July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

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

July 6th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

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

United States

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

United Kingdom

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

Hong Kong

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

France

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

China

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

 

United States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

United Kingdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hong Kong

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

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

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

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

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

 

France

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

China

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

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

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

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

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

Author:

George Popescu

Renewable finance – funding America’s transition to renewable energy

Renewable finance - funding America's transition to renewable energy

Graham Smith recognized the trend of institutional interest in utility-scale solar in the UK. The recognition that non-residential solar is underserved and under-banked in the United States led him to shift to New York to launch Open Energy Group (OEG). Technology brings down cost of financing by 66% The company has leveraged proprietary technology to bring […]

Renewable finance - funding America's transition to renewable energy

Graham Smith recognized the trend of institutional interest in utility-scale solar in the UK. The recognition that non-residential solar is underserved and under-banked in the United States led him to shift to New York to launch Open Energy Group (OEG).

Technology brings down cost of financing by 66%

The company has leveraged proprietary technology to bring down the cost of financing. If a project’s financing cost used to be 30 cents per watt, the start-up aims to take it down to 10 cents per watt. The lenders on its platform are institutional investors who are looking for assets which have long-term viability. Its first project was with a European developer doing a project in the state of Georgia.

The company had signed a 15-year power supply contract with an AA rated entity, making it a profitable underwriting opportunity for the young platform.  It plans to focus on attracting institutional capital due to the education costs involved in attracting retail investors.   The company aims to securitize solar loans in the same manner as has been done for auto loans, consumer loans, credit cards etc.

How to build a niche financing start-up

Alternative lending has started finding roots in more niche market areas like solar project financing with the emergence of start-ups like OEG. Graham Smith (CEO), Alistair Potts(CTO) and Michael Blomquist (COO) are the founders of the New York-headquartered company. Previously, Graham had founded a renewable energy advisory business, Greenworks Capital which secured $75 mil in financing for one of the first utility-scale solar projects in the UK. OEG was founded in 2013 to provide non-recourse debt financing for solar projects. Its sweet spot is $0.5 mil to $10 mil range and its USP is the ability to close a deal within a month as against the norm of 6 months for traditional lenders. It employs a 100% online and automated application process and is able to save 70% on total transaction costs as compared to brick and mortar financiers.

The company has been able to raise $1.25 mil in seed from GLI Financials. The fund has also provided the start-up with a $10 mil line of credit. It has already lent $5 mil and will close $10 mil within the month. The start-up has 7 members in its team from companies like Morgan Stanley, Google, Citigroup and Lazard. OEG has on-boarded Cortland Investment Servicing as an independent primary loan servicer, Loeb and Loeb as its lawyers for due diligence and securitization and Moody’s for credit rating. The strategy is to create a best-in-class team which would provide a well-packaged platform for institutional investors to lend to commercial solar projects.

Product and underwriting details

OEG has two products currently, a fully amortizing term loan over a period of 10-15 years, with an APR of 6-7.5% and loan-to-value (LTV) up to 60%. The other product is the construction loan for the duration of 6-9 months, at an APR of 8-10% and LTV up to 85%. The start-up has based its underwriting on making the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) the prime element in analysing cash flows. So it prepares its financial models by discounting the cash flows to be generated through the PPA and only considering 80% of the EBITDA as available for loan servicing.

The company also analyses the wattage, insurance costs and land lease to have a margin of safety. Another big advantage to the lender is that it has an additional 30% as tax credits available which can usually be liquidated at 90 cents on the dollar. The founders believe that the scare resource in the solar industry is the sponsor who is willing to risk his equity, find a business/utility partner for a PPA and execute the entire project. They only allow funding to projects which are being executed by bonded constructors as it provides additional insurance to the project.

The renewable finance ecosystem

The company has had no default yet and would have to sell the asset in the secondary market to liquidate its investments. The secondary market is yet to be fully developed due to few defaults occurring in the sector. The start-up hopes to securitize its loan portfolio at a premium, adding a revenue stream to the existing revenue model of borrower origination and servicing fees. This highlights the difference in its approach as compared to its competitor, Mosaic. Though both companies are peer-to-peer platforms for solar projects, Mosaic supports an investment of even $25 whereas OEG is only focused on accredited investors and institutional money. Mosaic also has started catering to residential projects whereas OEG wants to specialize in non-residential exclusively. OEG also offers more products versus the plain vanilla senior secured debt by Mosaic.

Solar-backed securities

The Open Energy Group has been formed by experienced professionals who understand the nuances of both the financial and the technology world.  Peer-to-peer is the need of the hour in the solar industry as banks cannot fund the aggressive expansion due to their depleted balance sheets. Solar debt securities are asset-backed and have strong cash flows which are usually independent of the economic performance and/or financial markets. A commercial project can run for 30 years, making it an ideal asset for insurance companies.  OEG has been able to develop a strong niche for itself by focussing only on commercial projects on the demand side and institutional investors on the supply end. With securitization opportunities in the future, the young start-up has the latitude to tap the capital markets for very large financing volumes.

Author:

George Popescu

July 5th 2016, Daily News Digest

July 5th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments United States According to the bond market yield-curve there is 60% chance of recession. However, the equity market doesn’t agree. Interesting times. A short survey on the different US regulators’ interaction with the marketplace lending space. New Capital Rules likely to be imposed on wall street will likely push bank-dealers to shut down […]

July 5th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

United States

  • According to the bond market yield-curve there is 60% chance of recession. However, the equity market doesn’t agree. Interesting times.
  • A short survey on the different US regulators’ interaction with the marketplace lending space.
  • New Capital Rules likely to be imposed on wall street will likely push bank-dealers to shut down trading units in debt-securitization due to insufficient return on equity. This change could have a huge impact on marketplace asset backed securitization.
  • Wells Fargo continues to push FastFlex, their own quick SME financing product competing with OnDeck, Kabbage, CAN Capital and all other SME marketplace lenders.
  • Morgan Stanley is pointing out all the positive data coming out of Lending Club: higher origination than predicted in Q2 2016 and much more.
  • Lending Club’s CIO unvailing the future plans for Lending Club : Point-of-Sales, offline and a cloud-base micro-services platform.
  • CFPB’s monthly report points out the most-complained-about companies in consumer loans. It would be interesting to plot company size vs number of complaints.
  • Square analysts believe that more regulation in marketplace lending will favor Square vs its competitors.
  • Last week news, worth a reminder after the long weekend: Avant is downsizing, again.
  • Boston, feeling left behind in fintech, is launching a fintech hub initiative supported by Fidelity, Putnam, Santander Bank, U.S. Bank and Boston Private Financial.

United Kingdom

  • An interesting way to leverage your p2p investments: buying discounted P2P public fund shares at the present 20% discount, and relying on stock buy-backs to bet on up side in yield + equity appreciation.
  • Brexit: in short, fintech firms fear for staff shortages and lost EU customer access.

European Union

  • Insurer Aviva France, in partnership with Eiffel Investment Group and AG2R La Mondiale launching a €100 million fund to invest in “crowdlending SME debt” in France and elsewhere.
  • A list, without any transparency on the inclusion criteria,  of the top 11 p2p lending platforms in Europe, (Pre-Brexit), per Fintechnews.ch. And a very interesting map of relative p2p lending market size in European countries.

Australia

  • Public p2p lender DirectMoney preparing a new share issuance to finance loans as loan demand outstrips funding.”DirectMoney chief Peter Beaumont yesterday defended the fintech company’s stockmarket listing and expressed disappointment over losses worn by shareholders.”
  • OnDeck Australia and Commonwealth Bank (CBA) receiving the Fintech-Bank Collaboration of the Year Award.

India

  • P2P players are moving towards institutional capital for growth. Following in the footsteps of their US cousins, we hope the Indian p2p lenders have learned their lessons from Prosper, Lendnig Club and Avant’s experiences with institutional capital.

China

  • P2P lenders exiting office space in Shanghai have brought office space vacancies supply to a 10-year-high level.

Korea

  • Interesting data and information on one of the 1st Korean p2p lending companies we learn about.

News Summary

Unites States

Bond Markets Have a Message About the Economy That Stock Investors Might Not Want to Hear, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

There’s a big disagreement brewing in global markets.

There’s 60 percent chance of recession, according to a Deutsche Bank model.

While risky assets including equities have surged following the U.K. electorate’s historic vote to leave the European Union, government bonds have also rallied; two things that ought to suggest different outlooks for economic growth. Soaring bond prices have sent yields on the perceived safe havens of government debt plumbing fresh lows, even while expectations of looser monetary policy produce a burst of animal spirits in stock markets.

The flight to safety has prompted some analysts to question the durability of the rally in equities, where the S&P 500 was up 3.5 percent last week and the FTSE 100 has erased its post-referendum dip — at least, in local-currency terms. Still others say that money is pouring into stocks as lower bond yields force investors to search for returns in alternative asset classes.

The spread between the yield on 10-year and two-year U.S. Treasury notes narrowed in the immediate aftermath of the June 23rd referendum, widened briefly, and is now shrinking again as investors continue to flock to the perceived safety of U.S. government debt. A model maintained by Deutsche Bank AG’s Steven Zeng, who adjusts the spread for historically low short-term interest rates, suggests the yield curve is now signaling a 60 percent chance of a U.S. recession in the next 12 months — up from a 55 percent probability as of mid-June, and the highest implied odds since August 2008.

“This relentless flattening of the curve is worrisome,” Deutsche analysts led by Dominic Konstam said in their note on the model. “Given the historical tendency of a very flat or inverted yield curve to precede a U.S. recession, the odds of the next economic downturn are rising.”

The 10-year yield is currently at 1.44 percent, making a recession just about 40 basis points away according to this particular interpretation of the bond market’s moves.

Rundown of Regulator Interest in Marketplace Lending, (Lend Academy), Rated: AAA

U.S. Treasury

The Treasury first publicly showed interest in marketplace lending with a request for information(RFI) back in July 2015. Over 100 companies responded to the RFI and the Treasury reported on their findings in May 2016 where they shared their response in the form of a white paper. It did not provide any recommendations for new regulations and was generally quite positive on the industry.

Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

On March 31, the OCC released a white paper titled Supporting Responsible Innovation in the Federal Banking System: An OCC Perspective. More recently, the head of the OCC, Thomas Curry, reaffirmed his commitment to responsible innovation in a speech just last week. He brought up the idea of a “regulatory sandbox” – a place where fintech companies can have a conversation about what the rules of the road are for their new ideas. He also brought up the idea of a limited purpose charter for fintech firms as a possible way forward.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

The FDIC first addressed marketplace lending in a paper titled Supervisory Insights. They are concerned about the impact on banks as well as the general risk to financial services.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Early this year, the CFPB made two announcements impacting marketplace lending. They said that they would begin accepting complaints directly from consumers about marketplace lending companies. Around the same time they issued a new No-Action letter policy that was designed to encourage innovation in financial services.

