Daily News Digest Featured News

Thursday April 20 2017, Daily News Digest

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United States

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China

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News Summary

United States

California Supreme Court Finds Arbitration Agreement Waiver of ‘Public Right’ Unenforceable (JD Supra), Rated: AAA

On April 6, the California Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in McGill v. Citibank, finding that a pre-dispute arbitration agreement was unenforceable to the extent it required the plaintiff to waive her right to seek public injunctive relief. According to the court, the right to pursue a public injunction constitutes an “unwaivable public right” under California law. Therefore, “a provision in any contract ― even a contract that has no arbitration provision ― that purports to waive, in all fora, the statutory right to seek public injunctive relief . . . is invalid and unenforceable under California law.”

The California court further explained that its partial unenforceability finding is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler-Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 628 (1985). In that case, the Court stated that “[b]y agreeing to arbitrate a statutory claim, a party does not forgo the substantive rights afforded by the statute; it only submits to their resolution in an arbitrable, rather than a judicial forum.”

The court also acknowledged, but found no reason to address, the plaintiff’s related claim based on what is known under California law as the “Broughton-Cruz” rule, asserting that a request for a public injunction cannot be decided in arbitration. Finally, the decision remanded the case to the California Court of Appeals to consider ― if either party should raise the issue ― the question of whether the rest of the arbitration agreement remains enforceable in light of language contained in the most recent version of the underlying account agreement stating that, “if any portion of the arbitration provision is deemed invalid or unenforceable, the entire arbitration provision shall not remain in force.”

Pepper Points

  • The decision of the California Supreme Court in McGill v. Citibank will likely be appealed.
  • In light of this decision, providers of consumer products and services should review their existing arbitration agreements to determine whether the consumer’s ability to pursue a public injunction or other “public rights” is completely foreclosed.
  • McGill v. Citibank also highlights the risks of including language in an arbitration agreement (or in any contract) stating that the agreement will be invalid if any portion of the agreement is deemed invalid or unenforceable. Given the impossibility of predicting how courts may interpret even well-settled questions of law, standard severability language is always preferable unless different language is specifically mandated.

Five areas of fintech that are attracting investment (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

At the same time, some of the steam has come out of the sector. Overall investment and merger and acquisition activity in fintech almost halved from a record high of $46.7bn in 2015 to only $24.7bn last year, according to KPMG.

Another negative factor was the governance scandal last year at Lending Club, the biggest online lender in the US, combined with disappointing performances by some of its rivals, which turned investors off peer-to-peer lending.

China

Total fintech investment in Asia inched up to a new record of $8.6bn last year, although the number of deals fell by more than 8 per cent. More than half the region’s total fintech investment came from one deal: Ant Financial’s $4.5bn funding round.

Artificial intelligence

The launch of voice-activated assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Voice has opened up possibilities for making online banking easier for customers. Banks such as Capital One have already latched on to this trend.

Cyber security

Cyber security shot to the top of the boardroom agenda for banks after one of the biggest bank robberies in history was carried out by cyber thieves on the Bangladesh central bank via the Swift payments system in February 2016. The crooks made off with $81m that was on deposit at the US Federal Reserve.

Blockchain

Most big financial groups remain convinced of the potential for blockchain to revolutionise parts of their industry and several central banks are examining the potential for using the technology to create digital currencies. Venture capital investment in blockchain companies rose by a fifth to $544m last year, according to KPMG.

Insurtech

The insurance industry has been slower than other areas of finance to wake up to the digital disruption at its door. But recently start-ups such as So-sure, Friendsurance, Lemonade, Guevara and Brolly have emerged with plans to transform the sector. Venture capital investment in insurance technology companies doubled last year to almost $1.2bn, according to KPMG.

Real Estate Tech Deals Tick Up, But Still Well Below Peak (CB Insights), Rated: AAA

2016 was a banner year for real estate tech with over $2.6B in funding to the category across 277 deals. At the current run rate, 2017 could very well reach another consecutive funding high, even as deals are on track to come in slightly below last year’s total.

So far this year, real estate tech companies have received $733M across 61 deals.  At the current run-rate investment activity is on track to reach $2.9B invested across 247 deals.

On a quarterly basis, deals have materially declined since Q3’16.

Funding, on the other hand, has increased in each of the last three quarters and Q1’17 received the second-largest quarterly funding total ever, behind Q2’16.

real estate technology

Why I Don’t Believe in the Hybrid Advice Model (Lend Academy), Rated: A

On paper, it looks pretty good: let the robot do the simpler stuff, like a modern-portfolio-theory allocation between a few ETFs, and have a human being intervene to provide more sophisticated and personalized advice.

In practice, I think it’s nonsense. If you believe the market is truly efficient, then there’s no point in using an advisor, robot or human. Just invest in a broad market ETF and be done with it (except for tax harvesting).

If you think the market is efficient-ish, then low cost optimization is the solution. Go robot. If you think you need an active manager, you should read the trove of statistical analysis that demonstrate you’re simply paying for someone’s yacht. Indexes beat stockpickers [92% of time]…

It does make sense for robo-advisors to move to the hybrid model, since it allows them to differentiate and de-commoditize their service, but for their clients, not so much.

Machine learning algorithms have become so good in the last 10 years, that any number-crunching and quantitative decisions a smart but junior employee can do, the machine will do better, faster, and cheaper.

Wealthfront Now Offers Securities-Based Lending (Financial Advisor IQ), Rated: A

As its first move into lending, robo-advice provider Wealthfront has revealed it will let clients borrow money against their investments, Reuters reports.

Along with robo rival Betterment, the robo-advisor has increased competition in the wealth management space against the likes of wirehouses Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, brokerages like Charles Schwab and even fund houses with direct-to-consumer offerings like Vanguard.

Investors with at least $100,000 with Wealthfront can now borrow up to 30% of their balance for loans for anything except purchasing more investments on the firm’s platform, the company announced Wednesday.

Reuters reports loans will cost between 3.25% and 4.5%, and any money a client deposits into their account after taking out a loan will pay off the balance rather than investments.

Edward Jones partners with SixThirty to support financial technology startups (PR Newswire), Rated: A

Financial services firm Edward Jones today announced a multi-year partnership with SixThirty, a St. Louis-based venture fund that invests in financial technology (FinTech) startup companies. Backed by the St. Louis Regional Chamber, SixThirty was founded in 2013 and to date has funded more than 25 startups across the globe.

As part of the partnership with SixThirty, Frank LaQuinta, a general partner with Edward Jones, has joined the organization’s Investment Committee which evaluates the investment pipeline and selects FinTech startups that SixThirty invests in.

Pi Capital Advises Money360 on $ 250 million South Korean Financing Vehicle (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

Pi Capital International LLC (“Pi Capital”) is pleased to announce that it was the exclusive financial advisor and placement agent to Money360, Inc. for a structured debt facility of up to $250 million. The financing vehicle is designed to allow Money360 to employ funding as it provides commercial real estate loans to its U.S. client base. The fund provides Korean investors with a short-duration, high-yield fixed-income instrument.

“The fund raise by Pi Capital will allow us to substantially increase our assets under management,” said Evan Gentry, M360 Advisors’ CEO. “We believe this gives us a competitive advantage with an anticipated $250 million investment from one of South Korea’s most reputable financial institutions.”

ApplePie Capital Announces Appointment of Chief Development Officer and Franchise Finance Company Acquisition (Yahoo! Finance), Rated: A

ApplePie Capital, the first online lender solely dedicated to the franchise industry, today announced the appointment of franchise industry veteran Ronald Feldman as chief development officer, as well as the acquisition of Funding Solutions, LLC, a well-established national franchise lending consultancy that specializes in SBA, conventional and equipment finance loans. Feldman and Funding Solutions’ managing partner Randy Jones will join ApplePie’s leadership team.

These additions position ApplePie’s financial platform to exponentially expand upon its hallmarks of speed, flexibility and efficiency with new product options, an expanded network of lending sources and an extraordinary wealth of franchise finance expertise for its growing list of franchisor partners. Currently, ApplePie serves more than 40 franchisors including Orangetheory Fitness, Jimmy John’s, Jersey Mike’s and Marco’s Pizza.

Responsible for growing ApplePie’s brand portfolio and contributing to product strategy, Ronald Feldman comes to the company with more than 20 years of experience in franchise leadership and franchise financing.  He previously served as chief development officer at FranData, the industry leader in market research, and as a principal and co-founder of Franchise America Finance (FAF) and The Siegel Financial Group. Feldman was also an early franchisee of The Goddard School system. As an active advocate of the franchising business model, Feldman currently serves the International Franchise Association (IFA) as chair of the Supplier Forum Advisory Board and sits on both the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the association.  Feldman was awarded the Sid Feltenstein MVP Award for service to the IFA’s Political Action Committee (FRANPAC) in 2013.

Why More Millennials Would Rather Visit The Dentist Than Listen To Banks (Forbes), Rated: A

Unfortunately, some Millennial stereotypes are rooted in fact. A 2015 PWC survey showed that only 24% of us have basic financial knowledge, and even so, only 27% of us seek financial advice on saving and investing.

When it comes to jobs, we’re not the deadbeats that people assume. In fact, a 2015 Deloitte report found that 54% of Millennials had started or had planned to start their own businesses by year-end. Although we may work differently than generations past, many of us are passionate, entrepreneurial and looking to make a difference.

“Advisors need to understand how truly connected this new generation is to each other and to information.” When it comes to trusting a financial advisor, Kamine highlights this outsider oversight as a road block.

Millennials currently represent a meaningful fraction of U.S. wealth that will grow as baby boomers continue to pass down an astounding $30 trillion over the next 30 years. When this transfer of wealth happens, an estimated 66% of Millennials will fire their parents’ financial advisor, according to InvestmentNews Data.

This year, 86% of Millennials said they are interested in socially responsible investing, according to Morgan Stanley.

The Millennial Disruption Index reports 71% of us would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks tell us. In our financial planning, we have shorter-term goals that we’re trying to align with the things we care about.

With an average age of 51, many advisors still build financial plans based on their view of a traditional life cycle with set ages for when we start a family, buy a house, climb the corporate ladder and retire. But their view is not our reality. Kamine adds, “Financial advice has been like a structured box without much creativity or understanding of the individual. Advisors need to become more dynamic because we’re revolting against structure. I’ve told my advisors I don’t envision buying a house for at least the next five years. And I’m definitely not focused on planning for retirement 40 to 50 years from now.”

Miami fintech company DadeSystems receives $ 2 million in funding (Miami Herald), Rated: A

DadeSystems, a Miami-based provider of account receivable automation solutions, raised $2 million in funding to accelerate its growth from Miami early-stage venture firm Ocean Azul Partners.

New GAO Study Examines Fintech Industry Regulation (Banking Journal), Rated: B

The report, the first in a series on regulation in the fintech industry, focuses specifically on marketplace lenders, mobile payments, digital wealth management platforms and distributed ledger (also known as blockchain) technology.

While the GAO did not issue any recommendations in the report, it noted that regulation of these four subsectors was varied depending on the types of products or services offered and the way in which they are delivered to consumers.

College Ave Student Loans Kicks off the Naked Financial Truth Digital Tour Featuring Financial Advice for Parents and Students (BusinessWire), Rated: B

College Ave Student Loans, the leading next-generation student loan fintech lender, has teamed up with America’s #1 College Life Expert Harlan Cohen to help families get comfortable with the uncomfortable when it comes to college and money. Hosted by Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate, the Naked Financial Truth Digital Tour will feature a series of free webinars and videos focused on financial advice, strategies and tips to help parents and students plan for post-secondary education.

The first webinar, “The 7 Biggest Financial Mistakes College Students Make (And How Parents Can Help)” will be held on Tuesday, April 25 at 7 p.m. ET. Registration for the webinar is free and available online at http://nakedroommate.com/collegeavewebinar1.

Ben Franklin’s Fintech Accelerator is First of its Kind in the Region. These 8 Startups Made the Cut (Biz Journals), Rated: B

These eight companies — which are required to have a presence in the region to receive an investment — will begin the 12-week accelerator on April 24, meeting with mentors and advisors selected to help guide them toward growth and fundings. They run the gamut of the financial industry, from creating data visualizations of personal assets to a student loan repayment benefit program. Four focus on putting financial technology to use solving social issues.

  • Asset-Map (Philadelphia)
  • Bright Idea Energy (Philadelphia)
  • College Affordability (Wynnewood)
  • Factury (Silicon Valley and New York City)
  • FinPay (King of Prussia)
  • FixList (Philadelphia)
  • NeedsList (Philadelphia)
  • PeopleJoy (Philadelphia)

RayJay Adds Real-Time Client Updates to Planning Tools (Financial Advisor IQ), Rated: B

In the next several weeks Raymond James is setting its sights on rolling out a revamped suite of “longevity” planning tools. The updated software comes with the kinds of bells and whistles that advisors might expect from a nearly five-year-old package – a “new look and feel” as well as a “more conversational design,” as company execs put it.

Other notable enhancements, they say, include more flexibility for analyzing portfolio return patterns and capabilities allowing real-time updates as clients’ household budgets and retirement goals change over time.

TAMARACK IMPLEMENTS ITS SALESFORCE.COM LEASE/LOAN ORIGINATOR FOR CHANNEL PARTNERS CAPITAL (NEF Association), Rated: B

Tamarack, a leader in providing independent software solutions in the equipment finance and commercial lending industry, has added Channel Partners Capital as its newest client to utilize Tamarack’s Lease/Loan Origination Accelerator on Salesforce.

Channel Partners, a leading provider of small business working capital loans, will benefit from added flexibility, streamlined operations and enhanced audit controls, as a result of using Tamarack’s Lease/Loan Origination Accelerator on Salesforce.

Tamarack’s Lease/Loan Origination Accelerator on Salesforce is a scalable solution offering users the ability to automate work queues,increase throughput of loans without additional head count and customize notifications from lead generation through to funding.

United Kingdom

UK is capital of Europe for fintech unicorns (The Telegraph), Rated: AAA

The UK dominates the European financial technology industry, with figures showing it boasts more billion-dollar fintech companies than the rest of the continent put together.

Britain houses four fintech “unicorns” – companies valued at $1bn (£780m) or more – with a combined valuation of $18.5bn, according to a report by the technology investment bank GP Bullhound.

This compares to two in the rest of Europe, which are worth $4.6bn between them.

Globally, fintech investment grew slightly to $13.6bn, although there was a decrease in the number of investments from 942 to 840.

global vc fintech funding

BondMason is first P2P provider to launch a SIPP product (AltFi), Rated: AAA

BondMason has become the first peer-to-peer service provider to launch a self-invested personal pension (SIPP) product. The service aims to offer investors a flexible and tax-efficient way to save for retirement.

The new retirement product, which selects loans across P2P lending platforms, will grant UK savers exposure to higher-return assets than traditional pension savings products. Starting from a minimum investment of £5,000.

Just Google it! Millennials favour search engines over financial advice (P2P Finance News), Rated: AAA

MILLENNIALS are favouring search engines over professional financial advice when it comes to managing their own money, research claims.

A poll of more than 2,000 adults by Zurich UK claims 15 per cent of millennials, referring to those aged 18-34, are turning to search engines such as Google instead of seeking professional financial advice, more than any other age group.

Only three per cent of 35-44 year olds and nine per cent of those aged 45-54 and over 55 respectively, opt for web-based information.

Asked why they eschew professional help, one in five millennials cited confidence in their ability to sort their own financial futures as a reason for not initially seeking professional help, while 37 per cent felt they do not earn enough to need to speak to a financial adviser, and almost a quarter said they were too young.

Loan searches on the internet ‘may affect credit rating’ (BBC), Rated: B

High Street bank TSB said some loan providers make a “hard mark” on credit files when someone asks for a loan price or quote.

TSB chief executive Paul Pester said: “We estimate that consumers are losing out by as much as £400m each year, which is going straight into the pockets of aggressive loans providers. It is time the industry comes clean on these costly underhand tactics.”

P2P lending is fast becoming the go-to option (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: B

P2P lending offers an innovative funding option for businesses – including developers – and is fast becoming the go-to option.

It’s essential that the development finance sector stays competitive and vibrant, and alternative lending allows that to happen. Far from just being a back-up for situations that the traditional lending sector can’t cater to, crowdfunding and P2P platforms can actually be a more efficient source of funding.

European Union

2018 is shaping up to be a regulatory nightmare for financial services (Information-age.com), Rated: AAA

Achieving compliance will not happen overnight. Indeed, MiFID II is widely considered to be one of the most sprawling pieces of financial legislation ever devised, and thus it presents numerous challenges. One of which being that recording calls will become mandatory for all areas of financial advice.

Then, if you add GDPR (the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation), coming into effect in May 2018, into the equation, 2018 is shaping up to be a regulatory nightmare for financial services firms. Under GDPR, we all have a‘ right to be forgotten’ or a right to erasure of all personal information held on us by a particular company. This places a duty on companies to be able to quickly access and delete the information they hold on specific individuals, on request.

However, comparing the responses of IT professionals and those responsible for managing Risk & Compliance within a business shows IT teams have a better overall understanding of the consequences of non-compliance. 62% of risk and compliance managers admitted to not knowing a company can be fined up to five million euros or 10 per cent of annual turnover, compared to only 42% of IT managers and decision makers.

Tinder for microloans: How to share lending risk with strangers (Russia Beyond the Headlines), Rated: A

A stranger’s photograph appears on your smartphone screen, and you decide whether to give him or her a loan or not. The money is not yours, but instead is provided by microfinance organizations. That’s the main difference from traditional American P2P (peer-to-peer) lending, and with Suretly you can earn or lose depending on whether the recipient of your largesse proves to be a reliable borrower or not.

Suretly is geared exclusively to short-term loans of up to one month; in other words, those with the highest interest.

The money itself is loaned by the microfinance organization that the borrower applies to, but only if they attract enough sureties to cover the whole amount, plus interest. Users share the risks, and depending on whether the individual returns the money or not, they can lose or earn from $1 to $10.

On the app, borrowers are divided into seven categories from A to G depending on their trustworthiness. The higher the risk that the loan won’t be repaid, the higher the price of its surety. The maximum commission is $1.5.

Australia

Goldfields Money makes Australian BaaS play with Singapore’s Instarem (Daily Fintech), Rated: AAA

Listed Australian deposit taking institution Goldfields Money (ASX:GMY) looks to be making good on its intention to become a leading player in the digital banking product distribution and BaaS market in Australia, announcing last week that it had signed an MoU with Singapore headquartered remittance fintech Instarem.

What is interesting about the MoU is the intent to move beyond remittance towards a broader banking play for cross-border SMEs and products orientated towards visa holders visiting or living in Australia.

The two companies should have a healthy market ready to capitalise on. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over the last 10 years the proportion of the Australian population born in China alone has increased from 1.2% to 2.2%, coming in just behind New Zealanders and British immigrants. Those born in India currently make up 1.9% of the population, while citizens from the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia collectively add up to further 2.7%.

Migration isn’t going away. And the degree to which an individual’s assets are spread across countries is also on the increase thanks to globalization.

China

China’s Internet finance thrives as fraud fades (XinhuaNet), Rated: AAA

China has four large state-owned banks, and state-owned enterprises generally have easier access to financing. Many small companies are troubled by the financing bottleneck, creating pent-up demand.

Meanwhile, working-class families struggle to figure out where to invest their savings to seek higher returns, and many of them move money online. The country, home to the world’s biggest online population, also has a number of groups, such as college students, who are underserved by banks.

By March 2017, 3,607 Chinese P2P lending platforms had run into trouble or been forced to close, with only 2,281 platforms in normal operation.

On top of P2P lending, Internet finance also covers business such as third-party online payment, crowd funding, and other financial services.

Risk caused by the Internet finance industry has wide repercussions. Some P2P lending platforms resembled hybrid financial institutions providing clients with various financial services online, analysts said.

Businesses such as P2P lending, Internet-based insurance, third-party online payment, and online asset management were among key areas for strengthened supervision, industry observers said.

Internet finance last week appeared on the top banking regulator’s list of ten most important areas for enhanced risk control, with targeted measures to be taken to stem emergence of a financial crisis.

Wang said 2017 will be a watershed year for Chinese Internet finance as the rules are tightened, bringing the industry out of the wilderness.

Tishman Speyer, CreditEase team up to invest $ 1.4b in China (Deal Street Asia), Rated: A

New York-based developer Tishman Speyer is teaming up with China’s CreditEase Wealth Management to invest $1.4 billion in China and other countries within the next three years.

The strategic partnership is aimed to extend “global cooperation in resource sharing, fund investment, buyouts and business development,” the firms said in a joint statement.

APAC

Marvelstone Capital plans a robo advisor platform for family offices (AltFi), Rated: AAA

Singapore-based Marvelstone Capital plans a robo advisor platform for the under-served family office market in Asia.

The platform is being developed with Singaporean fintech startup Smartfolios, and will be launched in the third quarter of 2017. It will be available on desktop and mobile for Marvelstone Capital’s clients.

Marvelstone will target family offices based in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, as well as India. The company points out that Malaysia is an important market and Cho added: “It is a huge market and the culture is quite unique as well, there’s a huge Shariah-compliant market, so it is definitely one of the most important markets for us.”

No Uber Moment for Fintech Just Yet (Broadridge), Rated: AAA

 

China’s Ant Financial targets brand boost in SEAsia with helloPay deal (Reuters), Rated: A

Ant Financial, the payment affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N), has acquired Singapore-based payment service helloPay Group, part of the Chinese firm’s drive to boost its Alipay brand and presence in Southeast Asia.

The re-branded service will remain independent of Alipay’s existing app, which has 450 million users in China and is the country’s most popular mobile payment app. Ant did not disclose financial terms of the helloPay deal.

Last week Ant announced a tie-up with Indonesia’s Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) (EMTK.JK) to roll out a mobile payments service. Earlier this year Ant confirmed it will make a strategic investment in Filipino payment firm Mynt.

Authors:

George Popescu
George Popescu
Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor

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