Monday May 21 2018 Daily News Digest

ICO red flags

News Comments Today’s main news: Prospa launches $146M IPO. Experian, HSBC UK partner on credit application solution. RateSetter Australia extends green deal. Student Loan Genius raises $3.5M. Australia court rules against Harmoney. Faircent gets certified for NBFC-P2P. Today’s main analysis: WSJ investigates ICO fraud. Today’s thought-provoking articles: One student explains her student loan turmoil. China’s foreign investment restrictions for P2P lending […]

ICO red flags

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

International

Australia

India

Other

News Summary

United States

 

Wealthfront’s experiment in risk parity has a rocky start (Financial Times) Rated: AAA

Our case here involves Wealthfront, an automated investing service founded by all-star venture capitalist Andy Rachleff. Boasting over $10.5bn under management, the platform offers a wide-range of thoughtful strategies to the casual investor, including indexes optimised to harvest tax-losses and a smart-beta product, overseen by Random Walk proselytiser Burton Malkiel.

Back to Wealthfront’s risk parity offering. In an attempt to lure investors, it backtested its new strategy versus its competitors at AQR and Bridgewater. Here are the results:

Source: Financial Times

I’ve Paid $ 18,000 To A $ 24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $ 24,000 (Bustle) Rated: AAA

The loan, ironically called a “Smart Option” loan, has a variable interest rate that fluctuates based on changes in the financial market — which may have been explained to me at the time (I truly don’t remember), but I know I didn’t fully grasp what that meant.

Source: Bustle

Now, eight years later, that loan — one of nine that left me $95,000 in debt upon graduation (because, yes, interest does accrue while you’re in school) — very clearly marks the exact moment when I lost control of my own financial destiny.

According to a February 2018 study published by the Levy Economic Institute, a nonpartisan policy think tank at Bard College, there are 44.2 million Americans with student loans, which adds up to about $1.4 trillion in debt. There already exists a myriad of research-driven articles that wax on the impact of the student loan crisis on the future of this country (screwed), our economy (broken), and the weight of the loan crisis (crippling)

Student Loan Genius Raises $ 3.5M in Seed Series Prime Financing (Finsmes) Rated: AAA

Student Loan Genius (SLG), an Austin, Texas-based employee benefits platform, raised $3.5m in Seed Series Prime financing.

The round was led by Vestigo Ventures, with participation from CMFG Ventures, Prudential Financial and Rubicon Venture Capital.

The company intends to use the funds to support commercialization of its offering as well as to grow its technology, sales and marketing teams.

Cloudvirga Raises $ 50M in Series C Funding (Finsmes) Rated: A

Cloudvirga, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of digital mortgage point-of-sale (POS) software provider, closed a $50m Series C funding round.

The round was led by Riverwood Capital with participation from Upfront Ventures. In conjunction with the funding, Riverwood executives Scott Ransenberg and Jay Schneider will join Cloudvirga’s board of directors.

Under-the-radar Wilmington fintech companies burst onto consumer credit scene (Delaware Online) Rated: A

One is Fair Square Financial, which last week snagged a $100 million investment from Vikram Pandit, the former CEO of Citigroup.

It’s an infusion of cash that the online credit card company says will allow it to expand beyond its downtown co-working space this year while doubling its workforce to 100 employees during the next two years.

The expansion decision is the result of surprisingly strong customer demand for its online-serviced, low-fee Ollo cards, Fair Square CEO Rob Habgood said. The credit cards carry a variable interest rate that currently sits at a lofty 24.99 percent.

Fintech is disrupting big banks, but here’s what it still needs to learn from them (The Next Web) Rated: A

Much of the hype around fintech focuses on what traditional banks do wrong: they’re slow to adopt new technology; they don’t center the customer; they’re too big to respond nimbly to change. This narrative is part of why fintech continues to attract massive investment, with $31 billion total flowing into the sector last year, according to KPMG.

The truth is that there’s actually a lot that banks do right — things that fintech startups can struggle to replicate. I mean, there’s a reason why they’ve been successful.

Here are the three areas where I feel fintech’s needs and banks’ expertise overlap.

Will Consumers Take On Too Much Debt In 2018? (PYMNTS) Rated: A

The rate of new delinquencies on credit cards stood at 6.42 percent in Q1, up from 5.9 percent for the same period last year. According to Moody’s, the delinquency trend for the next year is for an “increase.” The Q1 credit card delinquency rate trails the 7.3 percent rate for auto loans but is higher than the 3.4 percent rate for residential mortgages.

Meanwhile, the rate of total new household debt delinquencies was about 4.5 percent in Q1 of 2018, “down slightly from a year ago,” Moody’s said. “Over the next year, we believe delinquencies will rise a bit as lenders modestly loosen underwriting standards.”

Direct Lending Partners Hires Industry Leader as Director of Originations and Capital Markets (PR.com) Rated: B

Dream Live Prosper (DLP), an award-winning family company led by Don Wenner (Founder and CEO), is excited to announce the appointment of Greg E Schecher as Director of Originations and Capital Markets.

Based out of the company’s Southeast headquarters in St. Augustine, Florida, Greg will lead the firm’s CRE bridge loan lending and marketplace lending platform.

United Kingdom

Equifax powers HSBC UK’s first live credit application solution (Fintech Futures) Rated: AAA

HSBC UK has created the “first live” use case of open banking for credit applications using the InterConnect cloud platform from Equifax.

According to Equifax, the solution will help quick affordability assessments by allowing individuals to submit their bank transaction information electronically, in less than five minutes, during an application for credit.

Each submission is presented directly to HSBC UK’s underwriting team in real-time, providing the bank with view of a customer’s affordability and offering faster lending decisions.

Peer-to-peer lending: beware the risks (The Times) Rated: A

About 150,000 Britons have lent nearly £10bn in this way over the past decade, earning around 4.5% interest on average. By contrast, the average interest rate on an easy access savings account is just 0.51%.

The bigger platforms, such as Zopa, Funding Circle and RateSetter, are therefore attractive alternatives for would-be savers.

The market was boosted by the launch in 2016 of innovative finance Isas, which allow people to invest £20,000 a year tax-free in P2P platforms and equity-based crowdfunding, where they buy stakes in companies.

The Disruptive Rise of FinTech (Technative) Rated: A

The fintech industry is one of the fastest growing areas of the British economy and is generating more than £20 billion annually. The sector continues to grow, it currently employs over 60,000 people and has produced more billion pound-valued start-ups than any other British economic sector.

 

P2P lender urges social media firms to allow crypto ads (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: A

A BAN on cryptocurrency adverts will do more harm than good, a crypto-backed peer-to-peer lender has warned.

Lendingblock, which lets individuals lend in a range of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, said rather than Google, Facebook and Twitter pursuing a current ban on cryptocurrency adverts to help clamp down on scams, they should help promote education and awareness.

Lendingblock warned a complete blackout on information may be “the easiest option” but warned that cryptocurrencies aren’t going anywhere so it would be better to partner with the industry and ensure consumers understand the market.

More funding for smes (Manufacturing and Engineering Magazine) Rated: A

The Manufacturer has partnered up with the alternative finance specialist ThinCats to make £100 million of funding available to UK manufacturers, as more and more investors are becoming increasingly keen to help fund SMEs.

The main issue for some SMEs is that they do not have the largest amounts of assets against which the banks are more willing to lend. As a result, many of them can’t invest in their growth, or delay investment until they reach the point they can fund it themselves. The wider knock-on effect of this problem is that the UK’s productivity and growth is being held back.

Crypto world gets most complete and secured crypto exchange with Bitmillex (The Cryptocurrency Analytics) Rated: A

What separates Bitmillex from other crypto exchanges is that the platform was developed out of the long-standing demand of a credible cryptocurrency exchange which will prioritize fund security and also will be able to extend a much wider range of investing and trading options than what is offered by current regular exchanges.  

Speaking further, Mr. Briton highlighted the other state of the art features of Bitmillex which keeps it ahead of other crypto exchanges-

  • Most advanced security and hosting protection through cloud hosted servers that are connected to custom hardware security modules and multiple protective layers to withstand any attack and hack attempts. In addition, 98% of all balances are to be stored in secure offline cold storage.
  • Multiple social trade offerings through Auto-Trade, Peer-to-Peer BTC market and Peer to Peer Lending & Borrowing opportunity. (use the term copy trading)
  • Bitmillex has introduced MTG trading software to ensure a ground-breaking multi-terminal and multi-platform trading experience  (MT4)
  • Traders have the flexibility to hold funds in fiat and trade major forex pairs when the crypto market is bearish
  • Bitmillex is offering its revolutionary Debit Card to users that will be linked to their wallets and will provide them immediate access to their balance at ATMs or POS in fiat currency worldwide

Fintech envoy for Northern Ireland appointed (Open Access Government) Rated: B

Georgina O’Leary, Director of Innovation, Research and Development at Allstate has been appointed as the government’s new fintech envoy for Northern Ireland.

China

Foreign investment restrictions in P2P lending intermediaries (China Business Law Review) Rated: AAA

Current regulations and policies on peer-to-peer lending do not directly restrict or prohibit foreign investment in P2P lending intermediaries.

Relying on a network, a P2P lending intermediary will generally charge a certain consulting fee, service fee, etc., once a lender and borrower that have been brought together establish a lending relationship.

Local financial service office recordal/registration. Article 5 of the measures specifies that, within 10 working days after collecting its business licence, a P2P lending intermediary, or one of its branches, that proposes to launch P2P lending information intermediary services is required to carry out, on the strength of relevant materials, recordal/registration with the local financial regulator of the place where it has its business registration. Once it has completed recordal/registration with the local regulator, the P2P lending intermediary is required to apply for the appropriate telecoms service operating permit in accordance with relevant regulations of the competent telecoms authority before it can launch its services.

European Union

Following the Paypal acquisition: iZettle’s founders are the latest Swedish tech billionaires (Business Insider) Rated: AAA

Mojang founder Markus “Notch” Persson, Skype’s Niklas Zennström and Spotify’s founding duo Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon are Sweden’s richest people in tech today – all worth $1 billion or more.

Following Paypal’s announcement that it would buy the Swedish payments company iZettle for $2,2 billion (19 billion SEK), Jacob de Geer and Magnus Nilsson – founders of iZettle – have joined the few dozen Swedish entrepreneurs worth 1 billion krona or more.

International

Hundreds of Bitcoin Wannabes Show Hallmarks of Fraud (Wall Street Journal) Rated: AAA

In a review of documents produced for 1,450 digital coin offerings, The Wall Street Journal has found 271 with red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Data Centers Take Center Stage in Real-Estate Investing (Barron’s) Rated: AAA

“An autonomous car will need 40 times more bandwidth than the cars we use today,” says East. “The demand for data centers is growing 30% per year in the U.S. and 70% in China, but there are only six public companies in the supplier’s market.” They are: Equinix (EQIX), CoreSite Realty (COR), CyrusOne(CONE), Digital Realty Trust (DLR), QTS Realty Trust (QTS), and Switch (SWCH).

Data centers aren’t easy markets to enter. It’s not hard to purchase a piece of land to build the property, but the facility needs to be outfitted in fiber, equipped with interconnected networks, and wired for massive electric power and top-tier security devices. It takes about $1,000 to build one square foot of data center, said East, compared with the average cost of $300 for conventional real estate.

Capgemini And Efma Launch Innovative FinTech Portal (Payment Week) Rated: A

Capgemini and Efma today announced the launch of FinTechVisor, an innovative platform designed to bring FinTechs and financial institutions together to collaborate. The FinTechVisor portal offers a world-wide networking and collaborative community for FinTechs and financial institutions to become game-changers by co-creating the future of the financial services industry.

Launched today at the CCX Forum in London, the portal, which connects financial institutions and FinTechs, will have a feature that allows bankers and insurers to rate FinTechs and comment on their solutions, as well as a “matchmaker-like” personalized function for financial institutions to find a FinTech partner who complements their needs and interests.

InnerScope Hearing Technologies, Inc. Announces Klarna Bank as a Financing Partner (Globe Newswire) Rated: B

Hearing Technologies InnerScopeInc. (OTCQB:INND) announced today the complete integration of www.Klarna.com for a simple and easy one-click payment solutions for its online customers who shop at www.hearingbenefit.com and www.nohasslehearing.com websites.

InnerScope and Klarna have teamed up to offer a frictionless one-click checkout solution which gives customers a choice of 2 simple no-hassle payment options, Pay Now, or Slice It options.

  • The Pay Now option is for customers who want to pay in full at checkout can do it quickly and securely with a credit/debit card.
  • The Slice it option with its instant financing and a quick and simple credit application process allowing the customers to spread the cost of their purchases over a 6 to 24-month period at 0% annual percent rate (“APR”), depending on transaction value, giving them flexibility and increased purchasing power.
Australia

Online lender Prospa launches $ 146m IPO (News) Rated: AAA

Online lender Prospa has launched a $146 million initial public offering, offering shares at $3.64.

Prospa, which lends to small businesses, says the majority of funds raised in the IPO, which includes institutional, retail and employee offers, will be used to grow its existing business, add new products and expand into New Zealand.

RateSetter Australia extends green deal (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: AAA

RATESETTER Australia has announced an 18-month extension to its green loan marketplace.

The UK peer-to-peer lender’s Australian subsidiary is working with the Australian government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to bring clean energy borrowers and investors together.

In its first year it helped more than 1,000 households and small businesses finance green energy products.

 

High Court backs Commerce Commission over Harmoney (Scoop News) Rated: AAA

The High Court has sided with the Commerce Commission on how to interpret peer-to-peer lender Harmoney’s platform fees, deeming them to be credit fees and falling under the regulator’s purview.

The commission, which oversees the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, claimed Harmoney’s platform fees were an unreasonable credit fee and sought a declaration from the court backing up its interpretation.

Justice Patricia Courtney today backed the commission’s interpretation, saying Harmoney’s documents amounted to a credit contract and that the way the peer-to-peer lender was structured went “beyond mere matchmaking”, providing a nominal creditor to hold loans as a bare trustee for investors and undertaking the full administration of the transactions.

Fintech disruptor will benefit from Banking Royal Commission (Motley Fool) Rated: A

Zip Co Ltd (ASX: Z1P) provides online credit for consumers and businesses at point-of-sale through brands zipMoney and zipPay.

Afterpay Touch Group Ltd (ASX: APT) provides a platform that allows retail merchants to offer consumers to ‘buy now, receive now, pay later’ without having to enter into a traditional loan agreement.

Money3 Corporation Limited (ASX: MNY) started out as a a payday lender, which it plans to exit in the next financial year. The company is predominantly involved in providing secured auto loans, which make up around 80% of its loan book.

Westpac made blind pensioner a guarantor without risk advice, inquiry hears (Reuters) Rated: A

Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp admitted on Monday to signing up a legally blind pensioner as loan guarantor for her daughter’s business without warning her of the risks, then threatened to evict her when the business failed.

The testimony, given to a powerful inquiry into the country’s financial sector, came as Australia’s “big four” lenders all admitted to misconduct in their submissions to a third round of public hearings that focuses on loans to small businesses.

Other transgressions included fraudulent loans and double-charging interest, the inquiry heard, a further hit to the sector’s reputation after previous rounds of hearings uncovered widespread abuses in Australia’s financial planning industry.

FinTech Australia announces new CEO (Fintech Australia) Rated: B

Brad Kitschke has been appointed as CEO of FinTech Australia.

 

India

Faircent Gets RBI Nod For NBFC-P2P Certification (Inc 42) Rated: AAA

Gurugram-based P2P lending startup Faircent has received its non-banking financial companies (NBFC)-Peer-to-Peer (P2P) certification from the RBI (Reserve Bank of India).

The accreditation makes Faircent the first P2P lending platform in the country to receive the certificate of registration as an NBFC-P2P by the national regulator.

FinTech firms assisting banks with customer acquisition (Business Standard News) Rated: A

MoneyTap

People earning more than Rs. 20,000 per month can utilise this app to borrow anywhere between Rs.3,000 to Rs.500,000. Offering flexible payback options, MoneyTap allows borrowers to select their own EMI plans.

CoinTribe

Endeavoring to fill the gaps in SME unsecured loan segment, CoinTribe as a loan marketplace makes it easier for banks to confidently enter the uncharted domains.

Lending on peer-to-peer platforms is fraught with higher risks (Business Standard) Rated: A

Peer-to-peer or P2P lending has emerged as an alternative option for investors who wish to earn higher rates of return than what traditional fixed-income instruments can offer. However, lending on these platforms also entails higher risk, which investors need to be aware of before venturing into this relatively new investment avenue.

6 investments with high return (The Economic Times) Rated: A

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending is a relatively recent option and is a form of crowd-funding used to raise loans which are paid back with interest by bringing together people who need to borrow, from those who want to invest. For the funds that you invest, the interest rate may be set by the P2P platform or mutual agreement between the borrower and lender.

Risks: Since this is an unsecured loan where there is no face-to-face interaction, a P2P lender, i.e., the investor needs to be aware of the risks involved such as default on the part of the borrowers.

Asia

Finance: RHB plans to win over SMEs with digital agenda (The Edge Markets) Rated: A

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can no longer avoid going digital if they want to stay relevant. And RHB Bank Bhd, which has a new five-year strategy, is looking to help them do just that.

Jeffrey Ng, the bank’s head of group business and transaction banking, says the digital economy is the biggest trend impacting SMEs, and many of them will require assistance to adopt the technology. Ng was previously head of RHB’s SME division.

For RHB, this means onboarding SMEs into its electronic financial supply chain platforms. Suppliers and buyers can perform payments for goods entirely on the bank’s platforms and receive payments instantly. SMEs that want to offer cashless payments can also do so with RHB’s solutions.

How Vietnam’s Fintech Market Could Reach Nearly $ 8 Billion By 2020 (Forbes) Rated: A

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Monday May 7 2018, Daily News Digest

Morgan Stanley collateral comparison

News Comments Today’s main news: Square funded $339M to SMBs in Q1. RateSetter joins Finsure, LoanKit panels. WeLab to become licensed virtual bank. CredoLab nabs $1M investment. Today’s main analysis: MSRP 2018-SC1 resecuritization deep dive. Today’s thought-provoking articles: CommonBond highlights desire for student loan help from employers. Contrasting OnDeck with peers. Financial inclusion in the rich world. P2P lending, MPL unicorns […]

Morgan Stanley collateral comparison

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

International

Asia

Other

News Summary

United States

Square Funded $ 339M to SMBs in Q1 (deBanked) Ranked: AAA

Square’s small business funding arm, Square Capital, made over 50,000 business loans for a total of $339 million in Q1, according to the company’s latest earnings report. That figure is a 35% increase year-over-year and puts them on pace to break last year’s $1.177B total. OnDeck, by comparison, who is arguably their top rival, made $2.11B in business loans last year.

MSRP 2018-SC1 Resecuritization Deep Dive (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

A recent Bloomberg article discussed ratings on and the performance of MPL ABS. According to the article, ratings agencies that provide lower loss estimates on ABS transactions tend to do the most business, in part due to the “issuer paid” model. While there is no way to verify “ratings shopping” behavior, we do believe there are a few observations to share to balance the discussion.

Overall loss estimates have tended to lower with successive deals as ratings agencies gain access to longer performance histories. The securitization structures have also been extremely robust – we have seen about 10% of outstanding balance breaching triggers so far.

Deal Deep Dive MSRP 2018-SC1

Morgan Stanley is resecuritizing a portion of the residual tranche of SCLP 2015-1 (SoFi’s first consumer loan ABS) via MSRP 2018-SC1. SCLP 2015-1 had an original collateral pool of $252 Mn and issued $189 Mn in Class A notes. Today $96 Mn of that pool and $51 Mn of the A notes are outstanding. MS is issuing $37 Mn in a Class B bond with an initial CE of 11.2% that is rated BBB by Kroll.

Realized losses on SCLP 2015-1 are at 5.31%, 1.26% below KBRA’s initial estimates. KBRA is also lowering its total cumulative loss estimate on SCLP 2015-1 from 8.5% to 8.0%.

Source: PeerIQ, KBRA
Source: PeerIQ, KBRA

New Study From CommonBond Highlights Desire for Help with Student Loans from Employers (Lend Academy) Rated: AAA

The market for student loans has continued to climb. According to data from CommonBond, 44 million Americans currently owe $1.4 trillion in student debt with the average student loan debt in 2016 coming in at $37,172.

Source: Lend Academy; Commonbond

CommonBond’s study included 1,500 workers and 500 human resource executives. Their key findings as provided in their press release are copied below

  • Almost 75 percent of all workers have taken out loans to fund their own education, while 21 percent of workers expect to take out a loan for a child or other family member’s education in the next five years.
  • For employees with student debt, student loan repayment is the most-requested financial wellness benefit; however, human resources teams rank student loan repayment as their third priority.
  • Seventy-one percent of human resources executives see their benefits offering as innovative, compared with 50 percent of employees.
  • Seventy-eight percent of employees with current or future student loan debt want their employer to offer this benefit, and 65 percent of employees over age 55 in these categories want the same.
Source: Lend Academy; Commonbond

 

Contrasting OnDeck Capital (NYSE:ONDK) & Its Peers (Macon Daily) Rated: AAA

OnDeck Capital (NYSE: ONDK) is one of 29 public companies in the “Nondepository credit institutions” industry, but how does it contrast to its competitors? We will compare OnDeck Capital to related companies based on the strength of its valuation, risk, analyst recommendations, dividends, institutional ownership, profitability and earnings.

OnDeck Capital’s competitors have higher revenue and earnings than OnDeck Capital. OnDeck Capital is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than its competitors, indicating that it is currently more affordable than other companies in its industry.

Lending Club (LC) Set to Announce Quarterly Earnings on Tuesday (The Lincolnian Online) Rated: B

Lending Club (NYSE:LC) will be issuing its quarterly earnings data after the market closes on Tuesday, May 8th. Analysts expect the company to announce earnings of ($0.01) per share for the quarter.

Elevate: Providing Responsible Credit to Non Prime Lenders (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: A

While interest rates may be high, this is necessary to manage the overall portfolio risk. Elevate’s default rate is pegged at around 23% – which is quite a bit higher than a prime credit provider. The online lender recently announced their Q1 results and there services are booming. Elevate more than quadrupled year-over-year net income with 24% revenue growth and new customer growth of 32%. So they must be doing something right.

Better Mortgage Hires Former OnDeck Chief Financial Officer (BusinessWire), Rated: A

Better Mortgage, a digital mortgage company working to improve access to home financing through transparency, honest guidance and zero commissions, today announced that it has hired Howard Katzenberg as Chief Financial Officer.

Student Loan Genius Raises $ 4.7 Million in New Funding (Finovate) Rated: A

Xconomy is reporting that Austin, Texas-based Student Loan Genius has raised $4.7 million in funding. The news was seconded by Austin Business Journal, which added that 11 investors have participated in the round. Both reports – as well as a third from AmericanInno, are based at least in part on a SEC Form D filing, which suggests that the $4.7 million was part of a larger $5.8 million fundraising initiative. As reported, the new capital more than doubles Student Loan Genius’ total equity funding to more than $7 million.

Federal Court Dismisses “Speculative” And “Attenuated” Lawsuit By The Conference Of State Bank Supervisors Over Proposed OCC Fintech Charter (Mondaq) Rated: A

On Monday, a federal district court judge in the District of Columbia issued an order dismissing a lawsuit brought by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) regarding a proposal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to issue federal charters to certain Fintech firms. In dismissing the case, US District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich held the CSBS did not have standing to sue because the OCC had not yet officially decided to issue charters to Fintech companies. Judge Friedrich explained that the CSBS lacks standing to bring the suit because the harms it alleges are “contingent on whether the OCC charters” a Fintech company, and “[s]everal contingent and speculative events must occur before the OCC” issues such a charter.

Banks are using open source to collaborate, not compete (Tear Sheet) Rated: A

On the consumer side, product and marketing teams in banks in the Zelle network currently face new challenges as their partnership is crucial to their success. And on the backend, when banks began paying attention to blockchain technology (the original bitcoin blockchain was a breakthrough of open-source development), the largest companies including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo joined industry consortia working on open-source blockchains.

Commercial loan slump chips away at bankers’ reluctance to automate (American Banker) Rated: A

Loan executives at the $5.1 billion-asset bank wanted commercial clients’ information in one place, where anyone within the organization could access it — especially from the road on their mobile phones.

In a report aptly titled “The Productivity Crisis in Commercial Lending,” David O’Connell, a senior analyst at Aite Group, found that at 78% of the banks he surveyed, lenders spent at least 30% of their time on noncore job responsibilities. At 46% of those institutions, lenders spent at least 40% of their time on those noncore functions.

 

Banks say they aren’t profitable enough for tech giants to bother with their business (Quartz) Rated: A

We’re-not-profitable-enough-to-bother-with is an unusual defense, which is why it caught my attention amid the usual distractions at these sorts of conferences (texts, emails, the snack table). The banker cited return on equity, which is a measure of profitability, as proof. FactSet calculates this measure by dividing net income by a trailing two fiscal-period average of total shareholder equity:

Source: Quartz

Granted, tax cuts and deregulation in the US will make banks there more profitable than before. But Amazon is making so much money selling cloud computing to the financial industry (charging them by the second) that taking deposits or writing mortgages wouldn’t seem worth the hassle by comparison.

United Kingdom

P2P lender joins Finsure and LoanKit panels (The Adviser) Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lender RateSetter has joined the panel of Finsure and LoanKit, giving accredited brokers access to its personal and green loan solutions.

As of this month (1 May), more than 1,400 brokers accredited with aggregators Finsure and LoanKit will be able to offer their clients personal loans and green loan products from the growing retail lender.

Financial inclusion in the rich world (The Enconomist) Rated: AAA

A report published in March 2017 by a House of Lords committee estimated that 1.7m adult British residents have no bank account; 40% of the working-age population have less than £100 ($140) in cash savings; and 31% show signs of financial distress.

In Britain such lenders include pawnbrokers, offering an APR of between 25% and 101% for a secured loan; doorstep lenders such as Provident, the biggest, which will charge an APR of 1,558% for a 13-week loan; “payday lenders” such as Wonga, which offer similar rates for a loan to be repaid after 1-35 days in one lump sum; and “rent-to-own” lenders, such as BrightHouse, which offer finance for purchases to be repaid in installments.

Are we seeing the beginning of the end for retail banking? (CL News) Rated: A

At the beginning of this week, the first waves splashed up on the shore as the Royal Bank of Scotland announced the closure of 162 branches throughout the UK, with the loss of 800 jobs. The full list is here if you would like to see if your town is affected.

The robot revolution gathers pace (Money Week) Rated: B

The first wave started a decade ago with the rise of online stockbroking platforms, which brought down dealing costs and sparked a wave of DIY investing. Then came the rise of robo-advisers – a rather daft term to describe what are in effect online wealth managers or advisers.

Now a second wave of new entrants has hit the market. Some big players have launched their own robo products, chief among them being private banks such as UBS and Investec – trusted brands with a great investment pedigree. They tend to focus on wealthier clients, however. Investec has a minimum investment of £10,000, while for UBS it’s £15,000. Another big player is IG and its Smart Portfolio, which has lower fees and a minimum investment of £500 per portfolio. Alongside these sit smaller companies such as Moneybox, Wealthify and Moola. The latest platform, Exo, launched just this week.

China

WeLab joins fintech race to become Hong Kong’s first licensed virtual bank (South China Morning Post) Rated: AAA

WeLab, Hong Kong’s home-grown fintech unicorn, is poised to be among the first batch of companies to apply for a virtual banking license from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, according to its co-founders.

In the coming weeks, the HKMA is due to issue guidelines for virtual banking regulation based on a consultation in February.

CreditEase becomes Milken Institute’s first Asian Strategic Partner (PR Newswire) Rated: A

Tang Ning, founder and CEO of CreditEase, attended the 21st Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles as both a strategic partner and a speaker, and said on the global capital market panel that driven by technology, the middle class and the high-net-worth individuals, a strong new economic growth can be seen in China these years, adding that China is now entering a new era.

European Union

Taaleri to buy Finnish robo-advisor wealth management firm Evervest (Banking Business Review) Rated: A

Taaleri Wealth Management has agreed to acquire Finnish robo-advisor wealth management firm, Evervest, for an undisclosed sum.

 

The acquisition will add Taaleri with functioning digital platform, which will help to extend service offering for customers.

Subject to approval by the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority, the deal is expected to complete in the first half of this year.

Will ‘buy now, pay later’ change the in-store customer experience? (Econsultancy) Rated: A

I’m going to preface this by saying that this is something we as a business are working on at the moment at Klarna, so I may be biased. But we’re not the only ones experimenting with new bricks-and-mortar payment solutions – the industry is striving to align in-store with online.

International

The 27 fintech unicorns from around the world (Business Insider) Rated: AAA

CB Insights, which tracks the venture capital industry, recently provided a list of what it believes are all the fintech unicorns in the world — venture capital-backed, private businesses worth over $1 billion.

27. Funding Circle — $1 billion

Why it’s hot: Over £3 billion has been lent across the platform and the company is tipped for a blockbuster European float later this year.

27. Kabbage — $1 billion

Why it’s hot: The company has written over $4 billion-worth of loans and has partnered with Spanish bank Santander.

27. 51 Credit — $1 billion

Why it’s hot: 51 Credit provides risk management and credit advisory services to over 20 major banks working in China, including Citibank and Standard Chartered.

17. Tuandaiwang — $1.4 billion

Why it’s hot: The company has helped individuals and companies borrow $11.4 billion and helped lenders make $335 million in returns.

HQ: Dongguan.

14. Affirm — $1.8 billion

Why it’s hot: The company works with over 1,200 retailers in the US and its technology helps retailers increase average order sizes by 51%. Morgan Stanley and Singapore’s GIC are both investors.

13. NuBank — $1-2 billion

Why it’s hot: The bank has 3 million customers and has raised money from Sequoia Capital, Goldman Sachs, Tiger Global, and more.

HQ: Sao Paulo.

11. Avant — $1.9 billion

Why it’s hot: The company has lent over $1 billion and is backed by the likes of Tiger Global, KKR, and Jefferies.

8. Klarna — $2.5 billion

Why it’s hot: The company processes 800,000 transactions a day and has been used by 60 million people globally. Sequoia Capital, the Silicon Valley fund that backed PayPal, is an investor.

6. GreenSky — $3.6 billion

Why it’s hot: Steven McLaughlin, a former Goldman Sachs banker whose firm advised GreenSky on a funding deal, told Bloomberg in 2016 that GreenSky “is the single best fintech company created in the last 10 years, by far.”

4. SoFi — $4.5 billion

Why it’s hot: Like Zenefits, SoFi struggled with a slew of setbacks in 2017. Allegations of sexual misconduct and loan misstatements forced out founder Mike Cagney. Former Twitter CFO and ex-Goldman banker Anthony Noto is now leading a turnaround of the business.

1. Lu.com — $18.5 billion

Why it’s hot: Lu.com, also known as Lufax, is one of China’s largest online lenders and is tipped for an IPO this year.

WhizCoin ICO (WZC Token): Legit Crypto Lending Rewards? (Bitcoin Exchange Guide) Rated: A

Whizcoin is the latest entrant to the world of digital currencies. The project aims to create the biggest lending program in the world which offers exclusive bonuses as well as passive income on a daily basis for its holders. To realize this goal, Whizcoin has already established a token buyback mechanism that runs on a transparent profit distribution model, and thus enables members to increase the value of their digital coins. All transactions are secured by cryptographic encryption, a feature that also regulates the mining of new Whizcoin.

Unlike other digital currencies, Whizcoin does not require exceptional tech savvy from its users. To trade in Whizcoin, all an investor needs is a mobile or computer with a dependable internet connection.

 

 

 

Australia

Winners from banking Royal Commission (The Bull) Rated: A

The Royal Commission will surely slow the big banks down by adding extra compliance and costs, at a time when they need to be more nimble and aggressive to combat the fintech threat (and benefit from financial technology).
Peer-to-peer lending stocks could benefit if more borrowers look to bypass the banks, but most on ASX are too small and speculative for portfolio investors. Big fintech payment providers, such as Afterpay Touch Group, are a better bet but look fully valued after recent price gains.

Australian Banks Expected To Start Hiking Mortgage Lending Rates (Compare Dinkum) Rated: A

ME, the online lender has decided to raise the interest rate on its variable rate mortgages because it says funding costs have risen. ME is not the first bank to do this, nevertheless the lender hiked its standard variable rate for owner-occupier, principal and interest borrowers. Jamie McPhee CEO of the online lender said higher funding costs and increased regulatory compliance were the main reasons behind its decision to hike rates.

Funding costs are rising

Mr MchPee says over the last few months the bank has seen funding costs steadily rise in response to US interest rates that have been passed on to short term Australian interest rates. Simultaneously, regulatory requirements and industry reforms means that compliance costs are rising as well. ME’s decision follows on the heels of Suncorp which raised its rates in March and also cited higher funding costs as the reason behind its decision.

India

Money lending made easy (News Today) Rated: A

The online trading market has been booming at the moment and money lending has taken various forms. Monexo Fintech Pvt Ltd is one such online peer-to-peer lending company and News Today met up with its founder-CEO, Mukesh Bubna here for an exclusive chat.

Q) Being an online firm, technology must play a big part in your business. Do explain. 
A) Our system is 100 per cent online. A typical transaction has many stages. The normal way is cumbersome. There is the problem of being unserviced and second, you do not know how they will use your document. In our platform, your documents come from you to our system directly. There are no print-outs taken and even in our office, there is no printer. Everything is done instantly. With technology, privacy has gone up, speed will go up too.

Asia

Singapore Fintech CredoLab Secures $ 1 Million Investment from Global Venture Firm Walden International (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: AAA

CredoLab, a Singapore-based fintech provider of mobile-based alternative credit scoring solutions for banks, consumer finance companies, and retailers, announced on Thursday it secured a $1 million investment from established global venture capital firm Walden International. Established in 2016, CredoLab is headquartered in Singapore was previously backed by regional fintech venture capital firm Fintonia Group, and FORUM.

Beenext-backed Indonesian P2P lender Amartha targets to raise Series B round by June (Deal Street Asia) Rated: A

Indonesian peer-to-peer lending platform Amartha has revealed that it is currently in talks with investors to raise a series B round of funding which is expected to be closed in the second quarter of this year.

 

OJK Urges Sharia Finance to Optimize Fintech (Tempo) Rated: B

The Financial Service Authority (OJK) chief Wimboh Santoso encourages the sharia finance industry to continue expanding businesses using the latest technology. One way is by optimizing the utilization of financial technology or fintech.

Africa

Crypto-to-Cash Lending is Growing Quite Popular These Days (Nigeria Today) Rated: AAA

A new business model has formed recently called crypto-to-cash lending and this new financial sector is growing exponentially. The phenomenon follows the modern rise in recent years of peer-to-peer lending offered by financial giants like the Lending Club. Right now there are a few operations that are attempting to break the mold when it comes to this type of lending with projects such as Unchained Capital and Salt Lending taking the lead.

Then there is a new startup called Nexo that plans to provide crypto-infused instant credit to borrowers without the need for credit checks. VCs like the Techcrunch founder Michael Arrington, and others recently pumped $50Mn into Nexo and the company has a security partnership with Bitgo. Nexo believes it will be the first firm to provide instant crypto-backed loans as it states on its website.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor