Tuesday December 26 2017, Daily News Digest

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News Comments Today’s main news: 3 Reg CF portals no longer FINRA-approved. Zopa launching a bank. LexinFintech completes $108M IPO. European banks prep for PSD2. Australia releases second MPL survey. Today’s main analysis: PeerIQ’s MPL Loan Performance Monitor. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 2017 was a wild ride for alternative lending. Is Congress expanding credit for the poor or enabling high-interest rates? Megatrends […]

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United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

Australia

India

Asia

News Summary

United States

The Wild Ride In Alternative Financing In 2017 (PYMNTS), Rated: AAA

But as 2017 pulled into the station, it became clear that a decade-long era in financial services was officially drawing to a close, other than this transitional year between what was and what’s next.

It became clear that Act I of digital era financial services was drawing to a close – and that Act II is getting warmed up backstage.

The CFPB

The CFPB has spent a year generating surprising questions – with even more surprising answers.

Moreover, there was some thought that the federal courts might render much of the discussion moot, by ruling the CFPB’s independent structure rendered it unconstitutional in the CFPB v. PHH case.

That ruling was thrown out by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit court of appeals, and a final ruling is still awaited.

The Congressional Review Act (And The Fate Of The Old Rules)

The 20-year-old law, which had only been used once before 2017, has been used 15 times since January of last year to undo Obama-era rules.

The law was effectively used to bounce the CFPB’s arbitration rule from going into effect. That rule would have made it illegal for financial services companies to insert mandatory arbitration clauses into consumer contracts, thus forcing consumers to surrender their right to form class-action lawsuits.

A similar maneuver was attempted to block controversial rules the CFPB passed regarding the regulation of prepaid cards. The House approved the CRA resolution, but the bill was unable to garner majority support in the Senate. That means going forward, prepaid cards that offer overdraft protection will be regulated as though they are credit cards, as opposed to debit cards.

The Future Of Innovation Instead Of Regulation

Affirm, founded by PayPal’s Max Levchin, built a POS financing product dedicated to offering consumers an honest, transparent way to pay for items on installment.

Affirm’s mission to expand consumer access to honest financing will rev into high gear next year, on the heels of a $200 million capital raise on an estimated $1.6 billion valuation, and now with the ability for any consumer to take advantage of its credit option at any merchant.

LendUp wants to calibrate financial services to what it calls “the new average consumer” or the “emerging middle class.”

EVEN’s new partnership with Walmart is a new tool to help smooth the income volatility for its workers by allowing them to be paid in real time for the hours they have already worked, instead of having to wait for the traditional payday.

“This isn’t that people just don’t have the money to pay their bills in general, but that they are forced to make bad decisions because the money they have already earned by working is not available to them at the right time,” EVEN CEO Jon Schlossberg told Karen Webster. “That adds up to a $100 billion industry a year in payday loans and late fees. That’s crazy; we can fix that and we should fix that.”

So EVEN – now with Walmart as a partner – is fixing it, both by giving customers access to their funds early, but also by providing access to financial management software so they can better control their money.

What’s Next

Perhaps in 2018, they will even find ways to write studies that use terms properly and do not directly contradict the research of other regulators.

Millennials, she noted, tend to enter the credit system with a bang once they start having families.

MPL Loan Performance Monitor (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

This week, we introduce our redesigned MPL Loan Performance Monitor where we track the delinquency rates, cumulative losses, and transition matrices on public marketplace lending data that is comprised of loans originated by LendingClub and Prosper.

Source: PeerIQ
Source: PeerIQ

Is Congress expanding credit for the poor or enabling payday lenders? (Salon), Rated: AAA

Ken Rees has made a fortune selling loans with triple-digit interest rates to borrowers with poor credit history or no credit history.

But in 2008, federal regulators ordered First Delaware to stop working with payday lenders — including ThinkCash — so Rees changed his company’s name to Think Finance and started striking deals with Native American tribes, which, as sovereign entities, are also exempt from state usury laws. Think Finance filed a still-pending lawsuit claiming Think Finance used the tribes as a front to make deceptive loans. Think Finance denies the charges and Rees started a new company, Elevate Credit, which operates from the same building in Fort Worth, Texas. Elevate deals in online installment loans, a cousin to payday loans, and partners with a Kentucky-based bank to offer lines of credit with effective annual interest rates much higher than would otherwise be allowed in some states.

Sponsors say the Protecting Consumers Access to Credit Act facilitates bank partnerships by ensuring third parties like debt buyers and rapidly growing financial technology firms can buy, and collect on, loans originated by federally regulated banks regardless of state laws governing interest rates. These partnerships can help make credit available to those left out of the traditional banking system, primarily low-income individuals, backers say.

“The bill covers every flavor of online lending,” said Adam Levitin, a consumer law professor at Georgetown University. “Some members of Congress have gotten snookered that they are fostering innovation, but a loan is just a loan whether you do it online or not.”

But now more payday-style lenders are moving online and donning the friendly face of a tech startup. Some, like LendUp, a lender charging more than 200 percent on some loans and counting Google Ventures among its investors, have attracted mainstream support. Like many high-interest online lenders, LendUp says it is “a better alternative to payday loans” because they use alternative data sources to determine interest rates but consumer advocates say the product, a high-interest loan that can quickly lead to a cycle of debt, is essentially the same thing.

Elevate said in an email it is committed to lowering rates further, and said its loan terms are more transparent and it doesn’t charge expensive fees associated with payday lenders.

Elevate’s installment loan called RISE is licensed in 17 states that don’t impose interest-rate caps and charges annual interest rates as high as 299 percent. Elevate says repeat borrowers can eventually qualify for interest rates as low as 36 percent on subsequent loans.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia impose interest-rate caps, most around 36 percent, to protect consumers from high-interest loans.

This article originally appeared on publicintegrity.org.

Three Reg CF Crowdfunding Portals are No Longer FINRA Approved (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Ufunding was the first to depart FINRAs list of approved platforms. In hindsight it is a wonder the platform was ever approved. The action by FINRA took place a little over a year ago as “potential for fraud” was evident on Ufunding as was “an almost complete failure to follow disclosure and filing requirements.”

DreamFunded Marketplace has hit the exit. We are not certain exactly why DreamFunded left but, if one speculates, it is most likely due to the fact real estate investing is better suited for Reg A+ and Reg D crowdfunding rules which allow issuers to raise more money.

The other former CF platform is Crowdboarders out of Texas. Crowdboarders appears to have pivoted to more of a promotional platform.

After the tech wake-up call… (Banking Exchange), Rated: A

Not long ago, Indiana’s Peoples Bank SB had a business prospect come in who had a loan with Kabbage, the online lender, at 20%. “We reviewed their credit, and we got them into the bank at close to 5%,” says Benjamin Bochnowski, president and CEO at the $914.2 million-assets bank.

With credit that was worthy of a rate like that, the bank asked the customer why it had gone to Kabbage in the first place—and been willing to pay nearly 15 percentage points more for credit. Simple, the new customer responded. Kabbage was easy to use and delivered the proceeds of the loan quickly.

Camilo Concha of LendingUSA (Lend Academy), Rated: A

In this podcast you will learn:

  • The founding story of LendingUSA.
  • The different verticals they operate in today.
  • How their point of sale lending process works.
  • The typical terms on these loans.
  • A profile of the typical borrower who uses LendingUSA.
  • How they do marketing outreach to the merchants offering their loans.
  • The different revenue streams they have.
  • The scale that LendingUSA is at today.
  • How their loan performance has been to date.
  • Why LendingUSA is not competing as much on price as other consumer lenders.
  • Their overall approval rate for loan applications.
  • How they approach fraud prevention.
  • Who is providing the capital for these loans.
  • Where they are on the path to profitability.
  • Why the marketplace lending challenges of 2016 did not impact LendingUSA that much.
  • Why their cost of customer acquisition is going down.
  • Their biggest challenge in getting their business to where it is today.
  • Camilo’s long term vision for LendingUSA.

P2Binvestor CEO Krista Morgan on Marketplace Lending: What to Expect in 2018 (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

P2Binvestor CEO Krista Morgan founded P2Binvestor in 2012 with a mission to help growing businesses succeed. Morgan is not only CEO of a fast growing Fintech, she is also the cohost of the podcast “Women Who Startup Radio”, an ardent mentor to other women entrepreneurs who speaks regularly on business finance, fundraising, and scaling a startup.

I recently connected with Morgan via email to learn her 2018 predictions for the Marketplace Lending sector and more specifically, her predictions for P2Binvestor. Her observations follow:

  • More focus will be placed on business models and profitability
  • Platform mergers and shut downs will occur as equity investors remain on the sidelines
  • Capital will start to look for shorter duration assets
  • The conversation about diversity will continue

When asked what PB2i has in store for 2018, Morgan targeted the platform’s growth in four areas:

  • More bank partnerships
  • Tech focused on portfolio monitoring
  • Tighter credit standards

Modo Creates A Payments Data Highway Between The World’s Largest Financial Institutions (Benzinga), Rated: A

Bruce Parker, Modo CEO: Modo creates interoperability in the payments industry by conducting the exchange of data between systems via our translation utility service. Modo allows clients to bring together capabilities from around the payments and commerce industry by directly solving for interoperability between different payment systems.

We’re doing this for some of the biggest names in the payments game: Bank of America Corp BACVeriFone Systems Inc PAY, FIS, Klarna, and Alliance Data Systems CorporationADS, and are proud to say that list is growing.

Who are your customers?

Banks, networks, payments providers and their partners.

PayPal CEO Dan Schulman talks Fintech on Capitol Hill with Georgetown’s Chris Brummer (MENAFN), Rated: A

Other topics touched on during the interview with Mr. Brummer included how fintech can and should improve financial inclusion—and the continued need to eradicate banking deserts—as well as the necessity to better coordinate and launch public-private partnerships. Despite PayPal’s notable profile and 210 million users, it operates in a $100 trillion industry with approximately 1% market share—and there are still nearly 2 billion people around the world who live outside financial mainstream.

Getting Smart About Thin File Student Grads and Their Credit Card Worth (PaymentsJournal), Rated: A

The CARD Act of 2009 disrupted student credit card marketing with a means test and parental approval for certain types of accounts.  The market, which used capture about 12% of total card consumer spend now only contributes a fraction.

The American Banker covered an interesting story about how BankMobile, a digitial only bank with 800 university partners, is attempting to build a model based on academic history and how they maintained their student bank accounts.

3 Real Estate Investing Trends That Gained Steam in 2017 (Realty Biz), Rated: A

In 2016, the real estate crowdfunding industry produced 3.5 billion dollars in a market that has largely gone unnoticed. It’s anticipated by 2025 that the industry is going to be valued at more than 300 billion. Three trends emerged in 2017 that can help the informed investor understand the best approach to this dynamic and explosive industry.

  1. Investors Move Toward Institutional Capital
  2. Non-Accredited Investors Gain Steam
  3. Consolidation allows for the emergence of new players

Can real estate crowdfunding help the homelessness crisis? (Curbed), Rated: A

In addition to commercial space and two market-rate residential lofts, the two-story Jolene’s complex will also contain an 11-room SRO, or single-room occupancy, a dorm-like living arrangement where each resident gets their own 100-square-foot bedroom and access to shared common space. Six of the room will be given to working homeless Portlanders, as part of a partnership with the Street Roots non-profit, while the other five will be rented out to the general population for $425 a month.

After seeing that 90 percent of the participants in Fair-Haired Dumbbell were from Portland, they experimented with a slightly different form of crowdfunding that allowed anybody in Oregon making $70,000 a year or more to invest $3,000 or more in the project (technically, it’s taking advantage of Rule 504 of Regulation D, qualified by the SEC and the Oregon Secretary of State).

EquityStat Brings Portfolio Management To The Cloud (Benzinga), Rated: A

What does your company do? What unique problem does it solve?

Karl Swierenga, founder: EquityStat is an online investment portfolio manager. It allows investors to track and manage their stocks, mutual funds and ETFs, online in the cloud. Many investors own a combination of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs.

Who are your customers?

Our customers are individual investors who own mutual funds, stocks, bonds and ETFs.

FindBob Closes $ 1.26M USD Seed Round (Business Insider), Rated: A

FindBob () announced today that its seed round is closed at over $1.25 million USD. Grinnell Mutual led the investment.

The capital will allow FindBob to grow its sales and marketing teams, expand into additional U.S. markets and execute on its multi-generational product roadmap.

FindBob champions better transition behavior among financial professionals and their firms in order to perpetuate and protect their most precious asset: their book of business. By allowing company principals to take control of their futures on a secure digital channel, FindBob helps them safely discover opportunities to buy, sell, merge, partner or address succession and to be confident in their plan for the business they worked so hard for.

Fintechs that flamed out or faded in 2017 (American Banker), Rated: A

Source: American Banker
Source: American Banker

Fintech Outlook For 2018: US Banks Look To AI (The National Law Review), Rated: B

With 2017 at a close, US banks have set out their 2018 FinTech new year resolutions. According to American Banker, US banks are likely to focus their FinTech investment in 4 major areas in 2018:

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Open banking
  • Cybersecurity and biometrics
  • Commercial banking innovation

Anyone invest in p2p lending? (blind), Rated: B

Just found out that I can earn annual returns of 6-12% by investing in p2p lending platforms like lendingclub and prosper. Way more than the measly 1.3% I get from my savings account.

Lendio Announces New Franchise in Rochester, New York (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Lendio, an online lending marketplace for small business loans, announced on Thursday the opening of a new Lendio franchise in the Rochester area.

LendingTree,Inc. (NASDAQ:TREE) Files An 8-K Departure of Directors or Certain Officers (Market Exclusive), Rated: B

On December 19, 2017, our Board of Directors and Nikul Patel mutually agreed to change Mr. Patel’s position to Chief Strategy Officer, effective January 1, 2018. He currently serves as Chief Product and Strategy Officer, a position he held since November 2016.

United Kingdom

Zopa to launch a bank (Monzo), Rated: AAA

It’s why we’re applying to launch our own next-generation bank. We’ve listened, and we’re confident that we can deliver the bank that will be the best place for your money.  

Leading comparison websites have removed potentially misleading information from their sites after a Moneywise investigation found peer-to-peer (P2P) investment products included in the same best buy tables as high street savings products.

Moneywise looked at the UK’s leading product comparison websites and found issues with the four sites which offer P2P comparisons – Go Compare, Love Money, Money.co.uk and MoneySuperMarket.

A helping hand for small businesses (Money Week), Rated: A

A decade after the credit crunch, too many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK still feel their potential is being hampered by a lack of access to appropriate financing. The government’s Industrial Strategy report, published at the end of November, identified financing issues as a clear problem for SMEs that are looking to grow; surveys of sentiment continue to reveal frustration.

Research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance shows that two-thirds of SMEs with growth plans for the year ahead fear that their expansion plans could be derailed if they cannot secure appropriate finance. A third of SMEs applying for finance aren’t securing enough funding to underpin their investment plans, according to similar research from Close Brothers Group; a quarter of SMEs think funding is still too dear.

New rules clarify P2P business borrowers are not deposit takers (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

In an announcement titled ‘protecting the future of P2P lending’, the Treasury said that no P2P business borrower needs to be regulated as a ‘deposit taker’ – often referred to as a ‘banking licence’ – unless that is their core business.

This clarification will be added to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Carrying on Regulated Activities by Way of Business) Order 2001.

10 business trends to look out for in the coming year (inside.co.uk), Rated: B

“I think we will see a strong increase in the number of Scottish businesses sourcing peer to peer lending, which matches borrowers directly with lenders, in 2018,” Hardie said. “Companies such as the Lending Crowd are currently the business world’s best kept secret, but their ability to deliver speedy transactions with attractive terms are firmly establishing them as strong alternatives to the banks.”

“A European directive being implemented in January 2018 will ban businesses from charging customers extra for making payments using a debit or credit card in the EU,” said Lynne Walker, head of business advisory at Johnston Carmichael.

China

China’s LexinFintech Completes $ 108M Listing As Sixth Chinese Fintech IPO In US (China Money Network), Rated: AAA

LexinFintech Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ:LX), a Chinese online lender previously known as Fenqile backed by investors including Matrix Partners and JD.com Inc., has completed a listing on the NASDAQ to raise US$108 million.

Chinese online lender LexinFintech surges in US market debut (China Economic Review), Rated: A

Chinese online lender LexinFintech Holdings Ltd’s shares surged in their US market debut on Thursday, as investors brushed aside worries about Beijing’s recent crackdown on China’s booming microlending industry.

LexinFintech’s shares jumped 53% from its IPO price, which valued the Shenzhen-based company at $4.5 billion, to reach a high of $14.88.

China IPOs In New York Rebound To 16 In 2017, Online Lender Lexin Aces Nasdaq (Forbes), Rated: A

The 16 Chinese companies in 2017 raised $3.7 billion or about 8 percent of the total $35.6 billion raised by 160 IPOs.

Chinese tech titans Tencent and Alibaba are behind some of this pick-up, as they backed recent new listers including Chinese search engine Sogou, e-book company China Literature, microlender Qudian and logistics company Best.

Squeezing in its IPO before the year, Chinese online lender LexinFintech Holdings listed on Nasdaq on Dec. 21, raising $120 million and trading upward on its opening day by 19.4 percent.

Fintech Pioneer Sees Money in the Masses (Caixin), Rated: A

China’s booming fintech sector will see growth come from small business loans, wealth management tools for the “affluent masses,” and technology that helps you sift through thousands of insurance products in minutes, according to Tang Ning, founder and CEO of financial conglomerate CreditEase.

As of September, the company’s wealth management business oversaw assets worth $20 billion for nearly 50,000 high net-worth customers in China. It also manages $1 billion through a venture fund, which is among the ten most active venture capital investors in global fintech companies, according to data provider CB Insights.

Caixin: What are the most promising fintech trends over the next decade?

Tang Ning: We see small business lending being a key area of growth. In the past 10 years, creative lending models have done a good job at serving individuals, but there is much more to be done for small businesses.

We also see the emergence of insurance tech.

How are Chinese investors’ needs changing?

We are seeing the Chinese wealth management industry go through profound changes. It is moving from fixed-income investments to equity investment, from short-term speculation to long-term investment, from China-focused investment to global opportunities, from investing into single products, single opportunity to comprehensive risk management and comprehensive asset allocation, from managing this generation’s wealth to thinking about succession planning and inheritance.

Chinese peer-to-peer lender Golden Bull sets terms for $ 9 million US IPO (NASDAQ), Rated: A

The Shanghai, China-based company plans to raise $9 million by offering 2 million shares at a price range of $4.00 to $4.50. At the midpoint of the proposed range, Golden Bull would command a market value of $64 million.

European Union

Europe’s banks brace for a huge overhaul that throws open the doors to their data (CNBC), Rated: AAA

On January 8, banks operating in the European Union will be forced to open up their customer data to third party firms — that is, when customers give consent.

Banks will be required to build application programming interfaces (APIs) — sets of code that give third parties secure access to their back-end data.

Spain’s BBVA, Denmark’s Saxo Bank, Nordic lender Nordea and Ireland’s Ulster Bank have already published open developer portals ahead of the EU legislation.

HSBC has also made early moves toward meeting the incoming rules. In October, the bank launched a beta version of an app that lets customers see all of their bank accounts — including those from competitors — on one screen.

Several small lenders set up with the aim of competing with larger institutions are hoping to take advantage of the move toward a more open data infrastructure. U.K. firms Starling and Monzo, for instance, are want to make banking more like a “marketplace,” by connecting consumers with a number of products and services — including those from other providers — within their apps.

How PSD2 will make personal lending more competitive (IT ProPortal), Rated: A

Today, banks sell few unsecured personal loans to new customers – of seven of the UKs tier one banks only two offer personal loans to new customers – instead focusing on the needs and data of their own clients. The establishing credit risk and difficulties of pricing accurately has simply made it too complex to be competitive.

Also, although many peer-to-peer lending sites now have better protection for consumers as the industry became regulated by the FCA in April 2014, it can be argued this protection is greater for savers and lenders than it is for those borrowing and that the industry is still high-risk when compared with traditional routes.

This could all be about to change with the introduction of the intertwined The Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and open banking regulation.

First, XS2A will significantly improve the customer experience for loan applicants.

Hive Project buzzing after ICO (Bankless Times), Rated: A

After securing $8.95 million (BTC 2,087) from 2,234 participants through an ICO in August, Hive Project has released a demo version of their platform and completed an eight-market deal.

Hive Project uses distributed ledger technology to grant every issued invoice a unique fingerprint.

“In the Russian market alone there are  5.67 million SMEs with a combined turnover of €700 billion,” Mr. Soklic said.

Australia

ASIC releases second marketplace lending survey (Lexology), Rated: AAA

ASIC has released its second survey on the marketplace lending industry, which indicates steady growth in both borrowing and lending activity in the market since the last report.

Key findings from the report are outlined below:

  • there are three new marketplace lending platforms in the industry;
  • with $300 million in loans written to consumers and SMEs, there was a doubling of activity in relation to the number of borrowers and total amount borrowed since 2015-16;
  • the average reported default rate across the respondents was 2.2%;
  • there are an additional 4,187 retail investors since 2016, representing $12 million of extra investment in the industry; and
  • loan origination fees remained the primary source of revenue for marketplace lending providers.

The True Threat to Aussie Banks (Money Morning), Rated: A

The updated code of practice brings a number of changes. Most are simple consumer protections. Making it easier to cancel credit cards online, for example, and preventing banks from soliciting customers for credit limit increases.

India

Digital payments, P2P lending among key mega-trends of the year gone by (The Hindu Business Line), Rated: AAA

It was a great year for digitalisation and digital payments in the country.

Besides reducing the merchant discount rate for debit card transactions, the Centre announced a subsidy on transactions up to ₹2,000 via debit cards to expand the digital payment ecosystem.

P2P lending boost

Also, 2017 was a milestone year for the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry, as the RBI issued some guidelines in October.

Other defining changes

In April 2017, five associate banks of State Bank of India and Bharatiya Mahila Bank were merged into SBI, catapulting the latter into the league of top 50 global banks.

In May, the much talked about NPA ordinance giving greater power to the RBI to handle the bad loan crisis came about.

The other key decision of the RBI this year to improve transparency in the system was the move to make it mandatory for the banks to disclose in their balance sheets the extent of divergences between the gross NPAs in their book and those determined in RBI inspection. Private sector lenders such as Axis Bank, YES Bank and ICICI Bank were found to have under-reported their bad loan assets in recent years, prompting the central bank to take this decision.

How retail lending is set to scale up in 2018 (Financial Express), Rated: A

Major factors like steady decline in lending rates, strong focus and performance on growth and credit metrics in retail lending, investor interest in the segment, P2P regulation formalising the new category, increased focus on digitisation and path-breaking initiatives towards affordable housing are helping set a strong base for retail lending. Some of the big trends I see in the New Year are:

Consumer lending

Contrary to the slowdown in credit offtake by the corporate sector, retail credit segment has registered a strong growth of around 20% this calendar year.

Mobile: India today has more than 300 million smartphone users, removing geographical constraints of access to financial products. New venture investments will drive experiments in alternate lending.

Growth in MSME lending

With around 55 million MSME units employing over 80 million people, this sector contributes about 8% to the national GDP. Around 90% of these units are classified as micro businesses.

Growth in affordable housing segment

With home loan to GDP ratio of just 9%, the Indian housing finance sector remains relatively under-penetrated when compared to its Asian peers like China (20%), Thailand (17%), and Malaysia (34%).

The P2P Lending Segment will Drive the Next Phase of Growth of the Indian Fintech industry (BW Disrupt), Rated: A

With the much-awaited legitimacy, the sector is only at growth radar and trust in the segment is developing at a much faster pace. With more and more people moving towards online payments and transactions, the P2P lending space will witness a remarkable rise in the number of borrowers as well as investors. The growth will not only arrive from the urban India but also from Tier II and Tier III cities, leading the country towards the national goal of financial inclusion.

As predicted by NASSCOM, the Indian fintech space is expected to reach $2.4 billion by 2020, 2018 will act as a major contributor towards this direction.

How can P2P lending disrupt MSME sector in India? (MENAFN), Rated: A

There are more than 5 crore MSMEs in India and their contribution to the Indian economy is quite significant. The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are creating massive employability i.e. up to 12 crore people which is close to 33% of Indias manufacturing output. But still MSMEs suffer from an incredible capital shortage that amounts to Rs. 32 trillion as per the International Finance Corporation.

Fintech start-ups tap small-town users (Business Standard), Rated: A

Paynear, a start-up, has more users in small towns than in the metros. The Hyderabad-based firm, which provides a platform to traders for accepting digital payments, has seen a surge in growth from small towns. Of its 50,000 merchants, two-thirds are in small towns.

Funding Galore: Indian Startup Funding Of The Week [18-23 Dec] (Inc42), Rated: B

This week 19 Indian startups raised about $41 Mn in funding altogether in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Peel-Works: The consumer focussed SaaS and big data analytics startup raised an undisclosed amount in Series B funding led by Mumbai-based Unilever Ventures and Amazon Internet Services.

Faircent: Gurugram-based P2P lending startup Faircent raised $3.9 Mn (INR 25 Cr) in a Series B round of funding.

Asia

Financial inclusion is in your hands (National Multimedia), Rated: AAA

Aside from offering new innovative financial services to their existing customers, the use of Fintech also allows banks to serve potential |customers – those considered “underbanked” and “unbanked” – who in the past did not have access to financial services due to costs, lack of credit or access. The ability for the banks to serve everyone is known as “financial inclusion.” According to the World Bank, around 2 billion people don’t use |formal financial services and over 50 per cent of adults in the poorest households are unbanked.

A report from Thailand’s Ministry of Finance in 2016 shows that 56 per cent of Thais received micro finance from special financial institutions and less than 9 per cent from commercial banks. Clearly, most Thais often turn to non-bank providers for small sums of money.

The K Plus Shop is an example of fintech for financial inclusion from KBank. It is a mobile application designed to be a one-stop solution for micro businesses such as small shops and street vendors. The app is a point of sale, sales tracking, sales reports and PR tool combined into one app that anyone can download and use free of charge on any smartphone – iOS or Android. With K Plus Shop, the vendor can receive QR payment from any customer using K Plus, other mobile banking or e-Wallet applications via the standard QR for PromptPay, as well as from WeChat Pay and Alipay.

FintruX partners with blockchain data exchange DataWallet (Cryptoninjas), Rated: A

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Wednesday October 18 2017, Daily News Digest

personal loans

News Comments Today’s main news: LendingHome surpasses $100M in monthly loan volume, secures $57M in Series C-2. KBRA assigns preliminary ratings to Prosper Marketplace Issuance Trust, Series 2017-3. RateSetter says FCA authorization merely a milestone. Qudian raises $900M in biggest listing by Chinese fintech firm. BBVA focuses on U.S.-Mexico remittances with money-transfer app. New Zealand paves path for robos. SoftBank considering second […]

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International

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India

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Middle East

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News Summary

United States

LendingHome Surpasses $ 100 Million Mark in Monthly Loan Volume & Secures $ 57 Million During Series C-2 Funding Round (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Less than a week after announcing its new office in Pittsburgh, real estate marketplace lending platform LendingHome announced it has surpassed $100 million in monthly loan volume and secured $57 million during its Series C-2 funding round, which included participation from Sberbank and Noah Holdings Limited.

The online lender also revealed the closing of the LendingHome Opportunity Fund II, which was managed by LH Capital Management, with $100 million in commitments from more than 40 investors including asset managers, international funds, family offices, and high net worth individuals. An additional credit facility of up to $300 million brings the fund’s total potential assets to $400 million.

2017 shaping up to be the year of the venture capital ‘mega-round’ (Biz Journals), Rated: AAA

Georgia companies scored the most venture dollars in the third quarter, since first quarter 2000. Fintech Kabbage and access management technology firm Core Security raised a combined $450 million, or about 60 percent of total venture capital invested in Atlanta companies in the third quarter.

Goldman Attacks Lending Club & Prosper, Courts Main Street (CB Insights), Rated: AAA

As its bond trading revenue plummets, Goldman has undergone a major strategic shift, looking to grow the revenue opportunity from its consumer digital finance operation.

Goldman Sachs has changed a lot through its 148-year history. But as technology continues to roll through the financial services industry, Goldman is one of the few bulge bracket banks today that is staking its reputation and future on new strategic bets in digital finance.

When Goldman announced it would be entering the online lending business in 2015, Lending Club‘s then-COO Scott Sanborn quipped, “We are looking forward to competing with Goldman Sachs on customer experience.” More recently, when Goldman bought $2.8B worth of bonds held by Venezuela’s struggling central bank at a 70% discount to market price, Ribbit Capital founder Micky Malka tweeted, “This is why @GoldmanSachs won’t become a consumer first brand.”

  • 46% of Goldman Sachs job postings are in technology.
  • Goldman Sachs’ online lending arm Marcus lent $1 billion in the first 8 months of operation. Now it is taking its digital finance brands global.
  • Goldman Sachs is one of the top two most active US bulge bracket banks investing in fintech startups.
  • Goldman has pushed investments into Brazil.
  • Goldman made its first fintech acquisition in 2016 and is looking for more.
  • Goldman’s cryptocurrency patent made headlines, but most of its patents have focused on improving its systems.

BACKGROUND ON CORE GOLDMAN SACHS

Goldman Sachs makes money in five primary areas: investment banking, equities, investment management, investing & lending, and FICC client execution.

Source: CB Insights

Digital finance initiatives

Notably, Goldman seems to believe that its digital consumer lending and deposit platform has as large of a net revenue growth opportunity as its FICC trading unit. This is a remarkable shift in strategy that only materialized in the last three years, and the strategy is still in the extremely early innings of its growth potential for Goldman.

Another advantage Marcus has over other bank incumbents looking to launch a competing initiative is its non-legacy IT architecture and the fact that Goldman does not have an existing consumer credit card business for Marcus to cannibalize.

Marcus reportedly passed $1B in loan origination in its first 8 months and is expected to originate $2B by the end of 2017. While data on number of loans doled out is hard to find, Goldman reached its first billion in consumer loans significantly faster than competing online personal loan companies (Lending Club launched in 2007). At the CB Insights Future of Fintech conference, Talwar noted that Marcus’s average loan size was “around $14,000.”

Source: CB Insights

KBRA Assigns Preliminary Ratings to Prosper Marketplace Issuance Trust, Series 2017-3 (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) assigns preliminary ratings to three classes of notes issued by Prosper Marketplace Lending Issuance Trust 2017-3 (“PMIT 2017-3”). This is a $501.05 million consumer loan ABS transaction.

This transaction represents the eighth securitization collateralized by unsecured consumer loans originated through the online marketplace lending platform operated by Prosper Funding LLC (“Prosper” or the “Company”).

Preliminary Ratings Assigned: Prosper Marketplace Issuance Trust, Series 2017-3

Class Preliminary Rating Expected Initial Class Principal
A A (sf) $313,500,000
B BBB (sf) $77,000,000
C B+ (sf) $110,550,000

Quicken Loans and eOriginal Partner on Next Phase of the Digital Mortgage Revolution (PR Web), Rated: A

eOriginal, Inc. and Quicken Loans today announced a partnership to complete the final steps of the online mortgage process – to digitally create an electronic note, and securely store it as an authoritative copy with delivery to both custodians and the secondary market. This advancement accelerates the time between origination and replenishment of capital.

Quicken Loans, the country’s largest online mortgage lender, closed more than $7 billion in mortgage volume through Rocket Mortgage, the nation’s first fully online mortgage process, in 2016 – its first full year in market. The rapid growth of Rocket Mortgage comes from its appeal to a new generation of homebuyers. In fact, two-thirds of Rocket Mortgage clients used the online process to finance a home purchase, and 80 percent of those consumers were first-time home buyers.

eOriginal’s platform delivers a fully digital mortgage and supports every type of digital closing strategy. 

Modo Emerges From Reverse Stealth With New Service For Payment Event Data (Business Insider), Rated: A

Modo, the payments fintech working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Alliance Data, FIS, Verifone, and Klarna, today announced they’re ready to break their self-imposed silence and discuss the work they have been doing to deliver innovative payment solutions for their clients in Q4 2017.

Modo has already announced support for three payment event types, in diverse areas of payments with Klarna, Verifone and FIS, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (respectively):

  • Payout Events: Enable your corporate and commercial customers to send money globally using the ever growing number of digital wallets to accelerate the last mile of disbursements.
  • Checkout Events: Checkout anywhere, using any method of payment. Whether you are a merchant or a payment provider, offer consumers any way to pay.
  • Loyalty Events: Earn and burn loyalty in entirely new ways in entirely new experiences. Combine multiple rewards and loyalty programs to make a purchase or send a gift.

J.P. Morgan to buy payments firm WePay in first major fintech acquisition (Fox Business), Rated: A

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) said that it agreed to buy payments company WePay Inc. in the bank’s first sizable acquisition of a financial-technology startup.

The banking giant plans to roll out WePay’s technology to J.P. Morgan’s four million small-business customers, said Matt Kane, CEO of Chase Merchant Services. WePay, which has roughly 200 employees, helps online marketplaces and crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe process payments.

The two companies didn’t disclose terms of the deal. But a person familiar with the matter said the price was above the roughly $220 million valuation that Redwood City, Calif.-based WePay achieved in a 2015 fundraising.

Bank of America processed $ 4 billion in Zelle payments this quarter (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Bank of America processed $4 billion in Zelle transactions in the third quarter of 2017 alone, CEO Brian Moynihan reported on the bank’s earnings call Friday morning. Digital payments volume increased nine percent to $324 million. Within that, person-to-person payments growth was about 67 percent with the addition of Zelle this summer, reporting 13.6 million transactions and $4 billion in volume. The bank recently processed half a billion dollars in a single week, Moynihan said.

The bank’s digital users grew 5.2 percent to 34.5 million on a year-over-year basis. Mobile banking users grew 10.8 percent to 23.6 million.

Over at Wells Fargo, CEO Tim Sloan said during that earning call that third-quarter peer-to-peer payments increased 46 percent, but didn’t provide a Zelle-specific number.

Source: Tearsheet

Digital growth stands out for Bank of America and Wells Fargo (Business Insider), Rated: A

Although the imminent death of the bank branch is being drastically overstated, if the Q3 earnings of Wells Fargo

  • Active digital customers, which include both online and mobile users, grew 2% YoY to reach 27.8 million.
  • Active digital customers, which include both online and mobile users, grew 2% YoY to reach 27.8 million.
Source: Business Insider

Crowdfunding comes to Arizona real estate (Biz Journals), Rated: A

Crowdfunding ventures raise $34 billion annually in the U.S.

Is There Anything New About New Lenders? (Seeking Alpha), Rated: A

At many times in history there have been finance companies that made loans that banks chose not to make. Such finance companies have thrived in good economic times and tended to fail in major recessions. I predict the same will be true of the newer editions.

But second, let us ask why are the banks not making these loans? The answer is simple. The combination of the costs of marketing and administration and the credit risk is too great to make money on a consistent basis. Therefore the banks are funding a large part of the loans by lending to the lenders and taking a senior position, cushioned by the equity of other investors and shielded from the marketing and loan acquisition costs (as well, perhaps, as some of the consumer regulatory risks). Smart banking, it seems to me. The banks have a lower cost of funds than the new lenders, so they can make money at a lower effective interest rate on the money they lend, so long as it is safer.

I have been shocked at the levels of expenses being incurred by some of the new lenders.

P2P mortgage lending could be a game changer for Millennials (The Mortgage Reports), Rated: A

Not finding a mortgage lender you like? Try borrowing from a friend – or several of them – instead. According to reports, a new platform called Celsius could make P2P mortgage lending a viable option.

Using blockchain technology, Celsius is in the process of building a peer-to-peer lending network specifically aimed at the Millennial market. According to Alex Mashinsky, founder of the company, the platform will allow younger buyers to secure funding using their social circle, rather than big banks and financial institutions.

So how will it work? To start, each user creates a digital profile. They’ll need to upload FICO scores, online transaction histories and other non-traditional financial data. Then, Celsius will assign each profile a credit score that’s unique to the site.

To protect lenders, Celsius will offer insurance that covers a percentage of the principal loan amount in case of default.

$ 40 Million: Digital Asset Holdings Closes Series B Fundraising (Coindesk), Rated: A

Digital Asset Holdings LLC has raised $40 million in a Series B round, bringing the enterprise blockchain startup’s total funding so far to $110 million.

AlphaPoint Utilizes Intel Security Technology to Deliver Enterprise-Ready Blockchain Platform (AlphaPoint Email), Rated: A

Today, AlphaPoint announces the AlphaPoint Asset Digitization solution making illiquid assets liquid by facilitating the digitization of assets and launching new markets. AlphaPoint also announces the release of the AlphaPoint TrustedVM, a trusted virtual machine enabled by Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) technology which allows smart contracts and blockchain services to run securely.

The latest release of the AlphaPoint Asset Digitization solution with AlphaPoint TrustedVM adds additional enterprise-class capabilities by securing access to information from intermediaries and network participants, thereby enhancing privacy and security to the AlphaPoint Distributed Ledger Platform. AlphaPoint has been working with some of the largest Fortune 100 financial institutions since 2013 to launch markets on blockchain technologies.

Enterprise-ready Blockchain Platform
In collaboration with Intel, the AlphaPoint Asset Digitization solution as designed at its core to help enterprises efficiently deploy blockchain solutions that implement business initiatives with world-class privacy and security. This solution was architected to create Trusted Virtual Machine, or TrustedVM, that leverages the trusted execution environment (TEE) that Intel SGX enables. AlphaPoint’s solution utilizes the security and privacy capabilities of Intel SGX, thereby allowing customers to benefit from several key technology and business advantages:

  • Faster time to market – Quickly develop and deploy blockchain applications with proven technology.
  • Hardwareenforced privacy and secure consensus – Execution and validation inside the TrustedVM, ensuring data is not visible to any unwanted parties.
  • Lower and predictable costs – With linear scalability, this technology improves total cost of ownership (TCO) and operational efficiencies.
  • Simplified development – Smart contracts and applications may be written in TypeScript and JavaScript, instead of highly specialized languages.

IBM is using the technology behind bitcoin to help businesses in countries with weak banking systems (Business Insider), Rated: B

IBM is using the technology behind bitcoin to help farmers and other small businesses in underdeveloped countries participate in global trade.

The companies will use IBM’s blockchain technology to process financial transactions across borders and currencies — a process which is often prohibitively slow and costly for small business owners, especially when they are in developing regions with smaller banking infrastructures.

The project is focused on what Stellar calls “underdeveloped payment corridors” — countries like Samoa and Fiji, where monetary policies, currencies, and economic instability make it difficult for businesses to move money internationally.

Are fintechs charging minorities more for business loans? (American Banker), Rated: A

Minorities are more likely to turn to a financial technology firm when seeking a business loan, but they may pay higher interest rates, according to the preliminary results of a congressional investigation released Monday.

Retiree robo shuns app, still lands $ 8M funding (FinancialPlanning), Rated: A

A fintech startup with no mobile app does a fundraising round. It secures $8 million. How is that even possible?

True Link, a retiree-focused hybrid advice platform, had a simple pitch to investors: elderly clients like the convenience of digital advice, but want to talk on the phone. The firm claims it received 1.6 million client calls last year.

Silicon Valley Vs. Wall Street: Can the New Long-Term Stock Exchange Disrupt Capitalism? (WSJ), Rated: A

Now they are actually doing something about it, by launching a new framework for corporate governance, investing and trading called the Long-Term Stock Exchange. Backed by top Valley figures such as venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, the LTSE says it plans to seek regulatory approval by the end of this year to become the newest U.S. stock exchange.

Its key feature: a system in which the voting power of shares increases the longer investors own them.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Block brands (CB Insights Email), Rated: A

Source: CB Insights

Lending Club Sweetens the United Airlines Frequent Flier Promotion (Lend Academy), Rated: B

A year ago Lending Club launched a deal for new investors with United Airlines. New investors could earn 1 MileagePlus frequent flier mile for every $2 invested in a new Lending Club account.

Well last week Lending Club sweetened the deal. They basically doubled the amount of miles you can receive. So, instead of 1 mile for every $2 invested it is now 1 mile for every $1 invested. This deal is only valid until January 9, 2018 whereas the last deal had a three year expiration date.

whoa: blockchain, blockchain, blockchain (CB Insights Email), Rated: B

First, we’ve teamed up with Fortune Magazine for a joint review of Blockchain Trends & Opportunities. Robert Hackett of Fortune will be joined by CBI Intelligence Analyst, Arieh Levi.

United Kingdom

Peer-to-peer lender RateSetter gets stamp of approval from UK financial watchdog (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

RateSetter applied for full authorisation in October 2015 and cofounder and CEO Rhydian Lewis said in a statement the process has been “a long but positive journey during which we have learnt a lot, improved our infrastructure and implemented important changes, notably making the business more transparent.”

RateSetter has increased the amount of market data it makes public and earlier this month announced plans to simplify early access for investors to their money.

“Authorisation is a milestone but not an end in itself and we look forward to working with the regulator and all stakeholders to continue to deliver good customer outcomes and to grow RateSetter.”

The Growth of P2P Lending: Is It Sustainable? (The Market Mogul), Rated: AAA

According to data gathered by AltFi lending volumes through P2P platforms achieved a staggering compounded annual growth rate of 110% between 2011 and 2016 and shows little sign of letting up this year.

However, there are some indications this honeymoon period for the industry may be over as the UK’s inflation rate hit 3.0% last month piling pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates. This is an understandable worry for the industry, as much of the lending it facilitates is higher risk than that of the traditional banking sector.

Furthermore, there are several emerging industry trends, which are likely to boost its resilience to deteriorating economic circumstances.

  1. Consolidation- While nearly 100 platforms are operating in the UK a resilient oligopoly is emerging. This is made up of the markets four largest lenders: Zopa; Funding Circle; LendInvest and Rate Setter who cumulatively facilitate over 70% of lending volume.
  2. Securitisation – Previously, P2P platforms lacked the scale to make securitisation economic and this new trend will likely provide a further edge to the industries established participants.
  3. Diversification

Zopa: more risk, same reward (FT Alphaville), Rated: AAA

Zopa, the world’s oldest “peer-to-peer” lender, has long focused on low-risk borrowers. The weighted average interest rate the 12-year-old company charges its British customers has never gone higher than 10 per cent and was as low as 5.6 per cent in 2013. While startups like Wonga focussed on the high returns available from borrowers who are under-served by financial institutions, Zopa has largely competed at the “prime” end of the spectrum with high street banks. The returns are lower, but so too are the risks, including to its reputation.

In recent years, Zopa has added riskier borrowers to help drive growth. (It’s worth saying that it is still miles from Wonga territory.) The weighted average interest rate across its portfolio has grown from 5.8 per cent in 2014 to almost 8.8 per cent in 2017:

Source: Financial Times

Zopa has been taking on more risk to achieve pretty much the same returns as when it made fewer risky loans.

Source: Financial Times

Starting small: what support do small scale housebuilders need? (Prospect Magazine), Rated: A

Britain has seen its population of small housebuilders shrink by 80% in a single generation as market dominance has passed to an entrenched group of major players – among the top 10 UK housebuilders, none was founded after 1990. The disappearance of small and medium-sized housebuilders from the UK – defined as companies that complete between one and 100 units a year – has seen their numbers fall from more than 12,000 in the mid-1980s to about 2,400 today, according to research by the non-bank mortgage lender LendInvest.

China

Qudian raises $ 900 mln in biggest U.S. listing by a Chinese fintech firm (Fidelity), Rated: AAA

Chinese online micro-credit provider Qudian Inc said it raised about $900 million in an IPO that priced above expectations, underscoring robust U.S. investor demand for fast-growing Chinese companies.

The offering from Qudian represents the biggest-ever U.S. listing by a Chinese financial technology firm. It is also the most high-profile company to take part in a resurgence of U.S. listings by Asian firms this year.

Qudian IPO feeds debt-hungry Chinese millennials (The Star), Rated: AAA

Qudian , an online microlender backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba’s financial unit, priced its U.S. listing above its expected range on Tuesday, says Reuters.

It offers fast growth, low default rates and, unlike many tech startups, is already profitable. At $24 per share, the final price represents a 2018 PE of 13.8, compared to 13.0 for smaller U.S.-listed online lender Yirendai.

China’s household debt relative to income is still low, and consumer credit is underpenetrated at 7 percent of gross domestic product, versus 20 percent in the United States, says Goldman Sachs.

Backed by Alibaba’s Ant Financial, Qudian lends cash to young Chinese consumers such as white collar workers, and advances credit so they can buy goods online and pay for them in monthly installments. The company provided $5.6 billion to 7 million active borrowers in the first half of 2017.

The sale of 37.5 million shares in Qudian has already raised about $900 million, making it the biggest U.S.-listing by a Chinese company this year, the report said. The offering values Qudian at as much as $7.9 billion, the report added.

China’s Qudian is about to go public and it could be the largest Chinese listing in the US this year (CNBC), Rated: A

Online micro-lending company Qudian is about to go public at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, and it’s set to be one of the largest U.S.-listed floats by a Chinese company this year.

In its prospectus, Qudian said it was offering 37.5 million American Depository Shares with a float price range of $19-$22 per share. The company said it could offer up to 43.1 million shares if underwriters exercised an option.

LCQ22: Promoting equity crowdfunding activities in Hong Kong (7th Space), Rated: A

Question:

In recent years, raising funds through crowdfunding activities is becoming increasingly popular among enterprises worldwide, and the governments of quite a number of countries have introduced legislation to regulate raising funds through crowdfunding activities. On the other hand, the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC) released on March 18 last year a report entitled Introducing a Regulatory Framework for Equity Crowdfunding in Hong Kong, which explored options for establishing a framework and a regulatory regime to promote and, at the same time, regulate equity crowdfunding activities in Hong Kong. So far, however, the Government has not yet announced any specific measures to promote equity crowdfunding activities.

Reply:

(1) We note that crowdfunding activities might come in different forms, including equity crowdfunding (ECF) and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. The regulatory approaches towards these activities vary globally across jurisdictions in view of the nascent nature of the business. While some economies have developed dedicated new regimes, others leverage existing rules to regulate such activities.

(2) At present, parties engaging in crowdfunding activities in Hong Kong (e.g. where the activity involves an offer to the public to purchase securities, including shares, debentures or interests in collective investment schemes, or where the platform offers its own funds to borrowers) may be subject to the provisions of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571), the Companies (Winding Up and Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance (Cap. 32) and the Money Lenders Ordinance (Cap. 163), depending on the specific structure and features of the relevant arrangement.

European Union

Citi fosters Israeli fintech to meet changing needs of financial sector (The Times of Israel), Rated: AAA

Israeli startup Innovative Assessments (IA) says financial lenders like banks are missing out on huge numbers of potential clients because their criteria for handing out credit are too stringent and do not take the full picture of the client into account.

As a result, banks are effectively cutting themselves off from lending out money to large segments of the population, and many borrowers are denied access to affordable credit.

IA wants to help solve this problem. Banks should not only look at financial information to assess creditworthiness, IA says, but also at personal character, which is a whole new dimension of data that is missing from today’s credit scores. So, IA has come up with an idea to help lenders do this.

IA has developed patent-pending software that uses advanced psychometrics for credit scoring.

“Our algorithms look at people’s preferences towards certain financial behaviors,” added Fine. “And while there are no right or wrong answers, we can also identify people who may be responding insincerely.”

SeerGate, a real-time payments firm, was acquired by MyCheck in May 2015 while Ramat Gan-based Sling, whose platform allows micro-merchants to accept electronic payments from consumers via smartphones, was snapped up by Avante in July last year.

NSKnox has created a Digital Notary based on cooperative software that allows a secure transaction approval for banks and organizations, the company says. The software, which uses algorithms, allows two or more blind witnesses — who are actually financial or other kind of organizations — to help independently authenticate, authorize and detect fraud while verifying business transactions.

A total of 68 startups, including nine in the latest brew, have taken part in Citi’s Israel Accelerator program since it was set up in November 2013 in Tel Aviv.

Citi provides the entrepreneurs access to experts within the company globally to bounce ideas off of and the opportunity to use the bank’s huge infrastructure as beta sites. The banking giant does its mentoring and fostering pro bono, without taking any stakes in the companies it fosters.

The graduates of Citi’s program, which include startups like Paykey, Paybox and Vatbox, have raised a total of $300 million to date, according to data provided by Citi, and there have been two exits, with Sling and SeerGate having been acquired.

International

Spanish bank launches money-transfer app focused initially on US-Mexico remittances (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

BBVA, Spain’s second-largest bank that snatched up mobile banking startup Simple for $117 million back in 2014, is now entering the mobile money transfer business with today’s launch of a new app called Tuyyo. The app, which is available on both iOS and Android, is focused on the $73 billion annual market for remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean from the U.S.

However, the service is initially launching with money transfers from the U.S. to Mexico, where the average amount sent by U.S. workers is about $1,900 per year, says BBVA. It also notes that the U.S. to Mexico corridor sees over $27 billion flowing between the countries annually, making it one of the world’s largest.

Ripple & the Gates Foundation Team Up to Level the Economic Playing Field for the Poor (Ripple), Rated: A

Many of the world’s poor in developing countries — nearly 2 billion, according to the World Bank — struggle to lift themselves out of poverty simply because they don’t have a bank account or financial services.

However, a new collaboration supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will change that. Ripple, in partnership with Dwolla, ModusBox, Software Groupand Crosslake Technologies, with funding and support from the Gates Foundation, developed a new open-source software called Mojaloop for creating a real-time, interoperable payments platform on a national scale to reach the world’s poor with essential financial tools.

Leveraging the power of the Interledger Protocol (ILP), Mojaloop offers a way for financial providers, governments and mobile network operators to simplify and reduce the cost of developing inclusive payments platforms.

Securities markets: standing at the crossroads (Banking Technology), Rated: A

Financial technology has the potential to radically transform the securities industry. The fast pace of change could lead to disintermediation, according to an Iosco study.

Key trends identified in the report include:

  • Greater availability of data
  • Exponential growth in computing power allowing the analysis of ever larger data sets
  • Broader access to and the decreasing cost of goods and services
  • Increasing disintermediation and re-intermediation
  • Demographic and generational changes

Innovative fintech business models are disintermediating and re-intermediating certain regulated activities. For example, online equity crowdfunding platforms intermediate share placements and disintermediate stock exchanges and underwriters; peer to peer lending platforms intermediate or sell loans and disintermediate banks and lenders, and robo-advisers provide automated investment advice and thereby disintermediate traditional advisors.

Beginning with bitcoin in 2009, cryptocurrencies have also seen their prominence rise due to some of the qualities that they share with gold, the most prominent of which is their scarcity.

With the emergence of today’s digital age, a startup called GoldMint is seeking to alter this trend with a new means of exchange for physical gold, with transactions occurring over a blockchain-based platform.

GoldMint’s platform will leverage the private and individual gold trading market, including potentially the management of larger physical stocks such as those in central banks. It will also deliver an electronic payment solution tethered to physical gold, as well as a gold-backed peer-to-peer lending system.

There are two options for trading GOLD for fiat or cryptocurrencies. First, there is a method for seeking a GoldMint-guaranteed buyback. And second, a loan can be requested. For either option, the process is as follows:

  • Through the use of a special app which is not yet available, GOLD can be transferred as collateral to a designated GoldMint account.
  • GoldMint utilizes the current price of gold, as set by the LBMA, to fix the rate of a loan.
  • GoldMint requires the customer to undergo its know-your-customer (KYC) process as well as consent to GoldMint’s loan terms to receive the loan. Various repayment options for the loan amount and the means of repaying it are then offered.
  • If a customer defaults on repayment, their GOLD cryptoassets are transferred to GoldMint.

GoldMint also has a process for converting gold into GOLD tokens and reconverting these tokens into gold for cross-border passages.

Australia/New Zealand

‘Robo’ financial advice on the way (Radio NZ), Rated: AAA

The Financial Markets Authority has decided to allow financial services companies to provide so-called “robo-advice” to individuals.

Such methods are widespread around the world, but New Zealand law requires any financial advice to be given by a human adviser, and law changes to allow advice to be given by a computer programmes are not expected to be passed until 2019.

Companies wanting to offer robo-advice will have to apply to the FMA for an exemption.

FMA fast-tracks personalised robo-advice with exemption (NZ Herald), Rated: A

The Financial Markets Authority will let Kiwis access personalised automated financial advice, known as robo-advice, with an exemption kicking in before a legislative overhaul of the sector.

The market watchdog sought feedback on the proposal in June and today decided to expand the range of products robo-advice can cover to include mortgages and personal insurance, it said in a statement. Providers wanting to offer the service will need FMA approval on the good character of directors and officers and satisfy the regulator of their capability and competence. Another round of consultation is needed to finalise the exemption and the FMA is aiming to start the process early next year.

Banks readying their roboadvisers (Stuff), Rated: A

Big banks are planning roboadvice services, but only BNZ has revealed how far advanced it is.

Westpac and BNZ have both told the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) they expect to launch roboadvice services, which could close the “advice gap” by using artificial intelligence (AI) systems to give customers advice on things like KiwiSaver, insurance and mortgages.

The banks’ intentions were revealed in submissions on whether the FMA should use its “exemption” powers to allow roboadvice services to operate despite current law only allowing personalised advice to be given by a human being.

ANZ and Kiwibank’s intentions were blacked out in their submissions, released by the FMA.

FMA allows personalised robo-advice; applications open early 2018 (FMA), Rated: B

Submissions to the consultation focused on a number of themes:

  • Strong support for an exemption from the current laws preventing personalised robo-advice.
  • Opposition to financial limits and product exclusions.
  • Robo-advice should meet the same standards as those that apply to authorised financial advisers (AFAs).
  • Exemption applicants should be pre-approved or licensed.
  • Exemption conditions should be aligned with new advice regime requirements.

The FMA has decided not to impose financial limits on personalised robo-advice and the eligible product list has been expanded to include mortgages and personal insurance products.

Companies seeking to offer personalised robo-advice will have to provide the FMA with good character declarations for directors and senior managers as well as information showing they have the capability and competence to provide the robo-advice service. The exemption conditions will also be designed so that the robo-advice service is provided in a manner that is consistent with AFA requirements.

A summary of the submissions can be found here. 49 submissions were received by the FMA. 47 are being published.

India

P2P lending platform Lenden Club gets Rs 3.5 cr in equity investment (India Times), Rated: AAA

Mumbai-based peer-to-peer lending platform Lenden Club has raised $500,000 almost Rs 3.5 crore in equity investment from three major investors Venture Catalyst, Anirudh Damani and an Indian venture capital fund. Venture Catalyst and Anirudh Damani had put in seed investment of Rs 1.5 crore in the company as well in May last year.

Whither P2P lending by NBFC’s (Bar and Bench), Rated: A

The Reserve Bank of India’s notification on peer to peer (P2P) lending issued on October 4 this year (“Regulations”) seems to have only added an element of ambiguity in the minds of stakeholders. Eighteen months since the RBI issued the consultation paper and it is not certain how and whether stakeholder comments have been internalised in the paper.

The definition of a “peer to peer lending platform” as an intermediary providing the services of loan facilitation, may unintentionally bring into the purview, a wide variety of operators. As a literal construct, this does not seem to take into cognizance the various types of business operations in the industry simply because it doesn’t clarify whether this excludes a model that doesn’t provide syndication. Theoretically even an internet search engine, business correspondents and lead generators could fall under this definition.

This must be the first category of Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) to not function in the manner in which it has been typically designed. The new Regulations set a precedent to regulate entities as NBFC’s that undertake neither lending nor credit enhancement.

The new Regulations also seem to bring into its ambit, an “off-line” P2P: the very essence for P2P start-ups has been low transaction costs thereby resorting to the online medium for such lending.

Asia

SoftBank in talks to raise second, possibly larger than $ 100b, fund (Deal Street Asia), Rated: AAA

Japanese Internet conglomerate SoftBank is in early discussions to launch another fund that can possibly be larger than its existing $100 billion Vision Fund, Recode reported, citing anonymous sources.

The Information, in its report, noted that SoftBank got the right to prevent online lender Kabbage, in which it led a $250-million investment in August, from selling parts of itself, buying other companies, selling stock below a certain price or borrowing money beyond a certain level.

Middle East

S&P says fintech revolution unlikely to hurt GCC bank profitability (The National), Rated: AAA

The fintech revolution sweeping finance will lessen the profitability of banks in the GCC when it comes to parts of consumer banking – such as money transfers and foreign exchange – but overall it is unlikely to hurt the ability of regional lenders to make money.

The rating agency noted that the GCC banks that it assigns ratings to get about a quarter of their revenues from fees and commissions and foreign exchange gains and, while a big portion that is generated from lending and advisory activities, some of that money comes from transfers and currency exchange.

Investments in technology and digitisation are also timely for UAE banks as profitability has been on the wane in the wake of the biggest oil price slump since the 2008 financial crash. Lenders are fortunate that this country has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world.

Fintech threatens Gulf bank jobs (Arab News), Rated: A

The rising influence of financial technology (fintech) firms in the Gulf could eventually threaten jobs and profitability at the region’s banks, warned ratings agency S&P Global.

“This would push some banks to adjust their operations through increased digitalization, branch network reduction, and staff rationalization,” said Mohamed Damak, S&P Global Ratings credit analyst in the report.

Already, the region’s banks are starting to rethink their business model.

In early October, Mashreq launched one of the region’s first full service digital branchless bank — Mashreq Neo — as well as a new new digital mobile wallet service called Mashreq Pay — that can be used to make purchases around the world.

The Dubai-based bank has also started to use robotics in the third quarter to manage open account trade payments, according to the bank’s Q3 statement.

Canada

Lending Loop invests in Canadian board game cafe chain (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

LENDING Loop, a Canadian peer-to-peer lending platform, has agreed to finance Snakes & Lattes, a cafe chain where people can play and buy board games.

Amfil Technologies, which owns Snakes & Lattes, said on Tuesday that the financing will be used to fuel the expansion of the brand across North America.

Amfil Technologies Inc. Provides Update on Audit Completion, Uplisting / Dividend, Franchising and General Company Operations (Marketwired), Rated: A

Snakes & Lattes has entered into an EXCLUSIVE partnership with Lending Loop, Canada’s first fully regulated peer-to-peer lending platform focused on small businesses. This partnership will fuel and facilitate the mass expansion of the Snakes and Lattes brand across North America, while simultaneously preserving shareholder value. This is the first time in history that Lending Loop has made a direct partnership to finance a growing company, and they will be conducting a mass marketing/advertising campaign to promote both Lending Loop and Snakes & Lattes.

In contrast, Amfil is collaborating with financial innovator, Lending Loop, to fuel the subsidiary’s growth at a fair market rate with flexible cash repayment terms.

Web’s creator to fintech players: Beware the blockchain Frankenstein (American Banker), Rated: A

Internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee looks at the fintech landscape today and sees something familiar — a creative ferment that reminds him of the early web. He also sees some mistakes in danger of being repeated.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor