Daily News Digest Featured News

Monday February 27 2017, Daily News Digest

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United States

United Kingdom

International

Australia

China

India

Asia

Canada

News Summary

United States

SoFi Raises $ 500 Million Led by Silver Lake for Global Expansion (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Social Finance Inc. said it raised $500 million in a financing round led by private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. It plans to use the funds for international expansion of its online lending business and development of new financial products.

Other investors in the round include SoftBank Group Corp. and GPI Capital, and the funding brings SoFi’s total investment to $1.9 billion, the company said. Several sovereign wealth funds from countries in Asia and Europe invested as well, said Mike Cagney, SoFi’s chief executive officer and co-founder. The international group will purchase SoFi’s loans in addition to taking an equity stake, he said.

SoFi said it plans to develop new personal finance tools, including mobile deposit, credit and payment products that will be rolled out this year. It also anticipates bringing its lending products to Australia and Canada by the end of the year.

My Adventures in Fintech (Wealth Management), Rated: A

Two major factors have come together to make fintech platforms so popular. First, the rise of smartphones puts the apps right into the hands of millions of users who feel alienated by slow-moving traditional banks. Second, the financial crisis of 2008 eroded the borrowing ability of many middle-class individuals and small business owners as banks curtailed unsecured lending and other high-risk loans.

From 2010 to 2015, investment in fintech has grown from $1.8 billion to $22.3 billion, according to Accenture.

Lending Club

I started investing in Lending Club in 2011. My experience is limited to being an investor. I am a fractional owner in a total of 3,167 notes (see Figure 1).

So, if any one note defaults, my downside is generally limited to $25. Of those notes, 1,387 are current (that is, the individual borrowers are current in their payments), 1,269 notes have been fully paid off, and 432 notes have defaulted and been charged off.

Lending Club account summary

 

My 12.97 percent net annualized return will probably be reduced by 1 to 2 percentage points given the predictable defaults, but I’m very satisfied with the results to date.

I faced two major issues in managing a P2P account. First, how to select notes. Second, how to manage the small amounts of cash that accumulate every day. The Lending Club website lists tens of thousands of notes available for investment at any time, each with details about the underlying borrower such as income, credit score, whether he or she owns or rents, state of residence, purpose of loan, etc. At first, I inspected each note and selected the ones that appealed to me, but that can be a full-time job and is probably counterproductive. It’s much easier, and probably more reliable, to trust the Lending Club automated investment system.

Upstart

Almost all Upstart borrowers are recent college graduates at the beginning of their careers. This population has a much thinner conventional credit history, so Upstart developed an algorithm that looks beyond traditional credit data such as earning potential and employability. To invest with Upstart, you must be an accredited investor.

But lately, the platform is encouraging investors to determine a risk grade then automate the selection. Risk grade notes run from AAA to D. Almost every borrower signals that they intend to use Upstart funds to consolidate high interest credit card debt.

I have funded on a fractional basis 140 three-year notes from exclusively Grade B borrowers. Eight notes have matured. One borrower has defaulted. The value of my account is $13,933. I’ve made $452 in interest and my annualized IRR is 7.24 percent (Figure 3). Based on Upstart’s performance statistics (Figure 4), my performance of 7.42 percent is apparently better than the average across all notes (5.72 percent).

upstart performance

Acorns

I easily linked Acorns with my checking and credit card account more than a year ago. Since then, it has been systematically rounding up my purchases to the next dollar and investing the difference in a diversified portfolio of ETFs.

At the end of a year, I had contributed a total of $283.57, and earned $3.17 in dividends. I’ve paid a total of $8 in fees. The current value of my account is $282.23—not too great of a return until you consider I chose the “conservative” balanced portfolio with 39 percent in government bonds and 18 percent in corporate debt.

Fees are $1 per month or 0.25% per year, depending on your balance. The app is free and fees are waived to college students for four years.

acorns

Weekly Online Lending Snapshot – February 24, 2017 (Orchard Platform), Rated: AAA

In China, as reported by the Beijing Bureau of Financial Work, nine out of 10 of the roughly 5,000 lending platforms across the country may not survive the coming year as the government begins a well-telegraphed tightening ofregulatory supervision of these lending platforms. NatWest Bank, in the U.K., announced the launch of a digital platform for small and medium-sized businesses to apply for unsecured loans up GPB$150,000. Australian small business lender Prospa raised an AU$25 million funding round led by Sydney-based AirTree Ventures valuing the firm at AU$235 million.

orchard platform key indicators

orchard charts

3 Industries Being Disrupted by Crowdfunding (Entrepreneur), Rated: A

1. Corporate finance: From software to farm equipment

Large finance organizations can use it as a catalyst for gaining small businesses who seek to harness leased products that are tailored to them specifically. What’s more, the lower cost credit of the products they offer will appeal more to businesses that pay sky-high APRs.

For leaseholders of larger equipment, crowdfunding platforms will allow leaseholders such as farmers to finance crops and equipment from other farmers and associates.

2. Real estate: From housing to business establishments

Before crowdfunding, closing an actual real-estate deal required back and forth passing and signing of documents among lawyers. Beyond being slow, the process often added up to thousands of dollars in legal fees. Crowdfunding allows businesses of all sizes to bypass the monotonous process and dodge expenses. What’s more, real-estate crowdfunding allows potential investors access to a wider array of deals.

3. Consumer lending: Cars and home appliances

For financial institutions, this means learning to leverage a crowd’s interest to inform their lending offers. As the trend continues, new crowdfunding platforms will pop up to cater to specific lending verticals. Imagine a crowdfunding space where consumers can get loans for anything related to transportation or kitchen appliances. In this way, brands will be able to save on financing costs while gaining on capital returns.

AUTOFI UNVEILS ONLINE MULTI-LENDER SALES SOLUTION FOR USED CAR DEALERS (iLendingDirect Email) Rated: A

Today AutoFi, a financial technology company that is transforming the way cars are bought and sold, announced the launch of the first fully online sales and multi-lender financing solution for used car dealers. Financing on AutoFi’s platform will be provided by its lender network of banks, speciality lenders, and credit unions. Today, the company announced that its credit union financing will be offered in partnership with iLendingDIRECT.

The AutoFi platform is the first online point-of-sale solution for auto finance. It allows customers to purchase and finance a car completely online, either through a dealer’s website or an in-store digital experience. The company recently announced the world’s first online car sales and financing solution for new car dealers in partnership with Ford Motor Credit. Today’s announcement further expands AutoFi’s ability to serve the multi-billion-dollar used car sales market through its partnership with iLendingDirect.

AutoFi’s platform will now allow used car buyers to research a vehicle on the dealership’s website; select “Buy Now”; receive an automated credit decision; and get loan offers from banks, specialty lenders and iLendingDIRECT’s credit union network who compete for the car buyer’s business in real time.

Consumers can then customize their financing deal by selecting down payment and loan  terms; choose vehicle protection products; and e-sign all financing documents online. The new platform gives used car dealers and buyers the ability to transact online with competitive financing options in a fully automated process.

Lending Club Alters Grace Period for Borrowers (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

Lending Club (NYSE:LC) has tweaked the way it manages the “grace period” for borrowers when they make payments past the due date. Previously, borrowers received a 15 day grace period for any penalties on payments less than 15 days late.  Beginning today, Lending Club requires borrowers to pay the additional accrued interest as a result of their late payment.

RentRange Identifies 25 Markets with the Largest Rental Rate Increases (MarketWatch), Rated: A

RentRange, one of the premier providers of market data and analytics for the housing industry, today released data ranking the top 25 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) by average rental rate increase for single-family1 homes between the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2016 and the same quarter in 2015. The data analysis also identified the average vacancy rate within these markets in Q4 2016.

The Q4 2016 RentRange® data identified rental rate increases in areas like Cape Coral and Portland, both of which moved up the list into the top five, as well as newcomers including McAllen, Denver, Boston, Nashville and Miami. While rents remain high in the Bay Area, San Francisco dropped several positions, indicating that the year-over-year rent change was not as significant as seen in past years. Comparatively, San Jose made the list as a new addition in Q4 2016.

Analyzing the average vacancy rate, which demonstrates the percentage of all available units in a rental property that are vacant or unoccupied at a particular time, shows that the highest rates, as reflected from the list, are seen in the Southeast region, where vacancy rates range from 10.5 percent in Charleston to 20.4 percent in Myrtle Beach. In these areas, builders and investors may need to compete for a limited number of renters. An oversupply of new properties can drive up the vacancy rate and eventually push rental rates down. This scenario is currently happening in Myrtle Beach, where more than 3,100 new homes were built in 2015, a 94 percent increase compared to two years earlier.

United Kingdom

Brexit Terrified This CEO. Then Business Jumped 50% (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

At sunrise on June 24, Samir Desai rushed to his offices near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Britain had just voted to quit the European Union and he knew his staff at peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle Ltd. would be freaking out.

As the pound tumbled and the government quaked following the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, Desai walked the floor of Funding Circle’s whiteboard-decked offices, fielding anxious questions. The non-British EU citizens feared they’d have to leave the country. The sales team feared that investors funding the firm’s loans to small businesses would bail.

In the eight months since the Brexit vote, Funding Circle has been on a tear. The firm originated more than 530 million pounds ($685 million) in loans during the second half of 2016, a 50 percent jump from the same period a year earlier, according to AltFi Data Ltd., which analyzes the British peer-to-peer industry. In the fourth quarter, Funding Circle’s U.K. division became profitable for the first time.

The question now is whether Funding Circle’s post-referendum run has legs. Meekings theorizes that volume has been driven by the Bank of England’s decision to lower interest rates to 0.25 percent from 0.50 percent in August. That spurred more retail investors to chase yield in the firm’s loans, which are returning an average 6.2 percent annually. Meantime, credit-hungry borrowers may also be flocking to Funding Circle as banks retrench from lending to small companies.

The great British credit boom: Bank lending soars in January (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

Figures from the British Bankers Association (BBA) showed that total consumer borrowing growth rose to £538m, more than doubling from December’s figure. This was primarily driven by the increase in personal loans and overdrafts, which rose to an eight-month high of £422m.

Meanwhile, bank lending to businesses rose by £3.4bn in January, which was the largest increase since January 2015.

Banks tightened up lending after the financial crisis which had a detrimental impact on economic recovery, although it created an opportunity for the peer-to-peer lending sector.

At 44,657 in January, mortgage approvals for house purchases were up 18.6 per cent from their August 2016 low, although they were still 2.5 per cent below the January 2016 level.

Gross mortgage borrowing came in at £13.8bn, with re-mortgaging approvals 15.7 per cent higher year on year.

How P2P funds have fared over the past year (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

Net asset value (NAV) returns range from three per cent to 20 per cent while discounts to NAV have fallen as low as 20 per cent.

P2P Global Investments

Almost 60 per cent of the assets are in the US, with 23.2 per cent in Europe, 8.7 per cent in cash, 6.4 per cent globally and 2.2 per cent in Australia.

Over the past 12 months its NAV has grown 5.34 per cent and it is currently on a discount to premium of 20.8 per cent.

SME Loan Fund

Almost two thirds, 63 per cent, of assets are in the UK, with 13.1 per cent in the US, 18.6 per cent in Europe and the rest in cash.

The trust has seen its NAV total return grow by seven per cent over the past 12 months and it is currently trading at a discount to net asset value of 10.3 per cent.

sme loan fund

Ranger Direct Lending

The ordinary income share class is currently on a discount to NAV of 10.5 per cent while the zero preference and c share classes are on 2.2 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively.

Funding Circle SME Income Fund

Its regional exposure is currently broken up as 73 per cent in the UK, 17 per cent in the US, two per cent in continental Europe and eight per cent in cash.

It has seen its NAV deliver total returns of 6.7 per cent over the past 12 months and is currently on a premium of 1.6 per cent.

funding circle sme income fund

VPC Specialty Lending

The investment trust is composed of 36 per cent marketplace loans and 39 percent in balance sheet investments, with the rest in shares, securitisation and cash.

Its NAV has returned 3.1 per cent over the past year and it is trading at a discount to NAV of 19.4 per cent.

Honeycomb Investment Trust

It has returned 8.7 per cent over the past 12 months and is on a premium to NAV of 7.7 per cent.

RateSetter Forms Partnership With Accountancy Advisor TaxAssist to Engage With SMEs (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

Online lender RateSetter has formed a partnership with accountancy advisor TaxAssist Accountants to help engage with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). TaxAssist Accountant notably specializes in all businesses with a turnover of £2 million of less. It has more than 290 locations throughout the UK.

I’d use peer-to-peer lending to beat the banks (Moneywise), Rated: A

This growing market, which is now regulated, is dominated by three players – Funding Circle, RateSetter and Zopa. The annual interest on offer varies, ranging from 2.9% (RateSetter) through to in excess of 7% (Funding Circle), but so does the degree of risk you will take.

While the 2.9% interest on offer from RateSetter comes with the backing of a ‘provision fund’ (designed to protect your capital from losses if loans turn bad), the 7% from Funding Circle has no such underpin. If a loan goes bad, your capital could be compromised.

My peer-to-peer money is spread across 16 businesses operating in everything from retail through to IT. It is effectively an investment play on UK plc. When the economy is strong, my companies are more than likely to keep repaying the loans they have secured.

Welendus Live on Seedrs (Welendus Email), Rated: A

I am pleased to announce that Welendus is now back live on Seedrs. I would like to invite you to visit our campaign and watch our video at ( https://www.seedrs.com/welendus4 ).

The Funding Network celebrates 15th anniversary (UK Fundraising), Rated: B

The Funding Network celebrates its 15th anniversary this March, having so far raised over £9.8 million for more than 1,450 social change projects through its live events since its 2002 launch.

TFN is celebrating with a special event on 16th March at the Funding Circle’s Funderbar in London.

International

Marketplace lending news roundup 27/02/17 (AltFi), Rated: AAA

In the UK, the overall market for alternative finance has just ticked over £10bn – including crowdfunding – in terms of the amount of money lent and invested into the equity of companies via crowdfunding platforms.

UK P2P business lending Growth is still in rude health as proven by AltFi Data’s number crunching, in the same week that Funding Circle tops £2bn mark. In the funds world, P2P GI has continued its share buyback strategy while the SME Loan Fund may be about to see an investment management change by New York-based SQN.

Not so good for US-based OnDeck, which despite a surge in Q4 lending is looking to cut jobs amid rising losses.

Financial technologies that make banks better (Finextra), Rated: A

A Reykjavik-based company strongly commits to improving the way the banks function. Meniga is, mostly, known for its money management software that allows the banks to start offering great personal and business financial management applications to their clients without investing heavily into the development.

Recent developments in Payment Services Directive 2 make banking APIs so important as never before. On the one side, banks are required to provide open technology for accessing their customers’ data to third parties. And, instead of investing into the development of open APIs, a bank can pick the technology up from Kontomatik as it already has the API in place. On the other side, smart banks will not only release open APIs but will also do everything at their disposal to benefit from the access to the data of other banks.

Started in 2009, it has taken Kabbage roughly 5 years to come up with a white-label solution that allows financial companies to use its technology for assessing the risks and issuing the loans online. With white-label technologies from Kabbage, a bank should be able to launch a great B2B lending platform without investing into development, testing and implementation of the modern risk assessment models.

Australia

US Market leader delivers keynote address to AltFi Australasia (The Bull), Rated: A

A reluctance by banks and government agencies to share data with alternative lenders is driving up the cost of borrowing in Australia, a global fintech leader told the AltFi Australasia conference in Sydney today.

Rob Young, Senior Vice President, International at OnDeck Capital Inc, said that a lack of open data is a major issue for alternative lenders in the fintech space.

He explained that in Australia, there is limited sharing of credit, banking or tax data, while the UK’s open data regime has forced banks to share customer data and open up their APIs to third parties.

“The UK is a great example of where open data has been in place for several years, the alternative finance sector is flourishing, and even the banks have benefited by opening up cross-sell opportunities within their own businesses. It’s a win-win for the lending sector and its customers,” Mr Young said.

Fintech Business Awards announces 2017 winners (EconoTimes), Rated: B

Midwinter Financial Services that has developed a range of cutting edge financial planning software packages, has been recognized for the Fintech Business Excellence Award for company category, having been awarded the highest points of all winners.

Other awards in the fintech category include Fintech Mentor of the Year that was awarded to Claire Wivell Plater from The Fold Legal and Fintech Start-Up of the Year given to Valiant Finance. Apart from this, Crowdfunding Innovator of the Year, Insurance Innovator of the Year, Payments Innovator of the Year, Investment Innovator of the Year, among other awards were also recognized.

China

The day of reckoning is nigh for fintech startups (SCMP), Rated: A

What started as a venture capital-driven, primal scream against the perceived backwardness of traditional banks and financial institutions has run into problems that no other new technology has faced.

The last two years saw an expansion of incubators and platforms to cultivate fintech startups. And this year, I am observing clues in major fintech centres where leaders are quitting startups and bank sponsored vehicles.

The hope and dream of being able to disintermediate financial institutions and the entire industry is unrealistic given how much protection and restriction is needed to prevent another financial meltdown that threatens to cast a 1930s style depression across the world.

Besides BlackRock’s acquisition of the roboadvisor site FutureAdvisor in 2015 (valuing it between US$150 million to $200 million) other asset managers like Fidelity and Schwab believed they could accomplish roboadvisor front ends on their own.

So approaches and results are very mixed.

India

Fintech aims to facilitate Rs. 100 cr. loan in 100 days (The Hindu), Rated: A

Peer-to-peer lending platform Oxyloans is targeting to facilitate disbursement of Rs. 100 crore as loans in 100 days beginning March 1. The firm, which neither mobilises deposits nor disburses loans, earns revenue from the commission — 1.5% from lenders and 2.5% from borrowers — it charges.

The loans disbursed through the platform are typically short-term, from 6 months to 11 months, and the rate of interest ranges between 14% and 36%.

India to Get Its Own Fintech Hub in Vizag (NewsBTC), Rated: A

India has been making a lot of noise in the banking, fintech and cryptocurrency sector lately. The country, currently heading towards a financial revolution now has plans to set up a fintech hub. The proposed fintech hub will be established in the city of Vizag.

According to reports, the concerned government has allocated resources to set up the necessary infrastructure in the “Fintech Tower”. Slated to go live next month, Thomson Reuters and Visa will be among the first few companies to set up shop in the Fintech Tower.

Asia

Rise of peer-to-peer financing puts gov’t on edge (Korea JoongAng Daily), Rated: AAA

Starting this week, a guideline that sets ground rules for P2P platforms will go into effect nationwide. Other steps to safeguard investors from risk include ongoing efforts by the Financial Services Commission, the country’s financial regulator, to make credit businesses linked to P2P platforms register with the FSC regardless of size.

According to Crowd Institute, a research center in Korea dedicated to P2P finance, the P2P market size grew to as much as 700 billion won ($616 million) by January this year, growing almost 14 times from 2015. The number of P2P platforms also skyrocketed to 131 in January this year from 16 in January 2016.

The Crowd Institute projects that by the end of this year, the size of the market will grow to as large as 1.5 trillion won.

Of the 700 billion won already in the P2P market, over half, or around 408 billion won, is in real estate, according to the institute.

Roof Funding’s model is project financing, which means investors crowdfund a project to build a building from scratch. If the builder goes bankrupt, the ownership is transferred to the investors, and they can choose to auction off the building or sell the units after completing construction with additional funding.

For instance, interest rates on one-year fixed deposits at local commercial banks as of Feb. 21 range from 1.10 percent to 1.75 percent, according to data from the Korea Federation of Banks.

Despite the rising popularity of real estate P2P platforms, financial authorities in Korea warn that the investments may not be as safe as they seem. In one case, a firm called Money Auction declared bankruptcy last November after it was saddled with debt. Founded over a decade ago as one of the first P2P platforms in Korea, it faced a liquidity crunch after payment delays led the firm to owe over 4 billion won to investors.

Those working in the P2P industry note that many apartments are struggling to attract buyers, and when the market suffers, smaller buildings like duplexes and multiplexes (the main investment targets of most P2P platforms) will likely feel the impact first, jeopardizing lenders’ interest and principal.

Lee complains that some clauses in the guideline are too restrictive. “For instance, about 80 percent of all investment made through January exceeded 10 million won, which is especially the case for real estate P2P projects,” he said. “If investors can only invest less than 10 million won per year, it is possible that the entire industry will take a heavy blow.”

P2P lending Korea

SBXbank to Launch Crypto Currency Marketplace (JakartaGlobe), Rated: A

Smart Banking Exchange, better-known as SBXbank, a London-headquartered company, is set to launch a unique marketplace called “Coinxmart,” in which transactions are done using crypto currency, an alternative digital currency not dissimilar to the old bitcoin.

Abdul Rahman Said, SBXbank’s Asean vice president of marketing, told the Jakarta Globe in an interview on Wednesday (25/2) the company seeks to sink up to Rp 100 billion ($7.5 million) into developing financial technology services that offer not only e-commerce, but also peer-to-peer investment and peer-to-peer lending, all of which will use a crypto currency.

Sedania to buy fintech firm for RM12m (The Star), Rated: A

Technology empowerment company, Sedania Innovator Bhd, has proposed to acquire a syariah-based financial technology (fintech) company, Sedania As Salam Capital (SASC), for RM12 million.

In a statement on Monday, Sedania Innovator said the purchase consideration would be satisfied via RM4 million cash, and RM8 million via the issuance of 25.8 million new Sedania Innovator shares at 31 sen each.

Sedania Innovator said under the proposed acquisition, SASC would provide a profit guarantee of RM1.5 million per year for the financial years ending Dec 31, 2017 and 2018.

To-date, it has processed over 300,000 personal financing transactions worth more than RM25 billion.

Canada

Canadian regulators welcome fintech amid rising global oversight interest (Reuters), Rated: AAA

Recognizing the need to shift its regulatory focus to accommodate the use of advanced technology in the delivery of financial services, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has launched initiatives aimed at providing compliance advice and flexible regulatory requirements for fintechs.

The OSC Launchpad initiative provides some flexibility in regulatory compliance for fintechs with the aim of making it easier for startups to innovate. The types of relief or support available through the OSC LaunchPad include informal guidance on regulatory compliance matters from OSC staff and, on a case-by-case basis, eligibility for time-limited registration or exemptive relief. At the same time the OSC has stated (here) that it will continue to scrutinize fintechs for potential investor protection risks.

While the OSC is the first provincial securities regulator to undertake formal fintech initiatives, other provinces and territories have begun to recognize a need for more flexibility in overseeing fintechs. When Lending Loop, a peer-to-peer lending platform, began in Canada in 2015, it had to obtain approval from provincial securities regulators for a prospectus and comply with other securities-related regulatory requirements. The Toronto-based company subsequently paused its operations and re-launched in late 2016 under an exempt market dealer license (here) that was granted by the OSC.

Authors:

George Popescu
George Popescu
Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor

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