Wednesday July 25 2018, Daily News Digest

Lending Club IPO

News Comments Today’s main news: Square, eBay partner on businesss loans. BNP Paribas launches UK fund for SME lending. Crowdstacker seeking 800K GBP on Seedrs. PPDAI to boost tech investment. Alipay, WeBank competition heats up. Today’s main analysis: The good news and bad news about Lending Club. Today’s thought-provoking articles: Americans are splurging on personal loans. How irresponsible mortgage lenders […]

Lending Club IPO

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News Summary

United States

eBay & Square Partner on Business Loans (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: AAA

eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY)  and Square Capital (NYSE:SQ) have signed an agreement to provide up to $100,000 in credit to sellers – in as little as one day. The partnership is not only a streamlined offering of financing for small businesses that use eBay but also a whack at traditional banks which are mostly unable to match such a speedy lending agreement.

Scott Cutler, Senior Vice President, Americas at eBay, says that eBay is committed to helping their sellers and providing credit in partnership with Square simply makes sense.

For example, if you have $30,000 CC debt and good credit you can get a 3-year payoff at about 6% and a 5 year at about 7%. That is a big improvement over a typical rate of 17.5% on purchases and an amazing 23.5% on cash advances. So you take out the $30,000 loan, pay off your credit cards and save thousands in interest while you are at it. In addition, your CC is now zero and you can start using it again.

Source: Seeking Alpha

They came to market via an IPO late in 2014 and were an immediate hit rising over 50% their first day. They were immediately valued at over $9 billion. Today they are at less than $2 billion, a drop of almost 80%.

And finally here is LC’s chart since the IPO. Talk about ugly.

Source: Seeking Alpha

Americans are splurging on personal loans thanks to fintech startups (Quartz) Rated: AAA

The stock of personal loans outstanding has grown to about $120 billion as of March, according to TransUnion data. That compares with $71.9 billion a decade ago—worth around $90 billion adjusted for inflation—when the subprime mortgage crisis crescendoed. About 17 million Americans have this type of debt which, unlike mortgages and automobile loans, isn’t collateralized by an asset.

Source: Quartz

Upstart financial technology companies like Lending Club, Prosper, and Avant account for about a third of this lending, up from less than 1% in 2010.

Source: Quartz

How Irresponsible Mortgage Lenders Created A Second Housing Bubble (Seeking Alpha) Rated: AAA

Rents Are Falling, But Prices Are Surging

I believe the culprit is a new crop of lenders who are outside of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulations on FICO scores and DTI. For example, San Francisco lender Social Finance (SoFi) is offering up to 3 million dollar loans with 10 percent down and “flexible DTI.

Source: Seeking Alpha
Source: Seeking Alpha

Firms like SoFi are the engine driving the madness in the California housing market. Here’s what Michael Tannenbaum, former Vice President of SoFi, had to say about their loans in 2016, “Sixty-five percent of the business we do is first-time home buyers; it’s a big deal we’re opening up to the jumbo first-time market.” A year later, he was gone. Other gems from the San Francisco Chronicle article – SoFi’s average loan at the time was $800,000 and two-thirds were in California. I shudder to think what their average loan size and DTI is now. Also, in addition to not being big fans of debt to income ratios, SoFi isn’t big on using other traditional measures like FICO scores to evaluate borrowers. In 2016, they declared their company a “FICO Free Zone” in a press release. Said a former business development associate, “The volume of applications coming in was crazy.” Other sources reported on the wild sex culture at the firm. As for their underwriting practices? As long as housing prices went up, they were more or less irrelevant. But, if prices go down, SoFi and their backers stand to lose a lot of money.

A Conversation with Figure’s Mike Cagney (Financial Revolutionist) Rated: A

Mike Cagney’s return to fintech’s center stage had been foreshadowed by a handful of reports suggesting that his new company would be focused on the origination of real estate-related assets and that, somehow, blockchain would figure into the mix. But Cagney, who played a foundational role in building SoFi into one of fintech’s biggest success stories before his departure, isn’t the type of entrepreneur who thinks small and nichey. With his new company, Figure, and the blockchain protocol it has built, Provenance, Cagney and his team of 80 professionals are taking aim at the gigantic world of institutional capital markets transactions. Why? Because that’s one place where the vig (i.e., rent-seeking) still sloshes around in copious amounts. But unlike SoFi, which is taking aim at banks, Cagney is now fixing his gaze on the administrators, trustees, custodians and other intermediaries who take a cut out of each securitization and other types of deals. On the eve of the first transaction to be put on Provenance (a HELOC), The FR’s Gregg Schoenberg sat down with Cagney to learn more about his plans and how blockchain is central to his mission.

Could Fintech & Blockchain Lending Further Drive The Housing Market Boom? (Forbes) Rated: A

Those who do not have the scores to secure loans from traditional lenders now have alternatives particularly in the form of P2P lenders. These platforms pool together money from interested investors and loan them out to borrowers.

They also have a much quicker turnaround compared to what customers might experience with banks and other large lenders. While these services started out only to fund smaller personal loans, some like LendingClub have grown and expanded to allow larger-value loans like mortgages to be made on the platform.

Blockchain-based lenders have built upon this crowdfunding concept and enhanced it with blockchain’s capabilities with smart contracts and tokenization. While initial efforts as espoused by the likes of 

Employer-focused PFM company gets $ 40 million (Business Insider) Rated: A

US-based personal finance management (PFM) company Even has raised a $40 million Series B funding round led by Keith Rabois of Khoshla Ventures, and including Valar Ventures, Allen & Company, Harrison Metal, Ron Conway, and Silicon Valley Bank.

Source: Business Insider

Even integrates with attendance, payroll, and banking systems to help consumers improve their financial health. Its features include Instapay, which enables users to request the money they have earned before their actual payday, and it uses AI to give users an “okay to spend” amount, so they don’t get surprised by sudden expenses. Additionally, it offers an automatic savings feature, similar to other PFM companies including Acorns and Cleo.

Fintech Startup LoanSnap Raises $ 8m in Series A Financing (Finsmes) Rated: A

LoanSnap, a San Francisco, CA-based developer of technology that protects people against dumb loans, raised $8m in Series A financing.

The round was led by True Ventures with participation from Baseline Ventures, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, Core Innovation Partners, Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures, OVO Fund, Transmedia Ventures, and angel investors.

BlockFi Raises $ 52.5M for Cryptoasset-backed Loans (Business Wire) Rated: AAA

BlockFi, the leading cryptoasset to USD lender, announced today it has raised $52.5M to expand operations. Galaxy Digital Ventures LLC, a digital currency and blockchain technology investment firm founded by Mike Novogratz led the deal. This marks the industry’s first institutional investment in cryptoasset backed loans. BlockFi’s existing investors, which include ConsenSys Ventures and PJC, also participated in the funding round.

  • BlockFi planning rapid expansion of cryptoasset-to-USD lending platform
  • BlockFi partners with Galaxy Digital Lending LLC on loan purchasing facility and receives equity investment from Galaxy Digital Ventures LLC
  • Marks first institutional investment in cryptoasset backed loans

Credit Card Payoff App Tally Raises $ 25 Million (Cheddar) Rated: A

Tally, an automated debt-managing app, has raised $25 million in Series B funding with the goal of expanding its reach and finding new ways to alleviate consumers’ financial anxiety, Cheddar has learned.

Southern States Multifamily Portfolio Sells, Exceeding Targeted Returns for ArborCrowd Investors (The Daily Times) Rated: A

ArborCrowd (the “Company”) today announced its Southern States Multifamily Portfolio (SSMP) investment has been realized ahead of schedule, outpacing targeted return estimates. One of the properties in the portfolio is located in Mississippi and sold in late 2017. The two remaining properties, located in Alabama, recently sold. The aggregate portfolio sales price was $25.85 million, generating an internal rate of return (IRR) of over 29% for ArborCrowd investors.

The transaction marks the first of ArborCrowd’s six deals to complete its investment cycle, and its success is a great sign of the long-term viability of the Company’s growing platform. The SSMP investment opportunity was quickly oversubscribed when ArborCrowd presented the deal on its platform in February 2017, raising over $2.1 million in just 5 days. The over 29% IRR generated by the sale of the portfolio far exceeded the targeted 17% to 20% IRR projected by ArborCrowd at the time of the offering.

Lendio Reports Q2 Results: 90% Year-Over-Year Revenue Growth (Lendio) Rated: A

Lendio, the nation’s leading marketplace for small business loans, today announced record growth across all areas of its business, including 90 percent year-over-year quarterly revenue growth. To date, Lendio has helped facilitate more than $900 million in financing to over 45,000 small businesses across the U.S. and Canada through its marketplace of more than 75 small business lenders. The growth milestone comes after an 80 percent increase in loans funded through the Lendio platform in the last year.

From July 2017 to June 2018, Lendio facilitated nearly $400 million in loans to more than 22,000 small businesses. The average initial loan size among Lendio’s small business customers grew to nearly $35,000. The top five industries funded through Lendio’s marketplace include construction, retail, restaurants, health care and information media.

GM Maven CEO: Peer-To-Peer Auto Lending Will Be A Large Market (Bloomberg) Rated: A

Julia Steyn, Maven CEO, on their new peer-to-peer lending program for GM car owners, and the progress Maven is making in the shared economy.


Whitepages Pro Unveils Pro Insight, a Global Identity Review Solution Powered by Machine Learning (Global Newswire) Rated: A

Whitepages Pro, a global leader in digital identity verification, today announced Whitepages Pro Insight, a new and improved manual review solution designed to help businesses assess the identity risk of their customers, approve good transactions, and investigate fraud on a global scale. As the only global identity review solution that provides six ways to search, it enables users to balance accuracy and efficiency through direct workflow integrations, machine learning-informed insight, and robust analytics.

Within Pro Insight, users are first presented with Identity Review, a comprehensive interface that verifies and cross-checks both digital and traditional identity attributes (name, email, phone, primary and secondary addresses, and IP) to verify the identity behind a transaction. The solution analyzes and presents the relationships between the five core identity attributes in several intuitive ways:

  • Confidence Score – An overall measure of the risk associated with a transaction that cross-references the five core identity attributes. The Confidence Score is powered by machine learning insights from billions of transactional patterns across the Whitepages Pro Identity Network and the 70+ data signals of the Identity Check API.
  • Positive and negative signals – A concise list of primary factors that influence a given Confidence Score.
  • Results columns – A detailed list of matches, mismatches, and invalid inputs based on the links between a transaction’s identity elements. Users can click on specific attributes to further investigate associated people, historical data, and more.
  • Distance Map – A visual representation of geographical distances between phone, primary address, secondary address, and IP address.

Center For The New Middle Class: Non-Prime Consumers Spending More Responsibly On Vacation (Payment Week) Rated: A

Non-prime consumers are significantly less likely to be taking to the road for vacation this summer, opting for staycations instead, and spending far less on vacations if they take one, a new study released today from Elevate’s 

Source: The Center for the New Middle Class

Key findings from the CNMC survey conducted in June include:

  • The non-prime are 29% less likely to take a vacation
  • The non-prime are 22% more likely to “staycation”
  • If they do take a vacation, the non-prime spend half as much
  • The non-prime are 2x as likely to have turned down a vacation due to financial constraints
  • The non-prime are 61% more likely to borrow money for a vacation
  • Non-prime spend 18% less per child on summer entertainment
  • Those with children were more likely to take vacations and borrow money to cover costs

The research also indicated that across both credit segments, summer community resource utilization (i.e. pools, parks, libraries, etc.) was relatively high, with more than 85% in both segments using these facilities. Summer entertainment expenses per child were also very similar between the prime and non-prime groups.

Read the full report here.

United Kingdom

P2P Lender Crowdstacker Now Seeking £800,000 Through Seedrs Funding Round (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: AAA

Crowdstacker, a UK-based peer-to-peer lending platform, is now seeking £800,000through its equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs. Founded in 2014, Crowdstacker describes itself as an award-winning FCA regulated online alternative investment platform that provides ISA eligible P2P loans, bonds, and loan notes.

BNP Paribas launches UK fund for SME lending (FinTech Futures) Rated: AAA

BNP Paribas Asset Management will launch BNP Paribas UK SME Debt Fund 1, offering clients access to the UK SME lending market.

The asset management arm of the bank’s new fund will invest in senior loans to SMEs with an annual turnover of less than £50 million through its BNPP AM’s SME Alternative Financing platform.

The platform uses proprietary big data technology, which pairs with the bank’s balance sheet and infrastructure.

Podcast 159: Christoph Rieche of iwoca (Lend Academy) Rated: A

Christoph Rieche is the CEO and Co-Founder of iwoca, a small business lender based in London with operations also in Germany and Poland. The name iwoca stands for instant working capital so they have leveraged technology in order to provide capital to small businesses quickly and efficiently.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Why Christoph decided to start iwoca.
  • The segment of the small business market they focus on.
  • What is behind the continued decline in overall small business loan volumes.
  • The loan product offered by iwoca.
  • The typical size of their credit lines.
  • The kinds of businesses applying for credit at iwoca.
  • How their underwriting works and level of automation they use.

Navigating through the P2P property maze (Peer2Peer Finance) Rated: A

Landbay investors can expect returns of around 3.54 per cent on its fixed-rate product, or 3.18 per cent with its tracker-rate option, by investing in loans secured by UK property.

The Peer-to-Peer Finance Association member launched its IFISA in February last year, meaning that Landbay customers can also benefit from tax-free earnings on their investments.

LandlordInvest’s investors have earned average annual returns of 11.3 per cent to date, secured by residential or commercial property, with the option of an IFISA wrapper

London Proptech Firm Goodlord Forms New Open Banking Partnership With TrueLayer (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: B

Goodlord, a UK-based proptech platform, has formed a new open banking partnership with TrueLayer. Founded in 2014, Goodlord reports that its cloud-based platform is trusted by hundreds of agencies across the UK. The company has created a one-stop-shop by providing access to a dynamic suite of specialized services, including insurance, e-signing, referencing, and e-payments.

Starling Bank takes on Monzo with daring debit card design (FinTech Futures) Rated: B

UK digital challenger Starling Bank is upping its design game with the launch of a new teal-coloured vertical debit card as it plays catch up with Monzo.

The new card has all customer details, including name, card number and expiry date, on the back – and it’s rolling them out this week.

The card is inspired by the blue-green tones of the plumage of the starling bird. It is also one of the initial group of 16 original “web colours” formulated in 1987 to display web pages, reflecting Starling’s digital heritage.

China

PPDai to boost technology investment (Shine) Rated: AAA

PPDai, China’s first online peer-to-peer lending platform listed in the US, said today it would increase its registered capital to 1 billion yuan (US$149 million) and expand its artificial intelligence applications to hedge risks and improve investor confidence amid concerns over P2P lending.

The Shanghai-based company, which has about 71 million users ,employs AI, Big Data and blockchain to fight against risk and fraud.

Alipay and WeBank competition heats up as China reins in leverage (Financial Times) Rated: AAA

Alipay and WeBank are set up perfectly to take advantage of new priorities from Chinese policymakers to increase the flow of capital to small companies and households, their approach is different as WeBank looks to use bank partnerships to make capital connections.

Alipay uses scale, data and technology capabilities to compete with banks for deposits and funds its borrowing through the ABS market.

Alipay and WeBank plan to list their finance arms soon which will continue to put pressure on the rivalry as well as the broader financial market in China.

Zennon Kapron on what’s next for Chinese fintech (China Economic Review) Rated: A

Analysing these questions is all part of the day job for Zennon Kapron, the head of fintech research and consulting firm Kapronasia. In this interview with China Economic Review, Kapron gives his take on some of the market’s recent developments, and explains why China’s fintech industry is such an exciting space to watch.

CER: How worried should we be about the recent panic surrounding China’s small P2P lending platforms?

ZK: The fact that P2P lending platforms are failing is not surprising. Many of these platforms had inadequate internal operational processes, poor lending practices, and in some cases, were just complete scams. What will be interesting to see is if retail investors will still want to put new money on these platforms. I get the impression at the moment that many investors are just trying to get their money out. Even if the P2P industry manages to right itself, it may find that all the investors are gone.

China’s P2P Online Lending Dominoes Continue to Fall (Ciaxin) Rated: A

Another domino in China’s peer-to-peer lending industry fell.

Beijing-based iqianbang.com was the latest online P2P lending platform to close down. The company announced a “benign exit” last Friday night, citing “deteriorating online lending environment and drying up liquidity.”

Investors in several P2P platforms, including iqianbang.com, gathered Monday at a local Beijing police station to report the loss of money to police.

Chinese P2P Lender’s Controller Disappears After Sponsoring Portugal (Yicai Global) Rated: A

Zheng Yansen, the controller of peer-to-peer lender Guangzhou Leader Internet Financial Information Service has disappeared, the firm announced yesterday.

It also acknowledged that ‘some of its projects are delayed’ and said it will set up a work group as soon as possible to inventory its assets and businesses, request borrowers to repay loans earlier than scheduled, and liquidate collateral as quickly as possible.

European Union

FinLeap Partners With Fabrick to Launch Financial Management Startup for Small Businesses (Crowdfund Insider) Rated: AAA

FinLeap, the fintech start-up platform behind Germany’s SolarisBank, announced on Monday it has teamed up with Italian open banking platform Fabrick to launch a new financial management startup specifically for small businesses. According to FinLeap, the startup, called Beesy, will simplify accounting, tax and banking services for micro-enterprises and freelancers.

As soon as Beesy is launched, FinLeap added it will provide more details about the services and how they work.

Rabobank’s novel approach to protecting customer data (American Banker) Rated: A

Take Dutch-based Rabobank, for example, which now converts customer data to the Latin names of flowers and animals in order to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation that sensitive client information be disguised.

At the heart of all these regulations is the mandate that companies must make sure no one can access customer data who shouldn’t, and that every effort is made to protect that data from breaches. Storing customer data in the clear — not encrypted, anonymized, or pseudonymized — is not acceptable, to regulators or anyone else.

Source: American Banker
International

MoneyGram And Visa Team To Deliver Real-Time Global P2P (PYMNTS) Rated: A

MoneyGram and Visa announced today (July 24) that they have partnered to deliver real-time digital disbursements to MoneyGram customers using Visa’s push payments platform, Visa Direct.

Launching in October in two key markets, Mexico and the Philippines, MoneyGram will expand its options in which receivers from those markets may receive and use funds instantly  via their bank-issued Visa-branded debit card or Visa-branded prepaid card  and senders may choose the option by which to send those funds. The partnership leverages the trust that consumers globally have in the MoneyGram and Visa brands, as well as the ability for receivers to access funds 24/7/365 without having to visit an agent location to pick up cash.

Australia

Property Connect enters technology agreement with Clearmatch to market new lending products (Small Caps) Rated: A

Realty services group Property Connect Holdings (ASX: PCH) has entered into a minimum five-year licence agreement to use a technology platform powered by marketplace treasury company Clearmatch, in the development and marketing of its own lending products designed to ease property market transactions.

The binding heads of agreement allows Property Connect to use the SocietyOne platform owned by Clearmatch to develop products focused on the emerging project development finance and residential mortgage sectors within the private peer-to-peer lending market.

India

P2P lending platform Monexo partners with Cube Wealth for new-clientele (Business Standard) Rated: B

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lender, has partnered with to provide clients with an alternative avenue for investments. The app-based firm’s user-base of 350,000 customers will have an option of placing a portion of their investments onto Monexo’s platform.

The market space is only three years old and until last October operated without any regulatory oversight. While there are 3,000 lenders in China with a total lending book of $500 million, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is said to have approved licenses to around eight firms.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

How Identity Verification Maturity Impacts Loan Approval Speed

How Identity Verification Maturity Impacts Loan Approval Speed

There were an estimated 1 million cyber attacks targeting online lending transactions in 2016, with total losses projected to be above $10 billion. This fear has some online lenders setting policies for new account creation that are too strict. For instance, Kabbage CEO Rob Frohwein recently shared that his company was rejecting as many as […]

How Identity Verification Maturity Impacts Loan Approval Speed

There were an estimated 1 million cyber attacks targeting online lending transactions in 2016, with total losses projected to be above $10 billion. This fear has some online lenders setting policies for new account creation that are too strict. For instance, Kabbage CEO Rob Frohwein recently shared that his company was rejecting as many as 3% of its daily online loan applicants but noted that that some legitimate borrowers were likely included in the lot. Kabbage is not alone in establishing fraud policies that are too conservative; it’s become the norm for many lenders. Fundamentally, they don’t have the confidence – even after doing identity data checks – that a borrower is who they say they are. But it’s possible to be smarter about fraud without alienating potential applicants – and sacrificing the lifetime value of a good relationship.

Sophisticated online lenders are adopting more advanced fraud prevention measures that keep fraud in check without being overly conservative, and declining good borrowers. Specifically, they are refining their identity verification strategies with more mature solutions that utilize quality data, sophisticated data science, secure pipelines capable of ingesting these quality data sets and machine learning models. These evolved practices help them expedite applicant onboarding and approvals while safeguarding against fraud.

When talking about identity verification maturity with customers, I find that it’s helpful to discuss it using a progressive 4-stage scale. As companies advance up the scale, the faster they are able to move applicants through the pipeline, with confidence they are minimizing fraud. Each stage builds on the previous one, allowing organizations to ensure higher accuracy as they move forward.

The stages are broken down like this:

  • Stage #1: Not identity proofing yet. Most if not all online lenders have progressed past this stage and take at least some steps to verify the authenticity of applicants. However, in smaller transaction markets, or niche spaces, it’s common for organizations that have yet to be hit by fraud to do no identity proofing.
  • Stage #2: Verifying a single identity attribute. The first step that online lenders take to protect themselves is often rather minimal, they focus on a single factor to authenticate new borrowers. Common data points to check include the age of email (to verify its been in use for a long period of time), just an address or phone number.
  • Stage #3: Multiple identity attribute verification. Online lenders that verify multiple attributes are not only able to authenticate applicants more confidently, but also more readily identify good borrowers.
    Stage #4: Holistic identity verification. This stage involves verifying multiple identity attributes aren’t just accurate but all link back to the applicant applying for the loan. In a single search it’s possible to verify a name matches a home address, matches a phone number, matches an email and so on. When searching for linkages between the person and the address, email, phone and related people, it is a significant signal of risk if these cannot be established.

The use cases for identity linkages are broad. Take, for example, synthetic identity theft. In this scenario, a criminal combines real (often stolen) and fake information to create a new identity, which is used to open fraudulent accounts and conduct fraudulent financial transactions. Because “real” details can be verified alone, it is imperative to verify all of an applicant’s attributes connect together.

Stage 4 also unlocks a powerful new set of opportunities to leverage machine learning, sophisticated data analysis and data science that aren’t possible with simpler methods of identity verification. When a whole identity is considered, a world of networks, history and patterns can begin to be tapped for increased speed and accuracy.

Identity networks are extremely valuable to online lenders because they can see signals across millions of transactions and multiple applicants for a real time understanding of identity element velocities, transactional frequencies, and linkage histories. Machine learning and sophisticated data science can be applied to analyze these transactions to learn and adapt to patterns across different industries.

For the fastest identity verification, some identity data services are distilling the result of their sophisticated verification processes into a single number or a score for easy, real-time rule building or integration into a risk model.

Find More Borrowers Faster with Holistic Identity Verification

In an age where borrowers have so many lenders to choose from, lenders need to have a seamless onboarding process or risk losing borrowers to the competition. Key to this ability is having confidence in an applicant’s identity. One of the simplest and fastest ways to do so is holistic identity verification.

When every applicant has the potential to become a return borrower, it’s worth taking a step back and to make sure you are not too risk averse. Having a mature identity verification practice enables lenders to provide faster and more loan approvals for legitimate applicants, reduce fraud and lower good borrower rejection so they can compete and thrive.

Author:

Tom Donlea leads the global marketing efforts of Whitepages Pro, the worldwide identity verification data provider for risk management in banking and online lending. With over ten years of online payments and risk experience, he previously was the founding executive director of the Merchant Risk Council.

How to Avoid the Downstream Effects of Data Breaches

How to Avoid the Downstream Effects of Data Breaches

It seems like there’s a news story almost daily about data breaches involving retailers, credit bureaus, or government entities. While many of the stories focus on the immediate consequences for consumers, the downstream effects of these data breaches can wreak havoc on online lenders and their customers. The trouble for lenders often starts when fraud […]

How to Avoid the Downstream Effects of Data Breaches

It seems like there’s a news story almost daily about data breaches involving retailers, credit bureaus, or government entities. While many of the stories focus on the immediate consequences for consumers, the downstream effects of these data breaches can wreak havoc on online lenders and their customers.

The trouble for lenders often starts when fraud teams respond too aggressively to a major data breach. By setting overly conservative identity verification screening rules, for example, lenders can end up rejecting good customers, resulting not just in the loss of immediate business but also the potential for long-term customer revenue. Once they are denied a loan that they probably should have been approved for, customers are unlikely to return and certainly won’t be likely to recommend the lender to others.

While it’s a difficult balance to strike, there are proven methods for lenders to confidently verify a customer’s identity in the era of constant data breaches. Here are three rules of thumb:

#1. Assume every identity has been compromised

In the first half of 2017, the number of data breaches climbed 29 percent. From the Republican National Committee contractor whose breach exposed voting data on nearly 200 million Americans to Verizon’s breach that affected more than 14 million customers, data hacks are increasing in frequency and severity across all industries.

The recent breach of credit reporting giant Equifax is another example. Reported by the Wall Street Journal as the largest social security data breach in history, approximately 143 million U.S. consumers’ confidential data, including social security numbers, names, birth dates, and addresses were compromised. What’s more, the breach exposed the credit card numbers of 200,000 consumers as well as “dispute documents” with personal information of another 180,000.

Because personal data of every kind is readily available to fraudsters, online lenders face significant identity verification challenges. They need smarter systems to allow borrowers to use their own (likely compromised) data while being able to recognize when criminals are using the same data illegally.

#2. Go beyond Social Security Numbers

For many online lenders, the social security number has long been regarded as a key indicator of identity. But if it wasn’t made abundantly clear by the Equifax data breach, social security numbers (SSNs) can no longer be a trusted piece of identity data. In fact, SSNs were never meant to serve this purpose in the first place. They were created solely as a way to keep track of an individual’s earnings for social security and benefits purposes.

So, what do you do if SSNs are a key customer identifier for your business? Start incorporating modern identifiers into your verification process. Those include home address, email, phone, and IP address. Better yet, verify all of these elements and link them back to the customer.

#3. Confirm Whole Identities by Linking Identity Data Attributes Together

While it’s easy to use and piece together stolen identity data, it is impossible to fabricate the linkages that effectively mimic a real person. Legitimate borrowers can be confirmed by verifying many identity data elements and ensuring they all connect to the individual behind the transaction, clearly distinguishing them from bad actors whose data elements won’t correlate properly.

Linkage analysis can include connecting name, address, phone, IP, and other non-personally identifiable information (non-PII) data.

Some positive signals include things like:

  • an email address age of more than 720 days
  • an IP address within 10 miles of the physical address
  • a match between phone and address
  • a match between email and name
  • a match between phone and name
  • a match between address and name

And common risk signals include:

  • a mismatch between linked email, phone, or address details
  • an email address less than 90 days old
  • a non-fixed VoIP or toll free phone number
  • a phone country code and physical address mismatch
  • invalid phone, email, or address info
  • a proxy IP address

Eva Casey Velasquez, President and CEO of the ID Theft Resource Center, which provides non-profit resources and support to victims of identity fraud, has recommended businesses take action with multi-factor authentication processes. “We are encouraging businesses to be fearless in their security,” she said. “At the end of the day, it is your customer base that you are helping.”

The rate of data breaches continues to pick up speed with no end in sight. Lenders that fortify their fraud management strategies with a multi-layer approach will be able to avoid reactive decision-making in the aftermath of a data breach.

Just because the personal data of your borrowers is available on the dark web doesn’t mean that verifying their identity is hard or impossible. It just means that basic identity data attribute verification won’t work and whole identity verification will be required. Your teams will appreciate their newfound ability to excel through the wake of the next data breach and your growing base of happy customers will be more apt to refer your business to a friend.

Authors:

Tom Donlea leads the global marketing efforts of Whitepages Pro, the worldwide identity verification data provider for risk management in banking and online lending. With over ten years of online payments and risk experience, he previously was the founding executive director of the Merchant Risk Council.

In a Real-Time Lending Marketplace, Identity Data Enables Faster and Less Risky Transactions

In a Real-Time Lending Marketplace, Identity Data Enables Faster and Less Risky Transactions

When it comes to satisfying the consumer need for instant gratification, the internet has disrupted a number of industries. Take, for instance, online lending. RocketLoans, a subsidiary of Rocket Holdings (the parent of Quicken Loans), offers loan approvals in as little as 10 minutes with funding in under 24 hours. That might sound remarkable, but […]

In a Real-Time Lending Marketplace, Identity Data Enables Faster and Less Risky Transactions

When it comes to satisfying the consumer need for instant gratification, the internet has disrupted a number of industries. Take, for instance, online lending. RocketLoans, a subsidiary of Rocket Holdings (the parent of Quicken Loans), offers loan approvals in as little as 10 minutes with funding in under 24 hours. That might sound remarkable, but it’s the new normal. Several other companies offer a similarly rapid approval process.

What’s perhaps even more remarkable is that these online lenders aren’t just targeting traditionally “safe” borrowers, those with long established credit histories and good credit scores. They’re also promising the same speedy approval process to the more than 64 million “thin file” customers in the U.S., people who have little or no credit history and often aren’t served by traditional banks and lenders. It’s a huge potential opportunity in a market that’s projected to reach $350 billion by 2020, but one that brings additional risk of fraud.

For online lenders, managing that risk is a challenge in what has become, essentially, a real-time marketplace. While they might want to take more time to review an application and verify the identity of the person behind it, lenders don’t have that luxury. A survey by PwC, found that one in three borrowers not only place an emphasis on the speed of the application and approval process when choosing a lender but that they value it even more than a lower interest APR. The takeaway for lenders competing for their business is that borrowers have choices and they’re not afraid to take their business elsewhere if they can get money faster.

But how can lenders meet the demand for rapid approvals without shortchanging the identity verification process? First, it’s important to understand how online lenders come by their customers. While some capture leads directly through their own online storefronts or portals, many others purchase leads from online lending marketplaces (sometimes called ping tree marketplaces). The ping tree provides a centralized marketplace for multiple companies ranging from lead generators and wholesalers to retail recipients, matching providers and buyers based on transaction type, field requirements, and pricing – all within milliseconds.

When they evaluate leads for purchase, most lenders perform a few basic checks. Is the borrower from a geography where the lender is authorized to do business? Has the borrower been applying for multiple loans simultaneously or in quick succession (a fraud tactic known as loan stacking)? Is the borrower on any lists of known bad actors? Lenders also check with alternative credit bureaus that can see whether a borrower has a history of staying current with bills from cell phone companies, utilities and other service providers. While not a credit history per se, on time bill payment can be indicative of whether a borrower is likely to pay back a loan.

While these simple checks are important, they are essentially binary. They can’t really provide context about the borrower’s true identity or a meaningful indication of the quality of the lead. Without evaluating the veracity of the metadata provided by the applicant, it’s hard for lenders to know whether there’s a real, contactable customer behind the transaction.

It’s here, at the top of the funnel, where non-personally identifiable information (non-PII) data can make a difference. Non-PII data (and the linkages between data elements) gives lenders a much more powerful indicator of the quality of leads. Comparing the non-PII signals from prospective borrowers to those of their best performing customers can give lenders a more informed perspective on the quality of leads they acquire. Good leads can be fast tracked for approval while more questionable leads can be flagged and either rejected outright or sent for further review.

Positive signals include things like:

  • email address age (more than 720 days is good)
  • IP address proximity to physical address (within 10 miles is good)
  • phone and address match
  • email and name match
  • phone and name match
  • address and name match

Some risk signals include:

  • linked email, phone or address details that don’t match
  • an email address that is less than 90 days old
  • a non-fixed VoIP or toll-free phone number
  • the phone country code and physical address don’t match
  • phone, email or address are invalid
  • a proxy IP address

Strong positive non-PII data signals are a good indicator that a borrower is a real person, and not a manufactured identity. Because fraudsters are continuously evolving their tactics and coming up with new exploits like synthetic identity theft (combining real and fake identity details to fool fraud systems), lenders need to rely more on data that is continuously updated and analyzed.

For lenders, being able to quickly distinguish between a real customer and a fraudster not only speeds up the transaction, but also reduces the chance that a good customer is made to wait or, worse, has their transaction rejected (also known as customer insult). Customer insult is no small problem; not only is there an immediate loss of revenue, but a rejected customer is unlikely to return in the future. On the flip side, customers that enjoy a speedy transaction are much more likely to recommend an institution to friends and family.

Non-PII data (and the linkages between data elements) applied at the top of the funnel ensures that only the best leads make it into the funnel. It can also help at the bottom of the funnel. With better qualified leads, lenders can see better take rates on loan offers. And with the reduced risk of fraud comes lower First Payment Default rates.

Of course, none of the potential benefits of non-PII data would matter if using it slowed down the transaction process. Fortunately, the data can be integrated into most fraud management systems without introducing noticeable lag. That means lenders can continue to offer speed while improving identity verification.

Authors:

Tom Donlea leads the global marketing efforts of Whitepages Pro, the worldwide identity verification data provider for risk management in banking and online lending. With over ten years of online payments and risk experience, he previously was the founding executive director of the Merchant Risk Council.

Friday March 17 2017, Daily News Digest

orchard originations

News Comments Today’s main news: CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund announces new global investments. Money360 loan portfolio exceeds $200M. Funding Circle launches C shares offer for the fund. Today’s main analysis: Signs of a turnaround in volumes? Today’s thought-provoking articles: Groundfloor launches tax-deferred real estate investing. China’s yield-strapped investors spark P2P explosion. United States CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund announces new investments […]

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United States

United Kingdom

China

India

Asia

Africa

News Summary

 

United States

CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund Announces New Investments in Global Growth-Stage Fintech Companies (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund (“CEFIF”), a venture fund investing in growth-stage fintech companies in China and globally, announced at the 2017 LendIt USA Conference in New York that it recently participated in investment transactions in three new fintech companies. LendIt annual conferences are recognized as one of the largest global fintech industry events dedicated to connecting the global fintech and lending communities.

The three investment transactions include Series C financing round in Trumid, an electronic trading platform for the bond market, Series B financing round in WeConvene, an online corporate access management ERP provider for capital markets, and Seed Round financing round in WorldCover, an innovative peer-to-peer insurance network.

Money360 Doubles Loan Portfolio, Exceeds $ 200 Million Mark (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: AAA

Money360 has doubled its portfolio in record time, having surpassed the $200 million mark this month in closed commercial real estate loans, the company announced today.

It took Money360 more than a year and a half to hit the $100 million mark, but less than six months to increase to $200 million, and by year-end, it expects to exceed $500 million in transactions.

The $200 million milestone came on the heels of four recent loan closings totaling nearly $38 million. All of these loans represent a loan-to-value ratio of not more than 75 percent and include:

  • A $16.2 million bridge loan for a single-tenant, 71,132-square-foot office property constructed in 2006 located in Rosemont, Illinois.
  • A $12.3 million bridge loan for a single-tenant suburban office property in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
  • A $7.5 million bridge loan for two industrial buildings in Irvine, California.
  • A $1.9 million permanent loan for an unanchored, 100-percent-leased retail property in Smyrna, Georgia.

Signs of a Turnaround? A Closer Look at Orchard’s 2016 Q4 Report (Orchard Platform), Rated: AAA

Origination numbers fell consistently over the course of 2016, and we have been waiting to see whether that was going to continue or whether we would eventually see an uptick. In Q4, we finally saw an uptick.

Not a huge one. It’s about a 10% increase over Q3 numbers. And that’s still down significantly from the peak last year, about 46% from what we recorded in Q4, 2015.

Charge-off Rate Vintage Curves

Back in 2010, the size of the industry and the volume of loans originated were pretty small. There were also fewer lenders focused on subprime lending. Additionally, a larger percentage of 2010 loans had a term of 36-months. 60-month loans have grown more in later years. 36-month loans have shown a tendency to charge-off at slightly lower rates.

This introduction of new loan products for lower credit quality borrowers in later vintages—i.e. lower lending standards and longer duration loans—means that the 2010 vintage includes not only fewer loans, but the loans tended to be of a higher credit quality. Given those factors, charge-offs are bound to be lower in the 2010 vintage.

More recent years all stack together pretty tightly, within 1-2% of each other in cumulative charge-offs. However, 2014 and 2015 vintages seem to be charging off at a slightly faster rate, at least, as of this latest report.

Borrower Interest Rates

Since Q2 of 2016 we’ve seen borrower rates fall in both Q3, and Q4 by around 1.2%.

Subprime rates are significantly higher. They’re in the 25-40% range. Whereas the prime lenders are going to be in the 8% to maybe 15-20% range. We end up with a weighted average of ~16%.

GROUNDFLOOR Launches Tax Deferred Real-Estate Investing (Press Release Rocket), Rated: AAA

GROUNDFLOOR, the first and only U. S. real estate lending platform open to non-accredited investors and IRA Services Trust Company, the leading innovator of hi-tech Self-Directed Individual Retirement Account (SDIRA) solutions, today announced an initiative to maximize the benefits of tax-deferred investing for retail investors. As a result of the collaborative effort, GROUNDFLOOR will immediately begin inviting investors on their platform to fund their accounts directly through their 401(k)s and IRAs.

GROUNDFLOOR offers real estate investments with different grades that have a range of risk/reward profiles, offering returns ranging from 5% to over 20% so investors can build a diversified portfolio. In 2016 GROUNDFLOOR delivered loans with an average annualized return of 14.16%.* Compared to 2015, in 2016 loan origination volume in dollars grew by 621%, and the dollar value of principal repaid grew by 588%. Only one of the 108 loans repaid to date has returned less than 100% of the principal due back to GROUNDFLOOR’S investors.

At a time when private markets continue to deliver superior returns compared to public markets, most Americans currently saving for retirement can no longer rely solely on traditional stocks, bonds, and mutual funds for growth and yield. At the same time, many investors have been hesitant to participate in SDIRAs because of the expense, burden, and paperwork traditionally associated with the self-directed investment of tax-deferred funds.

GROUNDFLOOR and IRA Services are working together to address these issues head on: IRA Services’ real-time, cloud-based, API-driven retirement investment solution for the P2P industry – the first of its kind – streamlines the once difficult process of investing tax-deferred funds in P2P marketplaces. Meanwhile, GROUNDFLOOR is the only P2P marketplace where both accredited and non-accredited investors can directly invest in private real estate projects on terms they control, rather than turning their money over to a fund.

How Whitepages Turned Their Data into an Identity Verification Tool for Online Lenders (deBanked), Rated: A

Whitepages might be a 20-year old company but the data they’ve amassed over time can add significant value to online lenders, the company claims. Whitepages Pro, which offers identify verification, allows lenders to gauge if an individual is real.

A simple query of an individual’s name, phone number, email, address or business name will return results not easily accessible elsewhere, like how long that person’s email address has been in their system or the likelihood that the email address was generated by a bot, not a real person. A match is good, no match might not be good, they say. Their system can also do things like identify the carrier the phone number belongs to and whether or not that carrier, if it’s VOIP or something, might have a higher propensity for fraud.

Machine Learning is the Future of Marketplace Lending (Due), Rated: A

At LendIt USA, CEO Scott Sanborn shared that his team at Lending Club uses a manual process to dynamically price loans. Unsurprisingly, some loans are more sought after than others, but matching the pricing with demand is a labor-intensive process. With AI and machine learning, Lending Club and other online lenders may be able to rapidly update loan pricing automatically to maximize investor yield and industry profits while ensuring virtually every loan gets funded.

Lending Club, the dominant player in the peer-to-peer lending industry, grades loans from A to G, corresponding to interest rates from 5.32% to 30.99%. While this model is widely accepted and similar systems are used for virtually all bank and private lending, there are flaws in the model.

Airlines use complex algorithms to determine seat prices, but machine learning, commonly called artificial intelligence or AI, to better understand how people are interacting and purchasing. Rather than just increasing prices as the flight date gets closer, a computer could look for purchase trends and dynamically adjust prices on its own rather than leaning on a pre-determined schedule based on a series of inputs.

If this same logic were applied to a lending marketplace like Lending Club, it could look at trends, loan availability across multiple platforms, risk factors, and current interest rates across multiple lending marketplaces to best price loans. This ensures the best results for lenders and borrowers, as every loan would be funded and yields would be optimally set.

Small Biz Lending Approval Rates Surge at Big Banks, Institutional Investors: Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index (Biz2Credit), Rated: A

Loan approval rates at big banks ($10 billion+ in assets) improved to new post-recession highs in February 2017, according to the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending IndexTM, the monthly analysis of more than 1,000 small business loan applications on Biz2Credit.com.

Small business loan approval rates at big banks improved to 24.1% in February 2017, marking the seventh consecutive month of increases and the 11th time in a calendar year that approval percentages have increased. Further, loan approval rates at big banks in a year-to-year comparison are up more than one full percentage point, as they slowly creep towards the one-quarter mark.

For the first time in the last six months, loan approval rates at small banks dropped by one-tenth of a percent to 48.8% in February 2017 from 48.9% in January.

Institutional lenders’ loan approval rates improved to 63.5%, reaching a new Index high.

Loan approval rates dropped at alternative lenders in February, as they approved 58.4% of the loan requests they received, down one-tenth of a percent from 58.5% in January.

CFTC Chief Pick Says Commission Should Embrace Fintech (WSJ), Rated: A

J. Christopher Giancarlo, who Mr. Trump tapped Tuesday as the permanent head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said in a speech here Wednesday he has instructed staff to examine the role the agency can play in promoting fintech in the multi-trillion-dollar derivatives markets it oversees.

Mr. Giancarlo has long argued the CFTC should do more to embrace financial technology, which he says has the potential to transform finance, in part by significantly boosting the quality of swaps data that regulators collect from the industry. He has tapped a top CFTC staffer, Jeffrey Bandman, to head the agency’s fintech efforts, according to people familiar with the matter.

‘Sick and tired of no one innovating’: Confessions of a financial tech entrepreneur (Tradestreaming), Rated: A

For the latest in our Confessions series, we spoke to a startup entrepreneur with considerable experience in the banking sector.

So banks are making more money off of high-income customers, and are pushing the startups to take the lower income ones they don’t want?
They would much rather get their tax breaks and give to charity and say they’re doing good for the country than get their hands dirty with a bunch of very subprime demographics. The fintech guys have to go to high risk. If you’re a bank, you can cherry-pick all the rich people and not have as many defaults in a downturn.

What about accelerators and incubator programs where the banks mentor startups. Doesn’t that show their goodwill?
They just steal your ideas. They’re not doing it for the good of their soul. They’re doing it to take a chunk and or steal the idea as you build it and do it themselves.

If it’s so hard to get your product to market, what’s the objective of a startup entrepreneur? Is it just to cash in when you’re acquired by a bank?
If you’re looking to make a little bit of money quick, it’s probably not a bad play, but if you’re actually looking for any kind of change in the world, and you believe in that, it’s not a good move. That’s the reason why people go into this, and I believe I’m one of them. I am bored and sick and tired of no one innovating in the space.

FinTech: Some Limits on Smart Contracts (The National Law Review), Rated: B

Milos Dunjic argues that the Capabilities of Smart Contracts are Overblown because most people misunderstand the fundamental properties of smart contracts and propose ideas that are not implementable on a practical level.

As for scalability, smart contract code must produce the identical outcome in every node that executes it. Dunjic questions whether a large number of distributed nodes all hitting a “funds transfer” API at the same time might look like a self-inflicted DDOS attack on the API. Would each call to the API receive exactly the same response from the API? Reliability must be absolute in a smart contract.

Fintech And Digital Wallets: Innovative Approach vs. Security Concerns (ValueWalk), Rated: B

In CES 2017, Samsung has declared that its Gear 2 will be outfitted with Samsung Pay, the digital wallet application of the organization. In the coming era, we can see more gadget producers integrate advanced wallet services.

Mobile payment procedures including bank transfers and cards are more secure now with the assurance of biometric validation. The unique mark scanner or face identification programming on a few handsets and platforms permit the users to enlist his biometric data with the gadget and from that point utilize them for any transaction when it needs confirmation. On account of biometric validation security vulnerabilities with mobile payment could be limited as it were. In future, we can expect the expansion of such computerized transactions with biometric confirmation constraining the security dangers and ruptures to a base.

Impact Investing Growing Among Alternative Managers (Private Wealth), Rated: B

Impact investing is growing in importance among the alternative investing community, according to a new survey by the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association.

Assets under management in impact investments have grown 18 percent year-over-year for the past three years, according to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). Total industry assets under management in traditional private equity impact investments are estimated to be around $80 billion.

United Kingdom

Funding Circle SME Income Fund launches C shares offer (AltFi), Rated: AAA

THE FUNDING Circle SME Income Fund has launched its first conversion (C) share fundraising as part of plans to raise additional capital over the next 12 months.

The placing is open until 6 April at a price of 100p per C share and the new class will list on the London Stock Exchange on 11 April.

The London-listed investment trust, which invests in loans on the Funding Circle platform, issued a new prospectus in February as it looks to issue up to 500 million new shares over the next 12 months.

China

Yirendai Appoints Chief Credit Officer (PR Newswire), Rated: AAA

Yirendai Ltd. (NYSE: YRD) (“Yirendai” or the “Company”), a leading online consumer finance marketplace in China, today announced the appointment of Dr. Yichuan Pei as its Chief Credit Officer.

Dr. Pei will be responsible for the overall management of Yirendai’s Credit Department to ensure that the credit risk of loan portfolio on the Company’s platform is within the Company’s guidelines. He will also work closely with the Company’s Chief Risk Officer, Ms. Yiting Pan, to manage the Risk Management Department. Ms. Yiting Pan is expected to transit from her current position as Yirendai’s Chief Risk Officer into a new role with CreditEase and relocate to the U.S. in the middle of 2017 due to personal reasons. Dr. Pei will take over the full responsibilities of risk management and assume the Chief Risk Officer position at end of the transition period.

China’s yield-strapped investors spark peer-to-peer explosion (Nikkei Asian Review), Rated: AAA

Peer-to-peer lending is surging in China as conventional financial products lose their appeal — creating new opportunities and substantial risks for yield-hungry retail investors.

Outstanding peer-to-peer loans — funds lent by one individual to another through the internet — stood at 885.7 billion yuan ($128 billion) in China at the end of February. That is eight times the level of barely two years ago.

Companies are getting into the game, borrowing hundreds of thousands of yuan in operating capital. Lending services are now offering to choose investments for customers. For funding riskier borrowers, lenders can expect yields on the order of 8-12%. These loans turn over quickly in many cases, often in less than a year.

China’s peer-to-peer lending balance stood at just 103.6 billion yuan at the end of 2014, according Yingcanzixun.com, a site tracking the peer-to-peer industry run by Shanghai Ying Can Investment Management Consulting. Within a year, that surged to 406.1 billion yuan. Lending could top 1.3 trillion yuan by the end of 2017, an executive with Yingcanzixun predicted.

India

V Balakrishnan’s startup Billionloans looking to raise mn shortly (India Times), Rated: AAA

Billionloans, the online lending platform founded by former Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan, is looking at raising $1 million in funding within the next few weeks as it focuses on building a Rs 1000-crore loan book in two-three years.

Because the Billionloans platform functions as a marketplace, it does not take the risk of loan defaults itself. The lending is also done by institutional lenders who have the ability to make collections in case of defaults.

Balakrishnan’s platform will use a potential borrower’s social media behaviour, device information, banking transaction history and the results of a psychometric test to determine intention to repay to issue a score to gauge credit worthiness. The platform uses Micrograam’s underlying technology to issue the score, Balakrishnan said.

 

Asia

Singapore P2P Lender Silver Bullion Hits 1000 Loan Milestone, Over SM Lent (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Launched only 19 months ago, Silver Bullion Pte Ltd‘s bullion has secured P2P loan platform has matched 1000 loans. While it took roughly 13 months to match its first500 loans, it took only another 6 months for Silver Bullion to reach 1000 loans.

Silver Bullion’s bullion secured P2P loan platform has now matched more than S$27M in loans. In Q1 2017, the U.S dollar denominated 12-month loans were matched with an average interest rate of 4.0% p.a while the Singapore dollar denominated 12-month loans had an average interest rate of 4.2% p.a.

Africa

Crowdfunding the solution for SMEs? (Moneyweb), Rated: A

Traditional financial institutions are generally reluctant to serve SMEs due to the high costs associated when assessing these businesses, their volatile balance sheets and the inherent high risks involved with start-up companies. This lack of financing for SMEs has exposed a gap in the South African lending and borrowing market, and has encouraged development in the sphere of social lending, also known as crowdfunding.

Online marketplace lending in South Africa is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional financial institutions, which for years dominated the lending and borrowing market with high interest rates, rigorous red tape, excessive bank charges and inflexible attitudes. Social lending is revolutionising the manner in which SMEs and conventional corporate citizens access funding and it is disrupting traditional understanding of how money is lent and borrowed. Crowdfunding eliminates the need for traditional financial institutions in the context of SMEs and provides consumers with a convenient and flexible online funding platform that offers competitive interest rates, low fees and charges, and advantageous terms and conditions.

Launched in 2012 as the first online marketplace lending platform in South Africa, Rainfin Proprietary Limited (RainFin) has experienced rapid growth and popularity due to its ability to match borrowers directly with lenders.

However, despite the popularity and growth of these crowdfunding platforms in South Africa, they are not free of burdens and restrictions. The National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (NCA) previously allowed an individual to lend up to R500 000 to another individual without being registered as a credit provider.

Authors:

George Popescu
Allen Taylor

How Whitepages Pro Helps Online Lenders Fight Fraud

How Whitepages Pro Helps Online Lenders Fight Fraud

Cell phones make communication easier and quicker, but there’s one drawback. They’ve made it easier for fraudsters to target lenders, insurance companies, and a host of other industries where trust is a key factor. A new service from Whitepages Pro, however, could change the game and add a new layer of security to get through […]

How Whitepages Pro Helps Online Lenders Fight Fraud

Cell phones make communication easier and quicker, but there’s one drawback. They’ve made it easier for fraudsters to target lenders, insurance companies, and a host of other industries where trust is a key factor. A new service from Whitepages Pro, however, could change the game and add a new layer of security to get through for bad actors bent on fraud.

Whitepages Pro is a subsidiary of Whitepages Inc. Started by Alex Algard in 1997 while pursuing a masters degree at Stanford University, Whitepages.com provides customers a free and unambiguous online directory assistance service. In 2005, Whitepages raised $45 million in its first round of funding from two investors–Providence Equity Partners and TVC. Today, Whitepages is a leading provider of contact information in North America with over 55 million monthly users.

Despite enjoying a strong customer base and great traffic flow, Whitepages.com and 411.com were not structured for the needs of financial institutions. Whitepages Pro was formed to serve exclusively the business needs of the corporate market.

In 2012, Whitepages Pro was established as an Application Interface (API) and web-based service with headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Additional offices were opened in New York and Budapest. Approximately 500 million users from around the world fill its database. There are three vital parameters to the Whitepages Pro business model:

  • Different APIs for different products.
  • Pay-per-transaction volume; the pay-as-use service helps businesses try the product before committing to long-term licenses.
  • Users can also access Pro products via license for a particular time period.

One user license starts at $300 per month. That makes the service affordable even for the startup community.

Whitepages Pro’s flagship service is called Global Identity Verification and uses a phone number as a global identifier. The service then organizes information gathered on its users into data sets that connect a identities to physical addresses, mobile phone numbers, email addresses, and IP addresses.

Pro API helps online lenders fight against identity fraud and other malicious acts. The web form links with Identity Check API and helps the lender identify combinations of IP addresses, phone numbers, and IP names. It also helps to reduce new account fraud. The company is able to create the link between data provided by the user and the information retrieved independently. This helps determine the creditworthiness of the prospective borrower.

Identity Check and Reverse Phone API are also useful for e-commerce, FinTech, and travel and hospitality companies.

Whitepages Pro is integrated with risk management solution providers Accertify and Cybersource, and serves airline companies like JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines. The airlines use Identity Check and Reverse Phone API to avoid fraud in ticketing and reservation processes. Pro products also provide improved reservation review to travel companies by alleviating risk before the booking is approved. It automates the reservation process by reducing the manual review queue and speeds up the reservation process with RESTful API. Retail and e-commerce companies use Identity Check and Reverse API in the same way for quickly identifying risky transactions and processing orders at greater velocity.

Financial services enterprises can also benefit from the APIs. Web lookup services utilize consumer identity assessment, call tracking, and linkage services that visually connect a person, phone, and address to risk signals and house-holding attributes. FICO integration provides dynamic data to FICO customers. Casualty insurance companies Bank of Internet USA, Progressive, and Prudential use combined FICO and Pro scores in their risk assessment practices.

Whitepages Pro API streamlines creditworthy applicants using Identity Check, and it catches fraud applications in the infant stage of lending so lenders can screen for risky borrowers.

Global Identity Verification and Lead Verify API rely on dynamic mobile data to find loan applications with high risk through Identity Check. Only prioritized applications with complete and valid demographic information are provided to lenders.

Whitepages Pro’s data comes from credit bureaus, public records, utility companies, telecom companies, and similar sources. The company also uses advanced data science to curate useful information.

WhitePages Pro clocked $ 70 million in revenue in 2015. It operates in 30 countries and is currently beta testing Identity Check in Europe, South America, and Asia. The company started with eight FinTech clients. It now has 150.

Authors:

Allen Taylor