Monday March 12 2018, Daily News Digest

Funding Circle

News Comments Today’s main news: Zopa competes with tech giants, not banks, for talent. Funding Circle to use 4 big banks to prepare for IPO. Japan tours Europe to pitch Open Banking. Lending Loop expands into corporate lending. Today’s main analysis: Preqin on the PE outlook. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Banking Amazon’s moment. How a commission-free robo-advisor plans to generate […]

Funding Circle

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United Kingdom

China

International

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News Summary

United States

Banking’s Amazon Moment (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

Co-branded partnerships are not new, and banks have long partnered with retail institutions to launch co-branded credit cards. In a co-branded partnership, the financial partner deals with deposit or credit management, account servicing, and regulatory compliance, while the retail partner deals with marketing and customer acquisition. We have recently seen Barclays launch a credit card with Uber and Goldman Sachs potentially partner with Apple to finance device purchases. What is novel about this partnership is that it extends the same business model to checking accounts.

Benefits of Partnership

In the current regulatory environment, Amazon needs a partner as there is no clear regulatory swim lane for Amazon to compete head-on with the banks today. The Bank Holding Company Act demarcates commerce and banking. Partnering with JPM makes sense as it avoids Amazon having to comply with onerous banking regulations, but also makes it possible to offer products like checking accounts to its customers.

These strategic partnerships are also incredibly valuable to banks. As we pointed out in a prior newsletter, banks that do not establish a digital banking presence do not have a seat at the table. For banks, this is a battle for long-term customer relevance. Banking products are increasingly commoditized, and new generation customers want to bank with technology firms. They like the customer experience, the self-service nature, control, and value. These customers shudder at the idea of walking into a bank branch.

The customer segment that Amazon is targeting – younger generation, unbanked – generate notoriously low checking account and debit card fee-income for banks. Amazon has no legacy bank branch network, low customer acquisition cost and can make the economics work where most banks cannot. Banks also get access to a new customer acquisition channel, like Alexa where Amazon controls access and can leverage the customer data that their partner has gathered to offer better products to existing and new customers.

Significance of this Partnership

The primary motivation in the short-term is economics. Amazon pays about $250 MM in interchange fees – about 2% per transaction. Customers with an Amazon checking account can pay directly out of their checking accounts and avoid the network transaction fees. If Amazon captures even 25% of this opportunity, and adds $50 Mn to its bottom line, it would be accretive to its market capitalization by ~$10 Bn.

Amazon’s banking footprint today consists of its Visa Signature Rewards credit card issued by Chase, and Amazon Lending, a small business lender that has made ~$3 Bn in loans. It is conceivable that once Amazon’s customers sign up for a checking account, Amazon could sell them a variety of financial products like insurance and investment advice. Bain estimates that Amazon could establish a retail financial relationship with 70 Mn US customers, similar to that of Wells-Fargo.

Who might follow Amazon?

Source: PeerIQ

Amazon hiring head of newly-formed mortgage lending division (Housing Wire), Rated: A

While limited in scope, Amazon’s plans are to start with offering checking programs first, then maybe move into the debt product space after.

Well, after reporting that, we’ve received information that Amazon is currently looking to hire someone to lead their newly-formed mortgage lending division.

Due to non-disclosure agreements, we probably shouldn’t reveal their identities. After all, with Amazon planning a move into mortgage lending, it’s best we work with them and not against them. Am I right?

We can say that if you look at the top 10 HMDA lenders and pick out the nonbanks, that’s where Amazon is recruiting their talent.

How a commission-free robo-adviser plans to generate revenue (Tearsheet), Rated: AAA

Digital investment startup M1 Finance is making a big bet that no fees are the future.

The Chicago-based company, which launched its platform two years ago, decided to drop its assets under management fees to zero in December.

Investment companies can make as much as 70 percent of revenue from services that don’t involve charging customers commission, like lending and transaction fees for third parties, according to its CEO, Brian Barnes.

Source: Tearsheet

Instead of subscriptions, Barnes added that revenue from other services is more than enough to sustain a profitable business: lending to banks based on the securities it holds, interest from loans to customers who borrow from M1 using their portfolio as collateral, and transaction fees paid to the company from exchanges. While it’s free to use the platform and execute trades, M1 charges customers other miscellaneous fees for services like paper statements, transferring an account to another brokerage, and wire transfers.

THE TIPPING POINT FOR ALTERNATIVE DATA (All About Alpha), Rated: AAA

The term “alternative data” as Deloitte uses it refers to any set or sets of data that may be useful for investors but that is outside their traditional/conventional frame of reference.  In this age of “big data” that frame is going to have to expand, and the use of (say) communications metadata or satellite imagery, which might still be innovative this week, might be quite common next week, and a bare necessity for survival the week after that.

The traditional model for data analytics by IM firms (however ‘alternative’ they may be in their assets or strategies) involves as the paper puts it “structured data sets acquired from various information providers” that are then “aggregated and loaded into proprietary quantitative models.”

But the sometimes unstructured data sets on which investment managers will hereafter be expected to draw are large, heterogeneous, and would have to be processed at an extremely fast rate to be of any use. This requires machine learning and cognitive computing for the analytics.

In 2016, big data analytics (BDA) solution vendors received $3.2 billion from securities and investment services (S&IS) firms. About 15% of that (close to half a billion) originated from technologies that at least potentially support the generation of alpha.

How banks are promoting Zelle (Tearsheet), Rated: A

How banks promote Zelle is about more than television ad campaigns.

This year Chase and Wells Fargo have launched 15- and 30-second commercials advertising Zelle, the peer-to-peer payments offering built right into banks’ mobile apps. Zelle itself has even launched a couple of spots, one featuring Hamilton star Daveed Diggs.

Smaller banks that can’t afford national commercials, however, will need to promote Zelle in their existing products, their mobile banking apps, and perhaps take a page from fintech startups’ marketing playbook and design their apps in such a way that the product does the selling for them. That’s according to a new report by Javelin Strategy on Zelle’s rollout; that it emphasizes within its own mobile banking experience that a product called Zelle exists and communicates the benefits of using it and the reasons its better than competitors like Venmo or Square Cash.

Only 25 percent convey that Zelle is free or that it only requires an email or cell phone number, and only 38 percent convey that users can send it to anyone with a U.S. bank account, even if they bank at a different institution than the sender.

However, within those mobile apps, banks are positioning Zelle a little more prominently. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and USAA are all examples of different banks that have chosen to show customers they can send money with Zelle. Bank of America more clearly shows users they also have the options to split or request money. Chase has chosen to rebrand its existing peer-to-peer payment service, Chase Quick Pay, by adding the Zelle name at the end of it and offering customers the option to “QuickPay with Zelle.” SunTrust has changed platforms entirely from PopMoney to Zelle.

LESS ACTIVE ROLE IN FINANCIAL LIVES LEAVES WOMEN MAKING LESS, SACRIFICING MORE (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

A recent study of college-educated Americans found that more than half (54%) of adults don’t think they will ever make enough money to reach their financial goals. Findings released today by national online lender Laurel Road reveal the factors fueling this pessimism, which is significantly higher in women than in men. Millennial women (64%) are significantly more stressed than their male peers (47%) about their finances, and they report starting salaries that fall more than $10,000 lower than millennial men’s, on average ($29,403 vs. $39,839).

Fiscally confident millennial male grads (94%) were significantly more likely than their female counterparts (79%) to prioritize their future earning potential over personal passions when picking a major. Of those without a degree in finance, 88% of male millennials report taking personal or business finance courses while in college, compared to only 54% of female millennials. Meanwhile, nearly one-fourth (24%) of women completed an unpaid internship, compared to just 12% of men.

Millennial women (35%) are more than three times as likely as their male peers (11%) to not have completely understood their financing options when applying to college. These stark differences have a clear trickle-down effect post-graduation. More than half of women (57%) have had to decrease nonessential spending to save money since graduation, compared to just 35% of their male peers.

76% of college-educated adults aren’t completely confident they thoroughly understood their financing options to pay for college. Accordingly, more than half (55%) of Americans with student loans report that it took them longer than expected to pay them off – and for millennials, that number rises to 66%.

However, readjusting interest rates through options like refinancing can ease the burden. But it seems Americans might not be fully aware of this option, as only about one-third (34%) of college-educated adults who have taken out student loans have refinanced their student loans. Despite having less student loan debt, millennial men (62%) are taking advantage of refinancing benefits to a far greater degree than women (39%).

Additional findings include:

Advice adverse: Just more than half (57%) of college graduates have asked for financial advice, and only 16% do so on a monthly basis.

Overlooking the basics: Surprisingly, many college-educated Americans still haven’t taken some of the most basic steps to ensuring a healthy, long-term financial plan, including:

  • 83% have not taken a personal finance course or seminar outside of college classes
  • 62% have not negotiated a higher salary at a job
  • 37% have not begun investing in a retirement account

Persisting pessimism: Nearly 2 in 3 (66%) grads are not fully confident they know the steps required to finance a home. While millennial men (42%) are more likely than their female peers (29%) to feel completely confident they know the steps required to finance a home, it seems a solid financial foundation early on is key to building a comfortable future later on down the road.

Are HNW Investors Ready for Real Estate Crowdfunding Platforms? (National Real Estate Investor), Rated: A

Cecilio is founder and CEO of San Diego-based DiversyFund Inc., which bills itself as a “vertically-integrated real estate crowdfunding platform.” Rather than acting as a middleman, DiversyFund manages all of its real estate projects from start to finish.

Accredited investors put money directly into development of commercial and residential real estate projects in Southern California, such as a multifamily development in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood. Investors can place as little as $5,000 in one of DiversyFund’s deals. Today, DiversyFund claims over 30,000 investors and more than $100 million in assets under management.

For now, an accredited investor must either make at least $200,000 a month or have a net worth of at least $1 million. But DiversyFund plans to open up its online platform this spring to non-accredited investors who can put as little as $500 into a project, Cecilio says.

NY Wealth Manager to Issue Loans Against Bitcoin (CoinDesk), Rated: A

With all the ICOs that have taken place (not to mention the meteoric rise in the value of crypto assets late last year), there are a lot of entrepreneurs who fit this description, but few products that allow them to turn long-term HODLing into actionable capital.

That’s the idea behind a new subsidiary being started by Dominion Capital, a family office based in New York City. While the company has long invested in a variety of assets, Dominion’s known for helping to finance projects by backing loans.

For the entrepreneurs who are willing to bet on the strength of their holdings, there’s a strategic opportunity at play. Essentially, the service would allow individuals and projects to borrow against either their own crypto assets (or those invested by supporters) rather than converting them directly to cash.

Restaurants Outpace Other Industries Investing In Mobile Technologies in 2018 (Modern Restaurant Management), Rated: B

The new findings show an overwhelming focus on mobile technologies, with 63 percent planning to invest; a well-advised investment given nearly 85 percent of all mobile users searching for a restaurant go on to make a purchase. The total average across all industries is 51 percent. In fact, restuarants and bars are among the most bullish to invest in mobile, trumped only by accounting services (70 percent) and marketing agencies (67 percent).

What’s more, nearly in one in four (23 percent) plan to invest in real-time analytics or big data solutions, to help analyze and identify growth opportunities.  This is an emerging opportunity for all small businesses as insights, typically available only to large corporations, are becoming increasingly more available.

U.S. Treasury Official Previews Report on FinTech Regulation (The National Law Review), Rated: B

Craig Phillips, Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), recently delivered remarks at a conference held by the Institute of International Bankers in which he previewed the upcoming Treasury report about possible reforms to the laws and regulations that apply to non-bank financial institutions and FinTech companies.

Mr. Phillips reportedly signaled that the report will include a review of the regulations governing mortgage originators and servicers, marketplace lenders, payment processors and other FinTech companies, and will also cover the “regulatory asymmetries” between such institutions and more regulated institutions.

Pennsylvania judge partially dismisses action against investors of an online lending scheme (Lexology), Rated: B

On January 26, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania partially dismissed an action brought by the Pennsylvania Attorney General against out-of-state investors of an online payday lender and the lender for violating Pennsylvania’s Corrupt Organizations Act (COA). The Attorney General alleged that an online payday lender and the investors “designed, implemented, and profited from a consumer lending scheme to circumvent the usury laws of states.” The alleged conduct, which the court referred to generally as “rent-a-bank” and “rent-a-tribe” schemes, involved the online lender partnering with an out-of-state bank and later with tribal nation to act as the nominal lenders of the loans.

Alabama Senate OKs bill to cap payday lending interest rates (Tuscaloosa News), Rated: B

Payday lending customers would have longer to repay their loan under a bill approved Thursday by the Alabama Senate, which marks the latest attempt to cap the interest rates charged with the short term loans.

The bill by Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur would give borrowers 30 days to repay a loan instead of as little as 10 days. Orr said the change would give people a better opportunity to pay off the loan. Senators approved the bill on a 20-4 vote.

Square’s Cash app now supports direct deposits for your paycheck (TechCrunch), Rated: A

Case in point, the app just rolled out support for ACH direct deposits, meaning users can now get their paycheck or other deposits put directly into their Cash app balance.

Like other features in the peer-to-peer payments app setting up direct deposits is almost too simple. After accepting a disclosure you’re given an account number and routing number, which is all an employer needs to start making direct deposits. Users get a notification when deposits hit their account, and all funds get added to their normal Cash app balance – meaning it can be sent to a friend, spent using a debit card, used to buy bitcoin or withdrawn to another account.

This feature combined with the Cash app’s debit card now means that the app can essentially provide all the basic functions of a bank account, assuming you don’t need to deposit checks or do complex things like wire transfers.

United Kingdom

Zopa is competing with tech giants not banks for talent, says CEO (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

ZOPA is competing with Google and Facebook for talent, not the likes of HSBC, the peer-to-peer lenders’ chief executive Jaidev Janardana (pictured) has said.

Funding Circle Picks Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley for IPO (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle Ltd., the biggest online loan provider in Britain, named Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Numis Corp. Plc to help manage its initial public offering, according to a person familiar with the deal, in a milestone for U.K. fintech.

The offering in London, planned for the second or third quarter, will probably value the eight-year-old company at between 1.5 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) and 2 billion pounds, according to the person, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. That would make it the biggest IPO by a British financial-technology startup.

Funding Circle has arranged more than 4 billion pounds in loans for small and medium-sized companies in the U.K., the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands.

 

Source: Funding Circle and Bloomberg

 

Funding Circle co-founder joins crypto-lending platform as advisor (AltFi), Rated: A

Andrew Mullinger’s LinkedIn profile reads: “currently semi-retired until I get bored”. The Funding Circle co-founder stepped back from the firm in May 2016. He has now joined a very different kind of online lender.

Lendingblock, an open exchange for cryptocurrency loans, today announced that Mullinger has joined the company as an advisor.

Augmentum Fintech raises £94m in IPO (Fine Extra), Rated A

Fintech venture firm Augmentum has raised £94 million in an initial public offering ahead of a listing on the London Stock Exchange.

Set up by venture group Augmentum Capital, Augmentum Fintech is raising the money for a new fund investing in early-stage financial technology companies in the UK and wider Europe.

The new company is acquiring Augmentum’s existing investments in a portfolio of five fintech firms, including Seedrs, Zopa, Interactive Investor, BullionVault and SRL Global.

In a rare meeting of the public and private markets, crowdfunding platform Seedrs was itself used to raise more than £500,000 towards the IPO. The management team and family members have provided £2 million in capital.

BBVA and Visa-backed banking platform solarisBank scores €56.6m in Series B raise (AltFiNews), Rated: B

solarisBank, the first banking platform to be fully regulated by the FCA with a banking license, has successfully completed a Series B investment round, gaining another €56.6m in funding. Current investors Arvato Financial Solutions and SBI Group renewed their stakes, with BBVA, Visa, Lakestar and ABN AMRO’s Digital Impact Fund (DIF) joining them.

 

China

Review: The flimsy finances behind China’s miracle (Nasdaq), Rated: AAA

Since the financial crisis of 2008, China’s economic growth has depended less on exports than on rising levels of domestic investment. Capital spending is mostly directed at construction, which directly accounts for some 20 percent of China’s gross domestic product and indirectly for much more. The long construction boom has produced dozens of ghost cities – McMahon counts 50 in all – filled with empty apartment blocks. Mighty skyscrapers have sprouted up in unlikely provincial backwaters.

Increasing property supply has been accompanied by rising prices. Sky-high valuations have priced many Chinese workers out of the market, creating a nation of “mortgage slaves” and “ant tribes” – graduates forced to live in cheap properties in urban peripheries. In some super-hot markets like the southern city of Shenzhen, the price of land has exceeded the value of the properties built on it, giving rise to the expression “flour more expensive than bread.”

If China’s economy is fuelled by construction, it’s no secret what keeps the cranes swinging and the bulldozers revving. The country has been on a credit binge ever since Beijing announced the “Great Stimulus” late in 2008.

Last China P2P Company Delists Domestically, foreseeing New Tide of Listings Abroad (PRNewswire), Rated: A

China-based Jiayin Fintech, parent company to Niwodai, one of chinese largest P2P lending companies, applied delisting from National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ) in China on 7 March.

Jiayin Fintech’s main business is offering micro-finance services solution, among which, the part accounting for the largest income is tying qualified individual borrowing needs with the investing demands through Niwodai platform. So this delisting may indicate some trends of P2P industry, according to media in China.

Chinese peer-to-peer lender Golden Bull decreases proposed US IPO deal size to million (Nasdaq), Rated: A

The Shanghai, China-based company now plans to raise $7 million by offering 1.6 million shares at a price range of $4.00 to $4.50. The company had previously filed to offer 2 million shares at the same range. At the midpoint of the revised range, Golden Bull will raise -23% less in proceeds than previously anticipated.

 

International

PREQIN ON THE PE OUTLOOK (All About Alpha), Rated: AAA

Preqin has issued a report on the near term outlook for private equity based on a recent (November 2017) survey of more than 350 PE firms around the globe.

Although this isn’t new, the worries about high valuations for portfolio companies have been a factor for years now; such worries are getting more intense over time. In November 2016, 36% of respondents said pricing for portfolio companies had gotten higher over the preceding year. In November 2017, 58% said the same thing.

A majority (56%) of fund managers plan to make more exits in 2018 than they did in 2017, though only 8% said that will be “significantly” more.

Australia

Fintech Australia begins hunt for new CEO as Danielle Szetho steps down (IT Brief), Rated: A

Fintech Australia’s Danielle Szetho is stepping down from her position as CEO after nearly two years in the role.

The organisation has already begun the search for its new lead executive while appointing Sarah Worboys as interim CEO.

 

Asia

Open Banking Provides Perfect Environment for FinTech Integration in Japan (PRNewswire), Rated: AAA

With a rapidly changing, quality business environment, the Government of Japan has launched a series of events across Europe to inform and promote active discussions around the future opportunities in Japan’s lucrative and intelligent market.

On February 19, a Japan You Didnt Know roundtable event kicked off in London at the office of global management consulting firm, A.T. Kearney. Discussions at the event focused on the impact of the new wave of finance, technology, consumerization and personalization sweeping Japan, and how the country is adapting its policy and regulatory framework to welcome foreign investors to deliver predictable conditions for accelerated growth.

Japan boasts the world’s third largest economy and has seen eight straight quarters of stable macroeconomic growth. Driven by a transformation of the market by means of bedrock deregulation and international trade deals, Japan is designing an efficient and productive environment that welcomes foreign business for the coming opportunities in financial services.

Canada

 

P2P PLATFORM LENDING LOOP NOW OFFERING CORPORATE LENDING (Beta Kit), Rated: AAA

Toronto-based Lending Loop, which provides a peer-to-peer lending platform for small business loans, is now allowing corporations to invest in small business loans through its online platform.

The launch of corporate lending is expected to expand small business’ ability to access fast financing, while enabling more lenders to earn attractive returns. To date, Lending Loop says it has facilitated over $17.5 million in loans to businesses across Canada.

Som Seif’s Purpose Financial to acquire fintech lender Thinking Capital (BNN), Rated: A

Canadian ETF pioneer Som Seif’s Purpose Financial announced Friday it is acquiring Montreal-based Thinking Capital, an online lender to small businesses, for an undisclosed amount of cash and securities.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

Wednesday February 21 2018, Daily News Digest

LendingClub originations by funding source

News Comments Today’s main news: Lending Club losses extend to Q4 2017. LendingClub to settle lawsuit for $125M. Groundfloor launches online public offering. Even Financial gets backing from American Express. LendInvest launches buy-to-let calculator online. Today’s main analysis: Lend Academy reviews LendingClub’s Q4 2017 results. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Equity sharing and home ownership. How millennials move emerging markets. Why Australia needs […]

LendingClub originations by funding source

News Comments

United States

United Kingdom

China

European Union

International

Other

News Summary

United States

Lending Club extends losses for fourth straight year (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Lending Club lost money for a fourth year in a row last year, as it wrote a big cheque to settle class-action lawsuits connected to its governance glitches of 2016.

The San Francisco-based company, the biggest listed online lender in America, said on Tuesday that net losses for the fourth quarter almost tripled from a year earlier, to $92m, as it agreed a $125m settlement to resolve civil suits stemming from the loan-mis-selling scandal that blew up almost two years ago. About $48m of the sum would be covered by insurance, the company said, with the remainder to be paid from liquid assets of about $650m.

The loss for the full year came to $154m, wider than the previous year’s $146m.

LendingClub agrees to settle shareholder litigation for 5M (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Under the agreement, which was announced Tuesday, the San Francisco-based online lender expects to pay $77.25 million. An additional $47.75 million is expected to be covered by LendingClub’s insurance, bringing the total payout to $125 million. The deal is subject to court approval.

LendingClub Corp (LC) Shares Sink on Q4 Earnings Miss (InvestorPlace), Rated: A

Lending Club also underwhelmed in its revenue as the company raked in $156.5 million during its fourth quarter, below Wall Street’s consensus estimate of $157.6 million, according to FactSet. The figure did increase 20% compared to the year-ago quarter.

On an adjusted basis, the company posted earnings of a penny per share, compared to a loss of 2 cents in the year-ago quarter.

The company also experienced a 23% annual growth in originations, which reached over $2.4 billion.

LendingClub Q4 2017 Earnings Results Review (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

LendingClub delivered another record quarter of $156.5 million in revenue up slightly from their previous quarter. Originations were slightly down from the third quarter at $2.436 billion. They reported a GAAP net loss of $92.1 million in the fourth quarter which was affected by the class action litigation settlement expense.

Source: Lend Academy
Source: Lend Academy

LendingClub provided the below guidance for Q1 2018 and reaffirmed their guidance for 2018:

First Quarter 2018

  • Total Net Revenue in the range of $145 million to $155 million
  • Net Income (Loss) in the range of $(25) million to $(20) million
  • Adjusted EBITDA in the range of $5 million to $10 million
  • Reconciling Items between net loss and non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA consisting of stock-based compensation of approximately $19 million, and depreciation and amortization and other net adjustments of approximately $11 million

Full Year 2018

  • Total Net Revenue in the range of $680 million to $705 million
  • Net Income (Loss) in the range of $(53) million to $(38) million
  • Adjusted EBITDA in the range of $75 million to $90 million
  • Reconciling Items between net loss and non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA consisting of stock-based compensation of approximately $77 million, and depreciation and amortization and other net adjustments of approximately $51 million

Stocks making the biggest moves after hours (CNBC), Rated: B

LendingClub stock plunged 10 percent after the bell. The peer-to-peer lending company reported earnings and revenues that missed Wall Street estimates.

Groundfloor Launches Online Public Offering Amidst Increased Stock Market Volatility (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Groundfloor, the first issuer qualified by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to offer real estate based payment dependent notes that are available to non-accredited investors, today announced that it has raised a total of $4.3 million from 687 participating investors in a combination of two recent financings, a private online bridge note closed late last year and an initial closing of its online public offering of equity. In each case, the company kicked off the invitation-only raises to customers and friends of the company with a $1M target, surpassing that in under 48 hours. Due to increased growth opportunities and strong demand, the company has today expanded the equity raise to the public.

Groundfloor is offering a total of up to 530,000 shares of Common Stock at $10 per share in its online public offering. Investor benefits include: no investor fees for life2; access to regular shareholder-only loan offerings; and invitations to attend annual Groundfloor shareholder events.

Recently increased expectations that the Fed may raise interest rates in the future has investors rebalancing their portfolios, with a shift out of equity into debt, as bond yields are expected to increase. Twelve-month bond yields have recently inched up to 1.97 percent.

By comparison, Groundfloor investors have earned an average of 13.6 percent per year over the past three years, which represents over 6x the yield of a current one year Treasury note, and over 1,000 percent more than they would have made if their money had been in a CD or savings account over this period.1 Groundfloor’s retail investors create their own portfolios of real estate debt investments in the fix and flip residential housing market, and the loans on which the investments are based are secured by a first lien position against the underlying real asset.

Real Estate Equity Crowdfunding: A New Investment Opportunity for the Investors (EIN News), Rated: A

Talking in context of real estate, there are 3 ways to invest in a crowdfunded real-estate property:

• Equity crowdfunding
• Syndicated debt crowdfunding
• Platform-issued (‘pre-filled’) debt crowdfunding

Following are the pros and cons of going for equity crowdfunding in real estate:

Pros

• High yield potential
• Lower barrier to entry: Even if you have a very less amount of money, you can still invest even in large commercial real estate projects through equity crowdfunding and enjoy the benefits of the real estate i.e., strong returns and lower volatility.
• No self-employment taxes
• Higher returns

Cons

• The risks. An investor should know how to evaluate the risk factors like local economy volatility and chances of higher than expected construction costs. Due diligence is what is required.
• Liquidity constraint: These investments need to be held up for a period of five years or so, and hence one should go for this option if this much bandwidth is available, lack of liquidity is not there, and an investor is comfortable with the invested amount to be tied up for several years.
• It’s still an early option: It is still an early option to be considered as the performance track record and validation is still not complete and individual investors are still trying to figure it out.
• Lack of control: Since it is a passive investment, the investors are not involved in the day to day activities and therefore have limited ability and control over the operations required.

RealyInvest App Empowers Beginners to Invest in Commercial Real Estate (PR Newswire), Rated: A

In a rising tide of fintech apps, RealyInvest is emerging as a new way for beginning investors to access the high-priced world of premier commercial real estate right from their smartphones.

RealyInvestors can purchase fractional shares of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) for as little as $5. Investors can also own shares of commercial real estate NNN Assets, such as a building long-term leased to Starbucks, for as little as $20.

All investments, rental income and dividend earnings can be managed right on your smartphone. Fees range from $1 to $3 per month, depending on investment options.

Silicon Valley Explores a New Investment: Your Home (WSJ), Rated: AAA

A handful of companies, including those backed by marquee Silicon Valley names such as Andreessen Horowitz and Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic organization, are experimenting with a product that essentially lets them take an ownership position in a house along with the homeowner. The agreements, called shared-equity contracts, provide a new way for investors to get exposure to rising home prices across the U.S.

Shared-equity products are aimed at new buyers who need help with a down payment, or current homeowners looking for an alternative to a cash-out mortgage refinancing or a home-equity loan. The first use has caught the attention of mortgage-finance giant Freddie Mac ,which recently agreed to buy loans on properties where one firm,Unison Agreement Corp. , contributes to the down payment.

Landed Inc. offers these down-payment contracts to teachers and other educators. Last year, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , a philanthropy co-founded by Facebook Inc.’s chief executive, gave Landed $5 million to start a new fund.

The length of the contracts can vary from a few years to 30. Homeowners can repay early, including if they sell their house before the term ends. How much they end up owing depends on how the value of their home changes. Because the funds are equity, not a borrowing, they don’t require monthly payments.

Even Financial inks $ 3 mln (PE Hub Network), Rated: AAA

Even Financial, the technology platform powering financial services online, has secured a strategic investment round totaling $3 million. The round includes an investment from American Express Ventures, the strategic investment unit of American Express, as well as Plug & Play and Arab Angels.

With this investment, Even Financial will expand its team and advance its proprietary technology, which allows financial institutions and other partners to scale customer acquisition and remain competitive in the growing online financial services industry.

Fundrise Reports 2017 Performance. Total Return for the Year Stands at 11.44% (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

In brief, this is what Fundrise reported;

“In 2017, Fundrise investments earned an 11.44%* total return on investment, including over $16 million in dividends paid out to investors. Delivering attractive, consistent cash flow is a core part of our mission to offer you a better way to invest.”

Online SMB lending platform Yalber closes $ 20M senior credit facility (Bankless Times), Rated: A

SMB lending platform Yalber closed a $20 million senior credit facility this week, the company announced today.

Blinker Joins With Ally To Enhance The Auto Industry’s Only Peer-To-Peer E-Commerce Platform (PR Newswire), Rated: A

South by Southwest Interactive Innovation Award winner and 2018 LendIt Fintech Industry Award finalist Blinker, the only peer-to-peer e-commerce platform that provides an end-to-end solution for anyone buying, selling or financing cars, announced two major milestones for its business today:

  • Blinker is now available in the largest car markets in the US – Beginning today, Blinker is expanding its proprietary e-commerce and loan origination platform from Texas and Colorado to California and Florida, allowing millions of customers to buy, sell and finance vehicles easier, quicker and safer with other people. Thirty percent of vehicle sales across the US every year are between people, yet private-party marketplaces including Craigslist, Letgo, Autotrader, Cars.com and Facebook Marketplace don’t have services such as integrated financing or lien payoff support. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, Blinker customers get guidance and tools to complete the entire purchase process themselves, from instant vehicle valuation to real-time auto loan approval to e-signing documents to secure funds transfer, all for free within Blinker’s mobile app.
  • Blinker joins with Ally to offer best-in-class auto protection products – Blinker will now give customers the option to add Ally’s vehicle protection coverage, including Ally Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) and Ally Premier Protection vehicle service contracts, for their vehicle purchases in the app. GAP covers the difference between the cash value of a vehicle and what Blinker customers still owe on their loan if the vehicle is totaled or stolen. Ally vehicle service contracts cover the repair cost for over 7,400 mechanical, electrical, safety or digital components, as well as some related expenses like trip interruption, rental car coverage, towing and 24/7 roadside assistance.

Zelle users are finding out the hard way there’s no fraud protection (TechCrunch), Rated: A

Scammers have taken to Zelle, the Venmo alternative backed by U.S. banks, to defraud consumers who believe the service includes the same protections they’ve come to expect from PayPal. A number of customers report having lost hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, over Zelle, when they used it for transactions with people they didn’t know – like tickets bought off a Craigslist posting, for example.

Cyberattacks took $ 56B from U.S. economy in ’16 (American Banker), Rated: A

Malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016, the White House said Friday.

The estimate comes in a Council of Economic Advisers report on the impact of cyberattacks on U.S. government and industry. The report details the range of threats that U.S. entities face from actors including corporations and countries such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

The council’s estimate represents between 0.31% and 0.58% of the 2016 U.S. gross domestic product. For comparison, the report cites a Center for Strategic and International Studies report that estimated the cost of malicious cyber activities against U.S. entities at $107 billion in 2013, 0.64% of GDP that year.

BlockFi Raises 1.55M in Seed Funding (Finsmes), Rated: A

BlockFi, a New York-based fintech company whose first product is a loan for cryptoasset owners, raised $1.55m in seed funding.

Backers included ConsenSys Ventures, Kenetic Capital, PJC, SoFi, Purple Arch Ventures and Lumenary.

The 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies (Fast Company), Rated: A

03 Square

For extending the benefits of banking

19 Social Capital

For putting values into its ventures

26 Kakao Bank

For marrying social messaging with banking

31 Paytm

For pioneering the cashless economy

42 Stripe

For writing the new startup manual

47 CommonBond

For offering payback

‘Pinterest will get even bigger for us’ says fintech lender Elevate Credit (The Drum), Rated: A

Speaking to The Drum in the final instalment of a four-part video series with Falcon.io exploring social media strategies, she admitted that while it can be a challenge, using data to understand her audience’s wants and needs has helped her shape content which is likely to resonate.

Fox says she has been finding success on the unlikeliest of social media platforms – Pinterest.

“All our content is more lifestyle focused than finance focused,” she explained.

OpenClose Bolsters Software Integration and Support Teams (Send2Press), Rated: B

OpenClose, an industry-leading multi-channel loan origination system (LOS) and mortgage fintech provider, announced that it has added staff to its integration and customer support departments. The new hires will help enhance OpenClose’s existing software products, facilitate digital mortgage processes, produce fintech-level innovation and provide excellence in customer support. The company also recently added three senior software engineers to its development team.

3 Loans for Students You Should Avoid Like the Plague (Student Loan Hero), Rated: B

1. Payday loans

You usually have only a couple of weeks to repay the loan, and the typical APR is almost 400.00%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you can’t pay it back and have to take out a new payday loan to pay off the first, you could end up stuck in a vicious cycle of predatory debt.

What you should try instead: payday alternative loan (PAL).

2. Auto title loans

The reality is these short-term loans also have three-digit APRs, and you typically have between 15 and 30 days to repay the loan.

What you should try instead: A short-term campus loan.

$20 / $2,000 = 1%
1% x 365 days = 3.65
3.65 / 60 = 6.08% APR

3. Cash advances

This type of loan isn’t as costly as a payday loan or an auto title loan, but it’s not ideal for two reasons:

  1. Credit cards charge a fee, typically 5% of the advance amount. So, if you withdraw $500, you’ll have to pay $25 upfront.
  2. There’s no grace period with cash advances, so interest starts accruing immediately.

What you should try instead: A 0% APR promotion. Some credit cards offer a 0% APR promotion on new purchases for a period.

United Kingdom

Funding Circle to launch two new mobile apps this year (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

The business lender, which currently only has an iPhone app for investors to access, monitor and manage their accounts, is now advertising for a global mobile apps product manager and for an Android developer.

Both positions are based in the UK.

“We have an ambitious roadmap for this year and want to launch two new apps (Android and iOS) for our investors,” the job advert on the Funding Circle website said.

LendInvest Announces Launch of Buy-to-Let Online Calculator for Intermediaries (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

On Tuesday, LendInvest announced the launch of its new buy-to-let (BTL) online calculator for intermediaries.

 

P2P business lending up 51% (Bridging&Commercial), Rated: A

The value of P2P business lending grew by 51% during 2017, according to new research from the British Business Bank (BBB).

The report also found that the value of SME asset finance deals was up 12%.

Although net bank lending volumes remained positive (£700m in 2017), it was weaker than in both 2016 (£3bn) and 2015 (£2bn).

The BBB found that there had been a significant increase in both the value and number of SME equity deals, up 79% and 12% respectively.

Online lenders and banks may operate as ‘joint ventures’ (P2P Finance News), Rated: A

ONLINE lending platforms may partner with banks to fund and market credit products in the future, even sharing the approval process and compliance, in one scenario outlined by global banking regulators.

A number of peer-to-peer lenders have already partnered with banks on a smaller scale. For example, Metro Bank has lent through Zopa’s platform and Santander has referred borrowers to Funding Circle. However, these tie-ups have not gone as far as the report’s scenario suggests in terms of becoming a joint venture.

Crowdfund sites ‘are not explaining the dangers’ (The Times), Rated: A

Square Pie, which started life as a stall in London’s Old Spitalfields Market, expanded with the help of a “pie bond” that promised 8% annual interest over four years. The bond was offered through one of Britain’s biggest crowdfunding platforms, Crowdcube.

A total of 324 investors signed up, lending more than £650,000 to fund Square Pie restaurants and its efforts to improve supermarket sales. Square Pie has gone into administration — the first failure of a business that issued a mini bond on a crowdfunding site.…

Crypto lending platform nears launch (AltFi), Rated: A

Lendingblock is one such business. The soon-to-launch platform is, in its founder Steve Swain’s words, “an open exchange for cryptocurrency loans”.

Lendingblock is in the middle of a three-stage Initial Coin Offering that will conclude in March. The first phase has already been completed, raising the equivalent of $500,000. The offering has a hard cap of $10m.

Number of farming building conversions falls 20 percent in a year (FarmingUK), Rated: B

The number of conversions of farm buildings into new homes dropped 20% in the last year, denting hopes that these conversions could help solve the rural housing crisis.

According to Lendy, one of Europe’s largest peer-to-peer lending platforms, only 1,511 agricultural-to-residential conversion applications were approved in 2016/17.

China

The New Year to Bring a New Flood of IPOs (CapitalWatch), Rated: A

Golden Bull Ltd., an online peer-to-peer lending platform in China, plans to offer up to $9 million in shares on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “DNJR.” The Shanghai-based company, which was founded in 2015, provides borrowers access to short-term loans.
European Union

Finnest Expands Online Financing to Larger Corporations, Adds Institutional Investors (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Finnest is an interesting online lender operating in the DACH countries. The peer to peer platform was launched to provide SME funding supported by individual investors but the company is now expanding by providing loans of €10 million and higher. Institutional investors such as insurance companies, funds, family offices and banks will now be able to invest in large SMEs on “FinnestPro.”

Why it’s OK that the majority of consumers don’t know about Open Banking – for now (AltFi), Rated: A

The new EU legislation on payment services – PSD2 – and the introduction of Open Banking in the UK seem to have passed the vast majority of people in the country by, according to an AltFi News article last month.

This referred to a report by Which saying that 92 per cent of consumers hadn’t even heard of Open Banking.

International

How Millennials are Moving Emerging Markets (Morningstar), Rated: AAA

Millennials in advanced economies have come under pressure in recent years, thanks to stagnating wages, rising house prices and escalating student debt. But an altogether different trend is taking place in many emerging markets where millennials are seeing their prospects rapidly improve. This in turn is creating an investment opportunity, as millennials in these countries are becoming hugely influential on the prospects for emerging market equities.

Millennials will account for half of the global workforce by 2020, meaning they will be one of the most influential groups in shaping the economy and society, including consumption habits, policy and how companies may want to market and brand themselves. They are disrupting traditional industries and companies are having to adapt. This presents investment opportunities, but it also presents new investment risks.

Latest ICO Updates on VLR Token – Valorem Foundation ICO is LIVE! (TechBullion), Rated: A

Based on ERC-20, the multilayered cryptocurrency platform will host a marketplace that allows developmental phases. The first phase focuses on micro loans (small loans), rent payments, student loans and peer-to-peer payment processing.

As trust grows on the platform, phase 2 will be implemented to cater to sales distribution, global small business investing and global commercial and residential real estate crowdfunding while the third stage will serve charity and insurance. The final phase will be dedicated to maintenance and future developments that may include additional currency adoption, feature adding etc.

Valorem (VLR) is the token offered. The exchange rate stands at 1 ETH= 1000 VLR. There is a total supply of 200 million tokens of which 150 million are available during the ICO and 50 million will be kept in reserve. Valorem will not be mined.

Wealth managers must go digital (Raconteur), Rated: B

People born between roughly 1982 and 2002 are set to receive the biggest inheritance boom of any post-war generation. The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) estimated the figure will be around $4 trillion in the UK, Canada and United States.

An Interview with Kirill Suslov – The CEO at Finom and TabTrader Founder (NewsBTC), Rated: B

NewsBTC: Now it seems that you have no experience with banking services yet. How do you plan to cover this area?

Now I can say we understand confidently how banking works and how it should work in the crypto industry. By 2020, we’re going to have a licensed bank and transform it into a crypto one with a network of crypto terminals.

A bit sooner, in 2018, we plan to release crypto e-wallets with linked debit cards. Miners will be able to use recently mined coins right away, transferring them to their wallets immediately. We’re also designing a platform for peer-to-peer lending.

Australia

Peer To Peer Lending Increasingly Popular In Australia (compare dinkum), Rated: AAA

Australian investors and borrowers are increasingly adopting peer to peer lending platforms according to the results of survey undertaken by ASIC. The results of the survey suggest that as much as $300 million of personal and business loans were underwritten by peer to peer lenders over the course of the last fiscal year. That represents a doubling in the amount that was lent on such platforms during the 2015/2016 financial year.

Why Australia needs a better system for credit scores (The Converstion), Rated: AAA

Australia’s credit rating system is failing both borrowers and lenders. Many borrowers are unaware of their own credit scores and our research shows they have trouble applying for suitable loans. Lenders are also struggling with too little information, causing them to extend loans to those they shouldn’t and restrict loans to worthy borrowers.

Upcoming changes to Australia’s credit reporting system could remedy these issues.

Under the new credit reporting regime, both lenders and borrowers will have access to more data, such as monthly payment histories on loans and credit cards.

More innovation ahead in mortgage lending

For higher-risk borrowers, novel techniques to assess credit risk (such as analysis of social media accounts) may be the answer to distinguish good borrowers from bad.

But prior experience from an over-reliance on credit scores in the United States shows that careful assessment of borrowers remains vital.

India

Refer to these fintech startups for range of medical loans (Business Standard), Rated: A

Among all the personal the medical loan is the most crucial one which is often required on an urgent basis by the applicants.

Recently a host of Financial technology(Fintech) and Non-financing related start-ups have been launched in providing a variety of medical to the clients.

Canada

They couldn’t get loans from their banks so turned to a legitimate-looking lender online (The Star), Rated: AAA

Unable to qualify for a loan from her bank, Johnston searched online for private lenders and found a website for what appeared to be a legitimate company calling itself North Clear Credit.

Everything about it — the variety of loans offered, the glowing testimonials, the company description — seemed professional. In fact, a customer who later reported North Clear Credit to police says an officer told her the website looked legitimate.

For Johnston and Mood, the terms were appealing. The money could be paid back monthly over five years at an interest rate substantially lower than what they would be charged elsewhere.

Johnston completed an online application and was approved for a $20,000 loan.

Within a few days, Johnston and Mood had lost $3,500, and two North Clear Credit “representatives” with whom Johnston had been corresponding had disappeared.

Blackchain Announces Private Placement (Stockhouse), Rated: A

Blackchain Solutions Inc. (the “Company” or “Blackchain”) (CSE: BIS), announces a private placement of up to 3,400,000 units at a price of $0.18 per unit, for gross proceeds of $612,000.  Each unit consists of one common share and one share purchase warrant.  Each warrant is exercisable at a price of $0.22 per share for a term of two years.

Proceeds generated from this financing will be used to initiate and support the filing of multiple patents and trademarks related to the Blackchain Crypto Credit Rating API and P2P Lending Platform.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor