Celsius Network is Using Fireblocks’ Enterprise Platform to Secure Over $400 Million in Digital Assets

Fireblocks, an enterprise platform for securing crypto-assets “in transit,” revealed on November 19 that, Celsius Network, an established provider of interest income and cryptocurrency-based loans in more than 150 jurisdictions, is using Fireblocks, in order to safeguard more than $400 million in assets and 49,000 active digital currency wallets, “securing both retail and institutional divisions.”

Nuke Goldstein, CTO at Celsius Network, stated:

“We spent months testing the Fireblocks platform to ensure it aligns with our stringent technology and security requirements. We concluded that the Fireblocks platform provides the type of advanced security we want for our members.

Goldstein added:

“Given our diverse set of services, the engineering and operations team required a solution that could be customized to fit all of our use cases, and Fireblocks was able to deliver that for us.”

As noted in a press release shared with Crowdfund Insider, Celsius’ business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) departments will be using Fireblocks to safeguard users’ crypto-assets across their retail, lending, and institutional divisions.

The released mentioned: “Utilizing Fireblocks’ console and robust APIs, Celsius now provides retail customers with enterprise-grade security for interest-earning accounts and allows institutional customers faster and safer access to funds.”

Young Cho, chief financial officer at Celsius Network, noted:

“With Fireblocks we can securely and efficiently manage a multitude of digital assets across a wide range of trading venues all from one platform.”  

Celsius Network says it aims to transform the global, multi-trillion dollar loan ecosystem. The loan markets are dominated by traditional financial institutions and various financial syndicates. These institutions charge very high rates on loans, which makes it quite difficult to access funding, the release mentioned.

Celsius Network aims to improve the loan industry by offering a platform that lets anyone become a lender and benefit from providing a loan, while giving loan seekers the chance to access funds at rates of “less than 5%.”

Michael Shaulov, co-founder and CEO at Fireblocks, remarked:

“We are not only securing the movement of hundreds of millions of digital assets per day but working with Celsius allows Fireblocks to assist in connecting millions of consumers to institutional investors to streamline the flow of digital assets across the whole ecosystem.” 

Business Loans Marketplace Funding Xchange Raises $10.4 Million via Round Led By Downing Ventures, Gresham House Ventures

Funding Xchange (FXE), a company that helps people and organizations find suitable business loans and funding options from its marketplace of more than 45 established lenders, has raised £8 million (appr. $10.4 million) through an investment round.

FXE’s decisioning platform is used by UK-based Monzo, a digital mobile-only bank, Experian, a multinational credit reporting agency, and MoneySuperMarket, an internet-based price comparison business that specializes in financial services and more.

Downing Ventures and Gresham House Ventures took part in Funding Xchange’s latest investment round. The UK-headquartered firm says it will use the capital raised to further expand its operations and aims to continue working with banks and alternative lenders, which provide funding quotes and deliver funding within minutes.

Katrin Herrling, a former dairy farmer, established the company after the global financial crisis of 2008 that saw her farm’s borrowing rates increase dramatically. This motivated her to provide a service that offers more funding alternatives for SMEs.

Former Experian executives Max Firth (now managing director at FXE) and Paul Henry (now chief operating officer at FXE) are now part of Funding Xchange’s growing team.

The company’s white label “lending in a box solution” digitizes the entire underwriting process, and Herrling says it’s a solution to the challenges faced by SMEs that are seeking business loans.

Herrling believes the latest investment round will help her firm “provide small businesses with the same transparency and ease of access to finance that consumers have become accustomed to.” She says that the funding will also “help reshape a sector that is rapidly adopting digital solutions.”

The company is now focused on offering the best decisioning solutions to financial institutions and lenders, while also improving the delivery of its data analytics software.

Daniel Cheung, an investor from Downing Ventures, says that FXE is addressing “some of the biggest challenges that banks and SME lenders face as the market is undergoing unprecedented change.”

New Zealand’s Online Lending Platform Harmoney Raises $29.6 Million to Expand Company’s Operations

Auckland, New Zealand-based Harmoney, an online lending platform that connects borrowers with lenders, recently raised NZ$25 million ($15.8 million) through a Series C investment round led by two Australasia-based investors.

Established in 2014, Harmoney has acquired funding from Australia-based private equity company Kirwood Capital and a private New Zealand-based institutional investor.

Harmoney will reportedly be implementing an AU$20 million ($13.8 million) corporate debt facility with an Australian investment fund, in order to bring the raise to AU$42.9 million ($29.6 million). Harmoney’s management is planning to use the corporate debt facility to expand the firm’s user base and debt warehousing program.

Kirwood Capital is a strategic investor that supports managerial teams in achieving accelerated growth. Kirwood helps firms focus on long-term development strategies while achieving sustainable growth. The firm is industry-agnostic, however, it tends to focus on projects involving education, healthcare, and financial services.

Most of the funds raised will be allocated towards the ongoing growth and development of Harmoney in Australia’s lending market. The company has been focused on scaling its operations and making profits. It has achieved a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 103% following its launch in 2014 and has created several different funding channels, which includes warehouse funding.

Harmoney CEO David Stevens said that the success of the investment round will play an important part in the company’s growth and its vision for future development. 

Stevans stated:

“This investment will allow us to scale up our operations in Australia while maintaining the healthy growth we’ve sustained in New Zealand and further diversifying our funding options. Harmoney has just marked its fifth year of operations this year, originating more than NZ$1.4 billion (appr. $896 million) in new loans, predominantly out of New Zealand, a huge achievement for any business. 

Stevans added:

“To reach that landmark with this funding behind us is a validation of Australasian-based Fintech and positions the company perfectly for exponential growth.”

He continued:

“Our new investment partners have taken an extremely thorough look at the business and where we are headed and liked what they have seen. That gives us a mandate to keep expanding on our market position as an innovator and a leading disruptor of traditional banking services.”

Kirwood Capital’s management has been offered a seat on Harmoney’s board of directors. 

Luke Forster, investor and CEO at Kirwood Capital, noted:

“Access to capital is critical for companies at Harmoney’s stage of growth, and Kirwood’s investment recognises Harmoney’s globally differentiated digital offering, and its attractiveness as a high growth and profitable platform. We are excited to partner with the team to accelerate Harmoney’s sustainable growth journey.”

Providing Loans to “Working Families” Aura Receives $130 Million Credit Facility

Aura, a lender seeking to provide access to credit to “working families in America” has received $130 million asset-backed revolving credit facility with Varadero Capital. This brings total lending capacity to $259 million.

Aura reports that the new capital comes at a time of high growth as the company has now originated over $625 million to more than 465,000 borrowers since launch in 2014.

“We strongly believe in Aura’s mission and credit culture, and that’s why we’ve been investing in its social bond program since 2015, and why we’re extending this revolving credit facility now,” commented Fernando Guerrero, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of Varadero Capital.  “Through its innovative distribution platform, Aura is able to provide affordable loans to hard-working people who otherwise lack access to capital. On a personal note, I’m so pleased to be backing another Hispanic entrepreneur in James. Together we can help our community, further this important mission and transform the lending industry.”

Aura CEO James Gutierrez said he was thrilled with the relationship and their growing ability to facilitate their growth while moving to profitability.

“Personally, I’m proud to be backed by one of the leading Hispanic fund managers in the country in Fernando. Together, I know our teams will make an enormous difference for our community.”

Aura’s stated mission is to provide affordable loans to Americans in contrast to other “predatory options.” The company claims to have saved over $400 million in fees and interest for its borrowers.

Impressively, two-thirds of Aura’s borrowers have grown their credit score by an average of 285 points from their first to the second loan.

In total, Aura reports having raised over $526 million in “social bonds.” These bonds allow banks and other financial institutions to invest in loans to low-income individuals, while generating compelling returns.

CrowdProperty Announces Lending Product For New Construction Methods

Peer to peer property lender CrowdProperty has unveiled a new lending product specially for new construction methods.  According to P2PFinanceNews, the lending platform is offering a new product, Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) Finance, which will cover building with alternative materials including modular, structural insulated panel products and insulated concrete form (ICF). While sharing more details about the lending product, Mike Bristow, CEO and Co-Founder of CrowdProperty, stated:

“At a time when housing undersupply is so chronic and sustainable construction is ever-more important, we embrace funding innovative forms of construction. While modular structures and ICF are not new approaches, they are relatively novel in many respects when compared to more traditional construction approaches. MMC will play a huge part in the future of housing delivery, proved by the likes of Goldman Sachs investing heavily in the sector.”

Bristow then noted that traditional lenders tend to avoid lending for these type products and CrowdProperty is looking to serve the construction market better. He added:

“Furthermore, we have supported a growing market for joint venture structures for some time and now have the first dedicated product in the market.”

The new product comes just a little over six months after CrowdProperty secured £1,098,832 though its equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs. CrowdPropert describes itself as a platform that promotes investments that return up to 8% per annum noting that, to date, the investment platform has not experienced any loss of capital for its investors. The lender also offers an IFISA providing tax-free returns and for borrowers, CrowdProperty offers short term loans at a current rate of 0.62% to 0.88% for credit from £100,000 to over £5 million.

Exclusive: BlueVine CEO Eyal Lifshitz Shares Insight on New Simple Term Loan Financing (No Origination Fees)

Fresh from its new partnership with Nationwide, BlueVine, a provider of online working capital financing for small and medium-sized businesses, is adding term loan financing to its suite of online financing solutions. The BlueVine Term Loan seeks to provide small and medium-sized business owners fast and simple access to financing to grow their businesses through BlueVine’s advanced online platform. More than 59 percent of businesses are looking for funds to grow their business, according to the 2017 Federal Reserve Small Business Credit Survey Report on Employer Firms. With a BlueVine Term Loan, business owners can quickly pursue larger projects and investments to bring their businesses to new heights.

“Our platform was designed specifically for business owners who are looking to take their business growth to the next level but need flexible working capital support to get there,” shared BlueVine Founder and CEO Eyal Lifshitz after the Nationwide partnership. “By making working capital financing fast, easy and flexible for business owners, we’re delivering on our mission – to expand access to capital for small business owners. This mission-driven focus is a strong compliment to Nationwide’s stewardship in the small business community.”

BlueVine provides term loans from $5,000 to $250,000, without charging origination fees. The platform offers one simple, fixed weekly rate over a six- or 12-month term. All lines of credit and term loan financing are issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC. Business owners are often busy individuals and want access to quick and easy financing.

[easy-tweet tweet=”#SMB Lender @BluevineCapital Introduces New Simple Term Financing @eyallifs #fintech” template=”light”]

While many business owners turn to banks to access term loan financing, the application and approval process for a traditional bank term loan can be difficult to qualify for, take up to weeks and even months, and require mounds of documents. With BlueVine’s online dashboard, business owners can apply for a Term Loan online in minutes with just some basic information about the business owner and business and can receive approval in as fast as 10 minutes. Once the business owner accepts the offer, funds are deposited directly into her bank account in as fast as a few hours. Business owners may be eligible to borrow additional funds when the loan is paid down 50 percent.

The minimum requirements to qualify for a BlueVine Term Loan include at least six months in business, annual revenue of at least $100,000 and an FICO score of at least 600.

The BlueVine Term Loan joins two working capital financing options on the BlueVine platform: BlueVine Invoice Factoring, which allows business owners to get advances on unpaid invoices; and BlueVine Line of Credit, which gives small businesses flexible access to capital, on demand.  With the addition of Term Loan, small businesses have access to a full suite of financing  products from BlueVine to meet virtually all customer needs at any time during their business lifecycle — from funding everyday operational expenses, to critical long-term investments for growth.

Founded in 2013 and backed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, Citi Ventures, Nationwide Insurance, and M12 (Microsoft’s Venture Arm), BlueVine has provided more than 15,000 businesses across the United States with nearly $2 billion in financing. All lines of credit and term loan financing are issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC.

When Crowdfund Insider reached out to BlueVine Founder and CEO Eyal Lifshitz for a quick Q&A to share additional insight about the need for this type of loan, he commented,

“Our mission at BlueVine is to build a world-class financing platform that can address the diverse needs of small and medium-sized businesses. Our third product, term loan, is based on feedback from small business owners who let us know they need funds to grow and larger loan amounts at fixed rates for major projects, such as buying a piece of equipment or opening a new location. We developed this product based on those conversations with customers and are excited to see it have a positive impact on their ability to grow their businesses.”

[easy-tweet tweet=”‘Clearly, the days of one-trick ponies in #fintech are numbered.’ #SMB Lender @BluevineCapital @eyallifs” template=”light”]

CI: What’s going on in the sector and what are your predictions for the year’s end and next year?  What types of innovations do you hope to see? What other types of partnerships for BlueVine?

Lifshitz: Clearly, the days of one-trick ponies in fintech are numbered. More fintech companies are exploring ways to offer more products and services. We saw that trend early on which led us to roll out three products in just five years, and we plan to introduce another one later this year. We’re excited about the partnerships we’ve formed with companies that serve the needs of business owners. One example is Nationwide, which has done an incredible job as a leading provider of insurance to small businesses. We look forward to announcing other initiatives and partnerships this year.

CI: Which other fintech elements is BlueVine considering for its platform?  

Lifshitz: We are exploring other opportunities to help small business owners manage their finances and their business. And this effort certainly goes beyond financing or lending. Stay tuned.

Groundfloor Initiates Public Offering Using Reg A+ to Accelerate Growth

Groundfloor, a direct real estate investment platform, has launched an online public offering enabling any Groundfloor account holder to purchase stock directly from the company. The platform indicated that the online public offering aims to “level the cap table” so members of the public can own an increasing share of the fintech company.

“During last year’s successful public offering, our customers invested $4.2 million in stock to own 14 percent of the company,” indicated Co-Founder and CEO Brian Dally. “We started Groundfloor with the radical idea that with the right product and platform, people are smart enough to make their own decisions in real estate investing. Who better than the investors who benefit from our mission to finance its acceleration?”

During a recent, limited-time pre-sale to existing shareholders, Groundfloor raised $1M in new equity capital, signaling strong demand for the opportunity.

To purchase Groundfloor stock, account holders can log into their accounts and select the Groundfloor 2019 Stock Offering. For $15 per share, members of the public can own a portion of the fintech company, joining the other 2,300+ public shareholders. To participate in the online public offering, an individual must hold an investment account with the company, but anyone can open an account and start investing with as little as $10 per project.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Direct #RealEstate i#nvestment platform @groundfloor_com Preps for Online Public Offering” template=”light”]

The stock offering aims to build upon the company’s momentum from a “strong” 2018, a year in which Groundfloor said that the platform had:

  • groundfloorExpanded its qualified offering nationwide under Reg A and extended its lending business to 30 states
  • Raised $4.2M in equity to bring the company’s total to $13.8M
  • Surpassed more than $100M in loans to real estate developers to date and, in December alone, sold more than $8M in real estate investments to retail investors on the platform
  • Increased its customer base to nearly 60,000 registered users
  • Added new product offerings, such as new construction loans and a fixed annualized notes product returning 5 percent on a 90-day term
  • Generated more than $3M in non-GAAP revenue

Overall, the Atlanta-based company founded in 2013 by Dally and Nick Bhargava said that it has experienced 79 percent year-over-year revenue growth, despite volatility in public stock markets. In 2018, Groundfloor said that its investors earned a weighted average return of 10.37%, a contrast to the S&P 500 index, which was down 6.6% for the year (a loss of 4.4%, including dividends).

Crowdfund Insider reached out to Brian Dally to discuss what led to the Groundfloor’s growth in order for an update about the platform and will post details in a separate post.

Crypto Lender BlockFi Welcomes Coinbase Ventures & Able Partners to List of Investors

Cryptoasset-to-USD lender BlockFi announced on Tuesday it has added Coinbase Ventures and Able Partners to its list of investors. This news comes just a little over a month after BlockFi secured $4 million in convertible debt investments led by Akuna Capital with participation from Susquehanna Government Products, LLLP, CMT Digital, Recruit Strategic Partners, Galaxy Digital Ventures, Morgan Creek Digital and Devonshire Investors.

Founded in 2017, BlockFi describes itself as a secured non-bank lender that offers USD loans for crypto asset owners. The company claims its products bring additional liquidity to the blockchain asset sector and meets needs o both individuals and institutions holding blockchain assets. the company reported it offers the lowest interest rates and most flexible product in the crypto-to-USD lending market.

According to BlockFi, Coinbase Ventures is one of the leading investment bodies in the cryptocurrency industry. The firm notably provides financing for promising companies that have the teams and ideas that can move the space forward in a positive, meaningful way. Meanwhile, Able Partners focuses on early-stage brands that improve people’s daily lives. Speaking about the addition of Coinbase Ventures and Able Partners, the BlockFi team stated:

We want to thank our customers for helping us build a company aimed at providing the most trustworthy financial services provider in the crypto industry. Look out for updates regarding upcoming BlockFi products and services by following our blog and social media channels. Feel free to get in touch and let us know if you have any questions. We love hearing from you.”

Funds from the investment will reportedly be used for team growth and the launch of new products, including an interest-earning crypto savings account, a portfolio line-of-credit, and crypto-backed credit cards. BlockFi plans to launch the savings account in the first quarter of 2019.

Lending Express Celebrates $100M Lending Milestone & California’s Golden Opportunities

Lending Express, an Israeli tech company dedicated to creating a better world of funding for SMBs, has surpassed $100 million in financing facilitated between small and medium business owners and online lenders. Lending Express also obtained state permission to open for business in California. The news is indicative of the company’s impressive growth and expansion in response to strong and consistently increasing demand.

“These two major milestones highlight the immense market demand for a fairer, more transparent lending process,” said Lending Express CEO and Co-Founder Eden Amirav. “For too long, small businesses have been forced into a bureaucratic, binary process that locks them out of financial opportunities. We’ve made it our mission to redefine loan creditability – a major factor in determining viability – and are delighted to see that our work has helped so many entrepreneurs realize their dreams. We’ll now have the opportunity to help even more as we open our doors to the Golden State.”

Since launching in October 2016, over 110,000 SMB owners in the U.S. and Australia have reportedly registered on the Lending Express platform. This has enabled new customers to access funding opportunities from online lenders, resulting in 6,387 loans matched at a total loan volume of $100M, representing a 406% increase in the number of loans, 244% increase in loan volume, and 196% increase in customers over the past 12 months, according to the platform. Lending Express expects to increase its amount of US funding and customers by 50% and 40%, respectively, over the next quarter.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Exciting $100M & CaliforniaUpdate: @Lending_Express #fintech #lending #smb”]

California-based businesses can now complete an entire lending cycle through Lending Express. These businesses can also now access LendingScore™ dashboard and Lending Express’s loan matching services, previously unavailable in California due to state regulations requiring a separate license to offer financial lending services.

“We are delighted to throw our support behind a company that has helped countless businesses across the U.S. navigate the complex landscape of the lending industry. Now with California added to their repertoire, we look forward to seeing them flourish as they continue to help more SMBs get the funding they deserve,”  added Timor Arbel-Sadras, General Partner at Viola Credit, the private credit fund that recently issued a convertible loan to Lending Express.

Lending Express has built an ecosystem of more than 50 leading lenders and Fintech partners including OnDeck, Kabbage and BlueVine. Viola Credit, Israel’s leading private credit fund offering multi-strategy credit products to growing companies,  provides credit solutions to technology-focused companies through several main investment strategies including Alternative Lending, Venture Lending, Mezzanine and Distressed Assets Financing. Since 2000, Viola Credit has successfully completed over 125 transactions and committed over $900 million.

Fintech Business Lender MarketInvoice Nabs £26M in Series-B Round Led by Barclays & Santander InnoVentures

UK fintech business lender MarketInvoice has raised £26M in new equity funding during a Series-B funding round led by Barclays and Santander’s $200M fintech fund InnoVentures with significant participation from European venture fund Northzone, an existing investor in the company. Technology credit fund Viola Credit, who also participated in the equity round, will provide a debt facility of up to £30m to help scale the MarketInvoice business loans solution, that sits alongside their core invoice finance solutions.

“This investment is perfectly timed for the company. The quality of investors we are bringing in through this funding round is a real testament to the whole team at MarketInvoice and the value we are building,” MarketInvoice Co-founder & CEO Anil Stocker. “We’re excited to develop our finance solutions further and become the trusted funding partner for ambitious entrepreneurs. By collaborating with bank partners, we will be reaching many thousands of companies here in the UK and abroad to provide them with their business finance needs. We aim to invest in technology, data and strategic partnerships, to take MarketInvoice to the next level.”

Since 2011, MarketInvoice has reportedly funded invoices and business loans to UK companies worth more than £2 billion, making them Europe’s largest online invoice finance platform.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Series-B Funding Update for @MarketInvoice @AnilStocker ‘The quality of investors we are bringing in through this funding round is a real testament to the whole team at MarketInvoice and the value we are building.’ #fintech”]

MarketInvoice said that the platform has supported thousands of companies across the UK, funding over 170,000 invoices and supporting over 15,000 UK jobs, by providing business finance to help them grow, expand operations and hire more people.

“MarketInvoice is helping UK businesses access much needed funding to keep their businesses and ideas thriving in a very competitive market,” observed Manuel Silva Martínez, Managing Partner and Head of Investments at Santander InnoVentures. Regarding the round, he added, “We are pleased to be joining other financial institutions as shareholders to scale their solutions in the UK and abroad. We are very excited to join Anil and his exceptional team in building this vision together.”

MarketInvoice will utilize the new funding to deepen strategic partnerships in the UK, grow the team and increase awareness of its business finance solutions. In addition, the company is planning to launch cross-border fintech-bank partnerships to support more businesses with access to their lending solutions.

“Now more than ever, businesses need access to stable lines of funding as they navigate choppy political and economic conditions. Our invoice finance solutions are designed to bridge the gap in cash flow requirements and keep UK businesses growing and exporting,” shared Stocker. “We will use this new funding to invest in further risk automation and data models, scale-up our business loans solution, and grow our teams.”

INSIKT Raises $210 Million Through Its Social Bond Securitization Program in 2018

INSIKT (pronounced “in-seekt”), a Lending as a Service (LaaS) company, announced on Monday it has raised $210 million through its social bond securitization program in 2018, which was backed by 174,447 of its responsible, credit-building consumer loans.  According to INSIKT, this has propelled the total securitization volume to $353 million, over nineteen issuances, since the program’s inception in 2013. The company reported:

“The latest social bond issuance marks INSIKT’s eighth placement in 2018, a record for the company, and, arguably, the industry in a one-year time span, highlighting the power of recycling capital back into low-income communities.”

INSIKT also revealed it has built significant momentum in social impact investing as it makes headway with its social bond platform supporting the company’s mission to bring more families into the opportunity economy. While sharing more details, James Gutierrez, founder and CEO of INSIKT, stated:

“We know the ‘American Dream’ takes good credit. In the US, there is a major credit crisis in low-income communities, widening the chasm between the haves and the have nots. INSIKT’s approach is a game-changer for the social capital world that allows us to expand our loan-making services to people in need at increasingly lower costs.”

Ege Tanor, Vice President of Capital Markets at INSIKT, also commented:

“We are extremely excited about the success and continued growth of our social bond program and the difference it is making in bringing families into the opportunity economy. Our CDFI designation was a major win for our borrowers because it provided an avenue for banks to use their capital to fund loans that help low income families.”

INSIKT added its 2019 goal for the program is to accelerate investor portfolio expansion to a wider audience of banks, foundations and eligible accredited investors looking for scalable social impact with a meaningful return.

Kabbage Shares Research & Celebrates Milestone: Daily $10M Access for SMEs

Kabbage, Inc., a global financial services, technology and data platform serving SMEs, is now extending access to more than $10 million per day to small businesses via its automated lending platform. The milestone is underscored by the addition of nearly 30,000 new customers in 2018, fueling the company’s first $500 million quarter of funding activity in Q3 2018.

“Kabbage has more than 2 million live data connections with its customers which allows us to tailor our service and provide unique products that are flexible, convenient and save small businesses time,” new Kabbage CFO Scott Rosenberg told Crowdfund Insider via email. “We have an internal saying “let the baker’s bake,” which refers to delivering small businesses financial tools and solutions that allow them to have more time to focus on their passions for starting a business instead of heavy paperwork and financial process.”

Serving up to 1,400 small businesses every day, Atlanta-based Kabbage credits its rapid growth to its convenient working capital solutions that fit the way customers run their businesses. Evidenced by a 68 percent increase in the total amount of working capital accessed via Kabbage on mobile devices and a 283 percent growth in adoption of the Kabbage Card since 2017, Kabbage aims to build solutions designed to remove the friction small businesses face when seeking funds, the amount of dollars accessed via Kabbage now totals more than $5.5 billion.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Serving up to 1,400 small businesses every day, Atlanta-based @KabbageInc credits its rapid growth to its convenient working capital solutions that fit the way customers run their businesses. #fintech #sme”]

“Kabbage’s continued growth is rooted in the real-time data relationship with our customers and the flexible products we deliver to strengthen small businesses any stage with greater cash flow at any moment,” noted Kabbage CEO Rob Frohwein. “The high-repeat use nature of our 150,000-plus customers demonstrates their affinity for our products and the endless possibilities we have to serve them into the future.”

With its global network of global-bank partnerships for an online lending platform, Kabbage now powers small business lending for large banks, including ING and Santander, across Spain, the U.K., Italy and France.  SoftBank Group Corp., BlueRun Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures are among Kabbage’s backers. All Kabbage U.S.-based loans are issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC.

[easy-tweet tweet=”‘Let the baker’s bake.” @KabbageInc #sme #fintech”]

Crowdfund Insider also reached out to Kabbage regarding FTC announcement regarding a national education campaign to help small business owners understand common cyber threats and how they can help protect their businesses.

“As part of Kabbage’s ongoing effort to help small businesses to be successful, Kabbage recently surveyed more than 800 customers and nearly half (47 percent) plan to invest in cybersecurity products and services in 2018,” indicated the platform. “Of the companies Kabbage surveyed, the majority fall in the IT, medical or accounting industries. In 2018, many organizations will be required to be compliant with the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation for the European Union.”

More details regarding Kabbage’s insight and updates about cybersecurity to follow.

Robo.cash Founder Sergey Sedov: 26M Euro Loan Milestone, New Research P2P Lending & Peer-to-Portfolio Update

Over 26 million euro loans were financed through the European P2P platform Robo.cash in first eight months in 2018, notably 223% more than in the same period a year earlier. Operating according to the ‘peer-to-portfolio’ model, Robo.cash seeks to bring together private investors and legal entities with the loan originators in Kazakhstan and Spain.

“When we just started working in Kazakhstan, customers were mainly represented by middle-aged and older women, the share of youth was small,” ascertained Robo.cash Founder Sergey Sedov. “Later, we found the reason: young men considered borrowing from third parties as a shameful thing, meaning that relatives and friends refused in support.”

This dynamic is believed to be facilitated by continuous development of the IT system and robotic scoring algorithms applied by the lending companies. Despite a fixed standard of the financial products, the example of Kazakhstan and Spain reveals that the borrower’s profile is inevitably considered at any stage of the improvement process due to its impact on the business.

[easy-tweet tweet=”.@Robocash1 Founder Sergey Sedov Analyzes New #Fintech Research #Spain #Kazakhstan”]

“With regard to the Spanish borrowers, there is a habit to procrastinate which undermines the repayment discipline. There were some cases when people asked the support team whether they had borrowed a loan from us,” added Sedov. “As a matter of fact, they simply forgot which service they used but it also serves as an evidence that the Spanish borrowers are concerned about their credit history and compare offers from various lenders.”

According to the statistics above, both markets are characterized by a prevailing number of men among borrowers: 55% in Kazakhstan and 59% in Spain. However, there is a distinctive difference in the average age of customers: 33 years with a major share of borrowers in the age of 18-30 in Kazakhstan (18-24 — 25.2%; 25-34 — 38.8%) and 38 years with a prevailing number in the group of 35-50 in Spain (35-40 — 21.3%; 41-50 — 23.1%). Despite the highly competitive landscape in these countries, customers tend to stay loyal to the services they appreciated. Within the whole financial group, Kazakhstan has the greatest share of clients who took more than one loan — 88.7% and Spain has 77.2% of repeated clients.

Robo.cash has said that it has been focusing its efforts on (re)adjustments and continuous improvements on the business workflow and underwriting algorithms, with a focus on the client mentality to enable efficiency and expansion of the alternative lending business, in order to prove that Robo.cash and its affiliated loan originators are united in an international financial group.

[easy-tweet tweet=”New Insight from @Robocash1 Founder Sergey Sedov on #Fintech, #Spain #Kazakhstan #loans #ai”]

Crowdfund Insider reached out to Robo.cash for further comment regarding these efforts and platform growth, it’s views on blockchain. Sedov responded via email:

“In September, the number of investors registered on the platform reached 4,000. For us it proves the demand for the service in the European market. Operating within the international financial holding Robocash Group, the platform indicates the growth of our lending companies represented on the mature markets like Spain and Kazakhstan. In the near time, we will add to the platform an opportunity to invest in consumer loans originated by our lending company in Russia. We expect quite positive outcomes as the Russian lender paved the way for other companies and today holds the leading share within the loan portfolio of the group. With regard to the implemented technologies, we apply robotic solutions involving artificial intelligence and machine learning which facilitate efficient and reliable lending and investing. Surely, blockchain appears to be a perspective direction but it needs some more time to develop practical solutions which might be commonly used in the industry.”

CrowdOut Provides Multi-Million Dollar Term Loan to Shale Support

Private lending syndication platform CrowdOut Capital announced on Wednesday the completion of a multi-million dollar term loan to Shale Support, a provider of frac sand and logistical solutions to the oil and gas proppant market. According to CrowdOut, the loan will support the acquisition of two sand mines, spanning over 1,000 acres that contain more than 100 million tons of recoverable high-grade frac sand, which are located near the prolific shale plays in the southeastern U.S., and finance capital expenditures to increase production capacity at the sand mines.

CrowdOut also reported that Shale Support, which is backed by OFS Energy Fund, operates an extensive mining and transload network strategically aligned with key destination terminals that serve various states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania regions. The company notably provides to operators and third-party suppliers its proprietary Delta Pearl proppant, an industry-leading proppant known for its low turbidity or cleanliness.

Speaking about the loan, Jeff Bartlam, Co-Founder and President of Shale Support, stated:

“The frac sand business is growing quickly and we needed a partner that could be nimble and help us to keep pace with market demand. CrowdOut provided the flexibility and efficiency that rigid traditional lenders could not.”

Founded in 2015, CrowdOut provides term loans to middle market companies with annual revenues between $10 million – $500 million that seek to expand, acquire or grow companies. The lender partners with credit funds to underwrite and fund loans. The process also offers accredited investors the opportunity to earn 7-14% yields with investments starting at $1,000.

Canadian Fintech Progressa Secures $84 Million Through Latest Equity Funding Round Led By Canaccord Genuity & Gravitas

Progressa, a Vancouver-based financial technology company focused on helping sub-prime and near-prime Canadians seeking to improve their financial health, announced on Tuesday it secured $84 million through its latest equity funding round, which was led by Canaccord Genuity and Gravitas with participation from Eight Capital and Paradigm Capital.

Founded in 2013, Progressa stated its mission is to build a socially responsible consumer finance company that encourages borrowing for the right reasons. The company stated:

We empower collection agencies to offer proactive solutions and drive healthy recoveries while protecting brand reputation with industry leading NPS and servicing. For point of sale finance we allow platform partners and other originators to expand their merchant offerings to service non-prime consumers and achieve industry leading approval rates.

Speaking about the investment round, Ali Pourdad, Progressa’s Co-Founder and CEO, shared:

“We are pleased with this broad level of support from Canadian investment banks who see that Progressa is making a positive difference in the lives of Canadians.”

Kia Besharat, Senior Managing Director and Head of Capital Markets Origination at Gravitas Securities also commented,

“We are incredibly excited to have supported Progressa over both its bridge and pre-IPO rounds in 2017 and 2018. Ali has assembled a world-class management team and has operated the business like a public company for as long as we have been working with him. We look forward to continue watching Progressa’s success in tackling the vastly underserved collections debt and retail point-of-sale finance market in Canada.”

Progressa added that it is expected to near $100 million of loan funding before the end of this year. It plans to use the funds from the latest investment round to create a new forward-flow whole loan purchasing program for up to $72 million with Vancouver-based credit fund Cypress Hills Partners. The company previously raised $11.4 million during its Series A funding round in 2015. Following that raised, Progressa announced the launch of its marketplace investor platform. 

Irish P2P Lender Linked Finance Hit €10 Million Loans Record During Second Quarter 2018

Linked Finance, an Ireland-based peer-to-peer lending platform, recently announced it facilitated more than €10.1 million to Irish SMEs during the second quarter of 2018, which ended in June. The lender reported the second quarter success follows a strong start to the year, with totaling lending for the year now over €18.7, which is up by 65% during the same period in 2017.

Launched in 2013, Linked Finance connects local Irish businesses who are need of loans with its online lending community. To date, Linked Finance’s more than 18,000 registered lenders have lent over €50 million to support more than 1,400 Irish businesses across every county in Ireland. While discussing the lender’s success in 2018 so far, Linked Finance CEO, Niall Dorrian, shared with The Independent

“We are delighted to report record performance in this quarter, breaking the €10m mark for the first time. P2P lending is now a well-established funding source, and the increases we have seen in loan value, volume and registered lenders strengthens our position as the preferred alternative lender to Irish SMEs.”

The strong second quarter 2018 results were announced just weeks after Linked Finance secured a commitment from Portugal’s Banco BNI Europa, which provides up to 50 million over a 2-year period to lend to Irish SMEs. As previously reported, Banco BNI Europa is a digital challenger bank and alternative lending investor that has partnered with online lending platforms across Europe since 2016. Dorrian went on to add:

“The recent commitment from Portugal’s Banco BNI Europe to deploy up to €50m on the platform over the next two years will help us to achieve our goal of making Linked Finance the biggest source of non-bank funding to SMEs in Ireland.”

Kabbage Across America: Providing More than $5B in Funding to SMEs

Kabbage, Inc., a global financial services, tech and data platform serving small businesses, reports its 145,000-plus small business customers accessed over 300,000 loans during non-banking hours, reaching a record total of more than $1 billion in funding. In total, Kabbage has now provided access to more than $5 billion in funding to its customers across America. The non-banking hour analysis illustrates how Kabbage’s fully automated lending solutions remove the age-old hurdle of normal business hours by offering companies 24/7 access to working capital online.

“The findings illuminate the true around-the-clock nature of business owners,” explained Kabbage CEO Rob Frohwein. “While we wish small business owners could reclaim their nights and weekends, we built Kabbage to allow business owners to access funds on schedules convenient to them, not us.”

Economic Impact of $5 Billion 

A new report from the Electronics Transactions Association (ETA), in partnership with NDP Analytics, a Washington, D.C.-based economic research firm, finds that for every $1 provided to small businesses via online lending platforms, including Kabbage, results in $3.79 in gross output in local communities. The study provides context to how the new milestone of $5 billion provided through Kabbage has helped to stimulate the U.S. economy.

[clickToTweet tweet=”For every $1 provided to small businesses via online lending platforms, including @KabbageInc, results in $3.79 in gross output in local communities. #fintech @KabbageRob #sme” quote=”For every $1 provided to small businesses via online lending platforms, including @KabbageInc, results in $3.79 in gross output in local communities. #fintech @KabbageRob #sme”]

After-Hours Lending on the Rise

The total number of dollars accessed through Atlanta-based Kabbage outside of typical banking hours reportedly increased more than 6,000 percent between 2011 and 2018. The growth illustrates small business owners are increasingly comfortable accessing capital online, and they rely on the convenience of managing cash flow needs any time of day, particularly outside of open business hours for most banks. Non-banking hours in this analysis represents the local time between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on the weekdays, and the full 48 hours over the weekends.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The total number of dollars accessed through Atlanta-based @KabbageInc outside of typical banking hours reportedly increased more than 6,000% between 2011-2018. #fintech @KabbageRob” quote=”The total number of dollars accessed through Atlanta-based @KabbageInc outside of typical banking hours reportedly increased more than 6,000% between 2011-2018. #fintech @KabbageRob”]

Weekday vs. Weekend Lending

The majority of after-hour lending (64 percent) was accessed during the work week, totaling $754 million. The remaining 36 percent occurred on Saturdays and Sundays, totaling $429 million. The data is a nod to the dedication of business owners as more than one-third extend their work weeks to handle cash flow needs even on the weekends.

[clickToTweet tweet=”News for the Patch & Orchard: @KabbageInc Hits Newest Milestone: $5B+ in Lending @KabbageRob @Kabbitch ‏” quote=”News for the Patch & Orchard: @KabbageInc Hits Newest Milestone: $5B+ in Lending @KabbageRob @Kabbitch”]

Last week Kabbage released survey data that shared insights from 500 established small businesses and the key moments that triggered their growth. The results aim to help entrepreneurs by giving applicable lessons from experienced business owners with proven companies, including business strategies, investments, financing needs, operating costs and even their regrets.

Kabbage is funded and backed by leading investors, including SoftBank Group Corp., BlueRun Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Thomvest Ventures, SoftBank Capital, Reverence Capital Partners, the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, ING, Santander InnoVentures, Scotiabank and TCW/Craton.

Kabbage Survey Says: Most Successful SMB Owners Turn Profit within First Four Years of Business

Kabbage, Inc., a global financial services, technology and data platform serving small businesses headquartered in Atlanta, released survey data that uncovers insights from 500 established small businesses and the key moments that triggered their growth. The results offer entrepreneurs applicable lessons from experienced business owners with proven companies, including business strategies, investments, financing needs, operating costs and even their regrets.

In collaboration with leading small business research firm Bredin, Kabbage polled 500 small business owners in nearly every industry across America and in various life stages of business.

“Nearly 20 percent of responders said they know exactly what they need to do to grow their business, they just need more capital to do it,” said Kabbage Chief Revenue Officer Victoria Treyger. “Even though most businesses reach profitability in their first four years, our research shows businesses still encounter unique opportunities or challenges that require extra capital, such as bridging cash-flow gaps, making strategic purchases, increasing marketing spend or opening new locations.”

The sample represents businesses more than 20 years old (24 percent), 10 to 19 (29 percent), 5 to 9 (29 percent), and 1 to 4 (15 percent). More than half earned nearly $1 million to more than $5 million in revenue in 2017. The study provides actionable advice for growing companies, finding:

The First Four Years Are Critical for Success

According to the survey, 84 percent of established business owners said they reached profitability within the first four years of business, with a significant portion (68 percent) attaining profitability in the first year. Only 8 percent reached profitability after their fifth year in business, giving strong indication that the first four years are truly make-or-break years for any new company.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Nearly 20 percent of responders said they know exactly what they need to do to grow their business, they just need more capital to do it,’ observed @KabbageInc CRO Victoria Treyger. @victoriatr #fintech #smb” quote=”‘Nearly 20 percent of responders said they know exactly what they need to do to grow their business, they just need more capital to do it,’ observed @KabbageInc CRO Victoria Treyger. @victoriatr #fintech #smb”]

SMBs Regret Not Investing in Marketing Sooner

Business owners rank finding new customers as their number one challenge overtime, significantly outweighing cash flow and competition concerns. Consequently, they rank deploying new marketing strategies to acquire future customers as their top focus to ensure business growth. However, marketing is the smallest annual expenditures (as low as 5 percent per year), as it’s consistently and heavily outweighed by payroll, rent, equipment purchases and technology investments.

The data shows responders wish they invested at least two- to nearly five-times more dollars in marketing each year. At each stage of business, marketing spend represented:

  • 7 percent of all costs in their first year; they wish they spent 28 percent
  • 13 percent between years 1 and 4; they wish they spent 25 percent
  • 7 percent between years 5 and 9; they wish they spent 16 percent
  • 5 percent between years 10 and 19; they wish they spent 23 percent
  • 11 percent after 20 years; they wish they spent 23 percent

  The Cost of Doing Business

Responders stated they needed to access as much as $10 million of working capital during certain phases of their business to support growth, with the majority in need of less than $500,000. However, there is a disconnect between the amount of capital a business anticipates using in the future versus the amount established businesses actually borrow:

  • First year: 38 percent accessed capital versus 27 percent don’t think they’ll need it
  • Years 1 to 4: 29 percent versus 57 percent
  • Years 5 to 9: 26 percent versus 50 percent
  • Years 10 to 19: 17 percent versus 74 percent
  • Years 20-plus: 14 percent versus 84 percent

Signed, Sealed & Delivered: ThinCats Loans £1M ‘Agile Finance Facility’ to Firtitudo

ThinCats has reportedly delivered a £1M ‘agile finance facility’ to fund MBO and contract win for Firtitudo Ltd. The transaction enabled the managing director of Firtitudo Ltd and database for business limited (dbfb) to acquire the remaining 45 per cent of secure communications specialist dbfb and the founder to exit. Midway through the transaction process, the business was reportedly faced with an immediate requirement for growth capital to fund a substantial new order. Enter ThinCats. The UK fintecher structured a facility to include bullet repayments and fixing the repayment date to suit the business’s monthly cash flows.

“Simon and his team have a very clear roadmap for the business and we are delighted to be playing our part in supporting them to achieve their ambitions in creating a world-class technology platform for business growth,” opined ThinCats Loan Origination Manager Matthew Lawrence. “In this fast-moving, digitally-driven environment, businesses seeking to scale need lenders that possess the experience and short lines of communication to be able to pivot quickly. Our role is to create certainty of deal execution, even when events are changing dynamically around us.”

The acquired company, database for business limited, provides organisations with secure connectivity and communications, incorporating landlines, cloud services and mobile. The growing business has offices in Northampton and Milton Keynes and a strong regional presence in the Midlands.

[clickToTweet tweet=”.@ThinCatsUK: ‘Our role is to create certainty of deal execution, even when events are changing dynamically around us.’ #fintech” quote=”@ThinCatsUK: ‘Our role is to create certainty of deal execution, even when events are changing dynamically around us.’ #fintech”]

“As well as funding the share purchase, ThinCats ensured that we had increased transitional funding for growth, enabling us to take on the order swiftly and smoothly. There was total transparency on both sides and that sense of openness and trust made this an enjoyable deal to work on together,” commented dbfb Managing Director Simon Pickering.  “Our strategy is based on the old-fashioned values of service and relationships, as well as having an excellent understanding of the requirements of our local market. Our experience of ThinCats shows them to be an agile, modern business with traditional values, exactly what we were looking for from our lending partner.”

Earlier this month ThinCats provided Linlithgow-based Calnex Solutions with growth capital financing, to enable the acquisition of Belfast-headquartered JAR Technologies and the continued expansion of the combined entity.


Downing Crowd Energizes UK Crowdfunding with New P.A. Reserve Power Bond

Investment manager Downing LLP has launched of a new bond on its crowdfunding platform, Downing Crowd, paying 7.6% p.a. interest to investors by lending £10M to projects across the UK’s reserve power market.

[clickToTweet tweet=”.@Downingcrowd Reserve Power Bond will enable investment of up to £10M in ‘reserve power’ plants” quote=”@Downingcrowd Reserve Power Bond will enable investment of up to £10m in ‘reserve power’ plants”]

In this latest launch, Downing Reserve Power has been established as a company which will make loans secured against the assets of a range of reserve power plants. Two plants, which require funding, have already been selected for the portfolio and further projects will be added over time. All loans will share first ranking charge with Bridging Trading LLP (another Downing managed lending business) and a maximum loan-to-cost ratio of 65%, with the aim of reducing risk for investors. Over £1,248,697 has already been raised toward the £4.25M initial goal.

“With renewables now nudging a third of all power produced in the UK, the new challenge is how to ensure supply matches demand with this new, cleaner, but more fluctuating energy mix. Put simply, you can’t ‘turn on’ the sun or wind!” explained Downing Head of Crowdfunding Julia Groves. “This has created extra challenges for the National Grid, which is struggling to react to peaks in demand or sudden loss of supply. Reserve power plants can tackle this issue head on by providing extra capacity to the National Grid at these times and potentially benefit from the peaks in pricing by supplying into a tight market.”

The Bond offers investors a chance to earn 7.6% p.a. over a period of up to 33 months and, depending on individual circumstances, this interest is also available tax free if the Bond is held through Downing’s Innovative Finance ISA. The 7.6% interest rate is higher than a typical Downing Crowd Bond, reflecting both the longer term of the Bond and the higher level of risk associated with funding projects before they are operational and where there is a high degree of variability in potential revenue streams.

[clickToTweet tweet=”New Power Bond available @Downingcrowd Innovative Finance ISA” quote=”New Power Bond available @Downingcrowd Innovative Finance ISA”]

DRP will use the proceeds of the bond to lend to reserve power projects typically consisting of 4-20MW of capacity. DRP will initially support a minimum of two existing reserve power projects loans and it will continue to seek further loan opportunities with between two and ten engines, provided that the LTC does not exceed 65% and the value of the gas-fired engine is at least 50% of the total cost.

Downing Crowd also shared information about reserve power technology works. Two of the most flexible means of reserve power have been developed using either battery technology or gas-fired engines. Downing Reserve Power will focus on investing in the latter, with each project typically consisting of 4-20MW of capacity. These gas-fired engines are able to generate income in a number of ways including selling energy on the wholesale market and from subsidies and incentives to ensure energy is always available.

“Investing in this type of Bond can be a great way to see your money go into businesses that will have a direct impact on local economies across the UK, just like we’re seeing with reserve power plants,” added Groves. “Despite the growing popularity of alternative finance (the market grew by 43% during 2015-16 to reach £4.6 billion[1]), the different kinds of crowdfunding still tend to all get labelled as ‘extremely risky’. In fact, Crowd Bonds are a simple type of investment and, provided investors fully understand the higher risks compared to savings accounts, they can potentially offer attractive returns – that can also be held tax free through our IFISA – in the current climate of low interest rates and rising inflation.”

Downing LLP has developed investment specialisms across a wide range of sectors including energy, having invested over £500 million in over 100 energy businesses since 2010. Following its launch in March 2016, the Downing Crowd platform has raised a total of £52 million, returning over £18 million in capital and paying over £1.4 million of interest to investors (as at 5 April 2018).

Other live bond deals on the platform include DDF Property Bond – Two Year, which has raised over £2,553,690; and the Pulford Trading Regular Access Bond, which has surpassed £2,089,610 in funding.