Tuesday August 29 2017, Daily News Digest

Global fintech

News Comments Today’s main news: Has Float shut down? Ford to use alternative data for credit scoring. OnDeck Capital, Scale Operations Management finalize partnership. Money Dashboard raises 1.33M GBP. Mintos adds Georgian ID Finance loans. Today’s main analysis: HNA raises billions from shadow banks. Today’s thought-provoking articles: SoFi personal loans help people pay off over $5B in credit card […]

Global fintech

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United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

Australia

Asia

Middle East

News Summary

United States

Rumor: Online Lender Float Has Shut Down (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Online lending platform Float has allegedly shut down. Crowdfund Insider has heard from several different sources the digital platform has called it quits. Earlier today, Crowdfund Insider attempted to contact the platform but no response has been forthcoming.

Ford to Look Beyond Credit Scores in Sales Push (Fox Business), Rated: AAA

The company says it is looking at ways to increase loan and lease approvals for applicants with limited credit histories. These consumers are often denied credit because they lack a history of managing debt and as a result have low credit scores. Ford’s credit division plans to review new data to try to determine whether these customers, as well as those with more robust borrowing histories, are likely to repay their loans.

Ford’s U.S. sales are down 4.3% during the first seven months of the year compared with the same period a year prior, while total U.S. new auto sales are down 2.8%, according to Edmunds.com. Wells Fargo & Co.’s auto lending volume fell 45% in the second quarter from a year earlier due to tightening underwriting standards. Ally Financial Inc.’s auto loan originations fell 8.5% for the same period.

Ford Credit is among the largest U.S. lenders to say that it is looking at using alternative methods of underwriting, beyond the traditional factors that are mostly centered around credit reports.

SoFi Personal Loans Help People Pay Off More Than $ 5 Billion In Credit Card Debt (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Today SoFi announced its members have cumulatively paid off over $5 billion dollars in credit card debt using SoFi Personal Loans, getting them out of debt faster and at lower interest rates.

Members who used SoFi Personal Loans to pay off credit cards reduced their effective interest rate by 42% on average. They also saw their credit scores rise by 17 points on average due to reduced credit utilization, a key component of credit scores.

Credit card utilization has been steadily rising since the 2008 financial crisis. Americans’ credit card debt eclipsed $1 trillion this year, according to Federal Reserve data, and the average credit card APR inched up to an all-time high of 16.14 percent, according to CreditCards.com.

SoFi offers an array of options for Personal Loans, letting members find their rate, choose their loan amount (up to $100,000), and choose their term (three, five, or seven years) through a simple, fully-online application process. Loans are funded in less than a week on average. Though SoFi Personal Loans can be used for lots of purposes, more than 70 percent of SoFi members report using them for credit card refinancing and loan consolidation.

On Deck Capital Finalizes Funding Partnership with Scale Operations Management (Digital Journal), Rated: AAA

At one point in recent history – the internet was the wild west of commerce and industry. It seemed as if anyone with a computer and an idea could start a company from their home office. Two decades later, way after the dot com bubble burst; it is clear that the internet is becoming saturated and more competitive.

The competition for attention has led to increases in advertisement costs.

Doing business online went from a luxury to a necessity and budgets went from small to large.

Andrew Ukpabi, Founder of Scale Operations Management – a business management company with 15 Million in client assets under management; believes that this trend in the short term will only grow and he explains cheerfully how this has impacted the growth of his company:

“I’ve been on a signing spree lately. In the last week I’ve signed deals with CRMS’s, chargeback mitigation platforms, and processing companies.”

The partnership with On Deck Capital (ONDK) a NYSE listed company that boasts 4 Billion in funding to more than 40,000 small business customers in the US, Australia, and Canada; is the latest in his signing spree.

NEPC SURVEYS E&F MANAGERS ABOUT ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS (All About Alpha), Rated: A

NEPC, the investment consulting group that caters especially to endowments and foundations, has posted a survey about what such institutions think of marketable alternatives.

This broad category “marketable alternatives” includes direct hedge funds, funds of hedge funds, liquid alternatives, and global asset allocation.

Where are these allocations headed, near future? Not quite two-thirds of the respondents (65%) planned to maintain their current level of allocation in such investments. Sixteen percent plan to make a “modest change” increasing the allocation. Symmetrically, another 16% plan to make a “modest change” in the opposite direction. Only 3% plan to decrease the allocation “substantially,” and no respondents plan to increase it substantially.

As to what they have done over the past year: 18% have increased their allocation to such alternatives, 32% have decreased it, so the remaining half have kept it where it is.

Source: All About Alpha

There is a split on the question of the classification of marketable alternatives within a foundation or endowment’s portfolio, one that reflects a series of evenly divided binary choices. Not quite half (48%) of respondents say they have a dedicated allocation to this asset class, and that’s the end of the issue for them.

So that leaves 52% who do something else. A little more than half of them (about 28% of the whole) say that they have marketable alternatives both within a dedicated allocation and as part of an allocation to another class.

Should SoFi be granted a bank charter? Rep. Waters isn’t so sure (HousingWire), Rated: A

SoFi outlined in the application that the purpose of the charter is to provide its customers a FDIC insured NOW account and a credit card product. The bank will offer no other products or services.

In response to Waters’ comments, a SoFi spokesperson said, “We’re happy to discuss our application with Rep. Waters and other interested parties, and confident the FDIC will conduct its review of our application expeditiously and in accordance with the law.”

The Independent Community Bankers of America also sent a letter to the FDIC over the application, urging the FDIC to reject the application.

ICBA also stressed that Congress should close the ILC loophole, stating it not only threatens the financial system but creates an uneven playing field for community banks.

1 Popular Way Millennials Are Cutting Back on Living Expenses (and Why There’s Nothing Wrong With It) (CheatSheet), Rated: A

Co-living has been a popular option among young people just out of college. And now businesses are also jumping on the co-living bandwagon, hoping to make some quick cash from this idea.

The act of sharing housing, work, and commuting space is second nature to millennials. Co-living is just one more option young people have to stretch their resources and meet new people if they so choose.

Research shows more millennials are living with their parents than with a spouse. Living with parents is the No. 1 living arrangement among millennials, according to Census Bureau research. In 2016, 22.9 million (31%) young adults lived with their parents.

One company that joined the co-living movement is WeWork, which originally started out offering co-working spaces to individuals and companies. WeWork branched out to co-living spaces, called WeLive, in 2016.

Some co-living buildings, such as PodShare, even provide free food and fully furnished apartments, further helping their residents keep costs down.

Thinking of going the co-living route? Here are some of your options in three major cities.

Chicago

Los Angeles

New York

Malkiel Provides Investment Advice For IRA Allocations (Financial Advisor), Rated: A

Although the top leading robo-advisor firms grew by 65 percent in eight months to $19 billion assets under management in 2014, according to Financial Advice Market Review (FAMR), robo-advice is limited to assembling a group of stocks and bonds to avoid risk in a portfolio.

CAN WE ALL PARTICIPATE IN THE NEXT UNICORN? (All About Alpha), Rated: A

With the passage of the Title III portion of the JOBS Act, this paper tries to address a very critical question: can non-accredited investors find and invest in the next unicorn?

AltFi Data [2015], a data aggregator of equity crowdfunding, published a report on equity crowdfunding from 2011 through June 30, 2015 using the five most significant online platforms based on origination volume. These include Crowdcube, Seedrs, SyndicateRoom, CrowdBnk and Venture Funders. There were 431 investment crowdfunding rounds from 367 companies. The UK report indicates that crowdfunding has revolutionized the funding of small and medium sized enterprises involving both professional and small retail investors. It is reported that 62% of crowd funding investors describe themselves as retail investors with no previous investment experience.

3 Keys To Earning Up To 7% With Peer-To-Peer Lending (Forbes), Rated: A

Lending Club, the world’s largest P2P platform, has served over $55 billion in new loans in 2017. That’s a 40% growth in loan volume compared to last year.

Now, the likes of Goldman Sachs serve about 70% of all peer-to-peer loans.

P2P lending is still a place to earn market-beating yields of up to 7%. But private investors are now competing against the world’s biggest financial institutions.

  1. Spread Your Risk and Invest No Less Than $5,000
  2. Use Automated Rebalancing Tools – NSRInvest.com is a registered advisor that offers managed accounts to P2P investors. Investors can link their Lending Club and Prosper accounts to the website and have NSR experts invest for them based on their loan selection criteria.

Depending on the selected strategy, NSR users have outperformed the market by as much as 2.6% (average is 1.5%).

  1. Enhance Your IRA with P2P

Tell Us Who Your Favorite Fintech Companies Are: Forbes Fintech 50 Call For Nominations (Forbes), Rated: B

If you own or work at a fintech firm that you think is worthy — or if you’re a fan of one — please tell us about it. The only stipulations are that it be a venture-backed startup with operations in the United States. That means no publicly traded companies or their subsidiaries and no privately held established firms.

If you are submitting a company for which you’re an owner or employee, please use this form.

If you’re nominating a startup of whose inner workings you have no knowledge, please fill this out.

The deadline for both sets of submissions is Friday, September 15, 2017. If we have more specific questions, we will be in touch.

United Kingdom

Money Dashboard Raises £1.33M in Equity Crowdfunding (Finsmes), Rated: AAA

Money Dashboard, an Edinburgh, UK-based personal finance management app, raised £1.33M in equity crowdfunding.

1708 investors have participated in the campaign via Crowdcube acquiring an equity stake of 9.55% in the company.

The company had a target of £1m at a pre-money valuation of £12.6m.

Half of UK businesses lack confidence in government’s Brexit strategy (Consultancy.uk), Rated: A

Now, a recent survey conducted by peer-to-peer finance platform Market Invoice found that 54% of 3,000 businesses polled said the government had lost its way in talks with Brussels and that Brexit Secretary David Davis lacked preparedness, while only 5% felt he was doing a good job.

Maintaining stability in the sterling was meanwhile considered important by just 7%, reversing a KPMG study of businesses performed earlier in the year. In response to the falling pound however, the UK is projected to lose as many as 40,000 investment banking jobs post-Brexit.

A total of 20% of firms voted against further financial support spent on marketing, and aim to reduce it in the nearby future. A 54% majority of small businesses have not yet witnessed Brexit leaving a negative impact on the hiring plans, as only 2% are predicted to reduce exposure to EU nationals with a further 6% being more reluctant to hire from the bloc.

Startup Accelerator Level39 Launches Cyber39 (LendIt), Rated: B

Level39 has launched Cyber39, a program focused on fighting cyberthreats in London.

China

Chinese Dealmaker Raises Billions From Shadow Banks (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

A Bloomberg News review of more than 100 investment documents and corporate filings sheds light on how HNA has financed its remarkable run of deal-making, which has included acquiring multi-billion dollar stakes in Deutsche Bank AG and Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

The documents, pieced together from fund prospectuses and disclosures to China’s Administration for Industry and Commerce, show how HNA has employed a network of trusts and asset management products, in addition to more conventional financing, to fund everything from takeovers to day-to-day expenses. Among the key findings: Units of the group have pledged more than $10 billion of unlisted shares to non-bank lenders and, in some cases, have paid interest rates on shadow debt that far exceed China’s benchmark rates for bank loans and bond issuance.

The documents, pieced together from fund prospectuses and disclosures to China’s Administration for Industry and Commerce, show how HNA has employed a network of trusts and asset management products, in addition to more conventional financing, to fund everything from takeovers to day-to-day expenses. Among the key findings: Units of the group have pledged more than $10 billion of unlisted shares to non-bank lenders and, in some cases, have paid interest rates on shadow debt that far exceed China’s benchmark rates for bank loans and bond issuance.

HNA’s parent company said in a response to questions that financing from non-bank institutions makes up a “small” portion of the group’s overall funding and that its credit limit from Chinese banks has increased by more than 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) this year. The company said its debt-to-asset ratio has dropped for the past seven years and added that HNA Group’s profitability and asset quality have been improving.

Source: Bloomberg

Taken together, the documents suggest that HNA’s main units have increased their use of shadow financing in absolute terms over the past two years.

China’s regulators preparing new rules for digital coin offerings (Reuters), Rated: A

Chinese regulators are preparing new regulations on digital coin offerings and may ban them until the rules are in place, the financial magazine Caixin reported on Monday, as interest in the new fundraising channel grows rapidly in a regulatory grey area.

Digital currencies, also called cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and a growing stream of alternatives, allow anonymous peer-to-peer transactions without the need for banks or central banks.

China’s top insurers ploughing billions into fintech (SCMP), Rated: A

China Life and Ping An Insurance, the country’s two largest insurers, have both been focusing heavily on investment in technology, and now it appears artificial intelligence (AI) may becoming more important than sales agents across the sector, as premium income continues to soar.

The nation’s largest insurer China Life still has 1.58 million agents, while number two Ping An has over 1.1 million, and both have previously made much of the fact they plan to expand those sales forces in future.

China Life said last Thursday it had teamed up with internet search firm Baidu to form a fund to invest 7 billion yuan (US$1 billion) in AI-related technology companies and internet finance operations. China Life will plough 5.6 billion yuan into the venture, with Baidu covering the rest.

European Union

Mintos Marketplace Adds ID Finance Loans Issued in Georgia (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

ID Finance, an emerging markets focused Fintech company, is now listing investment opportunities on the Mintos marketplace incorporating prime personal loans issued under its Solva brand in Georgia. Solva is a fully owned ID Finance subsidiary in Georgia that has disbursed 28,000 personal loans worth €12 million since late 2016.

The loan originator will offer a buyback guarantee for loans that are delinquent for more than 60 days. The share of non-performing loans for Solva is said to currently be at approximately 4%. ID Finance will keep at least 10% of each loan available on the Mintos marketplace on its balance sheet so its interests are aligned with investors.

PSD2 – What will happen in January 2018? (AltFi), Rated: A

With the inception of financial digitalization, we’ve seen new firms such as Goldman Sachs adapt their strategy to cover retail and embrace fintech, firms such as Citi and BNY Mellon have ventured into open banking and finance APIs and Vanguard has created a digital behemoth of their robo-advisor.

Open Banking is still a new concept and, as new concepts go, it will be refined by trial and error. Some banks are farther along than others, with e.g. BBVA already in commercial use with several APIs. Yet the roll out of new “API Markets”, as they are often called, will see a learning experience from both the bank providers as well as those looking to utilize them.

Swiss fintech launches first-ever mobile app for alternative investments (Opalesque), Rated: A

Opalesque Industry Update – Fundbase has announced immediate availability of Fundbase Mobile, a revolutionary application for qualified investors to source alternative investment products. With Fundbase Mobile, investors will have access to a globally diversified universe of high quality alpha producing alternative investments at their fingertips.

The majority of Fundbase users expect to improve their fund sourcing process with Fundbase Mobile by spending more time logged in, searching funds. Pancho Vanhees, of TFAL Investments, a Luxembourg-based investor, believes the mobile app will improve their systematic processes and quickly identify top performing emerging hedge fund managers while on-the-go.

Why Only Initial? Worldcore Aims to Use ICO to Conquer Blockchain Competitors (Coin Telegraph), Rated: A

In the past week alone, prominent investor Mark Cuban and entrepreneur Kim Dotcom have both signalled their involvement in ICOs.

Worldcore aims to undercut banks, banking disruptors such as TransferWise and FairFX, and soon the technologically innovative operators heavily involved with cryptocurrencies.

Offering both payments and consumer spending options such as a prepaid debit card, the company is already accepting Bitcoin as a funding option, the first step in a Blockchain rollout which will occur incrementally over several years as the technology improves.

Biometric account access in the form of face and voice recognition replaces passwords, while Blockchain offerings themselves will take the form of a payment gateway reminiscent of Ripple.

Worldcore’s fee structure, for example, is noticeably more complex than that of Bitcoin-based prepaid cards from Bitwala, ANX and others.

Fintech Can Contribute to the Quality of Country’s Financial Center (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

The Federal Council of Switzerland is out with a note regarding Fintech. Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer is apparently doing a swing through the Swiss Fintech scene to improve awareness and relationships.

Maurer is expected to visit Fintechs in Zurich and Zug – a fact finding mission to garner updates on current tech topics, risks, opportunities and challenges.

The Federal Council believes that a dynamic Fintech ecosystem can contribute significantly to the quality of Switzerland’s financial center – something that is strategically important. It can also boost its competitiveness around the world.

Credissimo – Contender for European FinTech Awards 2017’s Title of ‘European Innovator 2017’ (Digital Journal), Rated: B

Credissimo is the only Bulgarian company featured in the European FinTech Awards 2017 where it is nominated for the “Alternative Finance” category.

This prestigious nomination places Credissimo amongst lead European companies where it will compete with the largest FinTech organizations for 2017’s European Innovator award.

International

Alternative finance market in robust health, despite slight summer downturn (Opalesque), Rated: AAA

Opalesque Industry Update – The world’s first global Crowdfunding and Marketplace Finance Index (CAMFI) shows that the industry exhibited a slight downturn in July, dropping from 94.11 in June to 90.32 in July.

Key points:

  • The global crowdfunding and marketplace finance industry exhibited a slight downturn in July
  • Segment-wise, the Reward Sub-Index was the major cause of the July decline
  • Attribute-wise, the main declining driver was the market Scale measures
  • Industry Scale continued to shrink, most evidently in the Reward segment
  • Industry Efficiency improved significantly, with both Debt and Reward segments demonstrating growth
  • Industry Transparency underwent no noticeable changes
  • Debt has stayed relatively stable, which is expected given it is such a large and diverse market
  • Equity has seen had a significant downturn in trading
  • Rewards has had the biggest downturn, with significantly fewer campaigns, backers and amounts of money raised for each campaign during the July period

Despite the slight downturn demonstrated in June and July, data from TAB shows that the industry is growing rapidly year on year:

  • In 2014, campaigners in the UK raised over $2 billion via crowdfunding platforms. In 2016, they raised over $3.96 billion.
  • China is demonstrating huge growth, with companies raising $134 million via crowdfunding platforms in 2014. In 2016, they raised $2billion.
  • France is also seeing significant growth, with companies raising $70 million in 2014, and $159 million in 2017 to date.
  • In 2014, companies raised $5.4 billion in debt finance globally, increasing to $12.7 billion in 2016.
  • In 2014, companies raised $345 million in equity finance globally, increasing to $766 million in 2017 to date.
  • Rewards finance raised via crowdfunding globally has increased from $680 million in 2014 to $1.1 billion in 2016.
  • The Real Estate industry raised $1.2 billion via crowdfunding in 2014. In 2016, it raised to $3.8 billion.
  • The Capital Goods industry raised $751 million in 2014. This year to date, it has raised $1.4 billion.

Funding & Deals On Pace For A Record Year (CB Insights), Rated: A

Last quarter set a record for funding to VC-backed fintech companies, which raised $5.2B across 251 deals (as highlighted in the CB Insights Q2 2017 Global Fintech report). At the current run rate, deals are on pace to increase 5% this year, while investment dollars are on pace to grow 19%.

The quarter also saw new unicorn births, with 5 companies reaching new valuations of $1B+: online lending site Tuandaiwang (valued at $1.5B at the time of its unicorn round), invoice and payment company AvidXchange ($1.4B), online investment platform Robinhood ($1.3B), health insurance startup  Clover Health ($1.2B), and cloud-based communication platform Symphony Communication Services ($1B).

Source: CB Insights

Funding to global VC-backed fintech companies set a quarterly record in Q2’17, rising 83% to reach $5.2B. Deals experienced less dramatic growth, but still increased 2% from the previous quarter, reaching a five-quarter high of 251.

Source: CB Insights
Australia

Car finance drives P2P growth in Australia (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

CAR finance is one of the driving forces behind the growth of P2P lending among brokers in Australia.

According to new research from RateSetter’s Australian business, one fifth (20 per cent) of all broker-led loans on the platform are used for car and vehicle finance, with an average loan value of AUS$13,186 (£8,077).

Meanwhile, home improvement loans account for 19 per cent of the platform’s broker-led activity, with an average loan value of $14,299, while 12 per cent of loans are used for debt consolidation, and seven per cent are used for education.

Business borrowing accounts for nine per cent of total broker loans, but has the highest loan values with an average of $28,094 per loan.

CARS AND RENOVATIONS DRIVING GROWTH OF P2P LOANS IN THE BROKER MARKET (LendIt), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending is gaining traction amongst Australian brokers, with RateSetter today announcing that it has reached the milestone of 2,000 brokers accredited with the peer-to-peer lending platform. Lending volumes through the broker channel, largely driven by car and home improvement loans, are doubling approximately every six months according to RateSetter.

Vehicle financing is the most popular reason brokers are choosing peer-to-peer loans for their clients, followed closely by funding for home improvements and loans to consolidate high-interest credit card or other bank debt.

The milestone also coincides with RateSetter passing $150 million in loans facilitated since launching in 2014. Across both the broker and direct channels, lending has grown 50% in the last 5 months alone, after passing the $100m milestone in March.

An analysis of RateSetter’s loan data found that brokers are helping their clients finance loans worth an average $16,871, with an average loan term of 44 months at an average interest rate of 8.37% p.a.

Source: LendIt
Asia

Here’s How Chinese Tech Giants Including Tencent And Ant Financial Are Plowing Into Southeast Asia (CB Insights), Rated: AAA

Here’s a summary of the investment and M&A moves of the five Chinese internet giants within Southeast Asia:

Didi Chuxing: Chinese ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing was the first among the Chinese tech giants to enter Southeast Asia, when it invested in Singaporean ride-hailing startup Grab’s $350M Series E round in 2015. It invested again in Grab in 2017, in its $2B Series B round.

JD.comThe Chinese e-commerce giant made an investment in leading Indonesian travel booking platform Traveloka this past year as part of its ongoing fund-raise, participating in $150M of its ongoing $500M round, along with Sequoia Capital, Hillhouse Capital Group, and East Ventures. Expedia contributed $350M.

TencentTencent recently invested in Indonesia’s Go-Jek, a company most widely known for its on-demand motorbike service. But Go-Jek is strategically similar to Tencent in a notable way: Like Tencent’s WeChat, Go-Jek is also developing a “super app” of sorts, which includes the ability to order food, massages, and other services, in addition to the development of its own mobile payments product called Go-Pay. In 2013, Tencent launched MNC Tencent, a joint venture with Indonesia’s MNC Media (not pictured in timeline). According to media reports, this venture was launched with the intention of pushing Tencent’s WeChat in the country. More recent reports claim that this JV hasn’t seen much traction.

Alibaba: Alibaba’s most recent investment into Southeast Asia was a $1.1B investment into Indonesian consumer-to-consumer e-commerce site Tokopedia in August 2017. This investment comes after months of rumors that JD.com was planning an investment into the company. Alibaba has also invested twice into Tokopedia’s competitor, Singapore-headquartered e-commerce site Lazada. First, in April 2016, it invested $1B in Lazada, valuing it at $1.5B. In June 2017, it upped its existing 51% stake to 83%, giving Lazada a valuation of $3.15B. It announced that this investment would leave its investments into the e-commerce site at a little over $2B.

Ant Financial: Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial investment arm, operates Alipay and has made its fair share of investments into the region, across different countries and on different terms. In 2015, it invested in Singaporean cross-border trading platform M-DAQ. In 2016, it put money into Thai fintech company Ascend Money to help grow its digital and offline payments and financial services business. 2017 brought an entrance into the Philippines, with an investment into Globe Telecom-owned fintech company Mynt, and into Malaysia, where Ant Financial set up a joint venture with CIMB Group-owned Touch ‘n Go, which operates a smart card that works on transportation payments, like tolls and public transportation. According to reports, the joint venture would allow Ant Financial to build an e-wallet for Malaysia.

Source” CB Insights

Thai proptech startup Seekster raises seed funding from Digital Ventures, 500 Tuk Tuks and dtac Accelerate (e27), Rated: A

Seekster, an alumni from the dtac Accelerate programme batch 5, announced today it has raised an undisclosed seed funding from Digital Ventures, 500 Tuk Tuks and dtac Accelerate.

The startup is a company that connects properties to cleaning and maintenance service providers. While there are many on-demand cleaning companies, Seekster targets the commercial sector and SMEs. The startup says it facilitates about 5,000 to 6,000 jobs per month in Thailand.

Furthermore, the startup also announced it has inked a deal with real estate company Ananda Development to provide maids and technicians for its condos.

Middle East

Robo-advisory: Show me the money (Khaleej Times), Rated: AAA

Robo-advisory services describes a range of algorithm driven models that help sift and select investment options for individuals based on the investors’ requirements and risk appetite. Similar to P2P lending, this technology platform brings the customer closer to the investment. It enriches the information available through graphic rich dashboards and content that allow the investor to see how the portfolio is performing over time as well as versus benchmarks.

Deloitte’s report, The Expansion of Robo-Advisory in Wealth Management suggests that by 2020, the assets-under-management or more simply the amount of money invested via robo-advisors will be somewhere between $2.2 trillion to $3.7 trillion. By 2025, the number is expected to rise to $16 trillion or roughly three times the amount handled by the world’s biggest asset management firm, BlackRock.

Source: Khaleej Times

What I Know about the right time to crowdinvest: Eureeca’s Chris Thomas (Wamda), Rated: A

Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, Eureeca specializes in equity investment. If crowdfunding is the umbrella term for debt funding or reward funding, crowdinvesting describes the equity side of crowdfunding. At Eureeca, entrepreneurs and investors are put through a stringent vetting process before it is determined who can join the platform. For its first class of companies, Eureeca chose 60 businesses out of 3,000 applicants. With more than 14,000 active investors, the average investment amount is $5,800.

As the first company to obtain a crowdfunding license from the Dubai International Finance Centre, Eureeca – in the person of Thomas – laid out for Wamda everything from the right time for entrepreneurs to crowdinvest to what they should expect from the process.

Crowdfunding should not be your second or third choice. It should be the first place you go to try and fix your funding requirement. In the Middle East, the concept is still being socialized. Crowdfunding is essentially the online mechanism for raising money. If you are raising $100,000 or $10 billion, join a platform to see what they can do and you’ll be surprised at the support. By bringing the fundraising online, you reduce the amount of time and effort you put in and increase your reach to potential investors, including access to crossborder investments.

It works best for businesses with a consumer-facing element. People need to have an emotional connection with your business. It’s not going to work for a steel factory in Ras al Khaimah [an outlying emirate in the UAE]. If you have a product that’s already being distributed and there are people who know and love your product, they are the ones that can be converted from lovers of your business to investors in your business.

Regular fundraising prep applies. Be sure that you have a strong network and that you are constantly building your contact list.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Wednesday April 5 2017, Daily News Digest

Wednesday April 5 2017, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s main news: Colorado targets Marlette, Avant on ‘True Lender’ grounds. CRB sues Colorado. SoFi raises variable student loan refi rates. Kabbage extends $3B in funding to over 100K small biz customers. RateSetter adds expected losses committee. P2P Global Investments considers change of loan fund manager. Dango RECF platform celebrates 1M investors. Today’s main analysis: International P2P lending statistics. […]

Wednesday April 5 2017, Daily News Digest

News Comments

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European Union

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Asia

News Summary

United States

Colorado Attorney General Pursues ‘True Lender’ and ‘Madden’ Actions Against Major Non-Bank Online Lenders (JD Supra), Rated: AAA

On February 15, the Colorado Attorney General filed substantially similar, separate amended complaints in the U.S. District Court of Colorado against Marlette Funding LLC and Avant of Colorado LLC, alleging violations of Colorado’s Uniform Consumer Credit Code based on “true lender” and loan assignment cases. Both actions were originally filed in state court on January 27, 2017, and both were subsequently removed to federal court — on March 3, 2017 and March 9, 2017, respectively. In each instance, the complaint cites CashCall, Inc. v. Morrisey, 2014 W. Va LEXIS (W. Va. May 30, 2014), and Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, 786 F.3d 246 (2d Cir. 2015), as legal authority for claims alleging usury and other violations of Colorado’s Uniform Consumer Credit Code.

The amended complaint filed in Mead v. Marlette Funding LLC d/b/a Best Egg asserts that Marlette paid all costs, including legal, marketing and other expenses, incurred by Cross River Bank in originating Best Egg loans. In addition, the complaint asserts that Cross River “bears no risk that it will lose its principal in the event consumers default on the Best Egg Loans that it sells to Marlette or to Marlette’s non-bank designees” because: (i) Marlette maintains a bank account in favor of Cross River in the amount of Marlette’s anticipated purchases; (ii) Best Egg loans originated by Cross River are sold to Marlette within two business days; (iii) the parties’ contract specifies that Cross River has no liability to Marlette for sold loans, and (iv) Marlette is obligated to indemnify Cross River “against any claim that any aspect of the Best Egg lending program violates the law.”

The amended complaint filed in Mead v. Avant of Colorado LLC, in turn, similarly asserts that Avant and not WebBank, which originated the subject loans, bears all cost and expenses, including the costs of evaluating loan applications and credit reports and the costs associated with dispersals of loan proceeds.

Cross River Bank Sues State of Colorado (Over the Transom), Rated: AAA

News Summary:

  • On April 3rd, Cross River Bank filed a Declaratory Judgment Action (Federal District Court) against the State of Colorado to protect its federal statutory and contractual rights to freely extend credit and to freely sell those loans on a nationwide basis
  • Previously (in January 2017), the Colorado Attorney General sued Marlette Funding in an attempt to prohibit Marlette from enforcing loans validly made by Cross River and validly sold by Cross River to Marlette
  • Cross River filed the declaratory judgment action in support of Marlette Funding (an MPL partner), and the broader bank-platform model
  • According to Cross River General Counsel, Arlen Gelbard, “the Colorado Attorney General is attempting to undermine the concept of federal preemption, and with it 150-years of established banking law.”
  • More specifically, Colorado’s action violates Federal Deposit Insurance Act (Section 27) and National Bank Act, as well as the “valid when made” doctrine
  • “It is clear to us that Colorado’s lawsuit against Marlette intentionally did not name Cross River as a party because Colorado knows that Cross River’s actions are protected by its status as a state-chartered, federally regulated Bank, which affords complete preemption over state law”

The Issue – Federal preemption/uncertainty:

  • The federal preemption provisions which allow small banks like Cross River to compete with larger entities, have come under attack by several states and in some recent court cases such as Madden v. Midland Funding and other so-called “True Lender” cases.
  • While we believe these cases were wrongly decided as a legal matter, the broader impact has been to encourage states and other plaintiffs to disregard or undermine key legal doctrines of federal preemption and loans as being “valid when made”, leading to market uncertainty.
  • The characteristics of the Cross River model are very different from many others in the marketplace, where the named lender has little to no involvement in the origination process and retains no “skin in the game”
  • This lack of certainty about what loan terms apply to subsequent purchasers has broad, adverse ramifications for US banking and financial markets. Specifically, certain investors have moved away from this asset class, which has reduced liquidity in the market.
  • “Although the action taken by the Colorado Attorney General is being positioned as one to protect the consumer, the actual result will likely have a negative impact on consumers and small businesses, as their access to this important source of credit is significantly reduced.”

SOFI RAISES THE VARIABLE STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING RATES (lendedu), Rated: AAA

The Federal Reserve’s interest rate increase last month is starting to show up in some loan products including student loan refinancing. Fixed rate borrowers are safe for now, but those with variable interest can expect to pay more.

As of April 1st the interest rate on a variable student loan at SoFi increased both on the low and high ends of the range. Borrowers will now pay anywhere from 2.565 percent to 6.490 percent interest on a variable refinance loan. That compares with 2.365 percent to 6.29 percent interest just a month ago. The interest rate on SoFi’s fixed rate products held steady at 3.375 percent to 6.74 percent from March to April.

Kabbage Extends $ 3 Billion in Funding to over 100,000 Small Business Customers (IT Business Net), Rated: AAA

Kabbage®, a pioneering financial services, technology and data platform, announced it has extended more than $3 billion to small businesses across all 50 U.S. states, covering every industry. The company has also now served over 100,000 small businesses through its platform, representing the largest customer base of any online small business lender.

ApplePie Capital CEO & Co-Founder Denise Thomas Makes Marketplace Lending Success Look Easy (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

“We have gained a foothold within the industry by partnering with 42 brands to date. Moving forward we will continue to innovate…”

Erin: You recently signed new investors plus funding capital, thus standing out in a challenging market. Please share details about your MO. How long did it take to raise the money?

Denise: It took five months. The two main sources of funding we closed were new strategic partners and existing investors. Our strategy was to continue to tell our story and educate investors about franchise debt as an asset.

Erin: Please share your experience about dealing with a prominent Bay Area VC saying, “You don’t look like Fintech.”

Denise: Statistically, there are far more men running fintech companies, clearly there are some biases out there around that. A study released by Peterson Institute for International Economics in 2016 found that “An increase in the share [on executive teams and boards] of women would be associated with a 15% rise in profitability.” At the end of the day, you want people in your board room who are supportive.

Erin: You have spoken quite positively about your relationship with Fifth Third. How and why does ApplePie’s relationship with this bank differ from others?

Denise: As opposed to our other loan purchasers, Fifth Third has made a strategic investment in our company and holds a stake in the growth of our business. They co-led our B round with QED Investors, with whom they have now also partnered to make strategic investments in VC-backed fintech companies. They have a long term vision for our industry and provide their expertise to create better financial solutions and a superior experience for our borrowers.

Erin: ApplePie Capital’s loans are backed by personal guarantee and unsecured. Personal assets are not required to back loans. Tell me more…

Denise: In franchising, there is a blueprint for the business owners to follow, in terms of cost analysis and every other aspect. This is measurable and people have a path to multi-unit ownership. We look at each brand and evaluate the sustainability of the business model, which has proven itself over the last 25 years through historical SBA data.

5W Public Relations Named Agency of Record for Sharestates (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

5W Public Relations, one of the 15 largest independently owned PR firms in the US, has been named PR Agency of Record by Sharestates, an online real estate investment marketplace that is an industry leader in crowdfunding for individual and institutional investors.

Could Real Estate Crowdfunding Help Millennials Retire Sooner? (Realty Biz), Rated: A

Real estate crowdfunding has proven a popular choice for one of the most fickle investing groups in the marketplace: Millennials.

On the surface, it seems improbable. Millennials investing in real estate? This is a group that has been loathe to purchase homes, with less than a third of Millennials becoming homeowners compared to 64 percent of the general population. After a little analysis, however, there are powerful reasons why real estate crowdfunding appeals to Millennials—enough that more are certain to join the crowd of investors in the coming years.

The stereotype, of course, is that Millennials are all underpaid with limited skills and few opportunities. That’s not reality, but even if it were, real estate crowdfunding has very low barriers to entry. Some of the best and most successful crowdfunding portals allow for investment minimums as low as $5,000. That lets Millennials get into the real estate investment game much earlier than previous generations.

Second, real estate crowdfunding is an investment option that allows Millennials to bypass banks. Having come of age during the Great Recession, many Millennials don’t trust financial institutions or Wall Street firms. They do, however, see the need to protect their money from the kind of financial breakdowns that hurt their parents’ retirement plans nine years ago by investing in hard assets. Real estate crowdfunding offers the chance to do just that.

PayPal Directors Hit With Class Action Suit from Shareholders Over Venmo (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

On March 24, 2017, shareholders of PayPal Holdings Inc., the parent company of mobile-payment provider Venmo, filed a derivative suit against its directors in the District Court of Delaware. A derivative suit is a form of class action in which shareholders can sue company officers or directors on behalf of the company.

The plaintiff shareholders claim in the suit that the directors of PayPal willfully or recklessly caused PayPal to make false or misleading statements which led to direct damages against PayPal. The false and misleading statements are alleged to have been made in PayPal’s quarterly reports, annual reports, and proxy statements which failed to disclose any of the alleged unfair and deceptive business practice or the fact that those practices would lead to increased regulatory scrutiny.

View the filing here.

Over 250,000 Shoppers And 1,400 Dealers Turn To AutoGravity (PR Newswire), Rated: A

AutoGravity, the FinTech pioneer transforming car shopping and finance with advanced mobile technology, today revealed that over a quarter million users – more than half of whom are millennials – have downloaded AutoGravity iOS and Android apps for car shopping and financing. AutoGravity also confirmed that its network of partner car dealerships has grown to more than 1,400 franchise dealers.

Since launching in 2016, AutoGravity has achieved significant growth across the United States, securing partnerships with the nation’s top automotive lenders, as well as four of the top five national dealer groups, representing all new and used car brands available in the country.

  • New cars remain popular with boomers. AutoGravity data shows two-thirds of car shoppers ages 50+ who pursue financing do so for new vehicles. In contrast, only half of AutoGravity car shoppers ages 18 to 25 who pursue financing do so for new vehicles
  • Japanese brands perform in California. Japanese economy and luxury car brands are more searched relative to American brands in California (as compared to the US overall)
  • Economy cars continue to be a popular choice. Economy brands rank in the top four most searched for vehicles across the US – luxury car brands round out the top seven
  • Millennials more cost sensitive than Gen X. Among car shoppers seeking financing on AutoGravity, millennials look to borrow ~15% less (finance amount requested) and seek to contribute ~25% less (cash down payment) relative to car shoppers ages 36+

Why FutureAdvisor orphaned its B2C book of business and other learnings at CFA Society’s robo-panel in San Francisco (RIABiz), Rated: A

The bad news: Selling robo financial advice to millennials — at least until they grow up and start acting like boomers — is a fool’s game.

Cianciolo provided the fullest update yet on FutureAdvisor since the firm’s eye-popping sale to BlackRock in 2015. See: Why BlackRock’s purchase of FutureAdvisor for $152 million could be a deal of destiny.

The robo — once the No. 3 retail player behind only Wealthfront and Betterment — no longer takes assets to millennials.

Standing up for retail and millennials was Zhang, a millennial herself, who questioned whether Roy and Ciancolo were being unduly pessimistic in capitulating to established players.

Jemstep had a brief period where it went for retail business but veered quickly to the B-to-B market.  “Can somebody [create a viable B-to-C robo advisor]?” Cianciolo asked. “Sure but you’re taking double and triple risks.”

Jamie Dimon Pushes for Simpler, More Coordinated Bank Regulations (WSJ), Rated: A

J.P. Morgan Chase JPM 0.33% & Co. Chief James Dimon laid out his wishlist of regulatory changes in his annual shareholder letter Tuesday, calling for simpler and better coordinated rules that could help to spur more lending and in turn economic growth.

Any changes are likely to help the bank. Mr. Dimon wrote that the “anticipated reversal of many negatives and the expectation of a more business-friendly environment” in addition to the bank’s results are among the reasons its stock price jumped about 30% in 2016.

Mr.. Dimon has previously said that rules should be coordinated among agencies, simplified and consistent, but in Tuesday’s letter spelled out what that meant for the first time.

He said banks have too much capital and that could be used instead to safely finance the economy.

Mr. Dimon reiterated that the so-called “gold plating” of international standards by U.S. regulators should be eliminated. Making U.S. rules stronger than international rules was in some cases a priority of Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo, who was the central bank’s regulatory point person but is stepping down this week.

Mr. Dimon also suggested reforms to the mortgage market since the housing sector has been “unusually slow to recover.”

Bond Street Partners With NerdWallet (Bond Street), Rated: A

Today, we are thrilled to announce that we’re partnering with NerdWallet to help more small business owners access fair and affordable financing. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, only 1 in 5 businesses that apply for a loan from a big bank are approved.

Together, we’ll create resources, guides and webinars to support the growth of businesses. In addition, entrepreneurs will now be able to access financing from Bond Street via NerdWallet’s Small Business Loan Tool.

Prominent Fintech Marketing Firm Leverage PR Sold to Caliber Corporate Advisors (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

Leverage PR, a prominent marketing firm engaged in the crowdfunding and Fintech sector, has been sold to Caliber Corporate Advisors.  Founded by Joy Schoffler, a well-known and highly visible participant in the emerging industry of financial innovation, shared the news with Crowdfund Insider, explaining she expects to remain engaged with the firm but in a different role.

Leverage PR was founded in 2010 and was the first marketing firm to recognize the potential of alternative finance.

United Kingdom

RateSetter continues to boost transparency with new expected losses committee (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

RATESETTER has set up a new committee on expected losses as part of a review of the way it monitors and reports on credit risk.

The panel, which will come into effect later this month, comprises the peer-to-peer lender’s chief executive Rhydian Lewis, its chief finance officer Harry Russell and various heads of consumer and commercial credit risk.

Boosting expected losses data is the latest of a batch of strategic changes RateSetter has put in place to price risk more accurately following higher-than-expected losses on its 2014 and 2015 loans.

Peer-to-peer loan fund considers change of manager (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

The UK’s first peer-to-peer loan fund is to review its investment manager as a swath of funds struggle to generate returns from the emerging asset class.

The listed fund, P2P Global Investments, buys loans from websites matching interest-paying borrowers with lenders in the UK, US, Europe and Australia, as well as holding stakes in the platforms.

It is currently managed by MW Eaglewood Europe, an asset manager majority-owned by UK hedge fund Marshall Wace. In a short announcement to the stock market on Tuesday, the board said it would review the arrangement following discussions with Eaglewood and “significant shareholders” and would update the market in due course.

Oakam Brings Gamification and Rewards to Consumer Finance with New Mobile App Feature (BusinessWire), Rated: A

Oakam has enhanced its mobile app with the launch of Oakam Grow, a new feature that uses gamification to make consumer finance more engaging, rewarding and inclusive. Oakam Grow builds on the UK-based consumer lender’s application of behavioural science to encourage the development of positive credit habits, and supports its strategy to bring digital disruption to the largely analogue micro-credit industry.

Oakam Grow gamifies the experience for Oakam’s mobile app users through the application of social currency theory, which enables customers to share in the financial upside of their responsible credit behaviour. Customers earn points when making repayments via the app or referring friends, redeemable for loan repayments, cash-back, store vouchers, lower rates on future loans, or to socially vouch for friends in the loan application process. Oakam’s award-winning mobile app first launched in 2015, and today more than 55 per cent of its customers are regular users. The addition of Oakam Grow will further drive app downloads and engagement.

Oakam has seized on the opportunity to disrupt the £1.8 tn global micro-lending industry through the use of AI, machine learning and cognitive science. The century-old industry has seen little innovation since its founding and today relies on the same analogue processes that keep cost-to-income ratios above 50 per cent, and prices high for consumers. The industry’s network of around 200,000 doorstep loan agents globally also leaves consumers with poor or no credit history, vulnerable to misleading offers and predatory practices.

Oakam’s omni-channel model, comprising its digital properties and UK retail network, confronts both the issues of inefficiency and consumer protection.

RateSetter Business Finance Adds Relationship Manager Amanda Sharp (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

RateSetter has appointed Amanda Sharp as Regional Relationship Manager for London and the South East. Sharp previously spent 35 years with RBS Group.

How to navigate the P2P maze (FT Adviser), Rated: A

Against a backdrop of rising inflation and continued low interest rates, it is no surprise that a growing number of the UK’s financial advisers are looking for ways to make their client’s money work harder.

And there is one solution in particular that has caught the attention of eagle-eyed advisers: peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.

Assuming current Bank of England inflation at 2.3 per cent, according to latest figures, and interest rate forecasts, money deposited in the average high street savings account today will shrink in real terms after both one and two years.

In fact, some high street bank cash savings accounts are offering just 0.01 per cent in savings – less even than the current Bank Base Rate of 0.25 per cent.

Even in its slowest year yet, 2015, the sector grew by over 80 per cent according to one report (Nesta, Pushing Boundaries: the 2015 UK alternative finance industry report).

P2P lending is likely to grow even faster as more and more P2P lenders receive their full FCA authorisation – heralding the arrival of the ‘Innovative Finance ISA’ (IFISA), which will almost certainly add to the momentum the sector is experiencing.

European Union

Why Stockholm is creating more unicorns than London per capita (elite business magazine), Rated: AAA

The result of the Swedish government’s tech drive of the 1990s is that while Silicon Valley may be the undisputed champion of the world when it comes to producing unicorns, Stockholm comes a close second. According to SparkLabs, the seed-stage fund, the Californian city has produced 10.7 unicorns per million inhabitants, the Nordic city produced three and Tel Aviv, which came third, birthed 1.2. So it’s no wonder the European Digital City Index ranked the metropolis as Europe’s second best city after London when it comes to supporting its digital entrepreneurs. “In Stockholm, we’re really freaking good,” says Stark.

But even though access to a solid infrastructure has proven vital in fostering this thriving entrepreneurial community, it isn’t the only factor. Equally important for the success of Sweden’s startups is the fact that that the nation has a population of just under ten million, which means new enterprises have to be thinking about international expansion from the get-go.

‘Shadow banks’ step into the spotlight (Financial Times), Rated: A

The growing influence of alternative capital is most evident in the US — in April 2015, nonbank lenders accounted for more than half of new government-backed mortgages. Banks are still the biggest lenders in Europe, but rivals are emerging. Many of the new players are linked to the securitisation industry, where loans are packaged up and sold on as bonds to capital markets investors.

Private equity-funded upstarts have quietly taken a more active role in the UK’s securitisation market, which used to be dominated by big banks.

Today one of the largest users of securitisation in the UK is not a bank. The Northview Group, which writes mortgages under the Kensington brand and is funded through securitisation, describes itself as a nonbank challenger lender.

A wave of nonbank lenders, including companies such as Munt and Dynamic Credit, have appeared in the past few years. These players now account for close to a fifth of new Dutch mortgages, according to IG&H, a consultancy. This is up from almost nothing just a few years ago. The companies take capital from institutions and lend to homeowners.

Technology companies that facilitate lending between investors and businesses make up another area of growth in shadow banking, and they are becoming more adventurous in the services they offer.

Funding Circle is one of Europe’s best known peer-to-peer lending platforms, where retail users can invest in loans made online. It lends £100m a month in the UK and is expanding in Europe.

As with other forms of shadow banking, European P2P lending lags far behind the US market. Investors who use Funding Circle, which is also active in North America, said they were disappointed last summer with the performance of US loans written by the company. The concerns followed losses that investors made on P2P loans securitised by OnDeck, a nonbank lender.

International

Statistic of International P2P Lending Services March 2017 (P2P-Banking), Rated: AAA

The total volume for the reported marketplaces adds up to 532 million Euro.

Milestones reached this month are:

  • Mintos crossed 150 million EUR in originations since launch
  • Moneything reached 50 million GBP since inception

Australia

Agri-lending helped drive SocietyOne to a new loan record (Finder), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lender SocietyOne has announced a new lending record, passing the $250 million lending mark in March of this year. Part of the lender’s success is due to increased demand for its two agri-lending products, which, combined with a surge in personal loans over the post-Christmas and New Year period, saw an additional $45 million lent to customers.

China

China P2P industry lending nears Rmb1tn despite crackdown, new regulations (Financial Time), Rated: AAA

Growth in China’s peer-to-peer lending sector has proven resilient in the face of new regulations and a year-long crackdown by authorities on online financing, with total P2P loans blowing past the Rmb900bn ($130.7bn) mark last month.

Outstanding P2P loans came to Rmb920bn at the end of March, according to new figures released today by lending platform Wangdaizhijia.

Month-on-month growth in outstanding loans slowed compared to before the new regulations were introduced in August, from 5.7 per cent in July 2016 to 4 per cent last month.But when viewed in renminbi terms, growth has ratcheted up, with the industry tacking on an average Rmb35.6bn a month in the seven months since regulations were introduced, compared to an average rise of Rmb29.1bn in the seven months ended August.

China curbs ‘Wild West’ P2P loan sector (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending in China is at an inflection point as state regulators aim to transform it from a “Wild West” industry rife with fraudsters into a respectable market in which legitimate lenders can offer funds to willing borrowers.

With their offer of attractive fixed returns over short periods, P2P investments appear similar to saving products that reputable commercial banks offer as an alternative to low rates available for deposits. P2P yields are typically higher than those available from banks, making them an easy sell to investors.

Since 2011, 3,556 platforms have collapsed, according to Online Lending House, a website that tracks the sector. In a third of the cases, law enforcement agencies closed the platforms or their owners or managers simply disappeared.

Asia

Dangoestate.com Real Estate Crowdfunding Platform Celebrates 1,000,000 Investors (Digital Journal), Rated: AAA

Dango estate, the now five months old Singapore based investment platform is growing by leaps and bounds. The mood at their three offices around the world was very high yesterday as they celebrated the 1,000,000’th investor on the platform.

Dango estate has achieved great success in the crowdfunding industry in the shortest time, the platform has already funded more than $500,000,000 in loans worldwide and delivered over $350,000,000 in principal and interest to investors, with yields as high as 10%.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor