Tuesday March 14 2017, Daily News Digest

total debt balance

News Comments Today’s main news: SoFi’s loan losses pile up as wealthy borrowers default. Charles Schwab launches hybrid human-robo financial advice. GDR adds Avant as verification network partner. Vista to acquire D+H to merge with Misys.  Today’s main analysis: Household debt edges up as auto, credit card, and student debt climb. The regulation of MPL. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Everything […]

total debt balance

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

European Union

Canada

Asia

Middle East

News Summary

United States

SoFi’s Loan Losses Pile Up as Even Wealthy Borrowers Default (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Social Finance Inc.’s online borrowers are defaulting at higher rates than underwriters for one of its bond deals had expected, the latest sign that an industry that hoped to upend banking is now getting tripped up by bad loans.

Losses on the company’s personal loans were high enough to breach key levels known as “triggers” last month on a bond deal issued in 2015 and backed by the loans, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley. If defaults keep rising, investors in bonds could end up missing out on expected interest payments.

Other online lenders have had similar trouble with defaults and triggers recently, which has broadly made it more expensive for the startups to fund their businesses. One pioneer in the business, CircleBack Lending Inc., stoppedmaking new loans as growing numbers of its borrowers defaulted.

Credit issues at Prosper Marketplace Inc. resulted in staff cuts at that company, and were largely the result of lending too much, too fast, and a “grow at all cost” attitude fueled by insatiable demand from investors, Prosper CEO David Kimball said at the New York conference last week.

Household Debt Edges Up as Auto, Credit Card, and Student Debt Climb (New York Fed), Rated: AAA

Aggregate household debt balances grew in the fourth quarter of 2016. As of December 31, 2016, total household indebtedness was $12.58 trillion, a $226 billion (1.8%) increase from the third quarter of 2016. Overall household debt is now 0.8% below its 2008Q3 peak of $12.68 trillion, and is 12.8% above the 2013Q2 trough.

Mortgage balances, the largest component of household debt, which stood at $8.48 trillion as of December 31, saw a $130 billion uptick from the third quarter of 2016.

Balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) were roughly flat, rising $1 billion to $473 billion.

Non-housing debt balances rose in the fourth quarter; with increases of $22 billion in auto loans, 32 billion in credit cards, and 31 billion in student loans.

Charles Schwab launches hybrid human-robo financial advice (WHTC), Rated: AAA

Brokerage Charles Schwab Corp on Tuesday launched a service that combines its automated investment management technology with human advisors, as financial institutions race to offer digital financial advice.

The service, called Schwab Intelligent Advisory, provides clients with a financial and investment plan, unlimited access to a human advisor via phone or video conference, and an investment portfolio of exchange-traded funds managed by computer algorithms.

The service, for clients with at least $25,000 to invest, includes an online platform that keeps track of financial goals and retirement plans, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement. It will charge a 0.28 percent fee on assets, with a quarterly maximum of $900.

The Regulation of Marketplace Lending: A Summary of the Principal Issues (Chapman and Cutler LLP), Rated: AAA

At the outset, it may be helpful for us to briefly discuss the scope of this paper and some of the terminology we use. There is no single or universally accepted definition of “marketplace lending.” In general, though, marketplace lenders can be viewed as companies engaged in an Internet-based lending business (other than payday lending) which are not banks or savings associations or otherwise regulated as financial institutions. They may offer a wide variety of financial products, including student loans, small business loans, and real estate loans, in addition to the unsecured installment consumer loans on which the industry initially focused. However, “marketplace lenders” may or may not actually be lenders. This term is a generic term to identify participants in marketing, originating, selling, and servicing loans. They also may fund their loans through a variety of means, including equity capital, commercial lines of credit, sales of whole loans to institutional investors, securitizations, and/or pass-through note programs. In this paper we focus on the consumer lenders since they are the most heavily regulated and have the highest loan volumes. However, much of the discussion herein—outside of matters pertaining directly to consumer lending regulation—will also apply to nonconsumer lenders.

Download “The Regulation of Marketplace Lending: A Summary of the Principal Issues” here.

Global Debt Registry Adds Avant as Verification Network Partner (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

Global Debt Registry (GDR), the asset certainty company known for its loan data validation expertise, today announced it has added leading online lending platform Avant to its verification network.

Investors in loans through Avant now have turnkey access to enhanced loan due diligence services and can easily add new data insights onto portfolios of loans without having to touch sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) about borrowers.

GDR’s eValidationSM and eVerifySM asset certainty tools require no technology investment, using existing data structures and processes to streamline the flow of information from the lender to the investor. In addition to digital scanning for traditional document verification and data integrity, GDR securely analyzes the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to ensure borrower data can be independently confirmed in compliance with the investors representations and warranties.

Kroll Bond Rating Agency Assigns Preliminary Ratings to Marlette Funding Trust 2017-1 (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) assigns preliminary ratings to three classes of notes issued by Marlette Funding Trust 2017-1 (MFT 2017-1). This is a $257.44 million consumer loan ABS transaction that is expected to close on March 23, 2017. This transaction represents the third securitization collateralized by unsecured consumer loans originated by Cross River Bank, under the Marlette Best Egg Platform and sold to Marlette Funding, LLC (“Marlette”) or its affiliate.

Approximately $250 – $325 million of loans are originated through the Platform per quarter. Since March 2015, over $3 billion of loans have been originated though the Platform, and as of February 2017, Marlette has over $100 million of loans on its balance sheet.

The transaction has initial credit enhancement levels of 27.45% for the Class A Notes, 17.95% for the Class B Notes, and 9.10% for the Class C Notes. Credit enhancement consists of overcollateralization, subordination (in the case of the Class A and Class B Notes) and a reserve account funded at closing.

Traditional Advisor Business Model Will Not Last (Financial Advisor IQ), Rated: A

Several developments are creating a “perfect storm” that will revolutionize the financial advice industry and leave many advisors behind, John Lohr writes in Seeking Alpha.

First Ascent still uses real humans on its investment committee, while an independent advisor serves the client, Lohr writes. That model isn’t likely going away: even robo-advice pioneers such as Betterment now offer upgraded services that give investors unlimited interaction with a licensed advisor, he writes.

But Betterment’s annual fee for unlimited calls with an advisor is just .50%, according to Lohr. That means high-fee advisors are on the way out, he writes.

Clarity Money Marks Continued Growth with 100,000 Customers and Senior Hires (BusinessWire), Rated: B

Clarity Money, a revolutionary personal finance app that acts as the “Champion of your Money,” has reached 100,000 customers since its launch in January 2017. The app has been a “featured” personal finance app on the Apple App Store since its launch. Clarity Money was created by venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Adam Dell.

To keep up with this growing demand, Clarity Money is pleased to announce three new additions to its team – Melissa Manne, Vice President of Product Management; Colin Kennedy, Chief Revenue Officer; and Marc Atiyeh, Chief Strategy Officer. The Clarity Money team already includes financial and technology veterans from Betterment, Google and IBM, as well as advisory board members Niall Ferguson, economic historian, and Dan Ariely, behavioral economist.

Clarity Money works by using data science and machine learning to provide personalized insights for customers. By utilizing a combination of techniques such as natural language processing, anomaly detection and spectral analysis, customers are able to take advantage of features such as: bill lowering, subscription cancellation, creating a savings accounts and providing tailored suggestions on things such as credit cards.

With the potential impact of financial deregulation and the weakening of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, consumers need a financial advocate now more than ever. Banks and financial institutions already have powerful tools designed to sell, market and retain customers, but consumers don’t have an equally powerful tool to level the playing field and protect against hidden fees and recurring charges. Clarity Money empowers consumers to take control of their finances, providing them with transparency, organization and actionable insights.

PeerStreet Awarded ‘Top Emerging Real Estate Platform’ by LendIt (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

PeerStreet, a marketplace for investing in real estate backed loans, is pleased to announce that it has been named the Top Emerging Real Estate Platform in the LendIt 2017 Awards. PeerStreet is an Andreessen Horowitz-backed platform, focused on democratizing access to investments in real estate debt.

The Top Emerging Real Estate Platform category focused on younger companies that have demonstrated the greatest potential to impact the future of real estate investing. PeerStreet stood out as the top platform with its unique model, as it is not a direct lender and brings an innovative offering to investors.

RealtyMogul.com CEO Jilliene Helman Named Fintech Woman of the Year (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

RealtyMogul.com CEO Jilliene Helman was named Fintech Woman of the Year at the first annual LendIt Industry Awards. Helman was honored for her “outstanding leadership, integrity, performance, and team-building support within RealtyMogul, as well as her contributions to the advancement of the industry.”

The awards, which showcased leaders from across the fintech industry, were part of the annual LendIt USA Conference held in New York City March 6 and 7th. Helman was selected by a panel of 30 industry expert judges from among a field of six leading fintech pioneers.

New fintech conference focused on branded currency comes to Omaha (siliconprairienews), Rated: A

Flourish: The Growth of Branded Currency is a fintech conference launching in Omaha this April 10 -12. The conference is focused on branded currency, and is targeting a range of retailers from those with a national presence to smaller Midwest retailers and their technology service providers.

K+H Connection is the company hosting the event. K+H is a fintech consulting firm based in Chicago, IL that focuses specifically on helping fintech companies integrate with merchants.

HG: Branded currency is actually a relatively new term. In short, it is any sort of tender that is branded and used for a specific purpose or at a specific merchant or location. It could be a gift card, promotional value you earn through a referral or loyalty program, points earned through a credit card program, prepaid mall-branded gift cards, etc. These types of products are more than just a form of tender, they incentivize spend and behavior.

We’re also focusing heavily on fraud within branded currency. Fraud has been the number one thing that people have asked us to discuss, so we are going to have a huge session on it.

Podcast 93: John Donovan of Bizfi (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Industry pioneer John Donovan talks about why he is excited to be at the helm of one of the leaders in small business lending.

LendIt USA 2017: Sessions You May Have Missed (LendIt), Rated: B

Thanks to everyone who joined us at LendIt USA 2017. Our growth surpassed our expectations and we had close to 5,900 attendees at the two-day conference.

United Kingdom

NACFB offers members ‘unrestricted’ insurance cover for peer-to-peer (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: AAA

The National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) has announced it will now offer members unrestricted insurance cover for peer-to-peer (P2P) lending.

Under the terms of NACFB membership, brokers must have professional indemnity insurance covering them against mis-selling claims from clients.

UK and Japanese regulators agree to cooperate on fintech (Out-Law.com), Rated: A

On Thursday, the FCA and JFSA agreed a mutual referral system which will see the regulators provide assistance to fintech businesses that wish to expand UK operations into Japan, or vice versa.

The collaboration, which was confirmed by an exchange of letters, will also facilitate information sharing between the regulators on emerging market trends and regulatory issues pertaining to fintech, as well as information concerning referrals.

European Union

CSI globalVCard Expands Globally (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

CSI globalVCard, a leading B2B payments company specializing in secure and rewarding payments, today announced that it has expanded services to Europe and has opened a London office, its first move in a planned worldwide expansion. The company plans to roll out its services across additional continents by year’s end. CSI will use the payment issuance capacity of PrePay Solutions (PPS), a subsidiary of Edenred (70% owned by Edenred and 30% by MasterCard), worldwide leader in prepaid corporate services. PPS will bring CSI its unique payment technology to issue and process all  CSI virtual cards and wire transfers in Europe.

Expansion outside of North America was sparked by CSI globalVCard’s growing demand from multi-national clients, their increased need for native currency payments, as well as customer service support across local time zones. The global payments market is estimated at $1.2 trillion, of which B2B payments account for $550 billion. Ten percent of organizations make between 20 and 50 percent of their payments to foreign suppliers, and organizations earning over $2 billion in revenue pay the largest percent of their payments to foreign suppliers.1

Canada

Vista to acquire D+H for fintech merger with Misys (Financial News), Rated: AAA

Private equity firm Vista Equity Partners has struck a deal to acquire D+H, a Canadian financial technology provider, with an eye to merging it with UK-based Misys to create a financial software company with $2.2 billion in revenues.

US-based Vista said in a statement today that it will pay C$25.50 per share in cash for D+H, including the assumption of debt, in a deal that values the Toronto-listed firm at 4.8 billion Canadian dollars.

Misys chief executive Nadeem Syed said the combination of the two companies gives them the opportunity to create a “global fintech powerhouse”.

That powerhouse would have about 10,000 employees and 9,000 customers, including 48 of the top 50 banks, the statement said.

Asia

Here’s Everything You Should Know About Alternative Lending In Asia (Forbes), Rated: AAA

Over the last 5-10 years, China, India, and Southeast Asia have leapfrogged from a cash-based society to one where mobile payments are common currency, skipping adoption of credit cards, savings accounts and other consumer financial products common in Western countries. The result: a population that’s smartphone-savvy but still largely unbanked, without the credit histories necessary to access traditional small business or personal loans. It’s a prime market for alternative lenders, who usually use alternative means to assess creditworthiness, foregoing traditional credit scores altogether.

Here is a brief taxonomy of the many types of alternative lenders currently operating in both Asia and the West.

According to Bloomberg, China has 2,200 P2P lenders alone, and its P2P lending market is valued at an estimated $100 billion.

Chinese tech giants have aggressively pursued synergies between different divisions of their sprawling businesses. For instance, Sesame Credit, Alibaba’s alternative credit scoring program, looks at the frequency and cost of a customer’s purchases on Alibaba’s mobile payments platform Alipay in order to determine creditworthiness.

Meanwhile, India’s alternative lending market is in a much earlier stage. Giant tech companies don’t yet dominate the scene, and so the balance-sheet lending landscape includes a large number of small specialists like EarlySalary (payday loans), ZestMoney (point of sale), and Buddy (targeted at students). There are only about 30 P2P lenders in the country, which is surprising for a country where nearly 40% of the population is unbanked, and therefore without access to traditional loans.

Southeast Asia has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but the small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that make it up have more limited access to financial credit than the global average.

In Singapore, the financial center of the region, the major alternative finance players in Singapore are peer-to-company (P2C) lenders: specialized P2P lenders that only provide loans for SMEs. Market leader Capital Match was founded in 2014, but says it has already paid out more than S$32m (US$22.5m) in loans.

Malaysia is doing its part to meet P2P companies like Funding Societies in the middle, having recently updated its financial guidelines to include P2P lending. Thailand has done the same, issuing a consultation paper on regulations for P2P lending last fall.

German Challenger Bank SolarisBank Goes to Asia (Fintech News), Rated: AAA

The financial services subsidiary of the Bertelsmann Group, Arvato Financial Solutions, and the Japanese investor SBI Group will invest in solarisBank in a partnership that promises significant cooperation potential across international markets. In total, the Berlin-based bank raises EUR 26.3 million in the series A financing, meanwhile seed investors FinLeap, Hegus and yabeo Capital participate as well.

As the young bank steps up its internationalisation efforts, new executives are being added to its leadership team: Roland Folz will join the Management Board as CEO, while Gerrit Seidel will take over as Supervisory Board Chairman from HitFox Group and FinLeap founder Jan Beckers.

solarisBank intends to expand its activities in European and Asian countries over the coming years, and will establish joint venture companies with the SBI Group in order to develop businesses in Asia.

Middle East

The real estate property crowdfunder with an ethical conscience (Zawya), Rated: A

As key professional in the Qatar real estate industry gather for the annual Cityscape exhibition in Doha,  MercyCrowd, a brand new type of property crowdfunding platform, will offer for the first time to people in Qatar international real estate purchases through crowdfunding.

MercyCrowd  is part of the Elite International Asset Group, an established international company promoting real estate investment in Europe with a specialty in the French and UK market.  However, what makes MercyCrowd uniquely different is the company’s core belief that sustainable growth can only stem from real assets that generate real increments and tangible benefits to a society.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Thursday February 9 2017, Daily News Digest

south korea p2p

News Comments Today’s main news: Huge spike in deposits after Lending Works launches IFISA. Public-private partnership forms Online Lending Policy Institute. Today’s main analysis: How private debt/alternative credit boosts income, risk-adjusted returns. Today’s thought-provoking articles: What roll-back of Dodd-Frank means for MPL. An end to P2P wholesale lending. BondMason calls for end to provision funds. United States Private-public […]

south korea p2p

News Comments

United States

  • Private-public partnership forms OLPI. AT: “This is an interesting approach to dialogue concerning MPL innovation, regulation, and growth. Where the Marketplace Lending Association exists primarily for the benefit of lenders, the OLPI seems to have its focus on consumers. Both attempt to influence public policy, but they different paths.”
  • What rollback of Dodd-Frank means for MPL. AT: “I completely agree that regulation legitimizes the industry, but I am concerned that over-regulation can kill innovation. On the other hand, there is a real danger that protectionist policies can lead to banks reverting back to risky lending practices, hurting consumers, and making it difficult for marketplace lenders to compete. I hope we can strike a fine balance that encourages innovation, fosters competition, and provides more options for consumers.”
  • Zoot Enterprises XOR Data Exchange partner on risk mitigation.

United Kingdom

European Union

China

Asia

News Summary

United States

Unique Public and Private Partnership Forms Online Lending Policy Institute (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

The Online Lending Policy Institute (OLPI) today announced its formation and the appointment of its first Executive Director, Professor Cornelius Hurley. OLPI will provide a one-stop resource for those interested in Fintech generally and marketplace lending specifically. The OLPI will provide research and education to ensure informed policy and best practices.

The OLPI provides policy analysis, in-depth research, broad educational initiatives (like the successful MPL Policy Summit), and relevant and engaged thought leadership to foster responsible growth of online lending (providing a strong bridge between established financial services and technology knowledge). To that end, the OLPI convenes various stakeholders, facilitates industry consensus, and encourages the development of a regulatory framework that protects borrowers while promoting innovation.

Key activities of the OLPI will include:

  • Substantive research that affects the online lending industry
  • Publishing white papers, studies, and reports
  • Engaging policy makers and industry stakeholders in the creation of forward-thinking public policy
  • Commissioning studies to ensure policymakers and those studying the industry have accurate data to rely on
  • Hosting the annual MPL Policy Summit to share, educate, and exchange ideas
  • Acting as the one-stop solution for all who seek to understand legal and regulatory landscape of online lending
  • Providing the tools necessary to ensure responsible innovation in Fintech– OLPI will be a valuable research resource for the various associations that have already formed to advocate for Fintech

To reach its goals, the OLPI knew it was important to be led by an expert in financial services thought leadership that has built a reputation of integrity and innovation with the banking community at large. The OLPI is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Cornelius Hurley as the first Executive Director of the Institute. Professor Hurley brings more than 35 years of diversified legal, entrepreneurial, and academic experience in the financial sector.

OLPI’s growing roster of members includes founding members Cross River Bank, Boston University’s Center for Finance, Law & Policy, and RocketLoans, among others. OLPI will announce its broader membership, including many leading industry players at LendIt 2017, where OLPI will host a day of legal and regulatory panels.

What Trump’s Rollback of Dodd-Frank Means for Marketplace Lending (Forbes), Rated: AAA

For marketplace lenders, the industry has matured despite a relative lack of federal regulation and uniformity. While it has thrived due to reduced oversight from lending authorities, a wave of deregulation in Washington could be a curse rather than a blessing as it can further erode the legitimacy fintech pioneers have started to garner since the great recession.

While reactionary regulations can hinder economic recovery, Dodd-Frank was structured in a way that made enacting new rules a heavily vetted process.

Bank lending has increased at a rate of 6 percent a year since 2013, reaching a record high of $9.1 trillion in commercial loans in 2016 and JPMorgan increased core loans more than 10 percent across all categories. If the banking sector has struggled under Dodd-Frank, it hasn’t curtailed profits.

Dodd-Frank has made it much more difficult for consumers to gain access to mortgages and other loan products and raised some costs, in turn affecting profitability, particularly among smaller community banks.

Regulation For Marketplace Lenders Creates Legitimacy

Without smart regulation, fintech companies will continue to be at a disadvantage when compared to brick and mortar counterparts, making it more difficult for a still-developing industry to establish itself as a legitimate entity.

Disruptive innovation can often flourish in this vacuum, but there’s a cost. Without the legitimacy that regulation offers, marketplace lending could struggle to be taken seriously as a direct competitor of the established banking system.

The danger lies in overregulation, but we are a long way from that.

Zoot Enterprises, XOR Data Exchange Partner For Risk Mitigation (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Zoot Enterprises has announced that it has formalized an agreement with XOR Data Exchange to provide Zoot clients access to multi-industry data predictive of identity theft and fraud risk. With the rise in online fraud, clients rely on Zoot to identify new ways to support their business strategy and quickly react to new fraud trends.

The partnership will bring a wider variety of predictive data sets and analytics to institutions that rely on Zoot for their platform needs across a wide variety of industries including financial services, merchant services, telecom, insurance, and healthcare. By sharing data through XOR, businesses are reducing credit and fraud losses, while providing additional insight into fraud rings that may target several different industries and establishing the creditworthiness of businesses that may not be identified using traditional providers.

United Kingdom

Huge Spike in Deposits Reported After Lending Works IFISA Launched (P2P-Banking), Rated: AAA

Lending Works CEO Matthew Powells reported an influx of more than 500K GBP deposits within 3 hours after launching the Lending Works Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA). Lending Works’ IFISA product offers 4% (up to 3 years) or 4.7% (up to 5 years term) tax-free for investments on the p2p lending marketplace.

A recent survey of Lending Works’ existing investors found that 88% plan to open an IFISA, with around a third expecting to invest between 10,000 GBP and the maximum threshold of 15,240 GBP of their annual ISA allowance into the IFISA before the end of the tax year in April.

First major peer-to-peer Isa becomes available, offering up to 4.7pc tax-free (The Telegraph), Rated: AAA

Lending Works has become the first large peer-to-peer company to offer an “innovative finance Isa”, beating several better-known rival lenders to the launch.

The new Isas will offer the same rates and terms as Lending Works’ existing accounts. Investors can lend over a three or five-year period. Three-year loans attract interest of 4pc and five-year loans earn 4.7pc. 

Of these only three have launched an Isa. The companies, Abundance, CrowdStacker and Crowd2Fund have lent out less than £100m between them in total.

An end to the nascent P2P wholesale lending market (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Last weekend, the Mail on Sunday reported that lending money to businesses that in turn lend that money on — aka wholesale lending — is something the regulator reckons doesn’t count as P2P lending. According to the Mail, the FCA thinks P2P lenders doing this “would mimic banking – but without the same protection for individuals or regulations for the firms involved”.

Good news for fans of clarity. Less good news for fans of Ratesetter, a leading P2P lender with a boundary blurring business model and a wholesale lending operation that has historically made up around 15 per cent of its loan originations, as we showed in March last year.

The FCA’s views on wholesale lending in the P2P sector are not entirely clear. One advisor to P2P lenders said “different platforms have been getting different messages”, but suggested the practice might raise the question of whether deposit taking was going on. As they explained it, a lending business borrowing from a P2P lender would, in effect, be borrowing money from ordinary people for the purposes of lending it on, which is not a million miles away from what a bank does. In short, the P2P lender might be viewed as a channel for attracting deposits.

P2P investing firm calls for end to provision funds (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

PEER-TO-PEER lenders should not use provision funds, a P2P investment manager has argued in a new report.

BondMason claims the funds, used by platforms such as Zopa and RateSetter, are just a tool to attract lenders.

The investment firm, which aims to get clients a seven per cent return by selecting P2P loans across approved platforms on their behalf, argues that provision funds “do little (nothing) to improve returns for well-diversified investors.”

Looking at the wider market, the BondMason report found lending in the P2P market grew by 39 per cent in 2016 to £3.2bn but warned that this was down from the annual growth of 91 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

19 laptops containing customer information have been stolen from fintech company GoCardless (Business Insider), Rated: A

Fintech business GoCardless is offering some customers free credit monitoring for a year after admitting 19 laptops containing personal information were stolen from its offices.

The stolen laptops contained personal data on an unspecified number of customers, such as email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, and names, according to The Register, which first reported the theft. Importantly, no financial data was held on the laptops.

LendInvest unveils refurbishment product (Mortgage Introducer), Rated: A

LendInvest has launched a refurbishment product with interest between 0.92% and 1.1% per month which is rolled up and paid at the end of the term.

The loan is based on gross development value, not loan-to-value – and is available up to 70% GDV.

Customers can take out loans between £100,000 and £2m for terms up to 18 months.

Peer to Peer Lending on “Right Path” as Wealth Managers Seek Quality Investments (Crowdfund Insider), Rate: A

BondMason has published its Market Report 2017 reviewing the trends in the UK peer to peer lending market.  BondMason is a platform that provides investors a method to diversify their investments across many P2P lending platforms.

According to BondMason’s research, P2P lending is beginning to see a flight to quality as the industry matures and weaker platforms exit the market. BondMason’s numbers indicate that the UK direct lending market totaled £3.2 billion of lending in 2016. This is an increase of 39% versus 2015 but a drop in growth as the industry grew by 91% from 2014 to 2015.

BondMason believes there is significant room for growth of the online lending sector. While P2P lending accounted for £3.2 billion during 2016, the total addressable market is between £100 to £120 billion in the UK.

NatWest to offer online investment fund service and ‘robo-advice’ (Financial Times), Rated: B

NatWest is unveiling a service for customers to access investment funds online through the bank for the first time, ahead of plans to launch a “robo-advice” service later this year.

The service, called NatWest Invest launches later this month and will allow bank customers who do not wish to pay for financial advice to choose their own funds and invest with a minimum of £500.

Other banks in the UK are planning to follow suit by offering robo-advice. Santander is among the lenders in the process of developing an automated advice service and has invested in robo-adviser provider SigFig.

FinTech Monthly (Tech City News), Rated: B

Monese, an online banking app, raised a $10m Series A round. The app enables non-native citizens to open a UK bank account.

Seedcamp sold part of its stake in money transfer startup TransferWise. This news came shortly after it was reported that US giant Andreessen Horowitz increased its investment in the London-based startup.

And finally, Mastercard has launched a mobile marketplace for East Africa’s agricultural sector. The digital platform, called 2KUZE, meaning ‘let’s grow together’ in Swahili, will enable farmers to buy, sell and receive payments for agricultural goods via their phones.

European Union

How Private Debt/Alternative Credit Boosts Income and Risk-Adjusted Returns (LinkedIn), Rated: AAA

Quantitative easing has caused a significant distortion of asset prices and market dynamics. It has had an enormous impact on the price of most publicly-traded liquid assets, causing yields to drop below a level any return can historically justify. In this context, investors are looking for alternative solutions and private markets offer significant investment opportunities and value enhancement.

Alternative Investments and Alternative Credit have asset solutions that are very different from each other with very dissimilar drivers. Understanding these asset classes requires specialization and expertise. For example, in banks, sub-asset classes such as shipping, trade and commodity finance, infrastructure finance, leverage loans, and leasing are executed by specialized departments and treated as asset classes on their own merits.

Firstly, the active asset managers and institutional investors are providing the alternative sources of credit either directly or through their clients. This began the growth of a credit market along with the traditional bank lending in some sectors. The shrinking balance sheets of banks presented a tremendous opportunity for investors who were jolted by traditional fixed-income securities and needed options for diversification and higher yields.

Secondly, many new so-called Fintech companies in Alternative Lending have entered the market and established business models which are challenging the traditional status quo. They are still small in size in comparison with incumbent players; however, their business model is addressing many current challenges in the financial sector (inefficiency, information asymmetry, maturity transformation).

The increasing participation of the institutional investor market and new platforms are likely to bring more transparency regarding the actual return contribution of different asset classes in the future.

How Does Alternative Credit Enhance Risk-Adjusted Return and Income?

Currently, most liquid fully “institutionalized” asset classes do not offer the appropriate balance between risk and return. Monetary interventions themselves over the past few years have caused a positive return  on the most liquid public assets solely as a result of artificial demand pressure.

Contrary to public traditional fixed-income markets, Alternative Credit offers a private pricing differential (PPD) of 0.5% to 5% over the fixed income market, which is an attractive level.

In these uncertain times, Alternative Credit offers a plausible answer: “Going for the safest part in the capital structure and going for shorter tenors.”

  • Credit investments currently the highest safety in capital structure.
  • Alternative Credit can enable exposure for shorter tenors to self-liquidating assets (trade finance, factoring, supply chain finance).
  • Alternative Credit offers a floating rate exposure.

The best feature of Alternative Credit is its due diligence.

Alternative Credit offers portfolio construction opportunities to diversify other asset classes traditionally owned by banks (not mark to market) and segments that are not yet on the public market’s radar.

As equities became too volatile after the financial crisis of 2008, Private Debt became a surrogate for high-yield bonds. In addition, there was a contraction of more than 70% in the AAA-rated bonds and many of them lost their triple-A status (Preqin, 2014). This provided the cornerstone for the development of Alternative Credit, which enhanced the return of the portfolios by offering a combination of higher rates of return and lower risk.

Alternative Credit has already become the cornerstone of investments in many institutional portfolios and has become a regular source of income. It can be concluded that Alternative Credit is the new form of asset class that is expanding quite rapidly, in part due to the shortage of credit created by the credit crisis.

What drives the success of crowdfunding campaigns? (Invesdor), Rated: A

The first article, titled “Success drivers of online equity crowdfunding campaigns” addresses the research question that Andrea so aptly formulated. The question is highly relevant, as a large part of crowdfunding campaigns – both on Invesdor and on other platforms – have not reached their funding targets. Could something be done to increase the probability of a campaign succeeding?

Based on sixty campaigns that had been conducted via Invesdor, we found the following:

1.  Campaign characteristics that are pre-determined by the target company – with assistance from Invesdor – are relevant in determining the campaign’s success:

  • The lower the minimum investment requirement, the more investors and funds a campaign can be expected to attract.
  • Campaign duration is negatively associated with the number of investors.
  • Higher funding targets seem to attract larger numbers of investors.
  • The availability of financials in the pitch is positively associated with the number of investors.

2. The use of the entrepreneur’s (and Invesdor’s) networks is important for campaign success.

  • The more money the target company can raise through its and Invesdor’s private networks during the hidden phase, the more investors and more funds it is likely to attract in total.
  • Posting the campaign on social media is a strong predictor of success.

3. The understandability of the target company’s products may play a role in success

  • The results indicate that companies that offer consumer products, rather than products targeted to other businesses, may be more likely to conduct successful campaigns.

The results presented here are based on an aggregate assessment of campaigns and investments.

Fellow Finance Group 1 January – 31 December 2016 (Fellow Finance), Rated: B

2016 was a year of rapid growth for Fellow Finance. The number of platform users grew 220% and the total amount of intermediated consumer and business loans in Finland and Poland was above 50 million euros. This growth resulted in the overall loan volume exceeding 90 million euros which strengthened Fellow Finance’s position as the leader of the crowdfunding platforms in the Nordic countries and with 4,3% market share in continental Europe (source: Liberum Altfi Index). In Finland, Fellow Finance’s market share was over 30% of the whole crowdfunding market (source: Ministry of Finance of Finland). The average of annual yield for investors was 11%.

China

Hong Kong government dismisses report ranking city 5th for fintech (South China Morning Post), Rated: AAA

The government has dismissed a research report ranking Hong Kong only fifth last year among leading fintech hubs, saying the study did not directly compare financial technology development but rather financial and business environments as a whole.

During a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday, finance sector legislator Chan Chun-ying asked the government why Hong Kong ranked three spots behind rival Singapore – which ranked second – in the report by global accounting firm Deloitte.

Banks should embrace fintech boom (The Straits Times), Rated: A

Fintech complements rather than threatens banking institutions. In my experience, banking has always been about technology, so today’s fintech innovation boom represents evolution rather than revolution for traditional banking. It is supplementing and diversifying the existing financial system – not replacing or disrupting it.

If we look closely, fintech is currently only focusing on a mere fraction of the financial services spectrum. To date, much of the focus of fintech has been on retail banking services – lending and financing along with payments-related products and services, where mobile and e-commerce has led to real demand from consumers.

Similarly, peer-to-peer lenders appear to be more focused on small businesses and higher-credit-risk borrowers than on mainstream banked clients.

Asia

Korean government to tighten watch over P2P lending (Pulse), Rated: AAA

From the second quarter, the government plans to toughen watch and scrutiny on peer-to-peer (P2P) lending service in burgeoning demand in South Korea.

Currently, moneylenders with assets worth at least 12 billion won ($10 million) fall under the broad state regulation. Smaller lenders can run money business upon registering with local governments.

Under a new act that would go into effect in the second quarter, small lenders also would have to comply with state regulation and watch.

Kelvin Teo erases borders with an online lending platform (Asian Review), Rated: A

In January last year, Riza Fansuri was in a quandary. The 37-year-old, who runs a small food supplier in a Jakarta suburb, wanted to develop new products, but that would take money. He tried applying for loans at banks, but they all turned him down because he could not provide sufficient collateral.

Desperate for help, he turned to a website for peer-to-peer lending, a method of debt financing that allows individuals to lend and borrow money directly from each other online instead of borrowing from banks. Half in doubt, he applied for a loan, and a week later, he managed to secure the 100 million rupiah ($7,485) needed to carry out his plan. His company successfully created two new products — instant ice cream and pudding mixes — that now account for 40% of its sales.

The website Fansuri used is run by Funding Societies, a fintech startup that operates in Indonesia, Singapore and soon in Malaysia. The company was founded by Kelvin Teo, a graduate from Harvard Business School, and Reynold Wijaya, an Indonesian classmate from the school. In less than two years, the company has arranged more than 360 loans worth a total of $19 million.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor