Regtech Startups at Lendit Europe 2019 : Onfido and ComplyAdvantage Have Big Plans

LendIt Fintech Europe 2019, which took place September 26-27 in London, was placed under the banner of lending and banking convergence.

As incumbents collaborate with Fintechs, online lending marketplaces become banks, and challenger banks expand into credit, a new ecosystem is emerging. An indispensable part of this ecosystem are new startups who rethink enabling technologies. These are much needed to make the tech advantage of fintech come true and to enable it to scale.

Onfido and ComplyAdvantage are regtech startups which provide KYC and AML solutions to banks and Fintechs. We caught up with Husayn Kassai, co-founder and CEO of Onfido and Charlie Delingpole, ComplyAdvantage founder and CEO of ComplyAdvantage following a panel discussion moderated by Steve Pannifer, COO, Consult Hyperion.

Onfido wants to give consumers control of their identity data

Husayn Kassai was one of the three Oxford students who founded Onfido in 2012. The company provides customer onboarding and identity verification services. It has a team of 260 with offices in the UK, the US, Portugal, France, India, and Singapore. Onfido has raised over $100m in 9 rounds of funding, including, most recently, a $50 million Series C round led by SBI Investment with Salesforce Ventures and M12 (Microsoft Ventures).

Onfido works with over 1,500 financial businesses, including 150 very large enterprises. Clients include Revolut, LendInvest, Drivy, and Blablacar.

Onfido’s main product is online identity verification. The company provides verification for more than 600 local driving licenses and a total of 5,000 government identification documents. It has built strong relationships with government authorities from around the globe. Its facial biometrics verification technology is proprietary. 

“We’re taking physical identify online,” said Husayn Kassai.

The CEO sees enormous growth potential for his company’s services. Traditional KYC and AML processes have an abysmal record in terms of catching fraudsters and money launderers. The consequence is that, to avoid risk, financial institutions are purely and simply excluding billions of customers from their services.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Traditional KYC and AML processes have an abysmal record in terms of catching fraudsters and money launderers. The future of identification is decentralized” template=”light”]

Husayn Kassai’s vision for the future is decentralized identity.

“Technology is capable of giving individuals full control over their data. But it has yet to be made easy. Decentralized identify is the future.”

Currently, every ID verification starts afresh. Nothing is stored. In the future, we will create a server for each individual. Individuals will be able to decide what they are willing to share with whom.”

Decentralized identify would make the customer onboarding process significantly easier and faster. Each customer could be verified multiple times. It would bring a significant cost reduction.

ComplyAdvantage sets on machine learning to scale AML

Charlie Delingpole is a serial entrepreneur. He started his first company as a student at the age of 16. After working a few years in investment banking at JP Morgan, he co-founded the invoice financing marketplace Marketinvoice, before founding ComplyAdvantage in 2015.

At both JP Morgan and Marketinvoice, Charlie Delingpole grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of efficiency of KYC and AML processes. Current fraud detection solutions are still largely manual. They are ineffective and out of proportion with the high stakes of money laundering.  In startups, the biggest teams are often KYC and compliance teams. This is not sustainable.

“Banks and Fintechs are faced with the challenge of industrializing the customer onboarding process without failing basic AML and identity checks.”

Charlie Delingpole decided to set up ComplyAdvantage to build new processes of fraud detection from scratch, using machine learning.

“Machine learning can process information from 60 million pages to profile an entity and extract a pattern from its transactions – a work that would require a million work hours from an intern.”

ComplyAdvantage now employs 250 people, mostly in London, Romania, and the US. Out of these, around 150 are working on developing the platform. The company has around 500 direct customers and 400 partners who distribute its data. The startup has raised $38 million in funding, including $30 million in a recent B series led by Index Ventures.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Machine learning can process information from 60 million pages to profile an entity and extract a pattern from its transactions – a work that would require a million work hours from an intern #Fintech #Regtech” template=”light”]

Charlie Delingpole claims that companies using its data report significant improvement in detecting true positives and avoiding costly false positives. Recently, for example, it enabled a large institution to close an account and report the client before it was raided by police shortly after.

The CEO has ambitious long-term plans for ComplyAdvantage

“We want to build a massive network of data that can be translated into a knowledge graph of external data and internal data.”


Therese Torris, PhD, is a Senior Contributing Editor to Crowdfund Insider. She is an entrepreneur and consultant in eFinance and eCommerce based in Paris. She has covered crowdfunding and P2P lending since the early days when Zopa was created in the United Kingdom. She was a director of research and consulting at Gartner Group Europe, Senior VP at Forrester Research and Content VP at Twenga. She publishes a French personal finance blog, Le Blog Finance Pratique.

Global Fintech Conference LendIt Adds Latin America to List of Targeted Events

LendIt, best known for its roving events targeting the online lending industry plus other aspects of the emerging Fintech industry, has added Latin America to its list of targeted regions with a new event.

FinnoSummit, taking place in Miami this coming December, is being produced in partnership with Finnovista.

Finnovista and LendIt Fintech reportedly have each hosted dozens of successful Fintech events in Europe, China, the US, and Latin America, with attendance at each event ranging from 1,000 to 5,000+.

For the first time, the two organizations are joining forces to host an event highlighting innovators in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In a release, LendIt said it expected more than 175 companies from more than 25 countries, to participate in the Miami event.

FinnoSummit will also host the final of the ​Visa Everywhere Initiative​: an innovation program in which more than 100 Fintech startups applied to be crowned the most innovative startup from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Andrés Fontao, Managing Partner of Finnovista, commented on the LATAM focused event:

“Thanks to the consolidated innovation network of Finnovista in the region and the global reach of LendIt Fintech, FinnoSummit Miami by LendIt Fintech will fuel the opportunities for collaboration in Latin America. We want to bring together the entire regional ecosystem to discover new trends, generate investment opportunities and lead the path in the transformation of the financial services industry in Latin America.”

LendIt Fintech USA – Seven Years of Fintech Innovation

It’s hard to believe that the most attended Fintech conference LendIt Fintech USA had its 7th birthday in the Mecca of Fintech, San Francisco this past week.

Thousands of attendees from all over the world descended into San Francisco’s Moscone Center for this once a year pilgrimage to the center Fintech universe. The who’s who in Fintech can be seen on stage, in the halls, and various event.

The atmosphere is one of eagerness and anticipation. Are there any big announcements? Mergers and acquisitions in the works? New innovations and collaborations?

Last year, LendIt Fintech was all about banking collaboration with a blockchain flair. What’s in stores this year? Let’s find the latest and the greatest in this year’s keynotes.

Machine Learning is Taking Over

Doug Merrill of ZestFinance and Roger Hochschild of Discover Financial Services took the stage at 9am Pacific Time on the day one, moderated by Selina Wang of Bloomberg.   

Doug Merrill and ZestFinance, previously known as ZestCash, has been around the industry for almost a decade.

Starting as a lender in the subprime lending space, the company quickly pivoted into using its analytical algorithms to help Chinese search engines and selling its artificial neural network models to other lenders.

Rocking his rock star appearance on stage, Merrill answered questions relating to the evolution of the credit score.

He imagined that there should be a credit score in the future, however, Merrill explained that what is in the score should be looked at with rigor. He paid homage to Fair Issac, the company that brought credit score to the forefront financial industry, however, the traditional algorithms that Fair Issac uses are losing sensitivity and better and more powerful algorithms should take its place.

The addition of alternative data to the credit score ingredients without rethinking the recipe is nothing but a farce.

Another question from Selina was about the concept of Social Scoring currently employed in China. Both Merrill and Hochschild jumped on this issue.

Although scary, both conceded that social scoring is already happening in America. Your personal Uber rider score, AirBnB ratings, Yelp scores are some of the classical scores no one really pushed back on but scoring each one of our behaviors without any independent verification.

However, I beg to differ.

State-sponsored social scoring, such as the ones employed in China, is very different than Uber’s peer-to-peer rating system. When a government uses your digital footprint, geolocation, spending behavior, and online comments to systematically deny your freedom of travel, speech, and access to public infrastructure, this makes Uber rating looks like child’s play.

I hope social scoring and the invasion of our privacy doesn’t come to the United States and that our social contract, religious beliefs, tradition, and culture keeps us free.

The ZestFinance and Discover’s joint venture in fraud detection is interesting and the results of their partnership remain to be seen.   

Merrill and  Hochschild also provided some advice to Fintech startups:

  1. Understand what you have to sell and whom you are selling it to.
  2. If the Product and Solutions that create value makes it a easy sell
  3. Understand your client’s business model and pain points
  4. Once you find the right person, the sale goes smoothly.

It’s All About Partnerships

Next on stage was the CEO of Max Levchin of Affirm moderated by Deidre Bosa of CNBC.

Right off the bat, Bosa read a review back to Levchin, the review painted Affirm as “Modern Day Pay Day Lending Branded For Millennials…”

The audience could see that Levchin was visibly upset and seemed to have been caught off guard and couldn’t come up with a proper response to Bosa. Sorting through a myriad of comebacks in his head, he could only state that he was strongly opposed to that comment.

However, Levchin quickly recovered and talked about how Affirm may have been misunderstood in the media and they need to do a better job at getting the word out. Levchin stated that Affirm has a net promoter score of 83+.

A net Promoter score of 50+ is good, 70+ is exceptional. A net promoter score is calculated based on a single question “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”.

Levchin then started attacking the pitfalls of revolving debt, we can assume that he’s referring to credit card debt. He said that each of his loans is purpose driven and they are always used to buy a product. I am thinking that credit cards can be used the same way as well, but however, there is a big difference.

An installment loan is fully amortizing with each payment is paid towards principal and interest. Where as credit card debt is amortized using a compounding interest method that one may never able to pay off their debt in theory.

The biggest question raised by Bosa is Affirm’s partnership with Walmart. From the audience’s perspective, Affirm may have bitten off more than it can chew, but Levchin seemed unfazed.

Max gave us some insight into the relationship with Walmart. It is a multi-year relationship and it took Affirm a few years to get their infrastructure dialed in to handle Walmart’s volume, both in terms of technology and funding volume.

Speaking on Walmart’s existing relationship with credit card issuers, Levchin jumped on that issue as he claims there is no competition and they serve customers that these credit card companies wouldn’t serve.

I can only assume that Levchin is talking about folks who have a 660 and below credit score which banks traditionally won’t touch.

When it comes to questions around the impending recession. Levchin danced around the subject by broadly stating that when there is a contraction in the broader markets, only the strong survive and urges everyone to actively prepare for the next downturn by conducting self-imposed stress testing with their capital market partnerships.

The gist of the matter is that when there is a recession, most companies in the lending space will get wiped out. But they always come back every 7 to 10 years.

Who should we fear? The moderator asked Levchin point blank about Amazon getting into the financial technology market. How will Affirm compete with a company like Amazon with a seemingly unlimited budget?

To that end, Levchin recited the Affirm’s founding principles, and that is Affirm will always offer a transparent and fair option for their customers, no late fees ever. And if Amazon is coming into the lending space, Max wants them to be fair to the consumers and offer no-fee products to help the industry to set a new standard.

Last year I wrote an op-ed piece on Amazon on Crowdfund Insider aptly titled “Amazon, stop being everything to everybody”. In that piece, I detailed Amazon’s progressive behavior on taking over every aspect of our lives, including banking and finance.

If Affirm is offering loans to buy products… who owns the product and the virtual shelves spaces? Wait, they have physical shelves too, Whole Foods. My word.

51% of World’s Population

By now, you are getting a pretty good picture of how Fintech is solving some of the biggest issues in our society. From solving complex transactional fraud issues at one of the biggest credit card companies to partnering with the world’s biggest retailers such as Walmart.

The Fintech industry is continuously innovating to uplift and moving towards a brighter future.

Ellevest is right in the heart of changing how 51% of the world’s population save and invest. CEO Sallie Krawcheck provided some incredible insight on how the investment infrastructure is built by men and traditionally services men. Krawcheck asked the audience to challenge this idea by building a brand new investment platform dedicated to women.

Her session was titled “The $700 billion untapped investment segment”. And she is right, women are the driving force in our economy and they need to be empowered by technology, tools, advice purposely built to suit their situation.

Let’s look at some numbers.

In 1970, only 1% of dentists were women, however in 2007, 28.3% are women. 

The percentage of physicians jumped from 8% to 30% and lawyers from 5% to 32.6% in 2007. And the most recent equal pay movement is marking a new era in our society and it should be celebrated.

Access to education, training, and most importantly, access to capital and investment for women should be on everyone’s agenda.

Sallie sounded more like an inspirational leader than a Fintech CEO. I think she will lead the charge on many fronts such as the gender pay gap and glass ceiling issues that still confront America in the 21st century.

Day 2

Day 2 of LendIt FinTech USA had several keynote highlights that are worth mentioning.

Family Office vs. Venture Capitalists

There were some really interesting folks on stage this year. Each one of them was fighting for their rightful place in why family offices should be considered when Fintech companies want to raise equity.


Greg Wasson of Wesson Enterprise, Kevin McGovern of McGovern Capital and moderator Ron Dimond’s conversation was very engaging with a ton of humor and candor.

Here are some of the reasons why you should pick a family office as your next fund source, according to the panelists:

  1. Family offices are more resilient than venture capitalists. If you find the right family that shares your vision, you will be covered by the family.
  2. Family offices are strategic partnerships and not financial engineers.
  3. Family offices have a vast and strong network. There’s always someone that can advise you on your journey.
  4. If you share the same passion, family office and the companies they support will go a long way.
  5. Family offices are disrupting how money is raised.

These gentlemen also gave us entrepreneurs some straight forward advise

  1. Every company should have a CPO, a Chief Passion Officer
  2. Lots of startups will end up pivoting at some point. Don’t be afraid of it.
  3. Good leaders may not be good managers. Good managers may not be good leaders.

2019 and Beyond

Next year, LendIt Fintech will be hosted in New York again. Although we are almost halfway through 2019, I think there will be some exciting things happening for the second half of 2019.

If you haven’t read my “Fintech Predictions for 2019. Where We Have Been & Where We Are Going”. Take a look at it. The #2 prediction has already come true.

Tim


Timothy Li is a Senior Contributor for Crowdfund Insider. Li is the Founder of Kuber, MaxDecisionsAlchemy and has over 15 years of Fintech industry experience. He’s passionate about changing the finance and banking landscape. Kuber launched Fluid, a credit building product designed for college students to borrow up to $500 interest-free. Kuber’s 2nd product Mobilend is a true debt consolidation product, aiming to lower debt for all Americans. MaxDecisions provides financial institutions with the latest A.I. and Machine Learning algorithms and Alchemy is a state of the art end-to-end white labeled Lending Platform powering some of the best FinTech companies. Li also teaches at the University of Southern California School of Engineering.

LendIt Fintech: 2019 Industry Award Winners Announced

The 7th annual LendIt Fintech took place this week in San Francisco and once again financial innovators from around the world showed up to listen and learn about disruption taking place in Fintech. As part of the annual conference, LendIt announced 21 winners for its third annual LendIt Fintech Industry Awards. Organizers also announced the startup winner for its 5th annual US edition of the PitchIt @ LendIt Fintech competition.

PitchIt is a Fintech startup competition for innovative financial service companies. Out of eight finalists, judges selected Possible Finance as the winner, a mobile-only lender whose loans are repaid over time and help the borrower build credit with positive payment history.

Bo Brustkern, LendIt Fintech co-founder and CEO, said they love to shine a light on the brightest starts in the Fintech sector:

“The PitchIt competition and LendIt Fintech Industry Awards do just that, and they are among the most anticipated events of the conference. Congratulations to all of the winners!”

The Winners for 2019 are highlighted below.

  • Fintech Innovator of the Year – Stash
  • Executive of the Year – David Kimball, Prosper
  • Fintech Woman of the Year – Luvleen Sidhu, BankMobile
  • International Innovator of the Year – Yiren Wealth
  • Top Consumer Lending Platform – LendingClub
  • Top Small Business Lending Platform – Funding Circle
  • Top Real Estate Platform – Sharestates
  • Emerging Lending Platform of the Year – Upgrade
  • Top Fintech Equity Investor – Edison Partners
  • Most Innovative Bank – BankMobile
  • Most Promising Partnership – OnDeck and PNC Bank
  • Most Successful Cross-Border Partnership – Kabbage and Alibaba
  • Most Innovative Mobile Technology – AutoGravity
  • Top Service Provider – Deloitte
  • Top Law Firm – Orrick
  • Blockchain Innovator of the Year – Figure
  • Excellence in Financial Inclusion – Opportunity Fund
  • Top Emerging Technology Company – CuneXus
  • Top Enterprise Technology Company – Marqeta
  • Customer Alignment – JUMO World
  • Best in Show – Bankers Healthcare Group

LendIt Announces Finalists For the Third Annual LendIt Fintech Industry Awards

LendIt announced this week the finalists for its third annual LendIt Fintech Industry Awards. According to the organization, this year’s event will take place on April 9th and bring together 400 Fintech influencers and innovators to celebrate outstanding achievement in 21 unique categories. The finalists are listed below.

Fintech Innovator of the Year: Awarded to the company that has demonstrated a strong culture of innovation, producing groundbreaking changes in the industry in the past year

  • Plaid
  • Onfido
  • Figure
  • ZestFinance
  • Stash
  • Varo

Executive of the Year: Awarded to the senior executive who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, integrity, performance and team-building within his or her company, while at the same time contributing to advancement of the industry.

  • Steven Streit: Green Dot
  • David Kimball: Propser
  • Tom Burnside: LendingPoint
  • Noah Breslow: OnDeck
  • Shivani Siroya: Tala

Fintech Woman of the Year: Awarded to the senior executive who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, integrity, performance and team-building within her company, while at the same time contributing to advancement of the industry.

  • Jennifer Tescher: CFSI
  • Luvleen Sidhu: BankMobile
  • Yihan Fang: Yirendai
  • Andrea Gellert: OnDeck
  • Valerie Kay: LendingClub

International Innovator of the Year: Awarded to the company, domiciled outside the US, that has demonstrated a strong culture of innovation, producing groundbreaking changes in the industry.

  • WeLab
  • Borrowell
  • Yiren Wealth
  • Blue Motor Finance
  • Lexin
  • Innovative Assessments

Top Consumer Lending Platform: Awarded to the top consumer lending platform based on a combination of loan performance, volume, growth, product diversity and responsiveness to stakeholders.

  • GreenSky
  • Propser
  • Zopa
  • LendingClub
  • Marlette Funding

Top Small Business Lending Platform: Awarded to the top small business lending platform based on a combination of loan performance, volume, growth, product diversity and responsiveness to stakeholders.

  • Funding Circle
  • Kabbage
  • BlueVine
  • OnDeck
  • Credibly
  • Lendio

Top Real Estate Platform: Awarded to the top real estate platform based on a combination of performance, volume, growth, product diversity and responsiveness to stakeholders.

  • LendingHome
  • PeerStreet
  • Sharestates
  • AnchorLoans
  • LandBay
  • Roofstock

Emerging Lending Platform of the Year: Awarded to the young company that has demonstrated the greatest potential to impact the future of online lending.

  • Upgrade
  • Qwil
  • Figure
  • Uplift
  • Better.com
  • CircleUp

Top Fintech Equity Investor: Awarded to the venture capital or private equity firm that has invested in a range of successful fintech startups and contributed to the industry’s vision.

  • Colchis
  • Cefif
  • EdisonPartners
  • Qed Investors
  • Upper90

Most Innovative Bank: Awarded to the bank that is leading the way in embracing fintech and new means of doing business.

  • BankMobile
  • Laurel Road
  • HSBC
  • NBKC Bank
  • Varo

Most Promising Partnership: Awarded to the company that has completed and publicly announced an innovative partnership in the fintech community.

  • Amount and TD Bank
  • OnDeck and PNC Bank
  • Finicity, FICO, and Experian
  • HSBC and SoftBank Robotics America
  • TransUnion and PeerIQ
  • BMO Harris Bank and SpringFour

Most Successful Cross-Border Partnership: Awarded to the company that has completed and publicly announced an innovative cross-border partnership in the fintech community.

  • Centre for Finance, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (CFTE) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP)
  • Kabbage and Alibaba
  • Kasisto and Standard Chartered Bank

Most Innovative Mobile Technology: Awarded to the company that has demonstrated a strong culture of innovation, producing significant mobile based technology advances in the past year.

  • Dave
  • AutoGravity
  • fonYou
  • TransUnion

Top Service Provider: Presented to the service provider that has demonstrated deep expertise, unique value, strong ROI, commitment to clients and the fostering of a deeper understanding of fintech.

  • Deloitte
  • Experian
  • Wilmington Trust
  • Millennium Trust Company
  • First Associates

Top Law Firm: Presented to the law firm that has demonstrated deep expertise, unique value, and commitment to clients and the dissemination of legal best practices for fintech.

  • Goodwin Procter
  • Morgan Lewis
  • Ballard Spahr
  • Buckley
  • Manatt
  • Orrick

Blockchain Innovator of the Year: Awarded to the company that has demonstrated a strong culture of innovation, producing groundbreaking changes in the blockchain industry in the past year.

  • Figure
  • Symbiont
  • Global Debt Registry
  • Harbor
  • Hydrogen
  • Finastra

Excellence in Financial Inclusion: Awarded to the company that has made the biggest difference in expanding access to financial services in new and innovative ways.

  • Opportunity Fund
  • Oportun
  • MoneyLion
  • LenddoEFL
  • Aura
  • Elevate

Top Emerging Technology Company: Awarded to the young company that has demonstrated the greatest potential technological impact on the fintech community.

  • Narmi
  • Tally
  • Nova
  • dv01
  • DebtTrader
  • Cunexus

Top Enterprise Technology Company: Awarded to the company that has demonstrated the greatest impact for the enterprise technology market.

  • ThreatMetrix
  • Emailage
  • Blend
  • Marqeta
  • Roostify
  • TrueAccord

Customer Alignment: Awarded to the company that has demonstrated strong alignment with their customers so that in all circumstances they win only when their customers win.

  • Jumo
  • Upgrade
  • Aura
  • LendingClub
  • Oportun
  • Scratchpay

Best in Show: Awarded to the best exhibitor at LendIt Fintech USA 2018, judged on booth design and impression as well as staff conviction and enthusiasm. This award will be announced in the exhibition hall at the Moscone Center on April 10th.

LendIt went on to add that the event includes a pre-dinner networking reception, a 3-course dinner, live entertainment, and the awards ceremony.

LendIt Fintech Europe: London is Open for Business

Last month, CI attended the annual LendIt Fintech Europe event which has taken place in London over the past few years – even while Brexit hangs like an ominous cloud over the European financial center. London, consistently described as the leading Fintech hub in the world, is determined to retain the innovation leading title as numerous financial services firms strive to decipher how the European divorce will impact their future.

For this year’s LendIt Fintech event, proceedings were kicked off by the confident Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business. He gave a brief presentation entitled Encouraging Innovation in London’s Fintech Hub where he assured the audience that London remains “open for business” in spite of Brexit fears.

Agrawal said this is not just a slogan but part of the city’s DNA. Agrawal expressed his opinion that the UK would be better positioned if the electorate had voted to remain part of the EU but stated assuredly they will remain competitive:

“London has always been home to bold ideas and inventions,” said Agrawal noting they remain the largest financial center in Europe and have more banks than anywhere else in the world. 

While different forms of Fintech have ebbed, and flowed, in recent years the faithful and successful showed up in force. It was interesting to note that blockchain sessions, just recently standing room only segments, lacked the same excitement as in past years. Perhaps this is indicative of peak blockchain? Or maybe, just a pause.

Below are just some of the statements CI heard at one of Europe’s biggest annual Fintech events from the heart of financial innovation in Europe.


“Being customer-centric is disruptive” (commenting on how Zopa’s digital bank offering will compete with traditional banks)

 – Jaidev Janadana, CEO of Zopa

“… it would take global regulators 20 years to get all of the regulators on the same page and by that time it would be 19 years and 6 months out of date.”

 – Christopher Woolard, Director of Strategy & Competition, Financial Conduct Authority

 

“In my view, leaving the European Union is a very bad decision.”

“[Fintech] started originally as peer to peer lending getting finance to British SMEs… that was just the start … Let’s break up the existing channels of finance because they have been very clogged by the crash…”

“I was a bit more positive about Crypto than other finance ministers … I think the world is looking for an alternative to the US dollar.”

“The problem is that President Trump presents is his unpredictability … A difficult friend to count on…”

– George Osborne, former Chancellor of the Exchequer,  Editor of the London Evening Standard

“By 2020 1/3 of the workforce will be automated… what happens in the context of Banking? A lot of the bank is going to be engineering and STEM-related roles.”

– Kaushalya Somasundaram, Head of Fintech Partnerships HSBC

“The big competition is inertia – people sit with a high street bank and they do not think it is worth their effort [to change]”

“The challenge in the high street banks is legacy. The challenge in the smaller banks tends to be balance sheet and capital.”

Des McDaid, Managing Director of Marcus by Goldman Sachs UK

 

When it Comes to Online Lending, Size Matters: Deloitte Cost of Capital Survey

Earlier this year, the Deloitte Center for Financial Services (DCFS) and LendIt Fintech joined together to publish a survey on online lending and the current state of the ecosystem. The numbers were highlighted this past April during the LendIt Fintech conference but Deloitte has recently shared the complete report.

According to the document, the cost of capital is key for online lenders. A statement that should come as no surprise. The authors state that when it comes to lowering this cost – size matters.

The survey covered 34 different online lenders. Most survey participants had loan portfolios of under $50 million and half a dozen had portfolios of more than US$500 million. Just four registered over $1 billion. The report states:

“… the results of the survey also suggest that a company’s scale affects its ability to competitively offer products at a discount in the market. With their lower cost of funding, larger companies seem to be able to operate with lower gross asset yields, which translates into lower rates for customers. Not only do the yields decrease by company size, but also the difference between their lowest and highest gross yields shrinks by size as well.”

The data indicates:

  • As companies grow in size, both the average gross asset yields and the difference between averages decrease.
  • Larger companies are increasingly able to move to the lowest cost of financing: securitization
  • For unsecured consumer lending the weighted average cost of financing was 14% for lenders that did not have third-party backup servicers and 5.8% for those that had them; for small business lending, the percentages were 10.7% and 6.5%, respectively.
  • online lenders with the most scale, given their access to a wider diversity of capital sources and at lower costs than competitors, would be best positioned to weather a credit down cycle.
  • The number of online lending startups dropped from 100 in 2014 to 63 in 2015 to 30 in 2016 to only four in 2017 which appears to indicate a maturing market

In looking closely at the report, it appears not to reference Marcus, the Fintech money center bank launched by Goldman Sachs. Marcus has access to the cheapest cost of capital of them all. Consumer deposits. Can the big securitization guys compete with billions in deposits that paying out less than 2%?

So is bigger better? Perhaps. Scale obviously counts but, in reality, the market is still quite young and evolving rapidly. Just wait until the next round of digital challenger banks go global. And what about those blockchain based lending sites?


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LendIt “Top Real Estate Platform” LendInvest Syncs with IRESS & Twenty7Tec: Bringing BTL Loans to Wider Market

LendInvest, the specialist property finance lender, has partnered with mortgage sourcing partners Twenty7Tec and IRESS’s TriGold system to bring its Buy-to-Let product to more intermediaries. These sourcing systems now bring LendInvest BTL loans to the market in a faster, more efficient way to reach a wider range of customers.

“Partnering with technology-first mortgage sourcers like Twenty7Tec and IRESS is a natural union for us,” noted LendInvest Sales Director Ian Boden. “Using technology to automate the initial decisions around product selection allows the team at LendInvest to do our job and concentrate on the more subjective decisions later on in the loan process.”

IRESS mortgage sourcing aims to allow intermediaries to access the best deals for their clients from the whole of the market, while the TriGold system aims to streamline the loan sourcing process and cut costs allowing cases to reach completion faster.

[clickToTweet tweet=”.@LendInvest partnered with #mortgage sourcing partners Twenty7Tec and IRESS’s TriGold system to bring its Buy-to-Let product to more intermediaries. ” quote=”.@LendInvest partnered with #mortgage sourcing partners Twenty7Tec and IRESS’s TriGold system to bring its Buy-to-Let product to more intermediaries. “]

Twenty7tec, a sourcing partner that delivers technology solutions to connect all participants in the lending process, uses application submission platforms and data analytics systems for lenders, connecting LendInvest’s BTL loans with over 6000 intermediaries. Both mortgage sourcing systems are available for intermediaries.

To date UK- based LendInvest has facilitated £1.2 billion of loans made to borrowers who have bought, built or renovated 4,000 residential properties in more than 120 English towns and cities.  The platform won the Real Estate Platform of the Year at Lendit this week.

NSR Invest Closes First External Financing Round with FinSight Ventures; Summer Tucker Takes Reins as New Managing Director

Today at Lendit, Lend Core Inc., parent company to NSR Invest and LendingRobot, announced the close of its first external financing round with FinSight Ventures. The investment will help the company expand its investor outreach, accelerate product development and strategic partnerships.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Live from @Lendit: @NSRInvest Closes First External Financing Round with @FinSightVC ‏ @brustkern #fintech” quote=”Live from @Lendit: @NSRInvest Closes First External Financing Round with @FinSightVC ‏ @brustkern #fintech”]

Commensurate with the closing, Lend Core co-Founder Bo Brustkern stepped down from his leadership position to focus on the LendIt Fintech conference, where he serves as CEO. Summer Tucker, Lend Core’s Vice President, will succeed Brustkern as Managing Director.

“For nearly five years Summer Tucker has been instrumental to our success. We compete in a complex and dynamic industry, and Ms Tucker has proven her capabilities in the field of battle,” noted Brustkern. “She has generated tremendous goodwill through her zealously client-centric approach. I can think of no one more qualified or better respected to take the helm of Lend Core as the company begins its next phase of growth.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Summer Tucker Takes Reins as New Lend Core Managing Director #fintech @brustkern” quote=” Summer Tucker Takes Reins as New Lend Core Managing Director #fintech @brustkern”]

New Lend Core Managing Director Tucker added,

“NSR Invest has served as an advocate and innovator for marketplace lending investors since 2011. At the forefront of the latest technologies and trends, we are uniquely positioned to bridge innovation with tradition in a way that redefines portfolio capabilities and the investor experience. We are just scratching the surface of possibility and our partnership with FinSight Ventures propels our vision forward.”

The company’s core technologies drive innovation through interactive analytics, custom modeling, algorithmic investing, order execution, portfolio management, and transparency through blockchain application. FinSight Ventures General Partner, Alexey Garyunov, and Investment Director, Maxim Nazarov, will join Lend Core’s Board of Directors.

“FinSight Ventures believes in continuing growth of the alternative lending industry and the impact it will have on the broader financial sector,” commented FinSight Ventures Founding Partner Garyunov. Democratization of access to loan products for retail and institutional investors will require a mature infrastructure, and we see Lend Core as a fundamental piece of that infrastructure.”

Lend Core sees this funding as underscoring its achieved momentum since the acquisition of LendingRobot last year, marking the acceleration of alternative investment innovation.

 

Heard at LendIt Fintech 2018

LendIt returned to San Francisco this year as it continues with its annual conference which is one of the largest Fintech focused events in the US. This year’s event is a bit different for several reasons.

First of all, more traditional banks showed up in force this year as the once lethargic sector has become more willing to embrace Fintech and create their own, acquire or partner. While LendIt started as an online lending focused event, the founders have since branched out into other Fintech verticals including the hot Blockchain (or distributed ledger technology) sector that just about everyone expects to completely flip finance upside down. This year, LendIt incorporated a completed separate Blockchain labeled BlockFin Summit.

Below, CI is sharing a selection of quotes from the various keynotes that took place on day one. There will be more to follow.


 

“A reckoning is coming. The US is ground zero.There is a 37 trillion dollar shortfall in the retirement sector. This is coming and we cant just think we have 32 years to solve this problem.”

“We need to use the regulatory framework to promote innovation not just to prevent harm. 50 different states create a complicated regulatory environment.”

Scott Sanborn, CEO of LendingClub


 

“Disruptive businesses typically do more than speed up a process. If you really want to be disruptive flip the business on its head.”

“If a mortgage can be done in 10 [days] a personal loan can be done in 1 [day]”

Jay Farner, CEO of Quicken Loans


 

“In the money world we are living in a pre-internet world. Using Swift is like sending a letter in the mail.”

“[Digital] Currencies need to be as liquid as possible and should have as many use cases as possible. XRP has a multitude of use cases.”

“Blockchain is like the second internet.”

Chris Larsen, CEO and Founder of Ripple


 

“We are going to shift out of physical form factor to a form that is on your phone. The software is going to eat the card.”

“[Digital] Wallets are the first prototype. … really has not changed anything. The door that has been open is to innovate the software.”

“American Express is still actively hiring people who know Cobol. It is really hard to innovate when you have hardware systems on very old stacks … Transactions will accrete to those who are willing to scrap these legacy systems.”

“There are 10 to 15 million people in this country who need money and can probably borrow responsibly yet they end up at payday lending.”

Max Levchin, CEO and founder of Affirm


 

“In every area we want to be the fastest … the fastest to buy a stock.”

“[We] Focus on the individual members achieving their financial independence … It is not about being rich it is about doing what you want.

“Our company has to reflect the diversity of society … It is not just about creating a great company. We are rolling out the core vales to the entire company … Zero tolerance for employees who do not reflect our core values.”

Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi


 

“Since we launched 18 months ago we have done $3 billion in loans and we have $20 billion in deposits and about 500,000 in customers.”

“We have had multiple iterations of our credit model. We can change it a lot faster than a traditional bank can change it.”

“Build it right. Go slow. Do it right. That was the directive from the senior management.”

“We are a startup inside a 149 year old firm.”

Omer Ismail, Chief Commercial Officer of Marcus


 

“It disappoints me as to how few Fintech companies care about tech.”

“We built something that is perfect for young people as they dod not want to talk to someone. Millennials absolutely don’t [want to speak to someone]”

“The only way you make great returns is by being right and being non consensus.”

Andy Rachleff, CEO of Wealthfront


 

“I think the notion of a Fintech charter makes sense. The attributes of a bank are arbitrary.”

“When you leave things up to 50 states you are not letting 50 flowers bloom.”

“If you allow the states to take the lead basically we will follow California’s rules because it is the biggest.”

Raj Date, Managing Director Fenway Summer

Ryan Feit from SeedInvest: Crypto Securities Regulation 101

During the 2018 LendIt Fintech conference in San Francisco this week, SeedInvest CEO Ryan Feit delivered a presentation on the current state of securities regulations in regards to initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Until recently, much of the ICO activity in the US was completed in total disregard to existing securities law. Comments emanating from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) clarified their view that pretty much all ICOs were securities and needed to file for an appropriate securities exemptions. One of the most compelling aspects of tokens issued during an ICO is the fact that typically soon after the minting of these digital coins they could be traded on a crypto-exchange thus creating immediate liquidity. This creates another significant hurdle for issuers who want to remain compliant in the eyes of the SEC (and CFTC) as the exchanges are not regulated and these tokens are being viewed as securities.

Feit, who has been in the securities crowdfunding space for some years now, points to two of the biggest challenges in the ICO market;

“The biggest challenge to launching successful token offerings in a regulated environment will be secondary market liquidity,” said Ryan Feit, CEO & Co-Founder of SeedInvest.  “The crypto community is going to need to figure out a number of securities issues that nobody is talking about such as Blue Sky and 12(g).”

The 12(g) rule has to do with a severe limit on the number of token holders of record and a trip wire on assets above $10 million. If you trigger 12(g) the SEC expects you to become a reporting company like companies traded on public exchanges. That is a problem.

Blue Sky references the need to kiss the ring of every single state regulator before you trade securities on an exchange.  Feit says Reg A+ may be the solution that ICO issuers need but, again, this securities exemption is not without certain requirements that take both time and money.

See the presentation below.

[scribd id=375998668 key=key-2EqijxB0hiyoaYfMfl8Q mode=scroll]

Katipult Named Finalist For Most Promising Partnership Award at the Second Annual Lendit Fintech Industry Awards

Canadian fintech Katipult announced last week it has been nominated, alongside Polymath Inc., for the Most Promising Partnership Award at the second annual Lendit Fintech Industry awards in April. According to Katipult, the partnership will be competing against some of the world’s finance and fintech giants including partnerships involving Goldman Sachs, Macquarie Group, Swedbank, and Lending Club.

Katipult also reported that the award nomination follows Katipult’s January 2018 announcement of a collaboration with Polymath Inc. in the development of a system of recording securities ownership and transmission using blockchain technology. The company noted it will be applying its proprietary, proven software to be the first Know-Your-Client (KYC) interface on the Polymath Network. Investors will be able to use the Katipult compliance framework in order to provide their KYC, Anti Money Laundering (AML) , Counter Terrorist-Financing (CTF), Accreditation and Suitability information. Approved investors will be able to participate in Security Token Offerings (STO) powered by the Polymath protocol.

Speaking about the nomination, Brock Murray, CEO of Katipult Technology Corp, stated;

“We are proud to be recognized alongside some of the biggest names in the financial world, and I think it speaks to the level of innovation Katipult is bringing to our industry. The global market opportunity for our business is massive and partnering with other talented teams better positions our company to take advantage of it. This validates what we’ve accomplished in our industry to date and it’s very encouraging to see that the industry and our peers are excited about the potential of our collaboration with Polymath”.

The Most Promising Partnership Award finalists are the following:

  • Katipult + Polymath Inc
  • Macquarie + PeerIQ
  • Lending Club + Opportunity Fund
  • Intrinio + QUODD
  • Financeit + Goldman Sachs
  • Minna Technologies + Swedbank

LendIt Fintech Announces Finalists For Second Annual Industry Awards

On Friday, organizers of the upcoming event LendIt Fintech announced the finalists for its second annual LendIt Fintech Industry Awards. According to the organizers, the finalists were selected from hundreds of applicants worldwide for top honors within 21 categories. It was revealed:

“The prestigious awards will bring together 500 fintech influencers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders to honor outstanding achievements in financial services innovation. Finalists are currently being evaluated by more than 30 respected fintech industry experts including CEOs, investors and media. The winners will be announced during the LendIt Fintech Industry Awards Show and Dinner on April 10 at One Market in San Francisco. In addition to the ceremony, the evening will include a pre-dinner networking reception, followed by a three-course dinner and live entertainment.”
Peter Renton, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of LendIt Fintech, also stated:

“Our first annual awards ceremony gave us an opportunity to recognize all of the impressive innovations and contributions we’ve seen in the fintech industry. We were yet again impressed by both the number of high-caliber nominees and look forward to celebrating all of the companies disrupting the future of finance to improve the quality of daily life.”

See below of the finalists, by category:

Fintech Innovator of the Year

  • Affirm
  • Varo Money
  • Better Mortgage
  • Upstart
  • Plaid
  • Circle
  • loanDepot

Executive  of the Year

  • Raul Vazquez, Oportun
  • Anthony Hsieh, loanDepot
  • Max Levchin, Affirm
  • David Klein, CommonBond
  • Renaud Laplanche, Upgrade Inc.
  • David Kimball, Prosper
  • Yihan Fang, Yirendai

Fintech Woman of the Year

  • Blythe Masters, Digital Asset
  • Kathryn Petralia, Kabbage
  • Stephanie Alsbrooks, defi SOLUTIONS
  • Marla Blow, FS Card
  • Denise Thomas, ApplePie Capital
  • Olympia De Castro, Community Investment Management
  • Stephanie Klein, Braviant Holdings

Blockchain Innovator of the Year

  • Digital Asset
  • Axiom Zen
  • TradeIX
  • Deloitte
  • Alphapoint
  • ConsenSys

Most Innovative Token Economy

  • Axiom Zen
  • JOBS Crypto Offering
  • SweetBridge
  • Blockstack

Top Consumer Lending Platform

  • LendingClub
  • Zopa
  • Marlette Funding
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs
  • LightStream
  • Yirendai

Top Small Business Lending Platform

  • Kabbage
  • Funding Circle
  • BlueVine
  • Mirador
  • Credibly
  • StreetShares

Top Real Estate Lending Platform

  • Sharestates
  • LendInvest
  • LendingHome
  • PeerStreet
  • LendingOne
  • Fundrise

Emerging Lending Platform

  • Upgrade Inc.
  • Better Mortgage
  • ETHLend
  • Neat Capital
  • Nexoos
  • LendingUSA

Excellence in Financial Inclusion

  • Kreditech
  • LendUp
  • LenddoEFL
  • Oportun
  • China Rapid Finance
  • Elevate Credit

Most Promising Partnership

  • Katipult + Polymath Inc
  • Macquarie + PeerIQ
  • Lending Club + Opportunity Fund
  • Intrinio + QUODD
  • Financeit + Goldman Sachs
  • Minna Technologies + Swedbank

Most Successful Cross-Border Partnership

  • Kabbage + ING
  • Kreditech + PayU
  • PayJoy + Macrocel
  • nCino + OakNorth
  • Kasisto + DBS Bank
  • Phoenix Finance + Saxo Bank

Most Innovative Bank

  • BankMobile
  • Cross River Bank
  • Laurel Road
  • CBW Bank
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs
  • HSBC

International Innovator of the Year

  • UP Financial
  • LexinFintech
  • Afluenta
  • Phoenix Finance
  • IrisGuard
  • Borrowell

Top Enterprise Technology Company

  • Salesforce
  • Roostify
  • Blend
  • ThreatMetrix
  • Mambu
  • CUneXus

Top Emerging Technology Company

  • Nav
  • Ingo Money
  • Nova Credit Inc.
  • MoneyLion
  • dv01
  • Emailage

Top Professional Services Company

  • Salesforce
  • Deloitte
  • First Associates
  • Millennium Trust
  • Cloud Lending Solutions
  • Manatt, Phelps & Philips, LLP

Most Innovative Mobile Technology

  • PayJoy
  • Clarity Money
  • AutoGravity
  • Dave.com
  • Blinker
  • Juvo

Top Fintech Equity Investor

  • QED Investors
  • CreditEase Fintech Fund
  • Edison Partners
  • Foundation Capital
  • Citi Ventures
  • Blumberg Capital

Best Journalist Coverage

  • Tony Zerucha, Bankless Times
  • Steven Dresner, DealFlow.com
  • Andrew Dix, Crowdfund Insider
  • Christopher Lustrino, Simple.Innovative.Change
  • Zhou Xin, Yicai Global
  • Leigh Cuen, International Business Times

Top Investment Bank in Fintech

  • Macquarie
  • Marlin & Associates
  • FT Partners

Alternative Finance at #PFF18: 16 Fintech Startups Deliver $12 Billion Financing to Consumers and SMEs in 32 countries

The Paris Fintech Forum 2018 (#PFF18) was a huge event, here are a few highlights from the sessions moderated by Crowdfund Insider & friends.

The conference gathered more than 2,500 delegates from more than 50 countries from the five continents at the old French stock exchange in Paris, France. Alternative finance was one of the many topics addressed – the event spans Fintech and Insurtech and topics ranging from cryptocurrencies and blockchain to Artificial Intelligence and to Regtech.

One of the event’s claims to fame is to have only CEOs as speakers. Thus, in the alternative finance category, the main stage panels lined up Rob Frohwein, the CEO of Kabbage, Giles Andrews, the Chairman of Zopa, Geoffrey Guigou, the CEO, of Younited Credit, Cameron Stevens, the CEO of Prodigy Finance and Shivani Siroya the CEO of Tala.

Here are a few highlights from the Alternative finance track which I chaired for Crowdfund Insider with the help of Bo Brustkern, the CEO of Lendit.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Alternative finance was one of the many topics addressed – the event spans #Fintech and #Insurtech and topics ranging from cryptocurrencies and blockchain to Artificial Intelligence and to #Regtech #PFF18″ quote=”Alternative finance was one of the many topics addressed – the event spans #Fintech and #Insurtech and topics ranging from cryptocurrencies and blockchain to Artificial Intelligence and to #Regtech #PFF18″]

16 Fintech Startups Already Financed €9.5 Billion ($12 Billion)

I did a bit of maths on the 16 alternative finance firms, mostly lenders, which Laurent Nizri, the founder and CEO of the Paris Fintech Forum had picked to represent the diversity of the sector around the globe:

  • They’re young: The 16 firms are on average 5.5 years old (with the oldest being 12 years old, the youngest not even 2),
  • Very international: They serve on average 4 different countries and together, with much overlap, cover 32 countries on the five continents.
  • Getting big: They have helped finance nearly €9.5 billion ($12 billion) worth of loans, bonds, and private equity for consumers and SMEs.
  • Well-funded: They raised on average $30 million in private equity for themselves

These few numbers should serve as a reminder of what the online alternative finance sector has already achieved, and in what a short time!

Here follow a few highlights from the various sessions.

More growth: go international or develop new business offers?

In this session, panelist Olivier Goy, CEO of Lendix, France, Jaidev Janardana, CEO of Zopa, UK, Alejandro Cosentino, CEO of Afluenta, Argentina, and Etienne Boillot, CEO of Eiffel eCapital, France confronted their growth strategies in marketplace lending and debated about the future of the business model.

As the oldest alternative lender and, so to speak, the founding father of the entire sector, Zopa’s growth strategy is significantly distinct from later entrants’. Zopa is competing head-on with UK banks for prime borrowers and is soon to become a bank itself. The company has so far prioritized building on its consumer trust capital to increase the depth and breadth of its UK customers’ relationships by launching new products rather than by expanding abroad. When good consumer credit scoring data becomes available in Continental Europe, notably though PSD2, Zopa will expand internationally.

[clickToTweet tweet=”When good consumer credit scoring data becomes available in Continental Europe, notably though PSD2, Zopa will expand internationally #Fintech #OnlineLending” quote=”When good consumer credit scoring data becomes available in Continental Europe, notably though PSD2, Zopa will expand internationally #Fintech #OnlineLending”]

By contrast, Lendix and Afluenta have entered their markets in 2014 and 2012, respectively, by tackling market segments that banks did not want to serve: SMEs looking for unsecured loans in Continental Europe in the case of Lendix; and, in the case of Afluenta, the hundreds of millions of Latin American consumers and SMEs who are excluded from the local underdeveloped and conservative credit markets. For these two companies, expanding internationally is a way of leveraging their model and positioning themselves as regional leaders without awaiting the time when they are mature enough to attract prime borrowers.

As the manager of alternative debt funds, Eiffel eCapital is investing in lending platforms. Etienne Boillot pointed out that institutional investors are very demanding in terms of net returns and that high returns might not be achievable when platforms compete with banks for prime borrowers.

From new finance to new subprime model?

Panelists Davis Barons, CEO of Creamfinance, Poland; Boris Batin, CEO of ID Finance, Spain; and Mark Ruddock, CEO of 4finance, Latvia, may be the best-kept secrets of global alternative finance. Founded respectively in 2012, 2012, and 2008, these companies have originated loan volumes measured in the €100s of million, and even, in the case of 4Finance, in billions of euros.

These firms may be little well-known because they originate loans under multiple local online brand names. In addition, they provide short-term loans to subprime consumers, which may put them, from an outsider point-of-view, into the frowned-upon category of payday lenders. In the local markets they serve, however, they do meet strong demand without this stigma attached to them.

All three brands claim to practice responsible lending. Their ambition is to use the efficient technology processes they’ve put in place to serve the subprime online and through mobile phone as a stepping stone towards profitably serving the near-prime, and ultimately the prime markets. Online alternative lenders are increasingly regulated as they grow in size and in particular as they raise money by issuing bonds on public markets. They’re definitely companies to watch.

Tech in alternative Finance

Panelists Dr. Matthias Knecht, cofounder and CEO of factoring startup Billie of Germany; Elizabeth Chapman, cofounder and CEO of consumer lender ZestMoney, India; Aneesh Varma, founder & CEO of next-generation credit bureau Aire, United Kingdom; and Philippe Botteri, Partner at global venture capital firm Accel Partners discussed the key technologies in alternative finance.

Although operating in very different regions (Germany versus India) and in different markets (SME factoring versus consumer credit at the point of sales), both Billie and ZestMoney face the same challenge. The customers they’re targeting are too expensive to serve in traditional ways – which is why banks are simply not serving them. Therefore, the startups created respectively in 2016 and 2015, have no choice but to maximize the use of technology automation at all stages of the lending process, from recruitment to collection ‒ including compliance processes such as AML and KYC.

Credit scoring and risk pricing are, of course, a huge part of these firms’ technology investment. They had to develop specific scoring models for their target customers. Their challenge is not only to develop new scoring algorithms using technologies such as machine learning, but to select the right data, and, if data is not available, to find the most highly predictive data proxies.

The same concern drives Aire, a next-generation credit bureau which provides credit scores to consumers with no financial credit history. The company uses a virtual interview to get at the “character” of a borrower which is considered a strong individual predictor of creditworthiness.

All three companies are concerned with making sure that technology avoids reinforcing existing social biases in underwriting.

Fostering SMEs globally through secured and unsecured lending

Bo Brustkern, the CEO LendIt, moderated a panel gathering Jens Woloszczak, CEO of Spotcap, Germany. Christoph Rieche, the CEO of iwoca, UK;  Marko Rant, the CEO of Invoice Exchange, Slovenia; Viola Llewellyn, the chairwoman of Ovamba Solutions, and Christian Nagel, the managing partner of Earlybird Venture, United Kingdom.

Here are Bo’s highlights:

“This illustrious panel kicked off with an acknowledgment that the industry has evolved into a panoply of business models. The question at hand was whether it was worthwhile to perform the balancing act of investor and borrower acquisition as a true marketplace. Chris of iwoca weighed in on the advantages of balance sheet lending, with clear evidence – in the form of lending volume – as support for his argument. Marko of Invoice Exchange provided an argument for staying true to the marketplace ideal, which if done well can act as a true exchange. Christian of Earlybird Ventures made it clear that whatever the model, it is the client experience – that is, the borrower experience – that is critical for an online lender to execute well. Speaking of execution, Viola of Ovamba shared how a scrappy lender can generate profits in Africa by creating adaptive, mobile-first lending solutions. Finally, Jens shared the strategy behind Spotcap’s move to Lending-as-a-Service (LaaS), which last week they announced along with their partnership with 130-year old Bawag Bank of Austria.

 

What’s on the horizon? All agreed that there is much work to do in European SME lending, which has a uniquely complex banking and regulatory landscape. But with the advent of open banking and the blockchain, there was a palpable feeling of optimism on this panel. The opportunity to build uniquely better SME lending solutions in Europe and Africa is real, and vast.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”There is much work to do in European SME lending, which has a uniquely complex banking and regulatory landscape #Fintech #OnlineLending” quote=”There is much work to do in European SME lending, which has a uniquely complex banking and regulatory landscape #Fintech #OnlineLending”]

The challenges of Crowdinvesting

Panelists, Lasse Mäkelä, founder and CEO of international equity crowdfunding platform Invesdor, Finland, Florence Vasilescu, founder and CEO of private bond placement platform, FirmFunding, France; Julian Hosp, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency wallet card TenX, Singapore, and Philippe Colombel, Partner at French VC firm Partech discussed the validity of the open crowdinvesting model in comparison with walled-garden platforms, club deals, venture capital, and Initial Coin Offerings.

The debate circled around two separate issues:

1) the benefits and drawbacks of enabling retail investors to invest in startups and SMEs and

2) the digitization of the fundraising process and, in particular, of its back office.

The panelists, including Julian Hosp who recently closed an $80 million ICO, agreed that retail investors must be protected from investing all their savings in high-risk ventures. They approved of crowdfunding regulations, such as France’s, which put a cap on the amount of money a retail investor may invest per project. While there is a trend in crowdfunding towards walled-garden platforms such as private placement platform FirmFunding, the benefits of the community aspect of open crowdfunding platforms and ICOs should not be underestimated.

After a short debate, the panelists agreed that the traditional processes of private equity and private debt raising are in need of a major digital revamp. The syndication model of many modern-day deals where VCs, family offices, angel investors and retail investors co-invest under the wings of a lead investor, as at Invesdor, require efficient and transparent communication. Platforms not only ease startups’ and SMEs’ access to capital, they also provide them with tools to manage their cap table and their investor relations.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The benefits of the community aspect of open #crowdfunding platforms and #ICOs should not be underestimated” quote=”The benefits of the community aspect of open #crowdfunding platforms and #ICOs should not be underestimated”]


 

Therese Torris, PhD, is a Senior Contributing Editor to Crowdfund Insider. She is an entrepreneur and consultant in eFinance and eCommerce based in Paris. She has covered crowdfunding and P2P lending since the early days when Zopa was created in the United Kingdom. She was a director of research and consulting at Gartner Group Europe, Senior VP at Forrester Research and Content VP at Twenga. She publishes a French personal finance blog, Le Blog Finance Pratique.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Karen Mills: Predictions for the Future of Small Business Lending and Fintech

Several years back while at LendIt Europe in London, I had the opportunity to sit down with Karen Mills a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School Harvard. Mills previously was a Cabinet Member during the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2013. At that time, she was the head of the US Small Business Administration, a federal agency with a mission to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. The economy was still mired in the aftershocks of the Great Recession and it was a crucial moment for the country and the compelling need to support small businesses. Her experiences in government led her to publish a white paper entitled “The State of Small Business Lending: Credit Access during the Recovery and How Technology May Change the Game“.  The document remains a must read treatise on what policy makers got wrong during the recovery regarding access to capital for SMEs.

In brief, Bank lending has historically been critical for small businesses to thrive. But transaction costs for a traditional bank loan to SMEs are effectively the same at $1 million as for $100,000. So which loan will a bank prefer?  The one that is more profitable for them, obviously, so the small borrower inevitably gets pushed aside. And as one may expect, there are far more SMEs that are looking for loans below $100,000.

Access to credit became a problem for SMEs during the recession and ensuing recovery. And as we all know, SMEs are the engines of economic growth and job creation. The conundrum is that banks were being asked to shore up their balance sheets and shoulder less risk, a policy push that inevitably made the recovery more difficult as this restricted access to SME loans. Businesses needed credit they simply could not get and this extended the pain of the recession.

But these challenges for SMEs to obtain credit created an opportunity for alternative lenders to fill the finance gap. In a world of unintended consequences, innovators stepped in to provide access to credit when the banks turned their backs. Hopefully this lesson has been learned, and policy makers have a better understanding as what they should, or should not do, to boost an economic recovery during a  future recession.

Mills believes that online lending has the potential to reduce the cost of borrowing at every stage while providing a better experience for the borrowers. But will online lending remain the purview of disruptive Fintechs? This is an important question to ask.

So Jump forward a couple of years and, once again, I had a chance to sit down with Mills at LendIt Europe 2017.

As always, Mills perspective was enlightening. She shared some predictions about online lending while explaining the phases of Fintech disruption. Today, Mills believes we are somewhere between Phase 2 and Phase 3. These Phases are described as follows:

Phase 1: The Wild West and the Emergence of the Innovators

Fintechs burst on the scene with marketplace (P2P) lending. These early platform become niche players.

Phase 2: The Banks Wake Up

The dinosaurs figure out they have some assets they can use rousted from their slumber by Fintechs. Banks Invite the innovators in but instead of partnerships, a much greater percentage build their own platforms (think Goldman Sachs’ Marcus). Customer service is where the innovation takes place. Waiting for 3 months just to hear no does not work well – online this process can be much simpler and faster. They can build a better front end to provide a superior lending experience.

Phase 3: The platforms arrive: Alibaba. Amazon. Square etc.

Big tech like Facebook, Google, Apple, PayPal, Amazon etc will become significant players in the next 12 to 18 months. They have so much data available to them to provide an efficient and effective lending process.

Phase 4: Small Business Lending Utopia

All businesses have access to the credit they need to grow and thrive.

Obviously, we are not yet in the land of Lending Utopia but the good news for business is we are getting closer.

Mills is not simply a Fintech cheerleader but more of a pragmatist. She believes that the ability of Fintechs to bring new sources into the credit decision has not yet been delivered. But when you look at big tech like Amazon, you see a platform that knows everything about sellers. That is actionable information. And it is not just Amazon. It is Facebook. It is Apple. It is Google and more. Big tech has intelligence it can use to help businesses grow. Extrapolate that concept across the marketplace and you may have something very powerful.

“If you know everything a customer has purchased … How much they exercised … Where they were before (IE location). You understand your customer better. That is like gold.”

“They know everything about you and they can turn that into something that is helpful for the small business,” said Mills

Mills believes big tech may dominate lending but the question is what form and with what products. But this is where regulation comes in. There could be an intervention and, of course, old finance will try and fight back.

“Congress is stuck,” explained Mills. “So it is very hard to tee up a bill on Financial Services regulatory reform. They need to get some other things done first. There is still some uncertainty as to what they are lobbying for and whose ox is going to get gored. Banks still wonder if financial innovation is good. If they are going to compete, they don’t want Fintech to have a lower cost of regulation.”

Spaghetti Soup with too many overlapping regulators

There is a lot of discussion right now regarding excessive regulation in general and the possibility that Fintechs may have an advantage. The current administration has halted much new regulation but change can take some time. The OCC Fintech Charter, a vehicle that could provide a path for Fintechs to operate nationally, has been criticized by traditional finance and various members of Congress. Mills believes the Fintech Charter could be a good thing that is beneficial for the country. There is currently too much regulatory confusion and overlapping federal agencies, but she also believes you need disclosure laws that apply to business lending that maintains transparency and a level playing field.

“This situation will intensify. The future will bring new and powerful competitors into the game,” stated Mills. “Incumbents are resisting. They are fully regulated now. They are not happy about that burden. They do not want to see new competitors that have an advantage.”

Mills believes we should be able to solve this problem if we focus on the public good. But that can be a pretty big IF.

“If we believe that SMEs are important to the economy, we want to be certain we have many options to provide credit. The Fintechs woke up the banks. That was good for competition and good for the small business customer,” added Mills.

Jeff Bezos. Online Banker.

Mills does not believe small community banks should be penalized in the process and a Fintech Charter that does not disadvantage banks is doable. The question is will the political climate allow for a national charter for Fintechs, or perhaps Big tech, to evolve? That’s a tough question. Mills believe it is not a question of it, but when. It’s inevitable.

And what does Mills believe when you have innovative finance on one side and traditional on the other?

“Anything that gets us closer to small business lending Utopia is a good thing. We need to work to that end,” stated Mills

Seen and Heard at LendIt Europe: The Future of Finance

LendIt Europe took place in London earlier this week with around 1000+ attendees participating including a good showing of regular suspects and an emerging group of early stage, aspiring Fintech firms. For both presenters and attendees the backdrop of the Brexit decision and the uncertainties of Europe colored most of the proceedings. While London remains the leading Fintech Hub in the world, Brexit has called this prominence into question. Can London continue to lead the world in financial innovation? As some banks move employees to cities like Frankfurt or Paris, will Fintechs follow?

Keynote speakers included a fascinating presentation on Open Banking from Imran Gulamhuseinwala OBE, Global Head of Fintech at consultancy firm EY.Gulamhuseinwala is leading the Open Banking charge within the UK. The project appears to be moving quite rapidly with the technical API standards expected to be ready for UK banks and Fintechs as soon as PSD2 kicks off in January 2018. The EU, by comparison, will linger behind with technical standards only by mid-2019. The net beneficiary of Open Banking will be consumers who will control their data – as they should – and the ensuing competition engendered as services are compelled to do more for less.

Renaud Laplanche, founder and CEO of Upgrade and co-founder of LendingClub, shared his vision of the online lending world. His optimistic spin argued that online lenders will be able to easily compete with traditional finance – especially newer firms (like Upgrade) that possess better tech and access to cheap forms of capital, comparable to traditional banks.

Jaidev Janardan, CEO of Zopa, was on hand to share his vision of the future of banking. Zopa has filed for a banking license and is thus poised to become an digital challenger bank leveraging better technology minus the cost of bricks and mortar locations.

Below is a sampling of statements heard at LendIt Europe 2017. It will be interesting to see if the annual conference will be held in Berlin, or perhaps Paris, next year.


 

“Data that the bank holds on the consumer belongs to the consumer and not the bank.”

“Standardized Open Banking in the UK will give real control to people over their finances … 6 to 10 million people [in the UK] are in the wrong financial product. Costs too much, does not work for them.”

Imran Gulamhuseinwala OBE, Global Head of Fintech at EY

 

“Banks have outdated technology. To change that takes a lot of effort. From where they are starting, it is not easy.”

“Your business model has to be one where you win, when the customer wins.”

“Finance is intensely personal … with the bank, we get very depersonalized services.”

 

Jaidev Janardana, CEO of Zopa

 

“They [customers] want to be part of the story of building something. We have a very active community debating what the product is going to look like. Customers expect to be part of  the creation of the product. They also want to be heard.”

“We hope to be at about 100,000 [customers] at that end of the year.”

Anne Boden, CEO and founder of Starling Bank

 

“Users do not really care about the tech. They just know it works.”

“It took us 2 years to get an opinion from BaFin, and another year to be regulated, so three years overall.”

 

 

 

Radoslav Albrecht, CEO and founder of BitBond

 

“Why does the entire model make sense? It is a cost reduction. Lower cost. Better experience. 400 to 600 basis points of savings.”

“An organized secondary market for online loans will emerge in the next 15 months.”

“As for Cost of Capital. Marketplace lending has access to a very wide range of cost of capital. A lot of platforms sell loans to banks. You have Credit Unions buying loans. Credit Unions have a return target of 2 to 3%. Lower than Goldman Sachs. Marketplace Lenders have access to similar cost of capital.”

Renaud Laplanche, CEO and founder of Upgrade

 

“The biggest myth of all is that Banks and other financial services are advantaged at this.  They have all the data. The truth is the data is fragmented across all different tech stacks and it is difficult to utilize. Very expensive and slow. The data is in the wrong place.”

“In innovation you have to move fast and fail fast. I think it is possible we will see collaboration but it will be awkward. Will see CEOs ring fence it and protect it because the mothership is programmed to kill it.”

“We have seen the heyday of banking profitability and that will never return.”

Antony Jenkins, CEO and founder of 10X Future Technologies

 

“Yes, I think they [Apple, Google, Amazon etc.] will dominate the market. Question is on what regulatory authority … If you talk to folks here, you ask them who they are worried about. These are the companies they are worried about.”

“IF we believe that SMEs are important to the economy, we want to be certain we have many options to provide credit. The Fintechs woke up the banks. That was good for competition. and good for the small business customer.”

Karen Mills, former Head of the SBA, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School

 


 

Lending Disrupted? Not Yet, Says Renaud Laplanche

As the alternative lending sector matures, the general atmosphere of its flagship event LendIt takes a different tone. The tone of this year’s Lendit Europe was down-to-earth. Hype was out. Business in. Even the discussions about artificial intelligence and blockchain were imbued with much realism. Pragmatism reigned, exemplified by the 15 min networking meetings. 

On this backdrop, Renaud Laplanche, co-founder and CEO of Upgrade, and former co-founder and CEO of Lending Club tried to reignite the flame of the consumer lending sector by forecasting not only its continuing success, but further the emergence of major innovations. He did so by issuing three precise predictions for the sector and promising to the audience to come back to be held accountable.

Here are the three predictions by Renaud Laplanche and how he substantiated them in his keynote speech, as well as in a panel discussion and a one-on-one interview.

PREDICTION 1: The growth of online lending will re-accelerate in the next 15 months.

According to Renaud Laplanche, online consumer lending will experience a second wave of growth in the US for three reasons:

The first reason is that online consumer lending is primarily about refinancing existing debt. Credit card debt is currently growing at a 5% rate and represents $1.021 trillion. The total debt balance of US households totals $12.73 trillion. While this level of indebtedness could seem to be a cause of concern, it is not because salary have increased and households currently experience the lowest debt-to-income ratio.

The second reason is the overall health of the US economy. The US is experiencing one of the longest economic growth run, yet still 20 months shorter than the growth run which preceded the great depression. Observers estimate at less than 30% the risk of recession.

The third reason is the improvement of the consumer lending offering. Platforms have drawn the lessons from their experiences. They have incorporated new technologies such as reusable micro-services, cloud computing, big data and blockchain and completely retooled their platform, further reducing costs, improving underwriting and compliance. This will bring significant benefits and attract new lenders and borrowers.

PREDICTION 2 An organized secondary market for online loans will emerge in the next 15 months.

The compartmentalization of services will enable platforms to develop new products. The standardization of lending data is progressing. The secondary market will make loans as a new asset class even more liquid and attractive.

PREDICTION 3: Continued re-bundling will give birth to at least one major consumer product innovation in the next 15 months.

Between 1998 and 2015, a first wave of fintech startups have unbundled the banking value chain by providing alternatives for single components such as marketplace lending for lending, online payments, deposits, robo advisors for asset management, and aggregators for personal finance. Since 2015, fintechs are “rebundling” the bank by extending their services to multiple components. Payment outfits Klarna and Square are offering loans. Sofi and Lufax are expanding from loans to wealth management products. This change is bound to bring about new, radical consumer innovations. Which ones, Renaud Laplanche cannot yet predict, but he’s convinced is that there will be some.

Upgrade’s Vision: One Click Responsible Credit

When I asked Renaud Laplanche about his personal vision of the ideal product – the product he would like his company to deliver if there were no technological or other barrier, he said: “one click responsible credit.”

One-click meaning as smooth a customer experience as the one-click purchase offered by Amazon. Responsible because Upgrade wants not only to making credit more affordable by lowering its cost of operation, it also wants to support people who want to regain control over their debt.

Upgrade is targeting the low prime and the near prime consumer segment. In these segments, consumers have a general awareness of why their credit score matters and what they should do. But very few understand how their score really works and how they can improve it. Upgrade catches their attention by tying education to the loan process. For example, borrowers who get turned down want to understand why. They are given “credit health insights” into their credit card utilization rate and the 5 steps they could take to improve it.

Renaud Laplanche says that Lending Club already set the bar very high in terms of transparency. At Upgrade, he wants to offer new levels of transparency. Transparency towards investors about the evolution of the loan portfolio, the borrowers’ profile, and credit score fluctuations – using the blockchain as a data integrity tool.

Upgrade success is not dependent on the industry growing faster as it is very small as it is just starting and has plenty of room to grow.


 

Therese Torris, PhD, is a Senior Contributing Editor to Crowdfund Insider. She is an entrepreneur and consultant in eFinance and eCommerce based in Paris. She has covered crowdfunding and P2P lending since the early days when Zopa was created in the United Kingdom. She was a director of research and consulting at Gartner Group Europe, Senior VP at Forrester Research and Content VP at Twenga. She publishes a French personal finance blog, Le Blog Finance Pratique.

 

 

 

 


 

The UK Plows Ahead in Implementing PSD2 Compliant Open Banking

On Monday, October 9, Lendit Europe, the event gathering 1000+ representatives of the international fintech and lending scene on the banks of the River Thames, opened with a presentation by Imran Gulamhuseinwala OBE, Global Head of FinTech at consultancy firm EY, who spoke about “The Open Banking Revolution.” He delivered the message that the open banking revolution is in the making at global level and, most importantly, that the UK can lead in making it a reality. Paradoxically, the UK will probably be ahead of the European Union (EU), that it is scheduled to leave, in implementing the EU’s Payment Service Directive (PSD2), one of the major advances towards open banking.

Imran Gulamhuseinwala spoke as the Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity  (OBIE).  The OBIE is a government-sponsored organization that was created following a two-year review of the UK current account market by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Among several remedies to enhance competition, the review proposed to set up the OBIE to drive the opening of the banking market. Concretely, the OBIE is tasked to deliver the application programming interface (API), data structures and security architectures that will enable consumers and SMEs to share their banking information with third parties and initiate third party payments from their bank account, in accordance with the EU’s Payment Service Directive (PSD2).

The OBIE is a private body whose governance and budget are determined by the CMA. It is funded by the UK’s nine largest current account providers and overseen by the CMA, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Her Majesty’s Treasury. The nine UK banks mandated by the CMA are the Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Danske, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, RBS Group, Santander. The OBIE is also working with consumer organizations, challenger banks such as ATOM and fintech third parties. Together the financial institutions that are part of the OBIE represent 90% of the UK consumer banking market.

The technical API standards promoted by the OBIE will be ready for UK banks and fintechs to adopt as soon as PSD2 comes into force in January 2018. By contrast, in the rest of the EU, the European Banking Authority and the European Commission will issue technical standards only by mid-2019, leaving banks and fintechs to experiment with different solutions and resolve issues such as the dispute over screenscraping.

A Consumer Need and a Major Innovation Opportunity

For Imran Gulamhuseinwala, open banking is an inescapable global trend. In some countries, the change is driven by data providers. In others, it is a voluntary change driven by banks. But in most countries such as India, China or the countries of the EU, the change is driven by the regulators who wants to open the competition among banks and between banks and fintechs by forcing them to share customer information using secure APIs.

Open banking is a revolution in that reverses the established view of financial data ownership:

“Consumers’ financial data belongs to consumers, not to the bank. If consumers want to give access to their data to third parties, they have the right to do so,” said Imran Gulamhuseinwala.

Open banking thereby gives customers unprecedented rights and benefits:

  • Consent and control: Open banking gives consumers control over their financial data. No movement of their data can happen without their expressed consent.
  • Choice: Consumers are given the right to move their data from one supplier to another, which gives them more choices, and should ultimately enable them to make more out of their money.
  • Security: consumers can initiate payment transactions and move their data across financial services in a fully secured setting.

As an architect of open banking, Imran Gulamhuseinwala made a point of presenting open banking not only as a customer benefit, but also as an opportunity for banks and fintechs:

“Open banking has the potential to bring creativity in financial services to new levels not seen so far,” he added.

These opportunities may, however, sound to many banks as threats. Indeed, open banking is bound to:

  • Enhance digitization: Banks are not as efficiently interconnected as they claim. Unlike other sectors’, such as travel, their interconnections are full of frictions that hamper real-time transactions. Open banking’s APIs standards will help remove some of these frictions and stimulate innovation, such as the digitization of collaterals.
  • Level the playing field: By promoting standards, open banking levels the playing field, not only for fintechs, but also for more new entrants into banking, such as merchants and telecom providers.


The UK moves ahead of the EU with technology standards

The OBIE’s proposed implementation of PSD2 follows four principles:

  1. Customers must give express consent before any communication of their data.
  2. At any time, customers can review all the consents they have given on a dashboard.
  3. The technical API standards adopted in the UK follows a secure redirection model using Mutual TLS, OAuth 2.0 and Open ID Connect. Customers will not have to share their user name and passwords as they are redirected. This is considered critical both for security reasons and to avoid repeated logins that put off customers.
  4. All participants in the OBIE scheme, including third party Account Information Service Providers (AISPs) and Payment Initiation Service Providers (PISP) must be fully regulated and registered with the OBIE – which is not the case in the EU implementation of the PSD2 directive.

The agenda followed by OBIE is designed to meet the PSD2 deadlines:

  • March 1st 2017:  the first set of standards were released.
  • July to August 2017: the standards for read-write that enable open banking payment in the Open Banking Security Profile were released.
  • October 2017: Enrollment of new financial institutions into the OBIE scheme starts.
  • January 13th: OBIE meets the deadline for the coming into force of the PSD2.

A Call To Action

The standards implemented by January are considered as only a first version, subject to improvement.  More companies, in particular third party account information service providers and third party payment initiation service providers must join the program, build new applications and create new experiences to put the OBIE’s specifications to the test.

“Get yourself authorized, for example as an AISP, enroll into the OBIE and get access to 90% of the UK market,” Imran Gulamhuseinwala concluded.


Later in the days several speakers took up the open banking theme again:

“A fintech may not by itself be a viable alternative to established banks, but as an ecosystem in an open banking environment, it is much better positioned. Open banking has an enormous potential, but it also presents enormous challenges for traditional banks, technically and culturally,” said Anne Boden, the CEO of challenger bank Starling Bank

 


 

Therese Torris, PhD, is a Senior Contributing Editor to Crowdfund Insider. She is an entrepreneur and consultant in eFinance and eCommerce based in Paris. She has covered crowdfunding and P2P lending since the early days when Zopa was created in the United Kingdom. She was a director of research and consulting at Gartner Group Europe, Senior VP at Forrester Research and Content VP at Twenga. She publishes a French personal finance blog, Le Blog Finance Pratique.

LendIt Debuts New Blockchain For Financial Services Event BlockFin Summit

LendIt, one of the world’s largest fintech event companies, announced its upcoming event called the BlockFin Summit, which is described as a blockchain conference for the Financial Services sector with coverage of the Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, and Tokens. While sharing details about the event, Jason Jones, Co-Founder of LendIt and Chairman of the BlockFin Summit, stated:

“Two years ago we covered the Blockchain on a panel, last year we created a half-day track, and this year we are creating an entire event around this technology. We believe that the Blockchain offers new ways to align incentives that allow us to transact, communicate, identify, and secure ourselves more efficiently.”

Peter Renton, Co-Founder of LendIt, also commented:

“It is evident that the ecosystem of developers, entrepreneurs, and corporations within financial services has dedicated tremendous resources to building the Blockchain globally. So we have decided to create BlockFin at LendIt USA 2018, which will be one of the world’s largest gatherings of financial services industry professionals. We expect that banks, insurance companies, investment firms, fintech companies, technology service providers, media, government, and academics will converge in San Francisco at LendIt to learn about innovation across financial services. This will be the perfect venue to introduce BlockFin to the world.”

The BlockFin Summit will consist of 6 components:

  1. An investor 1×1 capital connection summit to match Asset Allocators and Crypto investors with Crypto Fund Managers and ICO issuers
  2. 2.5 days of content with about 75 speakers on Enterprise Blockchain
  3. 2 days of content with about 60 speakers on Cryptocurrencies, Tokens & Capital Markets
  4. A huge presence of Blockchain companies on our expo floor
  5. A Blockchain demo stage featuring over 100 Blockchain product demonstrations
  6. On-site blockchain training programs for financial services executives

LendIt then added:

“We encourage all financial services executives who want to network, learn or do business associated with the Blockchain to attend BlockFin. This will be the financial services industry’s first annual convention dedicated to the Blockchain. We are seeking speakers, sponsors, partners, and attendees.”

BlockFin will launch as part of LendIt USA 2018 on April 9-11, 2018 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

PitchIt Competition Finalists Announced for LendIt Europe

LendIt Europe, the event series specializing in Fintech and online lending, has announced the finalists for its 2017 PitchIt competition taking place at the O2 in London on the 9th & 10th of October.

This year, LendIt’s PitchIt competition is hosted and co-organized by Startupbootcamp FinTech. The finalists expect to be the very best of Europe’s Fintech startups to compete in front of some of the biggest VCs in technology.

Peter Renton, Chairman and co-founder of the LendIt Conference, said the variety of startups participating in PitchIt this year demonstrates the talent entering the Fintech industry;

“From renters’ insurance to digital ATMs, there are businesses here the likes of which we haven’t seen in the market before. The competition to make it into the final eight this year was strong, but we can’t wait to see the presentations from these rising stars of Fintech.”

Nektarios Liolios, CEO and co-founder, Startupbootcamp FinTech, added that the innovation and creativity displayed this year has been outstanding.

“The final eight, who will be pitching their business in front of the biggest VCs in Europe, not only had this creative spark, but a strong business plan that made them stand out from the rest. They offer genuine solutions to problems which the finance sector is facing in all areas, from housing to consumer finance. The competition for the winner this year will certainly be exciting and we’re eager to see them in action.”

After winnowing down a list of more than 100 applications, the finalists are as follows:

SONECT AG

SONECT is a Swiss-based company that is creating virtual ATMs by allowing consumers to withdraw cash from merchants. CEO Sandipan Chakraborty will be trying to convince delegates that location-based match-making between consumers and local shops is the future of cash management.

Canopy

Canopy provides renters with a digital identity of recommendations from previous landlords, replacing deposits with low-cost insurance against the renter. Tahir Farooqui, Founder and CEO, will be demonstrating the revolutionary effect this will have on the private rental sector, in terms of securing finance for landlords and easing the burden of deposits for consumers in an increasingly expensive property market.

Penta

Penta is a new digital banking player in Germany, providing business bank accounts for tech companies in Europe. They connect a fully-fledged bank account with business apps to save time, money and effort for business owners. With a launch planned for later this year, Lav Odorovic, Co-Founder and CEO of Penta will be pitching the bank’s alternative capabilities for small businesses, such as multiple debit cards and free international money transfers.

Trade Quorum

Trade Quorum streamlines the international supply chain between importers – exporters – banks – shipping companies and many more. By using blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT), it provides a platform which connects all the trade participants who can then safely exchange necessary trade documents and share secure payments. CEO Guillaume Dechaux, will be discussing the alternative uses for blockchain and how the supply chain can benefit from its digital efficiency.

Spendesk

Spendesk helps SMEs take control of their spending with smart company cards and a real-time payment tracking dashboard. Employees can use Spendesk to get access to single-use virtual Mastercard cards in a few clicks and their expenses will automatically be uploaded onto Spendesk’s platform. Rodolphe Ardant, Co-Founder and CEO, will be looking to convince the judges that alternative options for businesses handling money are a necessity and that it’s tech is the way to revolutionise company spending.

FriendlyScore

FriendlyScore offers alternative credit scoring using social media as a measuring tool, so that under-banked and young people with thin credit history can get a loan. CEO Loubna Bazine will be discussing the benefits of alternative credit scoring and the role social media can play when determining risk.

VerumView

VerumView is an Israel-based alternative credit scoring bureau using consumers’ email inboxes to determine their creditworthiness. Jonathan Pazi, Co-Founder and CEO of VerumView, will be seeking to prove to VCs that the contents of an email inbox can provide enough data accurately, to offer a more precise credit score for borrowers.

Combine

Combine is a consumer finance management app, which helps customers manage all their bank accounts from anywhere in the world. Irakli Agladze, CEO of Combine, will be demonstrating the AI-powered interface and how this technology makes their app unique for helping consumers look after their money.