Thursday February 21 2019, Weekly News Digest

household debt

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi launches SoFi Invest. LendingClub forecasts bigger-than-expected Q1 loss. RateSetter ISA exceeds first-year expectations. Zopa report reveals 1 in 3 brits don’t understand Cash ISA Rate. October surpasses 100M GBP in loan repayments. Today’s main analysis: LendingClub 2018 results and 2019 guidance. Today’s thought-provoking articles: The highest seriously delinquent auto loans ever. Personal loans could […]

The post Thursday February 21 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

household debt

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United States

United Kingdom

European Union

International

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News Summary

United States

SoFi launches SoFi Invest and eyes additional lending products (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

US-based online personal money management startup Social Finance (SoFi) has launched an investment product, dubbed SoFi Invest, offering both active and automated investing options at no fees, while it plans to offer additional lending products, perBloomberg, citing a company letter to investors.

SoFi Invest is already live, but the company aims to further grow and develop its related offerings this year.

Source: Business Insider Intelligence

SoFi Now Offering No-Fee Brokerage for Stock and ETF Trades (Think Advisor), Rated: A

According to Bloomberg, which obtained a copy of a letter CEO Anthony Noto wrote investors in the fourth quarter, SoFi Invest had “released an alpha version” of its new brokerage platform inviting employees and select members to “buy and sell individual stocks and ETFs with the tap of a button.”  That brokerage platform is now available to anyone using the app, for no fee.

Investors can currently trade only individual stocks and ETFs on the platform; individual bonds and mutual funds are expected to be added in the future.

LendingClub forecasts bigger-than-expected first-quarter loss (WSAU), Rated: AAA

Online lender LendingClub Corp forecast a bigger-than-expected first-quarter loss on Tuesday, and revenue that missed Wall Street estimates, sending its shares down 5 percent in after-market trading.

For the first quarter, the company expects net revenue between $162 million and $172 million, below analysts’ estimates of $181.2 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

LendingClub also forecast a first-quarter loss between $20 million and $15 million, compared to Wall Street estimates of a loss of $5.14 million.

LendingClub Reports 2018 Results and Guidance for 2019 (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

Earnings season is in full swing and today LendingClub announced their results for the 2018 year. The numbers were quite strong in most areas with the company originating $10.9 billion in new loans in 2018, up 21% year over year and a new high water work in yearly originations. For Q4 loan originations were $2.87 billion down slightly from the previous quarter but up 18% year over year.

Source: LendingClub

They lost $128 million in 2018 with a $13 million loss in Q4.

Source: LendingClub

Brismo partners with LendingClub to create ‘industry standard’ performance metrics (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Brismo, the leading international provider of lending performance data, has today announced that standardized performance metrics are available representing the performance of loans made available through LendingClub*.

Lending Performance Analytics

Brismo’s analysis includes a complete historic track record in a format that is free from distortions relating to inconsistent facilitation growth rates or default profiles.

Functions available include:

  • Gross facilitation, net lending, change in outstanding principal
  • Outbound lending rates and loan term
  • Late payments including transition matrices, defaults, recoveries, recovery performance, and net loss
  • Historic PDs and LGDs
  • Net return, loss coverage and risk adjusted return
  • Cohort analysis including return projections
  • All analysis can be segmented by facilitator, risk band, asset type etc.

Highest Auto Delinquencies (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

The Fed’s latest report on Household Debt and Credit showed that total household debt increased by $32 Bn (0.2%) to $13.54 Tn in 4Q2018, marking the 18th consecutive quarter of growth. Total debt is now $869 Bn higher than its previous peak, although it remains below its peak on a per-capita basis.

The report also showed that more than 7 Mn auto loans are delinquent for more than 90 days. This is the highest number of seriously delinquent auto loans ever and is driven mainly by subprime borrowers. Over 8% of subprime borrowers are seriously delinquent on their auto loans, but this percentage is still well below its peak of 9.7% seen in 2010.

Source: PeerIQ

In FinTech financing news, Nav a small-business lending marketplace, raised $45 Mn from GS Principal Strategic Investments among others. Nav will use the funds to expand its platform and to support more funding partners.

CommonBond, an online student loan refinancer, has raised a $750 Mn credit line from GS, Citi among others. CommonBond will use this credit facility to expand its lending operations.

Personal Loans May Increase Credit Scores of Most Borrowers (LendingTree), Rated: AAA

Americans are increasingly turning to personal loans as another option for their ongoing debt and credit needs. There are many uses for personal loans, and the most prominent are to consolidate existing debt and pay down credit cards, which often carry higher interest rates.

Key findings

  • About 62% of borrowers see their credit scores go up the month after they take out a personal loan.
  • After 12 months, around 45% of borrowers still have higher scores than they did in the month of loan origination.
  • People with lower scores are more likely to see a credit score bump: 68% of those who started with scores under 620 saw their scores increase in one month, 71% had higher scores after three and six months, and 58% had higher scores after a year.
  • People with scores under 620 saw a 20 point, or 3.4%, boost after one month. They also saw a 10 point, or 1.8%, boost after 12 months, on average.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, borrowers who started with higher scores are less likely to see a credit score bump. 57% of people with scores of 750 or higher see their scores increase after a month, and about 39% have higher scores after a year.

FinTechs Continue to Drive Personal Loan Growth (GlobeNewswire), Rated: AAA

The FinTech revolution has propelled unsecured personal loans to another record-breaking quarter. TransUnion’s (NYSE: TRU) Q4 2018 Industry Insights Reportfound that personal loan balances increased $21 billion in the last year to close 2018 at a record high of $138 billion. Much of this growth was driven by online loans originated by FinTechs.

FinTech loans now comprise 38% of all unsecured personal loan balances, the largest market share compared to banks, credit unions and traditional finance companies. Five years ago, FinTechs accounted for just 5% of outstanding balances. As a result of FinTech entry to the market, bank balance share decreased to 28% from 40% in 2013, while credit union share has declined from 31% to 21% during this time.

TransUnion also found that FinTechs are competitive with banks, with both lenders issuing loans averaging in the $10,000 range, compared to $5,300 for credit unions. Across all risk tiers and lender types, the average unsecured personal loan debt per borrower was $8,402 as of Q4 2018.

Source: TransUnion

Personal loan originations increased 22% during Q3 2018, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of 20%+ annual origination increases. While the subprime risk tier grew the fastest, prime and above originations (those with a VantageScore 3.0 of 661 or higher) represented 36% of all originations. More than 19 million consumers now have a personal loan ­product, an increase of two million from a year earlier in Q4 2017 and the highest level ever observed.

Source: TransUnion

LoanStreet’s New Commercial Lending Solution Combines Automation and Networking for Financial Institutions (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LoanStreet Inc., the first fully integrated platform that streamlines the process of sharing, managing and originating loans, now offers a new, powerful commercial loan origination and administration solution for any size financial institution, loan or deal volume. LoanStreet uniquely combines the power of networking financial institutions together with world-class lending technology that automates administrative tasks to drive growth, diversify risk, and enable lenders to better serve their customers.

Leading Small Business Lending into a Digital and Data Driven Age (LendIt), Rated: A

Small business lending contributed to 24% of the loans originated by US Banks in 2018, accounting for 600 billion last year. Small business lending by large banks remains in legacy mode with deeply entrenched manual processes, a siloed experience and a lack of customization to help meet the unique needs of small business owners.

How a $ 1.3 Billion Institution Launched Its Own Digital Bank (The Financial Brand), Rated: AAA

When IncredibleBank, the online banking division of Wisconsin-based River Valley Bank, made the list of “Top 10 Online Banks”  at GoBankingRates.com, it found itself in good company, right alongside Ally Bank, CIT Bank, Discover Bank, and Synchrony.

While not the only community bank on the list, it’s a significant accomplishment for an institution with only $1.3 billion in assets. And equally noteworthy, IncredibleBank is the only digital-first bank offering loans for luxury RVs. These motor coaches — the ones the size of a tour bus with slide-outs that turn them into 1,200 square foot homes — run upwards of $2 million.

The challenger banks catering to gig-economy workers (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Qwil

Reinsch’s startup, Qwil, focuses on providing working capital for the freelancer who has trouble, like he did, getting paid on time.

Source: American Banker

Qwil’s underwriting technology assesses the payor’s likelihood of paying. It captures information about the approval status of the invoice: Is it definitively approved, is it likely to be approved or is it simply booked and not approved? It conducts identity verification and fraud checks on each freelancer. Qwil charges a flat fee for the advance, such as 1% of the amount. No interest rate or late fees are charged. And it never goes after the freelancer or small- business person to collect.

Oxygen

Online lenders like OnDeck, Kabbage, Fundbox and Bluevine all look at accounting software data and bank account data to analyze the cash flow of and qualify small business applicants. But the freelancer graphic designer working in a Starbucks or contract copy writer can’t get this type of loan, Ahmed said.

Oxygen’s banking and lending services are bundled into a membership with a flat monthly fee of $29.99.

Ahmed wouldn’t say how many users Oxygen has. The company, which started in a Y Combinator incubator, has been in production since September has been growing users at an 80% monthly rate.

Cogni

Cogni will offer a checking account and debit card, as well as up to 12% cash back at restaurants and retailers. It will provide “curated financial and lifestyle services” in an app designed for millennials, freelancers and side hustlers.

Joust

This month, Joust started a partnership with the Freelancers Union, which has 425,000 members. In a survey, the union found that 71% of its members have trouble getting paid. It also announced an Android version of its app (it had only iOS before).

For a 1% fee it offers a guarantee the payment will be made within 30 days. For a 6% fee it will instantly fund the invoice. Users can also take out PayArmour loans when they are out of work. Eventually Joust plans to provide gap financing for those in-between times.

When Considering Banks, New Survey Finds That Millennials Prefer Technology To Human Touch (Marqeta Email), Rated: A

Millennials are unattached to traditional banks, with only 17% of them expressing firm commitment to their current banking provider,  according to new survey data from Marqeta, whose advanced payments infrastructure and open-API platform has pioneered a new standard for modern card issuing. In this research, Millennials (18-34 year olds) were 50% less likely than Baby Boomers (50-65 years old) to say that they couldn’t ever imagine wanting to change their banks.

Marqeta’s research found:

  • Only 1-in-6 Millennials said they couldn’t imagine ever wanting to change from their current bank.
  • 58% of Millennials would consider banking with Amazon, Facebook or Google if these tech giants enter the banking space.
  • 48% of Millennials said they’d consider moving to an independent digital-only bank.

Millennials Are Digital Banking Early Adopters

More than half of Americans aged 18-34 (53%) have used mobile wallets to complete a purchase in-store or on their mobile phone. That’s higher than Americans aged 35-50 (39%) and more than double those aged 51-65 (22%).

It’s also noteworthy that:

  • More than half of Millennials (52%) said they were comfortable using TouchID and FaceID to authorize mobile wallet payments — almost double the number of Baby Boomers (29%) who said the same.
  • More than twice as many Millennials (57%) than Baby Boomers (27%) said that they have used peer-to-peer banking apps like Square Cash or Venmo.
  • Millennials (49%) were twice as likely as Baby Boomers (20%) to pay someone back using a peer-to-peer banking app than a physical currency like cash or check.

Banking Apps Are More Valuable Than Tellers to Millennials

When asked about what the most important service their bank provided was, Millennials reflected much different attitudes than older Americans: Millennials were twice as likely as Baby Boomers to list a mobile app as most important (27% v 14 %), while Baby Boomers were twice as likely to list in person presence (20% v 11%).

Millennials are also abandoning old-fashioned payment methods like checks en masse, with almost half (48%) saying that they couldn’t remember the last time they wrote a check for something other than utilities and rent.

Banks Set To Invest In Legacy Systems To Combat Challenger Bank Threat (Fintech Finance), Rated: A

More than three-quarters (80%) of bankers believe challenger banks are an increased threat to their business, while almost one-third (30%) believe they will be the single most disruptive threat in 2019. The survey, commissioned by fintech provider Fraedom, found that in response the challenger bank threat, bankers expect their organisations to invest heavily in updating legacy systems (44%) and new technology (26%) in 2019.

With investing in new technology high on the agenda for commercial banks, the survey found that over half (53%) of respondents believe AI and Machine Learning will be the technologies to have the biggest impact on commercial banking in 2019.

Atlantic Capital Bank Launches Fintech Partnership with Self Lender (Nasdaq), Rated: A

Atlantic Capital (NASDAQ:ACBI) announces its partnership with Self Lender, a leading Fintech company offering consumers a way to build their credit while saving money. Atlantic Capital provides innovative financial technology companies a banking partner that has significant operational expertise and processing scale to meet the demands of a rapidly growing national client base.  The Self Lender and Atlantic Capital partnership helps efficiently deliver the credit builder account to thousands of consumers across the United States.

Impact of Intelligent Technologies on the Finance Industry (CIO Applications), Rated: A

Source: CIO Applications

Consolidated Analytics Taps Industry Finance Leader Mike Jones as Chief Financial Officer to Facilitate Aggressive Growth and Transformation (PR Newswire), Rated: B

Consolidated Analytics, a one-stop provider of property valuation, asset management, due diligence, fulfillment and advisory services for the real estate finance industry, today announced the appointment of Mike Jones as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). In this role, Jones will be responsible for developing and implementing financial strategies that will support the company’s overarching M&A integration strategy and drive corporate transformation initiatives.

