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Thursday September 29th 2016, Daily News Digest

News Comments

Mail bag, from our community

  • 1) I think far fewer people will read your content if you have to get it from a website rather than reading an email. For example, I read it on the underground when I can’t access the web. Why did you change it?”
  • Lending Times answer: We have not made any changes that we are aware of lately. All the content should be in the email. If people are having issues please let us know and we will tackle it.
  • “2) You say on September 28th that the content on the Zopa securitization is only a “B” as it had been so well covered before. Until today most of the coverage, except the Fitch report, has been uninformed rubbish, such as the Business Insider piece. The really interesting stuff, like the pricing, which is at record low spreads, only came out that day but you didn’t cover it, or at least not that we saw. “
  • Our reader is entirely right and I apologize. Indeed  I had not seen the interesting data our reader is mentioning here. I did search for it and found nothing. Please, when important content comes out do not hesitate to point it out to us. We will make sure to cover it. And in the meantime we are redoubling our efforts to cover Zopa’s securitization data today.

The Rush Summary

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News Summary

United States

Goldman Says It Can Beat Fintech Ventures With Online Loan Terms, (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the Wall Street investment bank pushing into online consumer lending, expects it can make loans on more competitive terms than Silicon Valley upstarts that pioneered and dominate the business.

Using deposits to fund loans — rather than drawing on outside investors — will give the firm more leeway when setting terms and fees, Stephen Scherr, head of the company’s banking operations, told an industry conference in New York on Tuesday.

“We view this as a balance-sheet activity,” he said. “That will avail us of a certain flexibility in the design of the product.”

In April, it completed the purchase of General Electric Co.’s online bank, adding $16 billion of deposits. The securities firm has since started a website where customers can open an account with as little as $1.

Its lending platform plans to make unsecured loans online to consumers with strong credit histories for purposes such as debt consolidation, a person familiar with the matter said last month.

RiverNorth Launches U.S. Pure Play Marketplace Lending Closed-End Interval Fund, (Business Wire), Rated: A

RiverNorth Capital Management, LLC (“RiverNorth”), a boutique investment management firm specializing in opportunistic strategies, today announced the launch of RiverNorth Marketplace Lending Corporation (NASDAQ:RMPLX) (the “Fund”), a registered 1940 Act closed-end interval fund dedicated to the rapidly growing marketplace lending (“online lending”) asset class.

The Fund will invest in a diverse mix of marketplace lending sectors, including unsecured consumer, small business, and specialty finance loan segments. The Fund’s investment objective is to seek a high level of current income.

RiverNorth Capital Management, LLC is an investment management firm founded in 2000. With approximately $3.4 billion in assets under management, RiverNorth specializes in opportunistic investment strategies in niche markets where the potential to exploit inefficiencies is greatest. RiverNorth is the investment manager to multiple registered and private funds.

Pursuant to Rule 23c-3 of the 1940 Act, the Fund must make a quarterly repurchase offer of at least 5% of the Fund’s outstanding shares. The Fund’s Board of Directors will set the actual level of the quarterly repurchase offers. It is possible that a repurchase offer may be oversubscribed, in which case shareholders may only have a portion of their shares repurchased.

IMC’s Berring Prepping New Structured Credit Hedge Fund, (Fin Alternatives), Rated: A

Former IMC Asset Management portfolio manager Simon Berring is launching a new structured credit hedge fund that will focus on securitized consumer and residential credit assets in esoteric, and under-invested segments of the structured credit market.

Berring will look to take advantage of technical weaknesses in credit niches where strong fundamentals and weak prices have created investment opportunities, according to information provided to FINalternatives by a person familiar with the matter. The fund’s opportunity set is further driven by declining participation from major dealers and missteps/retrenchment among several of the larger hedge funds that were focused on less liquid credit markets.

Berring reached an agreement to lift the credit strategy team, IP and track record out of Chicago-based IMC Asset Management earlier this year, the source said.

The new company is currently investing $40 million of initial anchor capital into its strategy, and hopes to raise an additional $100 million for its flagship Ayin Credit Opportunities Fund, the person added.

Ayin plans to launch the new fund in the fourth quarter of this year. While at IMC, Berring’s IMC Credit Fund booked annualized returns of 13% with relatively low volatility of 5% since 2009, and was up 4.4% last year.

Inside Capital One’s new retirement product for SMBs, Spark 401k, (Tradestreaming), Rated: AAA

The company rolled out Spark 401k, the evolved version of its online product for SMBs, ShareBuilder 401k, in August 2016.

“We knew that ShareBuilder 401k was not a website that would be mobile-responsive for some time,” explained Robertson. “We knew we needed to be there.”

Small business owners have some deep-seated fears when it comes to implementing a 401(k) plans for their employees. These preconceptions translate into problematic retirement savings statistics for SMB employees. Only 45 percent of companies with fewer than 100 employees had 401(k)s in March 2016.

What has changed over the past decade, however, is financial technology, and it’s shaking up the slumbering SMB 401(k) industry.

The upcoming DOL fiduciary rule will have a major impact on how companies of all sizes interact with their financial advisors, and companies founded with this ruling in mind could have an edge over more traditional 401(k) providers.

“The good news for SMBs is that [some] fintech players … have been built from the ground up to provide the level of fiduciary coverage that the DOL is mandating,” said David Ramirez, chief information officer at ForUsAll, an online 401(k) platform for SMBs.

Capital One found that no matter how simple or intuitive its technology is, SMB owners still want to speak to a human before they buy.

AltFi Global Summit 2016 – Opening Keynote, (Video), Rated: AAA

 

How Private Bank of Buckhead brings a human face to banking, (Tradestreaming), Rated: A

“We are small enough that we can make decisions customer by customer,” said Charlie Crawford, president and CEO of Private Bankshares, the parent company of the Private Bank of Buckhead. “There is a role in our industry for megabanks and a nice role for banks like ours that can be smaller, nimbler and more customized for the clients.”

“The role of the branch for us is more a place to house our employees and give a launching point to go out and take care of customers in their places of business and homes,” Crawford said.

Relationship banking is usually understood as a marketing tactic meant to increase cross-selling to customers. In the case of the Private Bank of Buckhead, relationships are strategic, rather than tactical.

Community banks have taken a hit in recent years, and consolidation trends continue to increase since the financial crisis. Market share for small banks  fell since 2010. They now hold 22 percent of the commercial and industrial lending market, 8 percent in the individual lending market, and 2 percent in the small business lending market, according to a Council of Economic Advisors paper from last August.

How Consumer Sentiment Has Changed the Dynamic of Financial Disruption, (Crowdvalley), Rated: A

“In the U.S., 33 percent of millennials (ages 15-34) believe that within next five years they will not even need a bank”. – McKinsey & Company. Global Payments 2015: A Healthy Industry Confronts Disruption.

It is difficult to conceive a reality where banks stand redundant and, while the probability of such a happening is highly unlikely, a large number of individuals globally are adopting a new set of expectations for the infrastructure that supports their pecuniary activities on a p2p, p2b level, e-commerce, or for cross border transactions.

In terms of advice from financial services firms, consumers don’t want to talk face to face with an advisor but they want to feel special & have the ability to switch seamlessly between personal and hands-off options.

While the focus seems to be on convenience, professionals in the sector indicate that the fundamental driver in consumer behavior is, in fact, cost.

It is in this quality and security that Matos sees the continuity of the physical bank: “People do recognize, as a setback, the time it takes to go to the branch or to use traditional banking channels, however many of them still think that’s the more secure way to do it.” 

Irfan Khan, CEO of UK based real estate investing portal, Yielders, talks about how it’s no longer about ‘Fin’ but about ‘Fintech’ in addressing how Yielders addresses the demands of clients and partners on providing fast, secure and transparent transacting infrastructure.

Essentially, the traditional banking channels are finding it difficult to keep up with the current pace of disruption.

While banks have always faced attackers, history is a testament to the idea that most startups will never gain solid footing. During the dot.com boom of 1997 to 2000, fewer than 10 of more than 450 payments startups survived, with PayPal being the most notable.

To succeed, financial institutions will need to dramatically increase their customer insights and understanding allowing for a tailored and unique experience for each customer interaction.

Online Lending’s Rapidly Changing Future to be Main Focus at LendIt USA 2017, (Email from Lendit), Rate: A

LendIt USA will be the world’s biggest show in online lending and fintech with more than 5,000 expected attendees and will be held in New York at the Javits Center from March 6 – 7, 2017. The conference will focus on the rapidly changing online lending industry, including the state of the industry to date and factors that will affect the industry going forward.

“Online lending as we know it is going through an evolution, shifting considerably since LendIt USA 2016,”

A featured addition to this year’s conference will be an industry awards event which will celebrate and recognize leading companies, emerging innovators and top executives within alternative lending and fintech. The awards dinner and ceremony, to take place on March 7, will be judged by a distinguished panel of 20 industry experts, representing a diverse cross-section of the industry. Confirmed judges include Don Potts – Senior Vice President at Capital One; Brian Korn – Partner at Manatt; Manish Gupta – Executive Vice President at American Express, Angela Ceresnie – Chief Operating Officer at Climb Credit and George Popescu – Editor-in-Chief of Lending Times.

CMBS Surveillance: Delinquency Report – August, (Morning Star Email), Rated: A

The delinquency rate for CMBS loans remained steady at 2.95%, down 1 basis point from July. While the delinquent unpaid balance declined just $200.6 million, the UPB of outstanding CMBS fell by $3.45 billion.

Liquidations fell to $792.9 million from $1.03 billion in July; however, August’s weighted average loss severity jumped to 51.4% after falling below 30% last month.

By collateral type, weakness has been concentrated in office and retail, both of which continue to underperform with delinquency rates of more than 5% of each property type’s balance.

Open Energy monthly newsletter, focus on the solar energy debt market, (Email), Rated: A

Bloomberg predicts that residential installations will increase by 21 percent in 2016, but may only see growth of 0.3 percent during 2017. In the US  the traditionally consistent growth of the residential sector is expected to slow as early as next year.  On a global scale, we were thrilled to hear that the most significant international agreement to combat climate change to date is on track to take effect this year.

California is the nation’s undisputed champion of solar installations. But as energy from renewable sources floods the grid, instability caused by the inverse relationship between residential solar demand and generation threatens the state’s track record of success. Take a look at Open Energy CEO Graham Smith’s article about how California can continue accelerating solar without causing grid strain, published this month in Energy Central.  Graham also contributed an op-ed in the September issue ofNorth American Clean Energy highlighting the value of a technology-driven approach to solar industry finance.

As investors seek reliable transparency, a key takeaway from the AltFi Summit in New York was the importance of presenting solar financial data in a clear and familiar way.

First-Ever SEC Fintech Forum, (JD Supra), Rated: AAA

On the SEC announced it will host a public forum to discuss financial technology (Fintech) innovation in the financial services industry.

The press release notes that the forum is designed to foster greater collaboration and understanding among regulators, entrepreneurs and industry experts into Fintech innovation and evaluate how the current regulatory environment can most effectively address these new technologies.

The panels will discuss issues such as blockchain technology, automated investment advice or robo-advisors, online marketplace lending and crowdfunding, and how they may impact investors. The forum will be on November 14, 2016. See more information here.

Crowdfunding ‘bridges’ the gap between real estate lenders and borrowers, (Tradestreaming), Rated: A

Patch of Land, an LA-based crowdfunding platform, is one of the few [Comment: Lending Times ecosystem database contains about 30 platforms focuses on the same or similar markets, not a few] platforms focused on bridge loans. Founded in 2013, POL has loaned out over $180 million to developers. Real estate crowdfunding platforms are a dime a dozen, but POL has found a twist to differentiate themselves from the rest of the market through their pre-funding process.

“If a loan doesn’t get fully funded, it still remains on the site,” said AdaPia d’Errico, chief marketing officer of Patch of Land. “We’re not like traditional crowdfunders where borrowers need to wait for full funding to get their money.

Choosing to focus on the debt side of investments is also a unique way to approach real estate crowdfunding. Underwriting a bridge loan isn’t as sexy as providing equity to build a project that includes higher upside. But loan terms are easier to understand, something d’Errico feels is important for investors.

Investing in debt may be easier to understand, but it’s still not without its risks.

Another issue is the nature of development. Rehabbing is an art, not a science, and all sorts of issues can slow up projects.

Yield Street crosses $ 9mil in principal and interest payments distributed to investors, (Email), Rated: A

Comment: Yield Street is interesting because they offer some unusual cash flow investments like fleet car leases, pre-settlement litigation portfolios, as well as real-estate.

With this occasion Yield Street quarterly investor updates:  the status of closed offerings will be sent at the end of each quarter.

United Kingdom

MOCA gets away, senior tranche priced 75bps better than SBOLT, (Alt Fi), Rated: AAA

MOCA 2016-1, the inaugural securitisation of Zopa loans, has priced. The pricing makes Fitch’s landmark rating of AA official, while also confirming Moody’s Aa3 rating. The complete breakdown of the pricing is available below.

zopa-securitizationFunding Circle pulled off the UK’s first securitisation, SBOLT 2016-1, in April of this year. Moody’s again assigned the senior tranche a rating of Aa3, while S&P rated the same tranche BBB.

The disparity in pricing between the UK marketplace lending sector’s debut securitisation and its second (SBOLT and MOCA respectively), notwithstanding the differences in underlying collateral, could suggest that European ABS investors are gradually becoming more comfortable with marketplace loans as an investable asset class.

Simon Champ, CEO of MW Eaglewood Europe, the manager of P2P GI – the original investor in the securitised Zopa loans, also weighed in:“This transaction marks a positive step in enabling us to deliver on our objective to both diversify the sources and reduce the cost of our funding. The funds raised by the issue will now be progressively deployed in line with the investment strategy and our intention remains to steadily increase our leverage ratio to 100%.”

Speaking exclusively to AltFi, Champ added that there was “very strong demand” for the deal, as is reflected in the pricing. “I think this a watershed moment in terms of opening up the asset class to European institutions who don’t necessarily want to buy P2PGI,” said Champ.“Hopefully this will further institutional adoption and lower the cost of leverage.” 

Three firms withdraw from P2P authorisation process, (Bridging and Commercial), Rated: AAA

A freedom of information request submitted by Bridging & Commercial to the FCA has uncovered that no peer-to-peer lenders have had their authorisation applications declined to date.

In March, the industry watchdog reported that eight P2P firms had been fully authorised. The FCA has since confirmed that a further four firms have been authorised, bringing the total to just 12.

Last month, data from the Peer to Peer Finance Association, which represents over 90% of the market, revealed that new P2P lending had taken a hit in Q2, with some lenders blaming it on economic uncertainty and the battle to gain full regulatory authorisation.

Earlier this week, Jonathan Davidson, director of supervision – retail and authorisations at the FCA, stated that it was assessing 85 additional applications, with 39 of those operating under interim permission.

LendingClub Founder Renaud Laplanche featured on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt London, (TechCrunch), Rated: A

In December at our Disrupt London event, Laplanche will make his first public appearance since leaving the company to talk about the past year, and what the future may hold for both him and LendingClub.

European Union

The Rise of the German Fintech Ecosystem, (Crowd Valley), Rated: A

germany-vc-fintech-investment-activity-q22016_orig

The UK paid for uncertainties of the Referendum vote, which now represents a challenge and an opportunity for the whole European market. We agree with Anna Scally Partner, Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications, and Fintech Leader, at KPMG in Ireland, when she says that: “Market access and the ability to passport services across the EU are hugely important for fintechs, regardless of their origin or stage of development. Post-Brexit, maintaining a pro-business approach in Europe is critical and these issues will likely feature strongly in discussions between the EU and UK.”

It’s interesting to note that in Germany it’s not just Berlin that does well with technology, Munich plays also an important part, as well as Hamburg, that is where Finanzcheck, one of the fastest growing fintech company in Germany, is located, and Frankfurt, home of the Frankfurter Wertpapierbörse (Frankfurt Stock Exchange), the world’s 10th largest stock exchange by market capitalization, and that is now growing as the country’s fintech hub.

here were no mega rounds of financing in Europe, in both the first and the second quarter, but we have anyway seen some considerable investments, including:

  • $46  million in a Series C round, raised by Finanzcheck, a consumer loans marketplace,
  • $40 million in a Series B round, raised by N26 (previously known as Number26), a mobile online bank,
  • $34.1 million through Private Equity, raised by AEVI, a cashless payments solutions provider.

These were the three biggest rounds of financing in Europe, and all the companies mentioned are based in Germany (see the image below).
largest-european-funding-rounds-q2-2016_orig

Another interesting aspect is the increase of corporate participation in fintech investments. Corporations participated in 28% of the deals conducted, a percentage that’s much higher than the 12% registered in the same period of 2015.

cvc-participation-in-european-deals-vc-fintechs_orig

The industry is now growing and evolving, not just in Europe but all over the world. Germany is building up what it seems to be a solid financial technology ecosystem, with the appetite to involve key cities and not just a single location, and it is now well positioned to play a bigger role in the financial technology industry in the future.

Deutsche in deep trouble, but a collapse is not on cards, (The Australian), Rated: A

The good news about the Deutsche Bank crisis is that the world has learnt its lesson from the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, so it won’t allow a disorderly failure of the German banking colossus.

This is a bank tagged by the International Monetary Fund last June as the most significant contributor to global systemic risk, ahead of HSBC and Credit Suisse.

It’s a counterparty to almost every bank of meaningful size, far more so than Lehman, so it simply doesn’t bear thinking that governments and regulators would invite a prolonged nuclear winter by closing the bank’s doors.

While Deutsche has never really recovered from its 2008 losses, the latest round of volatility causing the share price to sink to its lowest level in decades followed news two weeks ago that the US Justice Department wanted $US14 billion ($18bn) to settle allegations of mis-selling of mortgage-backed securities (MBS).

Deutsche has said it has “no intention” of handing over anything like that amount. The penalty almost matches the bank’s $US16bn market capitalisation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out state aid for Deutsche, and Cryan said overnight he hadn’t asked for it.

Canada

Lendified subsidiary Vault Circle receives exempt market dealer license from OSC, (Betakit), Rated: A

Small business loan provider Lendified announced today that its subsidiary Vault Circle has received regulatory approval for marketplace lending from the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC).

“The OSC approval represents a historic leap forward for Canada’s FinTech sector,” said Marcel Schroder, the managing director and chief compliance officer of Vault Circle. “Once launched, our platform will provide accredited investors with access to an exciting alternative investment option not available in Canada today.”

Lendified’s announcement also comes shortly after the OSC’s announcement of a LaunchPad Hub to help FinTech startups navigate the provinces’ regulatory framework. The cooperative approach taken by the OSC might be considered a good signal for fellow Canadian FinTech startup Lending Loop, which voluntarily halted new loan requests on its platform after questions of compliance with the Ontario Securities Act.

While the OSC approval applies to Ontario only, Lendified is planning to expand into other markets in the future. The announcement comes shortly after Lendified announced that it secured $24 million in funding for its online lending activities. The company also recently announced an increase in its lending capacity from $35,000 per loan to a maximum of $150,000 per loan for small business owners.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Creates a Fintech Sandbox for Banks, (Crowd Valley), Rated: A

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) last week announced the launch of a financial technology sandbox, to allow banks to test new innovative products that do not yet meet compliance standards. The new regime is valid as of September 6.

The announcement comes a few months following similar action by various governments around the world, including the UK, Singapore, Australia and France, but more recently also in other countries in the area, including Malaysia, Thailand and last but not least Japan.

Within the Sandbox, banks can try out their new Fintech products without the need to achieve full compliance with the HKMA’s usual supervisory requirements.

The full speech of Norman Chan is available on the HKMA website

India

P2P firms in talks with NPCI for better integration with UPI, (Livemint), Rated: A

UPI is an interoperable system launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and NPCI, which will allow peer-to-peer and peer-to-entity payments by unifying the mobile number, Aadhaar number and the bank account number. The threshold of a single UPI transaction, which is currently Rs.1 lakh will also be a limiting factor for the P2P lending space as the loan amounts required are of higher values.

The newly launched Unified Payments Interface (UPI) may not currently be useful for peer-to-peer (P2P) online lending platforms like Peerlend, Faircent and I-lend, but this may soon change.

At present, even if lenders and borrowers transact with each other through UPI , the required information is not disseminated to these third-party platforms.

These companies are in talks with the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) so that these platforms can be integrated into the system.

The Need for Facilitating Electronic Payments in the Peer To Peer Lending Sector, (Barandbench), Rated: A

In order to facilitate the use of electronic modes of payment in P2P lending transactions, the following structure may be considered for the purpose of the Regulations to ensure such transactions are not in violation of the Money Lending Acts.

a) The P2P lenders would transfer monies that they intend to loan to borrowers firstly to the P2P Platforms (“Investment Amounts”) as investments into the P2P Platforms (“Investments”), and the Investment Amounts would be utilized by the P2P Platforms to grant loans to borrowers. The amounts received by the P2P Platforms from the borrowers (towards repayment of the loans granted) would be transferred to the lenders as repayment for the Investments. This structure would in effect render the P2P Platforms as ‘lenders’ to the borrowers. The reason we are suggesting this structure is because, if the P2P Platforms are regarded as ‘lenders’ (and since they are to be classified as NBFCs as stated above), then the Money Lending Acts would not be applicable ab initio in respect of the P2P lenders and hence would facilitate the use of electronic modes of payment in the P2P Lending Transactions.

b) Further, to avoid risk of mismanagement/diversion of the amounts payable to/receivable by the lenders and the borrowers as part of the P2P lending transactions (“P2P Amounts”), it can be stipulated that the P2P Amounts would be routed through a specific bank account (“Account”) in the name of the P2P Platforms.

c) Additionally, in this structure, the P2P Platforms’ role is to be limited to aggregating the transactions between lenders and borrowers, conducting KYC checks on the borrowers and the lenders, facilitating the execution of the transaction documents for the P2P lending transactions and transferring the monies received in the Account inter se between the lenders and borrowers.

d) In terms of documentation for this structure, there can be two options that can be considered:

i) the P2P Platforms would execute investment agreements with each of the lenders in terms of which the lenders would make the Investments, and the P2P Platforms would execute loan agreements with each of borrowers in terms of which the P2P Platforms grant loans to the borrowers using the Investment Amounts; OR

ii) the P2P Platforms would execute tripartite agreements with the lenders and the borrowers, in terms of which the lenders would make the Investments and the P2P Platforms would grant loans (using the Investment Amounts) to the borrowers.

Author:

George Popescu
George Popescu

About the author

George Popescu

Serial entrepreneur.

George sold and exited his most successful company, Boston Technologies (BT) group, in 2014. BT was a technology, market maker, high-frequency trading and inter-broker broker-dealer in the FX Spot, precious metals and CFDs space company. George was the Founder and CEO and he boot-strapped from $0 to a $20+ million in revenue without any equity investment. BT has been #1 fastest growing company in Boston in 2011 according to the Boston Business Journal and the only company being in top 10 fastest in 2012-13 as it was #5 in 2012. BT has been on the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in the US for 4 years in a row ( #143, #373, #897 and #1270). After the company sale in July 2014 until February 2015 George was Head-of-Strategy for Currency Mountain ( www.currencymountain.com ), a USD 100 million+ holding company focused on retail and medium institutional currencies, precious metals, stocks, fixed income and commodities businesses.

• Over the last 10 years, George founded 10 companies in online lending, craft beer brewery, exotic sports car rental space, hedge funds, peer-reviewed scientific journal ( Journal of Cellular and Molecular medicine…) and more. George advised 30+ early stage start-ups in different fields. George was also a mentor at MIT’s Venture Mentoring Services and Techstar Fintech in NY.

• Previously George obtained 3 Master's Degrees: a Master's of Science from MIT working on 3D printing, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Supelec, France and a Master's in Nanosciences from Paris XI University. Previously he worked as a visiting scientist at MIT in Bio-engineering for 2 years. George had 3 undergrad majors: Maths, Physics and Chemistry. His scientific career led to about 10 publications and patents.

• On the business side, Boston Business Journal has named me in the top 40 under 40 in 2012 in recognition of his business achievements.

• George is originally from Romania and grew up in Paris, France.

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