French Alternative Lending Market: An Overview

European alternative lending

European Overview The alternative lending market in continental Europe is still in its nascent stage but has been demonstrating strong growth. The European online alternative market, including the UK, grew by 92% in 2015 to €5.4 billion while, excluding the UK, the European alternative lending market reached approximately €1 billion in 2015. The average growth […]

European alternative lending

European Overview

The alternative lending market in continental Europe is still in its nascent stage but has been demonstrating strong growth. The European online alternative market, including the UK, grew by 92% in 2015 to €5.4 billion while, excluding the UK, the European alternative lending market reached approximately €1 billion in 2015. The average growth of the online alternative lending market between 2013 and 2015 was 73%.

Although the UK is the pioneer as far as alternative lending is concerned, continental Europe is catching up rapidly. In the first three quarters of 2016 the total market volume of the European alternative lending market stood at €623 million.

France’s Alternative Lending Market

After Brexit, France is battling Germany for the position as the biggest alternative lending market in Europe. The volume of French online lending market grew from a paltry €76 million in 2013 to €319 million in 2015. In 2016, the number of fintech companies in France stood at 55 with Younited Credit being one of the biggest with loan originations amounting to $600 million. In 2015, France Fintech Association was established in order to stimulate the fintech market.

Fintech lenders in France are growing aggressively owing to the measures taken by the French government and the regulatory authorities overseeing the alternative lending market. AMF (Financial Market Authority) and ACPR (Prudential Control Authority and Resolution) are the two regulators that regulate the French alternative lending market. These bodies launched the Fintech Forum, a joint initiative to gain a clear view of regulatory and supervisory challenges faced by fintech companies. After Brexit, they launched “Agility Program” to attract UK fintech companies to France. The program will guide financial firms through the French authorization process and will provide other such services to help UK’s financial firms to set up in France.

Top Alternative Lending Companies in France

The French market is buzzing with new lending startups, but there are some stalwarts who have created a strong position in the French market for themselves. Though the sector has currently seen no listing, there are many potential unicorns.

Younited Credit

Founded in 2009, Younited Credit is one of the biggest fintech lenders in France. It was founded by Thomas Beylot, Charles Egly, and Geoffroy Guigou. The company operates as a peer-to-peer lending platform and is recognized by the French Central Bank. It allows investors to lend money to the borrower directly with the help of a secured bond market place. So far, the company has managed to raise US$122 million in funding and is currently working to expand across Europe. Since its launch, Younited Credit has helped fund almost 60,000 projects for a total origination of more than €433 million.

Lendix

Lendix is a peer-to-peer lending platform founded in 2014 by Olivier Goy. It is an online marketplace for business loans where investors are allowed to lend money directly to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Lendix has raised approximately US$27 million to date. The company also bagged the 32nd position in the global ranking of the 2016 FINTECH 100.

Unilend

Founded in 2013 by Nicolas Lesur, Unilend is the leader in participative financing for SMEs. It is the
first French site which allows anyone to lend money directly to SMEs. The startup has raised more than €10 million in funding. NewAlpha Asset Management led its latest funding round.

FinexKap

FinexKap is a web-based platform founded in 2012 by Cedric Teissier and Arthur de Catheu. The company provides short-term capital solutions to SMEs. SMEs can simply sell their receivables and gain access to short-term funds. FinexKap has raised €7 million in equity since inception. It recently raised €12 million in debt for further expansion.

Lendosphere

Founded in 2014, Lendosphere is a niche platform dedicated to renewables and environment-friendly projects. Currently, the company has 70 projects under its ambit out of which 66 are completed while fundraising is going on for the remaining 4. Total loans originated by the company is more than €19 million.

Conclusion

French banks loaned out €2.169 trillion in 2016. Almost 50% of it went to households, and consumer credit accounted for €161 billion in outstanding loans. Outstanding loans to small businesses stood at almost €400 billion.

French banks accounted for 20% of overall bank credit in the Eurozone. These statistics highlight the tremendous market opportunity for alternative-lending entrepreneurs. It is one of the last developed markets that have not been tapped aggressively by online lenders and where regulators have been supportive of alternative financing. The sector is sure to see upheaval with the category maturing and Brexit creating an opportunity for startups to capture the trillion dollar French market as well as use Paris as a springboard for the entire European credit market.

Author:

Written by Heena Dhir.

Event in Paris: Les clés pour la croissance du marché Français.

Event in Paris: Les clés pour la croissance du marché Français.

When ? January 30 2017 Where? Unilend, 6 Rue du Général Clergerie, 75116 Paris, France Details: Lending Times and Unilend present: Quelles sont les clés pour que la croissance du marché du marketplace lending en France se poursuive ? (i.e. comment pérenniser ce marché dans un environnement économique et réglementaire qui pourrait redevenir plus favorable pour […]

Event in Paris: Les clés pour la croissance du marché Français.

When ?

January 30 2017

Where?

Unilend, 6 Rue du Général Clergerie, 75116 Paris, France

Details:

Lending Times and Unilend present:

Quelles sont les clés pour que la croissance du marché du marketplace lending en France se poursuive ?

(i.e. comment pérenniser ce marché dans un environnement économique et réglementaire qui pourrait redevenir plus favorable pour les banques)”

(English translation: “What is the key to ensure continous growth in the French marketplace lending market ?” , specifially given that the environment may turn out to be become more favorables for the banks once again.)

Participants au debat:

– Nicolas Lesur, fondateur et CEO, Unilend (prêt aux PME)

– Jean Marc Orlando, fondateur et chairman Nexlend (hedge fund concentre sur le marketplace lending)

– Daniel Zenaty, fondateur et CEO, Avire Finance (family office present dans le marketplace lending)

– Charles Egly, fondateur de Younited Credit (prêt entre particuliers)

– Vincent Ricardeau, fondateur de Lendopolis (prêt aux PME comme Unilend) et de kisskissbankbank (crowdfuning)

– Gilles Saint Marc, avocat et président de la commission fintech de Paris Europlace qui s’est beaucoup battu pour faire évoluer le cadre juridique permettant le développement du P2P lending en France

More information

RSVP

Monday September 11th 2016, Daily News Digest

Monday September 11th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments Today’s key news in an exhaustingly long news list : US SME borrowers will receive increased regulatory protection starting Nov 12th; Well Fargo and Amazon were called by the CFPB after being contacted by Sen. Brown’s office, and the deal fell apart after 1 month;  large European corporate bonds are also at negative […]

Monday September 11th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

News Summary

 

United States

Movement in marketplace lending regulation for small business loans, (Lexology), Rated: A

From 12 November 2016, some businesses will receive the same protection currently available to consumers as unfair contract terms in small business contracts will become prohibited.

Under the new law, a contract term will be unfair if:

  • it would cause a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations;
  • it is not reasonably necessary to protect the interests of the party who would be advantaged by the term; and
  • it would cause detriment to a party if the term is relied on.

The Government is also considering further protections for small businesses. Earlier this year, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services conducted an inquiry into the impairment of customer loans. One of the recommendations made as a result of the inquiry was to extend responsible lending obligations and ASIC’s monitoring ability under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act to small business loans. In response to the recommendations, in August the Government directed the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman to undertake an inquiry into small business lending practices and identify if further reforms are required. The Government is due to receive the final report in November.

Orchard Platform Launches Data Partner Program for Loan Originators, (Email), Rated: AAA

Orchard Platform, today announced the launch of the Orchard Data Partner Program, which includes loan data from a range of leading online lenders. The Orchard Data Partner Program is part of the Orchard for Originators product suite. The suite provides unbiased third-party validation of the internal consistency and quality of an originator’s data. Through the Orchard Data Partner Program, qualifying originators will gain the ability to analyze and compare their loan performance to that of their peers (on an aggregated and anonymized basis), and share their data in a consistent and transparent manner with new and existing capital providers.

The Orchard Data Partner Program establishes a framework for loan originators to share their origination and performance data within the Orchard ecosystem in exchange for detailed asset class analytics. By securely submitting loan and payment data to Orchard — and having Orchard standardize the data — originators have access to a number of unique product offerings, including Education & Insights, Data Integrity, and Reporting & Analytics.  Originators also have access to a centralized data storage facility, which can be opened to current and prospective whole loan buyers and other parties during the due diligence process.  Institutional investors seeking to take a growing position in this market have a desire to utilize this information in a transparent and user-friendly way, and the Orchard Data Partner Program provides originators with a scalable solution that helps investors assess such opportunities.

The Orchard Data Partner Program currently tracks over $33B in loan originations.

Amazon-Wells Fargo Student-Loan Plan Ran Into Political Obstacles, (Wall Street Journal), Rated: AAA

Amazon.com Inc. teamed up with Wells Fargo & Co. in July to promote private student loans as a benefit to members of one of its services. Instead, it walked into a political firestorm.

The Wells Fargo-Amazon partnership was meant to offer interest-rate discounts on private student loans to qualified members of Amazon’s “Prime Student” service.

Ticas called the partnership “a cynical attempt to dupe current students who are eligible for federal student loans with a record low 3.76% fixed interest rate into taking out costly private loans with interest rates currently as high as 13.74%.”

After publicly slamming the Amazon-Wells Fargo Deal, Ticas took its complaints to Capitol Hill, contacting senators such as Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Dick Durbin andPatty Murray, who is from Amazon’s home state of Washington, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In early August, Sen. Brown’s office contacted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been critical of private student lending, and bank regulator the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The senator’s office raised concerns pertaining to potentially deceptive marketing practices in the deal, according to a spokeswoman for the Ohio Democrat.

In particular, the senator’s office questioned marketing of the rate discount, expressing concerns about whether it disclosed that the underlying rate may be much higher than the cost of loans under federal programs, or that the discount was subject to change or cancellation, said the spokeswoman.

By the end of the month, Amazon and Wells Fargo scrapped their arrangement, which had been more than a year in the making.

A spokesman for the CFPB declined to comment on whether the agency contacted the companies after receiving Sen. Brown’s concerns.

The CFPB has been a vocal critic of private student loans since it launched in 2011 for what it has described as the industry’s high default rates.

Wells Fargo is the second-largest private student lender after Sallie Mae and is one of the few large banks that has remained a big player in the sector. It has about $12.5 billion in outstanding private student loan balances.

Now Companies Are Getting Paid to Borrow, (The Wall Street Journal), Rated: A

German consumer-products company Henkel AG and French drugmaker Sanofi SA each sold no-interest bonds at a premium to their face value Tuesday. That means investors are paying more for the bonds than they will get back when the bonds mature in the next few years.

“We’re trying to get our heads around it,” Edward Farley, head of European corporate bonds at PGIM Fixed Income, said of Tuesday’s deals. “It seems pretty bizarre to ask a corporate to look after your money and give you back less in two to three years’ time.”

Roughly €706 billion of eurozone investment-grade corporate bonds traded at negative yields as of Sept. 5, or over 30% of the entire market, according to trading platform Tradeweb, up from roughly 5% of the market in early January.

Tuesday’s deals, however, are among just a handful of corporate offerings that have actually been sold at negative yields. They include offerings of euro-denominated bonds earlier this year by units of British oil giant BPPLC and German auto maker BMW AG, according to Dealogic. Germany’s state rail operator, Deutsche Bahn AG, also has issued euro-denominated bonds at negative yields.

Funding Circle ‘basically halved’ US lending volumes at the start of the year, (Business Insider), Rated: A

Marketplace lender Funding Circle halved its lending volume in the US at this start of the year after spotting underperforming loans in an earlier batch of loans, according to the fintech company’s chief risk officer.

Since publication, Funding Circle has provided the following quote from Sam Hodges, cofounder and US Managing Director of Funding Circle US: “The Q1 2015 portfolio represents approximately 10% of total lending in 2015. The overall portfolio for 2015 has delivered 8% per annum for the whole loan marketplace.”

Jerome Le Luel, who joined the company from Barclays last October, made the disclosure during a press conference at Funding Circle’s London headquarters on Thursday, citing it as an example of the company’s pro-active approach to managing risk and making sure investors who lend money on the platform are properly protected.

Le Luel told journalists: “Last year, when I came in, we looked at the vintages we’d just created and although 2014 was looking fine, the first quarter 2015 vintage for some reason was going off track. Significantly off track. 50%. It was earlier on, 6 months along.”

Le Luel said lending volumes in the UK, by far Funding Circle’s biggest market, have been unaffected and the company is still growing at around 100% year-on-year.

UK-listed VPC Specialty Lending Investments, which invests in peer-to-peer loans, said in a letter to investors last month that it stopped purchasing Funding Circle US loans late in 2015 after its portfolio “continued to substantially underperform our expectations.”

Funding Circle has lent over $2.6 billion globally over its platform. The company has operations in Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands, as well as the UK and US. The company has raised over $270 million from investors including BlackRock, Singapore investment giant Temasek, Scottish investment company Baille Gifford, and a fund owned by billionaire Russian internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner.

Moody’s Expects Residential Mortgage Backed Securities from Marketplace Lenders, (Crowdfunding Insider), Rated: A

Foreshadowing the inevitability for all forms of finance moving online, Moody’s has published a report stating the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) will soon be issued by marketplace lending platforms. They also believe that current regulatory and securitization frameworks will reduce additional risk with RMBS issued by marketplace lending platform.

Balancing out this opinion, Moody’s says there is a difference between consumer lending and mortgage loans. The existing laws will demand a higher degree of compliance compelling new online entrants to “make significant capital and knowledge investment.” These standards will help maintain online lending quality in the RMBS space.

The Moody’s report is available here.

Escaping The Squeeze: 3 Forces Challenging Mid-Sized Banks And Credit Unions, (The Financial Brand), Rated: A

Squeeze #1: Fintech Startups Carving Out the Convenience Position

Fintech startups are establishing the bar for convenience. Pundits like to say that firms like Uber and Amazon are the ones setting expectations, but I really believe that consumers’ points of references are those within an industry, not across industry lines.

Are these startups making bad lending decisions? Consumers don’t care. All they see is that the process takes a tenth of the time and effort that it does with traditional financial institutions.

Squeeze #2: Merchants are Attacking Traditional Payments Deposits

What’s important, here, is that this represents the new behavior in how consumers manage their money. Paychecks get deposited in a bank account, then some portion of it quickly gets moved to loyalty and closed loop prepaid cards.

Squeeze #3: Megabanks are Winning the Millennial Market

Escaping the Squeeze

Reinvent marketing. A good rule of thumb in banking is that financial institutions spend about one-tenth of one percent of assets on marketing. That means the typical megabank has a marketing budget of $1.3 billion. Do you really think you can out-market that kind of spending? You can’t. You have to use other tactics.

Own the financial health position. Millenials will be moving to the life stage that puts a premium on convenience and into a stage where advice and guidance become more important.

Mobile banking now only trails online banking as consumers’ preferred method, (Mobile Payments Today), Rated: A

This year’s results show a marked increase in mobile banking popularity compared with the association’s 2014 findings, which showed mobile in fourth place. Branch banking and ATMs rounded out the top four spots.

However, when considering the latest results, it is important to note that the new survey was conducted online, while previous years’ surveys were conducted over the phone. This makes a reliable comparison impossible, according to an ABA press release.

Blackmoon: Marketplace Lending Platform of the Future, (Tech.co), Rated: A

Valued at more than $850 billion, this market is still not being fully explored by European alternative finance, which is lagging way behind the United States and the United Kingdom.

Wanting to swim against these tides is Blackmoon, a technological platform that enables institutional investors to directly invest in newly-originated loans issued by balance sheet lenders in a marketplace fashion. This MPLaaS (Marketplace Lending as a Service) has offices in Russia and Cyprus, having recently launched their newest office in the United States.

Investors have been quite successful when using this platform: in the last year, they averaged returns were bigger than 15 percent, and the cumulative turnaround exceeded $13 million. Blackmoon wants to reach $1 billion in cumulative turnaround until the end of 2017, to which the company’s US expansion shall provide a decisive contribute.

CreditEase’s Online Inclusive Finance Becomes Harvard Business School Case Study, (PR Newswire), Rated: A

This is the second time a CreditEase story has been published in Harvard’s case databank since 2014. This makes CreditEase the first ever ChineseFinTech firm to be published twice.

In 2014, Lena G. Goldberg, a professor at HBS, put together CreditEase’s seven-year journey from 2006-2013 into a business case. Subsequently, Tang Ning, the Founder, and CEO of CreditEase, was invited a number of times to Harvard to share his stories in financial innovation.

In January 2016, Professor Michael Chu visited Beijing for field research and conducted in-depth interviews with Tang and his management team.

CreditEase is a leading FinTech company in China. Its majority-owned subsidiary Yirendai (NYSE: YRD), an online consumer finance marketplace, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Takeaway from Finovate and Next Money: Ditch the Humans, (American Banker), Rated: A

The Rise of ‘Regtech’

Technology intended to help companies stay compliant is having its moment.

SME Lending

Marketplace lending might still be trying to figure out its future as an industry, but it succeeded in pushing banks to reconsider how they approach lending.

That’s particularly true in small-business lending, an area that remains one of the more manual (and paper-intensive) areas of the industry.

“If we add a human into banking, we don’t just slow it down to human speed, humans create friction,” King said. “Humans only ever add friction.”

The Impact of Micro-Investing Technology that No One is Talking About, (Dara Albright), Rated: A

Micro-investing technology, coupled with new crowd financing structures made possible by the JOBS Act, enables a small business to cost-effectively and compliantly build a large, impassioned and well-diversified investor base.

Despite the SEC’s implementation of all key components of the JOBS Act, there are many issuers still reluctant to employ these “crowd finance” exemptions. Some express concern that an expansive cap table is too difficult to manage. Others fear that too many small retail investors on the cap table will be an obstacle to obtaining future venture capital financing. Other issuers mistakenly believe that it is easier and less cumbersome to raise capital from a small band of large investors than it is to pool tiny increments from a massive crowd.

Due to advancements in micro-investing technology, many of these apprehensions are unfounded.

Where the 27 Fintech Unicorns Got Their Start, (Equities), Rated: A

United Kingdom

Ex-Lloyds CEO Joins Board of P2P Lender, (Bloomberg), Rated: A

Eric Daniels, the former chief executive officer of Lloyds Banking Group Plc during the 2008 global financial crash, has joined the board of British peer-to-peer lender, Funding Circle Ltd.

The six-year-old lender catering to small businesses is increasingly turning to traditional bankers as it expands into the U.S., Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. The company, which has arranged $2.5 billion in loans, is also girding for the economic impact of the U.K.’s decision to quit the European Union.

In July, Funding Circle hired Jeremy Bennett, the architect of the U.K.’s toxic-asset insurance program following the crash and a former chief of Nomura Holdings Inc.’s European division, as its chief financial officer. Jerome Le Luel, the onetime chief risk officer at Barclays Plc’s credit-card unit, joined the London-based startup last October to oversee risk management.

He said he will serve on Funding Circle’s risk and audit committees. Daniels will work closely with another one-time bank chief who’s jumped into online lending: Bob Steel, the former CEO of Wachovia Corp. who sold that bank to Wells Fargo & Co. during the crisis. Steel joined Funding Circle’s board in 2014.

Hargreaves Lansdown delays P2P launch until 2017, (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: A

Hargreaves Lansdown has revealed that it expects to launch its peer-to-peer lending operation in 2017.

Hargreaves Lansdown also reported that it had capitalized £1.1m of staff costs relating to the development of the cash deposit and peer-to-peer platforms.

The firm has been helping clients choose and manage investments since 1981 and its latest results showed that profit before tax had increased by 10% on last year.

Fintech: Opportunities For All? – Remarks Given By Victoria Cleland, Chief Cashier, Bank Of England – Given At The 2nd International Workshop P2P Financial Systems 2016, (MondoVisione), Rated:AAA

Complete speech can be found here.

 

Since 2010, more than $50bn has been invested in almost 2,500 FinTech companies. In 2015 alone, the UK alternative finance sector grew by 84%. 5 Over 24 countries are currently investing in DLT with $1.4bn in investments over the past three years. Over 90 central banks are engaged in DLT discussions worldwide and more than 90 corporations have joined blockchain consortia. 80% of banks are predicted to initiate DLT projects by 2017.6

In his recent speech “Enabling the FinTech transformation: Revolution, Restoration, or Reformation?” 7 the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, set out the ways the Bank is enabling the FinTech transformation:

 widening access to central bank money to non-bank Payment Services Providers;

 being open to providing access to central bank money to new forms of wholesale securities settlement;

 exploring the use of DLT in our core activities;

 partnering with FinTech companies on projects of relevance to our mission;

 calibrating our regulatory approach to FinTech developments.

European Union

French Crowdlending Platform Unilend Receives a €2.5 million Investment from NewAlpha’s FinTech fund, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Unilend, a pioneer in SME crowdlending in France, announced on September 7 that it has received a €2,5 million investment from NewAlpha Asset Management (NewAlpha).

This is the third investment coming from the venture capital fund dedicated to FinTech and Assurtech that NewAlpha launched in November 2015. Investors in the fund, such as Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe, find in NewAlpha a leading innovation scout and incubator who proactively monitors usage innovation and technology change in areas of finance including banking, insurance, and asset management. NewAlpha has concluded more than 60 strategic partnerships and invested over one billion euros in French and international FinTech and Assurtech firms.

Founded in 2013, Unilend leads retail crowdlending in France with a strong community of 10,600 lenders. It was the first French crowdlender to pass the €20 million mark of funds raised in July this year. The platform is now looking to conquering a larger share of the €90 billion of French SMEs’ financing needs.

Bondora reaches new record-high loan origination of €2.8 mln in Aug 2016, (SMN Weekly), Rated:A

In August, grade C-E loan originations in Estonia took the highest share of 32%. In Finland, 13% of all loans were grade D-F, and in Spain, new originations were primarily in the higher interest grades of E, F, and HR. Overall, interest rates were highest in Spain, followed by Estonia and Finland.

Bondora is a leading Estonia-based P2P lending platform. The platform has facilitated the disburse of more than €66 million. The average Bondora loan is €2,370, but loans range from €500 to €10,000. Bondora also operates a secondary market for P2P loans where investors can buy and sell their existing investments.

Bondora is authorized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US, the Financial Supervision Authority (FSA) in Estonia, and the Regional State Administrative Agency (RSAA) in Finland.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) is pleased to announce that Ira Powell has been appointed as Chief of Staff and that Mauricio Noé has been hired to build our presence in the European markets, (Email , Kroll Bond Rating Agency), Rated: A

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) is pleased to announce that Ira Powell has been appointed as Chief of Staff and that Mauricio Noé has been hired to build our presence in the European markets. In Ira’s new position, he will be taking on a broader management and operating role and will continue to report to Jim Nadler, President and Chief Operating Officer at KBRA. Powell joined KBRA as Chief Credit Officer in early 2015 and has been an integral part of KBRA’s recent success and growth. After receiving his J.D. from Harvard Law School, Ira worked in various positions across Structured Finance before most recently spending 15 years in Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division.

In addition, KBRA has hired 20-year ex- Freshfields, ABN AMRO, and Deutsche Bank veteran Noé to lead its European business. KBRA is in the process of establishing a presence in Europe and expects to be a full service and locally staffed regulated rating agency in the near future. We have been certified by ESMA since March 2013 in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 and are currently establishing a regulated European subsidiary. In the meantime, we continue to conduct a significant amount of business in Europe, predominantly for European clients issuing securities into the US market notably in the Private Placement, Project Finance, and Aircraft space.

Author:

George Popescu

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments We believe that today we finally fixed the hyperlinks for the pictures in the analysis and events section of the daily newsletter. We apologize it took us so long to fix them. We also believe the hyperlinks to the articles in the “News Summar” section of the newsletter are also working. We have […]

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

  • We believe that today we finally fixed the hyperlinks for the pictures in the analysis and events section of the daily newsletter. We apologize it took us so long to fix them.
  • We also believe the hyperlinks to the articles in the “News Summar” section of the newsletter are also working. We have tested on all our devices, OSs and email clients we own but our tests are still limited. We would like to kindly ask our readers to report if you have any particular problems reading Lending Times in your favorite environment and we will continue improving in all ways possible. 

United States

  • Debt-to-EBITDA multiples for private equity deals with U.S. targets in 2016 has hit a whopping 6.8x. Are US companies over-leveraged ?
  • After testing the waters with Lendio,(as seen in our article here), AmEx is jumping both feet in with the poorly named “Working Capital Terms” venture. Why not name it AmEx Small Business Loans? In all cases, the SME lending space is heating up with a gorilla-size new entrant.
  • As our readers build origination platforms or lend on p2p platforms, perhaps a scenario they are not setup to handle yet is how to face low-probability-events. Such an example is “what happens in case of death of a lender”. An article surveying a few answers from different platforms.
  • Avant, while downsizing, does offer a buyout to all employees. Readers may want to understand this offer through the example of Zenefit’s down round at $2bil valuation and implications for Zenefits employees.
  • Blackmoon, helping balance sheet lenders to sell whole loans, is entering the US market with a New York office. Our previous article on the company can be found here.

United Kingdom

  • UK Banks expected to lend £150bn , freed by Bank of England’s capital buffer rules relaxation. Since 2008 we have seen that making cheap capital available to banks has not correlated with higher bank loan origination volumes. Is, this time, different ?
  • Interesting discussion of different choices fund managers can make in the search for yield and the advantages of p2p fund’s yields.

Hong Kong

  • LendIt rebrands  “largest conference series dedicated to connecting the global fintech community” from ” largest online lending conference”.

France

  • A great survey of the French p2p market with company names and differences (“prets participatifs” in French).

China

  • Cai Jincong, the founder of Zhejiang Yinfang Investment, was sentenced to life behind bars for running a fake peer-to-peer lending scheme that conned over 88 million yuan (about 13 million U.S. dollars) from 1,200 investors.

 

United States

Pitchbook reports that debt-to-EBITDA multiples for private equity deals with U.S. targets in 2016 has hit a whopping 6.8x, (Term Sheet), Rated: AAA

S&P LDC reports a global average of 5.36x for Q1 2016,  although the figure did top 6x in the third quarters of both 2015 and 2014. Moreover, S&P LDC data shows that large-market deals typically have higher leverage ratios than do mid-market deals, with the Q1 16 large-market figure hitting 5.6x (and, remember, that’s a mean, not a median).

It has been more than three years since the Federal Reserve and FDIC issued leveraged loan guidance to banks, suggesting that any debt-to-EBITDA ratios in excess of 6x (for most industries) is too high. Or, put another way, both lenders and private equity firms are regularly ignoring the Fed’s guidance — and appear to be easily getting away with it (likely because no individual deal is likely to present a systemic risk, and loan syndication makes the “baskets” more like a sieve).

AmEx Challenges Square, On Deck With Online Loan Marketplace, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

AmEx’s venture, Working Capital Terms, will approve loans in minutes for existing small-business cardholders, who can use the money to pay vendors. Debts may range from $1,000 to $750,000 with fees of 0.5 percent for a 30-day loan to 1.5 percent for a 90-day loan. AmEx will deposit funds directly into vendors’ accounts in as soon as two days.

AmEx has been looking for new streams of revenue to rejuvenate earnings after deciding last year to part ways with its biggest co-brand partner, Costco Wholesale Corp. In addition to its new in-house loan product, the card issuer offers longer-term small-business loans — ranging from $35,000 to $2 million — through its partnership with Lendio, another online marketplace.

“AmEx can do this because they have good credit knowledge,” said Karen Mills, former head of the Small Business Administration, who’s now a paid adviser for Working Capital Terms. “This will challenge the online competitors, whether or not they respond.” Amex declined to disclose their target for Working Capital Terms’ loan volume.

Working Capital Terms represents “a new type of product for American Express that could eliminate the need for the very expensive, unsustainable products from Square and other online lenders,” said Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc.

AmEx isn’t the only big lender pushing into the fray. Wells Fargo & Co., the third-biggest U.S. bank by assets, said in May it was starting a program to offer small businesses online loans in as soon as one day. Larger rival JPMorgan Chase & Co. is collaboratingwith On Deck to speed up the process of providing loans to some of the bank’s 4 million small-business customers.

AmEx shares fell 2.7 percent to $59.08 at 2:46 p.m. in New York. On Deck tumbled 6.9 percent to $4.89, while Square declined 3.6 percent to $8.94. Representatives from On Deck and Square declined to comment.

In the Case of Death, (p2p-banking.com), Rated: AAA

‘What happens when I die’ is a concern occasionaly voiced by investors. Investments in p2p lending will be inherited like any other assets.

Luke O’Mahoney of Ratesetter explained: ‘If an investor dies, we work with the next of kin to establish how they would like the account to be dealt with. Generally they would either use our Sellout function (effectively liquidating their investment) or they would allow the account to run down over time – of course we assist the next of kin or executor with this process’.

Only Assetz Capital mentioned that they have a process to do regular checks on dormant accounts that are in funds to ensure that lenders are aware of those funds.

Personally I wonder, if it would be good practise for marketplaces to contact those investors that have not logged in for a very long period (2 years?) and ask them to update/verifying their data. Failure to do so could then trigger a letter with the same request via postal mail.

Sign of the Times: Avant Offers Buyouts to All Employees, (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Avant, an online lender, has offered the option for buyouts to all 760 of the company’s employees. It was not clear how many Avant employees would accept the offer. The news is a painful reminder that online lending is still struggling to regain its footing following indications of a slowing economy and the unexpected departure of former Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche – a now tarnished industry icon.

Russian Lending Marketplace Expands to U.S. in Search of Growth, ( Bloomberg), Rated: A

Blackmoon, a Russian financial technology startup that screens and prices loans issued by others to sell on to investors in a marketplace, is opening a U.S. office to expand in the world’s biggest market for non-bank lending.

Blackmoon is partly counting on an expansion into the U.S. from its new New York base to reach a goal of $1 billion in cumulative loans by the end of next year.

To achieve that, the company will target all kinds of unsecured credit in the largest market for alternative lending: consumer, small-business, student and car loans. Blackmoon currently works with several dozen European online lenders, from Finland to the Czech Republic.

Blackmoon functions as an intermediary between institutional debt investors and lenders — both alternative providers and traditional banks — allowing them to scale their business without additional leverage, while mitigating the risks of default.

Moscow-based Target Asset Management agreed in February to form a $100 millionfund to invest in Blackmoon’s loans.

 

United Kingdom

Carney frees up £150bn in bank lending, (Alt Fi News), Rated: AAA

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, yesterday took steps to reduce capital buffers for UK banks. The Financial Policy Committee (FPC) has reduced the UK countercyclical buffer rate from 0.5% of the banks’ UK exposures to 0%, with immediate effect. The FPC began to supplement regulatory capital buffers with the UK countercyclical buffer in March of this year, and had intended to increase the buffer to 1% in due course. But now the countercyclical buffer is expected to remain at 0% until at least June 2017.

This reduction is expected to free up £5.7bn in bank lending. The banking sector, in aggregate, targets a leverage ratio of 4%. This means that the £5.7bn in spare capital will allow the banks up to an extra £150bn in lending to UK households and businesses.

While the FPC’s actions would appear to be good news for UK borrowers, they may well herald a more competitive stretch for alternative lending platforms.

Peer-to-peer investing website holding cash of 900 savers goes bust, (This is Money), Rated: A

Comment: this is old news, but a good reminder for people who did not read last week’s Lending Times.

Savers were lured into Funding Knight with promises of returns of up to 8 per cent for lending their cash to small businesses. Last week, the peer-to-peer firm was rescued by investment firm GLI Finance, whose bosses said customers’ money was safe and that they could withdraw it whenever they liked.

Will Neil Woodford’s new higher income fund hold P2P to boost its dividends?, (Alt Fi News), Rated: A

Star fund-manager Neil Woodford is mulling the launch of a new equity income fund that will aim to deliver a higher yield than is currently offered by his hugely popular £8.6bn CF Woodford Equity Income fund.  A 4.5 per cent target yield has been widely reported. Higher yielding equity income portfolios offering an ‘enhanced income’ mostly use call options alongside normal income stocks to boost income pay-outs.

Woodford is bullish on P2P/marketplace lending and has invested in the two specialist investment trusts P2P Global Investments and VPC Speciality Lending – which offer attractive yields of 6 per cent and over for his income fund. He also owns an unquoted positon in P2P platform RateSetter.

The manager currently has 0.96 per cent of his fund’s assets in the P2P Global Investments trust and 0.64 per cent in VPC Speciality Lending trust. These are, respectively, his 28th and 39th largest holdings.  In total he has 109 holdings.

His existing fund is currently hitting a yield of 3.7 per cent. P2P GI and VPC Speciality Lending’s yields are currently a whopping 7.4 per cent and 9.7 per cent, respectively. However, that is partly a function of thier near 20 per cent discounts at present.

LendInvest boosts tech offering with VP of Engineering, (Financial Reporter), Rated: A

Comment: I find surprising that a company of the size and volume of Lend Invest did not, apparently, have a person in charge of technology, until now.

LendInvest has recruited its first VP of Engineering as it continues to drive its technology strategy.

Mike Nuttall joins LendInvest with over 15 years’ senior management experience and has led technology development for companies in sectors such as e-commerce, payments and gaming.

At LendInvest, Mike will be responsible for managing the direction, goals and efficiency of the technology team which now represents over 40% of LendInvest’s workforce.

Free tool launched to help low-carbon businesses source funding, (Startups), Rated: B

Business in the low-carbon, clean technology (cleantech), and sustainability sectors looking for finance can take advantage of a new digital tool launched this week.

Created by Shell Springboard, the Access to Finance Navigator is an interactive database where eco-friendly entrepreneurs can search for funding opportunities and filter funding sources by their location, stage of development, financial requirements, and the user’s business sector.

So far, the database features 84 low-carbon funding sources – said to represent a total value of £157m – from government organisations, angel investors and syndicates, crowdfunding platforms and venture capital (VC) funds.

Sources listed include Funding Circle (crowdfunding), Advantage Business Circle (angel), EcoMachines Ventures (VC), Horizon 2020 (government grants), and funding competitions ran by Innovate UK.

 

Hong Kong

LendIt and AMTD Group Co-Host the First Global Fintech Investment Summit in Hong Kong, (Press Release), Rated: B

AMTD Group Company Limited (“AMTD Group”, “the Group”) is a non-bank financial services group based in Hong Kong offering a wide spectrum of capital markets, asset management, insurance brokerage and risk management solutions to clients across Asia.

LendIt is the largest conference series dedicated to connecting the global fintech community.

LendIt China and AMTD Group will co-host the first Global Fintech Investment Summit in Hong Kong (“Global Fintech HK Summit” or the “summit”) on July 13.

More than 80 leading Asian investors and over 35 international fintech companies are expected to attend the ground-breaking summit.

 

France

The Vibrant Marketplace Lending Industry in France, (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

The French marketplace lending industry is still in its infancy. Due to a very strict regulatory structure there is only one online consumer lender operating in France, Younited Credit (formerly Pret d’Union) and small business lending platforms have only begun operating in the last 18 months. In late 2014 the French government made it legal to make loans to small businesses without a banking license. This has led to a large number of new platforms, they say the count is around 50, to launch since then.

The French government is also actively involved in the industry through an entity called BPI – setup with similar goals to the British Business Bank. It wants to stimulate lending to small businesses. BPI will take small equity positions in fintech companies, it will invest on platforms and it will make interest free loans to qualifying companies.

Younited is still relatively small compared to the US or UK platforms – they are currently issuing around €17 million in new loans every month in France. With 130 employees they are easily the largest platform in France and one of the largest in Continental Europe.

Earlier this year Younited opened an office in Rome in their first international expansion. One of the great benefits of being part of the European Union is that they can “passport” their banking license to other countries which is what they have done in Italy.

Younited is focused on prime borrowers in both France and Italy offering competitive interest rates to banks. They offer four funds for investors with historical returns ranging from 2.2% for their lowest risk borrowers up to 5.1% for the highest risk fund.

The first online small business lender to launch in France was Unilend – they issued their first loan in November of 2013 a full year before the regulation changed to allow small business lending. The reason is that their loans are setup differently – as a direct contract between the borrower and the investors. They are actually an IOU instead of an actual loan.

Unilend has issued €20 million in loans to date and are currently issuing around €1 million a month. Loan terms range from 3 months to 60 months with interest rates of 4% to 10%. They run a Dutch auction, which allows investors to bid down the rates to a minimum set by Unilend. They have a large investor base of over 10,000 active investors with an average return of 5.25%. They average 700 investors per loan.

BPI has invested in Unilend as an equity holder – they do not own loans. Like every small business platform we met with the loans issued by Unilend are unsecured with no personal guarantees in place. The average loan size is €75,000 with the typical small business doing revenue below €2 million.

One of the curious things about France is that many of these loans are done in partnerships with banks. The small business might be seeking €500,000 in funding but the bank will only issue €400,000. So, they will seek the other €100,000 from a platform like Unilend.

Lendix is a relatively new small business platform, having issued their first loan in April 2015 but they are already one of the leading platforms in France. They currently originate €4 million a month, making them the largest small business lender.

The co-founders of Lendix have all invested their own personal money in the fund which has grown to €29 million in size and is currently yielding 6.5%. They are about to launch a second fund which will be in the €50-70 million range.

As for the loans the average size is €200,000 with a maximum amount of €2 million. The loan terms range from 18 months to 5 years although they have just added short term loan options down to 3 months. They currently have zero defaults although there was one case of fraud where they were able to get the money back.

Finexkap has taken a completely different approach to financing French small businesses. They are providing working capital via receivables financing. But the regulators do not allow invoice financing outside of banks unless it is done in a securitization.

They did €15 million in originations in 2015 and are on track to do €100 million in 2016. Because this is invoice finance the loans are very short in duration. So, even though they have only been issuing loans for a couple of years they have already had 9 turns of their loan book. Of the more than 5,000 transactions they have done they have only had losses on one transaction. So they are developing a solid track record.

The company with the most memorable domain name is Credit.fr. They are part of the new breed of platforms focused on small business loans. They are growing fast and have just crossed €1 million in loans per month issued.

They are open to individual and institutional investors and they have 5,000 registered investors on their platform today. Like Lendix they are also creating a debt fund that they expect to launch in September and that should help them reach scale much faster. The target return for this fund will be around 5% after fees.

Credit.fr has a solid borrower funnel with leads coming from digital, partnerships with companies like Younited and others and also business brokers. The average loan size is €60,000. They feel that their competitive advantage is their risk management where they have an experienced team in place.

Lendopolis is one of the more unique platforms in France. It is actually part of theKissKissBankBank (yes, that is the official name) group of companies that consists of three divisions:

  1. KissKissBankBank – a donation-based crowdfunding site created in a similar vein to Kickstarter focused on primarily cultural and artistic projects. They have financed 15,000 projects since being founded in 2009.
  2. Hellomerci.com – based on the Kiva model of microfinance. These are small loans (less than €10,000) at 0% interest rates loaned out to very small companies.
  3. Lendopolis – launched in 2014 as a more typical p2p small business lender. They have loaned €7 million over 100 loans in their first 18 months.

Like many platforms here Lendosphere also launched soon after the regulations came into effect in late 2014. They are the first platform to be 100% focused on sustainable development projects.

To date they have loaned €6.7 million across 33 projects – either wind turbines or solar panels. The loans are typically 2-5 years at interest rates of 4-8%. They have 3,500 registered investors funding these projects. While it is still a young loan book Lendosphere has had zero defaults and delinquencies.

Most platforms are focused on small business where there has been a lot of entrepreneurial activity in the last 18 months. The French government recognizes that small businesses need more choices when it comes to access to capital so they have helped to create a regulatory environment that enables new approaches to this challenge.

 

China

Lending scheme fraudster jailed for life, (CRI English), Rated: A

A court in east China’s Zhejiang Province has sentenced a man to life behind bars for running a fake peer-to-peer lending scheme that conned over 88 million yuan (about 13 million U.S. dollars) from 1,200 investors.

Cai Jincong illegally raised more than 200 million yuan through Zhejiang Yinfang Investment and Management Co., where Cai fabricated investment products promising over 20 percent in annualized returns, the court said on Tuesday.

Cai, who was under a lot of debt, founded the P2P lending platform in October 2013. It offered returns on investment of up to 50 percent.

The funds were used to service Cai’s own debt and fund the operation of the P2P platform. Cai turned himself to police on January 20, 2015.

Author:

George Popescu