United Kingdom

RateSetter Reported ISA Exceeded Expectation in First Year By Attracting £175 Million of Subscriptions (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

UK-based peer-to-peer lender RateSetter recently announced its ISA has exceeded expectations in its first year, having attracted £175 million of subscriptions, and currently accounts for one-fifth of the platform’s £830 million funds under management. RateSetter unveiled its ISA in February 2018. It allows investments in peer-to-peer loans to be included in a tax-free ISA wrapper up to an investor’s £20,000 annual ISA allowance.

Zopa’s Latest Report Reveals 1 in 3 Brits in the Dark on Cash ISA Rate (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

According to Zopa, the research revealed that 1 in 3 British savers (30%) had no idea what interest they’re earning on their Cash ISA and there is a vast difference of knowledge by age with an alarming 42% of people aged between 25 to 44 being in the dark over the rate of interest they were earning on their Cash ISA, in contrast to 21% of over 55s. The research then noted that Generation Z’s were only slightly more aware than Millennials with 39% not knowing their rate of interest.

Is your money safe in an IFISA? (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

THE INNOVATIVE Finance ISA (IFISA) is starting to take off after a slow start – in the last tax year, subscriptions rose more than 700 per cent – but potential investors may still be unsure about the risks involved.

Money put into peer-to-peer loans – with or without the IFISA wrapper – is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

Revolut Launches New Business Mobile App (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Digital bank Revolut announced on Tuesday the launch of its new business mobile app. This news comes nearly one year after Revolut debuted its Revolut for Business. Revolut reported that through the mobile app, users may do the following:

  • Track corporate card spending in real-time
  • View card details and PIN on the go
  • Freeze or unfreeze card if it’s misplaced
  • Receive instant spending notifications after every card payment

Should bank-style stress tests for P2P lenders reassure investors? (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

Trade body the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA) requires its platform members to carry out bank-style stress tests on their loan portfolios, but how much confidence should P2P investors  have in these models if  the cycle turns?

P2PFA member Funding Circle has claimed its loanbook would hold up in a recession, after subjecting itself to the toughest Bank of England stress tests. The P2P business lender has said it could still deliver a three to five per cent return to investors in a downturn.

Leasing Foundation to host asset finance technology debates (Verdict), Rated: B

The newly formed Innovation Initiative from the Leasing Foundation is holding a series of breakfast debates this year to explore the asset finance industry’s relationship to technology.

The first event will feature James Alexander, co-founder of P2P lending company Zopa, as keynote speaker and will take place on 13 March from 8am to 10am at Metro Bank in Holborn, London.

Strabane firm funding 55 new homes with £7m from peer-to-peer lender (Belfast Telegraph), Rated: B

The N&R Devine Group is in the process of building the properties, which will go on the market at prices between £105,000 and £189,000.

Twenty of the homes will be built in Cookstown, 25 in Coalisland and the remainder in Sion Mills.

The Strabane-based builder secured the funding for the developments from peer-to-peer lender Assetz Capital.

China

China’s online P2P lending industry is undergoing a massive shake out (technode), Rated: AAA

China’s peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry is in turmoil. In recent months, authorities have ramped up regulatory oversight of the world’s largest P2P lending industry. Investors are losing confidence at their stakes and pulling their funds, diminishing operators’ liquidity; many of them are facing insolvency.

This week, Chinese police froze RMB 10 billion worth of assets owned by over 380 lenders in a large-scale investigation spanning 16 countries. Dubbed Operation Fox Hunt, the investigation has led to the arrest of 62 suspects implicated in P2P fraud since last June.

The total value of the loans managed by online crowdlenders has fallen to RMB 1 trillion. Prior to the clampdown, in 2015, the total P2P loan amount was RMB 1.25 trillion, according to Chinese media (in Chinese).

Source: wdzj.com

China’s Recession-Proof Economy Heads to a Stress Test (Bloomberg), Rated: A

The reason for the slowdown isn’t clear. Uncertainty over trade with the U.S. — including tariffs, but also export controls and investment restrictions –— could be a factor, especially as other countries show signs of wariness toward Chinese technology companies. Bad investments in real estate and infrastructure could be coming back to bite. A crash in the peer-to-peer lending industry might be contributing.

Source: Bloomberg
European Union

European Marketplace Lender October Surpasses €100 Million in Loan Repayment (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

October, the European lending marketplace formerly known as Lendix, announced on Wednesday it has surpassed €100 million in loan repayment.

The online lender reported that since its launch more than €250 million has been lent to European companies and nearly 40% of this amount has already been paid into the accounts of both individual and institutional lenders through monthly repayments. October then revealed that the lenders have already supported 570 projects for an average amount of €460,000.

Machine learning: Part of Europe’s consumer loans business (AltFi), Rated: A

Machine learning technologies are widely used to establish consumer credit scores in Europe, a new report confirmed.

Around 70 per cent of financial institutions across the continent say they already use these data technologies to build consumer score cards, which dictate lending, said a survey called, Credit Risk Management 2019 – How Do You Stack Up?

The average coverage rate of non-performing loans in Europe was 46 per cent in 2018, according to the survey.

5 Fashion E-commerce Trends Helping Retailers Build a Cult Following (Klarna), Rated: A

How can you get consumers as psyched about your brand as you are? Get inspired by these five fashion e-commerce trends that are powering more meaningful engagement.
International

UK-based GBG Acquires IDology in $ 300 Million All-Cash Deal (Finovate), Rated: AAA

Identity verification and fraud prevention specialist IDology has been acquired by U.K.-based identity data intelligence firm, GBG, for $300 million (£233 million) in cash.

The deal will give GBG broader reach into the North American market; in a statement, the company said 99% of IDology’s revenues come from the United States.

Are Peer-to-Peer Loans (P2P Loans) the Best Option for a Small Business? (ForexTV), Rated: A

One of the biggest issues that every entrepreneur will have to face at some point is finding financial backing. Money is going to be essential for your business launch, and there are a variety of methods for obtaining that much-needed financial support. One of the most popular solutions is Peer-to-Peer lending (P2P). This is a useful way of getting the money you need without going through the traditional route of obtaining interest only bank loans. Those banks loans can be slow and expensive, so does P2P offer a viable alternative option? Here’s the rundown of everything you need to know about P2P loans.

Australia

Payday loans increase as households pushed into risky credit from non-bank lenders (ABC.net), Rated: AAA

Debt-stressed home owners and renters are increasingly turning to alternative lenders offering so-called “payday” loans and consumer leases, as falling property prices plunge more households into negative equity and banks crack down on credit.

Asia

5 of Vietnam’s Top Funded Fintechs (Fintech News), Rated: AAA

Fintech development is accelerating in Vietnam with companies in the sector attracting US$117 million last year, the maximum funding in Vietnamese startups in 2018. Fintech surpassed e-commerce at US$104 million and other sectors, according to funding data by local accelerator Topica Founder Institute, showcasing the eagerness of investors to take part in Vietnam’s fintech opportunity.

Source: topicafi via Facebook

Tima – US$3M

Founded in 2015, Tima is a consumer financial marketplace and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform. The company has signed partnerships with financial institutions, including VietinBank and Nam A Bank, and claims to have disbursed about US$1.7 billion in loans to 2.8 million borrowers and over 30,000 lenders on its platform.

Tima claims to have raised a US$3 million Series B funding round in October at a near US$20 million valuation and recently began the process of raising a Series C investment round after hiring former LendingClub COO John Donovan to its board of directors.

Short Term Loans: For Your Quick Financial Concerns (US Updates), Rated: A

In such a case, availing instant Short Term loans from an online lender may help you in different ways.

No fear of bad credit scores – These loans are available irrespective of credit score status. The Short Term poor credit loans are in possible reach of the bad credit borrowers. You do not have to face rejections due to bad credits.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

The post Thursday February 21 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

Wednesday August 1, 2018 Daily News Digest

Global Banking Executives Biggest Challenges

News Comments Today’s main news: OCC approves fintech charter. Microsoft, Nationwide invest in BlueVine. UK overtakes US in fintech investment. P2PFA members take in over 300M GBP from IFISAs. Today’s main analysis: Trump Administration hugs fintech. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Online lenders, payment companies can act more like banks. How Revolut reduced fraud by 30%. Chinese P2P lending under severe challenges. Fintechs […]

Global Banking Executives Biggest Challenges

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

International

Other

News Summary

United States

After years of debate, OCC to offer fintech charter (American Banker) Rated: AAA

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced Tuesday that it would move ahead to consider special-purpose charter applications from fintech firms, ending the guessing game over whether the agency was serious about giving fintechs a federal option.

The decision, unveiled just hours after the Treasury Department released a report endorsing a national fintech charter, means fintech firms that opt for the charter could soon be regulated more like banks on a national scale.

Fintech Gets a Hug From the Trump Administration (Barron’s) Rated: AAA

The Treasury Department released a report today with more than 80 recommendations that are aimed at tailoring regulations for nonbank financial institutions and encouraging the development of financial technology.

Source: U.S. Treasury Department
Source: U.S. Treasury Department

Read the full report here.

Securitizations swell as marketplace lending matures (GlobalCapital) Rated: A

A report out of the Department of the Treasury on Tuesday notes that the growth of marketplace lending has fueled ABS deals in the sector.

Marketplace lenders have originated some $100bn in loans since 2014, with unsecured consumer debt accounting for 50% of total volume.

The strong pace of originations has fueled consumer securitization issuance, with the number of marketplace loan ABS deals ballooning every year since 2013.

Online Lenders and Payment Companies Get a Way to Act More Like Banks (The New York Times) Rated: AAA

Online lenders and other so-called fintech firms — including the payment processor Square, the online lender Lending Club and the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase — have pressed for regulatory routes that would let them cut through the thicket of state and federal laws that govern financial businesses.

Heeding those requests, the Treasury Department released a 222-page report laying out the Trump administration’s view on how nonbank financial companies should be regulated. Hours later, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a national bank regulator, announced a new kind of charter that would potentially free such companies from the state-by-state approvals they currently need to offer loans and other financial products.

Source: Treasury.gov

Read the complete report here.

CSBS Responds to Treasury, OCC Fintech Announcements (CSBS) Rated: A

We appreciate the Treasury’s recognition of the vital role performed by state regulators in overseeing nonbank financial service providers. And we are pleased that Treasury noted the substantial progress states have made towards harmonizing the multistate experience for industry.

At the same time, we disagree with certain Treasury recommendations. We do not support creation of new federal rules or unauthorized federal charters that would seek to compromise the ability of state officials to apply and enforce state laws. And so, we disagree with Treasury’s recommended changes to the valid-when-made doctrine and the true-lender doctrine, and the creation of an OCC special purpose bank charter for fintech companies.

An OCC fintech charter is a regulatory train wreck in the making.

Microsoft’s M12 joins $ 12 million funding extension for fintech startup BlueVine (Venture Beat) Rated: AAA

Fintech startup BlueVine has added $12 million to its recently announced series E round of funding, bringing Microsoft’s venture capital (VC) unit M12 onboard alongside the VC arm of finance giant Nationwide.

The additional funding brings BlueVine’s total series E round to $72 million, after the company announced an initial $60 million cash injection just two months ago.

BlueVine has now raised around $590 million in funding since its inception, though it’s worth noting that around three-quarters of that came in the past year via debt financing.

Small-Biz Talks: StreetShares on Small Business Lending (Value Penguin) Rated: A

On average, veterans are getting, through us, about 2% to 3%lower interest rates than nonveterans. That’s an internal discount that we give. Comparing us to an OnDeck or a Kabbage, we are probably half the average APR of OnDeck and probably a quarter of Kabbage. They may disagree with that, but that’s our numbers.

Online Lending Needs More Regulation: New York Regulator (BNA) Rated: A

Notably, a group of lenders that is currently not subject to licensing – those making loans between 7 and 16 percent – would have to become Licensed Lenders. As a result, those lenders would have to complete the licensing process, pay the associated fees, and would then be subject to supervision and examinations by the NYDFS.

Additionally, any nonbank that lends to a New York borrower, either directly or through a partnership, would have to comply with New York’s usury limit. This rule is already in effect for servicers that acquire loans originated by banks, due to the Second Circuit’s decision in Madden v. Midland Funding. However, the NYDFS recommendation would potentially expand that rule to loans originated by lending companies organized by Native American tribes, among other situations.

Gusto raises $ 140 million to go after small business payroll and benefits with more gusto (TechCrunch) Rated: A

Gusto, which sells payroll, benefits and human resources management and monitoring services to small businesses, has raised $140 million in its latest round of funding.

The company said it will use the money to add new services to increase payment flexibility for employees. The company launched a new service called Flexible Pay, which gives employees a way to get paid no matter when a company’s pay schedule dictates. It seems sort of like a payday loan, where a percentage of the salary is taken by Gusto  for providing money upfront.

Elevate Credit, Inc. (ELVT) CEO Kenneth Rees on Q2 2018 Results – Earnings Call Transcript (Seeking Alpha) Rated: A

Before I catch on the specific highlights for Q2, I’d like to restate, as I usually do, our commitment to use technology and advanced analytics to be the most responsible lender in our space and to make a positive impact in the lives of our customers. As Slide 3 shows, we’ve now extended more than $5.9 billion in credit to more than 2 million nonprime consumers. We’ve come to call the 170 million consumers in the U.S. and U.K. who are credit constrained, the new middle class. And we’re proud to announce on this call that Elevate products have now saved our customers more than $4 billion over what they would’ve paid for legacy products like payday loans.

Elevate Credit (ELVT) Issues FY18 Earnings Guidance (Press Oracle) Rated: A

Elevate Credit (NYSE:ELVT) updated its FY18 earnings guidance on Monday. The company provided EPS guidance of $0.55-0.90 for the period, compared to the Thomson Reuters consensus EPS estimate of $0.72. The company issued revenue guidance of $790-810 million, compared to the consensus revenue estimate of $803.81 million.

Several brokerages have recently weighed in on ELVT. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Elevate Credit from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $11.00 price objective on the stock in a report on Tuesday, July 24th.

Nobody Says ‘Zelle Me’: Banks Struggle to Catch Up to Venmo (Wall Street Journal) Rated: A

A year in, Zelle’s reviews are mixed. Usage is up, but most banks haven’t signed on, meaning many consumers can’t use it without downloading a separate app. It also fell short of its goal to have 33 banks on the network by its first anniversary, and behind the scenes, it runs on plumbing that’s more than 40 years old.

Zelle’s rocky debut shows the challenges of trying to make alterations to an industry often slow to change and still weighed down by old infrastructure.

Go Midwest, young fintechs (American Banker) Rated: A

For startups, they are not the obvious places to settle down. While fintech is flush with venture capital, three states — California, Massachusetts and New York — gobble up 75% of all VC funds. Yet if there is a good time to go against the odds, it might be now. These days, it has become fashionable for venture capitalists to say they are scouting for opportunities beyond the coasts.

Most visibly, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest seed fund, co-founded by AOL co-founder Steve Case, continues to make a splash by investing in all kinds of startups across America to promote growth and increase investment capital. As Case blogged, “People know that the future of America is tied to more than just three cities, and there is an eagerness, now more than ever, to address the investment gap.”

Bill to enhance poor credit scores will backfire, critics say (American Banker) Rated: A

Legislation to enhance credit scores by allowing consumers to include data about their monthly bills has broad bipartisan support, but some consumer advocates and others question whether the legislation may backfire on those it is meant to help.

The measure, which passed the House earlier this month and is authored by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., is intended to allow consumers to benefit from positive information about lease, telecommunications and utility payments in their credit reports. An identical version has been introduced by Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in the upper chamber.

A CEO used to think student loans were predatory, but he’s changed his mind (Business Insider) Rated: A

Last week, LendingTree acquired Student Loan Hero for $60 million. In an interview with Business Insider, Josuweit reflected on how his view of the student-loan industry had changed since launching his business.

Today, Student Loan Hero offers users financial-comparison tools and personalized advice for paying off student loans, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

Josuweit said he had also softened his stance on student loans in general. Where he once saw them as predatory, he now considers them a valuable tool when used wisely.

Kroger stops accepting Visa credit cards at some stores (Cincinnati Business Courier) Rated: A

Kroger Co. has quit accepting Visa credit cards at some of its stores in a battle against rising fees charged by the credit card giant.

Blockchain’s Spring Labs Appoints Peter Tapling Chief Commercial Officer (Block Tribune) Rated: B

Blockchain’s Spring Labs names Peter Tapling, an identity and payments expert, as chief commercial officer and head of industry relations. He will be responsible for overseeing Spring Lab’s network development, industry awareness, partnerships and commercialization. He will report directly to CEO and Founder of Spring Labs, Adam Jiwan, and will be based in Spring Labs’ Chicago office.
United Kingdom

UK overtakes US on Fintech investment for first half of 2018 (Business Matters) Rated: AAA

The UK has overtaken the US in terms of fintech investment for the first half of the year, and taken the top spot in Europe to attract $16.1bn (£12.3bn) out of the EUs $26bn total.

Four of Europe’s top 10 fintech deals happened in the UK, which included a $250m raise by Revolut, $100m by eToro, $60m by Flender and $54m by Moneyfarm. Data provided by KPMG’s pulse of fintech report has allayed fears that Brexit would hurt the UK’s startup scene, as venture capital firms have cemented the UK’s position as a funding hot spot.

Fintech investment across the world reached record levels over the last six months, taking in $57.9bn across 875 deals. This was an increase of 34.2 per cent compared to the whole of 2017, which recorded just $38.1bn overall.

P2PFA member platforms secure over £300m from IFIsa investments (Bridging & Commercial) Rated: AAA

Members of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA) have seen 28,000 Innovate Finance Isas (IFIsas) opened, with more than £300m of funds already under management, according to the latest figures.

The six P2PFA member platforms which offer an IFIsa are: 

• Crowdstacker
• Folk2Folk
• Funding Circle
• Landbay
• Lending Works
• Zopa

UK neobank Revolut has reduced fraud by 30% – here’s how (Business Insider) Rated: AAA

UK-based neobank Revolut launched disposable virtual cards in March , and has now reported that they resulted in a 30% reduction in card fraud cases.

Disposable virtual cards provide users with card details that get destroyed right after making an online purchase, and new details are made seconds after the previous ones are scrapped. This way, a merchant can’t charge the customer again, as they don’t have the person’s actual card information.

This fraud reduction announcement comes at the right time for Revolut. Earlier in July, we reported that the neobank had discovered potential money laundering activity on its digital payments system a few months back. It informed the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), suggesting that the severity of the issue was high, as conventionally companies just inform the NCA.

Source: Business Insider

FCA regulation sees an increase in consumer confidence for loans (Financial News) Rated: A

It’s an industry that has often come under intense scrutiny, but the high cost short term loans sector has seen a significant increase in consumer confidence. This comes as a result of the FCA facilitating dramatic changes and the enforcement of new regulations. In fact, a recent review by the FCA has stated that the noticeable improvements in the payday loan industry means that it will now not be reviewing this sector again until 2020. We take a look at the reasons why the FCA has successfully increased consumer confidence in the high-cost short term loan industry.

UK Regulators Taking Very Close Look At P2P Lending (PYMNTS) Rated: A

According to the U.K. Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA), a self-regulating P2P industry group that includes most of the biggest names in U.K. marketplace lending, the country’s P2P lending industry had hit £9 billion in loan originations from the group’s members as of Q1 2018.

The figures also reflected having provided finance for approximately 50,000 businesses and 221,000 individuals overall, with a total investor count of about 150,000. According to the The Times of London, those figures are even higher – though they agree on the 150,000 investor count, they think about £10 billion in total loans have been underwritten.

Will New P2P Rules Hit SME Funding? (Forbes) Rated: A

The Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s chief financial watchdog, has just spent months investigating the sector, where it has already intervened with new rules once to safeguard investors. Now the FCA says the sector has further problems that must be addressed, including poor standards of disclosure, opaque pricing structures, over-optimistic marketing claims and poor record-keeping. It is consulting on a series of potential reforms and has also warned individual businesses in the industry could be investigated for compliance failures.

Much of the regulator’s ire is reserved for the peer-to-peer lending sector, where online platforms facilitate loans from investors to consumers or small businesses. While defaults have been relatively rare – though the regulator points out most platforms have not been tested through a complete economic cycle – the FCA is worried that investors are sometimes being given false expectations about the returns they should expect.

QuickISA Launches Free Search Engine to Discover Profitable Savings and P2P Finance Schemes (Perfect Investor) Rated: A

Past economic turbulence, the recession, and the uncertainty over Brexit and its impact on future investments, has made it imperative for every investor to keep an eye on their investments.  Individual Saving Accounts (ISAs) are a great way to earn tax-free interest on your investment. But which ISA is the most profitable? This question can now be easily answered with the new online service offered by QuickISA.

Legal & General invests £3m in lendtech Smartr365 (FinTech Futures) Rated: A

Legal & General’s (LG) fintech business has made a £3 million investment in Smartr365, a Software-as-a-Service firm which supplies systems to the UK mortgage intermediary market.

Conor Murphy, director, Smartr365, says the new funding will be used for product development – such as its LendrConnect, a mortgage API service that allows brokers to submit mortgages.

China

The Chinese P2P Lending Sector Facing Severe Challenges Right Now (Lend Academy) Rated: AAA

Back then new platforms were launching pretty much every day as p2p lending became the hot new investment. The number of platforms grew to well over 3,000, a number that everyone agreed was not sustainable. But new platforms kept on launching, attracting both investors and borrowers with relative ease.

We all knew the party was going to end at some point and it looks like 2018 will be the year of reckoning. According to industry data provider, Wangdaizhijia (loosely translated as Online Lending House), platforms are failing at a rate of around five a day with 114 platforms shutting down between July 1 and July 24.

Xiaomi’s risky play with P2P lenders: another reason to be bearish (Kr-ASIA) Rated: A

But in the lead up to the company’s IPO earlier this month – which continues to be a rocky one – its founder LEI Jun went all in to deliver his bigger vision: Xiaomi isn’t a gadget maker, it’s an internet company. One that gathers data from a network of smartphones and other internet-enabled devices, and sells additional “online services” – things like utility apps and content, created by partners. In other words, a platform business built around the Xiaomi brand and gadgets ecosystem.

Well, large parts of China’s P2P sector were crumbling after a government crackdown. For some, it came too late – they had trusted sites with their savings in hopes of getting the promised returns.

Xiaomi had an explanation: It doesn’t have anything to do with those lenders. It only let them use its platform for advertising purposes.

European Union

Big Red Cloud becomes the latest SME to raise funds through Flender (Silicon Republic) Rated: AAA

Irish accountancy firm Big Red Cloud raises thousands in partnership with alternative-lending firm Flender.

Alternative-lending platform Flender has added another successful SME funding partnership to the pile, with Irish accountancy software company Big Red Cloud raising €31,500 in just 24 hours.

SMEs benefit from different lending models

O’Dwyer said it was encouraging to see the normalisation of alternative-lending models such as Flender as a credit option for SMEs and a novel opportunity for investors.

DGAP-News: Varengold Bank AG: Preliminary figures for first half of 2018 (Markets Insider) Rated: A

In the first half of 2018, the total assets increased significantly from EUR 445.2 million to nearly EUR 665.5 million. Customer deposits continue to be the dominant amount on the liabilities side with EUR 599.3 million and therefore 90%.

The company’s interest result increased due to the expanded lending volume from TEUR 2,047 in the first half of 2017 to TEUR 3,429 in the first half of 2018. The commission result remained almost constant at TEUR 8,108 in the first half of 2018 (30th June 2017: TEUR 5,818).

International

Fintech vendors keep reinventing themselves, and banks struggle to keep up (American Banker) Rated: AAA

There were 70 mergers and acquisitions among fintechs in the U.S., Canada and South America in the first quarter, and those deals were worth a combined $3.4 billion, according to a fintech investment report issued by KPMG on Tuesday.

The number of deals fell to 60 in the second quarter, but the total value rose to $5.8 billion. M&A activity in this field is expected to remain “very healthy [in] 2018 on the whole,” the report said.

The investment flow is also breeding new companies looking for bank clients. American fintechs, the report noted, attracted $14.2 billion in overall funding in the first half of 2018.

What that means for all banks is when it comes to tech, there’s plenty to ponder: more options for their front- and back-office operations; more retail and commercial service improvements to consider; more new vendors that will be seeking their business; and more fintech investment opportunities to pursue.

Source: American Banker

UK fintech scores the global top spot for investment in the first half of 2018 (City A.M.) Rated: A

China came in second place with $15.1bn, followed by the US with $14.2bn.

Four of Europe’s top 10 fintech deals happened in the UK, which included a $250m raise by Revolut, $100m by eToro, $60m by Flender and $54m by Moneyfarm. Data provided by KPMG’s pulse of fintech report has allayed fears that Brexit would hurt the UK’s startup scene, as venture capital firms have cemented the UK’s position as a funding hot spot.

Fintech investment across the world reached record levels over the last six months, taking in $57.9bn across 875 deals. This was an increase of 34.2 per cent compared to the whole of 2017, which recorded just $38.1bn overall.

Interval Funds: A New Approach To Alternative Investing (Seeking Alpha) Rated: A

The way I view it is that interval funds are a great blend of the traditional closed-end fund that Tortoise is used to managing, along with the traditional mutual fund that we also have managed in the past and still do. Compared to other registered fund structures, they’re obviously less liquid than a mutual fund and a traditional closed-end fund, but they’re great for more long-term investors that aren’t looking to need liquidity quite as often. From our fund’s perspective, you can subscribe daily. You only have the option to redeem at certain periods, and that’s typically between 5 and 25 percent on a quarterly basis. From a liquidity standpoint, obviously, this is nice for folks that aren’t qualified purchasers that aren’t getting exposure to traditional private funds in the limited partnership structure.

Crypto Lending Platform Launched By CoinLoan (Block Tribune) Rated: A

Estonia-based startup CoinLoan has officially launched its crypto-to-fiat lending platform that allow users to HODL crypto and borrow fiat money.

For borrowers, the platform allows them to create an application for receiving a loan in the amount that does not exceed 70 percent of the current market value of the crypto collateral. This limitation has been created for preserving the crypto assets of the borrower and reducing risk related to the high volatility of the crypto asset market.

The platform currently supports bitcoin, ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, ZCash, and Ripple. Users can borrow a loan in the following fiat currencies: USD, EUR, GBP, CNY, JPY, RUB, CHF, PLN and CZK.

A blockchain solution for global peer-to-peer lending (Global Banking and Finance Review) Rated: A

A blockchain solution for global peer-to-peer lending is on the horizon, adding an exciting layer to an already booming sector which is expected to reach the $1 trillion mark by 2025.

The problem is, some aren’t excited by blockchain’s arrival. Experiencing Déjà vu? It’s easy to be transported back to the 1990s when the Internet was dismissed as just a “wasteland of unfiltered data”.

FintruX Network welcomes Bob Rinaldi to its Board of Directors (Leap Rate) Rated: B

FintruX Network, the global P2P lending ecosystem, has just announced a new addition to its Board of Directors, Bob Rinaldi, a serial entrepreneur and business director. FintruX Network is an online ecosystem that facilitates the lending and borrowing of finances to small businesses in a peer-to-peer marketplace powered by blockchain and no-code development.

Australia/New Zealand

Fintech startup Tic:Toc raises $ 11.5 million to take hassle out of home loan approvals (Smart Company) Rated: AAA

Aussie fintech startup Tic:Toc has raised $11.5 million in Series B funding in its bid to improve the customer service around home-loan approvals.

The funding round was led by Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia and La Trobe Financial, and also included some existing shareholders.

Heartland Bank unveils restructure plans (Interest) Rated: A

Heartland Bank says it’s planning a corporate restructure that will remove business growth constraints stemming from Reserve Bank regulation, and see it list on the Australian sharemarket.

The proposal is for a restructure of the Heartland Bank Ltd group of companies via a court approved scheme of arrangement under Part 15 of the Companies Act. The purpose of the restructure is to more clearly define the separation between Heartland Bank Ltd’s New Zealand and Australian businesses, and to enable it to access the most efficient forms of equity and debt funding, according to an NZX filing.

India

How RBI Is Solving P2P Lending Issues And India’s Credit Woes (Inc42) Rated: AAA

Over the past couple of years, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) in India have undergone major transformations to keep up with the growing demand in the country’s credit market.

Subsequent to the ease in regulations, a number of new NBFCs were established to supply credit to consumers. However, access to financial services was only restricted to a small segment of consumers/ borrowers with existing credit histories and profiles.

On the other hand, the unbanked sections of the population, or those with limited exposure to institutional credit were not affected much with these developments, finding themselves in more or less the same situation as before.

Latin America

Uruguay: Peer To Peer Lending In Uruguay (Mondaq) Rated: AAA

As the peer to peer lending market is quite embryonic, processional expertise is recommended to make sure the transactions are compliant and in keeping with existing and developing regulations.

Any new lending schemes in this field must be registered with the Central Bank of Uruguay, and payments must be legitimate and in line with existing regulations for the Prevention of Money Laundering.

Asia

Indonesian P2P lender Investree raises Series B round led by SBI Holdings (Deal Street Asia) Rated: AAA

Indonesian P2P firm Investree has announced the closing of a Series B investment in a round led by SBI Holdings and joined by Mandiri Capital Indonesia, Persada Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, 9F Fintech Holdings Group and previous backer Kejora Ventures.

The financial details of the round were not disclosed.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

What Led to the Think Finance Bankruptcy?

Think Finance

Post-2008 financial crisis, the alternative lending industry flourished providing access to quick funds to individuals and SMEs left in the lurch by their banks. Behind it’s unprecedented growth was also a weak regulatory framework and a risky business plan that sometimes involved circumventing states’ usury laws. Think Finance is the latest addition to the list […]

Think Finance

Post-2008 financial crisis, the alternative lending industry flourished providing access to quick funds to individuals and SMEs left in the lurch by their banks. Behind it’s unprecedented growth was also a weak regulatory framework and a risky business plan that sometimes involved circumventing states’ usury laws. Think Finance is the latest addition to the list of high-flying fintech startups that got crushed due to their inability to navigate lending laws and/or placate their principal backers over their performance.

Introduction

Think Finance was started in 2001 by Ken Rees in Fort Worth, Texas. It raised $60 million in venture capital from Sequoia Capital and others, and secured a $90 million credit facility from Victory Park Capital Advisors in 2010.

Think Finance is an online provider of software technology, analytics, loan servicing, and marketing services. Working with other companies, the offer and service lines of credit and installment loans over the internet throughout the United States. In 2013, with revenues of over $500 million, Think Finance was ranked #2 on the Forbes list of America’s Most Promising Companies. In 2014, the company did a strategic restructuring, resulting in the spinoff of a new independent company called Elevate, which became a five-time honoree on the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies (2010-2015).

Founder and CEO

Think Finance founder and former CEO Ken Rees is a serial entrepreneur, innovator, and veteran of the financial services industry. In 2001, he founded CashWorks Inc., a non-bank financial technology company in Dallas, served as CEO and president, and, in 2014, sold it to GE. After that, he founded Payday, one of the first online payday lenders. He moved on to head Elevate after the restructuring. Martin Wong, a financial industry veteran, with stints in Citigroup, Western Union, and Cigna, now leads the company.

Trouble in the “Think Finance” Paradise: Filing for Bankruptcy

Privately held Think Finance and five affiliated debtors filed for Chapter 11 protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Texas, lead case number 17-33964, on October 23, 2017. The company is represented by Gregory G. Hesse of Hunton & Williams.

According to documents filed with the court, “While Think Finance had intended to leverage its successful track-record and explore opportunities for continued growth and innovation in the fast-moving fintech industry, it has been forced to seek bankruptcy protection because of a liquidity crisis caused by hedge fund Victory Park Capital Advisors, LLC (‘Victory Park’). Victory Park has caused GPL Servicing, Ltd. (‘GPLS’) – an entity that owes Think Finance and its subsidiaries tens of millions of dollars – to stop paying Think Finance for its services and Victory Park has raided GPLS’s bank accounts. The scheduled payments from GPLS that Victory Park has intercepted represent a major component of Think Finance’s near-term cash flow. Without these funds, Think Finance soon could be forced to cease or substantially curtail its operations.”

Think Finance’s Chapter 11 petition indicates total assets greater than $100 million.

The debtors intend to continue in the possession of their respective properties and the management of their respective businesses as debtors in possession pursuant to sections 1107 and 1108 of the Bankruptcy Code.

What Caused This Meltdown?

Think Finance has been accused of being a predatory lender in multiple federal lawsuits. Along with the Chicago Hedge Fund, Victory Park Capital Advisors, the company was alleged to be running a “rent-a-tribe” scheme under which they were running investors’ money through a web of shell companies to make it look like legally-exempt Native Americans are making short-term, high-interest loans to needy borrowers.

Many lenders have used Native Tribes to dodge the usury law. The law targets the practice of charging excessively high rates on loans by setting caps on the maximum amount of interest that can be levied. But trouble brewed when Victory Park cut off Think Finance’s access to funds. Pennsylvania Attorney General has accused both of being active participants in this scheme.

Both parties are contesting the case on the grounds they do not fall under the scope of a “lender.” Think Finance is portraying itself as a financial technology provider, and Victory Park stated it merely provided money through “commercial transactions” that was used to make the online loans. Bankruptcy should help clear the air on how these transactions were actually structured. But for now, the company’s future looks bleak.

Final Nail? CFPB Sues Think Finance

“We are suing Think Finance for deceiving consumers into repaying loans they did not legally owe,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray. “Think Finance wrongly took money from people’s bank accounts, so we are seeking relief for consumers and a civil money penalty.”

The two main grounds for these accusations against Think Finance are:

  1. Think Finance allegedly conned consumers into making payments for a debt they did not owe – Usury laws void a loan if the rate charged exceeds the interest rate allowed by the state. Think Finance allegedly duped its customers into paying for the debt even though those loan agreements were void under the state’s usury laws. Moreover, ThinkFinance was allegedly unlicensed in some states thus rendering those loans void, as well.
  2. Think Finance allegedly collected loan payments that consumers did not owe – Think Finance, without the knowledge of its customers, allegedly transferred loan installments electronically from customer bank accounts and allegedly sent letters to customers asking for payments that they were not obligated to pay.

Therefore, the CFPB is seeking monetary relief for consumers, civil money penalties, and injunctive relief, including a prohibition on Think Finance’s collecting on void loans.

Conclusion

It is safe to say that Think Finance is in an extreme legal quagmire. In the bigger scheme of things, this situation throws light on the “shortcuts” used by fintech companies to grow their lending books. Think Finance’s bankruptcy feels like a tip of the iceberg. With regulations getting more stringent, more such cases are expected to pop up in the future.

Authors:

Written by Heena Dhir.

What Led to the Think Finance Bankruptcy?

Think Finance

Post-2008 financial crisis, the alternative lending industry flourished providing access to quick funds to individuals and SMEs left in the lurch by their banks. Behind it’s unprecedented growth was also a weak regulatory framework and a risky business plan that sometimes involved circumventing states’ usury laws. Think Finance is the latest addition to the list […]

Think Finance

Post-2008 financial crisis, the alternative lending industry flourished providing access to quick funds to individuals and SMEs left in the lurch by their banks. Behind it’s unprecedented growth was also a weak regulatory framework and a risky business plan that sometimes involved circumventing states’ usury laws. Think Finance is the latest addition to the list of high-flying fintech startups that got crushed due to their inability to navigate lending laws and/or placate their principal backers over their performance.

Introduction

Think Finance was started in 2001 by Mike Stinson in Fort Worth, Texas. Ken Rees replaced Stinson as CEO in 2004. The company raised $60 million in venture capital from Sequoia Capital and others, and secured a $90 million credit facility from Victory Park Capital Advisors in 2010.

Think Finance is an online provider of software technology, analytics, loan servicing, and marketing services. Working with other companies, the offer and service lines of credit and installment loans over the internet throughout the United States. In 2013, with revenues of over $500 million, Think Finance was ranked #2 on the Forbes list of America’s Most Promising Companies. In 2014, the company did a strategic restructuring, resulting in the spinoff of a new independent company called Elevate, which became a five-time honoree on the Inc. 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies (2010-2015).

Trouble in the “Think Finance” Paradise: Filing for Bankruptcy

Think Finance former CEO Ken Rees is a serial entrepreneur, innovator, and veteran of the financial services industry. In 2001, he founded CashWorks Inc., a non-bank financial technology company in Dallas, served as CEO and president, and, in 2004, sold it to GE. After that, he founded Payday, one of the first online payday lenders. He moved on to head Elevate after the restructuring. Martin Wong, a financial industry veteran, with stints in Citigroup, Western Union, and Cigna, now leads the company.

Privately held Think Finance and five affiliated debtors filed for Chapter 11 protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Texas, lead case number 17-33964, on October 23, 2017. The company is represented by Gregory G. Hesse of Hunton & Williams.

According to documents filed with the court, “While Think Finance had intended to leverage its successful track-record and explore opportunities for continued growth and innovation in the fast-moving fintech industry, it has been forced to seek bankruptcy protection because of a liquidity crisis caused by hedge fund Victory Park Capital Advisors, LLC (‘Victory Park’). Victory Park has caused GPL Servicing, Ltd. (‘GPLS’) – an entity that owes Think Finance and its subsidiaries tens of millions of dollars – to stop paying Think Finance for its services and Victory Park has raided GPLS’s bank accounts. The scheduled payments from GPLS that Victory Park has intercepted represent a major component of Think Finance’s near-term cash flow. Without these funds, Think Finance soon could be forced to cease or substantially curtail its operations.”

Think Finance’s Chapter 11 petition indicates total assets greater than $100 million.

The debtors intend to continue in the possession of their respective properties and the management of their respective businesses as debtors in possession pursuant to sections 1107 and 1108 of the Bankruptcy Code.

What Caused This Meltdown?

Think Finance has been accused of being a predatory lender in multiple federal lawsuits. Along with the Chicago Hedge Fund, Victory Park Capital Advisors, the company was alleged to be running a “rent-a-tribe” scheme under which they were running investors’ money through a web of shell companies to make it look like legally-exempt Native Americans are making short-term, high-interest loans to needy borrowers.

Many lenders have used Native Tribes to dodge the usury law. The law targets the practice of charging excessively high rates on loans by setting caps on the maximum amount of interest that can be levied. But trouble brewed when Victory Park cut off Think Finance’s access to funds. Pennsylvania Attorney General has accused both of being active participants in this scheme.

Both parties are contesting the case on the grounds they do not fall under the scope of a “lender.” Think Finance is portraying itself as a financial technology provider, and Victory Park stated it merely provided money through “commercial transactions” that was used to make the online loans. Bankruptcy should help clear the air on how these transactions were actually structured. But for now, the company’s future looks bleak.

Final Nail? CFPB Sues Think Finance

“We are suing Think Finance for deceiving consumers into repaying loans they did not legally owe,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray. “Think Finance wrongly took money from people’s bank accounts, so we are seeking relief for consumers and a civil money penalty.”

The two main grounds for these accusations against Think Finance are:

  1. Think Finance allegedly conned consumers into making payments for a debt they did not owe – Usury laws void a loan if the rate charged exceeds the interest rate allowed by the state. Think Finance allegedly duped its customers into paying for the debt even though those loan agreements were void under the state’s usury laws. Moreover, ThinkFinance was allegedly unlicensed in some states thus rendering those loans void, as well.
  2. Think Finance allegedly collected loan payments that consumers did not owe – Think Finance, without the knowledge of its customers, allegedly transferred loan installments electronically from customer bank accounts and allegedly sent letters to customers asking for payments that they were not obligated to pay.

Therefore, the CFPB is seeking monetary relief for consumers, civil money penalties, and injunctive relief, including a prohibition on Think Finance’s collecting on void loans.

Conclusion

It is safe to say that Think Finance is in an extreme legal quagmire. In the bigger scheme of things, this situation throws light on the “shortcuts” used by fintech companies to grow their lending books. Think Finance’s bankruptcy feels like a tip of the iceberg. With regulations getting more stringent, more such cases are expected to pop up in the future.

Authors:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Monday August 7 2017, Daily News Digest

LendingClub

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi Ventures to support financial services startups. Prosper’s valuation dives 70%. Fundrise drops minimum investment to $500 for New Starter Portfolio Offering. UK P2P lenders asked to reveal past defaults. Hargreaves Lansdown cancels special dividend. FinMason expands into Prague. PledgeMe close to profitability. Today’s main analysis: LendingClub is looking beleaguered. Australian fintech update. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Surge […]

LendingClub

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

Australia/New Zealand

India

Asia

Africa

Barbados

News Summary

United States

SoFi Ventures to support financial services startups (Pitchbook), Rated: AAA

SoFi, a provider of online lending and wealth management services, has launched a strategic VC arm led by 

Surge in FinTech Financings; PeerIQ Closes Series A (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

This past week featured a slate of fintech venture financings. Kabbage (Series F: $250M), Dianrong (Series D: $220M), Bread (Series B: $126M), and Juvo (Series B: $40M) all announced major financings.

And last, but not least, , led by TransUnion, Hearst Financial Venture Fund, and Macquarie Group.

For PeerIQ, it means continuing to execute upon the vision we shared at our seed financing just over two years ago. This fall, we will be launching our first products uniting TransUnion’s dataset with the PeerIQ analytics platform.

Along with its investment, Hearst brings several major holding companies, including auto data provider, BlackBook, and Fitch Ratings, the global ratings provider, which opens up many new value propositions for our customers. Finally, we are working hand in hand with Macquarie, a major provider of capital to the fintech space, to improve tools for warehouse lenders and their borrowers alike.

Lending Club Is Looking Beleaguered Heading Into Q2’s Do-Or-Die Earnings (Seeking Alpha), Rated: AAA

Source: Thomson Reuters Eikon, image made by James Brumley

Fast forward to Monday. That’s when Lending Club is expected to log another progressive quarter, cranking revenue up to $136.2 million, and whittle the per-share loss back to only one cent; the company lost nine cents per share on $103.4 million in sales for the same quarter a year earlier. Not only is revenue expected to keep growing beyond that, Lending Club is expected to swing back to a profit in Q3, of two cents per share.

Fintech lender Prosper’s valuation dives 70% in latest funding round (Biz Journals), Rated: AAA

San Francisco fintech Prosper is about to close on $50 million in funding, in a round that slashes its value 70 percent to $550 million, The Information reports .

That a steep decrease from the $1.9 billion valuation the second-largest online lender saw just last year.

Fundrise Drops Minimum Investment to $ 500 in New Starter Portfolio Offering (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

The Fundrise Starter Portfolio starts with a $500 minimum and includes a 9.25% annual dividend yield and zero advisory fees through the end of the year. If you want to try it out the Starter Portfolio comes with a 90 day guarantee. If you have a change of heart, Fundrise will purchase your investment back at the original investment amount. Not a bad deal to test the waters.

Online Lender Prosper in Talks on Deal That Would Slash Its Value (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Prosper Marketplace Inc. is in talks to sell a roughly 10% stake to a Chinese conglomerate in a deal that could reduce the online lender’s valuation by more than two-thirds, according to people familiar with the matter.

Under the terms of the proposed transaction, Linca would invest $50 million in Prosper at a valuation of about $550 million. No deal has been finalized, however, and there was no guarantee the parties would come to an agreement, the people said.

David Kimball, who took over as Prosper’s CEO last December, has been focused on making the company profitable. In February, to ensure a funding source for the company’s loans, Mr. Kimball agreed to sell $5 billion worth of Prosper’s loans to a consortium of investors over the next two years along with warrants to purchase shares representing 35% of the company, The Wall Street Journal previously reported.

Small Change Completes First Real Estate Crowdfunding Offer Under Reg CF (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Real estate investment crowdfunding site Small Change has closed its first real estate offering available to everyone – not just accredited investors.

Small Change reports that investors have funded projects via their platform in cities including Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Washington D.C. These projects are as diverse as the cities in which they’ve been built. They include Pittsburgh’s first tiny house, a historic main street mixed-use conversion, and affordable housing in Washington, D.C. with the largest residential solar install in the country.

Small Change has now completed its first offering open to all investors — a Starter Home Two project by architect Jonathan Tate.

WSFS Introduces Private Student Lending Solutions (WSFS), Rated: A

WSFS Financial Corporation (Nasdaq:WSFS), the parent company of WSFS Bank, today announced that it is now offering Private Student Lending Solutions, expanding its consumer lending product line to bridge the funding gap that exists between the actual cost of higher education and the federal aid, grants and scholarships available.

WSFS is partnering with LendKey.

SoFi to finally file for IPO? (Housingwire), Rated: A

Social Finance, better known as SoFi, first teased it would file for an initial public offering nearly three years ago.

SoFi CEO Mike Cagney appears to be interested in filing for an IPO again.

If SoFi did file for an IPO, it would mark the second major IPO for a housing-related company after a dry spell the last few years.

According to an article in Reuters by Lisa Lambert, “Last year IPOs in the United States fell by more than a third from 2015, and many of those 102 share offerings ended up trading below their debut price.”

Renters Insurance: PolicyGenius vs. Lemonade (Coverager), Rated: A

Yesterday, NYC-based digital broker PolicyGenius announced its expansion to renters insurance. The product is delivered in collaboration with Stillwater.

Another thing happened yesterday. Lemonade announced its renters and homeowner’s insurance is now available to folks in NJ, joining those residing in CA, IL and NY.

The result: Stillwater was 40% more expensive than Lemonade, all else equal.

Fluid Strikes Strategic Partnership with Nomad Credit (LendIt), Rated: B

Fintech and adtech startup Fluid announced a strategic partnership with Nomad Credit, a financial marketplace for international students in the US; the partnership looks to offer better credit options to this underserved market; together the companies will deliver better financial literacy, credit building tools and more cost effective financial products.

Here’s how start-ups get funded before they’re ready for venture capital (CNBC), Rated: B

Fledgling businesses rarely command seed or venture funding right out of the gate. But they still need cash to get started.

In reality, there’s a big difference between securing a loan for your business and winning over backers on a site like Kickstarter. Meanwhile, equity crowdfunding, enabled by sites like AngelList, CircleUp and SeedInvest, is generally for businesses that are further along.

Here are the real ways that most entrepreneurs get money at the very start.

  • Personal savings
  • Wages
  • Credit cards
  • Loans
  • Crowdfunding

Countering West Coast Pull, by Helping Finance Start-Ups Sell in New York (The New York Times), Rated: A

Nine of the 15 United States financial technology “unicorns” — companies worth $1 billion or more, as tracked by CB Insights — are in the San Francisco area. These Bay Area companies, which are not public, include the online payments processor Stripe, the online lender Social Finance and the finance website Credit Karma.

For the last seven years, a New York business-backed program — the FinTech Innovation Lab — has been working to stem that West Coast tide by helping financial services start-ups sell their services in New York in an industry where the city clearly dominates: big banks and other finance companies.

Make Delaware the financial technology capital (Delaware Online), Rated: A

One such “industry of the future” that Delaware should be working to attract is the financial technology sector, or what some affectionately call “FinTech. Empowered by mobile computing, these companies use technology to bring better, cheaper, more efficient financial services to citizens. Mobile apps that allow you to send money quickly to friends or family are examples of FinTech products.

For a number of reasons, Delaware is well-suited to become the nation’s FinTech capital. First, the financial services industry has served as a core portion of Delaware’s economy for over 40 years. Individuals with skills and expertise are ready and waiting.

Second, banks, of which many call Delaware home, are leading the way in partnering with startups large and small to develop new solutions and businesses in the space.

Third, Delaware’s nimble government and business community make it a flexible, attractive place for innovation.

Is an Online Business Loan Your Best Option? (Nav), Rated: B

There should be no surprise that with the growth of the internet and online banking that online lending would be close to follow. Over time, banks began to accept loan applications online and eventually began to offer full-service lending through the web.

While online loans may be tempting, it is important to consider every option when borrowing a large sum. Comparison shopping is your friend. There are more than 44 different kinds of business financing — that’s a large ocean to navigate before finding the lowest-cost option that fits your business profile and approval chances.

Nonbank lenders typically lend from their own funds or look to the financial markets to raise millions or billions of dollars to lend in smaller increments.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to get started:

  • How much money do you need to borrow?
  • Do you need an in-person experience or are you comfortable online?
  • What are the best interest rates available today?
  • What origination fees are you willing to pay?
United Kingdom

UK’s peer-to-peer lenders to be asked to reveal past defaults (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

The FCA is expected to announce new measures later this year, including forcing P2P groups to give extra information on the past performance of loans and on how much due diligence they have done on the borrowers’ past performance.

P2P lenders — which had collectively facilitated loans of £7.3bn in the UK by the end of last year, according to research from the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA) — have had plenty of time to prepare for tighter regulation.

The FCA’s latest review is the second in two years, and any measures are unlikely to come in before mid-2018, since the industry will be given between three and six months to respond to the proposals the authority puts forward later this year.

Hargreaves Lansdown Cancels Special Dividend After Regulator Warns on Capital (The New York Times), Rated: AAA

Fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown cancelled a planned special dividend on Friday after Britain’s financial regulator said the company needed to shore up its capital base, sending its shares lower.

The company plans to launch its HL Savings product later in the year, a cash deposit service supported by marketplace lending, and this year also launched Lifetime ISAs, or individual savings accounts eligible for a government bonus.

Distribution still keeping the wheels of credit turning (Computer Weekly), Rated: A

A recent survey revealed a third of SMEs in the IT sector have missed out on business opportunities because of a lack of finance. Distributors have long been a major source of credit for SME resellers but with consolidation taking place in distribution through mergers and acquisitions, the sources of credit available to resellers are being reduced.

One distributor that has publicly taken the initiative on credit is Exertis. The company recently introduced a programme called Credit Xtra with the intention of doubling the credit limit for more than 1,650 of its SMB accounts. There is also the option to increase the limit further if resellers remain within the distributor’s credit terms.

Dow believes that it is especially important to offer extra credit at this time of year, when resellers are targeting the peak summertime buying period in education.

LendInvest closes retail bond offer early (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

LENDINVEST has closed its bond offer early, due to strong demand from both retail and institutional investors.

The online mortgage lender launched the five-year notes on 19 July and the offer was scheduled to close at noon on Friday. However, it closed the offer at 11.30am on Thursday.

It said estimated net proceeds from the offer would be just under £49m and confirmed that the issue date will be 10 August.

Kantox raises £4.6 million from investors as it targets profitability (Business Insider), Rated: A

Foreign exchange fintech company Kantox has raised £4.6 million from its existing investors as it aims for profitability.

Filings with Companies House show Kantox raised the sum at the end of July.

Kantox, founded in 2011, made an operating loss of £258,538 on revenues of £2.3 million in 2015, the most recent year accounts are available for.

LendingCrowd offers cashback incentive (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

LENDINGCROWD has launched a £150 cashback offer to investors when adding £2,500 or more amid surging demand from borrowers for business loans.

The offer, which runs until 31 August, is available to new and existing investors and can be used in its Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA.)

Competition regulator confirms P2P business lenders exempt from APR rules (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

NEW pricing rules on business loans will not apply to peer-to-peer lenders, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has confirmed.

From today, all providers of unsecured loans and overdrafts worth up to £25,000 to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), will have to publish and clearly display the annual percentage rates (APRs.)

It had previously been unclear if this would apply to P2P and alternative finance lenders but the CMA confirmed to Peer2Peer Finance News this morning that it would not.

Can P2P Lending Kill NBFCs? (TechBullion), Rated: A

NBFCs, on the other hand, are the Non-Banking Financial Companies.

Does P2P lending offer such a serious threatto NBFCs and can P2P lending kill NBFCs? We write an informative review to let you know!

While NBFCs mostly deal with the unbanked population, P2P concentrate on the businesses that are usually locked out by traditional lenders and also on the tech-savvy individuals.

While P2P platforms have embraced the use of modern technology, NBFCs have failed in the use of technology. This has really affected their growth as they cannot really compete efficiently in the modern world.

Should you go with the crowd? (MoneyWeek), Rated: B

The returns available to investors aren’t as high as they used to be, but they’re still much, much more than you’d get putting your money in a deposit account. But there’s a very good reason for that. It’s an awful lot riskier too. You’re not covered by the financial services compensation scheme – which safeguards up to £85,000 of your savings if your bank goes bust. That means you cold lose everything.

China

Hexindai Partners with China UnionPay to Launch a Mobile Payment Function to Its App (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Hexindai Inc. (“Hexindai” or “the Company”), a fast-growing consumer lending marketplace in China, today announced that it has partnered with China UnionPay to launch its “Quick Pass” app on Hexindai’s mobile platform. The app will allow investors on the Company’s platform to use surplus funds that have not been lent out to pay for goods and services provided by stores partnered with China UnionPay by scanning a QR code created by the app.

Huge Internet finance firms to be assessed (Shanghai Daily), Rated: A

CHINA will explore methods to include large Internet financial businesses of systemic importance in its macro prudential assessment, said a central bank report issued late Friday.

The first peer-to-peer lending platform opened in 2007, and exploded in popularity, with the number of such platforms increasing 18-fold between 2012 and 2015 and the combined transaction volume jumping about 40 times over the period, said the State Information Center.

Inclusive finance to lift fintech firms (China Daily), Rated: A

Financial technology or fintech companies, particularly those focused on credit analysis, will greatly reduce cost of lending and also reduce credit risks. So, they are likely to experience fast growth on market demand as commercial banks are joining the inclusive finance market.

That market is currently dominated by smaller, private financial institutions, such as peer-to-peer or P2P lending platforms and consumer finance platforms.

In China, only 30 percent of citizens are covered by existing credit reporting system, while in mature markets the percentage could be 70 percent or higher.

By the end of July, the five biggest banks in China-Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications and Bank of China-had launched inclusive finance arms, just two months after the authorities concerned called for better financial services for a wider group of people across China.

European Union

FinMason Announces International Expansion: Opens Operations in Prague (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Boston-based fintech and investment analytics firm, FinMason, announced its international expansion plans and the opening of a new operations center based in Prague. The company stated the initial expansion will include the hiring of twenty software engineers to keep pace with the rapid growth and development needs of the company.

The company shared that FinMason Europe, s.r.o., opened August 1st and the first employees have already started.

Vendorly Adds Three New Companies to Vendor Oversight Platform (Markets Insider), Rated: AAA

Vendorly, an innovative vendor oversight platform for financial institutions, today announced the continued expansion of its platform through the addition of three new third-party oversight integrations available on the Vendorly™ platform. These additions further enable our customers to enhance their compliance management framework and help them maintain the high oversight standards required in today’s marketplace.

Continuing this momentum, the new vendor oversight additions to the Vendorly platform include:

  • Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE: DNB)— Vendorly customers now have access to Dun & Bradstreet data to help make smarter decisions about their current and prospective vendor network.
  • The ID Co. — With DirectID, Vendorly customers now have the ability to conduct bank verification for current and prospective vendors in their network, to reduce fraud and misrepresentation prior to payment.
  • TINCheck — Vendorly customers now have the ability to validate the tax ID of all organizations in their current and prospective vendor network.

iFunded Tackles Large Project With Bond Issue (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

A new entrant in German online real estate lending, iFunded wants to address the market of larger property development projects that lie beyond the scope of real estate crowdfunding. Partnering with umbrella investment bank NFS Netfonds Financial Service, the platform is launching its first €10 million real estate bond issue, to be listed on the open market of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. With this, iFunded leads, for the real estate online funding segment, the Fintech startup trend that consists in moving from exemption/sandbox status to a fully regulated financial environment.

According to Crowdfunding.de, in the first half of 2017, German online real estate crowdlending platforms raised €58 million, 45% more than in the entire year of 2016.

In July 2017, iFunded launched its first public bond offering, what motivated you as a company to add the classical fundraising channel to your online real estate platform?

Real estate crowdfunding in Germany has grown very significantly recently and will reach between €100 and €120 million by the end of 2017. However, it still is small.

Our first project Eisenzahnstrasse Berlin is a €10 million bond issue (ISIN: DE000A2E4FQ5) with a 3.5-year maturity and 5.5% interest rate. It is destined to transform an exi property into 281 flats, including a penthouse, and 2,400 sqm commercial space. The total estimated budget is €49.6 million and the expected income €67 million.

Robo-adviser Moneyfarm expects profitability by 2019 (Citywire), Rated: A

European robo-adviser Moneyfarm expects to become profitable by 2019 as it looks to bring to market new products in the coming months.

The Italian firm filed its 2016 financial statements this morning, announcing expansion to 10,000 customers in the UK and £260 million in global assets under management (AUM), which renders it the second largest robo-adviser in Europe.

The firm has reported total losses of £6.4 million in 2016, but claims this was in line with its agreed targets.

Kildare businesses raise over €1m through Linked Finance (Leinster Leader), Rated: B

Linked Finance, Ireland’s leading peer-to-peer (P2P) lending company has raised over €1m for Kildare-based businesses.

36 Kildare businesses including well-known businesses Kelly’s Mountain Brew, Celbridge Playzone, and The Academy Barber, have used the Linked Finance platform to raise funds and facilitate business growth.

International

Analog Regulations Built for the Traditional Banking Space are not Conducive to Fostering Innovation in Financial Services (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Mueller notes that Singapore and the UK were the early leaders in Fintech innovation as the respective governments determined it was of strategic importance. With government backing, Fintech flourished.

But there are many challenges for this transformation that is occurring at a breakneck speed. And as Mueller says;

“analog regulations built for the traditional banking space are not conducive to fostering innovation in a financial services industry turned digital.”

Mueller bullets out intrinsic challenges to the existing regulatory ecosystem:

  • Fear of failure has resulted in some regulators taking a go slow approach instead of being proactive. When things go wrong – who gets the blame?
  • Complexity in Fintech requires new skills. Regulatory agencies are typically populated with people entrenched in well defined processes. There is a lack of proper skills and staffing.
  • Internal culture may not be willing to adapt. Changing processes is always a challenge. A cohesive policy strategy is missing.
  • Fintech innovators may struggle to engage and communicate with a regulator. Fear of engagement harms us all

Yes, some countries are blazing trails in Fintech and the list of countries pursuing a Fintech Hub status is growing. Without acknowledging the elephant in the room that the US is not at the top of this list (even though it is the leading global financial center) is telling about the regulatory morass elected officials have allowed to persist.

Read the full report here.

FinTech and the world of investment banking (Brave New Coin), Rated: A

Global banks and investment banks are far more complex creatures than their high street counterparts, which is why we’ve seen far less disruption in corporate, commercial and wholesale banking that we are seeing in retail, but don’t be complacent or closed here. There are things happening in the more complex areas too.

While fintech covers a diverse array of companies, business models, and technologies, companies generally fall into several key verticals, including:

Lending tech: Lending companies on the list include primarily peer-to-peer lending platforms as well as underwriter and lending platforms using machine learning technologies and algorithms to assess creditworthiness.

Payments/billing tech: Payments and billing tech companies span from solutions to facilitate payments processing to payment card developers to subscription billing software tools.

Personal finance/wealth management: Tech companies that help individuals manage their personal bills, accounts and/or credit, as well as manage their personal assets and investments.

Money transfer/remittance: Money transfer companies include primarily peer-to-peer platforms to transfer money between individuals across countries.

Blockchain/bitcoin: Companies here span key software or technology firms in the distributed ledger space, ranging from bitcoin wallets to security providers to sidechains.

Institutional/capital markets tech: Companies either providing tools to financial institutions such as banks, hedge funds, mutual funds, or other institutional investors. These range from alternative trading systems to financial modelling and analysis software.

Equity crowdfunding: Platforms that allow a collection of individuals to provide monetary contributions for projects or companies provisioned in the form of equity.

Insurance tech: Companies creating new underwriting, claims, distribution and brokerage platforms, enhanced customer experience offerings, and software-as-a-service to help insurers deal with legacy IT issues

Source: Brave New Coin

Meantime, rather than ignoring these changes, the biggest banks are investing in them. Since 2012, the ten largest US banks by assets participated in 72 rounds of investment totalling $3.6 billion in 56 FinTech companies whilst, in Europe, Banco Santander leads with the most number of unique investments to FinTech startups. The firm has made 13 investments to 12 unique fintech startups. The largest investment was a $135 million in Q3 2015 to small business lender Kabbage, that also included participation from ING among other investors.

Alt-Lending Enjoys Sudden Investment Revival (PYMNTS), Rated: A

This week alone saw two examples of those concerns in action: One U.S. lawmaker, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) sent a letter to five alternative small business lenders operating in the country, inquiring about their business practices.

This week also saw one alternative lender in the U.K., DueCourse, fall into administration.

All of this makes it even more surprising that alternative lending startups, by far, secured the greatest amount of investment this week – pushing half a billion dollars, in fact.

PYMNTS breaks down the major AltFin investment rounds, plus covers the other B2B FinTechs that were able to secure new funding.

Australia/New Zealand

PledgeMe closes in on profitability in 2017, weighs up new product development (NZ Herald), Rated: AAA

PledgeMe came within cooee of turning a profit in the 2017 financial year, boosting revenue from fees to use its equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platform while also clamping down on costs, and is considering adding another string to its bow which that could need another capital injection.

The Wellington-based company narrowed its annual loss to $11,228 in the 12 months ended March 31 from $398,611 a year earlier as revenue climbed 55 per cent to $268,473 and operating costs were slashed 48 per cent to $288,502.

Fintech Australia Shares 2017 Australian Fintech Update (Infographic) (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

On Saturday, Fintech Australia released a new infographic that revealed more details about the Australian fintech industry’s successes so far this year.

 

Non-bank loans gain momentum in tough lending regime (The Sydney Morning Herald), Rated: A

We have seen demand for construction loans between $10 million and $30 million spike 20 per cent per cent over the last six months as Tier 1 banks are quickly tightening both pre-sales thresholds and loan-to-valuation ratios on new developments.

One area of the greatest demand for non-bank finance is coming from Chinese property developers, who do not have the track record or Australian assets to provide comfort to the major lenders.

Peer-to-peer lending models, like that of Chifley Securities, allow us to access investor funds to progress these developments, as we are applying different, more nuanced assessment of the risks associated with these loans.

Will property crowdfunding take off in Australia? (Your Investment Property), Rated: A

A new study conducted by the University of South Australia (UniSA) in partnership with DomaCom, suggests that crowdfunding could become a viable new vehicle for investors trying to make headway into the country’s increasingly challenging property market.

Braam Lowies, the study’s lead researcher, noted that while the concept was relatively new in Australia, it had been successful in the United States and United Kingdom for approximately seven years.

India

Wadhawan Global takes second UK bet, invests Rs 175 crore (India Times), Rated: A

Wadhawan Global Capital (WGC), which owns 38% of Dewan Housing FinanceBSE 0.07 %, has invested Rs 175 crore in London-based mortgage financer Neyber, marking it’s second investment through the newly set up UK arm as it seeks to expand its global footprint.

Why PPF is like a safety jacket for investors of P2P lending (India Times), Rated: A

Those who do not back the idea of PPF believe investors should carry the risk of loss as the principal idea of P2P Lending is to offer investors an “alternative investment route”. The P2P Lending platform, at best, can try to strengthen the risk-assessment processes by making the optimal use of technological innovations.

While the other camp which is in favour of PPF opines that it is not a luxury but a necessity at the moment as it will only instill confidence among the investors. And, it’s not about disbelieving one’s capabilities.

Asia

Consultation by MAS on the provision of robo-advisory services in Singapore (Lexology), Rated: AAA

A summary of the proposals put forward by MAS in the Consultation Paper is set out below.

  1. Expansion of licensing exemptions

    (a) Expansion of licensing exemption for dealings in securities other than CIS

    (b) Expansion of licensing exemption for provision of fund management services incidental to advisory activities

  2. Dispensation with prior client approval for each and every rebalancing transaction
  3. Case-by-case exemption from collecting full information on the financial circumstances of clients
  4. Relaxation of criteria for CMS licences in fund management for digital advisers
  5. Development, monitoring and testing of client-facing tools
  6. Provision of information on algorithms and conflicts of interest
  7. Responsibility of the board and senior management

MAS Establishes Payments Council (LATTICE80 Email), Rated: A

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on 2 August that it will establish a Payments Council, comprising 20 leaders from banks, payment service providers, businesses,and trade  associations. Members are appointed for a two-year term and chaired by Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director, MAS. The Payment Council marks the vision of an e-payments society, fostering collaboration between providers and users of payment services in Singapore.

Green Packet an emerging fintech play (The Star), Rated: A

Communication and technology services company Green Packet Bhd is eyeing an expansion into a new growth area – the mobile payment solutions segment, an area poised for disruptions through technology.

According to the 2016 Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes survey, 74% of Malaysians prefer to make electronic payments instead of cash, an increase of 8% compared with 2015. In fact, Visa indicated in a separate study that seven in ten Malaysians are willing to use mobile wallets.

Hyperintelligent banking in the fickle era of social media (Inquirer.net), Rated: A

Such is the case of American banking giant Citi, which sees itself as a technology company with a banking license, having introduced video banking recently in India.

Video banking is seen suitable especially in wealth management, which is part of the regional consumer business led by Selva. This is a segment where customers need trust and constant advice.

Citi receives 70 million calls a year, almost half of which are answered by a phone agent. The bank usually spends about 30 to 45 seconds validating the call, asking the client his or her mother’s maiden name, date of birth and details about the last transaction.

In the Philippines, Citi now implements voice-enabled biometrics for easier client verification. Citi is likewise moving toward facial recognition.

Fintech Buys Stake in Exchange (finews), Rated: B

GSX, which owns and operates the Gibraltar Stock Exchange, said on Friday that Cyberhub Fintech Holdings Limited is a new strategic shareholder. Cyberhub is a unit of Broctagon, a derivatives trading technology provider.

The stock exchange also wants to become the world’s first to fully integrate blockchain technology.

Africa

The role of financial advisers in raising national savings levels (Biz Community), Rated: A

According to the 2017 Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor, working South Africans allocate only 15% of their incometowards savings.

Naidoo explained that these statistics emphasise the extent of the national savings deficit and the large gap that exists between targeted economic growth of 5.4% per year, as per the NDP, and the ability of the South African economy to fund that growth.

Naidoo believes that financial services providers and advisers have a vital responsibility to promote a savings culture via collaborative advice and financial literacy efforts.

Barbados

Carilend seeing ‘phenomenal’ growth (Loop News Barbados), Rated: AAA

Just three months in and Barbados’ sole peer-to-peer lending company, Carilend, is seeing tremendous success with 100 percent of its loans.

With over 900 registered users on the site to date, the team at Carilend has been amazed at the response they have received.

Carilend reported their “average” Borrower is borrowing $8,617 for 43 months at an average interest rate of 11.34%. Whilst all applications receive an answer in one working day, Carilend recently approved a brand new Borrower in 2 hours; 22 minutes from receipt of their initial application.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Monday July 24 2017, Daily News Digest

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News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi loses another senior executive. Prosper performance update for June 2017. Lending-Times listed as #3 P2P lending website. Zopa’s lent 2.46B GBP since March 2005. Zopa sees 35% rise in home improvement loan originations. Revolut partners with robo-advisor. Today’s main analysis: A closer look at Amazon’s lending business. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 5 ICO platforms in China. A […]

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News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

Australia/New Zealand

India

Asia

Canada

News Summary

United States

SoFi loses another senior executive, as chief revenue officer Michael Tannenbaum departs (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

Online finance startup SoFi has lost yet another senior executive, the company has confirmed. Chief revenue officer Michael Tannenbaum is the latest exec to leave, following a string of departures in the company’s senior ranks.

Tannenbaum joined SoFi as VP of finance in 2014, but quickly moved up the ranks over the last few years. After the company moved beyond its student loan refinancing business to also include mortgages, he took over that business.

Most recently, Tannenbaum served as CRO, where he was responsible for driving the company’s growth strategy across all of SoFi’s core lending products, including student loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans.

Tannenbaum is reportedly looking to work on his own startup in the finance space, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A Close Look at Amazon’s Lending Business (Market Realist), Rated: AAA

Amazon (AMZN) has disbursed more than $1.0 billion in small business loans in the past 12 months, implying that the company has supplied about $2.5 billion in loans to sellers on its marketplace since it launched its credit business in 2011. These loans, in the range of $1,000 to $750,000, have gone to more than 20,000 sellers in the United States (SPY), the United Kingdom (EWU), and Japan (EWJ).

The consumer interest in low-cost or free shipping, as highlighted by the survey, could embolden Amazon to add even more perks to Prime to make it more attractive. Prime is vital to Amazon as it fends off competition from the likes of eBay (EBAY), Wal-Mart (WMT), and Target (TGT). According to research company Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, there are more than 80 million Prime subscribers in the United States (SPY).

Prosper Performance Update: June 2017 (Prosper), Rated: AAA

Today we are sharing performance data from the Prosper portfolio for June 2017.

  • The weighted average borrower rate for Prosper’s June 2017 vintage is similar to May 2017, a continuation of a platform rate which is the highest since 2013.
  • Delinquencies for 2017 originations are tracking near 2016 H1 and are in line with expectations based on a materially riskier ratings distribution.
  • Prepayments continue to edge up for 2016 H2 and 2017 vintages.
  • When viewing the U.S. consumer through a macro lens and looking more granularly at Prosper’s loan performance, our risk team expects to continue tightening credit over the remainder of the year.

Top 100 Peer to Peer Lending Blogs and Websites for P2P Borrowers and Lenders (Feedspot), Rated: AAA

#1 Lend Academy

About Blog – Lend Academy is the leading resource for people interested in peer to peer lending. Lend Academy has been bringing you all the news and information about peer to peer lending since 2010. Founded by Peter Renton, Lend Academy not only has the most active news site, but also the largest online forum and the first and most popular podcast in the industry.
Frequency – about 5 posts per week

#2 P2P-Banking

About Blog – P2P Lending Marketplace News and Reviews
Frequency – about 2 posts per week

#3 Lending Times 

About Blog – Daily News, Analysis and Data for the Alternative,Peer-to-peer (p2p) and Marketplace lending space. Lending Times provides daily News, Analisys and News Digest for the Peer to Peer and Alternative Lending industry. We also provide data for the industry.
Frequency – about 9 posts per week

Robo-advice pioneers target ethical investors (AltFi), Rated: A

U.S.-based platforms Wealthfront and Betterment are joining the green investing trend, giving users the option to invest in socially responsible companies.

The rivals are approaching the green investment options differently. Betterment is investing in ETFs that track socially responsible indexes. Wealthfront will allow users to invest directly in stocks and screen out four areas that might not match their socially conscious criteria, including fossil fuels, deforestation, tobacco and weapons.

The Amazon Model: Can New-Age Technology and Local Touch Co-Exist in Lending? (Forbes), Rated: A

Online lending has doubled in size every year since 2010, and the global marketplace lending space is expected to reach $290 billion by 2020, a 50 percent growth year-over-year, according to a Morgan Stanley report.

SurveyMonkey study released this month found that millennials (defined as 18- to 34-year-olds) tend to adhere to traditional methods of banking. In fact, 80 percent of millennials surveyed say they want to be able to visit a brick-and-mortar bank branch, and more than half reported visiting a branch at least once in the last month. Even the most digitally connected generation in history values personal touch when it comes to financial transactions.

Fed panel puts faster payments on three-year track (American Banker), Rated: A

A panel convened by the Federal Reserve has established an ambitious new goal: By 2020, anyone with a bank account in the United States should be able to receive payments that are highly secure and delivered in something close to real time.

The three-year target is disclosed in the final report of a task force organized by the Fed two years ago.

Ben Miller of Fundrise (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Non-accredited investors have always had fewer investment options than accredited investors. That is starting to improve as some companies take advantage of a law called Regulation A+, created as part of the JOBS Act, to do offerings to the general public.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • The story behind the founding of Fundrise.
  • How the financial crisis shaped the way Ben thought about raising capital.
  • How Fundrise put together their investor deal before the JOBS Act.
  • Why the non-accredited investor is core to Fundrise’s mission.
  • How Fundrise has evolved since doing those early deals.
  • How their eREITs work.
  • The differences between a publicly traded REIT and a Fundrise eREIT.
  • How Fundrise sources their deals.
  • Details of their successful Reg A+ equity fundraise early in 2017.
  • Why Ben thinks Fundrise can be the Blackstone of the internet age.
  • And more

Robo-advisors: The future of investing or the latest financial craze? (Tennessean), Rated: A

Technology has undoubtedly created, destroyed and changed countless industries in the last 20 years.

The financial services has not been immune to this disruption. In 1980, there were approximately 5,500 people working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Today, that number has dwindled to around 700.

In the United States, there are currently over 200 robo-advisors and more are launching every single day. In general, the fees associated with this new way of investment advice range from free to about 0.75 percent. There is normally not a minimum that is needed to start investing, unlike many financial advisors.

Crowd Invest Summit (CIS) has announced that Indiegogo and their equity crowdfunding vertical has joined it’s roster for CIS West 2017.

Applied Data Finance, iHeartMedia, announce marketing agreement (Bankless Times), Rated: B

Fintech lender and asset manager Applied Data Finance (ADF) has signed a marketing agreement with iHeartMedia which will see ADF promote its online lender Personify Financialacross the iHeartMedia series of networks.

‘Fedcoin’ Strikes Again: Fintech Companies Propose Use of Crypto to US Fed (Coin Telegraph), Rated: B

In a report by the Faster Payment Task Force, fintech companies have outlined how Blockchain technology can be used to make payments faster for the US Federal Reserve.

The companies that submitted their proposals include Ripple, Eccho, Xalgorithm, Hub Culture, Kalypton Group, Nanopay Corporation and Thought Matrix Consulting.

United Kingdom

Zopa Has Lent £2.46 Billion Since March 2005 (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

While revealing a “refresher” of its lending policies, UK-based peer-to-peer lender, Zopa, announced that as of July 20th it has lent £2.46 billion and is lending around £80m per month.

Zopa also noted that it believes diversification is a key tool for the individual investor risk mitigation. The lending platform notably spreads investments across multiple loans, starting in £10 chunks, so that no one borrower has more than 1% of the overall investment.

Zopa sees 35pc rise in home improvement loan originations (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

ZOPA said it has seen a 35 per cent year-on-year increase in home improvement loan originations in the first half of 2017, equating to over £92m in funding.

The world’s oldest peer-to-peer lender said on Wednesday that it has now helped over 70,000 people to renovate their home and increase the value of their property.

P2P lender joins bank lobby group (AltFi), Rated: A

ArchOver is now a member of UK Finance, a recently created trade body for the banking and financial sector.

Other P2P lenders, including Landbay, are already part of UK Finance.

HLnot selling new Lendinvest Retail Bond at launch (Money Forums), Rated: A

Lendinvest have issued a 5.25 percent ORB Retail Bond.

Hargreaves Landsdown have decided not to participate in the IPO so unless investors who use that platform set up an account elsewhere, e.g. Interactive Investor, it isn’t possible to buy at launch as the bond has to be in a nominee account.

A New Era in Fintech Payment Innovations? (Law.ox.ac.uk), Rated: A

forthcoming paper in Law, Innovation and Technology laces payment innovations within a payment system. The payment system comprises the initiation of payments, transfer, as well as clearing and settlement. We argue that existing payment systems are defined by certain institutional tenets that serve commercial objectives, but, more importantly, deliver public goods and public interest objectives for users and policy-makers.

Three types of payment innovations have been hailed to have disruptive potential in recent developments. First, innovations in retail payment interfaces or options at point of sale, such as mobile or app payments, may displace the use of cash and cards. Second, virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, may come to be accepted as legitimate forms of payment by merchants and businesses. Third, new ledger technologies, such as the distributed ledger or autonomous organisation technologies, may replace existing infrastructure in payment clearing and settlement systems.

Flender puts its faith in the crowd (The Business Post), Rated: A

If you are a start-up, or an SME, you know that money does not come easy. In the early days, you might need to tap up your savings, your family or even friends to get started. Even more established companies can fall between the cracks when it comes to bank loans or government funding. For all of these reasons, peer-to-peer lending was created.

Credit scoring startup Aire raises $ 5m; wins Zopa deal (Finextra), Rated: A

AI-based credit scoring startup Aire has raised $5 million in a Series A funding round and won deals to work with P2P lending pioneer Zopa and the UK arm of Toyota Financial Services.

Young people face barriers in farming as report shows 13% of farmers are under 45 (Farming UK), Rated: B

A report has been released showing the barriers young entrants into farming face in today’s often uncertain times.

The report said that only 13% of farmers were under the age of 45 in 2015, but while fewer young people are entering the sector, their ideas are still needed to harness the technologies that can make farming an up-to-date industry.

Finance is seen as the biggest obstacle to growth; 28% are trying peer-to-peer lending and one fifth have tried crowd-funding to help with projects.

China

Information about Five ICO Platforms in China (Xing Ping She), Rated: AAA

Recently there comes a wave of ICO (Initial Coin Offering) around the world. Many people are enthusiastic about the investment on ICO. So, here is the information of five well-known ICO platforms founded in China, which was collected by Nan Gongyuan, a famous Internet finance columnist as well as special commentator on Xing Ping She.

1. Bizhongchou
Founded time:In 2015
website:Bizhongchou.com
background:Affiliate ICO website of block chain media Babbitt
Registered Capital:$ 1,481,613 USD
Legal person:Zhi-Peng Liu(the well-known science fiction writer, Changjia, a consecutive Galaxy Award winner from 2006 to 2008.)
Location:Zhejiang, Hangzhou Province

2. Bitouzi
Founded time:In 2017
website: /> background: Affiliate ICO website of Blockchain asset trading platform BTC9.COM
Registered Capital:$740,795 USD
Legal person:Liu Jingchao
Location:Nanchang, Jianfgxi Province

3. Icoage.com
Founded time:In 2017
website:Icoage.com
background:Affiliate ICO website of Shanghai Qukuai Information Technology co. LTD
Registered Capital:$ 17,996 USD
Legal person: Fu Xiaoqi
Location:Shanghai

4. Ico365.com
Founded time:In 2017
website:Icoage.com
background:Affiliate ICO website of Shenzhen Kedian Technology co. LTD
Registered Capital:$148,161 USD
Legal person:Ye Peifeng
Location:Shenzhen

5. Ico.info
Founded time:In 2017
website:Ico.info
background: Affiliate ICO website of Beijing Yunbi Technology co. LTD
Registered Capital:$ 1,481,613 USD
Legal person:Qiu Liang
Location:Beijing

The World is Paying Attention (Lend Academy), Rated: A

In China there are more than a billion consumers that are generally underserved across a broad spectrum of financial services, making for a diverse and exciting array of opportunities to address. Yet China is dominated by giants – institutions like Bank of China and technology firms like Alibaba –companies that have tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of customers. The scale of the opportunity is enormous, and so is the size of the companies trying to address it.

When 90% of the world’s data were created in the last two years, it is obvious that our ability to create data has far outstripped our ability to measure and analyze it.  This is why companies like ZhongAn (online insurance), Phoenix Finance (wealth management), Lexin (green finance), Wedai (car finance), Credit Karma (financial education), Upgrade (consumer lending in the US), and Lufax (consumer lending & wealth management in Asia) all tout AI/ML as a cornerstone of their strategies.

In the end, fintech is leading us to a more inclusive financial system, which is to say that financial services will be more accessible, more comprehensive, more affordable, and more sustainable.

Dianrong and marketplace lending in China (Enterprise Innovation), Rated: B

At the FINTalks forum, held on July 17, 2017 at KPMG in Hong Kong, Renaud Laplache, co-founder and CEO of Upgrade, described online lending as a massive improvement over lending as offered by banks and traditional lenders. “Online lending generally helped lower costs by about 400-500 basis points – massive cost reductions coming from the ability to use technology to automate tasks that were manual at many banks and also to do away with the branch network – a very costly infrastructure,” he explained in simplified terms.

European Union

Fintech startup Klarna taps Permira for around $ 250M at $ 2.5B valuation (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

Klarna, the Swedish startup that works with e-commerce businesses and retailers to provide financing and other payment services, today announced that it has picked up yet another large investment, its third inside of two months. Permira, the private equity firm and prolific late-stage tech investor, has taken a minimum 10 percent stake in the fintech business. Klarna and Permira are not confirming the exact amount getting invested, or the valuation. But TechCrunch understands that it is more than $225 million, and the FT is reporting a value of $250 million.

Klarna the startup was last valued at $2.25 billion in 2015 and a source confirmed to us that this valuation has gone up as the business has grown. If a $250 million investment works out to 10 percent of its valuation, that would mean Klarna’s overall value has ticked up to $2.5 billion.

Added up, this means that Klarna has raised somewhere in the region of $500 million in the last 7 weeks.

July 21, 2017 – Funding Round Private Equity (Crunchbase), Rated: A

  • Funding Type: Private Equity
  • Money Raised: $225M
  • Valuation: $2.28B Pre-Money
  • Announced On: July 21, 2017
  • Investors: 

Revolut’s robo-advice dance partner revealed (AltFi), Rated: AAA

App-based banking disruptor Revolut intends to partner with its first robo-advisor. A report in this morning’s Citywire suggests that Revolut has already partnered with ETFmatic to roll out its wealth offering. Revolut has confirmed that this is its intention.

Revolut, however, is yet to formally announce the ETFmatic partnership, and it is possible that the proposition that ultimately emerges will look somewhat different.

Bank of Finland: Household debt accumulation poses mounting risk (YLE), Rated: A

Bank of Finland reports that household debt grew five percent in May on the previous year, with so-called unsecured consumer credit, via international online credit providers and peer-to-peer lending services, up by 13 percent in the same period.

As the selection of loan alternatives grows, increasing numbers of Finnish consumers are now moving beyond traditional new home and housing cooperative loans to secure expensive consumer credit from sources that Finland’s central bank says are difficult to monitor.

Figures show that every fourth Finnish resident now holds some kind of consumer debt. Cars, trips abroad, boats and appliances are the most common purchases behind the loans.

The good news in this scenario is that regulators and credit ratings agencies agree that Finnish banks are very stable.

Kickstart Accelerator’s 10 Most Promising Fintech Startups (Forbes), Rated: A

AAAccell (Switzerland)

Converts and develops top research achievements into trusted solutions and tools for the financial services industry.

Fjuul Vision Oy (Finland)

Offers a Software as a Service (Saas) platform for insurers to grow their business at lower risk.

PriceHubble (Switzerland)

Enables smarter real estate decisions by bringing the latest in machine learning, big data analytics and data visualization to market participants along the entire real estate value chain.

International

Fintech’s Wealthy Elder Statesmen (Bloomberg), Rated: A

Shares of U.K. company Paysafe Group Plc — whose businesses include payments processing, digital wallets and money transfers — are trading at an all-time high after an approach from private-equity bidders Blackstone and CVC.

In December, Paysafe’s shares suffered a nasty blow because of fears about its exposure to China’s crackdown on gambling, although they recovered. This is not your run-of-the-mill Worldpay-style payments giant, even if that may be the goal of its prospective private equity buyers.

5 Facts About the State of FinTech — and Why They Really Matter (Mimeo), Rated: A

The rapid innovation in the financial technology, or FinTech vertical, shows no signs of slowing down. In the past year, global investments in FinTech increased 11 percent to a staggering 17.4 billion USD.

1. The Majority of Executives Are Worried

A recent report from Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) revealed that a staggering 80 percent of executives globally feel their business is at risk due to the rate of innovation in the FinTech sphere.

2. Governments Are Getting Behind FinTech

Per KPMG’s recent report on the pulse of FinTech, governments worldwide are beginning to show visible support for innovation in financial technology. The UK, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand have all debuted sandbox programs for regulatory innovation.

3. Blockchain Is Predicted to Take Over in 2017

4. 30 Percent of Consumers Love FinTech

PwC reports that 30 percent of today’s customers plan to increase their use of nontraditional ways of payments, fund transfers, finance, loans, and saving.

5. Robot Bank Tellers May Not Be a Far-off Fantasy

Australia/New Zealand

Non-bank lenders support fast-forwarding Robo-Advice access (Scoop), Rated: AAA

Robo-Advice, Digital-Advice, Automated-Advice. Whatever you choose to call it, the appetite to access financial advice online is growing, and New Zealand’s legislation is yet to catch up.

The law is currently hindering the development of personalised robo-advice models in New Zealand, as it states financial advice must be given by a natural person.

The Financial Services Federation (FSF) has submitted in support of the Consultation Paper: proposed exemption to facilitate personalised robo-advice, which could accelerate the provision of personalised robo-advice services ahead of law reforms which aren’t likely to take effect until 2019.

Fintech the future (SMH), Rated: A

​According to Kate Carnell, there have been less than 10 complaints about fintech operators in Australia since March 2016.

There are an estimated 600 fintech operators in Australia. The industry is burgeoning and continues to attract new players, so receiving less than double-digit complaints in 16 months isn’t a bad track record.

“So the growth rate is quite phenomenal and there’s more to come. We know of at least another 20 to 30 that are yet to launch.”

Small business lender expands BDM team (Australian Broker), Rated: B

Small business loan specialist OnDeck Australia has announced two new appointments to foster growth in its broker channel.

The firm has hired two new business development managers (BDMs), Adrian Dodson in Melbourne, Victoria and Tim Kwast on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

India

P2P players plan to widen lender base (Telangana Today), Rated: AAA

With the Reserve Bank of India guidelines on peer-to-peer lending firms likely to be released in a few weeks, city-based companies are getting ready to increase their registered lenders. They are optimistic that demand for loans will rise significantly as the haze surrounding the lending platforms will be cleared.

For instance, city-based i-lend says there is loan demand of about Rs 500 crore in one year while another firm Oxyloans says there could be a demand for Rs 600 crore in the same time.

Another player, Oxyloans, has 1,300 users including 264 lenders and 1,000 plus borrowers. “We see a loan demand of Rs 600 crore and are hoping to achieve Rs 200 crore in six months or so,” said Radhakrishna Thatavarti, founder and chief executive officer of SRS Fintech Labs, which operates Oxyloans.

Axis Bank to deploy tech solutions of three startups from Thought Factory accelerator (VC Circle), Rated: A

Private sector lender Axis Bank has selected three fintech startups from the first batch of its accelerator programme ‘Thought Factory’ whose solutions it will commercially deploy at its business units, it announced at an event in Bangalore on Friday.

Six startups, namely S2Pay, Pally, Perpule, FintechLabs, Paymatrix and Gieom graduated from the first batch. Axis Bank will collaborate with Pally, FintechLabs and Gieom for their tech solutions.

Using AI, Pally enables businesses in the financial domain to deliver better customer experiences. It has created a chatbot that creates an investment portfolio for tax savings when it is fed an image of a salary slip.

S2Pay’s solution forms a layer over any payments app and users can make secure payments from their mobile app, even when they are offline.

A Kalaari Capital-funded startup, Perpule allows users to scan products from their mobile app and pay from within the app once the list is complete.

Sunil Kalra, Rajan Anandan back fintech startup Monsoon CreditTech (VC Circle), Rated: A

Monsoon CreditTech Technologies Pvt Ltd, a fintech startup that has been in stealth mode till recently, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from marquee investors, the startup said in its statement.

The investors include independent angel investors Sunil Kalra and Aditya Singh, former senior Microsoft executive Rishi Srivastava, and Google India’s Rajan Anandan, the statement added.

Asia

Ron Suber Says P2P Lending is Daylight Banking (Not Shadow Finance) (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Ron Suber, perhaps the most prominent global Fintech Ambassador and President Emeritus of Prosper Marketplace, is on an extended swing across Asia visiting various platforms and presenting at events. Visiting with CNBC Asia this week, Suber explained how important transparency is for online lending and how both sides win: investor and borrower.

Startup Modalku Launches Mobile App for Individual Lenders (Jakarta Globe), Rated: A

Mitrausaha Indonesia Group, a homegrown marketplace that provides peer-to-peer lending, introduced a new mobile application that will allow individual lenders to offer loans to small businesses using a crowdfunding scheme.

Mitrausaha, which flies the Modalku flagship, offers small and medium enterprises (SMEs) access to non-collateral loans with interest rates ranging from 12 percent to 26 percent.

Modalku had launched a mobile app in January called “Modalku Dana Usaha,” customized for prospective debtors looking to replenish their working capital. The app is available on Android and iOS.

Lenders can start investing with Rp 1 million ($75).

New individual lenders need to deposit Rp 10 million into their account before giving out loans.

Early days for alternative funding (The Star), Rated: A

Two years ago, the Securities Commission gave out licences to operate equity crowdfunding platforms and last November, it gave out the licences for peer-to-peer lending.

pitchIN, one of the six operators of the equity crowdfunding platforms, has raised the most among the operators since end-2015, raising more than a third of the RM16mil raised by issuers up until this June.

Funding for early stage start-ups has become much harder due to grants becoming bleaker and investors looking for quality deals.

Awareness remains an issue, with entrepreneurs who want to raise funds through either ECF or P2P lamenting the lack of awareness or understanding.

Collapse of branch banking in 1 century (Korea Times), Rated: A

Throughout paradigm shifts, banks’ operations have changed dramatically. Many global lenders are now setting up branchless and digital operations as the way to go ― a move that is in stark contrast to the strategy they took over the past century.

According to a 1932 Federal Reserve report, the Bank of Italy had 25 offices by the end of 1919 and it rapidly increased to 292, 10 years later. Except for 40 branches in San Francisco, home to its headquarters, 252 were out-of-town branches, scattered literally all over California.

JPMorgan Chase is scaling down its branch networks, Citigroup is accelerating its move to transform into a digital bank globally and Wells Fargo is downsizing its branches so it can hire fewer employees and sit in a smaller space.

A CNN Money report said the number of the bank’s branches in the U.S. dropped by 10 percent to 4,789 as of the end of the second quarter of 2015.

Korea’s homegrown banks are also joining global giants’ moves.

According to six banks ― KB Kookmin, Shinhan, Woori, KEB Hana, NH NongHyup and Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) ― the total number of their branches across the country declined to 5,493 at the end of May this year, down 442 from 5,953 at the end of the first quarter of 2013.

Liftoff enters Japan with former Criteo exec as country manager (e27), Rated: B

California-based mobile app marketing and retargetting platform Liftoff announced its official launch to the Japanese market today with the appointment of Country Manager Kota Amano, former Senior Director of Partner Development, APAC at Criteo.

In a press statement, Liftoff said that it has opened a data centre in Tokyo and is hiring a team of Sales and Customer Success Managers.

Canada

HOW TO NAVIGATE CANADA’S TANGLED REGULATIONS AND BUILD YOUR FINTECH STARTUP (Betakit), Rated: AAA

Our team at Ferst Digital is building a mobile-first banking platform that helps startups and small businesses. Our platform will let them bank, manage their finances, and integrate all of their financial productsand services in a simple and intuitive way.

To empower ourselves, we decided to own our regulatory know-how.

We decided to categorize our regulators around three common forms of purpose: protection, behaviour, and permission.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor