Thursday May 25 2017, Daily News Digest

P2P global investments

News Comments Today’s main news: Investors pressure OnDeck to make bigger expense cuts. LendingClub celebrates 10 years in business. Zopa launches ISA. Earnest is not for sale, after all. Orca to launch new P2P rating service. Moody’ downgrades China on debt risk. The first ETF for ABS. Today’s main analysis: Orchard Platform reports Q1 results. Today’s thought-provoking articles: 10 years of excellence […]

P2P global investments

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

  • Moody’s downgrades China on debt risk. GP:”Unclear if this will have a real effect on the capital markets but it will certainly anger the Chinese government. If I were the Chinese government I would setup my own rating agency and build it into a real credible agency and not a government puppet so that the day when I need my own rating agency to maybe skew a little bit the ratings it will be credible enough.”
  • Chinese investors among majority of EB-5 visa recipients. AT: “It’s not surprising. One reason cited in this story is the harsh treatment offered to Christians by the Chinese government, so many of these families are using financial concerns as a cover up for religious oppression concerns. Both are legitimate.”

European Union

International

Australia

India

Asia

Middle East

News Summary

United States

OnDeck under pressure to make bigger cuts to cost base (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Activist investors are turning up the heat on OnDeck, the online lender, which said this month it would curb originations and cut costs in an attempt to turn a profit by the end of the year.

The company still needed to think bigger, according to Mario Cibelli, managing partner at Marathon Partners Equity Management, who wrote to board members in April urging them to take an axe to the $194m annual cost base and explore a sale of the business. Net revenues, after loan-loss provisions and funding costs, came to $109m last year.

Pressure on OnDeck is likely to come from other quarters too. EJF Capital, an activist investor, has built a stake equivalent to about 9 per cent of the shares outstanding since the turn of the year, according to disclosures tallied by Bloomberg. In February the Arlington, Virginia-based group, which ranks as OnDeck’s second-largest shareholder with more than 9 per cent, said it may seek talks with management.

LendingClub Celebrates Ten Years of Online Lending (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

LendingClub (NYSE:LC), the largest marketplace lender in the US, is celebrating its tenth anniversary. It is pretty hard to believe that LendingClub is now ten years old.

To paraphrase the LendingClub history:

  • Within the first 100 days of its existence, LendingClub originated its first $1 million in loan. The average interest rate, at that time, stood at 12.6%. By the end of 2007,  LendingClub had originated about 500 loans for a total of $3.5 million.
  • In 2010, LendingClub originated $10 million in a single month.
  • By 2012, LendingClub has originated $1 billion loans as institutional money becomes more interested in the Fintech platform. The following year, the first banks start investing on the LendingClub platform.
  • In 2014 Lending Club launched its IPO – the second largest for the year.
  • By 2017, LendingClub has originated more than $26 billion in loans as it enters the next decade of financial innovation.

10 Years of Excellence & Innovation (LendingClub), Rated: AAA

  • 2007 By August, the LendingClub website launches. By year’s end, approximately 500 loans worth over $3.5 million are made. 
  • 2008 The subprime mortgage crisis spreads; global markets sell off and the Great Recession takes hold. Despite the chaos and potential risk of halting its burgeoning business, LendingClub demonstrates its commitment to working with regulators, entering a six-month quiet period to register with the SEC and prepare to issue a security (the Note) that can be offered and sold to investors through its website.
  • 2009 LendingClub continues to stay focused on the opportunity to deliver investment alternatives to investors and introduces LendingClub IRAs to allow investors to use the platform to work toward their retirement goals.
  • 2010 Propelled by its SEC registered Notes and a robust investor base, LendingClub crosses $100 million in loans and 10,000 borrowers in the first quarter. By March, the company captures 79% of the U.S. marketplace lending market after facilitating $8,664,750 in monthly loan originations.
  • 2011 LendingClub continues to innovate on its borrower and investor offerings, surpassing $200 million in loans for borrowers at the beginning of the year. 
  • 2012 In 2012 alone, U.S. banks close 2,267 branches and approve a record-low 14.8% of small business loan requests. LendingClub is named to the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2012 list and originations top $1 billion.
  • 2013 LendingClub welcomes its first bank investor partners to the platform – Titan Bank and Congressional Bank.
  • 2014 A big year for tech IPOs, LendingClub is one of the biggest of the year, coming in second to Alibaba and listed on the NYSE alongside others, including Virgin America and GoPro.
  • 2015 Big banks continue to cut back on loans to small businesses, making it difficult for them to get access to credit. LendingClub becomes a founding member of the Small Business Borrower’s Bill of Rights and expands small business products to include a small business line of credit. 
  • 2016 LendingClub launches its auto refinance product, delivering a lower-cost alternative to car owners. 
  • 2017 LendingClub looks toward a new decade of financial innovation, leveraging the power of its marketplace model to deliver more value to both borrowers and investors. An investor mobile application is launched, making it easier than ever for retail investors to track their progress.

Thank you for 10 years (LendingClub Email), Rated: AAA

From the LendingClub newsletter:

Over the past 10 years, you have helped power the loans facilitated by LendingClub’s platform for borrowers looking to finance their financial lives. Together, we have helped nearly 2 million borrowers access affordable credit. That means we’ve helped finance debt consolidation, home improvement projects, medical expenses and weddings for millions of people in the United States.

  • More than 160,000 retail investors have gotten unprecedented access to invest in consumer credit through LendingClub’s platform
  • Nearly 2 million borrowers have gotten access to affordable credit through LendingClub’s marketplace
  • 98% of investors who invest in 100+ Notes of relatively equal size have seen positive returns
  • 1,700 loans are reviewed per day, and more than 50,800 loans per month
  • Loans receive full commitment in 3-4 days on average
  • Auto refinance customers saved an average of $1,500
  • Borrowers pay 24% lower in interest than they were paying on their outstanding debt or credit cards
  • 73% of borrowers experience a FICO score increase three months after obtaining their loan–with an average score increase of 28 points!

Consumer Unsecured Q1 2017 (Orchard Platform), Rated: AAA

Key Insights

  • Origination volume increased in Q1, continuing the trend that began last quarter. Q1 origination volume was up 4.6% from Q4, though still down 44% from Q4 2015, when the market reached its highest originations. Early indications in 2017 are that investor sentiment is improving, and we believe we’re likely to see increased investment over the next quarter.
  • 2014 and 2015 vintage charge-offs have increased more steeply than in prior years. We believe there are two main sources driving this increase. First, individual platforms have shown increasing charge-offs during these years. We do not have strong evidence of the reasons for this deterioration, but in recent months, some of the larger platforms have reworked their credit models which they believe should address the increases they have seen. Second, and also important to note, is that 2014 and 2015 vintages experienced substantial growth in subprime originations, which tend to charge-off at higher rates. The increase in subprime loans as a percentage of the overall market skews the results for recent years upward when compared with the originations from previous years that had a smaller percentage of subprime loans.
  • Borrower rates rose slightly in Q1, increasing 24bps from Q4 levels. The long-term trend over the last three years has been decreasing interest rates, in part driven by the decline of subprime originations in the past year. This will be an interesting statistic to monitor in the coming year as the Fed continues to raise interest rates in line with their tightening policy.
Source: Orchard Platform Quarterly Industry Report
Source: Orchard Platform Quarterly Industry Report
Source: Orchard Platform Quarterly Industry Report

With an Asset-Backed Debt ETF, the Bet Is If You Can Pay What You Owe (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

BlackRock Inc.’s planned iShares Consumer Asset-Backed Securities ETF will invest in notes supported by consumer loans, such as student debt and credit cards, according to a regulatory filing on Friday. If approved, it will be the first ETF to target the ABS market.

Consumer debt has ballooned in recent years as Americans ramp up borrowing and capitalize on historically low interest rates. Household debt topped $12.7 trillion in the first quarter, up 1.2 percent from the end of 2016. Signs of trouble are however brewing, with suspicions of fraud in some auto loan applications, a decline in credit-card recovery rates and an increase in late payments on private student loans.

The iShares MBS ETF has $10.6 billion under management while the iShares CMBS ETF oversees $240 million, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Futuristic Fintech, With a Female Focus (WSJ), Rated: A

SCOTT SAUNDERS, CEO of the online lending company Payoff, did not set out to build a personalized financial coaching app for women. In 2014, he began assembling a team that eventually included a cognitive neuroscientist, a marketer, an advertising executive and the data scientist behind eHarmony’s match algorithm. The goal: to build an app that used psychological testing to match users of both genders with artificially intelligent financial coaches. By focusing on the intersection of money and psychology, Saunders hoped to minimize financial stress and maximize the pleasure users get from spending and saving.

Earnest Not for Sale. Securitization is Moving Forward (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Last week, Crowdfund Insider referenced a report in Bloomberg that Earnest was looking for buyers as it struggled to raise new funds. A company representative has now stated that Earnest is not looking to sell the company.

Zibby Announces $ 13.5 Million Investment led by CURO Financial Technologies Corp. and MissionOG (LendIt), Rated: A

Zibby, the omnichannel lease‐to‐own payment option for online and in‐store shopping, today announced a $13.5 million investment led by CURO and MissionOG, with participation from Blumberg Capital, Tribeca Venture Partners and other institutional investors. This brings Zibby’stotal capital raised to more than $150 million. With the investment, Zibby will further expand its presence among retailers to offer non‐prime and near‐prime customers a monthly payment option for furniture, appliances, electronics and other consumer durables.

Baltimore fintech startup Blispay raises $ 12 million (Baltimore Sun), Rated: A

Blispay, a Baltimore-based financial technology company, has raised $12 million to accelerate the marketing and sales outreach for its financing platform.

The Series A round was led by FirstMark, Accomplice and NEA. New investors included Camden Partners and F-Prime Capital. The round brings the company’s total funding to just under $25 million.

Frost & Sullivan Commends AutoGravity for Transforming Automotive Financing Industry (Frost & Sullivan), Rated: A

Based on its recent analysis of the automotive financing industry, Frost & Sullivan recognizes AutoGravity with the 2017 North American Frost & Sullivan Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award. AutoGravity’s first-of-its-kind FinTech platform empowers car buyers to browse any new or used car, get multiple binding financing offers in minutes and select the deal and lender that’s right for them. Just months after launching its native mobile app in the summer of 2016, AutoGravity introduced new car leasing and used car loan features with the aim of transforming the auto financing industry.

While simplifying the financing process for customers, AutoGravity’s app also saves dealers the effort of educating customers on various models and financing options. Additionally, it saves time by eliminating the need to apply for financing at the dealership and process pages of paperwork. Most significantly, it supports dealers by providing them with qualified, enthusiastic car buyers.

Currently, AutoGravity has 60+ employees, and has recorded 350,000 app downloads in just one year. It has expanded to 48 states in the United States and has on-boarded many of the nation’s top-20 automotive lenders, as well as 1,500+ dealers. Due to these successes and its ability to break new ground in the auto financing industry, Frost & Sullivan is pleased to present AutoGravity with the 2017 North American Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award.

Fintech Tools That Can Change The World Of Finance (Forbes), Rated: A

According to an EY study last year, fintech is growing in popularity, with roughly 15.5% of digitally active consumers using financial tech products — a figure that was likely to double within 12 months. The United States had the second-highest adoption rate of fintech tools (16.5%), following Hong Kong with 29.1%.

  • 1. Artificial Intelligence – Fenergo deploys A.I. to analyze unstructured data, including social media, intracompany communication and linguistics in order to more effectively satisfy Know-Your-Customer and Anti-Money-Laundering requirements. – Jason LeeDailyPay
  • 2. Peer-To-Peer And Apple Pay 
  • 5. Riskalyze, RetireUp and Asset-Map – Riskalyze provides a user-friendly and client-facing software that allows us to tell the story of risk, which we believe is crucial for an investor to understand in order to have success. RetireUp, a user-friendly income planning tool, and Asset-Map offer very visual understandings to clients on where they stand when it comes to their finances. – Lance ScottBay Harbor Wealth Management
  • 7. PeerStreet And WorldRemit – Services like WorldRemit are empowering immigrants with better choice, security and transparency in sending money back home to their loved ones. – Binna KimVested
  • 8. Faster Payment Rails – Our old ACH network is improving. Instead of settling payments once per day, as it has for decades, it will start to settle multiple times per day. This will improve settlement success rates and prevent e-check kiting. Coming right behind this improvement are a number of real-time payment initiatives. – Charlie YouakimSezzle
  • 9. Decision Logic – I’m excited about Decision Logic because it provides lenders the ability to verify a borrower’s sensitive information and understand their borrower’s financial history. – Chad OtarExcel Capital Management, Inc.
  • 10. Peer-To-Peer Lending
  • 11. Robo-Advisers
  • 12. Greenlight – I just got my ten-year-old daughter a Greenlight card. It allows me to automate her allowance and potentially control the spaces where she spends money. – Matthew MayAcuity 

Fintech reinvents lottery bonds (Financial Times), Rated: A

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have a knack for taking old things and making them look new. The latest example of which is Long Game, which TechCrunch tells us is “a bank account, with a twist”:

The personal finance app allows users to play games and win cash prizes up to $1 million. It may sound like a gimmick, but these are FDIC-insured accounts backed by Blue Ridge Bank in Virginia.

[…]

In addition to the possibilities of cash rewards, users accrue .1 percent interest. She hopes that participants will take saving seriously and view the games as a bonus.

While Long Game touts the $1 million prize possibility, so far the largest check they’ve written is $1,000. Like the actual lottery, it’s an odds-based game and the chances of the app making you a millionaire are 1 in 227 million.

Here is the GAO Report on Fintech that was Delivered to Congress (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: B

This one falls under recently discovered. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on Financial Technology, or Fintech, for Congress this past April.

The GAO explained;

“You asked us to provide information on the fintech industry, including the marketplace lending subsector, such as its structure and development over the last several years, as well as how federal regulators supervise fintech firms. This report, the first in a series of planned reports on fintech, describes four commonly referenced subsectors of fintech: marketplace lending; mobile payments; digital wealth management; and distributed ledger technology and their regulatory oversight.”

Ann Fulmer Joins FormFree as Chief Strategy and Industry Relations Officer (PR Newswire), Rated: A

FormFree today announced that it has hired mortgage loan quality subject matter expert and analyst Ann Fulmer as its chief strategy and industry relations officer. FormFree’s flagship product, AccountChek, is an asset verification app that streamlines the loan underwriting process for both borrowers and lenders, resulting in higher borrower satisfaction and shaving more than a week off the time it takes to close a loan.

In her role, Fulmer will drive FormFree’s strategic planning and implementation, manage the firm’s institutional relationships and interactions with federal and state regulators and oversee outreach to industry associations and advocacy groups. In addition, she will spearhead the firm’s long-term development of a comprehensive mortgage compliance solution.

New fiduciary rule for financial advisers expected to go into effect in June (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Rated: B

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta on Tuesday made it clear that the U.S. Department of Labor would not delay the implementation of the rule,  announcing the agency’s intentions in a Wall Street Journal opinion column.

Tuesday’s announcement that the rule is going forward may not be the end of the discussion.

How Small Businesses Can Benefit from Loyalty Programs (Kabbage), Rated: B

Almost all companies find that they have to spend less money to keep customers than they have to spend to attract new people through the door or to their shopping website. Some companies may access small business loans for their initial investment. They understand that they can benefit from this investment because it provides them with an efficient way to market. The extra profits will allow them to pay the loan back and keep more for themselves.

United Kingdom

Zopa announces ISA launch (Finextra), Rated: AAA

Zopa, the pioneering financial services company, announces today that it will launch its Innovative Finance ISAs in June (pending HMRC approval). With demand expected to be high, existing customers will be given priority access ahead of new customers.

In preparation for the Innovative Finance ISA, Zopa is also revamping its investor products by introducing Zopa Core and announcing the retirement of Zopa Access and Classic. Investors in Zopa Core will lend in the same risk markets as Access and Classic (A*-C) but will not be covered by the Safeguard fund. Zopa Core will offer a higher target return of 3.9% after fees and expected credit losses, as compared to 3.7% and 2.9% for Classic and Access.

The Innovative Finance ISA will be launched in four phases:
1. The first stage (from 15th June) will be focused on existing customers who want to open a new IFISA (limit of £20,000) and lend through Core and Plus.
2. The second stage (1st July 2017 to 31st July 2017) will enable existing customers to sell their current loans and re-purchase similar loans in an IFISA wrapper. This will allow investors to retain Safeguarded loans in the IFISA. Any investing through new lending, or relending as capital is returned, will be onto Plus or Core only.
3. The third stage (from August 2017, but dependent on meeting demand for new IFISAs) will allow existing customers to transfer existing ISA investments with other providers to Zopa.
4. And finally, once we have met demands of existing customers, we will welcome investments from new customers.

UK P2P Lending Market Researcher Orca Dives into P2P Provider Rating Services (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Orca, an independent data, research and analysis providers on the UK P2P lending market has announced its plans to launch its own four-factor rating service for individual P2P providers, the Orca Rating. The rating will be designed in partnership with Dublin City University’s Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce research team, to respond to the growth of the asset class and the demand for more independent analysis and information on P2P lending.

The Orca rating will individually analyze four factors — performance, liquidity, operator health and security — aiming to go beyond existing single platform ratings and enable advisers and investors to assess all fundamental criteria at once when comparing and choosing P2P lending platforms.

According to Orca data, the P2P market has now surpassed £9B cumulative total lent with 2016 alone seeing a 40% increase in investment in the asset class.

P2P lender ArchOver granted full FCA authorisation (Finextra), Rated: A

ArchOver, the peer-to-peer (P2P) business lending platform, has secured full authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to operate as a P2P lending platform (Article 36H).

Since launching in September 2014, ArchOver has facilitated over £35 million of investment over its platform, operating under interim permissions granted by the FCA. Full authorisation will support ArchOver in attracting new lenders to the platform and allow it to continue working with businesses to make access to funding as easy and simple as possible.

M&A hits Alternative Credit: MW Eaglewood to merge with Pollen Street Capital (AltFi), Rated: A

The respective managers of the £822m P2P Global Investments and the £200m HoneyComb investment trusts will merge, creating one of the largest specialist asset management  firms focused on non-bank lending.

MW Eaglewood and Pollen Street Capital, the respective two parties, are under discussion as to adjustments to their mandates but Lindsey McMurray, managing partner of Pollen Street, will become head of the new firm which will be called Pollen Street Capital.

P2P Global Investments is the largest closed-ended fund investing in non-bank lending in the UK, having launched three years ago. While, as its name suggests, it originally was a vehicle for exposure to the P2P and marketplace lending market it has moved more into niches within the alternative Credit spectrum in recent months.

Should more bridging lenders launch mobile apps? (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: A

Moving to an app-based approach is something that many players in the bridging industry would like to do sooner rather than later, according to LendInvest.

The comments follow the news that bridging lender Henley Finance will be releasing its first app on 1st June in order to make applying for finance easier.

Are FinTech brands a real alternative to traditional banking? (The River Group), Rated: A

Now, mobile banking has been a ‘thing’ for more than a decade and, according to research by ING, 55 per cent of us in the UK are managing our finances this way, with a further rise of 12 per cent expected this year.

Atom pitches itself as so customer-centric that you can personalise the app and actually choose the colours of the logo and how the name of your bank appears on your phone. Its tone is highly conversational, quirky without seeming unprofessional.

Atom pitches itself as so customer-centric that you can personalise the app and actually choose the colours of the logo and how the name of your bank appears on your phone. Its tone is highly conversational, quirky without seeming unprofessional.

Whereas traditional banks are still perceived as slow, Monzo demonstrates the speed of its technology.

Both businesses are inviting collaboration to help develop their services – Monzo through sharing its API so customers can build apps using their own data, and Atom through inviting members to join its community.

China

China Hit by First Moody’s Downgrade Since 1989 on Debt Risk (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Moody’s Investors Service cut its rating on China’s debt for the first time since 1989, challenging the view that the nation’s leadership will be able to rein in leverage while maintaining the pace of economic growth.

Stocks and the yuan slipped in early trading after Moody’s reduced the rating to A1 from Aa3 on Wednesday, with markets paring losses in the afternoon. Moody’s cited the likelihood of a “material rise” in economy-wide debt and the burden that will place on the state’s finances, while also changing the outlook to stable from negative.

Total outstanding credit climbed to about 260 percent of GDP by the end of 2016, up from 160 percent in 2008, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. At the same time, China’s external debt is low by international standards, at around 12 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund, meaning that a downgrade isn’t likely to be as disruptive as it would be for nations more reliant on international funding.

While China’s debt risks have been swelling for years, the cut by Moody’s comes as some of those pressures ease. Nominal economic growth in the first quarter rose at the fastest pace since 2012 — 11.8 percent in current-price terms — making the problem of excess leverage a little more manageable, while the return of factory price inflation is beefing up profits for indebted state-owned industries, helping them service and repay loans.

Moody’s lowered China’s credit-rating outlook to negative from stable in March 2016, citing rising debt, falling currency reserves and uncertainty over authorities’ ability to carry out reforms. About a month later, S&P Global Ratings also warned that rising local debt was pressuring the nation’s rating.

S&P currently rates China’s foreign and local-currency long-term debt at AA- with a negative outlook, and Fitch places an A+ rating on both foreign and local currency long-term debt with a stable outlook.

Chinese Investors Among Majority Of EB-5 Visa Recipients (NPR), Rated: A

The EB-5 visa grants permanent U.S. residence to anyone investing a half million dollars in a U.S.-based development project. Eighty percent of EB-5 recipients are Chinese.

WANG: (Through interpreter) Actually, everyone I know has applied for EB-5s. We’re just ordinary people. We’re not wealthy.

WANG: (Through interpreter) I’m only doing this for my son’s education. He is in a good local school, but all they do is study for tests. The Chinese education system turns everyone into the same type of person.

European Union

Narrow Escape for German RECF, Green Crowdinvesting Now in Legislator’s Crosshairs (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

The Financial Committee therefore rejected the proposal to extend the prospectus exemption of crowdinvesting ‒which currently applies only to the suboptimal shareholder loans, to all securities, including equity shares. The committee also concluded against raising the threshold of fundraising requiring a prospectus from €2.5 million to €5 million, and in favor of keeping the crowdinvesting ceiling per project per retail investor at €1,000 (€10,000, if qualified investor).

On one issue, however, the German crowdfunding sector breathed a sigh of relief: the proposal made by credit institutions to exclude real estate crowdfunding from the KASG has been taken off the table.

The opponents to real estate crowdfunding had alleged that real estate should be excluded from the crowdfunding exemptions because real estate projects did not foster innovation, as projects in crowdfunding should, and because crowdfunding them could trigger to a real estate bubble. These arguments were successfully rebuffed.

Next to real estate, green Crowdinvesting is also a very successful branch of German crowdinvesting. Its most common form is the refinancing of existing renewable energy (photovoltaic, wind and bioenergy) plants through platforms such as fairzinsung, Greenvesting, GreenXmoney LeihDeinerUmweltGeld und Wiwin. The yield is guaranteed by feed-in tariffs. Other platforms, such as Bettervest, specialize in energy-efficiency projects. Several, such as ecoligo facilitate investments in renewable energy in developing countries. Many of the platforms are not only financial brokers between issuers and investors, they are also expert advisors, shareholders, or service operators for the issuers.

In the eyes of the legislator, human or capital ties between issuers and platforms pose a risk of conflict of interest and should be forbidden. According to the committee, a platform tied to an issuer would not be able to vet its projects with the necessary objectivity, hence would not properly defend the interests of the investors.

International

Ant Financial close to buying MoneyGram (New York Post), Rated: AAA

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Ant Financial is moving closer to getting regulatory approval to buy MoneyGram, The Post has learned — despite concerns in Washington about money laundering.

“Ant and its advisers are working very constructively with [federal regulators]” to close the $1.2 billion MoneyGram acquisition, a source close to the situation said, referring to the Congressional Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which must approve the transaction as it involves a major foreign investment in a company in a key business sector.

Shareholders of Dallas-based MoneyGram, a money-transfer company, approved the sale to Ant for $18 a share on May 16.

How to Make it as a Woman in FinTech: “Don’t Wait to Become a Leader” (Finovate), Rated: A

Adding to our stellar line up of leading women in FinTech, we speak to Alex Foster about how she has become Head of Insurance & Finance Sector & Post Trade Services at BT, and what she would suggest if you were just starting out as a woman in tech.

What was your light bulb moment?

My light bulb moment came about four to five years ago, when I began working with bankers, some who were friends, leaving their traditional roles on the trading floor to create new and exciting FinTech, RegTech, and InsurTech companies. As we know, these start-ups are a growing source of innovation in the financial markets industry.  But their small size can create challenges around market adoption, delivery and meeting the stringent contractual or compliance expectations of large financial institutions. We started to work with these companies to help them scale-up to obtain a global reach. I realised the monumental impact that these technologies and FinTech firms could achieve when the right partnerships are in place.

Peter Leonidou Parts Ways with Leverate to Head Early-Stage Fintech Firm (Finance Magnates), Rated: B

Leverate, a technology provider specializing in brokerage solutions for the financial services industry, has parted ways with its Head of B2B Sales Peter Leonidou, who ends a two-year tenure with the technology provider, Finance Magnates has learned.

Peter leaves Leverate to join PROTECHFX LTD, a fintech startup, which according to its website is just starting out on its journey, or at best still operating in its early stages.

Australia

FinTechs Afterpay, Ratesetter and Society One pick up Finnie awards (Mozo), Rated: AAA

The winners of FinTech Australia’s inaugural Finnie Awards have been announced, with familiar names Afterpay, Ratesetter and SocietyOne among them.

The awards were handed out across 17 categories, including workplace diversity, insurtech and peer-to-peer lending, to recognise innovation and excellence in the FinTech space.

Online lender RateSetter was a finalist for the FinTech of the Year award, and also successfully took out two spots, for Excellence in both consumer and business lending. These awards were both focused on “outstanding B2B lending results through innovative yet stable, sustainable operations.”

SocietyOne, another online challenger to the big banks, won for Excellence in Peer-to-peer Lending. The award recognised a peer-to-peer platform that showed stringent security measures, a strong market reputation, ease of application and competitive interest rates and loan terms.

India

Startup Insurance Company Acko General Insurance Raises $ 30M (IndianWeb2), Rated: A

Set-up by Varun Dua, previously founder of Coverfox, Acko General Insurance  has received it’s in principle regulatory clearance to launch a General Insurance business in India.

In a regulated business, Acko has raised $30mn, which in effect makes it one of the largest seed rounds for a startup in India.

Asia

The first Internet life insurance company and Thai life opened (STCN), Rated: AAA

Recently, the first domestic Internet life insurance company and Thai life officially opened. It is understood that the original vice president of insurance and property insurance Li Yuquan in the life of the ceremony was held. In August 2016 the Insurance Regulatory Commission to the peace and life of the preparation and approval, the general manager is the former deputy general manager of the sea life Wang Hao.

In January this year, Hetai Life Insurance was approved by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. Registered capital of 1.5 billion yuan, registered in Jinan City, Shandong Province. The legal representative of the company Liu Xin.

Middle East

Dubai Regulator Launches Special Testing Licensing for Fintech Startups (Finance Magnates), Rated: A

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) today released the details of its Innovation Testing Licence (ITL) which allows fintech firms to go through a special testing stage prior to their approval as fully operational firms.

Fintech operators will be able to use the ITL licence to test their products for a period of 6 to 12 months, which could be extended upon DFSA’s discretion.

Successful applicants will then be required to obtain a full financial services licence to continue formally operating. By contrast, fintech firms that fail to meet the outcomes detailed in the regulatory test plan will have to cease activities.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Monday September 26th 2016, Daily News Digest

Monday September 26th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Main news: Jefferies-Loan Depot securitization breaks trigger; Lending Club’s fund 1st down-month; Funding Circle’s results; GLI’s results; Lufax signs banks for IPO. Main analysis: PeerIQ’s summary of last 9 months. Main thought provoking: The causes and effects of low rates, a must read Economist article; China’s number of p2p lenders will keep growing […]

Monday September 26th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

Canada

Australia

China

 

United States

Internet Lender’s Bond Deal Starts to Sour a Year After Sale, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Comment: I am not an expert in securitization, nor in investment banking. But it looks to me that Jefferies’ made securitization have by far the highest probability of breaking triggers. This is very strange. See Circle Back and OnDeck’s. And now LoanDepot’s. 

Online consumer loans made by LoanDepot Inc. are going bad faster than underwriters expected, threatening payments to investors who bought bonds backed by those debts less than a year ago.

Cumulative losses rose to 4.97 percent in September, breaching the 4.9 percent “trigger” in the $140 million securitization that Jefferies Group assembled last November and sold to investors that now include the Catholic Order of Foresters, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bondholders in the riskiest portion of the deal who may see funds diverted couldn’t be identified because the offering is private.

LoanDepot, which for years has specialized in traditional mortgage banking, began making small consumer loans over the internet last year.

Jefferies has been a lead underwriter of other securitizations backed by loans made by online startups, and at least two of its deals, for CircleBack Lending Inc. and OnDeck Capital Inc., have also breached their triggers. Those include Marketplace Loan Trust 2015-CircleBack 1 and Marketplace Loan Trust 2015-OnDeck 3.

CircleBack Lending hired Jefferies to explore a sale, people familiar said in June, as funding for online-finance companies tightened amid concern about loan performance.

LoanDepot aborted a planned initial public offering last November and turned to other sources of funds, including a $150 million term debt financing completed in August. The company says it recorded 80 percent year-over-year average annual growth from its founding in 2010 to 2015, funding more than $70 billion of loans. Second-quarter fundings reached almost $10 billion in home, personal and home equity loans, the company said.

“Mark-to-market” from Q1’s ABS West to Q3 ABS East, (Peer IQ email), Rated: AAA

This past February, at ABS West, conversations centered on deteriorating collateral performance and liquidity concerns. A steady flow of negative headlines–Madden-Midland, negative ratings actions, San Bernadino, platform layoffs, and global slowdown concerns–weighed heavily on investor sentiment.

Two events marked the peak of investor apprehension:
In the bond market, the pricing of CHAI 2016-PM1 (PeerIQ analysis here) where Mezzanine bonds delivered greater returns than the whole loans themselves.
In the equity market, investor capitulation after the Lending Club May 9th disclosures.

Turning of the Tide

Global credit markets began to firm in April. Lending Club tightened DTI criteria, elevated the role of the capital markets function, and strengthened leadership on the board and executive team.

In May, the US Treasury report published “Opportunities and Challenges in Marketplace Lending”–a constructive regulatory development. Treasury acknowledged the role of securitization in funding growth, and consistent with the PeerIQ RFI, recommended the need for standardized reps & warranties, consistent reporting standards for loan origination data, loan securitization transparency, and consistent market-driven valuation standards.

SoFi achieved a AAA rating for an MPL bond and cracked open the MPL ABS investor market to global investors via its hands-on marketing approach.

PeerIQ observed that secondary ABS spreads continued to tighten despite volatility in the equity markets. PeerIQ also observed in the Q2 tracker that the combination of stricter underwriting, higher coupons, and tighter secondary ABS spreads meant the conditions for securitization were strong.

In June, SoFi brought to market its first rated

LendingClub Fund Has First Negative Month on Valuation Overhaul, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

A LendingClub Corp. investment fund that’s struggled with withdrawals this year posted a negative return for August, the first decline in its five-year history, after overhauling how it values holdings and incurring losses on riskier debts.

The fund, overseeing about $700 million at the start of the month, had disclosed plans earlier in the summer to overhaul how it tracks assets. It enlisted outside valuation firm Duff & Phelps Corp. and shifted methodology to forecast how debts will perform individually, rather than in groups. August marked the first month under the new system, resulting in a one-time 0.95 percent reduction to returns, Sanborn wrote.

The LC Advisors Broad-Based Consumer Credit Fund ended the month down 0.49 percent, cutting this year’s net return to 1.24 percent, LendingClub Chief Executive Officer Scott Sanborn told stakeholders in a letter and report Friday.

In June, the investment vehicle was forced to limit redemptions after stakeholders asked to pull out $442 million, or 58 percent of assets under management.

But in the case of the August slump, key developments had already been signaled, with the largest hit coming from a one-time adjustment as the firm improved how it values holdings, Sanborn wrote in the letter.

In the future, “investors should expect more movement in fund returns month-over-month because the new methodology is more responsive to changes in each individual loan’s delinquency status,” he said.

Global P2P (Peer-to-peer) Lending Market Analysis 2016 Forecasts to 2021, (News Maker), Rated: A

Comment: this article is promoting a report.

The analysts forecast the global P2P lending market to grow at a CAGR of 53.06% during the period 2016-2020. To calculate the market size, Technavio considers the lending amount through P2P platforms in the Americas, Asia Pacific (APAC), and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

Low pressure, (The Economist), Rated: AAA

Interest rates are persistently low. First we ask who or what is to blame. Then we look at one outcome: a looming pensions crisis.

On September 21st the Federal Reserve kept its target for overnight interest rates at 0.25-0.5% but indicated that, after raising the target for the first time in a decade last year, it hoped to raise it for a second time soon—possibly in December, after America’s presidential elections.

Earlier that day, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) said it was staying with its target of raising inflation to 2%. Indeed it went further. The bank said it would continue to buy bonds at a rate of around ¥80 trillion ($800 billion) a year, until inflation gets above 2% and stays there for a while. To help meet this “inflation-overshooting commitment”, the bank said ten-year-bond yields would remain at around zero.

The debt-laden are delighted with the persistence of a low-rate world. It costs much less to service their obligations. But savers are increasingly grumpy. Economists are simply baffled. In the 1980s and 1990s, the high real cost of borrowing (ie, after adjusting for inflation) was the puzzle. Today’s interest-rate mystery is more troubling and there is division over the reasons for it.

One side says it is simply the consequence of the policies pursued by the rich world’s central banks. The Fed, ECB, BoJ and Bank of England have kept overnight interest rates close to zero for much of the past decade. In addition, they have purchased vast quantities of government bonds with the express aim of driving down long-term interest rates.

It is hardly a mystery, on this view: central banks have rigged the money markets.

On the other side of the divide are those who argue that central banks are merely responding to underlying forces. In this view the real interest rate is decided by the balance of supply and demand for the pool of global savings. The fall in interest rates since the 1980s reflects a shift in this balance: the supply of savings has increased as demand for it has crashed.

This ongoing glut in savings is due to two factors in particular. The first is changing demography, mostly in the rich world but also in some emerging markets. Populations are aging. At the same time, the average working life has not changed much. So more money has to be squirreled away to pay for a longer retirement (see article).

A second, related, factor is the integration of China into the world economy. “A billion people with a 40% savings rate; that brings a lot more supply to the table,”

Aging is not the only long-run influence that has tilted the savings-investment scales. By skewing income to the high-saving rich, an increase in income inequality within countries has added to the saving glut. A fall in the relative price of capital goods means fewer savings are needed for a given level of investment. Both trends predate the fall in real interest rates, however, which suggests they did not play as significant a role as demography or China.

A related reason for more saving is fear. The severity of the Great Recession belied the relative economic stability that preceded it.

Consider the business of life-inssurance companies. They pledge to pay a stream of cash to policyholders, often for decades. This promise can be likened to issuing a bond. Insurance firms need to back up these promises. To do so they buy safe assets, such as government bonds.

The trouble is that the maturities on these bonds are shorter than the promises the insurers have made. In the jargon, there is a “duration mismatch”.

When bond yields fall, say because of central-bank purchases, the cost of the promises made by insurance companies goes up. The prices of their assets go up as well, but the liability side of the scales is generally weightier (see chart 4). And it gets heavier as interest rates fall. That creates a perverse effect. As bond prices rise (and yields fall), it increases the thirst for bonds. Low rates beget low rates.

If a growing bulge of middle-aged workers is behind the secular decline in real interest rates, then the downward pressure ought to attenuate as those workers move into retirement. Japan is further along this road than other rich countries. Yet its long-term real interest rates are firmly negative.

A concern is that as more people retire, and save less, there will be fewer buyers for government bonds, of which less than 10% are held outside Japan. Another of the Geneva Report’s authors, Takatoshi Ito of Columbia University, reckons there will be a sharp rise in Japanese bond yields within the next decade. There may be political pressure on the Bank of Japan to keep buying bonds to prevent this.

Swedish FinTech Klarna Partners with SAP on Whirlwind Three-Month Business Overhaul, (PR Newswire), Rated: A

SAP announced today that Klarna, has become the first customer to go live with smart accounting for financial instruments (smart AFI), a new functionality based on the SAP® Bank Analyzer set of applications, 9.0 release. In just three months SAP implemented the solution including accounting rules configuration, data integration and a full setup of the SAP HANA® database environment, proving that up-leveling market and product growth does not have to be a long and arduous process.

 

United Kingdom

Global expansion almost doubles losses at fintech unicorn and peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle, (City A.M.), Rated: AAA

The peer-to-peer lending group is set to post a full-year loss of £36m when it publishes its accounts on Tuesday, after expanding into Europe and the US ate into profits. However, revenues at the firm, which was founded in 2010 and has lent more than £1.5bn to small and mid-sized businesses, rose 140 per cent from £13m to £32m last year.

“We expect our UK business to be profitable in the fourth quarter of 2016 and to generate significant cashflow in 2017 to finance international operations” said chief executive Samir Desai.

In 2015 the company raised $150m (£116m) of new equity for the business and listed the first and only single platform investment trust – the £150m Funding Circle SME Income Fund – on the London Stock Exchange.

GLI Finance Limited Unaudited Interim Results for the six month period ended 30 June 2016, (Email), Rated: AAA

Full report can be found here.

Highlights

  • The Company losses for the period were GBP6.9m (June 2015 profit of GBP5.3m), impacted by GBP13m write downs in investments in underperforming or liquidated platforms following the strategic review;
  • Group organized with Three Pillars to improve operational focus and assist reporting our strategy;

Pillar One

  • Sancus BMS Group on a pro forma* like for like basis, increased consolidated revenues from GBP2.7 million in H1 2015 to GBP4.0 million in H1 2016. The period was notable for the consolidation of the Sancus group and its amalgamation with BMS and Platform Black to establish our specialty lending business.

Pillar Two

  • Valuations in our prioritized platforms, The Credit Junction, LiftForward, Funding Options and Finexkap increased by GBP5.5m in aggregate. Investments in underperforming or liquidated platforms were written down by GBP13m. We have been very prudent in reorganizing this portfolio and we fully expect to see value of this portfolio build materially in future periods;

Pillar Three

  • Amberton Asset Management remains de minimus and we expect to make progress on this pillar in the next 12-18 months;

Group

  • As a consequence of the considerable restructuring in the period together with writedowns in Pillar Two, the Net Loss for the period on the GLI Measurement Basis** was GBP10.3m (H1 2015: Net Profit of GBP0.2m).
  • As a consequence of making early write-downs and recognizing losses in underperforming assets, together with raising capital and reorganizing Sancus BMS Group, the Companies’ balance sheet is significantly strengthened. Nonetheless, during the period the Company Net Asset Value “NAV” per share decreased from 42.73p to 37.07p;
  • Company debt to gross asset ratio is 30% (31 December 2015 33%)
  • Company Net Assets have increased in the period from GBP98.2m to GBP105.6m and;
  • The Company’s weighted-average cost of debt decreased from 8.6% (year to 31 December 2015) to 6.8% (period to 30 June 2016).

Post period end

  • Ordinary share placing raised GBP7.1m from Somerston Group in August 2016;
  • New wholly owned subsidiary, FinTech Ventures Limited (“FVL”), created to hold, initially, the four Prioritised FinTech platforms thereby enabling independent capital raises to support these investments.
  • Name change of GLI Alternative Finance Limited Plc to the SME Loan Fund (“SMEF”) on 1 September 2016.

Zoopla partners with Landbay for P2P lending solution, (Financial Reporter), Rated: B

The new channel on the Zoopla website includes a peer-to-peer lending solution, in partnership with Landbay, where anyone can invest from as little as £100 into buy-to-let mortgages, statistically the lowest risk form of peer-to-peer lending.

Canada

Financeit expands management team by tapping CFO from Capital One Canada, (Morningstart), Rated: A

This addition to Financeit’s management team will help propel the Toronto-based company into its next stage of maturity as it continues to expand its market share in the point-of-sale financing industry.

With 20 years’ experience managing and leading finance teams in Canada and the United Kingdom, Hanning served as Capital One Canada’s Chief Financial Officer for nearly five years. Prior to becoming CFO, Hanning held various senior positions within the bank’s Canadian and United Kingdom operations over the previous 12 years. He started his career at Glenfield Hospital NHS Trust in Leicester, United Kingdom.

Hanning’s entry into Financeit comes on the heels of the company’s $339 million acquisition of TD Bank Group’s indirect home improvement financing assets in partnership with Concentra.

Australia

Beyond Bank Australia and SocietyOne announce key partnership, (PR Wire), Rated: A

Beyond Bank Australia is continuing its expansion into the fintech sector, forming a significant partnership with the nation’s leader in marketplace lending, SocietyOne.

The agreement sees Beyond Bank tip in $1.5 million for an equity stake in SocietyOne as well as increasing its existing funding commitment in personal loans to $10 million. The arrangement was formalised on Friday, September 23.

SocietyOne now has ten mutual banks and credit unions among its 200 investor funders and is actively engaged with a number of other potential investors as it undergoes further expansion, targeting a 2-3 percent share of the $100 billion consumer finance market by 2021.

China

P2P lender Lufax taps four banks for Hong KongIPO, (China Daily), Rated: AAA

CITIC Securities, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley have started preparatory work,although no formal mandate has been awarded, the people said.

The volume of Chinese P2P loans stood at 680.3 billion yuan ($102 billion) at the end ofAugust, more than 20 times levels seen in January 2014, according to industry data providerWangdaizhijia.

One third of China’s 3,000 peer-to-peer lending platforms ‘problematic’: new report, (SCMP), Rated: A

The 2016 Blue Book of Internet Finance, published on Friday, found 1,263 of the P2P platforms on the mainland up to the end of 2015 were problematic, which included cases of fraud or firms going out of business.

This total included 896 P2P platforms that got into problems in 2015, with more than half involved in fraudulent tricks that took advantage of loopholes in regulations, the report said.

“China’s slow economic growth has led to plunging business for small and medium-size companies; It increases the risk of loan defaults,” the report said, adding that the risk of financing usually rose after accumulating over a long period.

In one typical case of fraud, highlighted in the report, one P2P platform, Rong Zuan Dai, went online in November 2015 and published 37 financing projects that promised high interest rates to hundreds of investors. But after two weeks the website suddenly closed.

Of the current total, Guangdong province had the largest concentration of P2P platforms, with 18 per cent of the national total, the report said.

It estimates that the number of P2P platforms nationwide will continue to rise at a rate of 90 per cent over both of the next two years as the industry further consolidates, and could eventually reach 10,000.

The number of active users of P2P is also expected to surpass nine million in 2016.

Author:

George Popescu