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Friday January 5 2018, Daily News Digest

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United States

An investing startup that grew by $ 100 million in a single day just got some big name backing (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

Wealthfront, a robo-adviser with more than $9 billion under its management, announced Thursday that Tiger Global, the New York investment firm, would lead a $75 million fundraising round.

Wealthfront plans to use the new capital to enhance its Path platform, which allows users to view all of their financial accounts.

“Path’s appeal to young people propelled our growth such that people under 45 now represent 85% of our clients,” Wealthfront cofounder Andy Rachleff said in a statement.

FT Partners’ CEO Monthly Alternative Lending Market Analysis  (FT Partners), Rated: AAA

As FT Partners wraps up 2017 and looks forward to 2018, we are extremely proud of our accomplishments. Celebrating over 16 years in business, we executed a record number of deals, significantly expanded our team, continued our global expansion and won a number of industry awards during the past twelve months. We are confident that 2018 will be another successful year for the Firm and we are incredibly thankful to our clients and friends across the industry.

In case you missed it, we recently published our latest in-depth, 200+ page industry report: “Auto FinTech – The Emerging FinTech Ecosystem Surrounding the Auto Industry.” This report highlights and reviews the significant changes in the way vehicles are used by consumers and businesses as well as the challenges and opportunities they present. This shift affects both traditional financial services providers and new FinTech entrants across all automotive-related areas including Lending / Banking, Insurance and Payments.

GreenSky FT Partners
Source: FT Partners

Read the full report here.

Business-Loan Growth Fell Off a Cliff in 2017 and No One Can Figure Out Why (WSJ), Rated: AAA

Business-loan growth fell to its lowest levels since the aftermath of the financial crisis in the final weeks of 2017, a puzzling development that could weigh on bank earnings later this month.

Bank loans to companies grew 1.1% from a year earlier as of Dec. 20, up slightly from a 0.8% rate the prior week, according to Federal Reserve data. That Dec. 13 level was the lowest since spring 2011, when banks were just starting to lend to companies again after the financial crisis.

The readings likely cement 2017 as the worst year for this type of lending in recent history. The average weekly rate of business-loan growth was 2.7% for 2017 through Dec. 20, compared with 9.3% in 2016 and double-digit growth in the two years before that.

small business lending

Looking at 2018: A Discussion with Ron Suber (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: AAA

“[People] from the banking industry from the tech industry. We have grown up,” said Suber. “We had some people that were great from the early days but were not good for long term growth. There has bee a major turnover in the leadership at many of these companies. My call is that companies are focusing on cash flow, profitability and EBITDA for the first time. Earnings on GAAP basis … I think that is great for the industry. You are seeing companies generate cash. [In the past] Prosper did $400 million in month and it lost money. Now it is doing, say $200 million a month and it is making money. They are being run to be profitable businesses. That is the takeaway from 2017.”

Suber says that today, Prosper makes money every quarter. They have $100 million on the balance sheet and it gets higher every month.

“We are seeing lots of money coming in from Asia to buy loans now. More than ever,” added Suber.

LendingClub, a reporting company, has had a tough two years as its stock has tanked while Wall Street looked elsewhere for growth.

ELEVATE ANNOUNCES BOOST IN CUSTOMER FINANCIAL HEALTH (BusinessWire), Rated: AAA

More than 140,000 customers of Elevate’s RISE product have seen an improvement in their credit scores. Additionally, more than 35,000 RISE customers are now eligible to receive at least a 50 percent reduction in their APR and more than 13,000 customers are eligible to receive RISE’s lowest rate.

More than 160 million Americans are either non-prime or “credit invisibles,” without any credit score. These customers account for almost two-thirds of the U.S. population, yet are significantly underserved by the traditional financial industry.

RISE loans are originally priced to risk. Customers are eligible to receive 50 percent off of their rate on subsequent loans after 24 months of payments, eventually achieving a further reduction to 36 percent. Today, more than 35,000 customers have received or are eligible to receive a 50 percent rate reduction and more than 13,000 customers are eligible for an APR of 36 percent.

About the Data

Elevate worked with a major credit bureau to which it reports, gathering anonymized data on RISE customers. Elevate reviewed credit scores of customers from the customer acquisition point up to two quarters after loan completion.

The number of customers who have reached the necessary number of payments to receive a rate reduction was calculated by tabulating the number of accounts at the number of payments necessary.

  • 24 months of payments are required to receive 50 percent off of the customer’s original APR
  • 36 months of payments are required to reach 36 percent

NextCapital Raises $ 30M for its Digital Financial Advice Platform (ChicagoINNO), Rated: AAA

NextCapital officially announced Thursday that it has raised $30 million in new funding to grow its enterprise digital advice platform.

The Series C round brings the company’s total funding to more than $52 million. The round was led by Oak HC/FT, and included additional investments by Manulife Financial, Transamerica Ventures, Vermont Seed Capital Fund and Route 66 Ventures.

FSOC Annual Report on Financial Stability Highlights Marketplace Lending (Lend Academy), Rated: A

Last month the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) released their annual report. This 165-page report highlights potential risks to our financial system by looking at new developments and providing recommendations to improve financial stability.

Section 4.14 of this year’s report deals with new financial products and there is an entire section on marketplace lending. Here is their conclusion about our space:

Although marketplace lending has the potential to reduce costs and expand access to credit, the extent to which these benefits have been realized thus far is unclear. Furthermore, the marketplace lending model has not been tested through a full credit cycle. There are risks that misalignment of incentives could exist on these platforms.

Can blockchain technology revive peer-to-peer lending? (American Banker), Rated: A

The original premise of online peer-to-peer lending platforms was simple and democratic: A single mom from Kalamazoo, Mich., could post her story explaining why she needed $5,000 to pay off her credit card, and a retired electrician in Illinois could read it, decide to fund her loan and receive interest far exceeding what he could get on his savings account.

LendingClub and others that proffered this people-helping-people model quickly found they needed to make changes.

 

Unbanked vs. Underbanked: Who they are and how they differ (MicroBilt), Rated: A

Slightly more than two-thirds of households in America frequently make use of traditional banking services, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. But that leaves 33 percent of people in the U.S. who don’t, a significant percentage by any measure.

Unbanked

As the title implies, unbanked Americans are those who don’t make use of any banking services whatsoever. This includes debit cards and checking accounts, as well as savings accounts. In 2015 – the most recent year for which data is available – the unbanked represented 7 percent of U.S. households, translating to approximately 23 million individuals, including children, the FDIC reported. The percentage of unbanked households in the U.S. is down slightly from 2013, when it was 7.7 percent.

Families have a plethora of rationales for why they opt to go without banking services, but it’s usually due to what they do not have in terms of savings. Nearly 57 percent of unbanked households cite this as their prime reason, according to the FDIC report.

Underbanked

Around 20 percent of Americans are underbanked, according to the FDIC, which means they have either a checking or savings account, though rarely both. Households are also usually given the underbanked distinction if they’ve used alternative financing options during the previous year, such as money orders or rent-to-own services. Around 67 million Americans are underbanked, or the equivalent of 24.5 million households, based on 2015 figures from the most up to date FDIC survey.

As far as demographics are concerned, millennials are among the most likely to be underbanked, with 31 percent of them under the age of 24, according to federal figures.

‘We don’t need to stay in the student market’: How BankMobile wants to grow its offering and replicate its model (Tearsheet), Rated: A

BankMobile, the digital-only bank that offers checking accounts to students, wants to start offering them credit.

The three-year-old Customers Bank subsidiary launched a personal loan product for its customers at the end of December, but that was just the first of a suite of credit products the bank plans to roll out this year as part of its “customer-for-life” strategy, according to Luvleen Sidhu, president and chief strategy officer.

BankMobile has 1.8 million customers to date and has opened about 300,000 new accounts each year in the student demographic through its university partnerships.

Why are you expanding into credit now?
We’re just looking at our demographic. Many in our current customer base are living paycheck to paycheck — that’s why personal loans make sense.

How do you plan to expand your products after the personal loan?
We have a lot of products to introduce on the credit side: credit cards in the second quarter, student refinancing in the second quarter, auto loans and home equity by the second half of next year.

You’re partnering with Upstart on credit products. What are the advantages of that approach?
In the longterm you could say it’s more expensive to partner but those costs outweigh the fact that we get to market much faster.

How has competition changed since BankMobile launched?
It’s accelerated. Challenger banks and Neobanks like Moven, GoBank, Simple and Varo continue to flourish and grow. Digital banks like Ally, USAA and Captial One 360 have really done a push in 2017 attracting millennials, tweaking their product, tone, messaging, branding to make sure they start penetrating that segment. Traditional banks are finally realizing the branch based customer acquisition model is not sufficient.

Banks compete for tech talent by helping on student loans (American Banker), Rated: A

Banks spend not only a lot of time thinking about how to attract millennial customers, but also how to get millennials to work for them.

Though banks might be hard-pressed to offer similar wages — average starting salaries at Uber, Pinterest, and Airbnb are all over $220,000, according to Paysa — they can offer something most tech companies don’t: a student loan repayment benefit plan.

debt burden

Inside Citizens Bank’s branch redesign strategy (Tearsheet), Rated: A

Banking giants like Citi and Capital One with much more money and resources at hand have been making branches look more like lounges, coffee shops or museums as they figure out what to do with them with less foot traffic, but in 2018, smaller institutions could start to make a move on their plans.

The Providence, Rhode Island bank is transforming its branches into digitally-connected community centers, Johnson said.

Citizens currently has 1,200 branches, and the bank is in the second year of a 10-year plan to reduce its branch footprint as lease expiries take effect. It’s replacing paper pamphlets with digital tools, like a digital retirement checkup platform customers can use while meeting with bankers. The bank can also project digital content onto the walls of a meeting room — a nod to the digital-first habits of some younger customers. Citizens is on an ambitious track to reduce its retail footprint by as much as 50 percent — a “do more with less” approach that over the long term that will save occupancy costs, CEO Bruce Van Saun said in an earnings call last year.

How banks use behavioral economics to win over customers (American Banker), Rated: A

When a major international bank was looking to improve the response rates for its credit card mailers in 2017, rather than changing the graphics or upgrading the paper stock, it turned to a firm that could offer guidance on how consumers make decisions.

It was trying to tap into the insights of behavioral economics, a discipline that uses psychological observations about human behavior to analyze and predict how people will act.

A Fight Over the Credit Score Lenders Use for Your Mortgage (WWJ), Rated: A

Banks and rival lenders are butting heads over the credit scores used to decide millions of mortgage requests by U.S. home buyers.

Now, a federal agency is weighing whether to step into the fight, which revolves around a longtime requirement for lenders who sell mortgages to Fannie Mae FNMA -3.17% and Freddie Mac FMCC -3.31%to gauge most borrowers using FICO scores. The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s ultimate decision could have wide-reaching ramifications for the mortgage market and home buyers across the U.S.

Many nonbank lenders, which in some recent quarters have accounted for more than half of the mortgage dollars issued in the U.S., want the ability to use a credit score provided by a company owned by credit-reporting firms Equifax Inc., EFX +0.00% Experian EXPGY 0.23% PLC and TransUnion . TRU 0.80% These lenders argue the alternative score would open the mortgage market to a greater number of people and lead to more mortgage approvals, helping to boost home sales and the economy.

mortgage originations

That is where VantageScore Solutions LLC, the scoring firm that Experian, Equifax and TransUnion launched in 2006, says it can step in.

The company says it can assign a credit score to about 30 million more consumers than FICO. Roughly 7.6 million of those consumers would potentially be eligible for a Fannie or Freddie mortgage, VantageScore says.

Envestnet Finalizes Acquisition of FolioDynamix for $ 195 Million (Finovate), Rated: A

Wealth management intelligence solutions company Envestnet has finalized its acquisition of Actua Corp’s FolioDynamix, a wealth tech solutions company, this week.

PropertyMetrics helps real estate investors create more accurate proformas (Realty Biz), Rated: A

With that in mind, a company called PropertyMetrics has built a web based platform that’s designed to help investors come up with a proforma that includes evaluation and analysis. With PropertyMetric’s software it’s possible to analyze any property in minutes, from any device. This means investors can quickly generate a quick cash flow proforma, perform a cash flow analysis and generate PDF reports from anywhere, in a matter of minutes.

10 favorite stocks for 2018 from top-ranked stock newsletter writers (MarketWatch), Rated: A

Michael Brush, Brush Up on Stocks

I also recently suggested Lending Club Corp. LC, +0.98% in part because of the huge buying by Chinese technology and internet expert Tianqiao Chen, who founded the online gaming company Shanda Interactive Entertainment years ago while he was in his 20s.

He owns around 20% of Lending Club, an online peer-to-peer lending platform. LendingClub recently tightened its lending standards, which hurt loan growth, so the company missed earnings estimates and guided down. But it still expects 15%-20% annual revenue growth over the next few years. This seems plausible given how many people with OK credit would like to refinance their credit card debt with loans. Lending Club estimates $300 billion to $350 billion in credit card debt could potentially be refinanced in this way.

An Online Lending Task Force is Coming to New York (deBanked), Rated: A

An online lending task force DFS study will be coming soon to New York, according to legislative records.

Chippewa Cree Tribe Settles BEH Gaming Ltd Lawsuit (PRWeb), Rated: B

Plain Green, LLC, the online resource for the short-term financial needs of underbanked and subprime consumers, today announces a successful settlement with BEH Gaming Ltd related to loans to the Chippewa Cree Tribe and Chippewa Cree Tribe Development Corporation. Plain Green’s settlement and payment of the debt to BEH releases the Chippewa Cree Tribe and Chippewa Cree Tribe Development Corporation from all liability. The settlement amount is under seal of court order.

The agreement settles a lawsuit filed by Florida-based BEH Gaming Ltd in 2014 (Case # DV-14-142 in the 12th Judicial District Court in Hill County, Montana) to repay loans to expand Northern Winz Hotel and Casino.

Portland ad agency lands $ 126M LendingTree account (Biz Journals), Rated: B

Advertising agency R2C inked a deal late last month to become the new media partner for LendingTree Inc.

LendingTree is an online loan marketplace for financial needs like auto loans, small business loans and credit cards headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. AdWeek reports that the company had a media budget of $126.5 million in 2016, and spent nearly $61 million during the first half of 2017, though R2C won’t manage LendingTree’s entire media budget.

Growing your business? These 3 financing mistakes can cost you big (News-Journal), Rated: B

1. Not understanding the true cost of your loan

When shopping for a business loan, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by fast-talking salespeople, endless strings of acronyms and confusing terms. If it’s unclear how much you’ll really pay for financing, that’s a good sign you should walk away, Hodges cautions.

2. Getting trapped in daily or weekly repayment cycles

Term loans are often the better option, Hodges says. They allow businesses to borrow a set amount of money for a specific purpose, like hiring new staff or stocking up on inventory. The funds are then paid back over a set amount of time, with consistent monthly payments and no surprise fees.

3. Not knowing what you deserve

After seeing countless small businesses get stuck with credit products they couldn’t afford or understand, a coalition of small business advocates, lenders and online credit marketplaces came together to launch the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights. As the first-ever gold standard for responsible business lending, the Bill of Rights outlines the rights and safeguards that small businesses should expect from finance providers.

3 Behaviors To Keep Credit in Good Standing (MicroBilt), Rated: B

good credit
Source: MicroBilt
United Kingdom

London was top destination for tech funding in 2017 (Reuters), Rated: AAA

London was the top city in Europe for technology investment last year, with more funding going into companies in the British capital than into firms based in Paris, Berlin and the next seven cities combined, data showed on Friday.

Tech firms in London attracted 2.45 billion pounds ($3.3 billion) in venture capital funding in 2017, about 80 percent of the 2.99 billion pounds invested in Britain as a whole, according to data compiled by funding database PitchBook for London & Partners.

