Thursday December 5 2019, Weekly News Digest

Prosper monthly originations

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi gets BitLicense in New York. Funding Circle unveils 250M GBP securitization of SME loans. Zopa raises 1.4M GBP. RateSetter to close family finance product. RMBS gears up for securitization windfall. Reserve Bank of India raises P2P lending limit by 5x. Today’s main analysis: Prosper performance update – October 2019. […]

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Prosper monthly originations

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

India

Other

News Summary

United States

Prosper Performance Update – October 2019 (Prosper), Rated: AAA

Highlights from the report include:

  • In October, 64% of originations were rated AA-B. The dollar‑weighted average FICO on the platform was 720, relatively flat month‑over-month.
  • The weighted average income of borrowers on the platform in October was ~$106K, relatively flat month-over-month.
  • The weighted average borrower rate for October originations increased 30 bps month-over-month largely due to a shift in Prosper Rating mix.
Source: Prosper

See the full report here.

New York Gives SoFi Green Light on BitLicense (SoFi), Rated: AAA

New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has approved SoFi’s BitLicense application, allowing SoFi Invest customers in New York to trade cryptocurrencies on its platform through SoFi Digital Assets, LLC.

FT Partners’ CEO Monthly Alternative Lending Market Analysis (FT Partners), Rated: AAA

FT Partners recently announced our role as exclusive financial advisor to 

Source: FT Partners

Financings

Source: FT Partners

See the full report here.

Online Lending Platform Refines the Science of Underwriting (CFO.com), Rated: AAA

Through the use of artificial intelligence, Upstart examines approximately 1,600 variables pertaining to loan applicants, says CFO Sanjay Datta. But he doesn’t like to draw attention to the artificial intelligence per se.

In a Nov. 8 report, Kroll rated the performances of five loan securitizations, worth a cumulative $1.5 billion, that Upstart offered from mid-2017 through early this year. Each one has significantly outperformed Kroll’s forecast at the time of the deal.

Kroll predicted that Upstart’s first securitization, dated June 21, 2017, would experience 13.07% credit losses by October 2019. But the actual losses were only 9.96%, 24% better than forecast.

Kabbage data places Vermont at third-highest small business revenue growth in the first half of 2019 (Vermont Biz), Rated: AAA

Kabbage placed Vermont at the third-highest in the nation at 173.90 on the Kabbage Index Value, based on monthly median-revenue growth for small businesses.

The Kabbage Index Value (KIV), a value used to track revenue growth of small businesses, increased almost 22 points, from 136.8 to 158.4 points, indicating U.S. small businesses’ median revenue grew 15.7% in the first six months of the year. This represents a 22% increase compared to the same time period in 2018 and a large contrast from the second half of 2018 when small business revenue only grew 1.8 percent.

Source: Kabbage

StreetShares Discontinues Major Segment of Its Financing Business (deBanked), Rated: A

StreetShares quietly discontinued a major part of its financing business on November 15, a new disclosure filed with the SEC revealed.

The company has only facilitated $180 million in funding to small businesses since inception in 2014. That would indicate that the invoice factoring portion was roughly half of the company’s funding volume.

Monzo hires Visa exec to lead US push (ZangPay), Rated: A

Monzo has hired a Visa executive — who was previously with Standard Chartered — to lead its US business as it ramps up efforts to become a fully-fledged bank in the country even though complex rules have deterred some rivals, according to the FT.

There’s a better way to regulate small-dollar lending (American Banker), Rated: A

Innovation in online lending has shifted consumers away from traditional payday lenders. And while that’s a safer bet, the shift has also sparked a misguided policy conversation around online lending that is focused on the wrong thing: capping interest rates.

Bad Credit? Regulators Back Ways for Risky Borrowers to Get Loans (WSJ), Rated: A

Consumers with spotty or no credit histories might find it easier to get loans after federal banking regulators endorsed alternatives to traditional methods of assessing creditworthiness.

The regulators on Tuesday backed the use of information such as borrowers’ cash flow as an alternative to the traditional credit-evaluation system, which relies on scores issued by companies such as Equifax Inc. and Experian PLC based on applicants’ past history of borrowing and repayments.

Assets managed by robos up 10% so far in 2019 to $ 283 billion (Investment News), Rated: A

Assets managed by digital advisers grew 10% over the first three quarters of 2019 to reach a total of $283 billion, according a new report from Aite Group, a consulting firm.

Fintech Lending Stocks Have Been a Bust. Here’s Why. (Barron’s), Rated: A

Fintech lenders were supposed to be the next big thing in finance. Big data, machine learning, peer-to-peer platforms, social networking data: the list of buzzy new ideas that were supposed to upend the business of money lending went on and on.

Bank Regulators’ Proposals Won’t Erase Madden Uncertainty (Law360), Rated: A

These Funding and Business Assistance Programs Are Helping Felons Restart Their Lives (Stamford Advocate), Rated: A

1. Prosper

Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending platform. The entire process is online, with no background check. Hence criminal history does not affect getting a loan.

2. HelpForFelons.org

HelpForFelons.org has lists of grants and loans for felons and links to reentry programs around the country.

More students from higher-income families taking out student loans (Marketplace.org), Rated: A

Whether their families are higher income, lower income, or somewhere in between, a majority of all students today take out loans to cover at least part of their undergraduate degree. Which wasn’t always the case.

In fact, over the last 20 years, the percentage of students from higher-income families — defined here as making more than $114,000 a year — who take out loans to get a bachelor’s degree has more than doubled, from 30% in the mid-1990s to 60% now, according to a new report out Wednesday from the American Enterprise Institute. The percentage of students from low-income families who take out loans is higher, just over 75%, but hasn’t increased nearly as much since the 1990s.

Source: Marketplace.org

Crypto lender hires local mayor to smooth over regulatory hurdles (Decrypt), Rated: A

Cred, a crypto lending and borrowing platform, announced earlier this week that it has added a local California mayor to its roster to further boost government relations for its business.

Ally Medina, mayor of Emeryville—a city in California, will lead the company’s strategic government relations and business development initiatives.

Payday Lender Curo Group Can’t Derail Securities Class Action (Bloomberg Law), Rated: A

Curo Group Holdings Corp. failed to shake off a proposed shareholder class action after the District of Kansas found sufficient allegations that the company didn’t disclose facts that were bound to impact its financial performance.

Curo Can’t Ditch Investor Suit Over Canada Products (Law360), Rated: B

Source: Law360

Elevate Credit to Attend the Jefferies’ Crossover Consumer Finance Summit (BusinessWire), Rated: B

Elevate Credit, Inc. (NYSE: ELVT), today announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Jason Harvison, and Chief Financial Officer, Chris Lutes, will attend the Jefferies’ Crossover Consumer Finance Summit on December 12, 2019 at The New York Lotte Palace Hotel. Mr. Harvison and Mr. Lutes will be available for 1×1 meetings with investors.

Harvard University and ArborCrowd Partner to Host Panel That Examines the Future of Commercial Real Estate Investing (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: B

On Tuesday, November 20, Harvard University’s Real Estate Development Club together with ArborCrowd (the “Company”), the first crowdfunding platform launched by a real estate institution, hosted a panel of experts at Harvard University to discuss the future of commercial real estate investing. The panel was attended by graduate students interested in pursuing a career in commercial real estate.

Finicity Solution Live Within Ellie Mae Encompass Consumer Connect (Markets Insider), Rated: B

Finicity, a provider of real-time financial data access and insights, and Ellie Mae, the cloud-based platform provider for the mortgage finance industry, today announced that Finicity’s digital Verification of Assets (VoA) solution is now available through Ellie Mae’s Encompass Consumer Connect, part of the Encompass Digital Lending Platform.

United Kingdom

Funding Circle Unveils £250 Million Securitization of SME Loans With Waterfall Asset Management (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Marketplace lending company Funding Circle (LSE:FCH) recently unveiled its £250 million securitization of SME loans with Waterfall Asset Management. The duo reported that the portfolio brings the total amount of UK Funding Circle loans securitized to £1 billion and the deal will notably open up the small business loans asset class to an even wider range of investors such as insurance companies and pension funds.

Is the current share price of FTSE fintech company Funding Circle a bargain buy? (The Motley Fool), Rated: A

On, average Funding Circle collects 4.86% of the total amount of new loans generated annually as transaction revenue and 0.82% of the annual principal balance of loans under management in servicing fees.

Fintech Zopa raises £140m just in time for banking licence (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

Financial technology company Zopa has raised £140m, just in the nick of time to meet a key requirement of its provisional banking license.

Zopa announced on Tuesday it had secured the investment from IAG Capital, a US investment group that first backed the online lender in 2018.

Zopa valuation fall hits Augmentum Fintech but other gains buoy portfolio (AltFi), Rated: A

Zopa has seen its valuation fall by 47 per cent following its latest fundraise to a new money valuation of £188m.

The trust wrote down £10.3m in the value of Zopa and its share price has fallen has fallen 4.67 per cent as a result today.

Zopa Bank fundraising delays ‘not down to P2P lending concerns’ (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

ZOPA’S struggle to raise last-minute funding so it can launch its banking brand should not be seen as a sign of trouble for the peer-to-peer lending sector, an analyst claims.

RateSetter to close family finance loan product (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

RATESETTER is to stop offering its family finance product from the new year.

Uncapped raises £10M to offer revenue-based finance to growing businesses (TechCrunch), Rated: A

Uncapped, a London-headquartered and Warsaw-based startup that wants to provide “revenue-based” finance to growing European businesses, is officially launching today and disclosing that it has raised £10 million in funding.

UK start-up Student Finance raises €1.15m to tackle university loans (Fintech Futures), Rated: A

Educational technology start-up Student Finance has raised €1.15 million in a seed funding round led by Seedcamp and Mustard Seed Impact.

Growth Street CEO exits (AltFi), Rated: A

Greg Carter, the CEO of Growth Street, has stood down from his role.

Carter, who co-founded the business in 2014, is to remain with Growth Street in an advisory role, the company said.

Finastra joins World Economic Forum (Finastra), Rated: B

Finastra today announced that it has joined the World Economic Forum. The move will see the company collaborating with industry leaders and policy-makers to drive change across financial services, world trade and beyond, to help build a better, sustainable future.

China

China gradually cleans up P2P lending businesses (Ecns.cn), Rated: AAA

Southwest China’s Sichuan Province became the country’s latest province to ban all peer-to-peer lending (P2P) businesses amid regulators’ tightened grip on the internet financial industry due to monetary risks.

European Union

Securitization: RMBS gears up for windfall (Euromoney), Rated: AAA

Volumes have picked up since then, and RMBS-related issuance is forecast to reach $100 billion in 2019, up from $86 billion in 2018, according to Standard & Poor’s. However, the market is still a shadow of its former self. The banks still dominate mortgage lending, but not nearly to the extent that they used to. Most are quick to point out that their online disruptors have yet to perform through a cycle.

The banks still dominate mortgage lending, but not nearly to the extent that they used to. Most are quick to point out that their online disruptors have yet to perform through a cycle.

It’s securitization, but not as we knew it (Euromoney), Rated: A

There is no more ‘originate to distribute’, the grand name for the strategy behind so much of the dysfunctional lending that drove the sub-prime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) crisis.

Today banks provide funding to a growing army of private and buy-side institutions that make the loans, and the banks then arrange securitization exits for them.

German fintech N26 targets IPO in 4-5 years (Reuters), Rated: A

German fintech N26, valued at $3.5 billion in its latest funding round, views a stock market listing as an attractive option, but rather in 4-5 years than in the short-term, its Germany head told Reuters.

Klarna Bank picks Amazon for expanded cloud services (American Banker), Rated: A

In a move to aid faster expansion and provide more security and regulatory compliance tools, Klarna Bank in Sweden is strengthening its longtime relationship with Amazon Web Services by making it the bank’s preferred cloud provider.

Klarna says it will leverage the AWS global infrastructure to support its scale, now at 60 million customers across 170,000 merchants in 17 countries.

European FinTech: the next generation trend setter (Finextra), Rated: A

Despite the influence of the US, we are finding something quite different when exploring the way the FinTech market is evolving. European technological innovation is having a profound effect on the approach US companies are taking, reversing the well-known ‘cultural influencing trend.’

International

International P2P Lending Volumes November 2019 (P2P-Banking), Rated: AAA

The total volume for the reported marketplaces in the table adds up to 658 million Euro.

Source: P2P-Banking

How in-branch video banking enhances customer service experience (Bob’s Guide), Rated: A

While they turn to online banking, and given the rise in digital transformation, the most customers still appreciate the need for financial advice face-to-face, especially for complex transactions or help. Accenture’s recent study of financial service consumers show that on average two-thirds of consumers favour face-to-face interaction with their bank.

A 2018 study supported by the retail banking industry group EFMA, Vidyo and CUNA Strategic Services suggested more customers would be willing to use in-branch video (90 percent) than online video banking (85 percent).

Crypto Loans See Solid Growth, Platforms Attract Community Interest (CoinTelegraph), Rated: A

Today, the entire crypto loaning industry is estimated at $4.7 billion and the number of crypto loan platforms is growing rapidly, according to a report made by blockchain company Graychain Ltd. While lenders have only earned a combined $86 million in interest since 2018, the demand for cryptocurrency loans is growing. In the first quarter of 2019, over 5,400 new loans were issued, and in the second, at least 18,500. The volume of lending also increased, with lenders issuing $64.8 million in loans in the first quarter and $159.3 million in the second.

Source: CoinTelegraph

OpenID Foundation Launches New Microsite Focused on Open Banking and Fintech Developers (OpenID), Rated: B

The OpenID Foundation has launched a new microsite focused on global open banking initiatives and providing resources for fintech developers implementing the Foundation’s Financial-grade API (FAPI).

Australia/New Zealand

Peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding 2019 data published (Scoop), Rated: AAA

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) today published its third statistical report on peer-to-peer lending (P2P) and crowdfunding services in New Zealand.

Year-on-year, there were 34% fewer successful crowdfunding offers and 52% less investment from licensed service investors.

India

RBI Raises Peer-To-Peer Lending Limit Fivefold (Bloomberg Quint), Rated: AAA

India’s central bank has raised the lending cap for peer-to-peer platforms fivefold, providing a boost to such lending.

The aggregate exposure of a lender to all borrowers at any point of time, across all non-banking financial company-peer-to-peer platforms, will be capped at Rs 50 lakh against Rs 10 lakh at present, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies issued on Dec. 5.

A 30-year-old company is disrupting the loan marketplace business in an old-fashioned way (Economic Times), Rated: A

MyMoneyMantra is taking on rivals like BankBazaar and Paisabazaar head on. The company is growing its giant distribution network even as it swiftly expands its digital footprint to scale faster. But its physical network will remain the core business. A digital-only model just doesn’t deliver, believes its founder.

Xiaomi announces launch of digital lending solution Mi Credit in India (The News Minute), Rated: A

Xiaomi on Tuesday announced Mi Credit, its digital lending solution in India. Mi Credit is Xiaomi’s second Mi Finance solution to be launched in India after Mi Pay.

Xiaomi Offers Digital Lending Marketplace For Young Indian Consumers (PYMNTS), Rated: B

The new venture is an app called Mi Credit, and it’s a marketplace for personalized lending, offering users credit between Rs 5,000 ($70) and Rs 100,000 ($1,400). Xiaomi said it offers a “low” interest rate.

Online lending segment to witness consolidation in next 5-6 months: CASHe’s Ketan Patel (IBS Intelligence), Rated: A

The NBFC (non-banking financial company), which lends to the young salaried segment with a monthly income of Rs 15,000 and upwards, is already profitable. With a monthly run-rate of 19000 loans, the lender has  30,000 unique customers. Its CEO Ketan Patel, who had spent 18 years in Kotak Mahindra Bank before joining CASHe, told IBS Intelligence that as long as lenders use technology to focus on strong underwriting, they need not worry about collections or NPAs.

Asia

FinAccel raises $ 90 million for low-fee lending app (Impact Alpha), Rated: AAA

FinAccel’s mission is to improve financial inclusion across Southeast Asia’s “vast and fast growing middle class”. Its starting point is Indonesia, where most of the country’s 265 million people lack access to formal financial services but do have a cell phone.

Indonesian P2P lender Komunal bags seed money in East Ventures-led round (Tech in Asia), Rated: A

Indonesian peer-to-peer lending company Komunal secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding in a round led by East Ventures, with local VC firm Skystar Capital also participating.

Latin America

Goldman Makes Biggest Mexico Fintech Bet With MercadoLibre Loan (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. agreed to lend $125 million to Mercado Credito, the bank’s third loan to a Latin American fintech this year and the biggest ever in Mexico.

MercadoLibre dominates Latin American e-commerce with an almost 25% market share and 40 million unique monthly visitors, Julie Chariell, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a November report. It’s based in Argentina, but almost two-thirds of its $603 million in third-quarter net revenue came from Brazil, according to the company’s financial statements. Its market value more than doubled this year to $29 billion.

The borrower, a unit of MercadoLibre Inc., plans to use the money to triple in about one year its $100 million working-capital portfolio provided to small and midsize companies in Mexico, Martin de los Santos, a senior vice president, said in a phone interview.

The Next SMB Lending Frontier (Nexoos), Rated: AAA

Source: Nexoos

See the full white paper here.

SoftBank pours $ 100M into Mexico’s Konfio (TechCrunch), Rated: A

Three months after Goldman Sachs lent $100 million to Mexican fintech Konfio, SoftBank has invested another $100 million into the financial services company. The investment confirms Reuters’ August report that SoftBank was in advanced talks with the startup — now one of the most heavily funded fintechs in Mexico.

Brazilian FinTech Rebel Lands $ 10M For Affordable Loan Products (PYMNTS), Rated: A

Rebel, a Brazilian FinTech that offers unsecured credit to middle-class citizens in the country, has raised $10 million in new equity funding, according to a press release.

Africa

Consumer credit scoring is the latest African fintech sector to get funding with $ 20 million for Migo (Quartz Africa), Rated: AAA

Migo, a fintech startup offering credit-as-a service to large companies, has raised $20 million in a Series B round led by Brazil-focused venture firm, Valor Capital Group. The round also saw participation from existing investors including The Rise Fund and Velocity Capital. It follows a $13 million Series A round in August last year.

Africa’s fintech boom is creating niche ecosystems to power the industry’s future globally (Quartz Africa), Rated: A

In the inaugural edition the Global Fintech Index City Rankings, four African cities are identified among the top 100 fintech ecosystems globally.

City Global Finech Index City rank
Johannesburg, South Africa 62
Nairobi, Kenya 63
Lagos, Nigeria 71
Cape Town, South Africa 87
Accra, Ghana 123
Kigali, Rwanda 132
Kampala, Uganda 168

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

The post Thursday December 5 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

The Current State of SME Lending

SMEs

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 […]

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SMEs

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 collateralabout 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.

The Crisis

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.

Author:

Dmitri Koteshov

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.

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Digital Lending: How Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning Are Making a Difference

machine learning digital lending

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 […]

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machine learning digital lending

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.

Author:

Dr. Tamir Hazan is a co-founder and head of Analytics at Digital Lending: How Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning Are Making a Difference appeared first on Lending Times.

Thursday June 20 2019, Weekly News Digest

ASIC borrowers

News Comments Today’s main news: LendingClub expands borrower program. Funding Circle forced to narrow range of valuation. Yirendai revenues come from haircut loans. Chinese P2P lenders explore southeast Asia. Borrowell passes 1M members, raises $20M. Today’s main analysis: 5 ASIC findings on marketplace lending. Today’s thought-provoking articles: US Core, inflation ease. Fintech lending algorithms discriminate […]

The post Thursday June 20 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

ASIC borrowers

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

Other

News Summary

United States

LendingClub Expands Program to Help Borrowers Actually Pay Off Debt (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

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.

Turning Lending Club’s Worst Loans into Investment Gold (Towards Data Science), Rated: A

This is a writeup of a machine learning project I completed. In this post I hope to:

  • Describe my algorithm for predicting loan defaults.
  • Use the algorithm to construct a portfolio of clean loans

Inflation Miss (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

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.

Source: Bloomberg, PeerIQ

Fintech algorithms discriminate 40% less than traditional lenders (Quartz), Rated: AAA

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.

Buttigieg worries tech may add racial bias to credit decisions (American Banker), Rated: A

Pete Buttigieg said the way credit scoring is done in the U.S. is fraught with inequality and he’s worried the process may get worse with systems based on artificial intelligence.

Commercial Real Estate Crowdfunding Eyes ’18-Hour Cities’ for Small Investors (The Street), Rated: A

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.

HSBC launches digital mortgage platform with help from Roostify (HousingWire), Rated: A

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.

Mirador’s Trevor Dryer: ‘The world doesn’t need another high price lender’ (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Trevor started Mirador to fill this void of bank-originated small business lending. We talk about why he started Mirador with a lending as a service model and what painpoints he was addressing.

Dave is launching a checking account that helps users build their credit score (Business Insider), Rated: A

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.

CoreLogic Launches Marketrac Platinum (CoreLogic), Rated: A

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.

Zirtue Revolutionizes Peer-to-Peer Lending (IT Business Net), Rated: A

Sprout Mortgage Launches ACORN Automated Underwriting System (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

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 Integrates with LendingQB to Optimize Mortgage Origination Process (PR Web), Rated: B

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.

Cardholders Seek to Capital-ize on Madden (The National Law Review), Rated: A

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

According to a 2019 research study by

Cross River poaches execs from student refinancing firm Laurel Road (American Banker), 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.

Optimizely Closes $ US105M Financing Round (Which-50), Rated: A

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.

Austin Niemiec Named New Executive Vice President of Quicken Loans Mortgage Services (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: B

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 Awarded Inaugural Inclusive Fintech 50 (PR Newswire), Rated: B

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.

United Kingdom

No sign yet of breaking out of circle (The Times), Rated: AAA

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.

Source: Refinitiv

Three Biggest Overperformers And One Underperformer In Peer-To-Peer Lending (4th Way Email), Rated: AAA

Landbay

  • 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.

Proplend

  • £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).

CrowdProperty

  • £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.

British Business Bank adds £60m firepower to non-bank lender (AltFi), Rated: A

Simply, a non-bank lender, focused on SME asset financing has scored a a third financing tranche of £60m from the British Business Bank.

One fifth of UK investors upping exposure to debt investments (Investment Week), Rated: A

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.

OakNorth completes loan to Oncore IT for the acquisition of Fuse Technologies (Fintech Finance), Rated: A

OakNorth – the bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs – has provided a loan to Oncore IT, a managed service and cloud platform provider.

The finance has been used for the acquisition of Fuse Technologies, a London based provider of unified communications tools.

Brexit and drive for growth sees IT fintech salaries surge (AltFi), Rated: A

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.

Lloyds first to launch open banking app for credit cards and savings (Fintech Futures), Rated: A

Customers of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland are the first to see their savings accounts and credit cards in one place, thanks to open banking technology, reports Jane Connolly.

J.P. Morgan working on a secretive digital banking project based out of London (TechCrunch), Rated: A

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.

Following Facebook’s Libra launch, UK regulator hints at greater Big Tech scrutiny (AltFi), Rated: A

The FCA says technology is dramatically changing the markets it regulates and blurring regulatory boundaries in a new report into its activities.

China

Yirendai Revenues Come From Suspect Haircut Loans (Seeking Alpha), Rated: AAA

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.

Over 850+ fraudulent/ponzi lending platforms were exposed in FY 2018 alone.

Source: iiMedia Research

But the bad numbers don’t end here:

– The total loan volume amounted to 245.9 billion in Q12019, down -55.5% Y/Y.

– 85.7 in new loans were lent in March 2019, down -53.5% Y/Y.

– Principal balance of all loans: 8,029 CNY billion, down -3.6% Y/Y.

– sum of P2P lenders and borrowers, up 21%.

Chinese P2P lending platforms look to Southeast Asia amid industry purge back home (Technode), Rated: AAA

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.

XW Bank Welcomed by IMF as One of 6 Outstanding FinTech Companies From China (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) welcomed 6 outstanding FinTech companies from China including Ant Financial, WeBank and XW Bank.

European Union

Snask helps Klarna to communicate its ‘smooth’ banking offer with off-the-wall film and photography (Creative Boom), Rated: A

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.

LHV Bank Integrates Estateguru Investments in Online Banking Dashboard (P2P-Banking), Rated: A

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.

International

How Klarna is Helping the World Shop Like a Queen (Power Retail), Rated: AAA

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.

Australia

Five key ASIC findings on marketplace lending (Cuffelinks), Rated: AAA

In April 2019, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) released its third report on marketplace lending, the Survey of marketplace lending providers: 2017–18The 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.

Source: Cuffelinks

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.

Source: Cuffelinks
India

All you need to know about P2P lending and Commodities (India Times), Rated: AAA

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!

Watch the video here.

Asia

Indonesian firms turn to P2P lenders for funds (Asia-First), Rated: AAA

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.

Canada

Borrowell passes one million members, raises $ 20 million in new capital (Zone Startups), Rated: AAA

RFI alumni company Borrowell announced that it had reached significantly more than a million users, making it Canada’s largest consumer fintech company by that measure.

In addition to this membership milestone, Borrowell also confirmed that it has received $20 million in Series B funding.

AltFi Toronto Summit 2019 (AltFi), Rated: B

WED, 9 OCTOBER 2019, 08:30 – 17:30 EDT

Blind Bird tickets are now on sale at a 50% discount ahead of the Summit’s agenda being announced later this Summer.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

The post Thursday June 20 2019, Weekly News Digest appeared first on Lending Times.

Credit as a Service for the B2B Market

credit as a service

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) […]

credit as a service

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.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Taking Mortgage Lending, Jumbo Loans Where They’ve Never Gone Before

mortgage lending jumbo loans

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 […]

mortgage lending jumbo loans

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.

Conclusion

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.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Friday March 2 2018, Daily News Digest

Seed

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

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

International

Asia

News Summary

United States

This neobank believes it can solve banks’ digital onboarding problem (American Banker), Rated: AAA

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.

Source: American Banker

Lendio Franchise Announced in Clemson Region (Lendio), Rated: A

Lendio, the marketplace for small business loans, today announced the opening of a new Lendio franchise in the Clemson, South Carolina Region. Through the Lendio franchise program, Andy Ronemus will help local businesses in the community apply for loans, review their options and secure funding, easing the financial hurdles for small business owners.

In A Time of Need, A Woman Rises To Disrupt Fintech In Puerto Rico (Forbes), Rated: A

One notable leader in this endeavor is 

Fintech Startup Magilla Wants to Be the Match.com of Loans (Big Law Business), Rated: A

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.

Crowdlending helped Shorewood business woman’s dreams come true (tmj4), Rated: A

One Shorewood businesswoman did this all on a website called Kiva.

Shelia Long’s business is a workspace that helps ladies who work from home come together to get inspired.

“It was so great as the loans were coming in you can see like Switzerland, Boston, Carlsbad, Texas,” said Shelia Long.

One-hundred-thirty-seven people in total used PayPal to help her get to a goal of raising $8,000 at zero-percent interest.

Validus Specialty Launches Package Policy for Fintech Companies (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

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.

What’s next for marketplace ABS? Revolvers, ETFs & IOs (Asset Securitization Report), Rated: A

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.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS WARY OF PASSIVITY (All About Alpha), Rated: AAA

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%.

Be cautious when seeking income (Money Week), Rated: A

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%.

2018 LightStream Home Improvement Survey (PR Newswire), Rated: A

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.

Crowdfunding your way to homeownership (Mic), Rated: A

According to recent research from the National Association of Realtors®, 24% of buyers under age 36 saved for their down payment for more than two years.

NAR research also found that 25% of homebuyers ages 36 and younger used a gift from relatives or friends for some or all of their down payment.

Platforms have popped up that simplify this process: HomeFundMe, which launched last year, and Feather the Nest.

An estimated 1,500 “nesters” have used Feather the Nest to crowdfund a down payment since 2014, according to company president Beth Butler, with an average goal of $10,000 to $15,000.

JPMC’s FinLab Launches $ 3M Contest For FinTech Startups (PYMNTS), Rated: B

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.

Accounts in Transit (O’Dwyer PR), Rated: B

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.

United Kingdom

Keeping the little guys in the loop: How Funding Circle hopes to fix the financial system (City A.M.), Rated: AAA

“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.”

VPC and Ranger funds see dividends tick up, but remain below target (AltFi), Rated: AAA

The £219m Ranger Direct Lending and £337m VPC Specialty Lending investment trusts have announced their latest quarterly dividends with both portfolios showing an uptick since their last pay-outs.

Leeds offers business loans through peer-to-peer platform (Room151), Rated: A

Leeds City Council is to use a peer-to-peer lending platform to lend money to local businesses.

The authority has decided to use the rebuildingsociety.com platform — based in the city — to provide money for small and medium sized businesses with an LS postcode.

Isas 2018: Innovative Finance Isas hit stumbling blocks (Financial Times), Rated: A

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.

How does the Isa allowance actually work? (Which?), Rated: B

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.
European Union

Klarna’s profits driven by growth in Nordics and Germany (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

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.

Klarna reports double-digit sales growth (Finextra), Rated: A

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.

International

How Banking Institutions Can be Decentralized (CoinTelegraph), Rated: AAA

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.

All transactions are recorded on the Blockchain.

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.

Crowdlending: Anatomy of a successful strategy (EurekAlert!), Rated: A

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.

Asia

Smartag International Signs Agreement to Provide Fintech Solutions to Rural Indonesia (PR Newswire), Rated: A

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”).

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Attacking the Insurance Industry With Technology

Attacking the Insurance Industry With Technology

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 […]

Attacking the Insurance Industry With Technology

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.

Author:

Written by Paul Keenan.

Lending Times Survey Results

digital lending services

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 […]

digital lending services

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.

Authors:

Allen Taylor

How Subprime Lenders Can Leverage Debit Data in Our Cashless Society

How Subprime Lenders Can Leverage Debit Data in Our Cashless Society

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 […]

How Subprime Lenders Can Leverage Debit Data in Our Cashless Society

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 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.

Cash, Dethroned

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.

Author:

 

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.