Thursday June 22 2017, Daily News Digest

German real estate crowdfunding

News Comments Today’s main news: PayPal, Venmo rolling out instant bank transfers. Sindeo goes out of business. SoFi’s new filing. Wealthsimple expands into UK. PayPal advances 400M GBP to UK businesses. Today’s main analysis: A look at Lending Club’s competition. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Many P2P lenders attract investors by raising interest rates. German RECF booms. International expansion of alternative lending. United […]

German real estate crowdfunding

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

  • Alternative lenders spread their wings internationally. AT: “International expansion could become the big story of 2017 and 2018.”
  • Amazon and the future of fintech, part 2. AT: “Interesting theory. I suppose technology can facilitate more diverse business assets for true technology companies like Amazon, Apple, Klarna, et.al. But I don’t see how this is a lot different than traditional holding companies that expand businesses into multiple sectors other than the fact that the companies themselves are predicted to be the holding companies. Isn’t this what Google’s rebranding into Alphabet was all about? Perhaps Amazon could do the same. That would actually make sense.”
  • Global mobility.

Australia

Canada

News Summary

United States

Instant bank transfers are coming to PayPal and Venmo (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

PayPal announced this morning a plan to speed up money transfers between its service, Venmo and users’ bank accounts for those with supported MasterCard and Visa debit cards. This new “instant transfers” service will be available at a rate of $0.25 per transaction, and will deliver funds in a matter of minutes, instead of the day or so it typically takes when using PayPal or Venmo.

The company says the feature will be available to the vast majority of cardholders, save for a handful of very small institutions.

In most cases, the funds transferred between PayPal or Venmo and the end user’s bank account (via the supported debit card) will arrive in a matter of minutes. However, some banks may take up to 30 minutes, PayPal notes.

The instant transfer service is now launching into beta with select PayPal users, as a result of these deals, as well.

Lending Club: Take A Look At The Competition (Seeking Alpha), Rated: AAA

CreditKarma is a personal finance website. They provide a list of online personal loan options, given some basic information. I put in $10,000 as my desired loan amount and selected a credit score of 700-749. I got the following list of offers:

That’s eleven online, unsecured personal loan providers. The list does not include some others, like SoFi and Lightstream. Try it yourself here.

Lending Club vs. Marcus

Lending Club is an originate-to-distribute lender, while Marcus is a balance-sheet lender. Lending Club gives much of the profit of a loan to its investors, along with default risk and prepayment risk. Marcus keeps the risks and the profit. If we assume that Marcus’s loans look like Lending Club’s, with interest rates averaging 14% and defaults averaging 6%, then the income from each loan looks approximately like this:

LC: 5% origination fee + 1% servicing fee = 6% of loan principal

GS: 14% interest – 6% default – 1% cost of funds = 7% of loan principal

More importantly, it is a lot more painful for Lending Club to cut back on loan originations, for example in a downturn, and it doesn’t necessarily control the pace of lending. If Lending Club stops originating loans, the lion’s share of its income dries up immediately.

Sindeo closes shop (Sindeo), Rated: AAA

But, startups are hard and simplifying the highly regulated, complex business of mortgages is even harder. I believed we had overcome the biggest hurdles, but unfortunately, we didn’t. Today, we made the difficult decision to wind down Sindeo.

While Sindeo as a startup has failed, our people did not. As a matter of fact, we did what everyone said couldn’t be done.

  • We built a place where people could shop and apply for a mortgage from a robust marketplace of over 1000 loan programs, with one single application and one credit check.
  • We secured partnerships with some of the top real estate and consumer finance brands.
  • We helped our clients save millions of dollars on their home loans.
  • We built a people-centric brand, putting the needs of Sindeo’s clients first.

Sindeo’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) this year is 81, compared to an average of negative three from the top banks.

I am devastated for our employees, their families, our partners and our investors who believed in us, and worked so hard to build Sindeo. We have very talented people who need jobs today. Hire them.

Nick Stamos
CEO, Sindeo

SoFi Lending Corp. (Filer) (SEC), Rated: AAA

We (“us” or “PwC”) have performed the procedures enumerated below, which were agreed to by Social Finance, Inc., Deutsche Bank Securities, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Goldman, Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, and SoFi Securities, LLC, who are collectively referred to herein as the “Specified Parties”, solely to assist you in performing certain procedures relating to the accuracy of certain attributes of the private consumer loans with respect to the SoFi 2017-4 securitization transaction (the “Transaction”). Social Finance, Inc. (“SoFi” or “Company”) is responsible for the accuracy of certain attributes of the private consumer loans with respect to the Transaction (the “Responsible Party”). The sufficiency of these procedures is solely the responsibility of the Specified Parties. Consequently, we make no representation regarding the sufficiency of the procedures described below either for the purpose for which this report has been requested or for any other purpose.

Where Major US Banks Have Invested in Fintech (CB Insights), Rated: A

Key takeaways

  • Since 2012, the top ten US banks by assets under management have participated in 72 rounds totaling $3.6B to 56 fintech companies.
  • Ranked by the number of unique portfolio companies, the cohort’s three most active investors are Citi, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase — in that order. Citi (including Citi Ventures) participated in 29 rounds to 24 companies, Goldman Sachs in 30 rounds to 22 companies, and JP Morgan Chase in 14 rounds to 13 companies.
  • Goldman Sachs is focusing on payments, investing in six companies in the space.
  • All ten banks have blockchain investments.
  • Although the second largest bank by assets, Bank of America takes the sixth spot on this list, with only six fintech companies in its portfolio.
  • Kensho saw lots of overlapping interest, with six of the cohort investing in its $50M Series B, which valued the company at $500M.

Robos get the press, but adviser tech is getting the money (Financial-Planning), Rated: A

Take the $140 million in funding that Silicon Valley-based Addepar recently raised from sources including SpaceX backer Valor Equity Partners.

Addepar CEO Eric Poirier says the eight-year old performance reporting platform has seen the number of assets its clients hold grow from $300 billion last year to $700 billion.

That’s not to say that there isn’t money for robo advice platforms — blending impact investing and robo advice garnered OpenInvest $3.25 million in seed funding from high-profile VC firm Andreessen Horowitz in May.

LendingPoint founders share recipe for success (Bankless Times), Rated: A

During the financial crisis both said they worked with large balance sheets which helped them understand how to position themselves in the marketplace. That experience also taught them that marketplace lenders cannot simply be technology companies, they also need to apply the lessons learned working in different environments, geographies and at different points in the cycle.

What they saw was a space where near prime consumers, those with credit scores between 600 and 700, were in need of better credit products, with many resorting to payday lenders and their ilk.

When lenders place too much emphasis on arbitrary measure such as FICO scores, they miss so much underneath. In one case the employee of a partner company saw her credit score quickly drop after she paid off a loan early. Even though she had fewer debt obligations, by traditional underwriting methods she was deemed a higher risk.

Alternative data sources can play a role in telling those unique stories while protecting everyone from fraud, Mr. Tavares said. Something as simple as how long a phone number has been active can help validate an applicant’s identity.

LendingPoint also believes it is crucial for marketplace lenders to originate and hold assets on their balance sheets, Mr. Burnside said.

LendingPoint offers personal loans up to $20,000 that can be paid back in twice-monthly installments over 24 to 48 months.

American Express invests in insurance startup Next Insurance (Reuters), Rated: A

American Express Co has invested in Next Insurance, a Palo Alto-based technology startup that sells customized insurance for small businesses online, as Silicon Valley companies look to shake up the insurance sector.

Next Insurance will use the new cash injection, which brings the investment round to $35 million, to expand the products it offers and target new business sectors, the company said.

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Issues Third-Party Relationship Frequently Asked Questions (Lexology), Rated: A

Focusing on bank-fintech relationships, which likely were a key driver for the FAQs, the OCC notes that when “a fintech company performs services or delivers products on behalf of a bank or banks, the relationship meets the definition of a third-party relationship” that should be subject to the bank’s third-party risk management process. Akin to any other third-party service provider, a fintech company arrangement may or may not be considered a critical activity in this regard.  In an important acknowledgement of the diligence challenges banks face from time to time in conducting diligence of third parties, the FAQs also specifically address situations where a bank does not receive sufficient information from a third-party service provider that supports a critical activity. In that situation, the OCC expects a bank board and management to:

  • develop appropriate alternative ways to analyze these critical third-party service providers;
  • establish risk-mitigating controls;
  • prepare to address delivery interruptions;
  • make risk-based decisions that despite the lacking information, these critical third-party service providers remain the best service providers available;
  • retain appropriate documentation of all efforts to obtain information and related decisions; and
  • ensure that contracts meet bank needs.

The FAQs also specifically address marketplace lending arrangements with nonbank entities and relationships to facilitate mobile payments. In the marketplace lending context, the FAQs assert that a bank board and its management should understand the relationships among the entities involved and the risks specific to marketplace lending relationships, including reputational, credit, concentration, compliance, market, liquidity and operational risks. Management must also ensure it has proper personnel, processes and systems to monitor and control these risks, including, for example, adequate loan underwriting guidelines and appropriate board-adopted policies that include concentration limits. The FAQs direct banks to work with mobile payment providers “to establish processes for authenticating enrollment of customers’ account information that the customers provide to the mobile payment providers” as mobile payment environments become more ubiquitous and as customer expectations dictate that transaction accounts as well as credit, debit or prepaid cards issued by banks are able to be used in mobile wallets.

How The Blockchain Can Create A True Peer-To-Peer Sharing Economy (NASDAQ), Rated: A

One of the blockchain’s most prominent features is that it can bestow trust in a network without the need for a central authority.

The sharing economy refers to a new socio-economic phenomenon in which individuals share products or services with other individuals on a peer-to-peer basis for a fee. However, even though the sharing economy is built on a peer-to-peer model, there are intermediaries who charge a fee for facilitating the transactions.

Enter Blockchain Technology

In a true peer-to-peer sharing economy, there should never be an intermediary who dictates the terms and conditions of a transaction or takes a cut of the payment.

Say you want to rent a car for a short trip from one side of town to the other. To do so, you could use a mobile app to identify vehicles that are available in your vicinity. Then, after verifying the digital identities of both yourself and the vehicle owner, you agree to terms and conditions, such as the fee and duration of the rental, and buy a micro-insurance policy  covering the ride, via an immutable smart contract. Once the terms and conditions are agreed upon and the smart contract is created and verified, you can open the car using your smartphone and the payment is directly deducted from your digital wallet and transferred to the vehicle owner upon completing your trip.

While the above example is purely theoretical at this stage, there are two startups aiming to leverage blockchain technology to create a fairer peer-to-peer economy in the rideshare sector. Austin, Texas-based Arcade City and Israel-based La ‘Zooz both aim to take the “Uber out of Uber” by offering ride sharing without a company acting as a fee-charging intermediary. Instead, drivers and riders deal directly with one another and payments are automatically conducted in cryptocurrency once the ride is completed.

FT 300: full 2017 list of top US registered investment advisers (Financial Times), Rated: A

The FT invited qualifying RIA companies — more than 2,000 — to complete a lengthy application that gave us more information about them. We added this to our own research into their practices, including data from regulatory filings. Some 725 RIA companies applied and 300 made the final list.

The formula the FT uses to grade advisers is based on six broad factors and calculates a numeric score for each adviser. Areas of consideration include adviser AUM, asset growth, the company’s age, industry certifications of key employees, SEC compliance record and online accessibility. The reasons these were chosen are as follows:

• AUM signals experience managing money and client trust.

• AUM growth rate can be a proxy for performance, as well as for asset retention and the ability to generate new business. We assessed companies on one- and two-year growth rates.

• Companies’ years in existence indicates reliability and experience of managing assets through different market environments.

• Compliance record provides evidence of past client disputes; a string of complaints can signal potential problems.

• Industry certifications (CFA, CFP, etc) shows the company’s staff has technical and industry knowledge, and signals a professional commitment to investment skills.

• Online accessibility demonstrates a desire to provide easy access and transparent contact information.

 

An AboveLoans.com Review: A Simple Way to Borrow (Saving Advice), Rated: B

Compared to other online lender-matching agencies, AboveLoans doesn’t really stand out among other online lenders. The only part that may seem a bit different is the simplicity aspect. Because AboveLoans only gives out smaller amounts ($35K and less) getting a loan can be a pretty swift process but there is more to getting a loan than how quick it happens.

Loans can range from $500 to $35K and you’ll have anywhere from six to 72 months for repayment.

Applying from anywhere sounds great but how secure is AboveLoans.com? AboveLoans isn’t a lender. It is a lender matching site. The entire process is secure but if you’d prefer a group of lenders not have your information you may want to consider using another site. Once you’ve accepted the lender’s terms, etc. funds will be deposited directly into your bank account.

You can apply for each of the following loans through AboveLoans:

  • Debt Consolidation Loans
  • Emergency Loans
  • Auto Repair Loans
  • Auto Purchase Loans
  • Moving Loans
  • Home Improvement Loans
  • Medical Loans
  • Business  Loans
  • Vacation Loans
  • Tax Loans
  • Rent/Mortgage Loans
  • Wedding Loans
  • Major Purchase Loans
  • General Personal Loans
United Kingdom

WEALTHSIMPLE TAKES SERVICE TO ANOTHER FINTECH HUB WITH UK EXPANSION (Betakit.com), Rated: AAA

Wealthsimple is officially expanding its service to the UK with an invitation-only beta.

The UK expansion comes just four months after Wealthsimple announced its US expansion. The company had been working on its US expansion over the past year.

“Ultimately, our ambition is to be a global financial services company. The UK has a lot of similarities to Canada — similar language and culture, the financial services industry is in a similar place — so it felt like the next logical step,” says Mike Katchen, CEO of Wealthsimple.

Toby Triebel, who previously co-founded online lending platform Spotcap, will lead Wealthsimple’s UK business.

PayPal hits £400m mark in advances to UK businesses (AltFi), Rated: AAA

PayPal Working Capital, PayPal’s small business lending arm in the UK, has hit £400m in cumulative cash advances made to British businesses. Over 22,000 business owners have now taken out an advance from PayPal Working Capital since it launched in 2014. The £400m milestone comes after a 116 per cent increase in total cash advances made by the firm over the past year.

PayPal’s small business lending activities are considerably further advanced in the US, where it topped $2bn in cash advances in the summer of 2016.

The high-yielding trusts more popular than ever (interactive investor), Rated: A

Trust purchases by advisers and wealth managers hit an all-time high over the 12 months to the end of March at £777 million. That’s up 11% on calendar year 2015, when £698 million was piled into closed-ended vehicles.

In addition, Q1 2017 was the second-highest quarterly period for purchases of trusts at £246 million. That’s a year-on-year increase of 85% and 25% more than the previous quarter.

Specialist debt was the most popular sector with advisers and wealth managers in first-quarter 2017. It’s the first time it’s topped the list, accounting for 14% of all investment trust purchases during the period.

He continues that, with the likes of peer-to-peer lending relatively new innovations, another potential risk is that trusts investing in it, which tend to be even newer concepts, are unproven over different economic and investment environments.

The sector average payout is above 6%, with some of the highest-yielding, including Carador Income (CIFU), Ranger Direct Lending (RDL) and Fair Oaks Income, paying over 10%.

SafeCharge reveals research urging fintech innovation for marketplace payments (SafeCharge), Rated: A

According to a study from the Ecommerce Foundation, almost 40% of the world’s online retail market will be controlled by marketplaces by 2020.

This difference creates complex challenges:

  • Regulation – The impending Payment Services Directive 2 regulation requires certain marketplaces which retain funds between a seller and a buyer to hold a payment institution license.
  • Seller Onboarding – Manual processes and Know Your Customer regulatory requirements create friction, which discourages sellers from registering with marketplaces.
  • Payment Checkout – A critical component for any business. Localisation, buyer experience, payment method offering, all must be optimised for conversion.
  • Split Payments – Marketplaces need to split transactions between multiple parties, both for marketplace commission and where a single checkout experience involves multiple sellers.
  • Seller Settlement – Marketplaces are in competition for sellers. Sellers demand frequent settlement of funds, often daily, in their local currency, and using a local payment method.
  • Unique Fraud – Marketplaces face new forms of fraud unique to the sector such as ‘collusion fraud’ where fake buyers and sellers facilitate the sale of non-existent goods with stolen payment cards.

The pros and cons of P2P lending (Bridging & Commercial), Rated: B

Peer-to-peer platforms have revolutionised lending, allowing retail investors to benefit from what was once the preserve of financial institutions and high-net-worth investors.

Pros

1.    Potential returns are excellent, and much higher than can be achieved with dividend yields.
2.    Returns are fixed, and don’t fluctuate like returns from equity investments or the stock market.
3.    Lenders are not charged fees, so the amount stated is the net amount investors receive.
4.    Platforms no longer have to deduct tax at source, so investors will be paid gross and account for their own tax.
5.    Investment terms are typically under 12 months.
6.    Legal charge holders will be paid out as a priority before any owners/equity shareholders.
7.    It is FCA regulated, so platforms must be transparent and are legally obliged to be upfront about risks. Platforms must have contingency plans in place, such as a significant financial buffer.
8.    The launch of the Innovative Finance Isa means peer-to-peer loans can be held within an Isa, so returns are tax free.

Cons

1.    While regulated by the FCA, peer-to-peer lending is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so losses are not underwritten by the government.
2.    Peer-to-peer loans are likely to be tied-in until the borrower has repaid, unless the platform can find a buyer.
3.    Loan periods are short, but investors may have to wait for the loan to complete before they start earning interest. One alternative is for investors to lend money to the finance company and get a fixed return for a fixed period. The rate will be less, but interest will be continuous, so investors can end up with approximately the same return, without having to select individual loans to invest in.
4.    If the borrower does not repay on time, investors need to wait until they have repaid – although they should continue to earn interest in the meantime.
5.    If the borrower defaults, the property will have to be repossessed. If that’s the case, there could be delays of at least several months. The property may not achieve a sale price that allows lenders to be repaid all their capital and/or the interest owed.
6.    While investors will receive a fixed rate of interest that may be higher than average dividends, they will not benefit from capital growth.

China

Many P2P Lending platforms attract investors by increasing interest rate  (Xing Ping She Email), Rated: AAA

Recently, in the background of surging market capital interest rates, the yield of money fund and bank financial products both rose markedly. P2P lending institutions no longer have the advantages in interest rates. In order to attract investors, there comes a new wave of raising interest rates in P2P lending industry.

On June 21st, Tuandai launched a notice of welfare activity, raising the interest rate of product “Futoubao 36”by 0.5%-1.4%.

Recently, Yirendai issued several promotion activities of raising rates, such as rebating 4% for inviting a new user.

On June 17th, JiMu Box announced from that day to June 23rd, if a customer successfully invited new user to invest in the platform, the inviter would receive a coupon of 6% growth in interest rates, in addition to the regular cash coupon and interest rate hikes.

Besides, Ma Tianshuai, the founder & CEO of JieYue United, said they also operated a welfare feedback activity of raising interest rates during the company’s 4th anniversary on June 18th.

Cash and carry (Breaking Views), Rated: A

A Hong Kong Monetary Authority study shows the former British colony is oddly cash-intense. The average person held nearly $6,000 in 2014 – second only to Switzerland.

The first licenses for mobile-wallet apps were granted to Apple, Android Pay, Tencent and others in 2016. Alibaba’s Alipay launched its localised app in May, more than a decade after starting on the mainland. Twenty years after Hong Kong’s reunification with the mainland, in consumer-facing fintech at least, the city looks a decade behind.

European Union

German Real Estate Crowdfunding Market Booms (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

The road ahead for the German real estate crowdfunding market has been cleared. The threat of being excluded from the scope of application of the crowdfunding regulation, the Kleinanlegerschutzgesetzt (KASG), was taken off the table last month. The crowdfunding market can move ahead on its exponential growth path.

Michel Harms tracks the overall crowdinvesting industry through his crowdfunding barometer and his aggregation site crowdinvest.de which lists all crowdinvesting projects available in Germany. According to his reports, real estate accounts for 80% of the crowdinvesting market. In 2016, the market doubled in size to reach €40 million. In the first five months of 2017 alone, 51 real estate projects raised €52 million. One can reasonably expect the market to triple in size by the end of 2017.

Michel Harms tracks the overall crowdinvesting industry through his crowdfunding barometer and his aggregation site crowdinvest.de which lists all crowdinvesting projects available in Germany. According to his reports, real estate accounts for 80% of the crowdinvesting market. In 2016, the market doubled in size to reach €40 million. In the first five months of 2017 alone, 51 real estate projects raised €52 million. One can reasonably expect the market to triple in size by the end of 2017.

Exporo was incorporated in 2013 by Simon Brunke, CEO, Björn Maronde, Julian Oertzen and Tim Bütecke.

Zinsland was founded in 2014 by Carl-Friedrich von Stechow, CEO, Dr. Stefan Wiskemann and Moritz Eversmann.

Bergfürst was started much earlier than its competitors, in 2011, as an equity crowdfunding platform launched by Dr. Guido Sandler, CEO, and Dennis Bemmann.

Next to the three leaders, around ten new entrants try to carve a market for themselves:

  • Zinsbaustein, launched in 2016, is the number 4 with 8 projects financed to the tune of €9 million.

Others have only financed a few projects so far:

  • iFunded started in 2015 and open for business in 2016, iFunded intends to attract German and international investors who want to invest in Berlin. Its average size of projects is €800K.
  • Home Rocket, started in 2015, Home Rocket operates from Austria but addresses both the German and Austrian investors and developers.
  • immofunding started in 2015, also operates from Austria.
  • Renditefokus started in 2015.
  • ReaCapital started in 2017.

LendIt Partners with Startupbootcamp FinTech For Its PitchIt Europe 2017 Competition (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LendIt, Europe’s largest global show in lending and fintech, today announced its Pitchit @ LendIt contest partnership with Startupbootcamp FinTech for PitchIt @ LendIt Europe 2017, a leading platform for fintech startups who can earn mentorship, endorsement and exposure to leading institutions, investors & press. Online applications also officially opened to qualifying fintech startups.

This year’s competition is slated to see hundreds of applicants all vying for a prestigious spot in the finals, and a chance to present on the keynote stage in front of over 1,000 members and high ranking executives from the global fintech industry at LendIt Europe (9-10 October, Intercontinental O2 Hotel, London.)

This year’s exclusive PitchIt Contest Partner will be Startupbootcamp FinTech, the leading global FinTech accelerator focused on innovation for the financial services industry. The finalists will present to a panel of influential VC judges and mentors, including those from Balderton Capital, Commerz Ventures, Thiel Capital, Index Ventures and Target Global VCs,and other high profile investors in the fintech capital of the world, London.

To apply to PitchIt @ LendIt Europe competition, firms must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a fintech company
  • Two or more full-time co-founders/employees
  • 2-10 full-time employees
  • Less than 3 years in business (companies founded before 2014 not eligible)
  • Raised less than 4 million GBP since launch date
  • Must have a professional business website
  • Everyone registering on behalf of a specific company must have an email with that company’s domain
  • Past PitchIt Europe finalists are ineligible
International

Alternative Lenders Spread Their Wings Internationally (deBanked), Rated: AAA

As alternative lending gains global traction, a growing number of U.S-based alternative lenders are exploring international growth, with large companies like OnDeck, Kabbage and SoFi leading the way.

To be sure, international expansion requires extensive time, money and regulatory know-how, and some U.S. alternative lenders may never reach the critical scale to be able to compete effectively. Nonetheless, as globalization proliferates, industry observers expect that additional forward-thinking companies will push beyond the limits of their current geographical borders.

Affirm—which works with more than 900 retailers and recently announced that it had processed its 1 millionth consumer installment loan—has focused on domestic growth so far, but the company is now considering a number of options for international expansion, Metcalf says.

Europe, for instance, has seen substantial growth over the past few years, with the U.K. leading the way in alternative finance. It has four times higher volumes in aggregate than the rest of Continental Europe, according to a 2016 report from KPMG and TWINO, one of the largest marketplace lending platforms in Europe. (P2P consumer lending is the largest component of alternative online lending in Europe, capturing 72 percent of the total in the first through third quarters of 2016, according to the report.)

After the U.K., France, Germany and the Netherlands are the top three countries for online alternative finance by market volume in Europe, according to a September 2016 report by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

Asian markets, meanwhile, show significant promise for alternative finance players to make their mark due to the sizeable population of digitally savvy consumers who are still largely underbanked. China is by far the largest market for alternative lending in Asia. It’s also the world’s largest online alternative finance market by transaction volume, registering $101.7 billion in 2015, according to the March 2016 Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance report.

Although there are many possible international markets to explore, U.S. lenders have to tread carefully before planting roots elsewhere, observers say. Some smaller U.S. lenders may find domestic expansion easier and more cost-effective because of the time, regulatory and financial commitment that goes along with exploring international markets.

What’s more, foreign banks looking for alternative lending partners typically prefer to work with larger, more established players.

Within the past several years, OnDeck has begun offering small business loans to customers in Canada and Australia. Frequently Canada is a first step for U.S. companies that want to expand internationally because of the shared language and similarities between the economies, Young explains.

After the Canadian operation was successfully underway, the opportunity arose for the online lender to expand to Australia—which shares several similarities with the Canadian market.

U.S.-based alternative lenders also need to be careful to create products that fit the culture and needs of a particular market.

Take Kabbage, for example. The small business lender expanded into the U.K. in 2013, two years after its U.S. debut. But the company found that having its own small business lending business in the U.K. was too challenging for regulatory and capital reasons. It no longer offers new loans from this platform.

Instead, the funding company decided that a better global strategy was to license its technology to financial institutions in international markets a less capital-intensive, yet economically sound way of doing business.

Kabbage—which recently announced the establishment of its European headquarters in Ireland—has licensing arrangements with Santander in the U.K., Kikka Capital in Australia, Scotiabank in Canada and Mexico and ING in Spain.

For its part, SoFi has announced plans to expand to Australia and Canada this year. The company’s chief executive has also talked about European and Asian expansion in the future.

LendingClub, meanwhile, last November announced a significant partnership with National Bank of Canada and its U.S. subsidiary Credigy.

Amazon And The Future Of FinTech: Part II (Seeking Alpha), Rated: A

The model of the new information age is connectivity and this connectivity comes from building platforms that transcend industries.

But, let’s get back to the FinTech issue. In my previous post, I argued that Amazon, as well as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), has entered into the “payments” space and that this is their inroad into the banking field. And the payments space is definitely a “platform market.”

Now, we learn that a major European player in the payments space has actually received its banking license. Klarna is one of Europe’s largest financial technology groups, valued in 2015 at $2.25 billion.

And, now they have a banking license. But don’t expect mortgages from them right away. Expect “payment cards and accounts.”

In other words, they are building a platform that will transform banking, one that works through many different companies and industries. Is that what Mr. Bezos and Amazon are working on?

Global mobility: supporting your business (Relocate Magazine), Rated: A

Transferwise has become one of the world’s biggest fintech companies, valued at $1 billion with 700 employees.

Nilan offered a number of benchmarks for his company’s success since it was established in 2011 – its expansion from two to 200 markets, its ever-growing list of international HQs, its boom from 60 employees to 700 – but the one that’s made headlines most recently is the announcement that customers are now sending $1 billion per month using the service.

The threat of Brexit looms, however, and Transferwise is concerned about the impact it will have on the company’s ability to access talent.

Australia

Need a loan? Then ask a peer (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Interestingly, a finder.com.au survey revealed that the majority of Australians think that a good credit score should come with perks. That is, 67% of people believe that a good financial history should mean better interest rates on products like loans.

Here are four things you need to know about P2P loans: 

When reviewing your options, keep a close eye on the fees involved to ensure that you’re not paying more than you can afford.

As P2P lending isn’t backed by a large corporation, do your due diligence by researching the reputation of the platform you’re thinking of signing up with. A quick way to do this is to check for a credit license.

P2P platforms typically offer lower loan amounts, so you may only be able to borrow up to $50,000 for a personal loan. This could be restrictive, depending on your loan purpose and the amount you need to borrow.

Once you’ve wrapped your head around the ins and outs of P2P lending, decide whether this is the right type of finance for you.

Canada

Alternative investing requires more transparency: survey (Benefits Canada), Rated: B

The survey, which polled 200 institutional investors and asset managers, found respondents cited transparency as the leading investment consideration, for both alternative investments (62 per cent) and traditional investments (62 per cent).

According to the survey, risk management is the most important driver for transparency in both traditional and alternative investments. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of respondents said portfolio risk management was the most important element, while about half said regulatory requirements (53 per cent) and competitive considerations (43 per cent) were the most important elements.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Friday May 5 2017, Daily News Digest

Friday May 5 2017, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: Lending Club’s Q1 2017 results: a little disappointing. SmartFinance to IPO in U.S. Prosper says system error overstated returns. Details on NAV’s raise of $38mil Series B. Next Insurance secures $29M during Series A. Metro Bank hits 1 million accounts. LendIt Europe to meet in London this year. Mexican fintech raises $4M in Series A. Today’s main […]

Friday May 5 2017, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

  • Metro Bank hits one million accounts. GP:”This is a very large number of accounts. I am very impressed.”AT: “Great achievement. Congratulations.”
  • Sand. Meet Head. GP:”Certainly worth a read.”AT: “I love Anand’s sense of humor, but his insights are prescient, as well. I’m always amazed at the hubris of incumbents in any industry. Any time there is market disruption, the surest path to survival is humility, not boasting.”
  • LendIt Europe returns to London. GP:”I think there was no doubt it will be in London and stay in London. “
  • Robo-advisor to provide full retirement advice in two hours. GP:”I am not sure why it takes 2 hours to compute such a simple algortihmic solution. “AT: “This sounds like a joke, but I know it isn’t. I think most people will want the robot’s advice checked by a human until they are 100% comfortable with the technology.”
  • Octopus-backed Moola goes live.
  • What is fintech and why Google and Facebook will be the banks of the future. GP:”Google is already struggling to defent against monopole attacks and Facebook is avoiding carefully to be turned into a credit bureau. I doubt they will move in that direction. Also banks don’t have a good image with the public and aren’t that profitable so I see no reason for Google or Facebook to come even close to being banks.”AT: “The headline is misleading and somewhat overstated.”
  • Fintech: What will bring the most change? AT: “A poll indicates that blockchain may be the most disruptive fintech technology in fintech. I think it certainly has the potential to be, but we haven’t seen it yet.”
  • What does rising inflation mean for your money? AT: “A blog post at Funding Circle.”

China

European Union

India

Middle East

Central America

News Summary

United States

Lending Club Reports First Quarter 2017 Results (Crossroads Today), Rated: AAA

($ in millions)

March 31,
2017

December 31,
2016

March 31,
2016

Originations

$

1,958.7

$

1,987.3

$

2,750.0

Net Revenue

$

124.5

$

130.5

$

152.3

Net Income (Loss)

$

(29.8)

$

(32.3)

$

4.1

Adjusted EBITDA (1) (2)

$

0.2

$

(0.9)

$

26.3

Key accomplishments and developments in the first quarter across the Lending Club platform include:

Investors

  • Banks further increased their purchasing, funding 40% of total originations for the quarter, up from 31% in the fourth quarter, and retail investors expanded to 15%, up from 13% in the prior quarter
  • Developed a retail investor mobile application, now available in the App Store
  • Lending Club initiated activities to support the securitization of Lending Club loans with external partners

Borrowers

  • Achieved another nearly $2 billion originations, surpassing $26 billion in total loans since inception almost ten years ago
  • Continued the Company’s lead as the largest personal loan provider in the U.S. with a borrower base of almost 2 million individuals
  • Introduced an enhanced version of our Joint Application loan program, giving borrowers the ability to jointly apply for a personal loan

Adjusted EBITDA (3) Adjusted EBITDA was $0.2 million in the first quarter of 2017, improving $1.0 million from the fourth quarter of 2016, resulting from the decrease in revenue noted above, and a decrease of $10.3 million in other general and administrative expenses. The decrease in other general and administrative expenses was primarily driven by an insurance recovery of $9.6 million. Adjusted EBITDA also includes $10.6 million of expenses primarily associated with the Board Review that was disclosed in 2016.

Lending Club’s $ 30M quarterly loss is its smallest in the last year (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Lending Club, the online consumer lender whose fortunes were hurt by scandal last year, lost $29.8 million in the first quarter amid lower revenues and rising expenses.

BRIEF-Lending Club reports Q1 adjusted loss per share $ 0.02 (Reuters), Rated: AAA

  • LendingClub corp – qtrly originations $1,958.7 million versus $2,750.0 million
  • Q1 adjusted loss per share $0.02
  • Q1 loss per share $0.07
  • Q1 earnings per share view $-0.03 — Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S
  • Q1 revenue $124.5 million versus i/b/e/s view $122.8 million

Here is the Lending Club Q1 Earnings Deck (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Below is the Lending Club Q1 earnings deck. The company is predicted Q2 growth of 6% to 10%. Full year sequential growth is expected to be 15% to 19%.

See the Lending Club Q1 2017 results in full here.

Lending Club slowly woos investors back after last year’s scandal (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

In the first quarter the San Francisco-based company originated $1.96bn of loans, it said on Thursday, down slightly from the $1.99bn of the fourth quarter. Banks bought 40 per cent of the loans, up from 31 per cent in the fourth quarter, indicating that many are now satisfied that the company has ironed out its problems.

But net revenues for the quarter were $125m, down 5 per cent from the fourth quarter. The quarterly net loss was $29.8m, slightly less than the previous period.

According to data from Orchard, a technology provider to the industry, total returns from an index of US consumer loans came to 3.95 per cent last year, down from 8.71 per cent in 2014.

Online Lender Prosper Says System Error Overstated Returns (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Prosper Marketplace Inc., one of the largest U.S. online-lending platforms, notified the majority of the investors that buy its loans that it had overstated their annual returns due to a system error, a spokeswoman said.

The error has been fixed, according to spokeswoman Sarah Cain. Some of the investors that were affected saw their annual returns fall in half, but in most cases returns fell less than 2 percentage points, Cain said. The issue has been going for “several quarters,” she said.

The glitch didn’t affect the cash that investors received, tax documents, expected future returns, or any other information the startup provided to loan buyers. In a small number of cases, returns were understated, Cain said.

Q1 2017 Shareholder Letter (Square), Rated: AAA

Our first-quarter results demonstrate our continued ability to grow the business at scale while balancing investment and margin expansion. Improvements in net loss and Adjusted EBITDA reflect strong top-line growth, coupled with ongoing operating leverage and improvements in transaction loss rates. Similar to previous quarters, we saw strong momentum across our products, with revenue growth driven by both transaction-based and subscription and services-based monetization.

We launched in the UK, our fourth international market, where small and medium businesses (SMBs) generated £1.8 trillion of revenue in 2016.

Square is a great fit for the UK market, which has 5.5 million SMBs2 and a thriving entrepreneurial scene. The annual revenue of SMBs in 2016 was £1.8 trillion, which is 47% of all private sector UK revenue. In the UK, the average adult now carries less than £25 in cash and 70% of shoppers prefer to pay by card, yet industry research estimates that half of UK small businesses still do not take card payments. Our contactless and chip reader aims to meet the needs of the UK market, where there are more than 100 million contactless cards.

See Square’s full Q1 2017 report.

FT Partners Advises NAV on Series B Financing (FT Partners), Rated: AAA

Read the full announcement here.

PeerStreet Hits New Milestone: $ 300 Million in Loans Funded (PeerStreet), Rated: A

Under a year ago, we announced PeerStreet had funded $75 Million, October we rounded $150 Million and now, thanks to the ongoing support from our investors and lenders, we’ve just surpassed $300 Million with zero losses to date.

The number of lenders PeerStreet works with has grown from 25 to 89. The loans we’ve recently made available for investment are more diverse than ever, with 11 new states added since this time last year, now totaling coverage across 28 states and Washington D.C. Currently, we are publishing triple the number of loans we did a year ago. To support this growth, our underwriting and portfolio management teams have doubled since last year.

Next Insurance Secures $ 29 Million During Series A Funding Round (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Next Insurance, an insurtech company that specializes in small to medium businesses, announced on Wednesday it secured $29 million during its Series A funding round, which was led by Munich Re/HSB Ventures with participation from  Markel, Nationwide, and other existing investors.

The funding from the Series A funding round will go towards continuing to grow Next Insurance’s insurance products and expand the company’s offering to new business sectors. The announcement follows Next Insurance’s recent release of the first ever Facebook chatbot for small business insurance.

CAN ALTERNATIVE DATA SOLVE ONLINE LENDERS’ ‘ALGORACISM’ PROBLEM? (The Alternative Lending Report), Rated: A

A March 2017 letter written by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.), to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray raises fresh concerns about “algoracism” tainting the creditrisk-scoring models used by online lenders.

Cleaver’s letter highlighted five predatory practices cited by the HBS paper as pervasive in the “Wild West” of online lending and alleges that risk-scoring algorithms may be designed to discriminate against minorityowned, small business borrowers.

Minority-owned businesses comprise roughly 15% of the 28.8 million small businesses in the United States, according to a 2016 Small Business Administration report.

Biased algorithm design can occur if engineers code data correlation parameters with attributes that make inadvertently discriminatory assumptions, which could be violating the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. ECOA prohibits creditors from discriminating against borrowers on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age or because they receive income from a public assistance program.

In fact, FastPay’s loan algorithm is over 80% weighted towards the credit risk of the brand counterparties, which typically average 90-days sales outstanding before they pay their creative and advertising technology vendors. Despite prolonged payment terms, Proctor & Gamble and other Fortune 500 brands pose extremely low credit-default risks to invoice financiers like FastPay.

Ultimately, Arora attributes flawed credit-risk modeling in fintech to the big banks that refuse to share data. But banks in the U.S., unlike in Singapore and the UK, where lenders are opensourcing their loan algorithms, see no incentive to make accountholder data available to third parties.

Regardless, Mills said Kabbage, which charges an annual percentage rate, ranging from 24% to 99%, is an interesting fintech small business lender because they factor variables like borrower credit card data and the company’s Facebook page into their risk scoring models.

Source: The Alternative Lending Report

See the full report at SmallBusinessLending.io.

How Lending Club Is Differentiating Itself From Other Online Lenders (Forbes), Rated: A

In less than a year, Sanborn cut and rehired 179 jobs and hired a new CFO, COO, general counsel and chief capital officer. In addition, the company launched a new auto refinance product and an investor mobile application, Lending Club Invest.

Sanborn: Nearly 75% of borrowers also say that their FICO score has increased by 19 points after consolidating debt or paying off credit cards, which can help put them on a better financial track.

Sanborn: Today we have more than 148,000 retail investors – more than any other online lender. Part of the evolution of our marketplace is growing and balancing the mix of investors – having the right mix of investors strengthens our marketplace and makes us more resilient, scalable, and better able to serve a wide range of borrowers of all credit profiles.

Sanborn: Our mission has been to transform the banking system to make credit more affordable and investing more rewarding. So, everything that we do comes from this goal and with the intention of delivering a great experience for everyone who comes to our marketplace. With 10 years of experience and incredibly powerful data and insight that informs us on our customers’ behaviors, choices and needs. We’re also able to calibrate this data into our models to price credit risk and better manage our marketplace and the success of both our borrowers and investors.

A traditional bank uses government-guaranteed deposits to lend to make a spread and can only give loans to a narrow spectrum of borrowers. Our credit marketplace attracts investors that span retail, asset managers, funds and banks, all with different risk appetites, to invest in loans across the credit spectrum so we can say yes to more borrowers. Our diverse investor base also means we’re not reliant on any one type of investor to fund our loans, so we have the agility to pivot funding channels to meet changing market conditions.

OCC fintech charter plans in jeopardy as Curry departs (Finextra), Rated: A

Proposals by the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to issue special purpose banking charters to fintech firms are up in the air following the departure of leading advocate Thomas Curry and his replacement as acting head of the Federal agency by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partner Keith Noreika

Curry completed his five-year term as Comptroller last month but planned to stay on and push through his controversial fintech charter.
Noreika, a member of the Trump transition team, has extensive experience advising banks on regulatory issues, although his views on Curry’s fintech plans are not known.

Crowdfunding Real Estate Isn’t Just For Millionaires Anymore. (Yes Magazine), Rated: A

In up-and-coming neighborhoods, it’s not uncommon for developers to swoop in and alter historic buildings beyond recognition, or tear them down completely to make way for new projects. But when Eve Picker, president and founder of the real estate crowdfunding portal Small Change, came across a three-story property called the Buvinger Building in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, she saw a way to both preserve history and add much-needed housing units in a thriving area.

Luckily for Picker, the funding process is easier than it used to be. She posted a detailed project overview on Small Change’s website, which included information about the building’s history and aesthetics, the financial returns and risk factors, and a link to invest. Small Change met their investment goal of about $240,000 in just under three months, and construction on the project began in late Feb. 2017.

Though the internet paved the way for Title III crowdfunding, it solves a problem that existed long before the digital revolution. When securities regulations were put in place to protect non-wealthy investors after the stock market crash of 1929, one unintended consequence was that those very same investors were frozen out of a broader range of investment opportunities. It took years for the SEC to approve the Title III regulations in the JOBS Act, Roderick explains, because of the challenge inherent in striking a balance between protecting investors and making it easier for developers to raise money.

Small Change, however, is raising more than just capital. It’s a crowdfunding platform that backs real estate development projects only if they benefit underserved communities.

It also means that, in addition to financial returns, many Small Change investors are seeking investments that align with their values. It’s not something easy to quantify—and that’s where the Change Index comes in. The index is Small Change’s proprietary system for measuring a project’s viability in terms of transportation, the environment, and economic inclusiveness.

The Index also provides a metric for potential partners and investors to gauge their compatibility with a particular project.

Small Change plans to launch its first Reg CF offerings later this spring. It’s still one of only about 25 Title III electronic crowdfunding portals that the SEC has approved. While most Title III portals are focused on startup and small business financing, Small Change deals exclusively with real estate, which makes it even more of an outlier.

Major Credit Unions Will Unveil New Blockchain Tech Next Week (Coindesk), Rated: A

CULedger, a consortium project unveiled late last summer, is supported by more than 50 credit unions and four of the biggest credit union service organizations in the US. Spearheading the project are the Credit Union National Association and Mountain West Credit Union Association (MWCUA).

Those involved in the initiative say they want to utilize the tech in a bid to improve how credit unions function – while also making them more competitive in an increasingly tough environment for financial institutions. The idea is to create a blockchain-powered utility through which credit unions could send money or exchange other types of information.

FinTech and Digital Wallets are the Core of Financial Inclusion (Due), Rated: B

In a FDIC survey released in 2016, the Federal organization found the roughly 7% of American households are unbanked. That is 9 million households with no checking account or savings account. No direct deposit. No credit cards. These families utilize virtually no mainstream financial services. In some parts of the country, as much as 40% of the population is unbanked!

With no bank relationship, these individuals have little if any credit history and poor credit scores. There is a lack of trust and understanding of how banks and mainstream financial services work. This is a serious problem the entire financial industry needs to overcome.

Instead, less savory businesses are often chomping at the bit for this demographic’s financial business. Payday loans, title loans, and other expensive, low-quality financial products are all these people have had access to.

In many ways, digital wallets work like a bank account. You can store funds, make payments, and transfer to other financial accounts. In the case of Bluebird, you can even write checks!

Digital wallets look a lot like a regular checking account to outsiders, but there are some important technical differences between bank accounts and digital wallet accounts.

Financial technology startups are not encumbered by those sentiments. While the rules of the game are the same, startups can quickly adapt to new market trends, customer feedback, and more.

Unlike a giant bank where you have to navigate a series of annoying phone menus to reach a live human, startups are right on the pulse of what their customers are saying and doing. That is a major advantage.

United Kingdom

Challenger bank hits one million accounts (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Metro Bank surpasses one million customer accounts less than seven years removed from launch.

Metro Bank, which became the first new high street bank in the UK for over one hundred years in 2010, now has more than a million customer accounts. The milestone was reached, fittingly, on the bank holiday Monday, when the majority of incumbent banks are closed.

Some stats from the last seven years include: being open 75 per cent longer than the average bank, saving customers over 4 million days by printing over 1 million cards instantly in-store, and preventing over 20,000 cards from being cancelled unnecessarily.

Sand. Meet head. (CB Insights), Rated: AAA

Source: CB Insights
Source: CB Insights

It goes by many names.

Hubris.
Arrogance.
Cluelessness.

It’s also worth understanding that there is no upside to saying stuff like this.

Cuz more often than not, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of history like so many of these CEOs.

And then we’ll make slides to immortalize your cluelessness.

Europe’s largest lending and fintech event, LendIt Europe, returns to London this autumn (LendIt Email), Rated: AAA

LendIt Europe 2017 launched last night with a cocktail reception for 75 of London’s fintech elite at the Dion in St. Paul’s. The 2017 event is set to be Europe’s largest lending and fintech event, with over 1,000 participants from the UK and Continental Europe as well as North America and Asia. Taking place at the Intercontinental O2 Hotel on October 9-10, this year’s conference is expanding with the industry to cover the hottest topics in fintech including blockchain, insurtech, digital banking, and much more.

Early confirmed keynote speakers are Jaidev Janardana, CEO of Zopa, Francesco Brenna, Partner at IBM Global Business Services, and Shane Williams, co-founder of UBS Smartwealth. With six tracks of content including Digital Banking, Credit & Underwriting, Policy & Regulation, The Cutting Edge in Fintech, Innovations in Lending, and Investor Insights, this year’s LendIt Europe agenda will be the most comprehensive yet, with more details being released on www.lendit.com/europe in the coming months.

A featured component to this year’s conference, and back for its second year running, is the PitchIt startup competition. PitchIt allows innovative fintech startups from across EMEA to present their solution in front of the LendIt audience of international investors and industry leaders. The PitchIt programme has been an exciting part of the LendIt series of events, with past winners and finalists going on to secure significant investment and publicity.

Robo-adviser to provide full retirement advice in 2 hours (FT Adviser), Rated: A

Robo-adviser Wealth Wizards has launched a new automated paraplanner tool to help firms provide retirement advice in less than two hours.

Wealth Wizards said the tool generates a “regulated advice solution” made up of an annuity, drawdown or a blend of the two.

The report could then be edited by an adviser to make sure it suited the client’s needs.

Octopus-backed robo advisor Moola goes live (AltFi), Rated: A

Investors have a new robo advisor to choose from following the soft launch of Moola.

The firm, which is backed by private equity specialist asset manager Octopus, announced back in December that it had received full regulatory approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as well that it had arranged a tie-up with Blackrock-owned ETF provider iShares.

The passive only portfolios are risk targeted and cost just 0.75 per cent per year.

What is FinTech and why Google and Facebook could be the banks of the future (Manchester Evening News), Rated: A

In total, the sector generated almost £7bn revenue last year and now employs more than 60,000 people.

Not only that, but the big players are wising up to this need for disruption with Barclays opening a flagship FinTech accelerator in May, offering 500 workspaces for start-up innovators.

HSBC and Tradeshift have also confirmed that their new ‘procure-to-pay’ product will go live in summer allowing businesses to manage their entire supply chain and working capital requirements in one place, from any device.

The innovation specialist at SoftwareONE said: “Back in the 80s, when ATMs came into play, people thought it would be the end of bank branches and jobs, but instead it freed up clerks to perform other tasks, like mortgage advice, which actually added value to the customer.

“Moving on to the current day and bank branches have now become mobile phones – or apps – people can access their accounts and information at a touch of the screen.”

AccessPay, which moved from London to Manchester, is flying after a recent £2m funding boost.

Based in City Tower, the fast-growing firm is looking to recruit 60 new staff and expand into the US after securing funds from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks’ Growth Finance team.

The specialist in cloud-based payments and cash products has been driving innovation in the sector since it was founded in 2012.

Fintech: What Will Bring the Most Change? (City A.M.), Rated: A

Finance professionals have two basic questions about fintech and what it means for them:

  • How will fintech positively affect their careers?
  • How will fintech negatively affect their careers? For example, will peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders replace banks as the preferred platform or intermediary for borrowing and lending? If the answer is yes, then bank loan officers and credit risk analysts should start looking for alternative careers. The particular areas of fintech that evoke this sort of existential concern include blockchain, mobile payment, P2P lending, and robo-advisers.

 

The responses of our 333 poll participants suggest that interest in blockchain technology has risen to an all-time high, with four out of 10 readers opting for that choice. Another 22% are believers in robo-advisers.

Read between the lines: What does rising inflation mean for your money? (Funding Circle), Rated: B

Inflation is rising – and is set to climb even higher by the end of the year. Official figures revealed a surprise jump in the headline rate of inflation to 2.3% in March, its highest rate for four years. And it is estimated to climb to 2.8% by the end of the year.

But there’s one area where inflation is hitting hard right now – our savings. If you can’t get a savings return higher than inflation, you’re losing money. The cash in your nest egg will be worth less and less as inflation outstrips the returns you get. And right now, no-one can get an inflation-beating rate from traditional banks and building societies with even the much-heralded new Government-backed savings bond paying less than inflation at 2.2%.

China

Chinese online lender SmartFinance targets IPO in US (Deal Street Asia), Rated: AAA

SmartFinance, a Chinese internet loans business that judges borrowers on factors including how often they charge their phones, has consulted banks about a possible U.S. listing that could happen as soon as this year.

The rapidly expanding company, which anticipates it will reach a $1 billion valuation by the end of 2017, has hired former Cheetah Mobile Chief Financial Officer Andy Yeung to help better manage investor relations and smooth the path to an eventual listing.

Jiao, who is known to colleagues by his English name UBee, told Bloomberg the company’s next step is an initial public offering, probably in the U.S. By the end of 2017, he expects to have more than 2,000 staff and facilitate as many as 4 million loans a month.

SmartFinance is more commonly known as Yongqianbao, which translates as “need money pal,” and taps into as many as 1,200 data points collected by its smartphone app to assign credit ratings for would-be customers. Making calls that go unanswered or failing to frequently charge your phone are all potential signs of a problematic borrower.

China’s Ping An to launch first overseas fintech and healthcare fund of $ 1 bln (Reuters), Rated: A

Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd, the country’s largest insurer by market value, is launching its first overseas fund to primarily invest in financial and healthcare technology worldwide, underscoring its push beyond its home market.

The initial size of the so-called Ping An Global Voyager Fund will be $1 billion, the insurer said in a statement on Thursday. It will be managed from Hong Kong and led by Jonathan Larsen, an 18-year stalwart of Citigroup who joined Ping An as its chief innovation officer.

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

IPO boom of P2P Lending platforms is coming!
China Rapid Finance (CRF) has gone public in the US and it is also the second P2P Lender listed successfully in America, which may bring an IPO boom of Internet finance industry.

It was revealed that Qudian, a P2P lender focusing on providing consumer finance products for young people, has already submitted their IPO prospectus to the SEC, expecting to finish IPO process by the second quarter of this year. Fintech companies such as PPDAI, Lego Group Inc. Are also actively preparing for US IPO. Several giants are among the long waiting list of IPO candidates, including Ant Financial, Lufax, Zhongan Insurance and Jingdong Finance etc. In fact, the assessment value of Ant Financial has already reached to $60 billion, and once the IPO could be successful, the director Jack Ma may become the China’s richest person again with holding at least 5% shares.

Ant Financial planning to buy MoneyGram with $3.5 billion Loan
Recently, an insider revealed that Ant Financial is going to sign a loan contract valued $3.5 billion for the acquisition of an American company MoneyGram International.

The loan application has attracted 14 providers, including ANZ, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, DBS, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING, J.P. Morgan, Mizuho Bank and Morgan Stanley. With Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale participated as leading banks, and BNP Paribas SA is the sponsor. Ant Financial has got the Green Light for the acquisition by raising the biding price by 1/3 and surpassed its rivals.

European Union

Altisource Launches Enhanced Vendor Oversight Platform to the Market (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A. (“Altisource”) (ASPS), a leading provider of real estate, mortgage and technology services, today announced the expansion of the Vendorly™ platform, an innovative vendor oversight platform for financial institutions. The platform launched last year exclusively for members of the Lenders One® Cooperative, a national alliance of independent mortgage bankers, and is now available to the broader mortgage and community bankers market outside of the Lenders One network. The Vendorly platform is designed to help streamline vendor due diligence, document maintenance, monitoring and audits.

The scrutiny of vendor oversight practices continues to be a focus of regulators. It’s important for mortgage and community bankers to have a multifaceted vendor oversight program. Through the Vendorly platform, and its vendor oversight offerings, Vendorly can help strengthen its customers’ compliance management framework and increase their operational efficiencies. Vendorly offers managed vendor oversight services, including due diligence, document management, annual assessments, information security assessments, financial condition reviews and on-site audits.

Vendorly is announcing collaboration with Secure Insight, an innovator in the mortgage industry in providing settlement agent risk evaluation, rating, monitoring and database reporting on fully vetted mortgage closing professionals. Currently servicing close to 100 clients nationwide, Secure Insight will deliver real-time risk ratings and related settlement agent data to clients through the Vendorly platform. Together, Secure Insight and Vendorly intend to develop a platform that produces a transaction-based tool with risk data on each transaction prior to a closing (and just before the proceeds are wired). It is expected that this process will provide data in a more efficient, streamlined manner and give lenders greater comfort in the protection of their money, documents and consumer data at each closing.

India

i-lend plans to venture out with funds from 50K  (India Times), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending startup i-lend has raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-series A round from early-stage venture capital firm, 50K Ventures. It plans to spend the money on marketing, scaling up and expanding its core team.

The Hyderabad-based company recently started operations in Bengaluru and plans to expand to a few more cities in the coming months. It is also looking to raise Series-A funds later this year.

The company has disbursed more than 600 loans since its inception in Ventures is thinking 2013 and 50K Ventures is thinking about expanding i-lend to other verticals.

Why Nomura, Google, IBM and Amazon are Investing in Indian Fintech (Edgy Labs), Rated: A

In a press release, Nomura Holdings, Inc. unveiled its initiative, called the “Voyager-Nomura FinTech Partnership in India.” Through the Voyager Program, the company invites startups and entrepreneurs with innovative Fintech solutions for the financial industry, especially capital markets and investment banking.

To further consolidate the Voyager Program, Nomura Holdings has recruited the expertise of many authoritative partners, including Google, Amazon, IBM, PwC and Internet Services Pvt. Ltd.

Middle East

Responsible finance summit focus on Islamic fintech (Middle East Association), Rated: AAA

With the retail share of responsible investment doubling to 26 per cent in 2016, ethical, responsible and Islamic fintech can support further growth to deliver the financial products, experts said at a summit in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Responsible Finance & Investment (RFI) Summit opened yesterday (May 3) with leaders from across the responsible investment, impact investment and Islamic finance sectors gathering to discuss how to promote greater awareness of and engagement within responsible finance.

The first day’s sessions focused on ethical, responsible and Islamic fintech and the power they harness which can disrupt financial services and in doing so address the inequities in society and support equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Central America

Sr. Pago raises 4 million dollars in its Series A investment round (Crossroads Today), Rated: AAA

Sr. Pago, the first 100% Mexican financial integrator for acceptance of credit and debit cards provided for the country’s non-banking population, through the placement of its Series A has successfully raised four million dollars in capital, thus ensuring the acceleration of its operations and underpinning its long-term vision.

This raising of capital is taking place thanks to the confidence of three recognized investment funds: IGNIA and EB Capital, with headquarters in Mexico City, and an international fund with its headquarters in Miami, FL, which through this capitalization have become strategic partners of Sr. Pago, supporting the business model of this Mexican Fintech company as the only one that has the country’s non-banking economically active population as its primary market and main consumer.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor