Regulatory Development of Peer-to-Peer Lending in Taiwan

This is a guest post by Hungyi Chen, Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University. He is researching alternative finance in East Asia.

1. Relevant Background

Internet finance, including (1) online stored payment by non-bank, (2) crowdfunding and (3) peer-to-peer lending becomes hotly debated issues in Taiwan recently. To boost the development of financial innovation, the regulation of online stored payments by non-banks was already implemented on January 2015 after discussions and debates between financial authority and platforms. Besides, a regulatory framework for equity-based crowdfunding has also been enacted in the end of April 2015 and amended in the early of January 2016.

In order to encourage and accelerate the development of fintech industry in Taiwan, the financial authority, Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) of Taiwan, has published Fintech Development Strategy White Paper on May 2016[i]. One of main goals is evaluating the possibility of introducing the mechanism of P2P lending into Taiwan’s capital market and providing a regime for regulating this industry.

Some business models of P2P lending are forbidden due to conflict with The Banking Act[ii] in Taiwan. Recently, it is considered to be introduced in Taiwan and evaluated by the recently established project team of the financial authority in Taiwan, Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC)[iii]. Despite the fact that the attitude toward P2P lending industry of financial authority in Taiwan is still vague, as of July 2016 there are three P2P lending platforms already providing their services in Taiwan, including Lend & Borrow[iv], Wow88[v], XiangMinDai[vi]. They have tried to design their business model to avoid potential legal risks. For better understanding of the P2P lending industry, this article tries to provide a brief regulatory overview of Taiwan in following part.

2. Regulatory Overview of P2P lending

Currently, there is no any specific regulation toward this industry in Taiwan. Recent official document[vii], indicate that the business model of P2P lending in Taiwan should avoid to involve in any activities of accumulating capital from general public or issuing any securities. XiangMinDai, a P2P lending platform in Taiwan, has analyzed by FSC of Taiwan. The former chairman of FSC of Taiwan, Ms. Wang, has stated that ‘…the business model of XiangMinDai is majorly providing services of debt transaction, which does not involve in activities of depositing or charging fund. Accordingly, it is not the regulatory scope of FSC at this moment…[viii]

Although there is no any financial regulation of P2P lending in Taiwan, Banking Bureau of FSC has issued a statement[ix] on April 14, 2016, pointing out some legal compliance issues for P2P lending platforms, including (1) platforms should not involve in issuing any securities, (2) ensure privacy of customers, (3) activities of deposit and store-value business without licenses are forbidden, (4) illegal ways of debt-collection is forbidden.

Taiwan Figure 1

Within 2 weeks, Banking Bureau of FSC, announced another statement[x] for supplement, indicating that (1) the interest rates of the case on the P2P lending platform is 30.15%, which may be illegal according to Criminal Act in Taiwan[xi], (2) legal concern of breaking the law of Multi-Level Marketing Supervision Act[xii] and Fair Trade Act[xiii]. Continue reading

Development and Regulation of P2P Lending and Equity-based Crowdfunding in Hongkong

This is a guest post by Hungyi Chen, Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University. He is researching alternative finance in East Asia.

1. The recent development of online alternative finance

Given the recent trend that Fintech is rapidly growing in the world, in order to maintain the role of international financial center, the financial authority of Hong Kong has been aware of issues relating to Fintech industry[1]. On November 13th, 2015, Stored Value Facilities Payment Systems, such as online stored payment business as PayPal, is allowed to operate by non-bank[2]. This is a milestone for Hong Kong including non-bank of operating business highly relevant to conventional bank.

In order to enhance the development of startups in Hong Kong, financial technologies (Fintech) are emphasized by the authority since the investment of Fintech is a target of many venture capitalists[3]. Nevertheless, compared with other jurisdictions in Asian countries, which already lightened entry requirement to encourage non-bank for engaging business of equity-based crowdfunding, such as Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand, the entry requirement of Fintech, especially alternative finance may be stricter in Hong Kong.

Until now, there is still no equity-based crowdfunding platform established in Hong Kong. However, the huge demand from capital market gradually leads the development of crowdfunding in Hong Kong, especially debt-based crowdfunding, which is also known as Peer-to-Peer Lending. Currently, there are 4 major peer-to-peer lending platforms, including BestLend, GoLend, Monexo, and WeLend.

2. Relevant industry background

With unique selling factors, the peer-to-peer lending platforms may have a rapid growth in the near future. On one hand, from viewpoints of investors, the deposit rates of savings are from 0%~0.001%[4]. Even the deposit rates of fixed deposit of 12 months are from 0.15%~0.2%[5]. Additionally, inflation rates are around 4% continuously in 2013 and 2014[6], which means the real interest rate may be negative in Hong Kong. Accordingly, there are strong incentives for investors to vitalize their capital.

On the other hand, from viewpoints of borrowers, there are two fundraising channels for loans, including banks (Licensed Banks, Restricted License Banks, Deposit-taking Companies) and Money Lenders. Since the financial authority restricted the mortgage market of banks to prevent a real-estate bubble, it is difficult for borrowers to get the loan amount they need from banks by mortgage. As a result, they turn to Money Lenders as an alternative opportunity. Although the interest rates of Money Lender are generally higher than banks, compared with banks which normally take 1-6 weeks for examining procedure, the process of Money Lender is more simplified[7]. Continue reading

Overview of the Regulatory Framework for P2P Lending and Equity-based Crowdfunding in Singapore

This is a guest post by Pawee Jenweeranon, a graduate school student of the program for leading graduate schools – cross border legal institution design, Nagoya University, Japan. Pawee is a former legal officer of the Supreme Court of Thailand. His research interests include internet finance and patent law in the IT industry.

1. Introduction

In the recent years, it is inevitable that the financial technology or Fintech takes the significant role toward the evolution of financial services industry in this region. In other words, Fintech normally be used to improve the financial industry services.

In 2015, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (hereinafter referred to as “MAS”) has committed two hundred twenty five million Singapore Dollar (around 166 million USD) to support the development of Fintech industry for the startup ecosystem in the upcoming years[1]. This is a good reflection of the significance of the financial technology or Fintech development in Singapore.

From the economic perspective, Small and Medium Enterprises (hereinafter referred to as “SMEs”) are important part of Singapore’s economy. SMEs account for 99 percent of all registered enterprises in Singapore[2]. From this reason, enhancing the competitive capacity of Singapore SMEs is essential for Singapore economy development.  Even almost all of the SMEs in Singapore are supported by the Governmental Enterprise Development Agency and Centers[3], (more than 100,000 SMEs got funding support by the Singapore government[4]); however, internet financial technology was also proposed as an alternative mechanism for enhancing the competitiveness of Singapore SMEs in the recent years[5].

 

2. Regarding Peer to Peer Lending


2.1 Background

Generally, there are many peer to peer lending platforms in Singapore; however, they normally lend money to businesses rather than individuals due to the strict regulation for money lenders. The additional limitation on lending to low-income borrowers[6] who are Singaporean citizens or permanent residents which is another requirement should be considered by the lenders.

In general, money lending in Singapore is mainly regulated by the Moneylenders Act 2010 and the Moneylenders Rules 2009. For the Moneylenders Act 2010, due to the main purpose of this act is to develop consumer protection mechanism to protect borrowers of small amount loans[7], this is the reason why the act provides stringent limitation for moneylenders to operate their business. This is another key different of money lending law of Singapore compared to other countries in Asia such as Hong Kong which focusing more on lending activity[8]. Briefly, the act requires moneylenders to hold the Moneylenders license with obligations and limitations for licensee[9].

In Singapore, even there are strict regulations in the existing law relating to a money lending business; however, there is the legislative effort of the Singapore government to address the issue regarding Securities-based Crowdfunding, which can reflect the understanding of the Singapore government toward the development of Financial Technology (Fintech) and the supporting regulatory framework.[10]

2.2 The Regulatory Framework for Peer to Peer Lending Business

From the document published by the MAS on Lending-based Crowdfunding – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)[11], generally, the operation of P2P lending is restricted by MAS under the Securities and Futures Act (Cap. 289) (SFA) and the Financial Advisers Act (Cap. 110) (FFA).

Specifically, the P2P lending business needs to prepare and register a prospectus with MAS in accordance with Section 239(3) of the SFA. In addition, not only the registration of the prospectus but also the P2P lending platform need to follow the licensing requirements, particularly, the P2P lending business which fall within the scope provided by MAS needs to hold a Capital Market Services (CMS) license. Continue reading

Lendico and PostFinance Launch Joint Venture in Switzerland

PostFinance one of the largest five retail banking institutions in Switzerland will partner with Lendico to launch joint venture Lendico Schweiz, which will facilitate loans to SMEs in Switzerland.

From the last quarter of 2016 onwards, the company will facilitate crowdfunding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Switzerland. It is entering the market in close collaboration with PostFinance, a subsidiary of postal carrier Schweizerische Post.

Together the partners would like to establish a new form of SME financing in Switzerland. The aim of the joint venture is to provide the numerous Swiss SMEs with a modern alternative to traditional bank financing. The two partners are contributing their complementary expertise in customer contact and the entire lending and repayment process to the joint venture.

Sources say PostFinance was barred by regulation to directly lend to SMEs and had to find a third party partner to enter this market.

‘With 110 years of experience in Swiss banking services and around three million customers, we can think of no better partner than PostFinance for our entry into the Swiss market. As part of the continued expansion of an international credit marketplace, this joint venture represents a significant step in our business development,’ says Dr Dominik Steinkühler, co-founder and managing director of Lendico.

Hansruedi Köng, CEO of PostFinance, is delighted to be able to join forces with Lendico, a partner which has established itself and enjoyed success internationally in a rapidly expanding industry. ‘Our vision for this cooperation is to take crowdlending in Switzerland from niche status to the mass market. The combination of Lendico’s innovative capacity and our structures in Switzerland offers the best conditions for Lendico Schweiz AG to become a market leader in the future.’

Spain: CNMV authorizes MytripleA & Lendix as crowdlending platforms

The Spanish Securities Exchange Commission (CNMV, Spain’s financial regulator) has authorized MytripleA as a Platform for Participatory Financing, the formal name for a p2p lending platform. This is one of the first actions to implement Law 5/2015 Promotion of Corporate Financing. MytripleA already benefits from a Payment Institution license (which can be passported within the EU) granted by the Bank of Spain, which authorizes MytripleA to make loan disbursements and receive loan instalments within the regulatory environment for banking payments. This is an additional regulatory requirement in Spain, which is not required by other European countries.

With this new authorization, MyTripleA becomes the first crowdlending platform to have both of the required authorizations in Spain. Competitors entering Spain, will not be able to use the the so-called passporting provisions from a financial regulator outside of Spain and will need to apply for a Platform for Participatory Financing license before being able to operate in compliance with Spanish regulations Law 5/2015 Promotion of Corporate Finance provided a unified legal framework for crowdlending platforms and securitized funds, and made CNMV responsible for their creation, authorization and supervision. Crowdlending has experienced rapid growth across Europe. The Spanish market last year grew 266% according to the website P2P-Banking.com. Within the new regulatory framework and with the supervision of CNMV, a greater degree of awareness of the alternative financial services market is expected.

French Lendix announced that it received its formal CNMV accreditation to operate as a P2P lending platform in Spain. The Spanish entity will be the first Lendix international market to open. It will target financing of credits to SME, for amounts ranging from 30,000 to 2,000,000 Euro, duration of 18 to 60 months and at interestrates comprises between 5.5% et 12%. Companies presented on the platform will be selected and analyzed by Lendix credit analysis team and will need to generate a turnover of at least €400’000. Non accredited private investors* will be able to lend up to 3,000 Euro per project with a total maximum yearly amount of 10,000 Euro, while no limit will apply to accredited private investors nor institutional investors. The launch of Lendix’s spanish platform is scheduled for Q4 2016.

Equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube also received authorization.

Continue reading

Friday Fun: Bondora’s Personalized Investment Video

Just before the weekend Bondora sent me an email with a personalized investment overview video (click here to see mine; I was not able to embed it directly here in the blog). The video page encourages sharing via social media (Google, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter), so obviously an aim is to aid in investor marketing. In future I might need to spend less effort on my personal portfolio reviews and post the video instead (just kidding). The highlighted return figure is higher than my own calculations, but I did achieve a high return on Bondora over the past years.

Have you seen other attempts on viral marketing via investors by p2p lending marketplaces? Let me know in the comments, please.

EDIT: Succeeded in embedding the video now:

In the Case of Death

‘What happens when I die’ is a concern occasionaly voiced by investors. Investments in p2p lending will be inherited like any other assets. The concern for the investor is how readily their beloved ones will be able to access the funds. I scanned the FAQs of several p2p lending marketplaces but this is not one of the topics addressed. I then reached out to the marketplaces asking for information.

Ratesetter, Assetz Capital and Estateguru pointed out that the procedures are very similar to those applied by other financial institutions.

Assetz Capital, after being notified about a death of an investor by the next of kin or a solicitor acting on behalf of the deceased estate will mark the account as deceased and suspend all marketing emails. The next step is requesting proof of death, most commonly provided in form of a death certificate and grant of probate. In the event that the decision taken is to liquidate the account then all account holdings are put up for sale. Any funds which can be released immediately are sent to the appropriate recipient and a monthly sweep of the account is carried out indefinitely until such time as all funds have been liquidated and released to the appropriate recipient.

Luke O’Mahoney of Ratesetter explained: ‘If an investor dies, we work with the next of kin to establish how they would like the account to be dealt with. Generally they would either use our Sellout function (effectively liquidating their investment) or they would allow the account to run down over time – of course we assist the next of kin or executor with this process’.

Funding Circle CE answered: ‘If the account is transferred the inheritance would need to be proven and the account would be manually transferred. The heir can then decide what to do with the portfolio.’

Martins Sulte, CEO of Mintos indicated that there are numerous different situations as the account is inherited according to the respective laws of the country where the investor resides.

In Estonia all matters of inheritence are usually dealt with by a notary office or a solicitor, says Aleksei Kurov of Estateguru. He describes ‘[the] notary or solicitor sends requests to different registers: Property Register, Companies House including all credit/finance institutions to clarify if the person in question had any obligations or deposit/investments accounts opened and what are obligations or funds are connected to these accounts. … When all heir/heirs are clearly identified and the amount of inheritance is also clarified then Notary Office is making a registry entry to an Inheritance Register. This entry will specify the list of heirs and their share of the inheritance. EstateGuru will have an information about the death and consequent inheritance procedures when we are contacted by Notary or Solicitors office. Then we will check with Inheritance Register (if the investor is from Estonia) or with according local institution to confirm this information. We will also seek independent confirmation from his Bank, which was used to transfer funds to our account. Any monetary pay-out or change the information of the account owner is possible only after we receive an official and apostilled confirmation from notary office, solicitors and/or double check this information with available local Inheritance Registry. If information we received is in local language, we will request that it is translated into English and apostilled. If we are satisfied with the identity confirmation and the legal rights heir/heirs then we will follow instructions from them, to make necessary changes on the account, close it or do the pay-out of available funds.Already invested funds will be repaid at the project maturity.’ Continue reading

International P2P Lending Services – Loan Volumes June 2016

The following table lists the loan originations of p2p lending platforms in June. Zopa leads ahead of Ratesetter and Funding Circle. This month I added MytripleA. The total volume for the reported marketplaces adds up to 334 million Euro. I track the development of p2p lending volumes for many markets. Since I already have most of the data on file I can publish statistics on the monthly loan originations for selected p2p lending platforms.

Investors living in markets with no or limited choice of local p2p lending services can check this list of marketplaces open to international investors. Investors can also check how to make use of current p2p lending cashback offers available.

P2P Lending Statistic 06/2016

Table: P2P Lending Volumes in June 2016. Source: own research
Note that volumes have been converted from local currency to Euro for the sake of comparison. Some figures are estimates/approximations.
*Prosper and Lending Club no longer publish origination data for the most recent month.

Notice to p2p lending services not listed: Continue reading

German Investors Look Beyond Borders when Using P2P Lending

A poll conducted by P2P-Kredite.com among seasoned German speaking investors found, that many prefer p2p lending platforms outside the country they live in. After getting accustomed to the p2p lending concept and liking it, they are on a hunt for higher yields. Further supporting factors are the offered English language interface (a language most understand well), the easy transfer of funds within the Eurozone by SEPA payments and more features offered, e.g. most foreign platforms offer a secondary market, while currently none of the German marketplaces do.

German poll
Poll by P2P-Kredite.com, conducted in June 2016. 60 respondents. Each respondent could name up to 6 platforms. Note that Funding Circle refers to the German platform of Funding Circle, not Funding Circle UK.

Mintos (53 votes) and Twino (43 votes) lead by a wide margin in preference of the respondents, followed then by Bondora (21), Estateguru (15), Viventor (15), Saving Stream (10), Moneything (7) and Finbee (7).
Exclusively baltic and british platforms rank best among the respondents. The choice of british platforms for German investors is limited though as some like Zopa or Ratesetter are open only to UK residents or require a UK bank account to sign up.
Nearly all votes were cast before the Brexit decision. It remains to be seen how the UK platforms will rank in German investor preference in the future, given the more volatile GBP/EUR rates and the increased uncertainty for the UK economy.

How the Brexit Influences My Personal P2P Investment Strategy

Well that was a surprise. When I went to bed last midnight the news reported more indications for a remain vote than for a leave. Even with psephologists cautioning that the referendum is very hard to predict due to the lack of comparision data from earlier votes, it seemed to me that the outcome was likely pro EU.

While I had personally wished the Brits to stay in the Union they took a democratic decision and now the politicans have to act upon it to execute divorce.

Awakening to the new reality I now have to assess what this means for my personal p2p investment strategy – as a foreign investor. Only a small portion of my p2p investment portfolio is invested in UK platforms (a substantial amount at Saving Stream, small amounts with Ablrate, MoneyThing and Rebuilding Society). The markets are in turmoil, and I have already taken the hit by the pound dropping sharply compared to the Euro this night.

Another effect is that the uncertainty is causing more investors to put up loan parts for sale – the effect is measureable on Saving Stream and currently accounts for a plus of approx. 1M GBP loans on offer there. Still this amount is very small compared to fluctations of liquidity levels due to other factors. For most loans this now means that there is a considerable delay in selling loans, due to queue size. However this could be cleared up quickly by one or two large loans repaying and the interest payout on July 1st.

Saving Stream loan tracker
(Source: jonah; own edits)

With Saving Stream and Moneything loans will depend highly on the development of the property prices. Some expect a drop in property prices. I think it is to early to tell if that will happen, but I think it is very likely that there will be slow down in new development activity while everbody waits to see what the outcome will be. This will affect the demand for bridging loans and thereby Saving Stream and Moneything to a cetain degree.

And then totally unpredictable there is the question how this new direction will effect the European economy as a whole and whether it might trigger a recession. While I am optimistic that it will not, there is an extreme amount of uncertainty and I have to consider that this might impact my p2p investments on continental European platforms.

For now I have decided that I will not deposit new funds on UK platforms (which I was planning to do) but will not withdraw funds either at the moment and will just keep reinvesting the proceeds. I see little point in selling off loans (would be hard right now anyhow as liquidity seems to dry off temporarily), and exchange the amounts back to Euro. That would guard me from further drops of the pound exchange rate, but I think it is not sure that the pound will fall into a continuing decline (even so that seems more likely than any rise in the pound rate vs the Euro).

For the continental platforms my strategy remains unchanged by the event, even though I think that the risks on some platforms have risen somewhat too in the mid-term outlook.