Thursday September 21 2018, Daily News Digest

Chinese companies surge on debut after US IPOs

News Comments Today’s main news: LendingClub spent $6.4M to relocate two executives. Funding Circle to price IPO between 420-530 pence. Funding Circle to set valuation at $2.4B after IPO. Qatar fund to invest in Lufax. X Financial completes IPO. Today’s main analysis: Fintech investors like ‘stodgy’, not ‘sexy’. Prospa has written $750M in loans. Today’s thought-provoking articles: How machine learning helps P2P […]

Chinese companies surge on debut after US IPOs

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

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News Summary

United States

Some Companies Spend Plenty to Lure Executives Willing to Relocate (Wall Street Journal) Rated: AAA

Some businesses have gone so far as to shell out millions to move key players from miles away. LendingClub Corp. LC -2.63% spent nearly $6.4 million to bring two new top officers and their families to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2017, according to an analysis of data from company proxies by research firm Equilar Inc. That sum largely reflects $3 million in relocation bonuses for Steve Allocca, the new president, and Thomas Casey, LendingClub’s chief financial officer. Both men moved from less-costly cities in Texas.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Fintech investors like ‘stodgy more than sexy’ (Financial Planning) Rated: AAA

A good chunk of the money being invested in wealth management and banking technology is going toward funding artificial intelligence-driven tools.

But forget the popular concept of conversational, British-voiced computers, chatbots or even cute robot assistants greeting customers at branches; the applications that investors want in on are focused on improving operational efficiency.

The industry’s current methods of handling compliance issues, back-office processing, clearing and settlements, he says, are ripe for reinvention.

Source: Financial Planning

How Does Machine Learning Help Peer to Peer Online Marketplaces Succeed? (Tech Pluto) Rated: AAA

Machine learning technology brings a real ROI to peer to peer marketplace owners. Airbnb, a company known for their personalized approach to each customer has seen a significant growth in the number of bookings after they started using machine learning. Other popular P2P marketplaces such as Etsy, Uber, Lending Club also apply intelligent algorithms to increase their conversion rates and acquire a competitive advantage.

Machine learning helps leading marketplaces and companies that provide AI consulting services develop features that bring tangible value to business and consumers. So how exactly do P2P marketplace companies use this cutting-edge technology? Let’s find out.

Predicting which products a user will like is a widely adopted use case for machine learning. A variety of digital products today have recommender systems powered by this technology. In the past product recommendation systems were based on hard-coded rules. Those rules determined what item to show to a user based on some predefined scenarios. For example, if a user buys a fancy red dress, she’s likely to also buy shoes that match this dress.

SoFi’s Former Head Of Venture Strikes Out On His Own (Benzinga) Rated: A

For this installment, Benzinga interviewed an intriguing fintech venture capitalist: Logan Allin, general partner at Fin Venture Capital and former head of venture at SoFi.

Allin’s career has been largely spent “in and around” financial services, he said, including stints at SoFi, City National Bank and Invesco Ltd. IVZ. He launched Fin Venture Capital in April with a focus on the global fintech sector, greenfield areas and B2B and B2B2C players in particular.

BZ: Fintech funding rounds are getting larger, some consolidation is occurring and the space in general is maturing — is there still room for small startups to have a major impact? What verticals are ripe for disruption?

According to Pitchbook’s data, the U.S. funding environment is skewed increasingly to growth and late stage startups and is on pace to surpass $100 billion in deal value for the first time since the dot-com era.

Indeed, there was $57.5 billion of VC invested in U.S. companies through the first half of the year, and the second quarter of 2018 is higher than six of the past 10 full-year totals. Despite the volume, the deal count has remained stable due to later-stage entry points and larger round sizes, and as a result, deployment is at a slower pace than seen in 2013-2015.

You’re seeing a move toward larger fund sizes with the same investment period as they’ve always had, five years, which leads to larger check requirements per deal and thus a move downstream to growth and late-stage rounds where the valuation math and round sizes align.

Goldman Sachs nears deal to sell its fintech app – WSJ (Reuters) Rated: A

Goldman Sachs is in advanced talks with several financial companies to spin off ‘Simon’, its three-year-old app that sells financial products to retail investors, the Wall Street Journal reported on.wsj.com/2OzaWmf on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, HSBC Holdings , Credit Suisse, Wells Fargo and insurer Prudential Financial have expressed interest for a stake in the business, the report said.

The deal, which would value the app at around $100 million, is likely to be finalised in the coming weeks.

Lendio Franchising Growth Soars, Doubling Amount of Loans Funded Quarter Over Quarter Since Inception (Lendio) Rated: A

LendingTree Announces Startup Innovators Program at LEND360 (PR Newswire) Rated: A

LendingTree®, the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, today announced it will sponsor a $10,000 award to be given at LEND360 to the fintech startup with the most cutting-edge solutions propelling the online lending ecosystem forward.

As the desire to enter the fintech space continues to heat up, LEND360’s Startup Innovators Program will highlight startup organizations’ crucial part of the fintech ecosystem, bringing new and innovative thinking to the industry.

LEND360 will be held October 8-10, 2018 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

iCapital Buys Bank of America Alt Feeder Fund Ops (Wealth Management) Rated: A

Alternative investing platform iCapital Network announced it has entered into a definitive agreement with Bank of America to acquire the bank’s alternative investment feeder fund operations. iCapital expects the volume on its platform to more than quadruple as a result, growing from $6 billion in invested capital across 14,000 underlying accounts to $25 billion across nearly 70,000 accounts.

Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust account holders and advisors will continue to use their existing interfaces and their client relationships, but the inner workings of the system will be improved, said Lawrence Calcano, CEO of iCapital.

More Americans With Low Credit Scores Buying Homes (Laredo Morning Times) Rated: A

If you have a low credit score and want to buy a home, your odds of getting a loan have improved. A study by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) shows that credit scores for new mortgage originations have been dropping, suggesting that lenders are slowly relaxing the tight credit policies imposed after the housing crisis.

According to the study, new mortgage loans with credit scores less than 700 increased from 21.9% of all mortgage loans in 2009 to 29.7% in 2017. These include scores in the subprime market that can reach down into the 400s. (While the typical lower credit score limit is 620 for conforming loans and 500 for FHA loans, loans may be granted at even lower credit scores with extenuating circumstances.)

The shift in average credit scores is driven by FHA loans – as expected by the lower acceptance criteria for FHA loans. The latest Origination Insight Report from Ellie Mae shows that only 16.7% of conventional mortgage loan originations in July 2018 were associated with FICO scores less than 700.For FHA loans, over 65% of FHA loans went to borrowers with scores below 700.

2Wheel Partners With Affirm to Offer 0% Financing (Motorcycle & Powersports News) Rated: A

Affirm Inc., a financial technology company, provides transparent alternatives to traditional credit. Customers can select the Affirm payment option at checkout and quickly and easily receive real-time approval of their loan amount. The payment terms are clearly stated with no hidden fees or compounding interest.

5 Surprising Traits of Digital Banking Winners (Financial Brand) Rated: A

Ever since JP Morgan declared itself a technology company that provides financial services — not the other way around — analysts and investors have been scrambling to discern which banking companies are doing tech well, and which are not. They know the institutions that harness the power of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data, and more importantly, the applied business insights these technologies can generate, will be the banks that will be the winners in the long run.

“Long term I think this will determine the split between winners and losers,” one investor told the Financial Times in a story on AI and banking earlier this year.

New Research Indicates Non-Prime Hispanics Have a Leg up on Financial Health (Market Watch) Rated: A

When it comes to personal finances, Hispanics in the U.S. are more stable and optimistic than other groups studied. A newly released study from Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class (CNMC) found that non-prime Hispanics – or those with credit scores below 700 – experience higher levels of employment and less volatile monthly income. When compared to the broader non-prime community, non-prime Hispanics in the U.S. are:

  • 65% more likely to plan for major expenses
  • 86% more likely to feel financially stable
  • 38% more likely to save money each month
  • 20% less likely to have had a vacation expense in the last 12 months
  • 23% less likely to spend on routine medical expenses
  • 50% more likely to be able to cover a $1200 unexpected expense
  • 3x more likely to regularly pay using a smartphone
  • 20% less likely to have a credit card
  • 25% less likely to have a personal retirement account
  • 2x more likely to regularly give money to a child or grandchild
  • 40% more likely to be employed

Why those high-profile bank glitches just won’t stop (American Banker) Rated: A

The glitch that left SunTrust customers without access to mobile and online banking for two days is just the latest digital snafu to afflict the banking industry. Upgrades by banks or their vendors that went haywire have resulted in multiple outages this past year.

So it begs the question: If there’s such potential for an upgrade to go wrong, why aren’t banks more prepared for the eventuality, instead of scrambling to get service back up and running?

Industry experts bear some bad news about the state of technology in banking: Banks can’t really be proactive enough to prevent the problems.

Why do state regulators want to limit consumer choice? (American Banker) Rated: A

The decision by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to begin accepting applications for special purpose national bank charters from fintech companies promotes innovation, gives consumers and businesses greater choice and creates economic growth and opportunity.

It is also good for America’s dual banking system, which the president of Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services ignore in their recent articles and statements.

Fed will have the say on key parts of OCC’s fintech charter (American Banker) Rated: A

The Federal Reserve is under increasing pressure to provide clarity on whether nonbank fintech firms that receive a special federal charter will have direct access to central bank lending and to the U.S. payment systems.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency confirmed in July that it would accept applications from fintech firms for a “special-purpose” national bank charter, although the new license has been legally challenged by state regulators.

But many experts say the OCC’s charter would lose value if the Fed did not allow direct entry to fintech firms. Those firms now, for example, can access the payments system only through bank partners.

White Oak Healthcare Finance Refinances Texas SNFs for Granite Investment Group (Digital Journal) Rated: B

White Oak Healthcare Finance, LLC (“White Oak”), today announced it acted as sole lender and administrative agent on the funding of a $33.2 million senior credit facility for Granite Investment Group (“Granite”). The funds were used to refinance a portfolio of four skilled nursing facilities in Texas.

Granite Investment Group is a privately held, real estate investment firm focused on multi-family, senior housing, and post-acute care.

AlphaFlow Continues Expansion with Launch of New York Office, Hiring of Fintech Executives Stephan Leccese and John Woodruff (PR Newswire) Rated: B

AlphaFlow, the first automated alternative investment platform for real estate, announced today the opening of a new office in New York City. The office launch and expansion operations will be helmed by recently hired fintech executive Stephan Leccese, who joins the firm as Vice President of Partnerships & Servicing.  John Woodruff, a former credit fund senior analyst, will be joining Stephan in New York, serving as Vice President of Investments.

United Kingdom

Funding Circle to price 71.4 mln IPO shares between 420-530 pence (Nasdaq) Rated: AAA

British peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle plans to sell up to 71.4 million new shares in its initial public offering for between 420 pence and 530 pence per share.

Funding Circle, which expects to list in October with a valuation of more than 1.5 billion pounds ($1.92 billion), said it plans to raise gross proceeds of about 300 million pounds.

Peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle to be valued up to $ 2.4 billion after IPO (CNBC) Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle announced the pricing range for its initial public offering (IPO) on Wednesday that could value the company up to around £1.8 billion ($2.4 billion).

The British fintech firm said the price range of the offer has been set at 420 pence to 530 pence per share. The flotation will comprise a maximum of 71.4 million new shares and a secondary component to be determined.

After the completion of the IPO, the issued share capital of the company is expected to comprise between 329.7 million and 345 million shares.

Is real estate crowdfunding the investment option for you? (Born2Invest) Rated: A

Equity crowdfunding has been a great alternative investment for many, but there are other principles that branched out from it. Some investors direct their funds not only on startups that offer unique products or services as others become virtual landlords through property crowdfunding.

Platforms like LendInvest, Landbay and Lendy have risen to make real estate investing more interesting because of higher returns. Some sources suggest that peer-to-peer lending (P2P) schemes like crowdfunding in real estate allow for returns in excess of 5-6 percent compared to traditional real estate investment trusts (REITs).

There are three ways to get into real estate crowdfunding: P2P, debt crowdfunding and virtual buy-to-let.

China

China’s Online Lender Lufax Attracts Potential Investment From Qatar Fund (Gooruf) Rated: AAA

China’s online lender Shanghai Lujiazui International Financial Asset Exchange Co. (Lufax) has attracted a potential investment from sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

QIA has been negotiating the probable purchase of a minority stake in Lufax with an estimated price range of about US$500 million to US$1 billion, said Bloomberg citing the source.

The company has been aiming to file for an initial public offering in Hong Kong since 2017, but only to witness its flotation on ice because of Beijing’s probes into online lenders.

Fintech / Peer to Peer Lender X Financial Trades on NYSE (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: AAA

Chinese peer to peer lending platform X Financial (NYSE: XYF) completed its initial public offering (IPO) today trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Morgan Stanley & Co. were joint book runners on the IPO.

The IPO saw the Class A ordinary shares priced at $9.50. The offering was for 11 million American Depository Shares (ADSs) thus representing a raise of about $104.5 million. Shares initially traded much higher jumping to over $20/share at one point but are now currently hovering around $13/share.

The underwriters have been granted an option to purchase up to 1,650,000 additional ADSs at the IPO price less the underwriting discount.

X Financial on IPO: We Have Built One of the Strongest Fintech Businesses in China (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: A

Earlier today, China based X Financial (NYSE:FXE) traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in its initial public offering raising approximately $104.5 million as 11 million shares were floated at $9.50/share. The shares quickly jumped higher in early trading and eventually closed about 25% higher than the offer price. X Financial, a peer to peer lender and Fintech platform, is part of a growing group of Chinese firms deciding to list their shares on US exchanges. In fact, this was the 9th Chinese company to list on the NYSE this year.

X Financial reports experiencing dramatic growth in the past few years. Top line revenue was approximately USD $270 million for all of 2017. As of the first six months of 2018, the company had already topped this number (USD $279.3) as it appears to be on track to double the year prior total.

Investors Love Chinese Tech Stocks (Bloomberg) Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer online lender X Financial soared on its first day of New York trading, adding to a string of frenzied U.S. debuts by Chinese technology companies.

Source Bloomberg

Banks give China’s Web lenders a second life (The Business Times) Rated: A

China’s online lenders have found an unlikely lifeline. Investors are fleeing the country’s US$200 billion peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sector as regulators crack down. The funding squeeze has pushed many companies to team up with traditional banks that they once sought to disrupt.

Beijing is reining in the country’s non-bank lending sector. Strict rules, such as caps on loan balances for sites matching small borrowers with individual investors, have shut down hundreds of unruly upstarts. Regulators delayed a June deadline for companies to apply for licences, putting larger groups in legal limbo. New York-listed Yirendai has seen its market value more than halve to US$1 billion since the start of the year.

The stakes are huge. Chinese consumer finance – which includes credit card loans, e-commerce credit, and unsecured personal loans – is on track to top 11 trillion yuan (S$2.2 trillion) by 2020, up from four trillion yuan in 2015, according to Oliver Wyman. But banks prefer to lend to customers with credit histories, which much of the population lacks. They often spurn private corporate borrowers for similar reasons. That has opened the door for P2P operators as well as Web giants like Ant Financial.

Lending hand (Breaking Views) Rated: A

China’s online lenders have found an unlikely lifeline. Investors are fleeing the country’s $200 billion peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sector as regulators crack down. The funding squeeze has pushed many companies to team up with traditional banks that they once sought to disrupt.

Beijing is reining in the country’s non-bank lending sector. Strict rules, such as caps on loan balances for sites matching small borrowers with individual investors, have shut down hundreds of unruly upstarts. Regulators delayed a June deadline for companies to apply for licenses, putting larger groups in legal limbo. New York-listed Yirendai has seen its market value more than halve to $1 billion since the start of the year.

The stakes are huge. Chinese consumer finance – which includes credit card loans, e-commerce credit, and unsecured personal loans – is on track to top 11 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) by 2020, up from 4 trillion yuan in 2015, according to Oliver Wyman. But banks prefer to lend to customers with credit histories, which much of the population lacks. They often spurn private corporate borrowers for similar reasons. That has opened the door for P2P operators as well as web giants like Ant Financial.

China Rapid Finance to Participate in DBS Fintech Corporate Day (Acrofan) Rated: B

China Rapid Finance (NYSE: XRF), a leading online consumer finance platform in China, today announced that its Chief Executive Officer Zane Wang will participate in the DBS Fintech Corporate Day, to be held at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore on Thursday, September 27, 2018.

The Company will also host investor meetings throughout the day.  Attendance at the conference is by invitation only.  Interested investors should contact your DBS sales representative to secure a meeting time.

International

Growth of Investor Numbers on P2P Lending Marketplaces (P2P Banking) Rated: AAA

The disadvantage of showing indexed numbers for growth is that it gives smaller, younger an advantage as their percentage increase of investor base is likely still higher because they come from smaller absolut numbers. An example for this effect is Peerberry where percentage growth of investors is rapid, but the absolute number as of Sep, 1st has reached only 2468 investors as it is a very young marketplace.

Source: P2P Banking

ETHLend Blockchain Crypto Lending Launches New Tech Firm Aave To Induce Innovation (Bitcoin Exchange Guide) Rated: A

Decentralized, peer-to-peer (P2P) financial marketplace, ETHLend has recently revealed the launch of a new tech firm dubbed, Aave. The reason for creating Aave is to induce consumers to come up with innovative ways to expand on “evolving and imaginative technology”. Simply put, the team is working towards bridging the gap centralized players like PayPal and Coinbase have left behind.

Aave will serve as the parent company for ETHLend and the team will remain the same. In other words, the CEO for Aave will be that of ETHLend, Stani Kulechov, Jordan Lazaro will serve as COO, Nolvia Serrano is the CMO, Mika Soyring is the CFO and Ville Valkonen is the CCO.

Australia

Fintech Prospa has now written $ 750 million in loans (Business Insider) Rated: AAA

Fintech Prospa, a lender to small business which in June postponed an ASX-listing after being pinged about unfair loans terms, says it has now written $750 million in loans.

Loans for the year to June were $367 million, a 70% increase on the previous 12 months and 9% higher than prospectus forecasts with strong momentum in the fourth quarter.

For the six months to June 2018, loans hit $211 million, up 16% on prospectus forecasts and up 61% on the previous corresponding period.

MENA

OurCrowd Still on Track to Top USD $ 1 Billion in Investment Crowdfunding (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: AAA

In many ways, OurCrowd epitomizes the aspirations of what investment crowdfunding has the potential to deliver for both issuers and investors. By providing access to quality deals to smaller (accredited) investors, OurCrowd has opened up an asset class previously closed off to all but the very fortunate. On OurCrowd, you can find yourself investing alongside some of the biggest names in venture capital – at the exact same terms – an important distinction. It is also important to note that OurCrowd has skin in the game for each offering it lists on the platform – thus interests are aligned: OurCrowd wants the company to succeed and it also very much wants to see a return on its own investment. These qualities make OurCrowd a compelling option for investors that are willing to shoulder an element of portfolio risk that can also drive some outsized returns.

OurCrowd is based in Israel – where many of its investments are made – but its vision is to empower investors globally and fund companies regardless of geographic borders. This is what you want to see in the digitized, internet fueled Fintech age.

Build a real estate portfolio starting with as little as $ 1000 (AME Info) Rated: A

Real estate crowdfunding comes to Dubai in the form of Smart Crowd

In the US, investors are utilizing crowdfunding sites like Realty Mogul, CrowdStreet, and Fundrise to start and/or build their portfolios, Investopedia notes.

Smart Crowd, an innovative new digital real estate investment platform that supports crowd-funding endeavors in the real estate sector, is trying to fill in a similar role in the region.

Asia

P2P operations launched in Hyderabad (Telangana Today) Rated: AAA

LenDenClub, a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform, launched its operations in Hyderabad. It will also expand to other cities later.

LenDenClub chose Hyderabad as the city is a major hub of the IT industry and houses a large number of young professionals, who are among the largest users of digital lending services in the country. It expects 10 per cent of its loan requests originate from Telangana in the next six months.

It is aiming to disburse loans worth Rs 100 crore in 12 months.

European Union

INLOCK Signs MoU with Institutional Lending Provider – Partners with Major CEE Crypto ATM Manufacturer to Test Its Platform (Bitcoin News) Rated: B

INLOCK, a crypto lending platform where licensed lenders can compete for borrowers who want to use their cryptocurrency as collateral for loans, announced today that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an institutional lending provider and entered a partnership with one of the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEE) region’s biggest crypto ATM manufacturers to test its Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The company launched the ICO for its ILK token on September 15, the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse.

The CEE region’s crypto ATM manufacturer plans to integrate INLOCK’s services into all of its machines, enabling users to directly take out loans and receive funding in cash within hours. The crypto ATM manufacturer will act as a matching service provider by forwarding customers to INLOCK.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Small Dollar Lenders Are More Beneficial Than You Realize

Small Dollar Lenders Are More Beneficial Than You Realize

Sam has a side business repairing fences and one of his bids was just approved to begin work immediately. Now he needs to come up with the money to buy supplies a few weeks before he receives payment from the customer. Because of unpaid medical bills from several years ago, he has a low credit […]

Small Dollar Lenders Are More Beneficial Than You Realize

Sam has a side business repairing fences and one of his bids was just approved to begin work immediately. Now he needs to come up with the money to buy supplies a few weeks before he receives payment from the customer. Because of unpaid medical bills from several years ago, he has a low credit rating, and applications for small business loans have been denied.

Joan is an artist with a promising jewelry line. She’s invited to sell her products at a popular bridal show that will result in big sales and future business opportunities at local boutiques. However, Joan must come up with money upfront to pay for booth space, displays, and material to make the jewelry. Since Joan has high credit card debt, she can’t access traditional financing.

The FDIC says nearly a quarter of U.S. households used alternative financial services in the past 12 months. One major factor is that two out of five Americans experience income swings of more than 30 percent month to month. In fact, 15 percent of U.S. consumers — approximately 37 million adults— do not have a bank account, according to a 2016 Pew Charitable Trust Study.

These statistics underscore the need for alternative financial services to assist unbanked, underbanked, and sub-prime consumers who have credit scores under 600.

It’s clear that consumers need to be fully educated on responsible borrowing, managing finances, and budgeting. There’s a reason why the CFPB established new regulations on certain lenders, including payday loans, auto title loans, deposit advance products, and longer term loans with balloon payments.

In general, regulations seek to provide consumer protection and ensure that lenders are acting in an ethical and professional manner. The concern is regulation that impacts and limits consumers’ access to credit. In an ideal market, regulated lenders provide financial services that meet a market need. As lenders compete for business (providing credit), it becomes the consumer’s responsibility to review the options and make the best choices for themselves.

An open market will foster competition and ensure that the appropriate lenders survive. Competition fosters innovation and drives new choices for consumers without the need for externally imposed limits.

Consumers Need Access to Emergency Cash

A major consideration that can’t be overlooked is that certain customers with poor credit scores many times need access to emergency cash. If their credit scores are too low, they are not able to borrow from banks or may not be able to obtain help from friends and family.

By definition, a subprime consumer (550-620 FICO) is likely to default on a loan 50 percent of the time. That’s a costly business decision for any lender.

If the market steps in and imposes more regulations on alternative financial service providers, the likely result is that loan requirements will become more conservative. Banks and traditional financing options will remain unavailable for borrowers with the lowest credit scores, and the increased cost of doing business could push some small-dollar alternative lenders out of the market.

Now, before you jump for joy and say that this is exactly what needs to happen, consider the potential consequences.

With many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, getting laid off, medical bills, an unexpected car repair, or emergency trip to a sick relative may require quick cash. Where will the consumers with low credit ratings turn in difficult circumstances and emergency situations?

One possibility, in the absence of small-dollar lenders, is that borrowers will get loans from less desirable lenders that operate under the radar, off the grid. Consumers who are desperate to pay bills, rent and car repairs, or buy medicine and other necessities of life may turn to loan sharks and other nefarious entities.

Does this seem like an unlikely scenario? Probably not.

Another possibility is that these consumers who tried to take care of themselves by borrowing emergency cash simply give up. With fewer options to fix their temporary liquidity problems, the need for government assistance will rise. If these consumers can’t pay for car repairs, can’t get to work, and lose their jobs, the result may be increased unemployment claims. Even more troublesome, the snowball effect could increase welfare programs and housing subsidies.

The reality is that underbanked consumers and borrowers with imperfect credit need alternative financial services. There are responsible alternative financial services and lenders who can provide small-scale, short-term funding.

If underbanked consumers and borrowers with poor credit ratings aren’t permitted to access credit, social welfare programs will be required to offset the consumers’ inability to meet short-term cash needs. This catastrophic situation will increase the cost and number of citizens on social assistance. Ultimately, all taxpayers will be burdened with increases in social welfare.

The question is rather than over-regulating this sector of the credit market, doesn’t a free market on certain alternative financing options seem to be a better alternative?

Author:

Guy Dilger is vice president of marketing at Plain Green, LLC. With more than 12 years of experience designing groundbreaking marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies and financial technology brands, Dilger is known for generating engaging content and compelling concepts that resonate with targeted consumers. Prior to Plain Green, Dilger held senior positions within fintech and retail spaces where he managed national marketing campaigns and customer-centric loyalty initiatives for Sears and Kmart. Previously, he was part of the management team at Limited Brands where his marketing work in support of Express brand included CRM, email, web-based programs and the redesign and relaunch of a private label credit card. Dilger has an MBA, as well as a bachelor of science in economics, from Southern Methodist University.

Move Over ICO, There’s Another Fundraising Vehicle In Town

Finova Financial and their JCO

Governments all around the world are increasingly concerned with the potential abuses of initial coin offerings (ICOs), a new method of fundraising that provide startups with operating capital out of the gate without giving away company equity. For good reason. It seems that virtually every startup these days is looking to fund their ventures with […]

Finova Financial and their JCO

Governments all around the world are increasingly concerned with the potential abuses of initial coin offerings (ICOs), a new method of fundraising that provide startups with operating capital out of the gate without giving away company equity. For good reason. It seems that virtually every startup these days is looking to fund their ventures with an ICO, and many of them think doing so is a good way to skirt securities regulations. That’s why Gregory Keough, CEO of Finova Financial decided to introduce a new method to raise capital through a hybrid vehicle he calls JOBS Crypto Offering, or JCO.

What is a JOBS Crypto Offering?

Keough likens the JCO to a hybrid between the ICO and an IPO (initial public offering).

“A lot of people are selling securities and trying to make them sound like they’re not securities,” Keough said.” As of September, Forbes reports there had been $2.3 billion raised by ICOs this year. And interest in them seems to be growing.

Unlike the traditional IPO, where investors trade currency for equity in a company, with an ICO, investors trade cryptocurrency for tokens. These tokens are often used as virtual bartering chips for specific actions related to the company issuing them. For instance, at Storj, a decentralized cloud storage startup, your tokens can be used to purchase cloud storage. So, investors getting in on the fundraising push don’t end up with stake in the company but are actually pre-paying for some part of the product. And ICOs are open only to accredited investors, thanks to the SEC that has ruled that ICO tokens are in fact a security.

This creates a conundrum. Companies issuing ICOs consider their offerings a utility token, but the SEC treats them like a security. JCOs don’t come with that baggage.

“The JCO offers more regulatory clarity and security,” Keough said. That’s because Finova has gone out of its way to comply with all SEC regulations and places the JCO in the category of Reg A offerings so that accredited an non-accredited investors can get in on the action, further differentiating it from the ICO.

The Details on Finova’s JCO

“We’re able to tap into VC and traditional money,” Keough said. In other words, he is offering investors equity in his company if they participate in the offering.

But the transaction isn’t conducted like a traditional security. It still involves the blockchain, and investors can still use cryptocurrency to initiate the transaction. Finova will also accept traditional currency.

To develop the concept, Finova commissioned law firm Cooley to assist with the legal framework. Like an IPO, the offering is open initially to a select few investors in a private round called SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens). Once that round is completed, the JCO is opened up to other investors on a public exchange. Finova will have to register an official public offering through the SEC, and then the tokens are created. If that isn’t done, investor funds are returned to them. Keogh said Finova hasn’t decided which exchange they are going to use yet, but the firm is looking at three separate exchanges.

“We take the equity stack and move it to the blockchain,” Keough said. “The token represents equity in Finova. We see it as an alternative path to the IPO for startups.”

Once tokens mature and investors start receiving dividends, they’ll be dropped into digital wallets. Tokens will then be available for selling back to the company or trading on a secondary market, like traditional securities. Keough believes other companies will want to issue their own JCOs, and it could potentially make the ICO as irrelevant as 8-track tapes. The company plans to sell $600 million in tokens through multiple tranches. Tokens sold earlier will appreciate in value until all are sold. The JCO will officially open in December and make its way to non-accredited investors by late January.

The Past, Present and Future of Equity Fundraising

While the private sale of tokens is limited to $50 million by regulation, Keough said Finova is seeing a lot of interest in its JCO. “There is a tremendous amount of interest in the U.S. and globally for something that has regulatory clarity,” he said. The JCO is intended for more mature companies because, as bigger money comes in, the more regulatory clarity is necessary for investors to feel comfortable getting in. Finova will accept Ethereum, Bitcoin, other cryptcurrencies, and fiat currency.

Finova is so sure of the JCO that they want to help other companies issue their own. He see the JCO as the IPO of the future.

To date, Finova has raised $150 million in equity and debt. Started two years ago, they’ve raised $100 million in revenue. While not yet profitable, they are getting close. Their niche is to provide technology to the unbanked, about 30% of the U.S. population, so they can have access to traditional financial services like lending and bank cards. A balance sheet lender, most of their customers have poor credit scores and no bank account.

“We created a digital service where they can get case the same day based on their most important assets,” Keough said. As a secured lender, they offer lines of credit for automobiles. The customer uses equity in their vehicle to tap into the line of credit when needed. Finova puts a lien on the vehicle until the customer is out of debt.

With a kickstart in Florida, they now operate in seven states with an eye on expansion as they grow their capital stack.

Author:

Allen Taylor

Checking the Credit of the Subprime Consumer

Checking the Credit of the Subprime Consumer

In the US, there are tens of millions who do not have a reliable FICO score, either because their credit history is not sufficient or it is non-existent. This becomes a vicious cycle and an important reason why subprime borrowers struggle to obtain credit. Traditional lenders are dependent on FICO, and handicapped as they lack […]

Checking the Credit of the Subprime Consumer

In the US, there are tens of millions who do not have a reliable FICO score, either because their credit history is not sufficient or it is non-existent. This becomes a vicious cycle and an important reason why subprime borrowers struggle to obtain credit. Traditional lenders are dependent on FICO, and handicapped as they lack qualitative information about subprime borrowers who might otherwise be creditworthy. Clarity Credit Bureau was born with the clear goal to collect subprime data and cater to this population, which is not being served properly by the big three credit bureaus.

Over the years, the company has been able to carve its own niche in the subprime market. Now, lenders and financial institutions are using Clarity for subprime borrowers across the entire credit spectrum, and they are using the bureau in conjunction with other credit bureaus in order evaluate credit applications at a more granular level. This layering of Clarity above traditional data has created value for Clarity clients as they are able to offer credit to a wider client base with the assurance that they are creditworthy.

Extensive Database

Around 200-220 million consumers within the age group of 19 to 65 form the largest part of the credit consumer population in America. About one-third of this nearly 70 million person group are subprime borrowers. Sixty million are covered by Clarity, which is nearly 80% of the entire subprime market. This extensive and elaborate data is what makes the company stand out and be the sought after credit rating agency for subprime borrowers. on average, the entertains anywhere between 400,000 to 800,000 report requests every day.

Clarity does not use FICO data. The company has developed over 30 different report products. They also use the same information as traditional bureaus such as credit history, identity verification, etc. The only difference is that Clarity focuses on data collection for a different population set.

Traditional Bureaus as Laggards

Traditional Bureaus lag behind Clarity Credit Bureau due to the paucity of an adequate mechanism to have access to the subprime borrower data. Typically, financial institutions do not provide financial services to subprime customers without FICO data, and they report to credit bureaus.

But, if a lender client of Clarity requests a report on a customer and extends credit to that customer, the financial service provider submits the performance of the credit line to Clarity. It is structured as a “Give and Get” model, similar to other credit bureaus.

Competitive Edge in the Market

According to the Clarity’s founder, Clarity Credit Bureau is the largest bureau in the subprime credit reporting space. Moreover, it has succeeded in carving its niche as the most innovative player in this segment, and its revenues grew by over 70% from 2014 to 2015.

A Solution for Loan Stacking

Loan stacking is a serious threat in the P2P lending space. Borrowers have managed to take advantage of lenders due to the shortcomings of the alternative lending industry. To fend off loan stacking, lenders have been using a consortium approach for 10 years. This involves a group of lenders getting together and sharing every approved application among the consortium. It’s a temporary fix as information sharing is restricted to the consortium, and if the consumer gets a loan from a non-consortium player like a tribal lender or payday lender, the original lender would not be any wiser.

Keeping this in mind, Clarity has developed a real-time solution: Temporary Account Record, a patent-pending solution that will close the reporting gap from hours to minutes, which helps reduce the risk of underwriting unsecured loans. Everyone who is part of the Clarity family and using this technology will be notified when a lender approves a loan.

Real-Time Technology

In today’s world, where technology changes hands in mere weeks, methods used by the three big rating bureaus are quite off the pace. These bureaus use archiving technology for updating their database. Archiving technology will add new data to an existing database randomly from time to time. The resulting report generated might not be up to date or accurate. Clarity, however, uses real-time technology for reporting where the updated information is gathered and stored in the original format along with the date and timestamp.

Clarity Credit Bureau makes use of MySQL, an open source relational database, and the Bongo database system to capture and leverage big data. It uses an on-premise database architecture, instead of operating on the cloud, with multiple data centers complying with industry standard security and encryption certification. Though this is a costly solution, it is necessary as they deal with extremely sensitive public data.

Company History

Clarity Credit Bureau was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Clearwater, Florida with the aim to provide unprecedented credit risk solutions to lenders and service providers that deal with nonprime consumers. The company also collects and analyzes multiple data points on the behavior of nonprime consumers, and endeavors to provide customized data-driven solutions to clients to meet their specific needs and circumstances.

Clarity Credit Bureau has over 100 employees and around 600 clients.

Founder and Manpower

Tim Ranney, the President and CEO at Clarity Services, has expertise in the IT sector and large database systems. Prior to the inception of Clarity Credit Bureau, he spent nearly 20 years in Internet security and risk management, serving as chief operating officer of an industry leader and senior executive for both Network Solutions and VeriSign.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.