According to the Wall Street Journal the CFPB is planning to supervise marketplace lenders and will release a proposal some time in the fall. The CFPB has not commented publicly on this news so right now it is just a possibility but it makes sense.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

SEC involvement in marketplace lending goes back to the early days of Lending Club and Prosper. In 2008 the SEC decided that the notes issued by these companies were securities and should be registered as such. The result was Lending Club and Prosper filing a S-1 registration and becoming quasi public companies with quarterly financials being filed with the SEC.

Now that Lending Club is a public company it is has more responsibilities to both equity and debt investors both of which come under the purview of the SEC. The reality is while the SEC keeps a close eye on marketplace lending it is unlikely there will be much in the way of new developments here.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC recently hosted a financial technology forum on marketplace lending. The forum sought to look at consumer protections in marketplace lending and fintech more broadly. According to Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s consumer-protection bureau marketplace lenders haven’t done enough in borrower protection.

United States Congress

In May 2015, the House Small Business Committee held a hearing on Capital Hill.

In January, in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting tragedy, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on terrorism financing that included a discussion of marketplace lending. But no new initiatives have come yet from these hearings.

Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC)

The FSOC most recently included their thoughts on marketplace lending in their annual report. Although the report highlights the lower cost and efficiencies of marketplace lenders they also discuss risks and concerns. One of the main concerns listed are the new and untested underwriting models used by platforms.

Conclusion

This list is only a start of the involvement we are likely to see from regulators as it pertains to marketplace lending. Due to the attention, we’ve seen many industry associations created to ensure a productive dialogue is being undertaken in Washington with all the organizations discussed here. We sincerely hope that any new regulation to come is thoughtful and comes from a well informed view of the industry.

Capital Rules Stifling Securitized-Debt Trading Profit: JPM, (PeerIQ), Rated: AAA

New layers of regulatory capital expected to be imposed on Wall Street are likely to further pressure banks to exit trading of securitized-debt, JPMorgan analysts John Sim, Kaustub Samant, Carol Zhang wrote in client note Friday.

NOTE: Reports of dealers paring or shutting down trading units have grown; banks include Barclays, DB, MS, SocGen, Jefferies, RBS, Nomura, CS

  • There’s “no path to profitability” under current and recently released capital rules
  • JPM analysts calculated ROE (return on equity) for hypothetical RMBS portfolio based on impact from Basel’s Fundamental Review of the Trading Book
  • Concluded ROE of ~4%, “clearly not attractive enough to entice dealers to enter the space and make markets”
  • Adjusted model to various hypotheticals, such as reallocation, bid-ask, turnover rates
  • Concluded the “cumulative effect of all of these realistic and unrealistic changes would only increase the return to 7%, which is far short of our 10% to 15% ROE threshold”
  • “Running ROEs for hypothetical ABS and CMBS businesses would not result in markedly different results”
  • Primary market and business of underwriting new-issue securitizations can still be attractive, however, contingent  underwriting volumes
  • Revenue derived from underwriting fees without consuming much capital; when balanced with secondary trading, ROEs for the business can become attractive, depending on volumes
  • Liquidity will continue to be constrained for non-agency RMBS, particularly in legacy space where dealers have no commensurate underwriting
  • CRT deals will also suffer from limited trading activity relative to market size; expect limited liquidity for Jumbo RMBS and SFR deals

How Wells Fargo Aims to Satisfy ‘Need for Speed’ From Millennial Borrowers, (The Street), Rated: AAA

Known as FastFlex, the San Francisco-based bank’s product offers customers with a business checking account a one-year loan of up to $100,000. Wells Fargo is considering expanding the availability of the loan next year, Lisa Stevens, the company’s head of small business, said in an interview.

FastFlex is designed for businesses with under $5 million a year in revenue who have “quick short-term needs to do some type of expansion or cash management,” Stevens said.

Some 67% of millennials are willing to take some financial risks to grow their businesses, compared with just 54% of older owners.

The FastFlex loan is one effort to meet that demand, he said, by providing a digital service with a rapid turnaround, two of the qualities that millennials have said they value most highly in financial services products. “We wanted to design our own product that would compete well in the marketplace-lending environment,” Case said.

Lending Club Corp : Positive Updates from the Annual Meeting, (Morgan Stanley), Rated: AAA

2Q16 originations down ⅓ from 1Q equates to ~$1.8bn in originations or -4.4% YoY,vs. our $1.4bn (-25% YoY) estimate.Assuming volumes for the first five weeks in the quarter (prior to

Assuming volumes for the first five weeks in the quarter (prior to announcement of irregularities and CEO resignation) were consistent with the 1Q run rate, this suggests volumes over the remaining 8 weeks were down ~50% sequentially and 37% YoY.

LC has had dialog with hundreds of investors,and none have outrightly refused to come back as an investor on the platform. Most investors need to go through a due diligence process and LC appears confident in its ability to bring them back to prior levels of investment over the long term.

While investors from every category have returned to the platform, banks and large investors are taking longer with their audits, which is in-line with our expectations.It is unclear if 2Q represents the trough in terms of origination volumes, but management commentary on investor appetiteand conservativeapproach on origination expectations suggests 3Q and

It is unclear if 2Q represents the trough in terms of origination volumes, but management commentary on investor appetiteand conservativeapproach on origination expectations suggests 3Q and
4Q volumes should be similar to 2Q with potential for upward bias.

LC expects to incur $9mn of investor incentives (to be booked as contra-revenues) in 2Q , which are likely to continue in 3Q with a plan to eliminate these by 4Q.

LC expects to “resume revenue and EBITDA growth in 1H17” though it remains unclear to us if this comment suggests sequential or YoY growth.We expect LC to return to origination, revenue,and adjusted EBITDA growth by 2Q17, though we expect 1H17 to remain below 1H16 given tough comps on 1Q17e.

2016 Bay Area CIO of the Year Innovation/Transportation finalist: A conversation with LendingClub’s John MacIlwaine, (Silicon Valley Business Journal), Rated: AAA

How do you predict your company will be different in two years, and how do you see yourself shaping that change?

We’ll also have a wider set of financing products that will be accessible online, offline, and at point of sale, while expanding our partnerships with banks and other non-financial institutions. We’re enabling that change by building our cloud-based micro-services platform, which simplifies integration of our solution for our partners and allow us to quickly and efficiently scale our core business and expand our product set.

What do you feel has been your biggest impact/success at this company? My biggest impact on LendingClub has been building a world-class team of engineers, scaling our technology platform to support the company’s incredible growth (compound annual growth rate of 124 percent Q4 2009 to Q4 2015 and well over $16 billion in loan originations to date), and setting a clear vision for a technology platform that is flexible and adaptable enough to handle future loan origination growth, partnership integration, and regulatory compliance updates.

What are your top three priorities for 2016-2017?

  1. Transform our current technology platform into a suite of cloud-based micro-services;
  2. Move our platform hosting environments to AWS (Amazon Web Services);
  3. Double the size of our world-class technology team.

CFPB June 2016 complaint report highlights consumer loan complaints, complaints from Arkansas consumers, (JDSupra Business Advisor), Rated: AAA

The CFPB has issued its June 2016 complaint report which highlights complaints about consumer loans and complaints from consumers in Arkansas and the Little Rock metro area.

The report does not specifically identify any complaints as involving marketplace lending.  Unlike prior monthly complaint reports, the June 2016 report includes a “Sub Product spotlight” section that highlights auto lending.

  • The most-complained-about issue involved managing the loan, lease or line of credit.  Other complaint issues included problems arising when the consumer was unable to pay, such as issues relating to debt collection, bankruptcy, and default.
Source: CFPB June complaint report.

General findings include the following:

  • Complaints about student loans showed the greatest percentage increase based on a three-month average, increasing about 61 percent from the same time last year (March to May 2015 compared with March to May 2016).  As we noted in our blog posts about the April and May2016 complaint reports, rather than reflecting an increase in the number of borrowers making student loan complaints, the increase most likely reflects that in March 2016, the CFPB began accepting complaints about federal student loans.  Previously, such complaints were directed to the Department of Education.
  • Payday loan complaints showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average, decreasing about 15 percent from the same time last year (March to May 2015 compared with March to May 2016).  Complaints during those periods decreased from 479 complaints in 2015 to 405 complaints in 2016.  In the March, April, and May 2016 complaint reports, payday loan complaints also showed the greatest percentage decrease based on a three-month average.

Square Inc Better Risk Reflection Leads to Upgrade: Wedbush, (Bidness Etc), Rated: A

Helmed by Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, the Square’s lending business encountered a substantial obstacle in May, in the form of new and strict scrutiny from regulatory authorities. In a comprehensive study, the US Department of Treasury along with several other government agencies put forward recommendations, to safeguard the access and growth to credit through the continued developments of online marketplace lending.

Wedbush analysts believe that regulatory scrutiny is likely to increase the company’s lending business.

For the 2Q, Square projects revenue to fall between $151–156 million. Wedbush expects the company to surpass its own expectations — reporting closer to the sell-side firm’s own $168 million estimates — but foresees considerable downside to the financial services company’s shares, if it reports within its given guidance range.

Interestingly enough, in a research note published yesterday, Morgan Stanley lowered its prices target on Square stock from $12 to $10, following a meeting with the company. The sell-side firm also raised its Stock-Based Comp estimates, in light of the company’s transition from private to a public entity and higher comp to select personnel vs. prior expectations.

Why Online Lender Avant Is Cutting Down Its Workforce Again, (Fortune), Rated: A

After also deciding to pull back in May from new verticals such as auto loans to concentrate on its core personal loans business, Avant is now cutting its lending target for that unit by 50% to about $100 million per month, Bloomberg reported.

Avant’s problem, like much of the so-called peer-to-peer lending market, isn’t a lack of demand from potential borrowers. Instead, the company and other online lenders are having increasing difficulty raising money to lend out as hedge funds and other investors outside the usual banking circles that backed the industry have grown wary.

The company had grown quickly for the past few years, reaching $3.5 billion in total loan volume. But with less access to capital, business has slowed recently, and loan volume declined 27% in the first quarter from the fourth quarter—the first such quarter-to-quarter drop since Avant started in 2012.

LendingClub’s Negative Press Blitz Continues, (Yahoo Finance), Rated: A

An $800 million LendingClub Corp (NYSE: LC) fund that invests in the company’s online consumer loans is expected to report its first monthly loss in the past 64 months in June. According to a letter to investors from LendingClub CEO Scott Sanborn, LendingClub’s Broad Based Consumer Credit (Q) Fund’s June return “is likely to be negative.”

The fund is LendingCub’s largest and has regularly returned around 0.5 percent per month throughout its five-year history. However, default rates on the fund’s loans have begun to rise in recent months and returns have dropped, prompting a number of investor redemption requests

The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Rudegeair reported that as of June 17, LendingClub had received $442 million in redemption requests representing about 58 percent of the value of the fund. In response to the large number of redemption requests, LendingClub announced it was placing restrictions on withdrawals and would be considering winding down the fund entirely.

Group led by State Street, Putnam launches fintech initiative, (Boston Business Journal), Rated: A

The Boston Financial Services Leadership Council and the business consulting group Mass Insight have created Financial Technology Boston, under which they will host networking events and possibly job fairs involving fintech professionals from the corporate, startup, government and higher-education worlds.

In addition to State Street (NYSE: STT), Fidelity and Putnam, the BFSLC includes Santander Bank, U.S. Bank and Boston Private Financial (Nasdaq: BPFH).

Boston is already home to fintech-focused incubators FinTech Sandbox and the DCU Center of Excellence in Financial Services, as well as a monthly meetup for fintech professionals.

United Kingdom

Why investors should scoop up discounted P2P funds before putting cash into platforms, (AltFi News), Rated: AAA

Analysis by AltFi Data shows loan origination has more or less been static across the UK P2P lending industry in 2016. This somewhat contrasts with the rapid growth seen in 2015 and 2014. Any number of explanations are given for this including a broad risk-off attitude from markets as well as the ongoing fiasco at the major US platform Lending Club.

However, for professional and private investors alike who are not dissuaded from the adverse headlines, and attracted by the high yields on offer from investing in the market, there is a clear argument to avoid investing directly on platforms. While this is the normal route for many, buying shares in the investment trusts offering exposure to loans originated from the platforms that are heavily discounted at present arguably makes more sense.

Over time in addition to the 7.4 per cent yield on offer, a narrowing of this discount or perhaps even a move to a premium could significantly bolster returns.

The table below shows what will happen to the share price following a 20 per cent return in net asset value alongside changes in the discount/premium. It clearly shows that buying at a premium massively adds to the total return.

Of course there is always the risk that the discount moves out further. This could be caused by investors going off the trusts even more. Or it could be broader negative sentiment towards equity markets that sees index level selling of the FTSE 250 – in the case of P2P GI – or FTSE All Share selling in the case of VPC Specialty Lending. This would add to weakness in both trusts’ share prices, and potentially widen the discount.

However, as AltFi reported last week P2P GI has started to defend its discount by buying up its shares using spare cash. Last week it bought £2m of its shares at an average price of 827p, says Monica Tepes, analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.

This did temporarily lower P2P GI’s discount to 17.5 per cent although it has since moved back to over 20 per cent.

Brexit: FinTech firms fear for staff shortages and lost EU customers, (Tech Republic), Rated: AAA

London is a major player in the international FinTech market, with startups in the UK capital securing more venture capital funding last year than their European counterparts.

That status won’t necessarily change after Britain leaves the EU but FinTech firms have said it will complicate the picture, particularly when it comes to their ability to sell services to Europe and attract new talent.

Controlling migration was the second most important reason for quitting the EU, according to those who voted Leave in last week’s referendum.

Access to the single market allows goods and finance to be moved between EU countries without tariffs. However, full access also requires free movement of workers between European countries, something many Leave voters oppose.

Nevertheless, for peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform MarketInvoice, as for many other London-based FinTech firms, free movement of European labor is essential to meet its demands for skills.

“Here at MarketInvoice we have a super-diverse team from all corners of the globe. Most notably within our software-engineering and data-science teams. Many FinTech founders themselves come from outside the UK,” said Anil Stocker, CEO of MarketInvoice.

European Union

Insurer Aviva France to Lend €50 Million to SMEs Through Crowdlending Platforms, (Crowdfund Insider),Rated: AAA

Aviva France, together with two partners, alternative asset management firm Eiffel Investment Group and insurer AG2R La Mondiale, is launching an investment fund called “Prêtons Ensemble” (Lending together) dedicated to financing loans to small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) provided through crowdlending platforms.

Starting with an initial endowment of €50 million from Aviva France and €20 million from AG2R La Mondiale, the fund is expected to quickly grow to €100 million by rallying other institutional investors around the project.

The goal is to invest in the French real economy by financing SME loans granted through regulated crowdfunding platforms. Eiffel Investment Group is a specialist with more than eight years of experience in investing on crowdlending platforms, notably in the more advanced UK and US markets. Eiffel Investment will be in charge of the due diligence on the platforms and their loan portfolios. Currently, they have identified around 100 platforms and have made contact with 50 of them. Eventually, in five years from now, the fund should be invested to 70% in lending to SMEs and minimum to 50% in France. At the onset, we’re starting with a dozen platforms, mostly, but not only from France as the market is still emerging here. The (soon-to-be published) list includes names such as Younited Credit, Finexkap and Lendix.

The fund will be diversified in terms of the platforms’ business model and of the type of credit provided to SMEs. This means that it will include both unsecured and secured loans, short-term invoice financing as well as mid-term loans. On average, the loans are expected to have a maturity of 2.5 years.

Our decision was made long before the Lending Club problems surfaced. Upon hearing about them, we conducted a thorough analysis of their actual causes and impact. We were quite reassured to find out that the scale of the financial issue was small, that it had been fixed, and that a subsequent audit did not uncover any other impropriety.

Europe’s Top 11 Peer-to-Peer Lending Platforms, (Fintech News), Rated: A

Comment: As author chose to label the article Europe’s top 11, and includes UK companies, we chose to do the same.

In Europe today, although the vast majority of the P2P lending activity is concentrated in the UK – which accounts for over 84% of the whole European market –, Germany, France and Nordic countries are experiencing strong growth and development in the P2P lending space with a number of homegrown startups starting to emerge as regional leaders.

Australia

Fintech losses blamed on rerating, (The Australian Business Review), Rated: AAA

DirectMoney, which writes personal loans, slid to 4.5c a share after coming to market last year at 20c via a backdoor listing. On Friday, the company unveiled a $5.7m non-renounceable capital raising at 4.2c a share on a one-new-share-for-every-two-held basis.

The raising, underwritten by Bell Potter, opens on July 11.

It follows a mixed ride for investors, with the stock exchange in February querying its financial position and DirectMoney subsequently unveiling a deal with Macquarie, which bought $5m of the company’s personal loans and took shares in the company in exchange for advisory services.

In May, DirectMoney revealed loan demand was outstripping funding as the company slowly gained traction for its personal loan fund for retail investors. In the interim, the company turned to two “large financial institutions” for funding facilities, signing a non-binding term sheet with one for $20m.

Part of the cash from the $5.7m raising will be used as upfront collateral for the funding facilities. “We’ve proven our ability to originate loans; that is difficult for some organisations and what we are now doing is establishing committed funding programs of sufficient size so we can leverage the assets we’ve built,” Mr Beaumont said.

DirectMoney has written $17.6m of unsecured personal loans up to $35,000 for three to five years. Revenue in the financial year to the end of May was $1.19m, compared to $435,513 in the six months to December 31.

DirectMoney chief Peter Beaumont yesterday defended the fintech company’s stockmarket listing and expressed disappointment over losses worn by shareholders, arguing there were many benefits and the sector globally had suffered a de-rating.

“We’re disappointed there were investors that came in at higher prices and have had capital losses at this point, but marketplace lending globally has experienced a resetting of valuations, whether it’s LendingClub in the US or others, since last year,” he said.

The inaugural Australian Fintech Awards regonised innovation in the finance industry, with OnDeck Australia and Commonwealth Bank (CBA) receiving the Fintech-Bank Collaboration of the Year Award. OnDeck entered the Australian market last year with CBA and online accounting software provider, MYOB, as distribution partners.

India

P2P players bank on institutional lenders for growth, (Economic Times), Rated: AAA

I-lend has stitched a partnership with Hyderabad-based non-banking finance company Star Finserve, becoming the first peer-topeer online lending platform to join hands with an institutional lender while several other players including MicroGraam, Faircent and LenDenClub are in talks for similar pacts.

“The cost of loan origination is going up steadily for NBFCs and banks, the number of successful applications is declining and through these partnerships the institutional lenders can cut down on incurring origination of loan and administration costs,” said VVSB Shankar, founder of i-lend.

Shankar said the decline in the number of applications could be attributed to several factors such as competition among institutional lenders, quality of borrowers or involvement of non-performing assets. The company’s loan book size is about `1.5 crore and lenders on the platform can opt for borrowers who pay 18-21% interest.

Peer-to-peer platforms have reported an increase in the number of high net worth individuals or HNIs they have attracted over the past six months. “HNIs and family offices are showing interest in the peer-to-peer space. Since there is a criterion for lenders to have an income of over `10 lakh, this is bound to happen. Our top lenders have invested more than `40-50 lakh each, with the highest being around Rs 60 lakh,” said Rajat Gandhi, founder of Faircent, which has a loan book size of Rs 6.5 crore.

Smaller players including LenDen-Club said they have also seen increasing interest from HNIs, specifically from Maharashtra and Gujarat, spending about Rs 15 lakh individually. Since retail investors are central to how such platforms function, the companies aim to firm up a select few partnerships with institutional lenders over the next one year.

China

Exit of P2P lenders from Shanghai office market poses a challenge, (South China Morning Post),Rated: A

The recent collapse and exodus of numerous peer-to-peer lending (P2P) companies in China after a government crackdown on fraud has rattled the Shanghai CBD office market and may “pose a challenge for landlords”, experts say.

In the second quarter of the year, supply spiked to a 10-year high, according to real estate firm Colliers International, as overall vacancy rates in the area increased 3.2 per cent quarter on quarter to 7.2 per cent.

Korea

8PERCENT: Men in 30s Major P2P Investors, (The Korea Bizwire), Rated: A

8PERCENT, a P2P (peer-to-peer) lending company, revealed on July 4 that 30-something men who live in metropolitan areas are their primary investors.

As of June 30, top P2P lending company 8PERCENT’s total accrued loans summed up to 26.6 billion won ($23 million), with a total of 8,283 investors investing 3.21 million won ($2800) on average per person.

The average age of the investors was 34.3, and more than 90 percent of the investors were between the ages of 20 and 40. 8PERCENT also revealed that 77 percent of the investors lived in metropolitan areas, and that 67.5 percent were male and 32.5 percent, female.

