Ping An’s OneConnect Teams Up With UnionBank’s Fintech Subsidiary UBX to Create Blockchain-Enable Platform For MSMEs in the Philippines

OneConnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. (OneConnect), an associate company of China’s insurance giant Ping An Group, announced on Monday it has formed a new partnership with UnionBank’s fintech subsidiary UBX to co-create a blockchain-enable platform for MSMEs in the Philippines.

According to the duo, this new partnership “underpins” both UBX and OneConnect’s commitment in accelerating digital transformation in the Philippine financial services industry by using their technological advancements to enable financial institutions to better serve the unbanked and underbanked communities.

“The partnership comes amidst the vital roles of MSMEs in the Philippine economy. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 99.6% of all business in the Philippines are MSMEs and they contribute to almost 63% of total employment. However, SMEs get only 9.2% of loans and financing from the country’s major banks. Many MSMEs are suppliers and service providers to large enterprises. They create jobs for the country’s growing labor force and stimulate economic development in rural and remote areas. They also serve as a breeding ground for new entrepreneurs and innovative business ideas.”

While sharing more details about the collaboration, Tan Bin Ru, CEO (Southeast Asia) of OneConnect Financial Technology, stated:

“We believe there is huge economic potential in the MSME sector and we have confidence in how our technology can help enterprising businesses leapfrog into better ways of doing business. We are excited to be partnering with UBX in the Philippines, because we share the same vision of how technology can empower communities that traditionally cannot be reached. With OneConnect’s proven technology solutions and UnionBank’s deep market knowledge and domain expertise in catering to MSMEs, we look forward to introducing impactful financial solutions for MSMEs in the Philippines.”

John Januszczak, President and CEO of UBX, added:

“As the fintech arm of the nation’s leading innovative bank, we are continually seeking new ways to better serve our customers in disruptive ways that also solve real problems. In the Philippines, 77% of our population is unbanked and we have a diverse geography that spans across over 7,000 islands. Digital financial solutions – such as the ones we are co-creating with OneConnect – will allow us to include more MSMEs in the financial system. We seek to transform the lives of Filipinos, and accelerate their growth by connecting them to a whole new world of opportunities.”

Court Rules Israeli Bank Cannot Close Crypto Miner’s Accounts but Can Refuse to Shelter Proceeds

A judge presiding over a district court in Tel Aviv has ruled that a branch of Union Bank in the Herzliya industrial district acted unreasonably when it closed accounts belonging to IsraMiner, a division of the Ukrainian cryptomining company Yashraminer, Calcalist reports.

Judge Limor Bibi, however, did rule that Union Bank is justified in refusing to bank deposits resulting from digital currency conversions conducted by the mining firm.

The judge reportedly concurred that handling the monies could put Union Bank at risk contravening anti-money laundering laws, laws that are increasingly common and strict across the world.

The judge agreed, however, that Union Bank went too far when it closed Israminer’s accounts entirely, and claimed, “it will not be possible to open and manage accounts for customers engaged in providing services related to virtual currencies.”

Regarding this the judge stated:

“I believe that the sweeping policy, which does not distinguish between different types of activity, scope of activity and different types of customers – in the field of digital currencies – is unreasonable.”

The judge found the bank’s claims about the possibly indeterminate origins of funds resulting from cryptocurrency conversions more credible, however:

“In these circumstances,…the Bank’s argument…that the ‘money path’…(carries risk of) money laundering (is founded) …As a result, I find the bank’s refusal to provide service with regard to the receipt of the money deposited in the account (legitimate).”

Israminer claimed that Union Bank was being overzealous by adhering to 2014 Isreali anti-money laundering policy that has not been updated since.

According to Calcalist:

“The Company argued that since the policy was not updated every year as the directives of the Supervisor of Banks determine, it is not possible to rely on this policy and that there is no impediment to receiving the money due from virtual currencies.”

Banking a cryptocurrency company has proven challenging across the globe, as banks are typically reticent to handle funds that can be sent over relatively unregulated networks, sometimes anonymously.

MUFG Union Bank Acquires Supply Chain Finance Platform Trade Payable Services from GE Capital

MUFG Americas Holdings Corporation (MUAH) and GE Capital announced on Wednesday that MUFG Union Bank, N.A., a subsidiary of MUAH, will be acquiring Trade Payable Services (TPS), a supply chain finance platform, from GE Capital. MUFG Union Bank will reportedly assume management control of the systems and processes supporting the supply chain finance activities that GE Capital performs for GE.

According to MUFG, the TPS platform supports relationships with GE suppliers worldwide. Upon closing of the transaction, which is subject to closing conditions, regulatory approvals, and information/consultation processes where required in accordance with local laws, GE suppliers will have the opportunity to transition to a new program with MUFG over the course of 18 to 24 months.

While sharing more details about the transaction, Kevin Cronin, MUFG’s Head of North America Wholesale and Investment Banking, stated:

“The acquisition of this world-class platform accelerates MUFG’s growth trajectory in supply chain finance and broadens our presence in this business. TPS’ scale and functionality, combined with the outstanding product and coverage capabilities of our supply chain finance team, give MUFG a distinct competitive advantage in this high-growth segment.”

Alec Burger, President of GE Capital, added:

“This is a positive development for GE Capital and for our GE industrial partners, external customers, and the suppliers we work with globally. MUFG’s position as a leading global financial institution and its strong supply chain finance capabilities make it an ideal fit for our TPS platform.  We look forward to working with MUFG and are committed to ensuring a smooth transition of the platform from GE Capital.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Union Bank in Liechtenstein to Issue its Own Securities Token in Crypto Industry First, Intends to Become Blockchain based Investment Bank

When it comes to crypto / blockchain announcements, tiny Liechtenstein is on a roll this week.

Following the announcement of a new, regulated cryptocurrency exchange, Union Bank AG has announced it will issue its very own security tokens. This will be a first ever for a regulated bank. Additionally, being in Liechtenstein means they are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) thus they may be paving the way for other EU banks. Union Bank will be working with Verum Capital AG on this project, a blockchain boutique based in Switzerland.

Union Bank Chairman of the Board M.H. Dastmaltchi said their goal is to become the worlds first blockchain investment bank. Thus reducing costs and boosting efficiency.

“As a fully licensed and regulated bank we are in a privileged position to combine all the advantages of traditional banking with the possibilities inherent in the blockchain technology. As such, our fiat-backed Union Bank Payment Coin has the potential to disrupt the approach to international trade and international cross-border transactions. With our initiative we are investing in the future and becoming the world’s preeminent blockchain investment bank,” said Dasmaltchi.

The Union Bank security tokens will soon be followed by a stable coin, a fiat back token – perhaps backed by CHF- that is expected to be used for payments.

Union Bank AG is a fully licensed and regulated bank based that is primarily offering corporate banking services to companies in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and the Middle East.

The bank states that it already supports initial coin offerings (ICOs) and clients by partnering with crypto-brokers and crypto-advisors to facilitate the cryptocurrency marketplace. Management believes they are well positioned to develop and implement cutting edge Fintech that will support their customer base.

There are other aspiring full service blockchain banks. Perhaps the most prominent push to build the bank of the future is Palladium in Malta. Union Bank says it wants to assert itself as a “full-service blockchain investment bank.” The company expects to adopt the blockchain fully throughout its processes. The bank says it wants to emerge as a “one stop crypto and blockchain solution provider” while embracing digital assets and the “best practices of traditional banking.”

 

Rural Philippine Banks Testing Ethereum Payments System

In many parts of the Philippines, you’re more likely to encounter a remittance house like Western Union than a bank branch. Cash arrives from abroad, but the access to business loans and mortgages needed to build a self-sustaining economic base are hard to come by. Poverty begets poverty.

Rural banks in the Philippines, says CryptoCoinsNews, cannot even issue cheques because they cannot connect to Bancnet, the Philippines’ banking intranet.

“According to the Bankgko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank, 554 out of 1,634 cities and municipalities in the Philippines remain unbanked.”

Crypto-visionaries and entrepreneurs have long sought to use internet-based cryptocurrency networks to extend stable capital where it has not gone before. Blockchain, a system that somewhat expensively (for a database) mathematically and immutably registers transactions in a distributed way, is seen by many as having the potential to extend infrastructure-like services through the internet to places where store front banking operations are infeasible because of poor infrastructure and the poverty of local residents.

In 2013, core developers at Bitcoin, concerned about the security of the still experimental network, rejected a young man’s proposals to make Bitcoin more programmable (and vulnerable, they said). The young man, Vitalik Buterin, envisioned a decentralized “world-computer” capable of carrying and executing automated “smart contracts” that would moderate transactions based on info fed to them by “oracles.”

Vitalik Buterin left Bitcoin, and with the help of 7 other co-founders, began building Ethereum, a programmable blockchain still in its testing phase.

Critics have dogged Ethereum ever since with accusations that it is an utterly weak and dangerous system. Ethereum cofounder Joseph Lubin has responded by simply calling Bitcoin “primitive.”

Thanks to the billions of dollars Ethereum cofounders have raised and continue to raise via sales of various Ethereum tokens, Ethereum companies now have the money to find out.

Currently, Ethereum is partnering with Union Bank in the Philippines to create a blockchain-based payment system that will settle retail purchases made by rural Philippinos using pesos.

Chair of Union Bank Dr. Justo Ortiz hopes the project will help unbanked Filipinos plug into the financial system and also help rural banks communicate with the larger banking system in the country.

According to the Philipino News Project (PNP), the pilot is being rolled out at 5 banks located on the nation’s second largest island. The banks are: Mindanao Cantilan Bank, Inc. of Surigao del Sur, PR Savings Bank, City Savings Bank, FairBank, and Progressive Bank.

Executive vice president of Cantilan Bank, Tanya Hotchkiss told the PNP, that the bank has been looking for a faster system for bank-to-bank transfers.

Even though most blockchains operations are currently slower and more expensive than many legacy payment systems, Hotchkiss told the PNP that the new trial system could reduce payment transfer fees from 50-150 pesos to1 peso.

She did not say how much of the savings will be passed on to customers.

Hotchkiss also said that under the previous manual system, reconciliation took anywhere from a day to a month, and that transfers underwent 26 individual processes.

The new system will use the an enterprise blockchain protocol developed on Ethereum by ConsenSys called “Kaleido.” The system is purportedly more user-friendly, “robust” and secure than previous Ethereum blockchains.

Union Bank of the Philippines also announced earlier this year that they were working with Visa to test that company’s blockchain system for cross-border remittances.

Jilliene Helman, CEO of Realty Mogul, Talks Real Estate Trailblazing & Women In Business

Jilliene Helman Realty Mogul

 

When navigating the increasingly popular path of real estate crowdfunding, Jilliene Helman is among the leaders at the front of the group. Named to Forbes’ 2015 30 Under 30 list, Jilliene is the CEO and founder of Realty Mogul, a fast-growing real estate crowdfunding platform that has invested over $70 million dollars in over 240 properties. Most recently, the company completed its first-ever crowdfunding project in New York, raising $1.6 million from 46 investors for two apartment buildings in Brooklyn and enabling project sponsor Cayuga Capital Management to recapitalize the property. Realty Mogul is one of the first real estate crowdfunding platforms helping to pave the way for other sites to follow. Today accredited investors may invest in both equity and debt for both commercial and residential real estate.

Jilliene holds a business degree from Georgetown, and also spent time abroad in Spain (Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona) and China (University of International Business and Economics in Beijing). A member of the board of directors at UCLA’s Ziman Center for Real Estate, she has underwritten over $5 billion of real estate and was previously a vice president at Union Bank, where she spent time in wealth management, finance and risk management. In addition, Jilliene is a Certified Wealth Strategist, and holds Series 7 and Series 63 licenses. Jilliene Hellman High Tech Boys ClubJilliene is not one to let obstacles get in her way. Recently speaking on CNBC, Jilliene commented on gender challenges that entrepreneurs thrive on adversity and the need to outperform.

Crowdfund Insider caught up with Jilliene while she was traveling, for her thoughts on real estate crowdfunding and women in business. Quick preview of her advice to female entrepreneurs:

“Out-hustle and out-execute.”


 

Midori Yoshimura: You are one of the trailblazers in the real estate crowdfunding space. How did you get your start? At what point did you decide you wanted to be a revolutionary in the real estate industry?

Jilliene Helman: My co-founder Justin Hughes and I started with a $110,000 real estate loan in Los Angeles. I never intended to be a revolutionary in this industry, the company just kept growing and we poured a lot of hard work to get it where it is today.

Midori: How did your experience as an executive at Union Bank prepare you to be an entrepreneur?

Jilliene: Banking teaches you perseverance as there are always hurdles to overcome – both bureaucracy and regulatory limitations.

Midori: You only started Realty Mogul in 2013, but it seems like it has been around forever. What has worked out well? What would you have done differently?

Jilliene: We’ve built an incredible team I am very proud of. I don’t think there is anything we would have done differently – we’ve learned a tremendous amount from all of our choices.

Midori: At the LendIt 2015 conference, you noted that you see the future bringing a new class of industry vendors to support real estate P2P lenders. What is the current state of affairs like? What are some of the services you would like to see them offer?Jilliene Hellman

Jilliene: The third-party services that support real estate lending and investments have not innovated tremendously in the last 50 years. We’d love to see title companies, escrow companies and appraisal companies use and integrate with technology more seamlessly.

Midori: You were recently quoted as saying, “At the end of the day, business is about execution, and I want to see more women get involved, more women put up a fight.” What can are some of the ways in which you would like to see more women become involved? What are some of the ways that you would like to see women take a stance?

Jilliene: Fewer women than men are starting companies – I’d love to see more business creation by women. Similarly I’d love to see more women ask for promotions at the same rate as men.

Midori: Do you see Internet finance as a field in which women have more opportunities to help narrow the gender gap? Compared to traditional finance?

Jilliene: Yes, and you can see it happening in the statistics.

Midori: What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Jilliene: The same advice I would give to male entrepreneurs – out-hustle and out-execute.

Realty MogulMidori: In 2013, you were named to the Inman News’ list of the top 100 most influential real estate leaders. As the CEO of Realty Mogul, what actions do you plan to take, or are you taking, to drive change in the field of real estate?

Jilliene: Re-creating the way real estate transactions are financed through the Internet.

Midori: How do you see Realty Mogul growing? Any plans for expansion? What about outside the U.S.?

Jilliene: We’re growing RealtyMogul.com to be a one stop shop for capital markets by financing both debt capital and equity capital. I see us continuing to grow into this vision. Today we’re solely focused on the United States – it’s a massive market!

Midori: Will all real estate finance eventually migrate to the Internet? How do you see the space evolving over the next 5 to 10 years?

Jilliene: Within the next 10 years, probably not all, but I think a significant portion of the market will. I think you will see consolidating of platforms and the real winners emerge.


 

Women Changing FinanceThis is part of a series of articles where Crowdfund Insider will be interviewing the many women changing the profession of finance today. In FinTech, crowdfunding and peer to peer lending, there are many female entrepreneurs leading or assisting innovative firms that are altering the process of capital formation around the globe.

Lending Club CEO Renaud LaPlanche Talks P2P Lending (Video)

Renaud LaPlanche on CNBC
Hitting the screens of CNBC today was Lending Club CEO Renaud LaPlanche talking about how his company is going to transform the banking industry. Instead of just steam rolling the old school industry, apparently Lending Club would like to bring them along – indicative of the partnership recently signed with Union Bank in San Francisco.  The arrangement between the two financial firms is designed to bring the benefits of both sides together to create a compelling opportunity for both lenders and borrowers.

The P2P industry is growing like gangbusters so expect to see more partnerships like this over the next few months.  For the banks it is pretty much adapt or decline.  For P2P lenders like Lending Club there is only growth in the foreseeable future.

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Lending Club & Union Bank Create Strategic Alliance

Union BankLending Club and Union Bank have formed a strategic alliance. Under the new agreement, Union Bank will purchase personal loans from Lending Club, and the two companies will work together to create new credit products to be made available to both companies’ customer base.  Union BankCal (Union Banks holding company), based in San Francisco, currently has over $107 billion in assets under management.

This strategic relationship brings together Lending Club’s low operating cost and Union Bank’s strong balance sheet and large customer base. Both companies focus on responsible lending and customer renaud laplancheservice, which will help unlock lower rates and superior service to both companies’ customers.

“Union Bank has an admirable reputation for transparency, high quality products and customer service,” said Lending Club CEO Renaud Laplanche. “We feel honored to join with Union Bank to bring innovative solutions to market together.”

“This relationship will allow Union Bank to invest in high quality assets while bringing new products to our customers,” said Union Bank Executive Vice President James Francis, head of consumer lending. “Lending Club delivers an excellent customer experience and has established a reputation for innovation. We are excited to work with this innovative organization.”

lending_club_logo_newLending Club has more than doubled annual loan volume each year since their launch in 2007. Lending Club matches creditworthy borrowers with investors looking for yield. Borrowers benefit from rates generally lower than credit cards, and the platform’s investors have enjoyed solid returns. More than $4 billion in personal loans have been originated through the Lending Club platform, helping more than 290,000 consumers to achieve their financial goals.