Modern Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) represent a significant part of the global economy, accounting for nearly 90% of all modern businesses. Modern SMEs are large contributors to the creation of workplaces and economic growth, especially in developing countries. Although they’ve become a vital part of the financial ecosystem, these businesses are facing extreme difficulties […]
Modern Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) represent a significant part of the global economy, accounting for nearly 90% of all modern businesses. Modern SMEs are large contributors to the creation of workplaces and economic growth, especially in developing countries.
Although they’ve become a vital part of the financial ecosystem, these businesses are facing extreme difficulties in accessing finances. SMEs are often associated with higher risks, sizeable transaction costs, and a lack of collateral—about 50% of small business loans get rejected.
Many business owners cite this financial exclusion as a key obstacle to the growth of their venture. The common hurdles in obtaining a loan include burdensome processes, low level of transparency, and the high costs associated with searching for a loan. For instance, the research by the Federal Reserve indicates that small business borrowers spend nearly 24 hours on paperwork alone during the loan application process at a bank.
The problem is global: businesses from East Asia and Pacific regions represent the largest share (46%) of the total number of underbanked SMEs worldwide, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (23%) and Europe and Central Asia (15%). In 2018, the finance gap between the needs of global SMEs and available funds reached $5.2 trillion, according to SME Finance Forum.
Following the financial crisis of 2008, with the idea of de-risking their balance sheets, large banks started to avoid lending to SMEs by introducing stricter requirements to receive funds. For instance, in the UK, where SMEs represent a tremendous 99.9% share of the 5.7 million businesses, the value of issued bank loans fell to £55.6 million in Q4 of 2018, a 78% drop from its maximum of £255 million in 2009.
The other reasons include the variety of regulations banks have to cope with, insufficient credit history, and the high transaction costs of underwriting and onboarding customers. All in all, providing loans to small businesses has become less of a priority for banks. “If you look at the great recession, what you’ve seen is a bounce-back of commercial lending, but lending to small businesses really hasn’t come back,” sums up Darrell Esch, Vice President of global credit at PayPal. The majority of banks are not interested in lending relatively small amounts of money on a frequent basis. Some banks have introduced a sort of a loan threshold (commonly around $100,000 to $250,000), and won’t engage in loans below this level. The others will not address requests from SMBs with less than $2 million in revenue.
But technology changed the scenery for many small and medium-sized enterprises. In comparison to traditional financial institutions, digital lending companies provide favorable terms on credits. With low-interest margins, faster approval, and without initial fees, they are scaling up quickly and already capitalizing on new scoring methods.
On the Path to Digitalization
Top decision-makers in the banking sphere are aware of the success of alternative lending companies. However, still slowed down by legacy systems, banks are only dipping their toes in digital lending. The outdated technology at banks isn’t the sole issue. At the recent Lending Fintech Europe in London, lga Zoutendijk, a career banker with several decades of experience, said that “legacy culture is a bigger problem at large banks than legacy tech and a much more difficult challenge to overcome.”
For traditional lenders, fintech is an opportunity to innovate and modernize. However, one can’t fight legacy culture alone: on their path to embrace digitalization, bank institutions need a fintech partner to bring technology, speed, and flexibility to the table.
Fintechs are looking for such partnerships as well. With all the improvements in customer experience, they predictably lack the expertise in areas such as risk management, loan monitoring, and servicing that banks have in spades. This mutual knowledge gap creates partnership opportunities. Denise Leonhard from Paypal is sure that “nobody is going to be able to do it alone. To get to the next evolution of payments, it’s going to be really partnership-driven.”
Addressing the Challenge
But what is the biggest challenge in initiating the loan process for banks? Moody’s Analytics, a financial intelligence provider, conducted a poll among bank institutions. The results revealed that 56% of bankers consider manual collection and data processing to be the greatest obstacle in the process of underwriting.
These outdated methods lack consistency, accuracy, and auditability, not to mention, they are time-consuming. This results in additional work for risk officers at a bank, and assessing an SME’s creditworthiness becomes a challenging and unprofitable task. Traditional players just can’t compete with agile, fast-moving alternative lenders and their “time-to-money” credit decisions which take less than a day.
Lending to SMEs is not profitable for banks unless they change their operational approach. The solution lies in the automation of manual processes. Banks have to adopt such solutions for enhanced data collection, scoring, and further rule-based decisions, and solve the problem of the data’s inconsistency and delay. Igor Pejic, the renowned author of Blockchain Babel, sums it up: “It is simply not possible to offer the customers the speed they need in today’s economy with manual processes.”
But what’s more important for banks, those changes mean investing in the future: alternative lending options make customer experience of SMEs convenient, transparent, and adapted to the way those businesses operate.
The Future of SME lending
Partnerships between banks and fintechs are one of the most-discussed topics in the industry as they have the immense potential to impact long-term growth, customer experience and client retention for both parties. Industry professionals agree that bank-fintech collaboration is evolving as a common industry practice that will shape the future of the lending domain.
By partnering with alternative lenders, traditional players fight the challenges associated with the process of credit risk assessment, increase the quality of the loan portfolio, and stay competitive in the SME lending sector. More importantly, they have the opportunity to offer small businesses a shortcut to finance with fast access to cash, less paperwork, and fewer rejected applications.
In return, alternative lenders benefit from partnerships by getting experience in handling a complex regulatory environment, reaching new markets, and scaling quickly. In regards to this, old-fashioned “collaboration” is the new industry trend, while “disruption” is regarded somewhat as a thing of the past. Effectively, change is almost impossible without industry-wide cooperation and consensus.
The question: is how will banks and fintechs manage their respective strengths to proceed with deeper integration in a newly-formed system? It’s important to note that these integrations shouldn’t be regarded as acquisitions by any means. In other words, the technological vision of fintechs shouldn’t be at odds with the slow processes within banking institutions: one needs to convince multiple stakeholders and departments that the partnership makes sense. Here’s Chris Skinner on the partnerships: “Banks are slow to move, particularly at the beginning. Realistically, you should consider allowing at least 12-months from the moment you engage to the moment you have a partnership agreement signed.”
However, the financial industry holds little pessimism about collaborations: 82% of top executives at banking institutions have plans to partner with a fintech within the next 5 years. That’s only a matter of time before both parties streamline their processes to completely change the dynamics of SME lending.
All in all, given the competitive advantages that come with strategic partnerships, banks and fintechs have better chances to achieve their scale ambitions and reinvent their business models.
According to the CGAP report, the global opportunity for SME credit is estimated to be around $8 trillion. At the same time, more than 50% of overall applications are being rejected regularly. If banks want to take their share of the lucrative market, they need to modernize, and that’s totally good news for small businesses, technological partners, and the whole fintech ecosystem.
Dmitri Koteshov is the digital content marketer at HES (HiEnd Systems), a fintech company behind comprehensive lending and credit scoring solutions. As a seasoned professional, Dmitri maintains a longstanding interest in providing insights on fintech software development and analyzing current technology trends.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are ubiquitous in today’s workplace conversations. Turn on any business news channel and you’ll hear them repeated over and over. Ask any venture capitalist and they are sure to brag about several investments in these areas. Google artificial intelligence and machine learning, and you’ll find 213,000,000 hits, and […]
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are ubiquitous in today’s workplace conversations. Turn on any business news channel and you’ll hear them repeated over and over. Ask any venture capitalist and they are sure to brag about several investments in these areas. Google artificial intelligence and machine learning, and you’ll find 213,000,000 hits, and rising. Overhyped? We don’t think so.
Accenture boldly claimed that AI could boost average profitability rates by 38% and lead to an economic benefit of $14 trillion by 2035. That is no small statement. Even more astonishing is the general alignment among analysts on this issue. It’s widely agreed that AI and ML hold great promise across all industries, and, specifically, in finance.
In 2019, IDC projected that banking would be the second largest global industry to invest in AI, with $5.6 billion going toward AI-enabled solutions (trailing only retail). Why? The anticipated effect on business. According to the research firm, Autonomous, the financial industry’s slice of the global AI pie represents upwards of $1 trillion in projected cost savings.
Fintech Disruptors and Underwriting
Fintech disruptors, characterized as fast-moving companies, often start-ups, focus on a particular web-based innovative financial technology or process, spanning mobile payments to lending. Fintech disruptors initially found an entry point in finance through the use of AI/ML in underwriting.
In the U.S., if the customer consents, you can gain almost unlimited data about their credit profile: how many loans they have, whether they have a mortgage, if they’re delinquent, and whether they requested credit recently. According to the Brookings Institution, “AI coupled with ML and big data, allows for far larger types of data to be factored into a credit calculation. Examples range from social media profiles, to what type of computer you are using, to what you wear, and where you buy your clothes.” Access to this type of data gave rise to the development of sophisticated algorithms to underwrite consumer credit risk. We’ve seen this across a variety of lending companies offering unsecured consumer, student, or even small business loans, particularly focused on digital lending.
Importantly, though, those employing AI must be hyperaware of data collection practices, model design, and the potential for misuse. There is an inherent obligation when using these powerful tools to avoid profit at any cost. When used responsibly, AI can promote growth and better serve consumers. To meet this goal, companies must focus on creating ecosystems that are exponentially more just and equitable than what we have today.
On the surface, the digital lending numbers seem incredible. Digital lenders have grown to $50 billion in originations per year, not including incumbents. And, the research firm Autonomous notes that the digital lender model continues to raise $5 billion in annual venture capital investment, dominated by investments in the U.S.
And, yet, that same report shows that an AI/ML-driven digitization of the lending process is not headed to zero cost. To date, the cost advantages of onboarding and ongoing servicing (up to 70% reductions) have not been able to overcome the relatively high marketing costs that have yet to effectively scale lower than $250 per loan. Moreover, capital costs can reduce efficacy relative to traditional bank competition, and, then, there are the unplanned expenses, such as legal fees or elevated product development costs, the firm reports.
So, if digital lending driven by AI/ML-powered underwriting cannot deliver a material cost advantage, is further AI/ML advancement possible? And, will it improve outcomes for the consumer? Yes, absolutely. It all boils down to operations. As the use of AI shifts beyond obvious use cases and is deployed cross-functionally across entire companies to address various operational inefficiencies, the real promise emerges.
AI/ML 2.0: Improving Outcomes for Everyone
According to Deloitte, the top 30% of financial services firms who are frontrunners are more adept at integrating AI into the core strategic business of their firms, delivering revenue and cost gains quicker than competitors. In our opinion, this is clearly the case with fintech disruptors. Those that are focused on AI integration throughout the organization will quickly pull ahead of those who limit AI deployments to chatbots, underwriting, and other AI/ML 1.0 use cases.
Fintech disruptors can offer the market’s most cost-effective solutions by dramatically curtailing operation costs. Harnessing large-scale, multi-functional AI systems across organizations, instead of simply deploying in underwriting, presents fintech disruptors the opportunity to control costs at each stage and offer quality outcomes for their customers at reduced costs – with lean workforces.
So, while these systems may not face the end customer in any way – in fact, that may not be visible at all – they are the true future of AI/ML for fintech disruptors.
Fintech disruptor leaders who understand the opportunity to use an interconnected system of AI models across their organizations will likely drive the greatest overall efficiencies, both reducing costs and boosting revenues. This enhanced efficiency can be used to drive competitive position and ultimately higher profits.
AI/ML 2.0 at Work
AI can be used to help allocate resources across a variety of functions. For instance, a lender could create an AI model used to predict which of its retail partners would see the greatest increase in usage as a result of a field visit by a partner support representative. Generally, these visits don’t have uniform outcomes. Therefore, using a model-driven approach could help to allocate resources in the most effective manner. Increasing usage obviously drives overall revenue, but also helps to amortize cost over a greater number of transactions, driving better unit economics. Further, with time, the usefulness of such a system can grow. The more data collected from previous visits, the better the algorithm can be at predicting which visits will yield increasing usage.
Or, a lender could deploy AI in the call center to optimize the efficiency of the collections support team. Outbound reach to delinquent customers could be prioritized based on an ML algorithm that evaluates the potential for a successful call and the expected dollar collection. This may sound simple, but making the “good” calls and avoiding the “bad” ones offers all the obvious advantages of more precise resource allocation.
What is less obvious, though, is how these models are interconnected. The model used in the call center complements the underwriting model. If the collections team performs better, then the underwriting model can be recalibrated to maintain the overall risk of the loan portfolio. If the model prioritizing field visits is working, then it increases usage and reduces the average costs to originate a loan. This further enables a recalibration of both the underwriting model and the collections model. The combination of these models, ultimately, increases both expected and realized returns on the loan portfolio, reducing expenses and allowing the company to pass this savings back to customers in the form of lower rates. This is a win for everyone.
Optimizing the AI/ML Ecosystem
This is the true promise of AI/ML – a robust ecosystem of interdependent models utilized to enhance cross-functional outcomes. This leads to a much broader point: inefficiencies exist in all aspects of business – including accounting, legal, operations, finance and customer experience – and negatively impact profits.
Responsibly managed AI/ML 2.0 promises to address many of these functional silos with great success, improving outcomes for everyone involved.
LendingClub shared a few stats on borrowers who choose this method:
Save an average of nearly $900 over the course of their loan
Cut their credit card interest rate nearly in half
Increase their credit score in just three months
The product has been tested for over a year and LendingClub is working with a partner network of over 1,700 credit card, bank and loan companies to make the process seamless. What’s interesting is borrowers can add up to 12 creditors per loan which is an important feature since borrowers often hold balances across many cards.
US Core CPI rose by 2% YoY in May, just at the Fed’s target rate but below economists’ expectations. Consistently low inflation is boosting calls for a rate cut next week. The market is pricing in a 24% probability of a rate cut next week and a 76% probability of a rate cut in September.
Algorithmic fintech lending is less discriminatory against minorities than traditional loan officers, according to a recent study of US mortgages. The findings signal hope that technology could provide financing that’s more fair, but the research also underscores how widespread discrimination remains.
The US housing market has long been prejudiced against minorities. When Latino and Africa-American borrowers are looking to buy a home, they usually end up paying 7.9 basis points (0.079 percentage points) more than whites to take out the mortgage, and 3.6 basis points more when they refinance the debt, according to a National Bureau of Economic Researchworking paper published this month.
When Clear Point Gardens, a 604-unit apartment complex in Columbus, Ohio, recently changed hands, it produced a nearly 43% gain in 16 months, an amazing windfall for investors in the deal.
All 68 of them.
The sale of Clear Point, financed with help from investors on CrowdStreet’s online platform, is the latest example of how online syndication is revolutionizing the way deals are financed in the $6 trillion commercial real estate market.
One of the world’s largest banks is about to join the digital mortgage revolution, as HSBC Bank USA, the U.S. arm of HSBC Group, announced that it is partnering with Roostify to launch a digital mortgage platform.
The Los Angeles-based company, backed by investors including Mark Cuban, the DJ Diplo, and hedge fund Mark 2 Capital, said on Tuesday it’s rolling out a new checking account product that reports all rent payments to credit agencies. The new feature, added to Dave’s original app, helps customers to build their credit. Dave plans to begin reporting utility payments later this summer.
With Marketrac Platinum, lenders and title companies can utilize the interactive platform to identify top performing real estate agents and brokerage firms to prioritize professional relationships based on market trends.
Sprout Mortgage, the innovative force in Non-QM lending, today announced the launch of its ACORN automated underwriting system (AUS) as part of an ongoing effort to deliver value-added services to its third-party origination clients.
Finicity announced today an integration with LendingQB. LendingQB’s platform now uses Finicity’s digital Verification of Assets (VoA) solution to allow lenders to free up resources, increase processing speed and reduce mortgage fraud while providing borrowers with a more efficient and positive experience.
Last week, three Capital One cardholders filed a putative class action in the Eastern District of New York, Cohen v. Capital One Funding, LLC,1 alleging that the rates of interest they paid to a securitization trust unlawfully exceed the sixteen percent threshold in New York’s usury statutes. The Plaintiffs seek to recoup the allegedly excessive interest payments and an injunction to cap the interest rates going forward.
Fundbox Tapped By Top B2B E-Commerce Software Provider OroCommerce to Power Net Terms (Fundbox Email), Rated: A
Cross River Bank, a Teaneck, N.J.-based bank that focuses most of its energy on supporting fintechs, is hiring several people from the student loan refinancing company Laurel Road to its capital markets team.
Cross River’s fintech partners include Affirm, Circle, Best Egg, Coinbase, Rocket Loans, Stripe, Upstart and Transferwise.
Optimisation platform Optimizely has closed US$105 million in financing, including US$50 million in Series D funding. The funding, led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing, also included Accenture Ventures.
Quicken Loans Mortgage Services (QLMS), the second largest mortgage lender serving the needs of brokers, regional banks and credit unions, today announced that Austin Niemiec has been named Executive Vice President.
Self Lender is pleased to announce its inclusion in the inaugural list of winners of the Inclusive Fintech 50. The Inclusive Fintech 50 is a competition launched in February to help early-stage fintech companies attract capital and resources to benefit the world’s 3 billion financially underserved people. The competition was organized by MetLife Foundation and Visa Inc., with global nonprofit Accion and World Bank Group member IFC.
The early days of a company’s life on the stock market tends to set the tone for what follows. The grief around Funding Circle’s listing began even earlier and has continued to plague it.
Days before trading in shares of the specialist online lender began at the end of September, Funding Circle and its bankers were gunning for a valuation of up to £1.75 billion, only to be forced to narrow the expected range shortly before it came to market, and then to price the shares at the lower level of 440p apiece.
Three Biggest Overperformers And One Underperformer In Peer-To-Peer Lending (4th Way Email), Rated: AAA
Over £300 million lent.
Maximum loan size to property valuation (LTV) 80% – better than all the major high-street banks.
Average LTV: 72% – highly suitable for these kinds of mortgages.
Average rent: 190% of the monthly mortgage payment.
Over 90% of mortgages are to experienced and professional landlords.
Reserve fund: 0.6% of outstanding mortgages – modest but useful.
Type of lending: residential BTL.
Typical risk of this type of bank lending: very low.
P2P bad debts: none.
Interest rate: 3.54% after expected bad debts.
£65 million lent.
Maximum loan size to property valuation (LTV) 75% and investors can choose to limit to 50% – lower than all high-street banks.
Average LTV 60% – highly suitable for these kinds of mortgages and loans.
Minimum rent on rental properties usually 110% of the monthly mortgage payment.
Type of lending: residential and commercial rented properties up to five years; some development lending; a mix of senior and junior debt (junior means other lenders get repaid first if the borrower’s property has to be forcibly sold to repay the loans).
Typical risk of this type of bank lending: low to moderate for shorter-term rental properties; moderate to high for developments and junior debt.
P2P bad debts: none.
Interest rate: 7.32% to 9.43% after expected bad debts (7.32%-12.13% before bad debts).
£35 million lent.
Maximum loan size to property valuation (LTV) 70% and investors can choose to limit to 50% – lower than all high-street banks.
Average LTV 61% (against starting value of property) – very low for these kinds of loans.
Type of lending: property development lending.
Typical risk of this type of bank lending: moderate to high.
P2P bad debts: none.
Interest rate: 8% after expected bad debts (7.32%-12.13% before bad debts).
Rebuildingsociety – the Underperformer
£15 million lent.
Type of lending: unsecured small business lending to sub-prime.
Typical risk of this type of bank lending: moderate to high.
P2P bad debts: 17% of total lent in pounds
Interest rates: estimate an average 5% after heavy losses.
One-fifth of UK investors are increasing their exposure to debt amid low interest rates and Brexit uncertainty, according to research from FJP Investment, which found this number climbs to 34% when 18-to-35 year-olds are considered in isolation.
However, the independent survey – which comprises 950 investors – discovered 44% of participants are more focused on short-term debt investments over this financial year due to both political and economic uncertainty; this figure rose to 68% among under 35s.
London-based java developers lead the pack, commanding starting salaries of up to £60,000, followed by software developers in the capital on up to £55,000.
Intense competition between UK-based fintechs – lead by Revolut, TransferWise, OakNorth and Funding Circle – and high street banks attempting to upgrade their services has led to bidding wars in order to gain top level IT professionals, said the report called The UK Fintech Revolution.
A number of incumbent banks are known to be developing new digital-first products in a bid to keep the new wave of challenger banks at bay and now it appears that the latest to make that move is J.P. Morgan.
According to sources, the investment bank has begun recruiting for a secretive skunkworks project within London’s booming fintech industry. Very few details are known about what exactly J.P. Morgan plans to build, although TechCrunch understands the bank is busy hiring high level developers with full-stack and cloud-based dev skills for the new project, along with other personnel.
Over 60% of YRD’s FY 2018 revenues stem from “haircut loans” (P2P service fees charged to borrowers) that are prohibited by Chinese regulation. Recent developments in the P2P lending sector with regards to questionable lending practices, unethical collections, and usury are not being disclosed in YRD’s SEC filings, leaving U.S., Canadian, and international investors completely in the dark.
The Chinese P2P Lending Market
Unlike in developed countries, there are no administrative bodies (such as the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission) which regulate peer to peer lending exchanges in China. Instead, such services are regulated by self-organized internet associations and retail banks. The lack of meaningful oversight has caused the Chinese P2P lending market to bubble into $178.9 Billion in FY2018, almost 22 times the size of the P2P lending market in the United States and 447 times that of Japan’s.
A slew of Chinese fintech and peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms are looking to more lenient markets in Southeast Asia (SEA), following a prolonged industry crackdown in China that has left the sector reeling.
Over the past year, China’s regulatory clampdown on risky financial practices has wiped out more than half of the country’s P2P lending platforms. As of May, just 900 survived, down from almost 1,900 recorded a year ago.
In early June, Indian daily newspaper the Economic Times reported that Chinese fintech companies, including WeShare, 9F Group, and CashBUS, are exploring investment opportunities in the country’s burgeoning online lending sector, particularly in the P2P lending space.
When Stockholm studio Snask was approached by Klarna, one of Europe’s biggest banks, to help communicate how its revolutionary payment solutions make life easier for its customers, it set out to create seven “never-seen-before” worlds.
You might wonder why that is relevant as most readers are unlikely to be LHV Bank customers. LHV Bank is a bank in Estonia.
I think it is highly interesting, as it is – to my knowledge – the first time a bank has integrated p2p lending investments in its customer interface. So the LHV bank customers, not only see their accounts and stock depots, but also their Estateguru investments conveniently listed in their online bank dashboard. Much has been talked about what role could banks have in p2p lending (mere transaction banks? providing credit lines?) and also there is a lot of speculation if PSD2 (open banking) will help fintechs to seize the access to the customer from banks because they could control the user interface in the future. But this is actually a first step a bank takes in the opposite direction. By aggregating “non-bank” information inside the dashboard, they aim to make the banking interface more useful for the customers.
Klarna is the latest Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) app to sweep through the world. Originating in Sweden, the BNPL platform allows users to purchase goods and schedule repayments in timeslots. At this point in time, Klarna is the first and only BNPL platform that’s available in the U.S. It’s also available in the UK, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and many other European countries.
In April 2019, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released its third report on marketplace lending, the Survey of marketplace lending providers: 2017–18. The report paints a clear picture of a once-nascent industry enjoying growth with new borrowing increasing by nearly 45% in the 2017-18 financial year. The report notes that this growth is moderating compared to the near doubling in funds borrowed the previous year (from $156 million to $300 million). By contrast, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports that overall personal lending has declined by an astonishing 24% in the 12 months to March 2019.
The ASIC report found that the average interest rate charged for marketplace loans entered into during the 2017–18 financial year was 11.5%, up from 10.5% in the 2016–17 financial year.
Vinay Mathews, Founder and COO, Faircent and Sanjay Gakhar, Vice President, MCX talks about the benefits of investing via the P2P platform and Commodities, ET Wealth investment Workshop in Delhi Listen in!
Small companies in Asia-Pacific are tapping new funding sources, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study commissioned by Mastercard, with peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms in Indonesia reportedly posting USD1.4bn worth of transactions in 2018, an increase from USD20m in 2016.
With a host of services from payments, credit, and underwriting, managed services like branded customer support and accounts receivables services along with smart integrations for ERPs, CRMs, etc., MSTS is an all-encompassing platform that helps its clients reach their full B2B sales potential. Laying the Seed for Credit As A Service Multi-Service Technology Solutions (MSTS) […]
With a host of services from payments, credit, and underwriting, managed services like branded customer support and accounts receivables services along with smart integrations for ERPs, CRMs, etc., MSTS is an all-encompassing platform that helps its clients reach their full B2B sales potential.
Laying the Seed for Credit As A Service
Multi-Service Technology Solutions (MSTS) was founded in 1978 by a former trucking company owner who wanted to automate payments for trucking services. It used its expertise in business payments along with other technical ideas to devise a unique turnkey way to provide credit as a service to the B2B community. Over the years, the platform expanded into more technologies, assets, and verticals. However, the brand MSTS has not been able to get the due recognition it deserves because of the fact that the primary focus of the business has been in providing white label solutions. MSTS has now entered new markets, developed its smart technology, and, recently, unveiled the Credit as a Service (CaaS) offering to bring automation in the payment and credit system.
World Fuel Services (NYSE:INT) acquired the company in 2012 for $137 million.
What is MSTS?
MSTS processes $5 billion of volume through its platform. There are about 150,000 businesses that collect money and send invoices through the platform. MSTS operates in 32 countries and with 12 currencies as of now. The company is led by Brandon Spear who has been the president of the company for almost three years. He also has experience at marquee companies like SAP and Ariba.
MSTS introduced Credit as a Service (CaaS) to streamline the payment and credit management systems of its client base. The company is focused on acquiring large clients and serve their entire customer base. MSTS underwrites each customer on an individual basis and helps clients provide their customer base with credit without creating the mess usually associated with lending and overdue payments. The company is also looking to partner with players who can underwrite the portfolio of its customers’ debtors. Currently, the entire work is self-funded and the business has grown organically over time.
MSTS supports customers in growing their B2B relationships while extending credit to their customers. It provides a turnkey solution where it is able to help its clients figure out how to structure its B2B payment network, how to create a framework for credit to customers, collect dues, and manage their processes.
Core Competencies, the MSTS Platform, and Competition
The MSTS platform aims to solve problems in several industries. Spear shares a business case that has grown in retail and is now looking to establish itself in B2B; it won’t be able to hone B2B invoicing and credit collection skills overnight. The idea is to help the company establish a B2B channel to leverage its existing retail infrastructure.
MSTS provides a combination of technology, e-commerce infrastructure, physical point of sale technology, and the ability to have an omni-channel solution; this ensures a seamless experience for all participants in the ecosystem. Though its solutions are not industry-specific, it has deep domain expertise in B2B retail, manufacturing, automotive, and e-commerce sectors.
MSTS charges clients on the basis of the technology stack involved and the level of customization required by the client. So factors like ecommerce integration, physical POS, customer platforms, payment collections, overdues management, etc. decide the overall fee. The company aims to ensure that its fees are less than a credit card company’s; its average fees range around 1.75% of volume.
The Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) of MSTS are cloud-based and proprietary. The core stack of the business is Amazon Web Services, and the core technology used is RedHat Linux apart from other tech integrated for functionality.
The biggest competitors to MSTS are its clients looking to execute the process in-house. Young fintechs are currently not in competition because they only serve a particular segment whereas MSTS provides a single window experience. Banks with credit card departments are also possible competitors in the space. MSTS core competencies include:
Credit/Underwriting automation for an improved customer experience
Smart Integration with ERPs, e-commerce systems, banks, etc.
Business Intelligence to drive sales and provide customer support
Expertise at payments, movement of money, and collections
Consolidated payments with a guarantee of not exceeding limits & a consistent customer experience
MSTS and Customer Relationships
MSTS constantly endeavors to understand the needs of its customers to provide an end-to-end turnkey solution for them. From arranging for credit/underwriting to capital and a technological stack, MSTS executes it all under one roof. New platforms tend to specialize in only one step of the entire process and have usually no idea about how to solve services or capital needs. MSTS has a deep expertise in the verticals that it operates in and uses business intelligence to drive sales, big data and analytics to identify creditworthy customers, and helps its clients get a bigger share of their wallet. MSTS has packaged a version of Credit as a Service (CaaS) to facilitate credit management for smaller and mid-sized businesses considering the fact that such businesses face bigger challenges in terms of developing the B2B market. MSTS aims at making businesses successful by laying out the back-office stack and therefore fast-tracking processes.
Spear also shares the company’s thought process on the changing trends in the B2B industry. The purchase process in B2C industries has evolved, but the B2B industry has still some way to catch up. He believes that companies need to explore their B2B data as well as to draw insights from it. The company’s philosophy is that customers, whether B2B or B2C, need to have a great customer experience. MSTS is trying to manufacture that experience with its proprietary system for clients.
What Lies Ahead?
MSTS is working on exploiting the global market. It wants to establish itself in another 14 countries in the next two years and delve deeper in the verticals it currently operates in. The platform will continue to build out on the critical competencies in the market. Though it is not very well known, this white label provider is investing in its branding, and is focused on developing more sales channels for smarter penetration.
Alternative lending has created a new benchmark in borrower experience, especially in the consumer lending space. The fintech lending industry seems to be lagging behind in the mortgage industry, and especially jumbo loans (mortgage loan with strong credit quality where the amount exceeds conventional conforming loan limits), due to their nonconformity with set income and […]
Alternative lending has created a new benchmark in borrower experience, especially in the consumer lending space. The fintech lending industry seems to be lagging behind in the mortgage industry, and especially jumbo loans (mortgage loan with strong credit quality where the amount exceeds conventional conforming loan limits), due to their nonconformity with set income and credit patterns. Neat Capital is a Boulder, Colorado-based alternative mortgage lender that understands the massive market opportunity the above issues represent. It is focused on creating a digital lending platform for mortgages that is fast, reliable, paperless, and value-accretive for borrowers.
Streamlining Mortgage Lending Underwriting
Founded in 2015 by Luke Johnson, Chad Lewkowski, Christin Price, Ryan Brennan, and Steve Herschleb, the company wanted to deliver a modern approach to mortgage lending centered on making it simple, unique, and transparent.
Underwriting and loan documentation is considered a back office process in traditional banking. Neat Capital is trying to bring this core activity online and looking to capture the loan documentation, underwriting, and loan selection process in one single online session for the client. This facilitates a hassle-free experience for the client and better conversion rate for the startup. It has been able to bring down the entire cycle to 13 days as compared to the 30-60 day norm in the jumbo loan industry.
The company has raised a total of $4.2 million in two funding rounds. Its angel round saw an investment of $2 million. But the company had to face a major crisis in December 2016 and was on the brink of shutdown before it could recover. At the same time, Luke Johnson, CEO and founder, faced a personal tragedy with his wife battling brain cancer. But the employees, investors and other stakeholders stuck together and fought hard to become the fastest lender in the U.S. for jumbo loans.
How Neat Capital is Different From Most Mortgage Lenders
The traditional mortgage lending process is recursive in nature. It involves sending information and documents to underwriting, following up with clients for clarifications, and if the underwriter does not like it, it results in rejection or a change in terms. The whole process is susceptible to getting bogged down on a regular basis, which leads to delays and surprises. So the secret sauce for Neat Capital is to break down this unproductive cycle and provide certainty at the outset in a single online session. The company is unique because it can evaluate a loan in real-time according to a very detailed underwriting guideline and with a high degree of accuracy due to its proprietary artificial intelligence algorithms.
Another USP is its ability to handle borrowers with complicated income streams, net worth, and credit who can’t be analyzed on normal mortgage parameters. The company funds from its balance sheet, but it resells loan into the market almost immediately to free its balance sheet for expansion.
Neat Capital is focused on high quality credit with a weighted average FICO (Fair Isaac Credit Organization) score of 766 and weighted average LTV (Loan To Value Ratio) of 72%.
Neat Competitors and Customers
Alternative lending has seen traction with players like Better Mortgage and SoFi targeting the same clientele. But Neat Capital believes there is a huge addressable market, and it is incumbents like Wells Fargo that are its biggest competitors.
Its typical customer usually has an owner-occupied unit in San Francisco. It also has clients looking to buy second homes or investors looking to buy houses as a real estate play. But it is not restricted to any particular category and covers all conventional mortgage options, as well.
The Future of Mortgage Lending
The mortgage industry has gone online and the application process has moved entirely onto digital platforms. The winner of the market will be the player who can execute the entire loan application process in one single session versus the current scenario of requiring multiple sessions for loan application closure. Also, the industry needs to be ready for a smartphone future where the first and only point of contact between the platform and the borrower would be a smartphone. The application engine needs to be smartphone-powered so that the platform is not losing clients to other smartphone-ready peers.
The company’s future plans are to cover the entire spectrum of conventional Fannie Mae loans to jumbo loans. Instead of focusing on yield expansion or going down the credit quality ladder, the company will aim to concentrate its bets in niches where it believes that other lenders have mis-priced the risk.
Neat Capital also needs to grow while educating clients and referral partners, wealth managers, real estate agents, and employers about why they are different and what is their unique selling proposition. Currently, the company operates in nine states, but it is planning to double that number in 2018.
Neat Capital has focused on a market gap in mortgage lending that has been overlooked by the alternative lending industry. The challenges due to non-conforming loans and income streams & net worth not falling under typical lending patterns made it difficult for players to successfully compete with traditional banks. Neat Capital seems to have solved this problem. A 13-day turnaround for an industry that usually sees transactions taking months to close will definitely revolutionize the market.
News Comments Today’s main news: How Funding Circle wants to fix the financial system. VPC Specialty Lending, Ranger Direct see dividends move up. Klarna triples net profit, mainly in Nordic countries. Today’s main analysis: International P2P lending volumes. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Can Seed solve banks’ digital onboarding issues? How banking institutions can decentralize (The best read of the day). Institutional […]
Seed wants to solve banks’ digital onboarding issues. AT: “I doubt that Seed, or any neobank, can save brick-and-mortar banks. This is an issue that traditional banks have to solve for themselves. Of course, the solution may be to partner with a tech company like Seed that can provide for banks what they can’t provide for themselves.”
International P2P lending volumes for February 2018. AT: “The big growth this month came to Landbay, Lendix, Mintos, Toborrow (229% and 245% vs. previous month and last year’s month, respectively), and MytripleA. Big losers include ArchOver, Loanbook Capital, MoneyThing, ThinCats, and Proplend (100% and 100%).”
Since 2014 the neobank Seed has been reimagining one of the sleepier areas of banking: deposit accounts for small businesses.
Rather than walk into a branch — Seed, of course, has none — yoga instructors, food truck owners and other would-be customers can apply for accounts in less than five minutes on the startup’s web or mobile app. If approved, they receive a business debit card in the mail.
Now Seed, led by veterans of the fintech Simple, is selling banks software to help them solve one of their most pressing problems: finding a way to open accounts online as branch transactions continue to decline.
Since its launch in January 2016, Sacramento-based startup Magilla Loans says it’s originated more than $5 billion in loans and is changing the way lenders connect with borrowers. The platform can shrink into a few days what can often be a weeks- or months-long process of loan applications, data submissions and waiting just to get a loan term sheet.
Validus Specialty Underwriting Services, Inc. (Validus Specialty) announced on Thursday a comprehensive package policy specifically designed for private U.S. fintech companies. According to the company, the solution is designed to address Fintech’s complex risk management needs, which are traditionally underserved by incompatible and inadequate policy forms.
Last year, marketplace lenders learned that maintaining diverse sources of funding is just as important as managing the credit risk in their loans.
LendingClub, Marlette Funding and others developed their own securitization platforms, rather than relying on whole-loan sales to large investors. They also invited some of these investors to contribute seasoned loans to collateral pools for these in-house deals.
Geopolitical events are the most worrisome prospect on the minds of the decision makers at institutions looking ahead to 2018. The percentage of respondents who believe such events will have a negative impact this year is at 74%. The second most worrisome? Asset bubbles (65%).
More than three fifths (63%) of those surveyed said that the growth of passive investing has increased systemic valuation risk: 59% believe that flows into passive strategies artificially suppress volatility.
In 2015, Natixis found that 64% of institutions said they were upping their investments with active managers. In 2016, that number rose to 67%. In the latest survey it rose again, to 68%.
But Square Pie had sold bonds on the Crowdcube platform, offering lenders 8% a year. It illustrates why so many people are suspicious of mini-bonds (debt issued by small, retail-orientated firms). Anyone thinking of lending to just the one relatively new business has to be aware of the risks – and then ask: is 8% enough?
A more diversified option
The latest offering in this category comes from a platform called Goji, which aggregates a variety of direct-lending and peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms. It has just brought out a Renewables Lending Bond, which pays out anything from 5.5% for a three-year term (with regular income) to 7.6% over five years, where the interest is rolled up at repayment. The underlying assets are provided by a direct lender called Prestige Group, which lends to clean-energy projects.
The book of loans – around 39 – has an average duration of four years, with a typical loan-to-value ratio of between 70% and 80%.
More than half (58 percent) of homeowners are planning to spend money on home improvement projects in 2018, according to the fifth annual LightStream Home Improvement Survey. LightStream is the national online lending division of SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI). Budgets for renovations are on the rise: among homeowners planning renovations, 45 percent will spend $5,000 or more — an all-time survey high. Those planning to spend $35,000 or more doubled from 2017.
The survey shows robust enthusiasm for renovation, as well as a thoughtful desire to balance a home’s needs and the homeowners’ budget, so they have the financial confidence to move forward. Specifically, the survey revealed the following trends:
Home “Sweat” Home The majority of homeowners plan to invest sweat equity, as 65 percent say they’ll do at least some of the work themselves. The 18-34 group is particularly fond of do-it-yourself projects, with 70 percent planning to work on at least a portion of their renovation.
Staying — and Aging — in Place Only seven percent of homeowners are renovating to prepare their homes to be sold, the lowest percentage since 2015. Instead, 14 percent of homeowners across all age groups — not just baby boomers — are citing “aging in place” as a reason for making a home improvement. Even respondents aged 18 to 34 (11 percent) and 35 to 44 (10 percent) say they’re renovating “to prepare my home so I can stay in it as I get older.”
Tax Reform Boosting Budgets With recent passage of tax reform, homeowners have already begun calculating how the changes might affect what they spend on home improvements. One in four homeowners who have set a budget for renovation projects stated that tax reform has had an impact, with 18 percent increasing their budget and seven percent decreasing it.
Paying for Projects
The majority of homeowners (62 percent) plan to pay for projects, at least in part, by using savings. Additional payment strategies were further revealed. Intent to fund through home equity lines of credit (HELOC) jumped from 10 to 13 percent. “U.S. economic growth and limited housing inventory have contributed to healthy home equity gains,” said Ellen Koebler, SunTrust head of consumer solutions. “HELOCs can offer a financial solution for many homeowners, as accrued value may be available to tap for renovations.”
At the same time, the percentage of people intending to use a home improvement loan has grown 29 percent from 2017 with 54 percent more 18- to 34-year-olds planning to fund projects through home improvement financing.
To help identify FinTech products that may improve the financial health of underserved populations in the U.S., the Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab) launched its fourth annual $3 million challenge. The lab focuses on products that meet the financial needs of overlooked populations, JPMorgan Chase said in an announcement.
Kwittken signs up Laurel Road, online lender of student loans, personal loans and mortgages. Aaron Kwittken’s firm will be responsible for raising awareness of the company’s products through content marketing, brand activations, thought leadership and traditional media relations. Laurel Road, which is part of Darien Rowayton Bank, recently surpassed $3 billion in student loan originations.
“When we think about the people we hire, it’s all about energy,” says Funding Circle co-founder James Meekings. “We want staff to share their excitement about what they do with others in the office – even if they’re talking about tax.”
“Even though we now have 800 employees, we still feel like a small business. We still push for opportunity and for people to be creative.”
Innovative finance Isas (IF Isas) offer the promise of a good return, sheltered from tax, to investors willing to take on the higher risks of the peer to peer (P2P) finance market.
The market has taken longer than expected to ignite, however, as providers struggle to match growing demand with limited supply. Many new investors will find the door shut, at least for now.
Growing consumer indebtedness in the UK combined with the prospect of rising interest rates could push up default rates on loans, sharpening the dangers for those invested in the highest-risk P2P products.
For the tax year 2017-18, the maximum amount you can pay into one – or a combination – of Isas held in your name, is £20,000.
Once the new tax year for 2018-19 begins on 6 April, your allowance resets – once again to £20,000.
There are five main types of Isas. The current annual limits are as follows:
Help to Buy Isa: Money can only be used to buy your first home, and savings receive a government bonus of 25%. You can save £1,200 in the first month, then £200 per month thereafter. Therefore, in the first year you will have a limit of £3,400. In the following years the limit will be £2,400.
Lifetime Isa: Expressly for first-time buyers or to be used in retirement once the account holder has reached the age of 60. There’s a 25% government bonus on savings up until the account holder is 50 years old. You can pay in up to £4,000 per year.
Cash Isa: A traditional savings account – money you pay in grows with the provider’s interest rate. You can pay in up to £20,000.
Stocks & shares Isa: Money you deposit is invested in stocks & shares by the provider. Returns can be higher, but so is the risk that you may end up with less money than you paid in. There will also usually be fees involved for managing your investments. You can pay in up to £20,000.
Innovative finance Isa: Money paid in is invested in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending platforms, and you receive the interest when this loan is repaid. There is also some risk involved. You can pay in up to £20,000.
The Swedish group posted a 27 per cent increase in revenues to SKr4.53bn ($546m) while net profit more than tripled to SKr346m. Klarna processed about €18bn in online transactions last year, an increase of 42 per cent.
As a result, 89,000 retailers globally now use Klarna products, this represents a 20% growth compared to the previous year. Available in 14 countries, retailers are increasingly adopting Klarna solutions which makes the payment processes as smooth as possible for consumers. As a result of the surge in retailer adoption, Klarna now handles 10% of all online payments in Northern Europe.
Decentralized banking is a term that has been construed in the wake of the cryptocurrency boom.
Cryptobanks are decentralized platforms that provide the usual services that centralized banks provide, primarily lending services and credit scoring, but essentially cuts out all of the middlemen that a centralized bank uses. The people needed in a bank to approve loans and structure financial data are replaced in a crypto banking ecosystem by smart contracts and p2p, peer-to-peer, services.
What kind of technologies do crypto banks use?
P2P, Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, Machine Learning, Big Data and smart contracts are used in crypto banking.
Machine Learning Big Data.These technologies help to automate the lending process and cut through bureaucracy. AI can work 24/7 and match lenders with borrowers.
Do crypto banks have their own native currency?
Yes. Native cryptocurrencies help make the bank global.
Datarius, the first social p2p crypto bank, for instance, uses their own native token DTRC for all transactions. This helps create a standard for a global payment system within the p2p lending process.
What is social lending?
Thanks to Big Data and AI, crypto banks can see beyond a borrower’s credit score to identify their level of trust. Listings can include Trust Limit, Trust Management and User Ratings which helps AI decide if the participant is justified in borrowing from a specific lender.
The entrepreneur’s strategy for achieving this can be summarized in three stages. The first consisted of bypassing the banking monopoly on his platform using “cash vouchers,” a tool dating from 1937 that had long been forgotten. They allow personal loans to be made without a bank as intermediary. Secondly, by collaborating with future competitors, the public authorities and the sector’s regulators(2), the entrepreneur contributed to the development of a long-term crowdlending regulation in France. This collaboration relies on the creation of a meta-organization(3) called “Financement Participatif France” (FPF), which worked to define the status of “Intermédiaire en Financement Participatif” (IFP, equivalent to “crowdlending financing intermediary” in English), which regulates this new market.
Smartag International, Inc. entered into a joint venture agreement with PT. Supratama Makmur Sejahtera (“PTSMS”), an Indonesian Fintech company to form a Joint Venture Indonesian PMA company in which Smartag will own 51% equity and PTSMS will own 49%. This follows an earlier MOU signed on October 12, 2017 between PTSMS and PT Rijan Dinamis Selaras (“RDS”) representing Pondok Pesantren Riyadhul Jannah Pacer Mojokerjo, founder of Consultative Assembly of Indonesian Boarding Schools which has a network of 28,000 boarding schools to undertake a Fintech project (the “Indonesian Project”).
In 2015, Jonathon Mabelmann moved to Dallas, Texas with one of Melbourne O’Banion’s three existing companies, a housing concern, and the two began to see different problems hampering the insurance business world. O’Banion had started two other companies in that sector and saw problems with the lack of applied technology. Mabelmann saw issues on the […]
In 2015, Jonathon Mabelmann moved to Dallas, Texas with one of Melbourne O’Banion’s three existing companies, a housing concern, and the two began to see different problems hampering the insurance business world. O’Banion had started two other companies in that sector and saw problems with the lack of applied technology. Mabelmann saw issues on the consumer side. So they put their heads together to form Bestow.
The Ideas Behind Bestow
The two men looked at the insurance industry with a focus on where these identified problems existed. What they found was an industry built on antiquated technology, an industry that has always been 95% agent-based but which was seeing its overall sales slip as the number of active agents shrunk. They felt these problems were due to lack of proper distribution methods and technology. In short, they saw how they could make the process easier and more cohesive for customers and providers.
That’s when they were bestowed with an idea. O’Banion now serves as CEO and Mabelmann as President of their joint brainchild.
Realizing they could offer customers a better and simpler process by building the technology themselves, Bestow takes a full stack approach to insurance. They redesigned their life insurance product to optimize it around digital distribution. They then found out how modern advances can smooth out the purchasing process. The goal was to make a better and more cohesive experience for the user.
Starting with $3.1M in self-funding, the company completed a seed round led by New Enterprise Associates that brought an additional $2.5M to help them democratize financial products. Building on models used by Morpheus and Adipar, Mabelmann said the company was fortunate to have thought of company leaders as investors with deep balance sheets.
The Products Bestow Offers
The company has opened a path of using technology to distribute and service both financial and insurance products. Based on two simple questions (What is going to solve the problem, and How do we do that?), the company came up with answers.
On the technology side, the company built its own underwriting technology forming a linear dataset to look at potential customers and their attributes.
What are they looking for?
What are they attracted to?
What are they buying?
How do those things change over time?
Using these questions, they moved the focus away from lifetime value and commissions. Mabelmann said that a sound technology platform can be really helpful in using data in the product development process, a fact that ultimately helps the customer.
On the insurance side, term life is a great place for families without life insurance to start when they are looking to just nail down a solution. Many of the uninsured have remained so because the hurdles to obtaining coverage are too high. Term life is a good place for them to start as it is the simplest and most affordable.
Mabelmann said the company started with a simple product and then rebuilt it to offer a lower acquisition cost with a more efficient process. By partnering with industry leaders and leveraging their experience and wisdom, the company created a product that is simpler and faster to acquire.
Noting an historic problem that the insurance marketplace isn’t a place where you can just go in, make a purchase, and move on, Bestow has partnered with A+ rated providers and integrated to acquire customers, underwrite, and manage the policy without it getting passed back and forth between several people over and over. Noting that more factors than mortality risk and health history influence insurance pricing—there are also things like underwriting cost, marketing costs, and overhead costs to consider—Bestow is banking on the use of the automated streamlining to reduce the cost of policies over time. This, plus a more informed acquisition funnel, can help to reduce a lot of the problems consumers experience and help to bring quality life insurance products to consumers for a very attractive price.
How the Bestow Process Works
Mabelmann said the application process is going to be available to consumers completely online through third party databases. Initially, there will no requirement of medical records as a list of questions about prescription drugs and other medical information will allow the company access to databases that will provide the appropriate insights necessary for risk management.
“We’re the only company to rebuild the product from the ground up,” he said. “To have a more meaningful outcome for people, we make it easier and more accessible for the consumer, instead of forcing them to transact for 30 minutes online and building tech for the sake of tech.”
How Far Have Bestow Come?
Just now putting the finishing touches on the product, the company will launch in January. They offered an early sign-up list and had several thousand people sign up at the end of 2017.
The target demographic includes young families who are busy and have life insurance on the To-Do list but haven’t gotten around to purchasing it. That includes single parents, two-thirds of which don’t have life insurance, and freelancers, an ever-growing block of the population, who don’t have access to traditional corporate benefits.
The company will set a rising trend of automation, but it will not completely eliminate the need to understand the all-around risk management, including the health and condition of the applicant.
Mabelmann said the industry is at the intersection of many decades in which it could do whatever it wanted and maintain, sacrificing the growth in the number of customers to the growth of the value to the customer. At Bestow, he said, they believe that to see a re-emergence of Americans getting life insurance, there has to be low hurdles to acquiring it. Customer preferences, technology, liquidity of data, and payment preferences are all changing, and they have found that if it’s too hard to make the decision, then the consumer simply won’t make it. All of those preferences are factored in at Bestow in order to make the decision an easier one to make.
Starting with a simple term-life policy helps customers prepare for a better financial future, and to do this a company needs to help the consumer make good decisions on coverage. As the customer’s needs change with the growth of wealth, Bestow plans to stay right there beside them, continuing to offer better suited products, making the journey with the customer, as life insurance isn’t just a simple purchase but a long-term relationship.
The company sees awareness as a simple foundation to grow on. “Letting people know is a great solution…. When we talk to people, they’re shocked that what we’re bringing to the market is possible,” Mabelmann said. They are also relying on a “massive market,” and getting the word out to people that life insurance is more accessible.
Partnering with the company are the American Division of Munich Reed, the world’s largest re-insurer, and the Sammonds Financial Group, trusted companies that work with consumers the way the consumers want. Given the product as Mabelmann has described it, it seems that having partners such as these can only be beneficial.
The Future Awaits
The thought processes behind Bestow seem solid enough, but there are so many unknowns to be able to predict whether or not the company will succeed in what it’s attempting to do. Still, this ground being broken, if they don’t, you have to know that someone will, and the average American family should benefit from the advances that Bestow is making.
Lending-Times recently conducted a survey of our readers to find out more about the types of lending services they offer and how they relate to their customers. The following are the results of the survey. What type of lending services do you provide? (select all that apply) The majority of readers (55.88%) are in the […]
Lending-Times recently conducted a survey of our readers to find out more about the types of lending services they offer and how they relate to their customers. The following are the results of the survey.
What type of lending services do you provide? (select all that apply)
The majority of readers (55.88%) are in the consumer loan business followed by 36.76% involved in business lending. 17.65% are in mortgage lending while 16.18% are in student lending 10.29% are involved in auto lending. Another 25% identify as alternative lenders, a broad category of lending that includes many types of non-bank loans. Because readers could choose more than one category for this question, the survey results do not add up to 100%.
What is your role within the organization?
The largest percentage of survey takers (25%) fall into the digital sales, marketing, and acquisition category. 11.76% fall into risk, fraud, and compliance occupations, and another 10.29% consider themselves a part of product and technology. The majority, 52.94%, chose “other.”
How do you verify the identity of your borrowers?
When it comes to identifying borrower identities, 37.31% said they do so through data bureau checks. Digital identity verification checks are used by 32.84% of those who took our survey, and 23.88% said they verify borrower identities with a manual review of identity documents. Only 5.97% said “other.”
How do you collect supporting documents for underwriting (for example, utility bills for proof of address, W2s for proof of income, etc.)?
Regarding underwriting practices, 69.74% of survey takers said they collect documents through electronic capture and upload, 25% by email, and 5.26% have borrowers deliver to a physical location. No respondents said they receive documents by fax.
Do you think your current process for onboarding new applicants could be improved?
A simple yes or no response on this question revealed that 93.24% of survey takers believe their new applicant onboarding processes can be improved while only 6.58% responded in the negative.
What stage of the digital transformation journey is your organization at today?
Almost half, 42.11%, of survey respondents said they are a fully digital organization, and the same percentage said they are on track to becoming a fully digital lender. Those just starting out represent 19.74% of our readership who said they are working on a full-digital strategy and evaluating vendors. None of the respondents said they have no plans to become a fully digital lender.
What do you think are the main barriers to oﬀering fully digital lending services? (select all that apply)?
The majority of survey takers (53.42%) said the biggest barrier to offering fully digital lending service is mitigating risk while avoid loan application abondonment. Another 52.05% said meeting compliance without compromising the user experience is the main barrier. Almost one-third of survey takeres (27.40%) said they lack the skills, resources, and budget to offer fully digital lending services. Respondents who said they do not see the value of shifting their loan origination practices to digital channels registered at 9.59%, and those unsure of where to begin came in at 5.48%.
Rank on a scale from 1-5, the value of each beneﬁt in the digital lending process (1 being very valuable, 5 being not valuable).
Our readers seem to value regulatory compliance more than any other digital lending benefit. Risk mitigation followed closely behind followed by improvements in operational efficiency. Cycle time and user experience pulled up the rear.
Do you feel your lending user experience is a competitive diﬀerentiator?
84% of survey takers said the user experience on their lending platforms are a key competitive differentiator while 16% said it wasn’t.
If you already oﬀer digital loans, which of the following options do you provide?
Among survey takers, the digital lending options provided the most include desktop/laptop (52.11%), mobile-optimized website (50.70%), and native app (15.49%). Over one-third (39.44%) said they offer all three options.
For subprime lenders, three macroeconomic trends are affecting credit considerations on an applicant-by-applicant basis. Lenders caught flatfooted in response to these trends risk diminishing their ROI. Despite impressive job and market growth, 56 percent of consumers had subprime credit scores in 2015, according to the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). Cash is no longer king. The average […]
For subprime lenders, three macroeconomic trends are affecting credit considerations on an applicant-by-applicant basis. Lenders caught flatfooted in response to these trends risk diminishing their ROI.
Cash is no longer king. The average consumer uses their debit card at least 21 times per month, a 32 percent increase throughout the past decade, according to a 2015 debit issuer study commissioned by PULSE.
More lenders are beginning to understand the unreliability of the traditional credit score. Each year, 68 to 82 percent of borrowers are new to the subprime market, according to non-traditional credit reporting bureau Clarity Services. An even higher percentage of borrowers will be new to any given vendor. Almost 10 percent of these are thin- or no-file millennials with very different financial backgrounds than previous generations.
Here’s the good news: With access to targeted data, lenders can find reliable opportunities for growth while minimizing potential risks.
Subprime Credit Consumers: the New Majority
Subprime lenders are used to lower credit scores. Since new circumstances have put more consumers in the recent subprime majority, however, it’s worth exploring the circumstances of this larger share.
The financial crisis of 2008/09 occurred during the same time that millions of millennials came of age. In 2015, CreditCards.com found that a third of those aged 18 to 29 did not have credit cards. In 2009, the CARD Act limited the ability of companies to market credit cards on college campuses, cutting card issuance almost in half. As a result, the credit histories of millions of young adults are even more abbreviated than usual, contributing to the new subprime majority.
Additionally, a 2015 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) report explores the 26 million Americans who are “credit invisible,” and the 19 million considered “unscored” by the traditional credit bureaus. While one in 10 Americans don’t have any credit history, an additional 8 percent have insufficient histories, leaving them under-serviced in the credit industry.
These are the economic currents that have more subprime lenders seeking non-traditional sources for data.
Once upon a time, cash was how we paid for most things. Times have changed.
Today, cash accounts for about 14 percent of transactions, according to The Federal Reserve System Cash Product Office. The average American spends roughly $100 a day, according to Gallop, but walks around with only $20 cash, according to Bankrate.com.
A majority of younger adults in the developed world would have no problem with a completely cashless society, says data from ING Group/eZonomics. Given the difficulty of accurately determining a credit score for so many in today’s economy, now is a great time to consider additional measures for understanding an applicant’s financial stability.
Why More Data Is Needed for Scores
Before the Great Recession, lenders relied almost exclusively on traditional credit scores. The Big Three credit reporting agencies employ traditional models composed of criteria like bank loans, car loans, credit card bills, student loans, mortgages and various credit data. Unfortunately, for many millions of those in need of credit services, the above criteria simply won’t work.
But with the subprime majority of today, a number of creditors are looking at other factors.
Ability to pay: Regardless of income level or percentage of residual income, research shows that as long as an applicant for a subprime loan is earning money and has some residual income, they’re probably a safe bet. Of course, that’s assuming there aren’t any red flags for intent not to pay, such as an inability to prove bank account ownership.
Alternative data: Non-traditional credit data and alternative data are not the same. Non-traditional credit data is targeted squarely on credit behavior, whereas the latter often uses more peripheral sources. That can include data from social media to verify a job or location, histories from utility bills and Census data.
Connecting the Dots with Targeted Data
What is meant by “targeted data?” As the largest subprime credit bureau, Clarity Services leverages one of the largest targets available – debit cards. Every five seconds, one new debit card is issued in the United States (PULSE).
In recent years, debit cards accounted for the leading share of payment types. Their usage grew to 69.5 billion in 2015 with a value of $2.56 trillion, up 13 billion or $0.46 trillion since 2012, according to a recent Federal Reserve study. Non-prepaid debit card payments, the type typically connected to checking accounts, grew to 12.4 billion with a value of $0.42 trillion from 2012 to 2015. This is after an increase of nearly 39 billion debit card payments from 2000 to 2012.
Half the time, Americans pay for groceries with debit cards, which are also used significantly at department stores, restaurants and other retailers, according to a TSYS 2014 consumer payments study.
What Debit Cards Say about Consumers
Why do so many prefer debit cards? The TSYS study shows that 66 percent of users like the ability to have purchases deducted directly from their checking account.
For subprime lenders looking to make better decisions in our cashless society, what could debit information reveal about an applicant’s financial circumstances? At a glance, debit and bank account info could yield immediate details to help confirm a high or low credit risk.
Confirmation of primary bank account ownership status Total number of debit cards Number of social security numbers associated with a debit card Number of social security numbers associated with a bank account
Lenders may be able to see whether an applicant’s details are false, incorrect or somehow inconsistent by using the granular details offered by reason codes, which can answer the following yes-or-no questions:
Is the account in good standing?
Is the account associated with a high-risk bank?
Is the CVV a match?
Is the ZIP code incorrect?
Did retail transactions take place in the last 24 hours?
An Old Problem in a New Space
The details above not only yield insight to help manage risk of default, they also speak to another growing problem for lenders in spaces including rent-to-own, online and storefront installment – fraud.
As creative as fraudsters have been for things like payday loans, they are now applying many of the same tactics in the unsuspecting rent-to-own market. Lying on loan applications, account hacking and data leaked from the dark web are just some ways fraudsters are infiltrating the market.
The combined at-a-glance information with the more granular reason codes allow lenders to easily cross-reference data and glean a reliable impression of an applicant.
Adjusting to the New Normal
The “new normal” is an oft-cited term since the last economic crash. As subprime consumers have acclimated to today’s economy, lenders have benefited by adjusting to the market’s needs.
But have lenders fully capitalized on the new aspects today’s normal? For many, the answer is no. It’s worth analyzing the lifecycle of the consumer’s journey to subprime underwriting, and how lenders may simplify the process for the convenience of all parties involved.
Tim Ranney is president and CEO of Clarity Services, Inc., a real-time credit bureau providing credit-related data on subprime consumers. Prior to founding Clarity in 2008, Ranney spent 20 years as a leader in internet security and risk management, serving as COO of an industry leader and senior executive for both Network Solutions and VeriSign.
Trade credit is an essential tool for facilitating trade and capturing new business. After World War II, a lot of trade occurred in order to rebuild national economies. The war gave birth to trade credit and trade credit insurance and the US is one of the oldest trade credit insurance markets in the world. Although […]
Trade credit is an essential tool for facilitating trade and capturing new business. After World War II, a lot of trade occurred in order to rebuild national economies. The war gave birth to trade credit and trade credit insurance and the US is one of the oldest trade credit insurance markets in the world.
Although the US was the birthplace of trade credit insurance, currently, only 3% of the market is utilized compared to 15% in Europe. Reasons the product is not popular in the US are:
Americans are natural risk takers.
Companies prefer tools like factoring that facilitate cash flow.
Businesses rely on trade ratings from multiple agencies for evaluating trade credit.
In today’s global trade, there are commercial and political risks that are beyond the control of both supplier and customer. Such unforeseen risk, or unexpected insolvencies, not only hit the bottom line of a business, but they can also jeopardize its financial health. With its unique credit insurance solutions, Euler Hermes provides a channel for hedging a supplier’s bet on a customer. By insuring client receivables, the company enables businesses in securing future cash flow and also helps leverage protected receivables with a bank or lending company.
Euler Hermes’ Unique Selling Point
Euler Hermes has an in-house rating mechanism that assesses the risk grade of an organization. With an extensive database of around 55 million companies rated on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 being outstanding and 10 being in administration, they assess industry risk, market insights, and a company’s ability to pay bills on a 12-month basis.
Insuring receivables is much cheaper than factoring. The average premium is 35 basis points on sales versus 2% per month for factoring. That is a huge difference and a competitive advantage, which many businesses fail to utilize. Moreover, most companies price the cost into their sales to insured customers.
The Euler Hermes Model
Euler Hermes doesn’t safeguard loan payments. Rather, they provide security against the non-payment of outstanding receivables. This ensures that the supplier can focus on its core job of sales rather than assessing the creditworthiness of every new client.
The company also works with US factoring companies who insure their books with Euler Hermes. The company acts as an arbitrage and a credit insurance policy for such lenders.
The Underwriting Process
Over the years, Euler Hermes has mastered the art of underwriting. They follow an uncomplicated approach by grading the buyer on the scale from 1 to 10 and evaluating each business’s default probability. It also looks factors like the usage limits of the business’s credit facility and traditional data such as balance sheets and income statements.
The company has leveraged social media data and open data sources for creating a more comprehensive model while hiring multiple data scientists and collaborating with tech partners to incorporate databases for enhanced insight.
The benchmark in this industry is a percentage of insurance ledger approval. If a competitor is offering insurance of 80% versus 75% offered by Euler, the competitor will win the contract. Thus, to ensure extensive coverage, they have integrated artificial intelligence and machine learning into their algorithms for higher approval rates.
Nowadays, the nerve center of companies has shifted from brick-and-mortar offices to the virtual world, so it makes sense for the company to include the social activities businesses such as Twitter, Yelp, Facebook reviews.
Euler Hermes have partnered with URICA, a fintech SME lender, for its invoice funding product in the UK and France. The salient points of this partnership are the ability to offer single invoice cover, real-time credit decisions, and real-time price adjustments on the basis of the debt quality.
The prospective client can now send ledger data via spreadsheet and the company evaluates it against their database. They’ve also developed an API, which links into client systems to directly assess accounts receivable data. The API automatically calculates the finance or insurance premium for the selected invoices and helps during instantaneous decision making for management.
Euler Hermes are in partnership discussions with multiple US fintech lenders to become their insurance provider. These partnerships hedge lender books and allows the lender to provide the customer a different product.
Euler Hermes have a 125-year history that includes multiple reorganizations. In the last 20 years, the company has been the world´s leading provider of innovative solutions in the credit insurance space. It is backed by Alliance Group, a financial services provider, and has been rated AA- by Standard & Poor.
James Daly is leading the push into the American fintech industry for Euler Hermes. He has been associated with the Euler Group for over 13 years and started his career in the UK. For the last three years, he has headed the Euler office in North America.