The largest investment made so far was 453 million won ($395,000) diversified into 1,115 different bonds.

“Until last year, 90 percent of investors were from metropolitan areas, but the portion from non-metropolitan areas increased to 23 percent this year. Investment from women also increased from the low 20s to 30 percent, and we’re seeing growth in the number of investors in their 50s as well,” said Kang Seok-hwan, chief marking officer of 8PERCENT.

Small credit loans of 24.2 billion won ($21 million) comprise more than 90 percent of the total investments. Out of the total amount, 13.4 billion won ($11 million) was loaned to individuals, and 10.8 billion won ($9.4 million) to corporations.

Besides credit loans, borrowers also obtained real estate mortgage loans of 2.4 million won ($2 million).

 

Author:

George Popescu

The Race to Become the Amazon of Fintech

The Race to Become the Amazon of Fintech

“Everyone is trying to be the Amazon of fintech.” The proverbial land-grab for customers, partners, eyeballs and pocketbooks is occurring across the financial technology ecosystem, from P2P lending to investment banking. Some firms certainly have major competitive advantages in their marketing strategy and product offerings, but the reality is that most of the firms in […]

The Race to Become the Amazon of Fintech

“Everyone is trying to be the Amazon of fintech.” The proverbial land-grab for customers, partners, eyeballs and pocketbooks is occurring across the financial technology ecosystem, from P2P lending to investment banking. Some firms certainly have major competitive advantages in their marketing strategy and product offerings, but the reality is that most of the firms in the industry vying for the spot of “top dog” will be obliterated by companies with better tech, better reach and better capitalization.

Machine Revolution

If Amazon’s distribution is sophisticated enough to ship you books or groceries by drone, why can’t the financial services sector figure out a way to automate processes that already involve binary code? Such rhetoric may sound somewhat obvious, but due to regulatory and cost hurdles many of the advances occurring in fintech today are extremely overdue. Luckily some of the best and brightest in the field are working to solve both the simple and complex and automate processes in everything from bitcoin transactions to multi-million dollar securities deals.

The imminent creative destruction that is pending in the industry is likely to touch nearly every segment of financial services. As it does, we are likely to see collateral job damage across the financial sector. Those that are able to position themselves in such a way so as to avoid the axe may survive, but the machines are coming. Some very smart people are worse than contrarian on this topic.

Achieving Scale & Finding a Beachhead

One of the ways in which Amazon was able to win was through advancing quickly down the learning curve. Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, was strategic in targeting books as his initial beachhead into e-commerce. Books held more SKUs than any other product category in any other retail industry. By establishing an online bookstore first, the company was not only able to achieve rapid scale with a very ubiquitous product but it also gave management the ability to learn a core competency that later allow them to easily enter many other markets.

Yes, Amazon achieved scale, but the company’s strategy allowed them to do much more. Their beachhead products and industry were so broad, they learned quickly how to deal with millions of transactions in a streamlined way. Remember, they did this on a day when the current e-commerce tools available to online shop owners were non-existent.

But fintech is a different beast. Unlike an online bookstore online lending and securities dealing includes other elements including compliance and filtering for deal quality. In the world of securities dealing achieving scale is difficult to do without dipping into the gutter. In other words, a chicken-and-egg conundrum exists for scaling private securities transactions. In order to reach significant scale in exposure, the quality threshold is often breached—quality is sacrificed for deal quantity.

In today’s world, most platforms are either too niche oriented in order to reach quantity or they try too desperately to be all things to all people. They lack a true beachhead. Like Amazon, these players need their proverbial “book” market to establish a source of regular cash flows that can be used to further build out a product or platform. Traction before totalitarianism is key.

Complexity & Compliance

The ecosystem of financial technology is inherently complex, particularly in areas of corporate finance. This complexity is further exacerbated by layering on compliance issues. In fact, some fintech products are solely geared toward maintaining a compliant environment. However, where there are pain and complexity, there is an opportunity for disruptive technology.

Disruption is occurring all over the fintech ecosystem. There should be some major writing on the wall for many industries about to be obliterated by the likes of robotics and blockchain (i.e. financial advisors and transfer agents to be more precise). While there are areas that require people-to-people interaction and some serious bedside manner (like corporate M&A and other capital transactions), the reality is that most processes and procedures can easily be automated away. Growth will come as we continue to take high-cost heavy lifting away from people, replacing it with the tools necessary to make faster, more efficient finance.

Growing into the Amazon of fintech is not likely to occur overnight. Industry growing pains and individual company collateral damage still need to occur. In addition, the industry itself is so vast and the service offerings so different that the path to a catchall fintech company (similar to Amazon in e-commerce and cloud) would not likely occur until after industry maturation, consolidation, including a great deal of industry mergers and acquisitions. However, a conglomerate with such disparate technology in such varied niches in fintech would be unwieldy at best. I imagine those that will survive the current fray as successful companies would be advised to keep their heads down and stay in their lane. Until we grow up a bit, focus will be the name of the game.

Author :

Nate Nead

Nate Nead is an investment banker focused on mergers and acquisitions for middle market companies. He helps companies raise capital, acquire, grow and ultimately sell for the highest price possible. He resides in Seattle, Washington. This does not represent an offer to buy or sell any securities.

The New FinTech

The New FinTech

When ? Jun 30, 2016 Where ? 8:30am – 12:00pm ET Dentons LLP Dentons, Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, United States Description What next?! The ongoing FinTech ride has been like a Fast and the Furious street race – full of twists and turns. First FinTech is a major disruption, and then it […]

The New FinTech

When ?

Jun 30, 2016

Where ?

8:30am – 12:00pm ET
Dentons LLP
Dentons, Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, United States

Description

What next?! The ongoing FinTech ride has been like a Fast and the Furious street race – full of twists and turns. First FinTech is a major disruption, and then it is the belle of the ball with banks lining up to be its dance partner. Now, the Lending Club speed bump has turned a lot of lenders into the Fast and the Curious. Where does the market go from here? What is happening behind the scenes that has helped FinTech to grow? How is FinTech approaching underwriting and risk management? Join us on June 30th in NYC as we examine these and many more questions with leaders of the online lending industry.

More information

 

Marketplace Lending + Investing

Marketplace Lending + Investing

When ? September 27 and 28th, 2016 Where ? New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, Who will attend? Bank Lending Executives (Consumer, Small Business, Mortgage, Credit Cards, Auto), Investment Fund Managers, Institutional Investors, Hedge Fund, Individual Investors, Financial Advisors, Venture Capitalists, Investment Bankers, P2P Platforms, Regulators/Government, Attorneys, and Technology/Service Providers. More information: http://www.americanbanker.com/conferences/marketplace-lending-investing/

Marketplace Lending + Investing

When ?

September 27 and 28th, 2016

Where ?

New York Marriott Marquis Hotel,

Who will attend?

Bank Lending Executives (Consumer, Small Business, Mortgage, Credit Cards, Auto), Investment Fund Managers, Institutional Investors, Hedge Fund, Individual Investors, Financial Advisors, Venture Capitalists, Investment Bankers, P2P Platforms, Regulators/Government, Attorneys, and Technology/Service Providers.

More information:

Event: The Future of Marketplace Lending After the Lending Club News

Event: The Future of Marketplace Lending After the Lending Club News

When ? June 21, 11:30am – 12:30pm (MDT) Where ? Video panel streaming online. What ? Live video panel discussion. Panelist : Panelists: Joseph Besecker, Founder & CEO, Emerald Direct Lending Advisers & Bo Brustkern, co-Founder & CEO, NSR Invest Moderator: Summer Tucker, Director of Client Success, NSR Invest More information: http://events.shindig.com/event/nsremerald

Event: The Future of Marketplace Lending After the Lending Club News

When ?

June 21, 11:30am – 12:30pm (MDT)

Where ?

Video panel streaming online.

What ?

Live video panel discussion.

Panelist :

Panelists: Joseph Besecker, Founder & CEO, Emerald Direct Lending Advisers & Bo Brustkern, co-Founder & CEO, NSR Invest
Moderator: Summer Tucker, Director of Client Success, NSR Invest

More information: 

Attendees for “Funds, Permanent Capital Vehicles and Other Resources for Marketplace Lenders”

Attendees for “Funds, Permanent Capital Vehicles and Other Resources for Marketplace Lenders”

Our event on June 9th titled ” Funds, Permanent Capital Vehicles and Other Resources for Marketplace Lenders ” was attended by 170 people from the following firms : Please reach out if you would like to collaborate on a future event organization. Assured Guaranty Corp. Bank of America Corporation Bank of America Merrill Lynch Cadwalader, […]

Attendees for “Funds, Permanent Capital Vehicles and Other Resources for Marketplace Lenders”

Our event on June 9th titled ” Funds, Permanent Capital Vehicles and Other Resources for Marketplace Lenders ” was attended by 170 people from the following firms :
Please reach out if you would like to collaborate on a future event organization.
Assured Guaranty Corp.
Bank of America Corporation
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
Citigroup Inc.
Credit Suisse LLC
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc.
Funding Circle Limited
GlobalCapital
Guggenheim Securities LLC
Liberty Lending LLC
LoanStreet
One Zero Capital
Opal Financial Group
Rabobank International
Salem Lake Capital
TD Securities (USA) LLC
Thomson Reuters
UBS Investment Bank
Wanderlust Wealth Management
Waterfall Asset Management, LLC
Wells Fargo & Company
Patriot Bank
Cross River Bank
American Express
Intelligent Edge Advisors
Brooklyn Park Asset Management, LLC
Financial Times
Liberty Lending
Victory Park Capital
Mannatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP
Cadwalader
PeerformCiti
Equifax
KEC Ventures
Cooley LLP
Royal Media — Bank Innovation
W Associates
CommonBond
DebtwireGreenLine BDC
Lazard
Halman Aldubi Investment House
Deutsche Bank
DailyPay, Inc.
Oppenheimer
DRB Student Loan
Clocktower technology ventures
Rainmaker Global Business Development
LendIt
Barclays Bank plc
Credibly
Wales Capital
EFL Global
Citigroup
Global Debt Registry
MarktSync
Guggenheim
Tricadia Capital
Focus Capital Management
Applied Data Finance
Strategic Innovation Management
Lendrise Marketplace
Thomson Reuters
Unison Site Management
Riposte Management
PriceWaterhouseCoopers
Equifax
The Interface Financial Group
Goldman Sachs
Auriemma Consulting Group
Garmentë
Context Summits
CommonBond
iTechArt
500 start ups
Red Balloon Security, Inc.”
ModernLend
Herio Capital
deBanked
Cadwalader
The Wall Street Journal
Raiseworks, LLC

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