Fintech, or financial technology, was the most popular segment for investors, attracting a record 1.34 billion pounds in venture capital, the data showed, led by major rounds for TransferWise, Funding Circle and Monzo.

London’s tech scene pulls in record £2.5bn in 2017 venture capital bonanza (City A.M.), Rated: AAA

London’s tech venture capital investment reached another all-time high in 2017 as firms raked in four times more cash than Paris, the nearest European rival.

Softbank’s $502m (£392m) investment in game development platform Improbable was the biggest single investment during the year, but it was London’s burgeoning fintech firms which led the way with a record haul of investments.

European cityLondon Total funding raised (£)

2.45bn

European cityParis Total funding raised (£)

564.97m

European cityBerlin Total funding raised (£)

456m

European cityStockholm Total funding raised (£)

360.27m

European cityMadrid Total funding raised (£)

65.38m

European cityAmsterdam Total funding raised (£)

212.18m

European cityDublin Total funding raised (£)

117.45m

European cityHelsinki Total funding raised (£)

56.98m

European cityCopenhagen Total funding raised (£)

40.23m

European cityLisbon Total funding raised (£)

2.43m

Treasury clarifies whether P2P lending constitutes deposit-taking (AltFi), Rated: AAA

HMT Treasury has passed an order confirming that straight-forward peer-to-peer lending does not constitute deposit-taking.

The order relates to the now-infamous “Dear CEO” letter, sent in March 2017, in which the FCA effectively ordered P2P platforms to cease and desist with all wholesale lending activities. The rationale was that a business borrowing money in order to lend that money on constitutes a form of deposit-taking. This was deemed illegal, per article 5, paragraph 1 of the regulated activities order.

How angel investors support UK start-ups (Growth Business), Rated: A

Investing in start-ups is becoming increasingly popular and accessible in the UK. The attractiveness of that market has come from two main factors: the success of a number UK start-ups built over the past two decades (ASOS, Just Eat, Zoopla, Funding Circle) which are showing the way for many more to come and the supportive policies implemented by the various governments over the same period to encourage investment in ventures.

These schemes have proven to be extremely popular with private investors who every year invest over £1.5 billion into high growth ventures under SEIS and EIS.

So how do you get started with investing in start-ups if you are new to this market?

Your first option is to invest through online equity crowdfunding platforms (ECF) such as Seedrs, Crowdcube and Syndicate Room, which showcase dozens of investment opportunities from start-ups looking to raise equity funding from the public. The advantage of ECF websites is that they are convenient and accessible to anyone with investment tickets starting at £10.

If you consider yourself to be a more sophisticated type of investor looking to build a portfolio of investments with tickets of more than £5,000 per company, then you should probably think about joining an angel syndicate.

A third option to get started is to invest through a start-up fund.

VC deals by gender

High numbers using expensive credit to buy basic household appliances (Ekklesia), Rated: A

Research found almost 60 per cent of people on a low income turn to more expensive forms of credit to purchase home appliances because they do not have the means to pay up front or access to affordable credit. Seventeen per cent say they used a credit card to make the purchase, 10 per cent used an overdraft and 10 per cent used a store card. More worryingly, significant numbers said that they used high cost credit to buy home appliances, with 13 per cent relying on hire-purchase and eight per cent saying that they used a payday loan.

Blockchain-based banking startup Babb names Paul Johnson as CIO (Finextra), Rated: B

Blockchain-based banking startup BABB (Bank Account Based Blockchain) has appointed banking technology veteran, Paul Johnson who previously lead one of the UK’s leading challenger banks, Aldermore, as CIO to spearhead the development of the world’s first decentralised bank.

European Union

Euro zone yields edge lower as MiFID II kicks in (Reuters), Rated: AAA

Germany’s 10-year government bond yield fell 2 basis points to 0.44 percent DE10YT=TWEB, off two-month highs hit on Tuesday after weekend comments from the European Central Bank’s Benoit Coeure that there was a “reasonable chance” ECB stimulus will not be extended this year.

Most core euro zone bond yields were down 1-4 bps on the day, with the gap between Italian and German 10-year bonds yields tightened to 160 basis points as Italian yields dropped as much as 6 bps to 2.03 percent. IT10YT=TWEB

Ireland meanwhile kicked off its annual funding drive by raising 4 billion euros with a syndicated 10-year bond, covering around a quarter of its issuance target just three days into the year.

P2P platform bosses offer cautious support for pan-EU licences (AltFi), Rated: A

“Opt-in passports” are the way forward, says Lendix co-founder Patrick de Nonneville.

The EU Commission is laying the groundwork for a licence that will allow European crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platforms to operate across the bloc.

“We think it’s a great development that will be useful for us,” said Patrick de Nonneville, chief operating officer at French marketplace lender Lendix.

Raffael Johnen, CEO and co-founder of leading German marketplace lender auxmoney, offered his thoughts.

“Getting closer to a single digital market will further boost the creation of true European fintech champions.”

International

Online lender Funding Circle inks partnership with Kansas bank (American Banker), Rated: AAA

Funding Circle, an online lender that operates in four countries, is partnering for the first time with a U.S. bank.

On Thursday, the 7-year-old company announced a deal with Intrust Bank in Wichita, Kan., under which it will sell $20 million worth of its small-business loans to the $5 billion-asset institution.

This Cryptocurrency Inventor Has Suddenly Become One of the World’s Richest Men (Money), Rated: A

Cryptocurrency has a new king. His name is Chris Larsen, and he’s the co-founder and former CEO of Ripple, which created the digital token known as XRP. He’s now one of the world’s richest billionaires, thanks to XRP’s incredible hot streak.

XRP, a cryptocurrency intended for international transactions, has had a meteoric rise this winter. Its value went from $0.25 a coin in mid-December to $3.16 as of Wednesday, according to Coinmarketcap. It’s currently the second biggest cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin.

Forbes reports that, as a result, Larsen almost instantly became worth $37.3 billion (based on XRP’s Monday exchange rate).

India

BCCL invests in fintech company FinREQ in an ads-for-equity deal (Medianama), Rated: AAA

Bennett, Coleman & Co Limited (BCCL), the publisher of the Times Of India and the parent of Times Internet, has acquired an undisclosed stake in online loan company FinREQ.

As such, it looks like the investment in FinREQ is an ads-for-equity deal.

FinREQ was founded in 2011 and has tie-ups tie-ups with nationalized, co-operative, foreign, private banks, NBFCs and Housing Finance Companies. The company provides a variety of loans ranging from overdrafts, import & export finance, supply chain financing, loans against property (LAP), loans against share, lease rental discounts and others.

Online lending platform EarlySalary raises $ 15.7 mn in Series B round (VC Circle), Rated: A

Pune-based Social Worth Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs online lending platform EarlySalary, has raised Rs 100 crore ($15.7 million) in a Series B funding round led by Eight Roads Ventures India, a company statement said.

Invest smart with these asset class investment options (ANI), Rated: B

Fixed Depositsinvestment in goldReal Estate and many other traditional options are losing grounds when trying to woo the new age investors.

A research from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies indicated that nearly three-quarters of millennials are saving for retirement and that we started doing so at an earlier age than previous generations.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending in India currently gives a net return of 18-22 percent to lenders.

Asia

Commencement of Online Lending Service for Small Businesses That Leverages Accounting Big Data and AI Technology (Orix), Rated: A

ORIX Corporation (“ORIX”) and Yayoi Co., Ltd. (“Yayoi”) announced today that the ALTOA Online Lending Service, which leverages accounting big data and AI technology, will commence its operation through the jointly established entity, ALTOA, Inc. (“ALTOA”).

The ALTOA Online Lending Service is an online lending service that provides small amount, short-term loans for small businesses through a new credit model that leverages the credit know-how of ORIX, the accounting big data of Yayoi, and the AI technology of d.a.t. Inc., who is a partner in this venture.

Authors:

George Popescu
George Popescu
Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor

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