Fintech Sandboxes: A Global Overview

fintech sandboxes

When an industry develops at a breakneck speed, the law can take some time to catch up. Existing regulations usually do not fit new paradigms, and it can stifle innovation. A regulatory sandbox is the perfect solution because it allows for the testing of new innovations in a controlled environment. The term “sandbox” refers to […]

The post Fintech Sandboxes: A Global Overview appeared first on Lending Times.

fintech sandboxes

When an industry develops at a breakneck speed, the law can take some time to catch up. Existing regulations usually do not fit new paradigms, and it can stifle innovation. A regulatory sandbox is the perfect solution because it allows for the testing of new innovations in a controlled environment.

The term “sandbox” refers to the box of sand where small children play in a confined boundary. The term has received a new connotation in a commercial sense and refers to a closed environment used for experimenting and testing projects or new ideas. Regulatory sandboxes help in testing business proposals and prototypes under a regulator’s supervision. These testing grounds have an advantage of not being governed by current rules and, therefore, the business can explicitly experiment the validity of their projects without the danger of getting caught on the wrong side of existing law.

Such regulatory sandboxes are critical for the development of the alternative lending industry. The gist of having regulatory sandboxes in this sector is to comply with the regulatory directives that complement the growth of fintech companies without compromising on users’ safety and protection. The existence of suitable safeguards assists players in executing a live trial in the market without having to worry about the legal consequences.

The Dawn of the Regulatory Sandbox

Financial regulators across the globe understand the challenges and opportunities presented by innovations like digital-only banking, P2P lending, robo-advisors, and other fintech innovations. Some countries have taken the lead in ensuring that an ecosystem is created which helps startups experiment with their products and services without running afoul of current rules.

United Kingdom- The Pioneer

Seeing massive investor interest in this industry, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) proposed a regulatory sandbox as a part of its Project Innovate. It started accepting applications in mid-2016.

The UK has completed the successful testing of models from 18 out of 69 firms in the first phase and 24 out of 77 firms in the second phase. The sandbox has accepted 18 out of 61 firms for the third phase, and 29 out of 69 applications received qualified to the testing stage in the fuurth phase.

Participants in the UK sandbox came from sectors like retail banking, general insurance, retail lending, and wholesale lending. Around 35 percent of the participants in the secnd phase were from other countries, including the US and Singapore. The fourth cohort has almost 40 percent of startups experimenting with distributed ledger technology for disrupting traditional finance.

The UK regulatory sandbox includes:

  • A positive reaction from other global regulators.
  • The startup community’s eagerness is evident from each phase being oversubscribed.
  • It has reduced the time to get an idea to market. FCA claims that, during the first year itself, 90 percent of the firms were able to go for a commercial market launch of their product.
  • Also, many of the approved fintech companies were able to attract VC investment for their projects.

Singapore

The second jurisdiction to launch the concept of a regulatory sandbox is Singapore. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) introduced its sandbox in June 2016. It has launched a range of schemes for interested startups. Till date, the country has the maximum regulatory alliances and has entered into co-operation arrangements with eight countries including UK, Australia, and Japan.

Since its launch, the MAS has guided over 140 applicants from around the globe. About one in five applications has been approved for experimentation.

Startups in crowdfunding, financial advisory, artificial intelligence, cross-border funding, distributed ledgers, and more were able to experiment under the MAS scheme. The sandbox has helped Singapore attract overseas startups to come and do business in the country. And it is contributing positively in making Singapore a Smart Financial Hub by allowing these young startups to form partnerships with traditional financial institutions.

United States

The Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CPFB) initiated the concept of regulatory sandboxes to ensure global compliance and to stimulate innovation in the fintech industry.

Arizona became the first state to open a fintech sandbox in the US by passing a legislation to create a Regulatory Sandbox Program. This program will enable finetch players to test their financial products without being subjected to the licensing provisions of the state. The move will come under the supervision of the Arizona Attorney General. Another state, Illinois, also on the footsteps of Arizona, has a separate regulatory bill (currently on hold) on the horizon.

Along with the regulatory sandbox, the US has also launched an ‘office of innovation’, which primarily focuses on blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies. The aim is to stimulate competition in the industry and expedite consumer advancement.

The participants included payment start-ups, financial technology companies, credit agencies, and lending companies.

The startups in the Arizona sandbox will be allowed to experiment with their financial products for a period of up to two years. The sandbox has promoted investment and job creation in the state. It will help improve the competitive position of the country in the global fintech industry. The concept has also helped early stage entrepreneurs surpass the legal hurdles with access to a trillion dollar opportunity.

Canada

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) launched its sandbox “LaunchPad” in February 2017. The government is said to create a “super sandbox” that will help foster communication between fintech players, financial institutions, regulators, and the government. It is a part of its 2016-2019 Business Plan to understand how technology affects the markets. An agency by the name Ontario Fintech Accelerator Office will also be instituted to provide assistance to start ups. The government plans to develop the retail payment and financial sector framework at the national level.

It has given a push to Canada’s innovation market as earlier, due to the domination of a few financial companies in the industry, innovation was slow. Now, it has allowed Canadian fintech companies to come forward and grow both locally and internationally. The new idea will benefit Canadian SMEs who could not access funding from traditional lenders.

Global Integration

The concept of regulatory sandboxes is currently running in over 20 nations. Apart from the countries mentioned above, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Denmark, and Thailand have sandboxes running to join the race. To promote interaction among participants at a global level, a GFIN (Global Financial Innovation Network) has been launched, aimed at knowledge sharing and facilitating cross-border testing of ideas. It is a joint effort of FCA and 11 other regulatory authorities. Organizations such as the US CFPB, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, UK FCA, MAS, and others, are a part of this network. The goal is to go past the idea of a sandbox and ensure that regulators are able to support the advancements in the fintech industry.

Authors:

Written by Heena Dhir.

The post Fintech Sandboxes: A Global Overview appeared first on Lending Times.

Thursday October 25 2018, Daily News Digest

The Most Free and Clear Cities

News Comments Today’s main news: Funding Circle cuts price range for IPO. Nelnet withdraws industrial loan charter (ILC) application. China Rapid Finance names former Hewlett Packard exec as Co-CEO. Faircent drops prime lending rates. Today’s main analysis: The most free and clear cities in America. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Fincera grows as China’s P2P lending industry falters. BNP Paribas discusses […]

The Most Free and Clear Cities

News Comments

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United Kingdom

China/Hong Kong

International

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Other

News Summary

United States

Nelnet withdraws application for industrial loan charter (American Banker) Rated: AAA

Nelnet, a student loan servicing company, has withdrawn its application to become a Utah-chartered industrial bank.

The Lincoln, Neb., company had filed an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions in late June to form Nelnet Bank. Nelnet was pursuing an industrial loan charter.

The withdrawal is a “temporary step back” in what Nelnet knew could be a long process, Tim Tewes, the company’s president, said in a press release.

LendingTree Reveals the Most Free & Clear Cities in America (Lending Tree) Rated: AAA

Many U.S. property owners dream of the day they shed the mortgage, owning their homes outright. Reaching this milestone means not only skipping the monthly payment but achieving what is perhaps a lifelong goal of asset accumulation. LendingTree ranks U.S. cities by the proportion of such homeowners who are free and clear.

Source: LendingTree

The Federal Reserve’s measure of how much wealth households have in real estate equity has climbed from a $6-trillion level nine years ago to about $15 trillion in 2018.

Source: LendingTree

CreditShop Announces the Successful Conversion of More Than 500,000 Mastercard Credit Card Accounts (PR Newswire) Rated: A

CreditShop LLC today announced the successful conversion of more than half a million Mastercard credit card accounts and $1.4 billion in receivables. The portfolio, which was acquired in March 2017, was converted to the new Mercury Mastercard® which launched in May.  The Mercury Mastercard is marketed by CreditShop, and issued by First Bank & Trust of Brookings, South Dakota.

CreditShop believes that there are few reasonably priced credit cards available to credit-challenged consumers. There are about 75 million Americans in the “middle market” with FICO scores ranging between 575 and 675, and many are charged high fees by sub-prime credit card issuers.  The Mercury Mastercard is designed to give hard-working, middle market consumers access to a better credit card, at a reasonable price, so they can manage their financial lives better.

Covr Financial Technologies raises $ 10MM Series A from leading technology venture firms (PR Newswire) Rated: A

Covr Financial Technologies, a digital, multi-carrier life insurance platform for financial institutions, today announced it has raised $10 million in Series A funding. In addition to Covr’s existing individual and family investors that made additional investments during this funding round, Covr’s current venture partners all participated including Nyca Partners, Commerce Ventures, Countour Venture Partners and Connectivity Capital Partners and were joined by new investor Allianz Life Ventures. This most recent round brings Covr’s total fundraising to more than $20MM.

Fintech Leader OppLoans Appoints Stacee Hasenbalg to Chief Compliance Officer Role (PR Newswire) Rated: B

OppLoans has announced the appointment of Stacee Hasenbalg to the role of Chief Compliance Officer. Ms. Hasenbalg has held positions in banking and financial services for more than 20 years, including the role of Associate General Counsel, US Regulatory Liaison at Bank of Montreal, and Chief Compliance Officer at Avant. At OppLoans, Hasenbalg will join the executive team leading the company’s compliance and risk oversight function to ensure maximal transparency and efficiency as the firm delivers financing to underbanked consumers.

United Kingdom

Funding Circle cuts price range for London IPO (Financial Times) Rated: AAA

Funding Circle, the peer-to-peer lending platform, has cut the maximum valuation it is seeking in its upcoming stock market flotation, which is viewed as a test for UK investors’ appetite to back alternative lending vehicles.

The loss making company — which connects small businesses seeking credit with private and institutional investors willing to lend to riskier borrowers for potentially higher returns — originally set a price range of 420p to 530p per share for its IPO. This would have valued it at up to £1.8bn.

Funding Circle, which is the first peer-to-peer lender to go public in the UK, has now narrowed that price range from 440p to 460p, giving a maximum valuation of £1.5bn.

Lending to manufacturers grew over the last year (Business Insider) Rated: A

Lending to manufacturers grew by 7.4 per cent over the last 12 months, in contrast to a wider 2.1 per cent contraction overall in UK business borrowing, according to banking trade body UK Finance.

The figures released today also show that UK business deposits for non-financial companies grew by 1.5 per cent in the last 12 months.

PLATFORM RAISES £4.5M TO END ‘PAYDAY POVERTY’ CYCLE (Business Cloud) Rated: A

FinTech start-up Wagestream has raised £4.5m in funding from a group of the world’s leading technology and social impact investors.

The fledgling company’s ‘Get-Paid-As-You-Go’ service allows workers to access their monthly wages in real-time.

Backers include QED Investors, Village Global (a global VC backed by leading entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos), as well as the London Mayor’s Co-Investment Fund and the Fair by Design fund, whose social impact charities include Big Society Capital, Nominet Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Frank Field asks City watchdog to protect Wonga borrowers from ‘disaster zone’ (AOL) Rated: A

MP Frank Field has written to the City watchdog to seek assurances that borrowers from collapsed payday loan company Wonga will be protected from “a financial disaster zone”.

Following a meeting with Wonga’s administrators Grant Thornton, the independent politician has written a letter to Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chief executive Andrew Bailey asking what steps the regulator will take to protect customers from loan sharks.

Mr Field wrote that it was still possible “people of good will” could buy the company’s £400 million worth of outstanding loans and “treat borrowers without exploitation”.

Tandem Bank adds auto-savings rules (Fintech Futures) Rated: B

Tandem Bank is launching the possibility of setting auto-savings rules, designed to help customers automate regular payments to the savings pot.

When a rule is triggered, money will be automatically moved from their current account into their Tandem account. This money will then start to earn interest.

China

As China’s P2P Industry Stumbles, One Company Is Soaring (The Diplomat) Rated: AAA

China’s peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry is going through a challenging time, as regulators ensure that companies follow a list of over 100 new rules. The rules have been put into place to eliminate the fraudulent or poor business practices that have plagued the industry since its inception in 2006. Many of these firms have struggled to reduce customer credit risk, lacking sufficient financial and technological expertise. But some companies have continued to perform well despite the chaos, and one of these is Fincera, which lends to businesses.

Fincera Inc. is one of the first companies in China to make loans to trucking businesses online. The company operates a P2P lending platform called “Qingyidai” that continues to thrive despite the turbulence in China’s P2P lending sector. As hundreds of P2P lending firms are shut down and/or bailed out due to China’s current regulatory and economic environment, the few that persist stand out. For Qingyidai, the secret to survival is in its risk control methods, which combine technology with traditional risk control methods.

China Rapid Finance Limited (XRF) Names Former Hewlett Packard Executive as Co-CEO (Street Insider) Rated: AAA

China Rapid Finance Limited (“XRF” or the “Company”) (NYSE: XRF), a leading consumer finance marketplace and technology platform in China, today announced the expansion of its leadership team with the appointment of Russell Krauss, a former Hewlett-Packard executive, as Co-Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman. The appointment is intended to help accelerate its strategic corporate transformation as it launches new initiatives and business lines.

Crypto.com Announces Advisory Board (PR Newswire) Rated: B

Huey Lin (Operations)

Huey Lin is COO of Affirm which offers services that empower consumers to advance their financial well-being. Affirm was founded by Max Levchin and is one of Silicon Valley’s fastest growing fintech startups, having raised over US$500m. As COO, Huey is responsible for all aspects of operations, and scaling the company. Prior to Affirm, Huey spent nearly 12 years at PayPal in several key roles, including director of international risk policy & strategy and senior director of Asia-Pacific operations. She played an instrumental role in helping PayPal expand in Europe, meet critical global compliance requirements and was one of the first product managers.

European Union

Aren’t we at the ‘peak of the cycle’? BNP Paribas responds (Altfi News) Rated: AAA

In an exclusive interview with AltFi, Stéphane Blanchoz said the firm plans to originate €1 billion a year in SME loans in Europe, with at least €400m in the UK. Blanchoz is heading up the operation as head of SME alternative financing.

BNP is working with a number of origination partners, including CODE Investing and Caple, but also plans to originate loans itself.

The operation will focus on ‘medium enterprises’, with loans ranging from £500k to £5m. According to a presentation delivered at its offices last week, the asset manager sees this as an underserved segment of the market, populated by around 34,000 companies. Companies within this segment are turning over between £1m and £50m a year.

Ronald Kleverlaan, Director European Centre for Alternative Finance, Shares Insight Into European Fintech Marketplace (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: A

Ronald Kleverlaan: The alternative finance market in Europe is currently preparing for the next growth phase with EU wide regulations, launch of new initiatives backed by large institutional funders and public support for cross-border investments.

Previously alternative finance was used in startups or specific higher risk industries and in several countries 10-20% of that market is already funded through alternative finance providers.

One of the main drawbacks is the maximum of €1 million to be raised by companies through a platform. In most member states this maximum has already been raised to €5 million or €8 million making it applicable also for larger scale-ups and growing companies to raise funding though these platforms.

The Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority approved Fellow Finance Plc’s prospectus (Globe Newswire) Rated: A

The Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority has today, on 26 September 2018, approved Fellow Finance Plc’s (“Fellow Finance” or the “Company”) Finnish language Prospectus (“Prospectus”) regarding the Company’s planned listing on the First North Finland marketplace of Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd and the initial public offering related thereto (the “IPO”).

The Prospectus will be available in electronic form on or about 26 September 2018, on Fellow Finance’s website at www.fellowfinance.com/company/ipo, at the website of Evli Bank Plc at www.evli.com/fellowfinance and at the website of Nordnet Bank AB Finnish Branch at www.nordnet.fi/fellowfinance. The printed versions of the Prospectus will be available on or about 27 September at the registered office of the Company at Ratakatu 1 b A 10, FI-00120 Helsinki, at Evli Bank Plc’s office located at Aleksanterinkatu 19 A, 4th floor, FI-00100 Helsinki and at the Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd (Fabianinkatu 14, 00100 Helsinki).

MYBESTBRANDS Launches Universal Checkout in Collaboration With Payment Provider Klarna (PR Newswire) Rated: B

Klarna, one of Europe’s leading payment providers, and MYBESTBRANDS, Germany’s largest online shopping mall for premium and luxury fashion, have joined forces to launch the Universal Checkout (UCO), the first cooperation of its kind in Germany. Innovative bot technology developed by MYBESTBRANDS combined with the Klarna Checkout will create a superior shopping experience for customers, driving increased order values, conversion and ultimately building loyalty for MYBESTBRANDS’ merchants.

Customers will now be able to add items from different merchants to a single cart on MYBESTBRANDS and then pay with a click via Klarna.

International

Striking the Delicate Balance Between Customer Experience and Fraud Prevention (TransUnion), Rated: AAA

Striking the delicate balance between customer experience and fraud prevention is not an easy feat. This was a common theme among newly released Forrester Consulting global studies exploring fraud in the financial services, insurance and single and multi-family rental industries.

Increases in fraud are corroborated by the research conducted by Forrester.

  • Nearly all financial services firms (94%) in the study recognized that they have experienced some sort of fraud, whether it’s identity theft/new account fraud, synthetic identity fraud, or account takeover fraud in the past two years.
  • Almost two-thirds of insurance companies (62%) have seen an increase in soft fraud and 57% have seen an increase in identity fraud in the past year.
  • Virtually all property management companies (97%) have experienced fraud in the properties they manage in the past two years.
Source: TransUnion

The studies come at a time when TransUnion’s own proprietary fraud data found that outstanding balances of suspected synthetic fraud for auto loans, bankcards, retail cards and personal loans have now surpassed $1 billion as of Q2 2018. Insurers and large and small property managers also face new fraud schemes as the prevalence of online applications continues to rise.

Source: TransUnion

See the full study on fraud here.

Speakers tell ABS pros not to sweat the credit cycle (GlobalCapital) Rated: A

Panelists speaking on state of the consumer ABS market on day two of ABS East told a packed audience that while the credit cycle is definitely in its late stages, material distress in consumer credit was unlikely to be seen for some time.

The comments reflect a broader sentiment that has been expressed at the conference, that the bull market is showing no signs of slowing down and is throwing the likelihood of a recession of any size into question (see related article).

This Exchange Protects User Funds by Keeping 98% in Cold Storage (News BTC) Rated: A

A new European exchange wants to protect their customer funds from governments and hackers by regulatory compliance and a special focus on security.

Blockchain.io is a newly announced exchange that intends on enforcing strict rules to comply with both international and local laws, even for future regulations. The company wants to stay regulatory-compliant, audit their records and only approve carefully selected coins in order to make sure that they stay on the right side of the law.

For instance, a variety of simple and complex order types will be featured. Moreover, there are plans to integrate a peer-to-peer (p2p) lending system to let user borrow from a fund managed and maintained by Blockchain.io. The interest rates of such transactions will be based on supply and demand.

Australia

Real Estate Startup Konkrete Gets Backing From Signum Capital (ThirtyK) Rated: AAA

Blockchain startup Konkrete announced it is receiving financial backing from Signum Capital, an investor in blockchain technologies.

Konkrete, which provides a platform for tokenizing real estate assets, is in the midst of raising $3 million. The Melbourne, Australia-based company has $2 million in precommitments with Signum as the lead investor, according to Australia’s Financial Review.

The announcement comes amid a flurry of blockchain-related real estate projects worldwide.

India

Faircent.com drops prime lending rates by 200Bps to 9.99% p.a. for unsecured loans (Economic Times) Rated: AAA

Leading NBFC-P2P Faircent.com on Wednesday announced a reduction in the interest rate on unsecured loans to 9.99% per annum for prime borrowers listed on its platform. According to a statement, the move is a first for India’s lending market, with such an interest rate being the lowest for unsecured loan offered by any private/PSU bank or alternative lending platform in the country, so far.

Faircent says this is the direct result of RBI regulating the peer-to-peer lending sector in India and recognizing it as an NBFC-P2P, thereby unlocking the alternative credit supply into the economy.

SC verdict on Aadhaar Act may make operations expensive for fintech players (Your Story) Rated: A

The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday, while upholding the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, which allowed the sharing of citizen data with private entities.

Bhavin Patel, co-founder and CEO of P2P lending platform LenDenClub, says,

“The authenticity of data through Aadhaar is really high considering physical documents (like PAN card) can be copied. The costs of verification for delivering ultra-small ticket size loans (of say Rs 5,000) will definitely be a concern. We estimate that there will be a 30-percent increase in costs on physical verification, which will add up to another Rs 100 or Rs 150.  Also, deployment may take a day or more now (in an ideal scenario) since physical verification takes 24 hours at least.”

COAI to examine implications of Supreme Court verdict on Aadhaar linkage with mobile connections (Economic Times) Rated: A

Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) Wednesday said it will examine and assess implications of the Supreme Court judgement, which states that it will not be mandatory for customers to link Aadhaar for mobile connections and bank accounts.

The apex court Wednesday struck down the Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 that permitted private entities like telecom companies or other corporates to avail of the biometric Aadhaar data.

Loan Rate DOWN: While HDFC, SBI, ICICI, Indusland Bank hike lending rates, this lender bucks the trend (Zee Business) Rated: A

Loan takers are having to pay interest through their noses and there has been no relief in sight for a long time. However, bucking the trend is this new-age online lender. Faircent.com has actually reduced interest rates on unsecured loans by a whopping 200 bps to 9.99% per annum for prime borrowers listed on its platform. This is lowest “lowest” interest rate for unsecured loans offered by any private/PSU bank or alternative lending platform in the country, Faircent claimed in a statement. It further said the reduction in lending rate is the “direct result of RBI regulating the peer-to-peer lending sector in India and recognizing it as an NBFC-P2P, thereby unlocking the alternative credit supply into the economy.”

Significantly, unsecured loans are issued without any collateral and are supported only by the borrower’s creditworthiness.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had hiked repo rate in August 2018 from 6.25% to 6.50% to curb inflation. This affected both the existing as well as future borrowers taking loans from banks. Following RBI decision, several public sector and private banks have increased their Marginal Cost-based Lending Rates (MCLR), making the with borrowers pay higher interest rates and EMIs on their loans. Faircent.com has done the opposite.

Asia

BoT readies peer-to-peer lending service (Bankok Times) Rated: AAA

The Bank of Thailand plans to set regulations for peer-to-peer (P2P) lending service by the year-end, widening opportunities for small-business operators to access financial sources.

The central bank expects to set out regulations to cover all related parties, including P2P lending platforms, borrowers and lenders, said assistant governor Ruechukorn Siriyothin.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Singapore Fintech Market: Overview

southeast asia fintech lending

South East Asia (SEA) is finally embracing financial technology and marketplace lending is at the heart of this boom. The breadth and depth of solutions across FinTech Lending in the region is quite impressive and clearly signifies that a digital revolution is underway in the South East Asian lending industry. Top and Emerging Fintech Sectors in […]

southeast asia fintech lending

South East Asia (SEA) is finally embracing financial technology and marketplace lending is at the heart of this boom. The breadth and depth of solutions across FinTech Lending in the region is quite impressive and clearly signifies that a digital revolution is underway in the South East Asian lending industry.

Top and Emerging Fintech Sectors in South East Asia by Country

Singapore in particular has become a hub for the nascent fintech lending industry. It is the runaway leader in the region and holds 52% of the market share (both by number of deals and money invested). It is followed by Philippines which accounts for 14%, Thailand 13% and Indonesia 12%.

However, with so many different governments involved, SEA poses an overregulation risk. Already, P2P lenders here have to criss-cross through various layers of regulations that their competitors in other regions don’t have to face.

Singapore Fintech Market: Overview

Singapore has always been known as the technology capital of Asia; MNCs and financial institutions have considered it a natural choice as HQ for their Asian operations. Though Singapore has deep roots in technology and innovation but ironically it got on the Fintech bandwagon rather late. But with the support of regulators, Singapore has established itself as the “Fintech Hub” of South East Asia. Singapore fintech market crossed $83 million in deals during the second quarter of 2017. In 2016, investment in Singapore based fintech companies dropped by staggering 65 percent (US$605 million to US$214 million), as per KPMG International study- Pulse of Fintech. But interestingly the number of deals decreased by only two to 28 during the same period. The main reason for the fall was complicated authorization process for fintechs, but Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working aggressively to streamline the authorization process, in order to attract more fintechs to Singapore.

Regulatory Ecosystem

“Over the longer term, MAS hopes to see more fintechs using Singapore as a base to pilot and then deploy solutions to other countries within South-east Asia, such as Indonesia and Thailand,” said Mr Chia Tek Yew, the head of financial services advisory at KPMG Singapore.

Monetary Authority of Singapore; the regulatory body has backed the fintech industry right from the get go and that is the reason why Singapore has become the leader in South East Asia. Some of those favorable regulations are mentioned below:

  • Last year, under the “FSTI” scheme, MAS committed S$225 million (US$164.2 million) over the next five years to foster the innovation ecosystem in Singapore.
  • It also developed the road map that showed the central bank’s move toward an open Application Programming Interface (API) architecture.
  • In association with National Research Foundation, it announced the establishment of a dedicated FinTech office to facilitate the use of technology and innovation in the financial sectors (FinTech office to review, align and enhance FinTech-related funding schemes across government agencies).
  • It also released a consultation paper on proposed guidelines for a ‘regulatory sandbox’ that will enable financial institutions (FIs) as well as non-financial players to experiment with financial technology (FinTech) solutions.
  • Struck partnership with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to help FinTech companies from their respective countries scale into each other’s markets and help reduce regulatory uncertainty and time to market and it is trying to strike such more partnerships with other countries as well.
  • MAS have also announced it will be opening a fintech innovation hub “the looking glass” to promote innovation.
  • It also released a consultation paper on proposed changes to the payments regulatory framework and establishment of a National Payments Council, whose key initiatives are to promote interoperability and adoption of common standards.

This highlights that though the regulator was slow from the blocks, but has aggressively covered ground to create a supportive environment for the fintech lending community.

Leading players in the Singapore Market

Capital Match ( an online peer-to-peer lending marketplace for SMEs based in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It provides SMEs with affordable working capital from professional investors through its online platform. It was founded in 2014 by Arnaud Bailly, Kevin Lim, and Pawel Kuznicki. Since inception, it has facilitated over S$60 million in cumulative origination. It has raised S$1,000,000 from three investors; Innosight Ventures being the lead investor. It offers business and SME loans and invoice financing facilities of S$50,000- S$200,000 with loan duration ranging from 3-12 months.

Minterest ()- Minterest is a peer-to-business financial technology platform founded by a team of former bankers with more than 120 years of collective experience in corporate and structured finance. It was founded in 2016 by Charis Liau, Ronnie Chia, and Wei Choong Loo. It offers various flexible funding options with interest rate as low as 1% and loan terms ranges from 3-12 months.

SmartFunding ( is a platform that provides trustworthy alternative financing solutions that are 100% focused on small and medium businesses. It was founded in 2016 and raised S$700,000 as seed funding. It offers invoice financing to SMEs.

FinAccel ( FinAccel is a financial technology company creating products for the retail credit sector for Southeast Asia. With an all-star team of investors, founders and employees, FinAccel is currently focused on disruption in the unsecured lending space. It was founded in 2015 by Akshay Garg, Alie Tan, and Umang Rustagi. It raised S$1,100,000 from various rounds of funding. Kredivo is the flagship product developed by the company; it gives ecommerce shoppers instant credit financing based on real-time decisioning. Jungle Ventures led the funding round in the company.

InvoiceInterchange ( is a peer-to-peer invoice-trading marketplace that provides working capital solutions to fund growth for small- to medium-sized enterprises. It offers both selective invoice discounting and the whole turnover invoice discounting to SMEs. It was founded in 2015 by Brian Teng and Nalinee Chinowuthichai. Investor fee is typically between 0.8% – 1.5% (per 30-days) of the advanced amount. Transaction fee is typically between 1.0%-1.5% of invoice amount.

Conclusion

Singapore has emerged as an undisputed leader in the SEA region but considering it has always been the gateway to Asia, it will certainly want to have a bigger share of the fintech lending pie. The MAS has laid out a well-thought out road map to attract startups and investments. With a massive demand-supply mismatch in credit, Singapore is poised to witness a marketplace-lending boom.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Wednesday February 15 2017, Daily News Digest

sme trump president

News Comments Today’s main news: Lending Club originations up 1% in Q4 from Q3 2016, down by 23% against Q4 2015. Today’s main analysis: Lendio survey says SMBs split on the perception of Trump presidency. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Former FICO chief joins XOR Data Exchange. FCA says the distinction between advice and guidance is ‘grayer’. China outpaces […]

sme trump president

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United States

Lending Club Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2016 Results (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Lending Club (NYSE: LC), the world’s largest online marketplace connecting borrowers and investors, today announced financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2016, and provided guidance for the first quarter and full year 2017.

Key accomplishments in the fourth quarter across the Lending Club platform include:

  • Achieved targeted originations of nearly $2 billion, up 1% compared to third quarter 2016
  • Continued the company’s lead as the largest personal loan provider in the U.S. with a borrower base of over 1.8 million individuals
  • Lending Club has now facilitated nearly $25 billion in loans since inception

Other developments

  • Ended the year with a servicing portfolio of $11.1 billion, up 24% from the same period last year and delivering $1.8 billion of principal and interest payments to investors throughout the quarter
  • Ended 2016 with cash, cash equivalents and securities available for sale totaling $803 million, with no outstanding debt

Originations – Loan originations in the fourth quarter of 2016 were $1.99 billion, up 1% compared to the $1.97 billion we reported in the third quarter of 2016 and down 23% compared to $2.58 billion in the same quarter last year.

New Lendio Survey: Perception of Trump Presidency Split Among Small Businesses (Benzinga), Rated: AAA

Lendio, the nation’s leading marketplace for small business loans, today announced the results of a new survey showing that small business owners’ perception of a Trump presidency is split, with 56 percent of small business owners believing the economy will be worse or the same at the close of Trump’s first term.

The survey of over 330 U.S. small businesses with under 250 employees found that only 27 percent approve of Trump’s performance so far. More specifically, small business owners believe Trump’s recent executive order on business regulations requiring federal agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new one will help their business. According to the survey, 41 percent believe it will help, 28 percent believe it won’t help and 31 percent were neutral.

Despite the majority having a negative economic outlook, small business owners are still optimistic about the state of their own businesses. Forty percent of small business owners believe the Trump presidency will have a positive impact on their business, 33 percent believe it will have a negative impact, and 27 percent are neutral.

To view the full survey results, visit

Source:

Former FICO chief joins XOR Data Exchange as investor and board strategist (XOR), Rated: A

Larry Rosenberger, former CEO of Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) and current research fellow, has joined Austin-based Data as a Service (DaaS) provider XOR Data Exchange as an investor and board observer. Rosenberger’s experience and expertise in implementing data and analytical models for the financial services industry is expected to help the FinTech startup continue rapid growth, development and adoption of fraud risk models to protect consumers and businesses from identity theft and data misuse.

The addition comes as part of XOR’s latest funding round, a $2 million extension of its Series A investment, which closed at the start of February. In a press statement, XOR Founder and CEO Mike Cook stated the funding will be used to expand XOR’s fraud and credit risk models nationally.

Rosenberger is well known across the FinTech and financial services industries for his leadership of FICO between 1991 and 1999, during which time FICO credit scores were made available to all three major U.S. credit reporting agencies and adopted as standards by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for mortgage lending evaluation. Those scores remain the gold standard in credit risk used by banks, lenders and service providers nationally and abroad. Since his tenure as CEO, Rosenberger led FICO’s research and development efforts for another eight-year stint before taking on his current role as research fellow.

Fundrise’s Low-Fee Crowdfunding ‘iPO’ (Investopedia), Rated: A

Last week Rise Companies Corporation, the owner of the popular real estate crowdfunding platform Fundrise, successfully raised over $14 million in an online equity offering to investors that they are referring to as an Internet Public Offering or “iPO.” The offering, which was exclusively offered to current Fundrise investors, became oversubscribed by as much as 146% within 24 hours of becoming available.

According to Crowdfind Insider, Fundrise’s online offering is the largest one that the internet has seen to date. Previously, the record was held by a British crowdfunding platform by the name of Crowdcube. Last year, Crowdcube raised over £8 million (USD$10 million).

On Deck Capital says unit amended its existing asset-backed revolving debt facility (Reuters), Rated: A

* On Deck Capital – the facility amendment provides for an increase in lenders’ revolving commitment from an aggregate amount of $100 million to $150 million

FTC sends 2016 ECOA report to CFPB (JDSupra), Rated: A

The FTC has sent its annual letter to the CFPB reporting on the FTC’s activities related to compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B.

The FTC has authority to enforce the ECOA and Reg B as to nonbank providers within its jurisdiction.

With respect to research and policy development, the letter discusses the following initiatives:

  • Auto survey.  In December 2015, the FTC published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on its plans to conduct a survey of consumers regarding their experiences in buying and financing automobiles at dealerships.
  • Big data report.  In January 2016, the FTC issued a report warning that certain uses of big data consisting of consumer information may implicate various federal consumer protection laws.  The report focused on big data’s impact on low-income and underserved populations and protected groups and discussed the potential applicability of various laws, including the ECOA, to big data practices and provided a list of ”questions for legal compliance” for companies to consider in light of these laws.
  • Fintech forum.  In June 2016, the FTC launched a series of forums exploring emerging financial technology and its implications for consumers.  The first forum focused on marketplace lending and examined how marketplace lending operates, potential consumer benefits, consumer protection issues, and the potential applicability of various consumer protection laws.
  • Report on fraud in African American and Latino communities.
  • Interagency fair lending task force. 

PeerStreet: Enabling Real Estate Investors To Reach Previously Inaccessible Asset Classes (Benzinga), Rated: B

PeerStreet is a true marketplace, and the company serves several customer bases. At a high-level, there are investors and lenders; PeerStreet investors participate in pieces of loans made available on the platform. They typically include individual accredited investors, RIAs and funds.

There are also institutional investors interested in purchasing loans from PeerStreet. Lenders are PeerStreet’s supply source and this group consists of private lenders across the country financing single-family residential fix-and-flip, buy-to-rent and commercial properties.

Altisource Continues to Expand Client Base and Enhance Product Lines to Meet the Needs of Servicers (Altisource), Rated: B

Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A. (“Altisource”) (NASDAQ: ASPS), a leading provider of real estate, mortgage and technology services, today announced a specialized Federal Housing Authority (FHA) offering, taking advantage of its end-to-end product suite to assist in improving controls and mitigating risk throughout the lifecycle of servicing an FHA asset.

FHA loans represent a growing share of many Servicers’ portfolios and require specialized processes to comply with complex servicing guidance. The Altisource FHA offering provides servicers the ability to help reduce timelines and increase efficiencies with transparency through a customizable approach. From integrated field services, title services and property repairs to Claims Without Conveyance of Title (CWCOT) Auction Services, the complete suite of products is backed by the power of proprietary data and analytics to help further reduce risk and cost for Servicers.

United Kingdom

FCA: distinction between advice and guidance becoming ‘greyer’ (Citywire), Rated: AAA

New technology means it is becoming harder to set a distinction between advice and guidance, according to Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chairman John Griffith-Jones.

Speaking at a conference in Cambridge, Griffith-Jones (pictured) said the regulator needed to consider its definitions to keep pace with changes in the market.

‘Rules that were designed for the paperwork era do not work necessarily for the online one. The distinction between advice and guidance, once reasonably clear, has become much greyer with the advent of platforms and the potential of robo-advice,’ he said.

China

China FinTech Booms as Mobile Payments Outpace US by 50x (Cryptocoins News), Rated: AAA

New research has shown that Chinese mobile payments were around 50 times greater than those within the U.S. in 2016, thus illustrating that China’s FinTech market is a strong contender in the market.

Research from iResearch in China has found that Chinese third-party mobile payments more than tripled in 2016 to $5.5 trillion. WeChat Pay and Alipay, operated by Ant Financial, dominated the market. Recent research found that Alipay received the biggest investment in 2016 at $4.5 billion as FinTech funding increased in China.

Whereas, in the U.S., mobile payments increased by 39 percent to $112 billion, according to Forrester Research.

The FinTech market in China is reportedly dominated by two major markets: payments/remittances and insurance. In a December report, it stated that 40 percent of banking services customers rely on FinTech platforms and applications to settle domestic and international payments. A further 35 percent of bank customers are reported to employ smart artificial intelligence FinTech services to handle insurance needs.

The growth of Chinese mobile payments has increased due to the rise in online shopping as the improvement of online financial services.

Asia

Thailand’s Largest Bank to Launch New FinTech Platform (Cryptocoins News), Rated: AAA

Thailand’s largest bank by revenue, Kasikornbank Pcl, has unveiled that it is planning to introduce a new FinTech platform by the end of the year as it attempts to prevent fee income from its rival banks.

According to information from the Bank of Thailand, Thai mobile and Internet banking transactions increased by 26 percent between April and September in 2016.

At the end of last month, a new report came out that illustrated that there will be a sweeping adoption of blockchain technology in a number of areas including finance within Thailand by 2018.

In the past, Thailand has been averse to the adoption of bitcoin. So much so, that the Bank of Thailand has issued several statements as to their feelings on the digital currency.

Yet, while the bank has certainly taken a cautionary view of the currency in the past, it seems that the country is keen to embrace its underlying distributed ledger, the blockchain.

OJK Disseminates Regulations on Fintech and Pawnshop (Tempo.co), Rated: B

The Financial Services Authority (OJK) disseminated two regulations on financial technology lending services and on pawnshops on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.

OJK deputy commissioner for non-banking supervision Dumoly F. Pardede, said that the OJK supports the development of financial technology (Fintech) lending services in Indonesia.

OJK hoped that Fintech peer-to-peer (P2P) lending providers would harmonize and accelerate distribution of funds to micro, small and medium enterprises (UMKM) across the country. The P2P lending is a Fintech product that connects micro business owners with investors.

Middle East

Arab Financial Services to Host First Annual Middle East & Africa Fintech Forum (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Payment processing company Arab Financial Services is set to host the first annual Middle East and Africa Fintech Forum. This year’s theme is “Fintech Disruption in the Financial Industry.”

According to Trade Arabia, the event is being sponsored by Bank ABC and Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB). It will feature various topics, including latest fintech trends and discuss the challenges and opportunities in the fintech sector. The event’s participants will include government officials, regulators, professions and industry experts.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor