square jumped back to that original price range trading around $12 for most of the first month as a public company.

Should fintech startups buy banks? (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Banks buying startups isn’t anything new. But for financial tech startups, looking for scale at any cost, perhaps the solution would actually be to buy a bank, according to a growing number of observers and experts in the industry.

There are almost 6,000 FDIC-insured banking institutions in the U.S. as of the end of 2016 and 1,541 of them have less than $100 million in assets, including a sliver of failing banks that need saving. With average common equity around $12.5 million for a healthy bank of that size, a well-established startup could pay $25 million and get fully licensed to be deposit taking.

Part of the reason startups haven’t been able to scale, at least in the retail banking world, is that so-called innovations are usually just different ways for people to interface with their banks, while core banking transactions – deposits, loans, mortgages and payments – generally remain the same on the backend. In other words, there hasn’t truly been an Uber for banking, said Pascal Bouvier, a venture partner at Santander Innoventures. Most fintech startups operate at the thin outer layer of banking.

The valuation gap between fintech startups and banks makes it difficult to structure a deal, he said. Banks tend to be valued more through historical earnings and the price of tangible book value, whereas fintech startups, because of their perceived high growth potential, often tend to have higher earnings multiples.

Diversification 101 in Marketplace Lending (LendingClub), Rated: A

While loans are issued in amounts between $1,000 and $40,000, Notes can be purchased for as little as $25.

If you invested $2,500 in only one borrower and that borrower becomes late and the loan eventually charges off, you could potentially lose 100% of your total investment amount. If you invested $25 in 100 different borrowers your potential loss on any single Note would be limited to 1% of your total investment amount.

 

Episode 6 – Economic Analysis of Real Estate, Part 2 (RealCrowd), Rated: A

In this episode listeners will learn about:
– How rising household income impacts multifamily investments
– How property tax factors into decision making
– Where to access data on real estate markets
– What asset class RealSource is pursuing in this current economic climate 

Redfin Veterans Raise Pre-Seed Round and Launch Digital Mortgage Platform “Approved” (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Approved launched its digital mortgage platform today, aimed at radically simplifying the home loan experience for lenders and borrowers nationwide. The company raised $1 Million in pre-seed funding led by Social Capital and Precursor Ventures to support the launch.

Lenders in the pilot saw an average 50% reduction in the time it took to get those documents.

Approved technology includes:

  • DocCast™: Automatically collect original bank statements, W2s, 1099s, 1040s and paystubs.
  • DocVision™ Camera Scanning: Allows borrowers to securely “scan” documents using their mobile devices.
  • White-labeled Dashboards: A delightful and frictionless platform for borrower and lender collaboration.
  • Digital Document Library: Support for all popular loan programs.

Opus releases new version of OpusNotes (Hedgeweek), Rated: B

Opus Fund Services, a provider of hedge fund administration services, has launched new release of the OpusNotes loan accounting platform for marketplace lending vehicles.

United Kingdom

Latest OFF3R Index Data Reveals Significant Increase in Equity Crowdfunding Investments in March 2017 (PR Web), Rated: AAA

This record breaking figure smashed the previous monthly high, set back in July 2015, by over £13 Million. This made March 2017 the most successful month for the total amount raised via equity crowdfunding platforms in the young life of the asset class in the UK.

According to the data from OFF3R, equity crowdfunding had a very strong finish to 2016 but had so far had a slow start to the year.

The data revealed that March 2017 was a strong month for the sector. Just over £300 Million was lent in March via the platforms that form the P2P element of the OFF3R Index, including Zopa, Ratesetter and Funding Circle. This was marginally higher than February’s data but slightly down from January’s year to date high.

Lending Works Announcement: £8.8 Million Has Been Invested In ISA Account Since February 2017 Launch (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

UK-based peer-to-peer lending platform Lending Works announced on Wednesday £8.8 million has been invested into the company’s Individual Savings Account (ISA) since its launch on February 8th.

Lending Works reported given that there are no limits on transfers of ISA funds accumulated in previous financial years, the largest individual investment to date within a Lending Works ISA stands at £154,190, while the average amount invested among the 815 ISA investors currently stands at £10,769.

Fintech founder: I would not set up in London today (Financial News), Rated: A

The founder of one of London’s best-known fintech startups has said that he would not choose London as a location to set up his business today, as he has “no idea what Brexit will mean”.

Taavet Hinrikus, the chief executive and co-founder of online FX service TransferWise, urged the UK government to quickly secure access to talent and trade with Europe in a post-Brexit world.

Funding Circle’s Desai: use P2P for monetary stimulus (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

UK POLICYMAKERS should start using peer-to-peer platforms to stimulate the economy, Funding Circle’s chief executive and co-founder Samir Desai said on Wednesday.

The head of the country’s third-largest business lender called on the government and the Bank of England to bypass the banking system and inject monetary stimulus via P2P platforms, capitalising on the direct access they provide to the real economy.

Boost Capital Secures New £15m Credit Line (Boost Capital Email), Rated: A

No end to Boost Capital’s growth spurt as the business funding specialist secures new £15m credit line to meet small business loan demand.

An extra £15m will now be available to UK small businesses, after alternative business lender Boost Capital secured a new credit line from American Investment Firm Atalaya Capital Management.

Ex-Aldermore director joins SME lending platform (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: B

SME lending platform Growth Street has announced the appointment of a new commercial director and general counsel.

Chris Weller will serve as commercial director, having formerly held the role at Aldermore Bank from 2013-14 before becoming sales director for invoice finance until 2015.

Meanwhile, general counsel April Nardulli joins from P2P platform RateSetter, having served as senior regulatory counsel, regulatory lawyer and interim compliance manager since her appointment in 2015.

European Union

Finbee Experiences – My Portfolio Review (P2P-Banking), Rated: AAA

A year has passed since I last wrote about the portfolio I built on Finbee. Currently I have invested 1,027 Euro in 35 loans. 32 are current (965 Euro), 2 are late (23 Euro) and one is in default (38 Euro), but rates for this loan are paid to me by Finbee’s compensation fund. The average interest rate of my loan parts is 31%.

My self calculated yield (XIRR) is 31.5%. This is the highest I achieved on any p2p lending marketplace over a longer duration of time. Calculating the result again, this time with assuming a full write-off of the defaulted loan gives a yield of 29.4%.

Why banks are reluctant to enter the roller coaster of FinTech (JAXenter), Rated: AAA

Blockchain, NFC, Peer to peer lending are just a few of the options traditional banking could have fully adopted. This would have had a tremendous impact on the way we exchange transactions, do business and live our lives. However, I cannot name a big bank that has jumped on the bandwagon and delivered a fully-fledged product in this area. Just the opposite — the stories I hear are, for example, about two of the top executives of BNP Paribas in Bulgaria leaving the company to start their own Peer to peer lending platform called Klear. Why didn’t they initiate this project inside the organization?

I think there are two factors causing this:

  • Internal factor: Company culture in the traditional banking
  • External factor: The public image of banks is all about security, while innovation relates to risk.

Usually, new banking products need a lot of IT involvement — for each new type of deposit/loan you need someone to implement tens of forms and wizards.

How to enable innovation in banking

We have a good example of consortium of banks coming up with a radical move to start a joint blockchain project. This way none of the big players risks their own reputation.

Another way to announce innovative projects is by strongly focusing on the physical design and digital UX of the innovation because, believe it or not, the mass client judges how reliable something is by the external look of it.

Former HSBC banker Lake joins fintech revolution (Financial News), Rated: B

Spencer Lake, a former HSBC banker who led the group’s global capital financing business, has joined a fintech firm that boasts the UK bank as one of its main clients.

Lake has been named vice-chairman of Fenergo, a Dublin-based firm that makes what it calls client lifecycle management software, according to a statement from the company on April 12.

International

How fintech startups are helping SMEs choose who they do business with (Daily Fintech), Rated: A

According to Xero, 38 percent of small business owners indicate late payments cause them to delay payments to their suppliers, while 15 percent claim this often sees them delaying wage payments to staff, along with other benefits.

62 percent of businesses would not survive more than three months if all invoices went unpaid, while nearly 25 percent wouldn’t last a month.

Xero’s Live Contacts, a partnership with the local arm of credit bureau Equifax (formerly Veda) is one such data driven solution. As part of a paid-up Xero subscription, businesses can now see a credit risk indicator against a contact in their database, helping them to better assess whether to do business or not, or even risk adjust payment terms.

At the other end of the data spectrum, CreditMonk in India allows businesses to add a review of a creditor’s payment behaviour via its platform.

Asia

SINGAPORE-based Marvelstone Capital, which is a data-driven asset management company, is planning to launch its robo advisor platform for family offices in Asia in the third quarter of this year.

According to Cho, the robo advisor platform is being developed with Singaporean fintech startup Smartfolios, which is focused on building next-generation advisory and thematic investment technologies. The robo advisor will be available on desktop and mobile for Marvelstone Capital’s clients.

To give an idea of the market size of family offices in Asia, Cho cites a report that says that overall, the billionaires in the Asian market have about US$400 billion of assets at their disposal, which equates to an average of about US$3.6 billion per individual, which in turn makes all of them potential clients of family office solutions or even owners of single family offices. (Source:

Cho explains that family offices with below US$1 billion assets under management are the underserved family offices.

He adds that second priority countries will be Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan and that the third priority will be emerging markets such as Myanmar and Vietnam.

30 Under 30 Asia 2017: The Top Young Venture Capitalists And Fintech Entrepreneurs (Forbes), Rated: AAA

Val Yap founded PolicyPal — a Singapore-based smartphone app that helps users never miss a premium by tracking all their insurance on one dashboard.

MoolahSense Adds Invoice Financing to List of Services (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Singapore-based MoolahSense, a marketplace lending platform, has added invoice financing as a new product line. The new service will allow SMEs to access financing to address short-term capital needs of up to $15,000. For investors, a nominal interest rate of up to 12% may be earned. An invoice backed loan would mature in 15 to 90 days’ time and investors would be able to receive returns in a relatively shorter period of time.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor