Thursday September 7 2017, Daily News Digest

robo-advisors

News Comments Today’s main news: Square plans to apply for an ILC banking license. Laplanche boosts volumes at Upgrade. SoFi CEO pulls out of Goldman fintech conference due to recent sexual harassment allegations. RealtyMogul launches MogulREIT II. Today’s main analysis: Why broker-dealer robo-advisors miss the point. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Why broker-dealer robo-advisors miss the point. RateSetter says even a millionaire couldn’t […]

robo-advisors

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United States

Square to apply for industrial bank, inflaming ILC debate (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Payment processor Square is seeking an industrial loan company, according to several sources familiar with the matter, further sparking debate over whether fintech companies should be allowed to use the controversial charter.

“ICBA’s feeling about Square applying for an ILC is the same about SoFi,” said Camden Fine, the president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America. “If these entities want to be banks, they should apply for banking charters and come under full and unified banking supervision.”

Square’s main purpose for the charter will be to extend its small-business lending business, the spokesperson said. Though it also intends to take deposits, which would provide some amount of funding for its on-balance-sheet loans, the lion share of the company’s loans would still be sold off to third parties.

Square also felt the ILC charter was best suited to its structure, as the company owns a point-of-sales hardware appliance business and even a food delivery service called Caviar.

Ousted Lending Club chief boosts volumes at new venture (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Renaud Laplanche, the former Lending Club chief ousted over a governance scandal last year, is stepping up lending at his new venture, determined to re-impose himself on the market for refinancing more than $1tn of credit card debt.

Mr Laplanche launched his firm, Upgrade, in April, having raised $60m in Series-A funding from a group of investors including Union Square Ventures, Ribbit Capital and CreditEase, China’s leading online lender. As at Lending Club, he is homing in on consumers struggling with big balances on credit cards — offering to swap a floating rate of, say, 17 per cent for a fixed rate about 5 percentage points less.

While Mr Laplanche declines to say how much business he has done so far, he has begun to boost volumes, responding to steady demand from consumers and also for high-quality assets from half a dozen core institutional investors. That new cadre of investors is unfazed by the scandal which erupted in May 2016, he said.

SoFi CEO Backs Out of Goldman Event Amid Sexual Harassment Probe (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Social Finance Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mike Cagney was supposed to take the stage at the Goldman Sachs FinTech Conference in New York City on Thursday, but he backed out amid a lawsuit and internal investigation at the firm.

Why broker-dealer robo advisors miss the fintech point (Financial-Planning), Rated: AAA

Over the past two years, there’s been a growing trend of broker-dealers announcing prospective launches of their own robo advisor solutions. From LPL developing a platform with BlackRock’s FutureAdvisor to Voya planning to launch a robo advisor, and Kestra Financial announcing it is working on a robo platform on the back of its acquisition of H. Beck, there’s been no shortage of announcements.

Launching a robo advisor does hold appeal among broker-dealers. Many of their reps are asking for it, either because it’s an easier way to handle smaller clients, or just to have a robo advisor option for millennial clients. Who wouldn’t want a button for the advisor’s website that young people can click to open up small accounts that will grow with time? And from the broker-dealer’s perspective, ideally, this helps them address the coming generational shift of assets from baby boomers down to millennials.

But for a broker-dealer that in the aggregate is losing 3% to 5% a year in asset outflows a decade from now, it’s a crisis, because a broker-dealer still has a multi-decade open-ended timeframe as an ongoing business entity. This is why we see broker-dealers, as well as RIA custodians, so obsessively beating the drum about advisors needing to focus more on younger clients. It’s not actually because advisors desperately need younger clients for our businesses to survive. It’s because they, the broker-dealers and RIA custodians, need us to get younger clients for them so their businesses survive and so they have younger clients after we’re gone and retired!

And so from the broker-dealer’s perspective, if millennials are pursuing robo advisor solutions, then the broker-dealer wants to roll out a robo advisor to get those younger clients and solve its own long-term generational issue. But here’s the problem with the strategy: robo advisors live and die by their ability to get clients online, and that’s not easy for anyone, especially a large base of independent registered representatives.

DOOMED TO FAIL

Betterment is just over $10 billion in total assets after six years. Wealthfront is just over $7 billion AUM in that same duration. Schwab made news for $15 billion dollars of assets, but has actually noted only a third of that total was new assets. Vanguard is now over $80 billion, but remember they had much of their assets already as well. Vanguard is direct-to-consumer through the Internet already; those in Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services were predominantly existing Vanguard investors, simply upsold to human advice. Even Edelman online, which launched in early 2013, has accumulated barely 1,000 clients and just $62M of AUM after four years (and their average robo client is actually a baby boomer anyway.)

Source: Financial-Planning

VALUE IN EFFICIENCY
In other words, the real blocking point of robo advisors is the client acquisition cost — what it takes to market and get a young investor to invest on your platform. As the founding companies learned the hard way, this is not an “If you build it, they will come,” kind of asset-gathering opportunity. Instead, robos at best have been struggling to solve those client acquisition costs in the face of slowing growth rates, and many have been getting outright buried by those costs. That’s why robo advisor growth rates continue to slow down. Most of them have already sold, and most of the ones that are left aren’t even really focusing on a pure robo strategy anymore.

RealtyMogul.com Launches Second Real Estate Investment Trust, MogulREIT II, to Invest in Multifamily Apartment Buildings (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

RealtyMogul.com, the online marketplace for commercial real estate investing, today announced the launch of the company’s second real estate investment trust or “REIT,” MogulREIT II.

MogulREIT II aims to invest in multifamily apartment communities across the United States that have demonstrated consistently high occupancy and income levels across market cycles. MogulREIT II also plans to invest in multifamily properties that offer value add opportunities with appropriate risk-adjusted returns and potential for appreciation objectives.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Housing and Vacancy Homeownership Report, the U.S. apartment market has experienced a strong recovery, as evidenced by the steady drop in vacancies and an average annual effective rent growth of 3.9% per year, between 2010 and 2015.

MogulREIT II plans to only consist of properties that satisfy RealtyMogul’s rigorous zero-based underwriting process, which analyzes each potential deal from scratch through a combination of proprietary in-house analytics and underwriting. RealtyMogul also spends over $1 million annually for the use of third-party data and technology to vet each deal. The process is so intensive, fewer than 1% of the requests reviewed by RealtyMogul pass its high underwriting standards. Keep in mind there are risks to investing, including loss of capital, so one should evaluate the full offering materials.

RealtyMogul MogulREIT II Survey Data (RealtyMogul Email), Rated: A

Overview

RealtyMogul recently commissioned Harris Poll to conduct an online survey among over 2,000 U.S. adults to better understand the reasons people choose to rent over buying a house.

Americans have shifting priorities and owning a home might not be at the top of the list

  • Roughly 7 in 10 Americans (71%) believe the home buying process is overwhelming
  • 70% of Americans believe people these days will need to rent well into their 30’s in order to save enough money to buy a home
  • Over a third of Americans (35%) would prefer renting over owning a home to maintain a flexible lifestyle
  • Roughly a third of Americans (34%) would rather save their money to spend on traveling than to put it towards buying a home
  • A third of Americans (33%) would prefer to rent than own a home if it meant they could still afford small luxuries (e.g. eating out, fancy coffee, avocado toast) in their everyday life

Read the full survey results here.

LendingRobot CEO exits (Geekwire), Rated: A

Emmanuel Marot has left LendingRobot, the peer-to-peer lending company he co-founded in 2013. He served as CEO of the startup for the past four years, navigating LendingRobot through a merger with NSR Invest in August.

Marot isn’t sure what his next career move will be but remains General Manager of Zenvestment.com, according to LinkedIn.

Legislative Update 162 (Experian Email), Rated: A

Highlights this issue:

  • On September 7, the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit has scheduled a hearing to review “Legislative Proposals for a More Efficient Federal Financial Regulatory Regime.” The Subcommittee has not released the full agenda, but it is expected that the hearing will focus on several bills affecting consumer credit.
  • Congress continues to consider legislation that would repeal the CFPB’s Arbitration Rule using an expedited legislative process under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The House of Representatives passed a resolution of disapproval on July 25. The Senate is expected to take up the measure upon their return from the August recess, although there is uncertainty when a vote will take place given other priorities that Congress must pass by September 30, which is the end of the US Fiscal Year.
  • On August 30, three Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that GAO further evaluate post-breach identity protection products used by government agencies.
  • Legislators in California continue to debate legislation that would enact a broadband privacy law in the state, similar to the one first issued by the FCC and then overturned by Congress. A.B. 375 would prohibit an internet service provider from using, disclosing, selling or permitting access to customer personal information.

Read the full report.

StartEngine Files to Raise $ 5 Million Reg A+ Crowdfunding Offer (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

StartEngine, one of the most activea investment crowdfunding platforms in the US, has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $5 million in common equity at $5 per share.

The actual listing is not yet live on the StartEngine platform. The filing indicates that up to an additional 100,000 shares may be issued as “bonus shares”. There are no selling shareholders and the entire proceeds will go to the company. According to the filing, the minimum investment is $500.

Web site steered U.S. borrowers into bad, illegal payday loans: CFPB (Reuters), Rated: A

The bureau imposed a $100,000 fine on California company Zero Parallel LLC, which as a “lead aggregator” identifies potential borrowers and then sells their information. The action shows the agency has its eye on the online side of the industry, which crosses state lines and has grown in recent years. Potential borrowers fill out web forms and then are immediately sent to a lender’s site to take out the debt.

According to a CFPB statement, Zero Parallel sold applications to lenders it knew did not follow states’ usury laws, interest-rate restrictions and prohibitions on who can make the loans, and kept borrowers in the dark about risks and costs.

Zero Parallel simply sold leads to the highest bidders, according to the CFPB, and borrowers did not know they were taking out illegal loans.

Zero Parallel will pay the fine without admitting or denying the allegations, the CFPB said. The agency also said it had reached an agreement with Zero Parallel’s owner, Davit Gasparyan, to resolve similar charges filed last year against his previous company, T3Leads, with a $250,000 fine.

FINTECH Gains Traction as Businesses Embrace Alternative Banking and Financial Solutions (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Global Payout, Inc. (OTC: GOHE) makes payment solutions available to clients around the world, serving the needs of everything from commercial enterprises to government institutions. Its Global Reserve Platform is a web-based banking platform that includes everything domestic, foreign exchange, and international payment service providers need to conduct financial transactions. It handles online banking, compliance, mobile wallets, card management, biometric payments, authentication, merchant payment processing, bill payments and more, while also offering core and traditional banking products. Global Payout’s primary focus in this area is logistics, in addition to small to medium size companies, banking, and travel firms.

The CEO of Able Lending Responds to the Rumors (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Yesterday, the CEO of Able Lending, Will Davis, reached out to me to clear the air. Here is his unedited statement:

We believe this story originated by the fact that we’ve been in active discussions with a number of originators to acquire Able, and there’s a non-zero chance this story was placed in order to throw an interested party off the trail.

This anonymous source doesn’t seem to be anyone close to Able, because Able does not own a portfolio of loans (it originates and distributes loans to direct lenders, who then hold those loans on their balance sheet) and therefore has no portfolio to sell. In any event, we have no plans to go out of business and no plans to declare bankruptcy.

Passive Investments In CRE: Do They Really Exist? (Seeking Alpha), Rated: B

The wealth of new crowd-funding opportunities in CRE is just the latest addition to a long line of traditional equity funds, REITs and ETFs already offering investors the chance to invest without the high upfront cost traditionally associated with a direct CRE investment. It sounds easy, right? But how truly “passive” are these opportunities?

The only problem with passive investing in CRE? Pure 100 percent passive investing doesn’t exist.

United Kingdom

RateSetter: Even a millionaire could no longer live off savings interest (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

ROCK-BOTTOM interest rates are now challenging the convention that someone with £1m in savings could live off the interest, RateSetter claims.

The peer-to-peer platform’s latest savings tracker found on average UK adults think they would need an income of £26,140 per year to live comfortably, but £1m in an average savings account would pay just 0.14 per cent interest, equating to £12,500 each year.

£1m invested in a one-year bank bond with an average rate of 0.79 per cent would earn just £7,900, while the same amount could earn £45,000 in a RateSetter account earning 4.5 per cent interest.

Investors opting to put their £1m into FTSE 100-listed stocks would have earned £80,000 in interest over the 12 months to the end of August, the research found.

Funding Circle reveals new brand positioning and identity with ‘Made to do More’ campaign (The Drum), Rated: A

The challenge was to find an emotional positioning that resonated with Funding Circle customers while instilling trust and confidence as a financial services company. Rooster Punk helped Funding Circle to identify a common thread that connects small business owners, investors and the people who work at Funding Circle. Results revealed they share a uniquely driven yet positive attitude to work and life, a restless determination to succeed and the tenacity to get there. The agency called this ‘Made to do More’.

Rooster Punk’s founder, Paul Cash, commented: “Developing Funding Circle’s new position and identity had to go deeper than a product message around faster business loans. We set out with the ambition that we didn’t just want people to buy from Funding Circle, instead we wanted them to buy into them.

Meet the firm which hopes to solve the late payment problem (City A.M.), Rate: A

This warning comes from Tony Duggan, chief executive of fintech firm Crossflow Payments, a company which acts like a cog between corporations, their suppliers, and funding providers – ensuring that suppliers don’t have to wait for a month or more to get paid.

Duggan’s warning is not just a reference to Brexit, but centres on the introduction of new payment practice laws, which will make it a criminal offence for a corporation not to make public whether it is paying suppliers according to the terms of the contract.

The code looks to stamp out problems with late payments. Ultimately it aims to improve the cashflow of businesses – largely suppliers – by making sure they are paid by their corporate customers on time.

Crossflow is a no frills sort of business; it’s basically a B2B version of peer-to-peer lending, and one that is currently pretty unique in the UK arena.

Peer-to-peer lender Linked Finance marks 1,000th loan (RTE), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending platform Linked Finance has funded its 1,000th loan for a small or medium sized company here.

Figures published by Linked, which facilitates loans from individuals directly to businesses outside the banking system, show €31m has now been borrowed through the platform.

The company, which was launched in 2013, also said that €2.5m in interest has already been repaid to Linked Finance lenders.

Marrying self organising teams and customer obsession – Interview with Andrew Lawson (Customer Think), Rated: A

Highlights from my conversation with Andrew:

  • Capital One was an early pioneer in big data, data driven decision making , customer centricity and human centred product design.
  • Back in 2014, a lot of banks were talking a lot about being customer centric but when you get inside the banks there was little evidence to back that up. [Ed: Have things changed?]
  • Customer obsession is very much behind the growth of peer-to-peer lending.
  • When Andrew joined Zopa in 2014 they were a team of around 50 people lending about £20mill per month.
  • Zopa was founded to “make money simple and fair”.
  • Zopa was awarded Superbrand status in the early part of 2017. The annual Superbrands’ league table is based on independent research to identify the UK’s strongest brands, as voted for by marketing experts and thousands of British consumers.
  • Zopa still thinks of itself as a start-up despite the fact that they have been going for 13 years now.
  • In that time Zopa have never spent any money on growing their brand and have grown organically and via word of month.
  • Zopa has won a bunch of customer service awards that celebrate and recognise their approach.
  • Zopa has recently moved to a system of self-organising teams and that is helping them to achieve more and deliver more on their customer promise.
  • In the first quarter of 2016 they delivered more than they had in the whole of 2015 with the same number of people.
  • Ultimately, it’s all about creating an environment where you find and allow great people to go and solve problems.
  • Andrew’s role is all about ensuring they have the right people in the right tribes solving the right problems. It’s not about him being able to come up with all the answers as that just doesn’t scale.
  • In terms of mistakes, initially they found that their tribes went too tribal and it was difficult seeing what was going on within the tribes. That was a problem particularly given the level of technical and strategic dependencies that exist between tribes.
  • On a day to basis, their teams work in a way that is akin to a modern agile environment and are able to pick the right model (1 week sprints, 2 week sprints, kanban etc) depending on their context and preferences.
  • As is the nature of agile working, they are constantly tweaking and looking for ways to improve.
  • Other challenges they have faced include the management of people from different backgrounds, skillsets and with different experiences.
  • Given that they are now 250 people in London, the next big challenge for them will be how do they move this system into a remote context.
  • The heart of their success has been in creating those relationships where there weren’t relationships before i.e. between business people and tech people. It’s easy when you sit next to them or are in the same office but more difficult when you are in different locations, time zones or even speaking different languages.
  • They embraced a lot of Spotify’s approach as there are lots of things written about them and by them on how they organise themselves (videos, talks, blog posts, slide shows etc). Google ‘Spotify and Tribes’ to find more.
  • Don’t make assumptions around customers needs. Go and ask then as you will almost certainly be wrong.


UK fintech investment rises in H1 (Finextra), Rated: A

More than a billion dollars was invested in British Fintech companies in the first half of this year, over a third more than the same period in 2016, according to trade body Innovate Finance.

Fintech employs over 60,000 people in the UK and contributes $9bn (c.£7bn) to the economy.

Two peer-to-peer lending platforms also received significant rounds of investment. London-based FundingCircle a marketplace which allows investors to lend directly to SMEs raised another £80m in equity funding. Venture capital group Accel led the funding round alongside investors such as Temasek from Singapore. The business lent £1.1bn in 2016. In June Zopa another peer-to-peer lender raised £32m from Indian investor Wadhawan Global Capital and European venture capital fund Northzone. The business plans to use the funding for the ambitious roll out of its own retail bank.

China

After regulators ban on coin fundraising, over 40 ICO platforms closed (Xing Ping She), Rated: AAA

Several platforms have taken steps after the central bank’s announcement of ban on ICO (initial issue of tokens). Up to September 5th, more than 40 platforms in China have taken measures to suspend the operation, registration or even permanently stop the service of ICO. Among them, ICOAGE, a well-known ICO platform, has launched a one-key withdrawal function. Meanwhile, ICOAGE’s official website says that it will actively negotiate with the project side, and even if the project does not accept the refund, ICOAGE will pay the relevant digital currency in advance to ensure the safety of investors. It is worth mentioning that, despite the regulation to stop the ICO, there still stages “the last madness” in the market, with some of tokens’ daily gains exceeding 30%.

China steps up financial regulation to address risks (China.org.cn), Rated: A

China’s ban on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a digital coin fundraising scheme, was only part of a broader campaign to curb the country’s financial risks.

In an announcement Monday, China’s central bank ordered a complete halt on new ICO offerings, in which technology start-ups issue their own digital coins, or “tokens,” to investors to access funds.

Similar to ICOs, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending served as an Internet-based alternative for companies and individuals to borrow money. As the P2P industry took off in recent years, it also made room for high-profile fraud, which prompted regulators to act fast.

European Union

Klarna’s newest investor could hold the key to ‘growing the company’s revenues manifold’ (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Klarna last week reported some impressive revenue growth, which, combined with a push into digital banking and recent deals with VISA and Stripe make its future prospects look rosy.

What could make Permira a strategic asset for Klarna, is its stake in Magento, one of the world’s biggest e-commerce platforms. The idea would be to integrate Klarna with Magento; a goal that Lundell says was in the works already before Permira’s entry.

Seeing that Magento runs some 15 percent of global e-commerce, getting visibility on the platform could open up a gigantic new market for Klarna and its CEO and cofounder Sebastian Siemiatkowski.

Mambu’s SaaS Banking Engine Helps N26 Transform Operations (Fintech Finance), Rated: A

Mambu announced that its innovative solution is being used by N26 to allow the Berlin-based mobile bank to integrate systems and quickly bring services to market in support of its growth strategy.

Before N26 was granted a full banking licence in July last year, it used the services of a partner bank and then migrated to its own platform in late 2016. Since then their customer base has grown by 500%, helping them reach the 500,000 customer mark in August 2017.

Mintos Reports Topping €300 Million Milestone in Online Lending (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Latvia based Mintos has reached a new milestone having now topped  €300 million in online loans since platform launch two years ago. Mintos reports that more than €200 million has been invested in 2017 alone, making Mintos a market leader in continental Europe claiming a 40% market share.

Mintos states that as of September 2017, approximately € 1 million is invested in loans through Mintos daily, which is three times more than just a year ago.

European Central Bank working on new fintech licensing guidelines (Independent), Rated: A

The European Central Bank is working on new licensing guidelines that would also cover financial technology firms, Daniele Nouy, the ECB’s top bank supervisor told a conference on Wednesday.

The fintech sector, though still relative small, has been stealing market share from traditional lenders in a variety of sectors from payments to lending, attracting investment $6.5bn (£4.9bn) in the first half of the year.

Wirecard Supports Fellow Finance’s Market Entry in Germany and Ensures a Completely Digital Credit Process (Business Insider), Rated: B

Wirecard supports the Finnish FinTech company Fellow Finance to enter and provide a digital infrastructure for the German financial market. Wirecard is supporting Fellow Finance by placing their German full banking licence at the Fellow Finance’s disposal and in addition enabling a completely digital credit process. For example, the identification of the borrower as well as the signature of the credit agreement are made fully electronically.

The market volume of German alternative online financial services grew enormously between 2013 and 2015. In peer-to-peer consumer lending alone, there was year-on-year growth of 95%.

International

Q2 2017 Fintech Insights (FT Partners), Rated: AAA

Source: FT Partners

Get the full report here.

Banking the Unbanked through AirFox ICO (Cryptocoins News), Rated: A

AirFox’s groundbreaking idea involves using a mix of micro-credit and advertising to facilitate to make mobile data plans accessible to the world’s poor and underprivileged.

AirFox will launch their initial coin offering (ICO) on September 19, 2017 at 10:00 am EST. The token on sale is called AirTokens (AIR) and the period of sale has been fixed at 31 days. There are plans afoot to sell a total of 1.5 billion AIR, out of which 1.05 billion (70 per cent) are on offer at the crowdsale. AirTokens are based on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain.

Laying out his vision Victor Santos, CEO and Co-founder of AirFox says, “Investors will be able to hold AirTokens that will be used by Lenders and Advertisers to sponsor the mobile internet of millions of users. There will be a market for buyers and sellers of AirTokens. Those who wish to take the AirTokens and lend micro-credit to users, will also be able to earn an interest using the data that we collect on the smartphone.”

AirFox raises $ 6.5M in token presale (CoinReport), Rated: A

AirFox, the firm utilizing advertising and blockchain technology to bring smartphone data and internet to 4 billion people in the developing world, has met the presale target of its token, AirToken (AIR), almost two weeks early, raising $6.5 million, according to an email CoinReport received from BIGfish Communications, AirFox’s PR firm.

India

Modalku Gets Audited to Gain Public Trust (Jakarta Globe), Rated: A

Mitrausaha Indonesia Group, also known as Modalku, a homegrown marketplace that provides peer-to-peer lending, received an “unqualified opinion” which is the best possible audit outcome  from public accounting firm Purwantono, Sungkoro & Surja, hoping it will help the company gain the public’s trust.

Purwantono, Sungkoro & Surja, a member of Ernst & Young, granted the company an “unqualified opinion” ranking after reviewing the company’s financial statements, income reports and other relevant comprehensive income statement, equity changes, cash flow datat and other information for the year ending Dec. 31. A ranking of this stature means the statements are deemed sound.

Credit scoring platform CreditVidya bags $ 5 mn from Matrix, Kalaari (VC Circle), Rated: A

Mumbai-based InfoCredit Services Pvt. Ltd, which operates credit scoring platform CreditVidya, has raised $5 million (Rs 32 crore) in a fresh round of funding led by Matrix Partners, the company said.

Existing investor Kalaari Capital, which had invested $2 million in June 2016, has also participated in the round. While Matrix put in Rs 23.81 crore, Kalaari accounted for the rest.

What is P2P lending and borrowing: All you want to know about Digital marketplace for loans (Financial Express), Rated: A

In layman’s terms, Peer-2-Peer (P2P) lending and borrowing is like a digital marketplace for loans. Hence usually it is known as ‘marketplace lending’ or often gets confused with crowd-funding. Instead of applying for a loan with a bank, NBFC, private finance company or any other loan institution, you can request a loan from regular people like you and me (therefore, the term Peer-2-Peer).

Most of these loans are unsecured for a large number of people who are underbanked or thinly banked.

The actual logistics of Peer-to-Peer can be a little more complicated in India, but some platfoms like ours allow the borrower to download the app, fill the application form and apply for the loan. As a borrower, you have to fill a quick online registration form and pay the upfront registration fee which is refundable. Then proprietary credit assessment is done and a brief commentary of why you want a loan is shared with the lenders. The app requires the loan applicant to submit bank statement, upload basic KYC documents like PAN card, Aadhaar card etc. The proprietary algorithm assigns the loan interest rate and tenure to post the loan on the marketplace for lenders to assess and invest.

MENA

Developing Asia accounts for large trade finance gap (The Asset), Rated: A

Businesses particularly the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) continue to face challenges in accessing sufficient credit, resulting in a global trade finance gap of US$1.5 trillion in 2016.

Emerging economies continue to face the greatest shortfalls with developing Asia accounting for 40% of the global total in trade finance gap. The MSMEs have the biggest difficulties in accessing trade finance, representing 74% of the total rejections in 2016, compared with 57% in the previous year.

The cost of regulatory compliance can lead banks to exit client relationships as reflected by the 40% response in the 2016 survey and 45% in 2015, including the withdrawal of correspondent relationships.

Mideast fintech startup NOW Money fetches $ 1.46 mln (PE Hub), Rated: A

NOW Money has closed its bridge funding round with a total of US$1.46m.

In addition to the recent US Venture Capital investment, mentioned in a previous press release, this funding round includes $700,000 from Dubai-based Venture Capital firm, Myrisoph Capital. Other contributions have come from private investors and MENA-based women’s investor network WAIN.

WAIN is the first investor network for women in the MENA region. Its goal is to build an informed ecosystem of women investors who support women entrepreneurs in the Arab world.

Canada

IOU Financial Partners with Rubicon Global to Fund Recycling Ecosystem (Business Insider), Rated: A

IOU FINANCIAL INC. (“IOU” or “the Company”; TSX-V:IOU), a leading online lender to small businesses (IOUFinancial.com), is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with Rubicon Global.  IOU joined the RUBICONPro buying program to provide Rubicon’s network of independent haulers with fast, convenient and reliable, non-collateral funding solutions.

Where bank loans are not an alternative, an IOU term loan will help Rubicon’s haulers invest in equipment to take on more recycling volume and proudly join Rubicon’s expansion projects for a more sustainable world.  IOU loans will also be provided to Rubicon’s base of thousands of small businesses embracing recycling to contribute to a healthy planet.  IOU will also promote Rubicon’s innovative model to its thousands of existing and past borrowers.

Africa

Development of African ­crowdfunding platforms (DandC), Rated: AAA

Africanise crowdfunding means setting up local crowdfunding platforms with adapted technology for local investment. No bank account? Not a problem! Many African countries lack conventional money transfer infrastructure; bank accounts and credit cards still tend to be the exception, not the rule. To permit widespread participation in crowdfunding in such circumstances, mobile phone-based money transfer services (like the Kenyan financial service M-Pesa) are needed. The Indian crowdfunding platform Ketto () works with a courier service that collects cash payments.

Copying these approaches is not the way to move ahead in Africa, not least because of the lack of an adequate institutional and legal environment. First and foremost, SME financing  requires national crowdfunding platforms with traditional financing options (donation-, rewards- and lending-based). Minimum contributions must be small and payable in local currency.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Friday July 21 2017, Daily News Digest

RateSetter

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi CEO: why Etherium is worth more than Bitcoin. Affirm has 1,000 retail partners. Wells Fargo joins digital mortgage revolution. AutoGravity has half a million users. LendInvest launches retail bond offering. N26, Lydia support Apple Pay in France. Borrowell raises $57M in Canada. Today’s main analysis: RateSetter moves to protect users. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Takeaways from […]

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Why Ethereum Is Much More Valuable Than Bitcoin (Fortune), Rated: AAA

As lending startup SoFi expands from student loans to full-service banking, it is also venturing into one of the trendiest areas among big Wall Street banks at the moment: blockchain.

An upstart cryptocurrency, Ethereum’s price has surged so dramatically in recent months that it now commands nearly as much market share as Bitcoin itself. Driving that rise is excitement about the way Ethereum allows its blockchain technology to be used to develop myriad other projects, as Cagney described.

In particular, SoFi, which is valued at more than $4 billion, is exploring a way to use blockchain to revolutionize title insurance, a standard requirement for many home buyers.

How SoFi is developing its financial services offerings (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

SoFi has always been as much about culture and brand before product and tech. Now that it’s postponed its initial public offering in December (it raised $500 million in private funding shortly after) it has the luxury of time to develop its financial services offerings.

“While we run positive contribution margins around our credit products… it pales in comparison to what the lifetime value of that relationship is worth,” CEO Mike Cagney said at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado Wednesday morning. “Not having that deposit product means that the bank, if it has that deposit product, is going to constantly try to cross sell [customers] and pull them back to the bank. That introduced this vulnerability in the business.”

There are also no branches planned for the non-bank financial services company, he confirmed, citing that in the 40 SoFi events he’s hosted and attended almost all other attendees have said they haven’t walked into a branch in the last five years, he claims.

SoFi is also in the exploratory stages of how to use alternative data like cell phone data for credit scoring as well as distributed ledger technology for title insurance.

U.S. banks are valued at between $2,000 and $100,000 per customer. SoFi currently has 250,000 members today and anticipates 500,000 by end of year. Cagney said it’s not unrealistic to get two million customers at “$25,000 to $50,000 per customer, which gets us in the $50 to $100 billion valuation range.”

Affirm now has 1,000 retail partners (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

Today Affirm has announced it has more than 1,000 merchants signed up to offer its financing options at checkout, helping to reduce the friction around making large purchases and, by extension, increasing sales for its partners.

While promoting its most recent milestone, Affirm is also trying to get across the message of how it’s different — and frankly, better — than point-of-sale financing options of the past. As a result, the company is pushing a marketing campaign around “honest finance” to enumerate the ways in which Affirm helps consumers by providing more access and better terms for big-ticket items.

Affirm Challenges Retailers, FIs To Practice ’Honest Finance‘ (PYMNTS), Rated: AAA

“Finance is pretty broken.”

So started Affirm’s Co-Founder and CEO Max Levchin’s remarks at his firm’s first-ever AFFIRMation conference for its retail partners in San Francisco yesterday.

He’s on a mission to fix a system that he believes doesn’t really serve anyone’s long-term interest nearly as well as it could or should. When it comes to the extension of credit, Levchin says that customers often lose out, retailers end up with angry customers who frequently feel ripped off and FI’s alienate their customer base.

Broken by the Numbers

“Sixty percent of Americans fear credit cards,” Levchin noted.

“[Most consumers] think getting involved with using a card will cost them a lot more than they bargain for. A third fear they will overspend. And they are right; that’s what happens, and the industry does very little to help them create necessary guardrails.”

Bad Faith

In fact, Levchin noted, the industry doesn’t want to create guardrails, because a lot of players have literally built products that bet against the consumer.

Deferred interest — the “dirty little secret” of consumer credit that bears a retailer’s logo and accompanies those too good to be true offers — means that even one day late on a payment 59 months into a 60-month loan, means interest gets calculated back to day one.

Bad Long-Term Thinking

Last quarter, on the occasion of its one millionth consumer installment loan, Affirm reported a 75 percent increase in purchase value on purchases made using Affirm, a 20 percent lift in POS conversion and a repeat rate of 25 percent of borrowers returning.

And Affirm’s net promotor score: It’s 82, slightly trailing Starbuck’s 85, but not by much.

Affirm is looking to retailers across the country to join in pledging to abandon “predatory consumer credit practices” and has also challenged the nation’s financial institutions to do the same.

Nation’s largest lender finally hops on digital-mortgage bandwagon (Mortgage Professional America), Rated: AAA

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said that the bank expects to launch a digital mortgage application tool by the end of next year, according to a report by the Charlotte Business Journal. Sloan made the announcement during an earnings call on Friday.

Sloan told investors that Wells Fargo doesn’t currently have as many online loan products as it would like, the Charlotte Business Journal reported. He said that employees are currently testing the online mortgage tool, and that the bank plans to run a test with customers this year before a full rollout in 2018.

AutoGravity Now Has Over 500,000 Users (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

AutoGravity says it has now surpassed 500,000 in just one year. AutoGravity is an App-based online lender targeting the auto financing space. Pick the car and request a loan all on your smartphone. It’s that simple.

Additionallly, AutoGravity shares that more than $500 million in financing has been requested through the AutoGravity platform.

Fundrise Officially Announces New eFunds (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Fundrise, a leading online marketplace for real estate investing, has officially announced the availability of their new eFunds.

The “featured” eFund starts with the Los Angeles market. The LA eFund aims to provide housing for the underserved millennial homebuyer.

Fundrise has also launched a DC eFund.

PayPal Completes Acquisition of TIO Networks (BusinessWire), Rated: A

PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:PYPL) and TIO Networks Corp. (TSXV:TNC) today announced that PayPal has completed its previously announced acquisition of TIO Networks. In accordance with the terms of the Arrangement announced on February 14, 2017, PayPal acquired all of the outstanding shares of TIO for $3.35 CDN ($2.64 USD) per share in cash or an approximate $302 million CDN ($238 million USD) equity value.

LendKey Announces Series C Funding (PR Newswire), Rated: A

LendKey, the leading lending-as-a-service solution for banks and credit unions, today announced $13 million in Series C funding, $8 million in equity and $5 million in debt financing. North Atlantic Capital, based in Portland, ME, led the round with participation from each of LendKey’s existing investors including DFJ, Updata Partners, Gotham Ventures, and TTV Capital.

The Series C funding will enable the company to expand its services and staffing. LendKey plans to grow its regional office in Cincinnati, Ohio and expand its account development and sales teams.

Mobile savings and investment service Acorns is on track to do 1 billion trades in 2017 (TechCrunch), Rated: A

The company now boasts more than 2 million investment accounts (with 600,000 opened in 2017 alone) and is on track to do 1 billion trades in 2017 through the proprietary broker-dealer that it created.

Still, the numbers were impressive enough to attract Bain Capital Ventures to commit another $35 million to the company, bringing Acorns total Series D financing to $70 million. Previous investors PayPal, Greycroft Growth Fund, e.Ventures Growth Fund, NYCA, Capital Group, Rakuten, Point72 and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures also participated in the round.

Unifund CEO Consumer Credit Caution: “Time To Stop Getting Lost In The Averages” (PYMNTS), Rated: A

Fifty years ago, when customers thought about using credit, it was in the context of buying something expensive that they really needed — a refrigerator, a washer/dryer, a car — with the intention to pay off that loan balance quickly.

Credit as a Currency

For super-prime customers — those for whom credit cards are basically payment cards because those consumers pay them in full monthly and never accrue any interest — Rosenberg said that card “borrowing” is an incentive-driven system. The customer gets cash back, rewards points, airline miles, hotel stays — and those incentives have very successfully attracted consumers to use them to buy things. Rosenberg noted that for a large segment of consumers, buying something without using a credit card is almost a foreign concept because the card offers them access to a more valuable form of currency.

But a more artificial intelligence-driven, machine learning system, Rosenberg said, will allow those customers who are locked out of the credit market today to be seen more clearly by creditors, and to be given incentives that are more explicitly tailored to their wants.

A Better Subprime Experience

The problem with the categorizations of “prime” and “sub-prime” borrower is that they are somewhat less hard and fast than people like to think they are. Rosenberg explained that there aren’t simply two classes of buyers — those who pay their bills and those who don’t.

But, Rosenberg said, the truth is most people pay bills in the order of absolute necessity, and when things get bad financially because a job was lost or an economic catastrophe has happened, that order gets very utilitarian. Car payments get paid, because car companies have no sense of humor and will repossess a car. But eviction from a house takes longer, which means a person with a more pressing need would rather skip their mortgage for a few months than not buy medication they need. And credit card bills? Those quickly fall to the bottom of a pile.

Bank of America Unveils New Mobile Capability to Apply for Business Advantage Term Loans and Credit Lines (BusinessWire), Rated: A

Bank of America today announced enhancements to its mobile app experience that add on-the-go convenience to small business banking and lending. With the suite of updates, Bank of America small business clients can now apply for a Business Advantage Term Loan or Business Advantage Credit Line from any Bank of America digital platform – including the Bank of America mobile banking app, and bankofamerica.com.

More than 1.3 million small business clients are active users of the Bank of America mobile banking app, an increase of 14 percent over the past year.

December 2016 Fed Rate Hike: Most Consumers Fared Well, But It’s a New Dynamic for Consumers and Lenders Alike (TransUnion), Rated: A

TransUnion (NYSE:TRU) released an analysis today showing that most borrowers were able to absorb their increased monthly payment obligations after the Federal Reserve Board rate hike last December.

TransUnion’s study identified these 63 million consumers because they carried debts for which the minimum monthly payment due was tied to the market interest rate, such that a rise in rates from the December rate hike could cause an increase in payments required. TransUnion used its CreditVision® aggregate excess payment (“AEP”) algorithm, which incorporates monthly payments from mortgages, credit cards and other debt obligations, to identify 10.6 million of these consumers who were at elevated risk of not having the capacity to absorb a rate increase of 0.25%.

Banks That Don’t Invest in Technology Risk Falling Behind Permanently (Forbes), Rated: A

Wack points to a new study of mortgage lending, Fintech, Regulatory Arbitrage, and the Rise of Shadow Banks, co-written by business school professors at the University of Chicago, Columbia Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The researchers found that some banks find themselves trying to play catch-up to competitors that long ago allowed borrowers to apply for mortgages online. The institutions that have been slow to adopt online applications for mortgage lending are losing market share to their competitors. Meanwhile, non-bank lenders have grabbed a substantial piece of the market; so-called “shadow banks” lend money but don’t use bank deposits to finance the transactions. They now write 38% of all home loans — almost triple their share in 2007. Further, the shadow banks now originate three-fourths of all loans to low-income borrowers insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

I’m a banker and I say let SoFi into the club (American Banker), Rated: A

As the president of a small community bank, I feel the need to respond to certain misleading comments that have been made by banking industry representatives and community activistsrecently in opposition to the Social Finance application to charter an industrial bank.

I feel the need in particular to respond to comments as reported in the press by a representative of the Independent Community Bankers of America, an industry trade association I support. In essence, this individual stated opposition to SoFi’s recent application based on his assertion that industrial banks don’t follow the same rules as other banks. This assertion is not accurate.

The banking industry is evolving. Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on how to evolve with it rather than how to reduce competition?

Ga. banks less stressed, but lending slowdown a worry (myAJC), Rated: A

Across the nation, bank lending has slowed for most types of loans since the presidential election. Business lending declined in the first quarter and is still crawling at close to its slowest pace since 2011, according to Federal Reserve data.

Overall loan growth is a bit better, but across the board, lending has slowed for debt ranging from auto loans to credit cards to financing for factories, office buildings and small businesses, according to the Fed.

That has made for stiff competition for bankers hunting for loan customers, and because interest rates are still low, banks’ profit margins on their total loan portfolios remain tight.

Last week, Columbus-based Synovus Corp., the second largest bank headquartered in the state, with $31 billion in assets, said its total loans grew by $314 million in the second quarter, up 5.2 percent compared to the first quarter. Synovus banked a $73 million profit during the quarter, 27 percent higher than a year ago.

Synovus’ consumer loans grew at a 16 percent annual pace during the recent quarter, accounting for $2 out of $3 of Synovus’ new loans.

Credit Risk Startup James Closes $ 2.7M Funding Round (Finsmes), Rated: A

James (formerly known as CrowdProcess), a New York-based credit risk startup, closed a $2.7M funding round.

The round was led by Gaël de Boissard with participation from Henry Richotte and BiG Start Ventures. As a result of this deal, Mr. de Boissard has joined James’s Board of Directors.

Investors Approach Investing Differently Across Generations (Plan Adviser), Rated: A

The Dreyfus study found that investors tend to take different approaches to investing based on age. Sixty-one percent of investors 55 years of age or older indicated they have not, or will not, reevaluate their investment approach in today’s existing investing environment. Meanwhile, 65% of Millennials, defined in the study as people between the ages of 21 and 34, had already evaluated their investment approach at the time of the survey. These actions are reflected among 51% of those between the ages of 35 and 54, as well as for 39% of those at least 55-years-old.

OCC FinTech Charter in Trump Administration Cards (JD Supra), Rated: A

In his remarks to the Exchequer Club in Washington, D.C., President Trump’s Acting Comptroller of the Currency, Keith Noreika, came strong to the mic, roundly stating the charter is a “good idea” and flatly saying “yes”, the OCC has the authority to grant the FinTech charter in the face of legal challenges by the New York Department of Financial Services and the  Conference of State Bank Supervisors.

Here are three other takeaways from the Acting Comptroller’s remarks:

  1. The FinTech charter promotes the dual banking system.
  2. The OCC is having informal meetings with interested FinTech companies.
  3. Existing OCC bank charters may be an option now.

Access Anytime, Anywhere Powers Better Consumer Lending (Blend), Rated: A

That’s why we’re harnessing the power of technology to bring consumers closer to their loan officers (LOs) and launching Blend Mobile, the first native mobile application allowing LOs to manage their businesses, including borrower requests and applications, anytime and anywhere.

Robos are offering SRI, so shouldn’t live advisers? (Investment News), Rated: A

“SRI has been one of the most consistent personalization requests we’ve had,” said Dan Egan, Betterment’s director of behavioral finance and investments. “It allows people who want to buy a better world to put their money where their mouth is.”

The nation’s largest robo adviser, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, which has $80 billion in assets, offers clients a proprietary fund on its digital platforms that tracks a benchmark that screens companies on social, human rights and environmental criteria. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, which has $19.4 billion in AUM, does not offer an SRI option.

Mastercard Enhances Artificial Intelligence Capability with the Acquisition of Brighterion, Inc. (BusinessWire), Rated: A

Mastercard (NYSE:MA) today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Brighterion, Inc., a leading software company specializing in artificial intelligence. This acquisition will further expand its suite of capabilities that deliver an enhanced customer experience and security.

Commentary on the Reintroduction of the Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act (H.R. 3299) (Factory Email), Rated: B

Passing the Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act into law is critical for the consumer lending industry. We are pleased that forward looking legislators aim to remove the regulatory and capital markets uncertainty caused by court cases such as Madden vs. Midland.

Lead by the Second Circuit Court’s decision, other state regulators are attempting to erode a core tenet of our federal banking system. “Both the ‘valid when made’ doctrine and the exportation of usury rate have facilitated nationwide lending for over a century by allowing the rate of interest on certain loans to remain unchanged after transfer of the loan,” said Gilles Gade, President and CEO of Cross River, an FDIC insured New Jersey State chartered bank and leader in marketplace leading origination. “The ability for banks to sell loans to non-banks is vital to the capital markets ecosystem in general, and to consumers in particular who are getting hurt as access to credit is made more difficult and more expensive. The perenniality of this tenet hinges on a healthy secondary market, increased liquidity, and the securitization of debts ranging from mortgages to credit cards, all of which help facilitate emerging innovations and provide capital that makes credit more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans. We applaud the bipartisan reintroduction of this bill and look forward to its expeditious review and passage.”

Comment by William M. Bell of Factory.

LendingTree Announces Promotion of Sam Mischner to Chief Sales Officer and Head of Mortgage (PR Newswire), Rated: B

LendingTree® (NASDAQ: TREE), the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, today announced that Sam Mischner has been promoted to Chief Sales Officer and Head of Mortgage.  Previously, Mischner served as SVP, Sales and GM, Mortgage.

United Kingdom

Fintech lender LendInvest to launch retail bond offering (AltFi), Rated: AAA

LendInvest, a leading alternative lender in the property space, is launching a retail bond. The bond will offer investors a fixed rate of 5.25 per cent, due 2022.

It is expected to be listed on the London Stock Exchange once the subscription period closes. LendInvest is targeting an initial raise of £50m, and the company expects this to be the first of a number of bond issues over the coming years. The bond has a minimum investment amount of £2,000.

Interest from the bond will be paid semi-annually on 10 February and 10 August each year. The net proceeds will be used to fund the origination and/or purchase of loans which satisfy the company’s eligibility criteria.

RateSetter moves to protect its investors (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

UK marketplace lender RateSetter has given more details on a series of interventions it has made to protect the company’s 50,000 retail investors from adverse consequences related to its lending decisions in the last two years.

Here are the three measures RateSetter has now explained in greater detail:

  • Buying two subsidiaries in a motor finance company. 
  • Wholly buying Adpod, an advertising company. 
  • Ending its partnership with George Banco, a consumer lending platform. RateSetter is withdrawing from the partnership, remaining only as a passive investor, after reviewing the strategy more closely. RateSetter added that George Banco is still repaying its £32 million ($42 million) loan.

Monzo gently rolls out current account (Banking Tech), Rated: A

The bank, which received its full UK banking licence in April, says it’s been using the current account internally and today (17 July) is now inviting some of its customers to join and “help put it through its paces”.

Its aim is to offer a current account to all existing customers by the end of the year. Towards that goal, over the next three months it will roll out between 10,000 and 20,000 current accounts to existing customers. As you probably guessed, users can register their interest on its site. Investors get priority access.

TransferWise’s cofounders have swapped the CEO role between themselves again (Business Insider), Rated: A

Kristo Kaarmann is taking over from Taavet Hinrikus as the boss of the international money transfer business, according to a blog post on Medium that was written by Hinrikus and published on Tuesday.

Next-gen Credit Scorer Aire Raises $ 5m in Series A Funding from Deep-tech VCs (Fintech Finance), Rated: A

Aire today announces the closing of a $5m Series A funding round, led by Sunstone Capital alongside White Star who previously led Aire’s Seed round in 2016.

Aire today announces the closing of a $5m Series A funding round, led by Sunstone Capital alongside White Star who previously led Aire’s Seed round in 2016.

The Lines Are Blurring Between Alternative, Traditional SME Finance (PYMNTS), Rated: A

Alternative lending has shifted from a competitor of traditional FIs to a collaborator, often lending a digital hand to banks in need of upgrading their systems to provide faster, more agile financing to SMEs. A new report from the state-backed British Business Bank (BBB), however, suggests alternative lenders are becoming an increasingly important part of its operations in a different way, highlighting how the lines between alternative finance (AltFin) and traditional finance continue to blur.

The annual report said the BBB facilitated more than $930 million in SME loans last year, and, according to the data, every year more of that money is landing at small businesses thanks to collaboration with alternative lenders like RateSetter and Funding Circle. According to reports, in 2014 the percentage of BBB funds that went through a P2P platform was 79 percent; in 2015, it was 90 percent.

Permira Joins Payments Rush by Buying Into Sweden’s Klarna (U.S. News), Rated: A

Private equity group Permira has bought a stake of at least 10 percent in payments firm Klarna, one of Europe’s most highly valued tech startups, the companies said on Friday.

Permira will acquire the Klarna stake from existing shareholders General Atlantic and DST Global, and the Sweden-based firm’s co-founder Niklas Adalberth.

General Atlantic and DST Global will cease to be shareholders in Klarna after the deal, they added in a statement.

Bank of England opens up payments systems to spur fintech (Tribune), Rated: A

The Bank of England has widened access to Britain’s interbank payments system to increase competition from new fintech firms in the financial system, where the “Big Four” high street banks have long dominated.

The changes, which in practice will come into effect in 2018 once legislative changes have been completed, will enable such non-bank payments services providers (PSPs) to compete better with banks, the BoE said.

There is no ‘existential crisis’ challenge for banks from fintech, HSBC’s digital chief says (CNBC), Rated: A

The idea that big banks are facing an “existential crisis” from financial technology (fintech) challengers is “overblown”, the digital chief of HSBC told CNBC.

Crowdfunding: the stable option in 2017? (The C Suite), Rated: A

Research conducted by Beauhurst on 2016 UK funding deals for non-listed high-growth businesses concluded that crowdfunding outperformed private equity and venture capital. Whilst 2016 saw a decline in the total number of deals financed by equity investors, activity on the leading crowdfunding platforms increased. Crowdcube (launched in 2011) and Seedrs (launched in 2012) accounted for 21% of such equity investment in the UK last year.

According to Beauhurst’s research, Q1 of 2017 has seen a small increase of 2.7% in equity funding in non-listed, high-growth companies. However deal numbers are still 6.72% lower than the same quarter in 2016. The growth has primarily been driven by crowdfunding platforms, with an 11% growth in deal numbers.

Boost for UK fintech as Receipt Bank secures huge $ 50 million in funding (Business Insider), Rated: A

Accountancy software startup Receipt Bank has raised $50 million (£38.4 million) in a Series B funding round led by a New York venture capital firm.

Perfect storm for Scots property borrowers (Scotsman), Rated: A

By 2018, loans from alternative finance schemes such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and private debt, will be as cost competitive as the retail banks, blowing the finance market wide open for loans in the £500,000 to £10 million range.

Naturally, because alternative lenders such as Funding Circle, The Route and Folk to Folk are settling loans for higher loan-to-value (LTV) ranges (between 60 and 75 per cent), they absorb the risk by charging higher interest on both short- and medium-term loans – currently between 6 and 12 per cent a year.

LTVs in retail banking property loans are settled at around 55 to 60 per cent, but they offer lower loan costs of between 2.5 and 5 per cent. This is all set to change in 2018 – with increased availability of finance for lenders, such as innovative finance ISAs (IFIsa), the cost of capital is set to fall and this will encourage alternative lenders to reduce their interest rates.

Zopa’s Home Improvement Index Reveals: A New Kitchen Can Deliver Over 50% ROI (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

On Wednesday, peer-to-peer lender Zopa released its latest Home Improvement Index that indicated a quart of British homeowners looking to improve their homes this summer are choosing to renovate their kitchens and are seeing a 51% return on investment as a result. According to research, 25% of British homeowners undertaking a home improvement are opting for a new kitchen, with the renovation boosting the value of a home by an average of 10%.

Zopa noted that the research found that the average home improvement would increase the value of a home by 9% or nearly £24,000 (£23,837) – based on homeowner’s estimates. The average return on investment was 50%, based on the total amount spent by homeowners.

Opinion split on best P2P marketing techniques (P2P Finance News), Rated: B

Property P2P platform Lendy has recently announced sponsorship of the Cowes Week sailing regatta, while business lender Ablrate has been announced as a sponsor of the PGA EuroPro Tour’s £100,000 Shoot-Out competition.

Other firms such as RateSetter have used adverts on the London Underground and Crowdstacker has run adverts in print publications, while Zopa and Funding Circle have used TV campaigns.

But Frazer Fernhead, founder and chief executive of The House Crowd, prefers to invest in digital marketing.

China

Yirendai Limited: A Growth Play At Deeply Discounted Valuations (Seeking Alpha), Rated: AAA

The ADR has returned a solid 250%+ in a year and a half since then. In comparison, Alibaba stock is up by 83% while NetEase is up by 16% and JD.com has risen just 27.5%. In other words, Yirendai has been the best performing Chinese stock/ADR ever since the company was listed in the US.

Yirendai reported quarterly revenue of $148.42 million for Q1 2017, which grew 75% year-on-year. On the earnings front, the company reported earnings per ADR (EPADR) of 84 cents, a 147% improvement over 34 cents EPADR in Q1 2016. On a trailing twelve month (NYSE:TTM) timeframe, the revenue has grown from $265.2 million in Q1 2016 to $544.6 million in Q1 2017, a 105% year-on-year growth.

We believe that, based on Yirendai’s earnings history and the historical valuation multiples, the stock should easily trade in the $43.4 – $57.7 range, which represents a 65% upside at the higher end.

European Union

N26 and Lydia announce Apple Pay support in France, but major banks are still missing (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

Apple Pay hasn’t really been a major success in France so far. France’s biggest banks still don’t plan to support Apple’s payment service. But two companies announced today that they were going to add Apple Pay support before the end of the year — Lydia and N26Crédit Mutuel Arkea’s banks also recently announced that they were working on that feature as well.

Crowdfunding and Crowdlending (Soundcloud), Rated: A

Get a unique insight into what crowdfunding and crowdlending are and find out how you can participate in it – either as an entrepreneur or as an investor. Responsible for crowdfunding in DNB, Lars Marthinsen, and CEO of Kameo, Sebastian Martens, are guests at #pengepodden .

International

Finstar commits $ 150m to fintech investment (Finextra), Rated: A

Private equity outfit Finstar Financial Group is planning to pump $150 million into fintech startups over the next five years.

The money will be used to buy stakes in promising fintech startups in Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia and South Asia, as well as on research and development within portfolio companies.

Baloise invests in insurtech company Trov (Baloise), Rated: A

Baloise is investing in the Californian insurtech company Trov. The start-up offers on-demand insurance for personal items and has already launched in the UK and Australia, and will roll out in the U.S. later this year. For Baloise, this is the first investment arising from its partnership with Anthemis.

Baloise’s investment is part of the Series D financing secured by Trov in April 2017.

Australia

Factor in the robo-advice (The Australian), Rated: A

The disruption is well under way in the US, where two giant companies – Betterment and Wealthfront – have emerged, each with a valuation of more than $5 billion. In recent months Betterment has seemed to outpace Wealthfront in terms of size and growth. Betterment, which has cheaper services, now boasts a client list of 188,000 while Wealthfront has 90,000.

ANZ has put its $4.5 billion wealth advice unit on the block, in a move that followed UBS’s decision to sell its wealth management arm in Australia a year ago. And Platinum Asset Management, the one-time king of specialist overseas fund managers in the local market, has announced a dramatic cut in its fee charges.

In Australia, the SMSF Industry Association tacked a robo-advice questionnaire onto one of its recent surveys and found that 18 per cent of its members – higher than in the general population (13 per cent) – would be willing to try robo services.

Online Lender Prospa is NSW State Winner in 2017 Telstra Business Awards (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Prospa, an online lender to Australian small business, has been awarded the 2017 Telstra New South Wales Medium Business Award in the 2017 Telstra Business Awards.

Prospa said it was the first Fintech company to be awarded the accolade.

India

How Fintech Revolution Is Making Way For A Potential $ 5 Bn Online P2P Lending Empire In India (Inc42), Rated: A

Currently, at a nascent stage, the P2P lending landscape in India is also poised to grow into a $4 Bn-$5 Bn industry by 2023. The domain’s origin actually dates back to 2012, when the first peer-to-peer lending company i-Lend was launched. At present, the P2P lending space is populated by more than 30 players including Faircent, LendBox, LenDenClub, IndiaMoneyMart, Monexo, Rupaiya Exchange, LoanBaba, CapZest, i2iFunding and many more.

One factor that has played an integral role in the rise of an alternative fintech industry is demonetisationinstated on November 8, 2016. Post the ban on INR 500 and INR 1,000 notes, bank deposits underwent a discernible slowdown. Loans to SMEs and MSMEs reached an abrupt halt, forcing many businesses to seek other methods of financing. Last year, for instance, around 34% of P2P borrowers were actually business owners looking to expand without having to rely on banks.

Singapore Based Bridge Data Centres Looks To Pour $ 500 Mn Into India (Inc42), Rated: B

Bridge Data Centres is looking to invest $500 Mn in India over the next two years. As per reports, the investment will enable the Singapore-based data centre outsourcing (DCO) company to gain a stronghold of the country’s fast-growing market for data centres.

In June 2017, Alibaba revealed plans to set up two new cloud data centres in India and Indonesia, in an attempt to strengthen the company’s computing resources in Asia. Earlier in January 2017, US-based data storage and management firm NetApp launched its Global Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru, as part of a $155 Mn (INR 1,000 Cr) investment. In December last year, Amaravati-headquartered Pi DATACENTERS raised $23 Mn from Epsilon Venture Partners. It was reported that the funds would be used to roll out state-of-the-art data centres across India.

Multinational alternative investment firm Bain Capital recently infused $10 Mn in Bengaluru-based consumer leasing startup RentoMojo has raised $10 Mn in Series B funding round led by Renaud Laplanche. Existing investors Accel Partners and IDG Ventures also participated in the round.

Because the construction and maintenance of data centres is a capital-intensive activity, an increasing number of businesses in India are  enlisting the help of data centre service providers.

Canada

Borrowell raises $ 57M in New Funding to Expand Credit Education and Lending (GlobeNewswire), Rated: AAA

Financial technology company Borrowell announced today it has secured $12 million (CAD) in equity funding and $45 million in new credit facilities. The Series A equity round is being led by Portag3 Ventures LP, Equitable Bank and White Star Capital, with participation by FirstOntario Credit Union and other new and existing investors, and brings the company’s total equity financing to $16.7 million. The credit facilities are being provided by Concentra and FirstOntario Credit Union for the purpose of funding ‘one click’ loans to prime consumers. This latest round of funding will allow Borrowell to provide free credit information and loans to more people.

More than 300,000 Canadians have a Borrowell account, with thousands more signing up each week.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor