Orca Money to Raise 500K via Equity Crowdfunding – Interview with CEO Iain Niblock

Orca Money is currently running an equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs to raise 500K GBP at a premoney valuation of 1.7M GBP. Anybody can invest in Orca Money shares with a minimum investment amount of 10 GBP applicable. I interviewed the Orca CEO Iain Niblock

What is Orca Money about?

Orca is an aggregation platform, allowing investors to invest across a range of peer to peer lending (P2P) platforms, lending sub sectors and a large number of borrowers. We further offer independent investment research, providing confidence to investors when making decisions.

Currently investors are investing directly on P2P platforms. This makes building and managing a diversified portfolio frustrating. We centralise this process by allowing investors to research, build and manage their portfolio from the Orca platform. We provide the P2P platforms with a source of retail investors.

Investors can review the performance of their portfolio, diversify their risk and earn the attractive returns that the sector offers.

What are the three main advantages for investors?

Risk adjusted returns: We offer an investment return to our users which is reduced in risk through diversification. By allowing investors to invest across multiple P2P platforms, lending sectors and a large number of borrowers, we facilitate easy diversification.

Reduced admin burden: Orca manages all fund deployment, email communication and performance data aggregation. Investors can login to their personal Orca dashboard and view a breakdown of their portfolio, as well as an aggregated view of their investment performance.

Automatic portfolio build: Orca has been producing independent analysis on the market for the past three years. We have conducted due diligence in the market and curated a portfolio for investors to invest through. This removes the hassle from P2P investing.

Iain NiblockYou are currently raising money. Who are you raising from and what do you plan to use the capital for?

Our investment is open to the public on the Seedrs equity crowdfunding platform. Investors across the EU can register and invest in the Orca business. The proceeds will allow us to expand our userbase, integrate with more lenders and to further develop the functionality of our platform.

Prior to launching the crowdfunding campaign, we secured a portion of this investment from two institutional funds based in Northern Ireland and a number of leading angel investors. It’s great to be combining these investors with crowd investors.

Why have you selected Seedrs for your equity crowdfunding campaign?

A number of our customers mentioned that they would like to invest in Orca’s business. We’ve gained incredibly valuable feedback from these customers and, ultimately, we wanted to give them an opportunity to own shares in the business. We hope that this campaign will attract further investors and customers to do the same.

Personally, I’ve tracked the equity crowdfunding market closely for many years and I’m now genuinely excited to be leading a campaign. Seedrs was an obvious choice as they have facilitated funding for a number of other P2P platforms.

One benefit of Seedrs is that investors invest through a nominee structure. The Seedrs nominee structure holds and manages the shares on the behalf of the underlying investor. For the investor, this means the nominee can track and monitor shareholder rights as a collective. For the company, this reduces the administrative burden of having a large shareholder base.

Where do you see Orca Money in 3 years?

We aim to evolve into the hub for P2P investment research, investing and portfolio management. Investors will be given access to credit investments across the EU, originated by P2P platforms and other non-bank lenders. The functionality of our platform will increase, delivering a fully functioning investment aggregation platform.

Orca is a differentiated product in a rapidly growing market.

Name one fact that makes your pitch a better investment than any other pitch on Seedrs.

In comparison to other Seedrs pitches we believe our valuation is very good value. This was set by institutional investors based in Northern Ireland where valuations are generally lower than other parts of the UK and in particular London. I’d expect the valuation to rise substantially during any subsequent rounds.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Iain Niblock for the interview.

Investly Plans to Raise 2M GBP on Seedrs – Interview with CEO Siim Maivel

Investly is currently pitching on Seedrs to raise between 500K and 2M GBP in a crowdfunding for equity campaign. To become a shareholder, the required minium investment amount is 13 GBP.

What is Investly about?

Investly is an invoice financing platform which helps businesses from the UK and Estonia release cash from their long payment term invoices. We’re a marketplace that connects investors to companies that need short term capital, which we issue against their receivables. We have offices in London and Tallinn.

What are the three main advantages when investing in the invoices?

Liquidity – Investly is quite different compared to most platforms because the investment period is only 30 to 40 days on average. This means you can convert your investments into cash within a month by simply halting further investments.

Return – Historically investors have earned 11-12% annually on invoices. I believe every investor should have a portion of their funds allocated to P2P investing because of the higher return and additional diversification.

Added value – Invoice finance is helping small businesses who are growing fast but fail to get the support they need from local banks. The direct impact is clear – invoice finance has helped our customers grow faster and create more jobs. This would not be possible without investors.

What are the three main advantages for companies selling the invoices?

Most of all, faster business growth. We discovered that Estonian customers who are leveraging access to working capital are able to grow their turnover by 18.3%, while turnover growth benchmark equals 7.6% (Investly internal analysis, growth benchmark from Statistics Estonia report 2017)
But access to working capital is not just numbers in spreadsheet, but most of all it’s opportunities that business can take: hire more staff and win new contracts, get better supplier payment terms by offering early or up-front payment, ensure prompt payment for employees and subcontractors.

What ROI have investors made on average on the platform in the past?

On average investors have earned double digit returns in both markets. The net return on Estonian invoices has been 11.2% annually and in the UK it’s been 12.6% annually.

What is the procedure, if a company is late in repaying the invoice?

To ensure collection is as fast as possible, we rely on early action and automating notifications to debtors. If the debtor doesn’t pay within 30 days of the due date, we have the right to ask the seller to repurchase the invoice from investors. We also ask for a personal guarantee from one or several of the directors of the seller company. This means that if the company cannot pay, we can ask for payment from the directors.

Investly is the biggest p2p lending marketplace for invoice financing in Estonia. How did you achieve this position?

We use personal approach and always try to find the best solution for our customers and investors. That professional customer service constantly provides us a leverage over banks and competitors. Also, quick decision – we present an offer within one working day. This is something that many of small businesses can’t expect from traditional lenders. On top of that, we have flexible pricing, which we’re able to use thanks to loyal and engaged investors community.

Investly is also operating in the UK. Is it complicated to operate in two different markets simultaneously and which of the two markets is more attractive for future growth?

UK is the largest factoring market in Europe with €327b worth of invoices financed every year. For comparison, France is second with €268b/year and Germany is third with €217b/year. This is where the biggest potential is. However, traditional sales and marketing channels towards our target customers are extremely crowded with thousands of B2B service providers trying to sell them products. We have to be more clever about acquiring customers there. Open Banking enables us to do that.

Estonian businesses finance only €2.5b/year, but due to the connected infrastructure of public and private registries, we can reach our customers much more easily. Also, there’s fewer providers in Estonia and we’re creating a lot of the market ourselves as factoring hasn’t been available for them in the past.

Having built Investly for four years, what do you deem the biggest assets of the company?

We have gained a detailed understanding about the problem we’re solving. It’s not specific to any geography. Businesses across Europe and elsewhere in the world are struggling with the lack of working capital. It seems that our product offering helps to solve that problem more simply than traditional lenders.

Four years is typically a good time to become an expert at something. We have also build a strong team to execute our mission. We’re experts at invoice financing.

Also, we’ve managed to get a good set of advisors on board to help us build the marketplace and secure future rounds of financing if needed.

What role does ‘Open Banking’ play in the near future for Investly’s further development?

Open Banking is a technical enabler. Businesses can now choose freely between their bank and 3rd party providers to solve their specific financial needs. It’s done in a secure and easy-to-use way.

This has gotten banks looking into how they can continue to be profitable in this new environment. Completely new types of business models are emerging and we’re proud that Investly is one of the early pioneers to set the path for others. Being part of the Open Banking sandbox in UK helped us to be one of the first ones to integrate with banks like Barclays, HSBC, RBS, Lloyds and Santander.

We’re going to use these integrations to form partnerships with traditional lenders so we can serve our customer without them necessarily having to change their provider.

You want to raise new funding on Seedrs. Why did you decide to use crowdfunding for equity rather than traditional routes?

Throughout the years we’ve received multiple requests from our marketplace investors to participate in our equity financing round. They’ve been giving us a lot of valuable feedback when we’ve developed our product and directed our credit model. We’d like them to get a chance to be part of Investly mission as we continue to grow.

With traditional equity financing, we’d be overwhelmed by administrative work to get the round closed and to manage those relationships later on. Seedrs has provided a good platform on which we can do that efficiently.

What is the value proposition for investors? Do you aim for a stock market listing? What is the likely time horizon?

Get to participate in our valuation growth. The interest you earn on the marketplace is quite stable, but the potential upside on the equity investment is much higher.

UK based investors can take advantage of the EIS scheme. It’s quite a big incentive on the tax side.

Seedrs provides a secondary market, which helps to create liquidity for our shareholders. This way, you don’t have to wait for years until the startup makes an exit or files for IPO.

Is Investly profitable? If not, when do you expect to reach breakeven on cash flow.

Operationally, we’re quite close to breakeven. The target is to get profitable in core activities in the next 6 months after fundraising round closes. But on a company level we will still be investing heavily into building out the integrations with banks to execute the momentum we’ve managed to build up.

For which activities does Investly intend to raise the used funds?

Partnerships and further automation. Few years ago, all the banks would turn us down when we approached them with suggestion of cooperation. But with Open Banking, this is window of opportunity for both of us: Investly provides working solution with better experience and price for customers, banks acquire competitive leverage on the market and are part of this fintech revolution. Therefore, funds from this round will be used on product developments which will allow us integrate with banks infrastructure and automate our processes even more with the increase in volume.

Where do you see Investly in 3 years?

Investly will be the major provider of invoice finance to businesses across Europe. It’ll be partly through partnerships (invoice finance powered by Investly) and partly through building out our own brand by continuing to deliver superior customer experience.

With that scale, we will have had enough data to build up a narrow AI for credit decisions. We have followed our roadmap for getting there. We’ll be better able to score companies and collect payments than competitors.

Investors will have access to debtors across Europe, which enables them to achieve a good diversification of currencies, countries and sectors.

Once we’ve received that scale, we will be able to deliver the best financing rate to businesses with our marketplace model, where banks are lending alongside with our investor community.

P2P-Banking thanks Siim Maivel for the interview.

Updated Jan. 23rd: A previous version of this article stated 2.5M as upper limit of the fundraise. That figure was incorrect.

Investly pitch video on Seedrs

 

Crowdproperty Pitches to Raise 600K GBP through Equity Crowdfunding

UK p2p lending marketplace Crowdproperty is currently pitching on Seedrs to raise 600K GBP from the crowd at a pre-money valuation of 5.9M GBP.

The Crowdproperty marketplace was launched in 2014 and the company has since funded 10.7 million GBP in property loans. All loans are secured by a first legal charge against the property. The company says no investor has incurred any losses so far. The company received full FCA authorization in October 2017.

Crowdproperty states it has unique proprietary access to the largest property network in the UK, the Property Investors Network (pin), which provides competitive advantage in terms of high quality deal origination and has enabled the proof of the business with limited marketing investment to date.

Crowdproperty claims that it’ is already profitable with more favourable economics than peer to peer platforms in consumer and SME marketplaces owing to shorter average loan lengths, higher average loan sizes, borrower frequency/retention and achievability/sustainability of fee levels. With a gulf now emerging between property-based peer to peer lenders that are gaining traction versus those struggling at the sub-£5m level, the team aims to become the market leader in project-based finance direct to SME property professionals whilst simultaneously providing competitive first-charge secured returns to its retail pool of lenders.

CEO Simon Zutschi told P2P-Banking: ‘I am delighted that we have now proven this model of helping successful property developers to fund their projects, whilst helping investors gain a secured return on their money. All of the recent project launches have been quickly funded up by our eager and loyal base of lenders, which clearly demonstrates the traction we have built in our brand. Over the last year, we have focused on our platform technology and processes, and now we are ready to scale this business to its full potential. This will not only benefit our lenders, but also help and support SME developers, who often struggle to raise funds from hesitant banks, to access the essential funding they need to help reduce the UK housing crisis’.

(Source: Crowdproperty pitch on Seedrs)

Plum Automates Investment in Ratesetter – Plum Equity Crowdfunding Pitch

Plum is another fintech that makes use of Ratesetter’s products through a cooperation. Plum is bot on Facebook messenger designed to automate savings for the user and to invest money on his behalf. Savings can currently be invested in Ratesetters rolling market. Plum is currently pitching to raise 700K GBP through a convertible with a valuation cap of 5M GBP on Seedrs. Watch the video for more information on the Plum product and pitch. The minimum investment for this equity crowdfunding campaign is 10 GBP. The pitch is EIS eligible (UK residents). Other investors include 200K US$ invested by VC 500 Startups. This pitch is not yet officially launched on Seedrs, but already open for investments. You can use P2P-Banking’s free notification service to be alerted of upcoming Seedrs pitches early and review them ahead of the crowd.

Competitors of Plum include Digit, Qapital, Clarity, Albert, Squirrel, Cleo and Savedroid.

The Plum pitch deck is  informative reading. To request that, login, click on ‘Documents’ in the pitch, and send a message to request the pitch deck.

Another example of an innovative cooperative cooperation making use of products of a p2p lending service is Commuterclub.

This article is not an investment advice. Investing in startups bears significant risks, including total loss of investment.

Investing in British Properties Through Property Partners

For decades buying houses, refurbishing them and selling them at a higher price and moving on to the next property seemed like a popular sport to Brits. Many of them see properties as investments and with house prices mostly moving up lots of them aimed to finance a property while they were young and then build a portfolio. With limited supply of new land with planning permissions this strategy worked well most of the times in the past, except when the market overheated and a real estate bubble popped.

There are downsides to this do-it-yourself approach:

  1. Concentration of risk in one or few properties: if they underperperformed for what ever reason, the yield was sub-average
  2. A lot of money, time and work required. The investor had to do everything itself as a landlord
  3. Selection of new properties usually limited to a small region the investor lives in

British platform Property Partner allows everyone to invest in British properties from a minimum of 50 GBP. Investors select a listing, invest into a SPV (special purpose vehicle company) that pools the investment in the property. The SPV collects rental income and pays dividends to investors monthly. A useful table of the past achieved rental income can be seen here. In the green marked cases the actual rents are higher than the original forecsts. Potentially investors can also gain, if the value of the property rises.

The time span of an investment is 5 years, however investors can try to sell their parts on the secondary market, which allows discounts and premiums any time.

The platform allows the investor to diversify across multiple properties easily. The fee is 2% for investment (in new listings or buying through the secondary market). For management, advertising and letting Property Partner charges 12.6% of gross rent.

So far Property Partner has funded 311 properties for 43.9 million GBP with 9.100 investors participating.

property partner listingFor new listing there is a pre-order period, where bids are collected. If the listing is oversubscribed then each investor is allocated a lower proportionate amount of shares.

Each listing contains an investment case desctiption, property details, a floor plan, financials, a solicitor’s report and a surveyor’s report as well as the house price index (HPI) information for the area.

For the secondary market there is a ‘data view’ section which lists key indicators for the parts listed for sale.

Investors that do not want to pick listings can set up the auto-invest option which will automatically invest an amount the investor sets each month in 5 properties.

Investing from abroad

Property Partner allows foreigners (except for US residents) and corporations to invest. If you do not live in the UK but see the UK housing market as an investment opportunity Property Partner is a hassle free possibility to invest in british real estate. Non resident investors should consider using Transferwise or Currencyfair to avoid high bank fees and get a better currency exchange rate.

How to get 50 GBP cashback at sign-up

To get 50 GBP referral cashback, when you invest more than 1000 GBP sign up now via this link . To see available promotions by other platforms visit our cashback offer page.

property partner cashback

Property Partner cashback confirmation at sign-up. To see it follow this link and sign up.

 

 

FCA Publishes Interim Feedback Following a Call for Input to the Post-Implementation Review of the Rules for Crowdfunding

In August the FCA posted a call for input preceeding a planned review of the current regulation of p2p lending and crowdfunding for equity. Today the FCA publishes interim feedback. The feedback statement provides a first response to the feedback received and sets out next steps.

Based on a review of the feedback received, issues seen during the supervision of crowdfunding platforms currently trading and consideration of applications from firms seeking full authorisation, the FCA believes it is appropriate to modify a number of rules for the market.

Initial findings

Loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding

For both loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding platforms the FCA has found that, for example:

  • it is difficult for investors to compare platforms with each other or to compare crowdfunding with other asset classes due to complex and often unclear product offerings
  • it is difficult for investors to assess the risks and returns of investing on a platform
  • financial promotions do not always meet our requirement to be ‘clear, fair and not misleading’ and
  • the complex structures of some firms introduce operational risks and/or conflicts of interest that are not being managed sufficiently

Loan-based crowdfunding

In the loan-based crowdfunding market in particular the FCA is concerned that, for example:

  • certain features, such as some of the provision funds used by platforms, introduce risks to investors that are not adequately disclosed and may not be sufficiently understood by investors
  • the plans some firms have for wind-down in the event of their failure are inadequate to successfully run-off loan books to maturity
  • the FCA has challenged some firms to improve their client money handling standards

Proposals for new rules to be considered in Q1 2017

The FCA plans to consult on additional rules in a number of areas. These include more prescriptive requirements on the content and timing of disclosures by both loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding platforms.

For loan-based crowdfunding the FCA also intends to consult on:

  • strengthening rules on wind-down plans
  • additional requirements or restrictions on cross-platform investment
  • extending mortgage-lending standards to loan-based platforms

The FCA’s current rules on loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding platforms came into force in April 2014. They aimed to create a proportionate regulatory framework that provided adequate investor protection whilst allowing for innovation and growth in the market.

The call for input in July 2016 launched a post-implementation review of these rules. The paper summarised market developments since 2014 and some of the FCA’s emerging concerns.

Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, said:

“Our focus is ensuring that investor protections are appropriate for the risks in the crowdfunding sector while continuing to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers. Based on our findings to date, we believe it is necessary to strengthen investor protection in a number of areas. We plan to consult next year on new rules to address the issues we have identified.” Continue reading

Interview: Wellesley Pitches to Raise 1.5M from the Crowd

UK marketplace Wellesley is currently pitching to raise 1.5M GBP in a convertible from the crowd.

Interview with Graham Wellesley, CEO, Wellesley

What is Wellesley about?

Wellesley is a lending business. It provides an alternative for borrowers than traditional high street lenders. Our business allows us to meet the needs of two key underserved markets:

  • experienced mid-sized property developers who are building homes in the UK
  • investors seeking higher returns that can be achieved in deposit accounts who are willing to take a level of additional risk through a range of different products.

What are the three main advantages for lenders?

  • Lenders can achieve higher risk adjusted returns than are available in traditional deposit accounts
  • Property development lending is asset backed
  • Funding is being put to good use, helping to build homes in the UK

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  • They are dealing with a lending firm who specialises in property development
  • We are committed to very high levels of service and quick decisions
  • Each individual borrower is important to us

Wellesley is quite established in the UK marketplace lending sector. Why do your raise capital via Seedrs through a convertible now?

We want to raise more capital to enable us to invest in acquiring new customers and developing our technology. All of our external funding is retail rather than institutional. Raising further equity through a retail route will help us to build a business where strong alignment of interests between investors and shareholders will build a stronger company for the long term.

To which extend (if any) are equity investors covering capital losses on loans to p2p lenders vs the mini bond holders?

  • So far the board has chosen that the company (shareholders / equity investors) will cover the losses incurred by all other investors. This is at the board’s discretion and investors are all aware that they are taking risk in relation to property development lending. Investors continue to carry the risk of losses on both P2P and mini-bonds.
  • Wellesley aims to use the funding to expand its business, its marketing, human resources and IT development.

Wellesley originated about 80M pound YTD. Did you experience any effect of Brexit and what is your outlook for 2017? How do you see the opportunity of the IFISA market?

  • In the run-up to the referendum and in its immediate aftermath property development across “middle Britain” took somewhat of a pause. There are signs now that growth is returning to the market and the outlook for 2017 is positive as the key driver – the demand for more housing – shows no sign of reducing.
  • We continue to develop a product that meets the technical requirements of the IFISA market and will provide an update as soon as there is more to say.
  • We specialise in multi-unit developments, our average unit size is less than £500k. As a result we believe that we are well-placed to face any challenges that the UK residential housing market may face post-Brexit.

Are there any plans for international expansion?

At this stage, quite the opposite. We had started doing some lending in Majorca, Spain and decided back in the first half of 2015 that we would be better able to serve our customers through the economic cycle if we focused on our core expertise and competency in the UK market. Continue reading

Interview: Flender Pitches to Raise 500K

Flender is a UK startup (with background in Ireland) currently pitching to raise 500K GBP from the crowd.

Interview with Kristjan Koik, CEO of Flender

What is Flender about?

Flender is a peer to peer finance platform which helps businesses and consumers to borrow and lend money through their existing networks.

Businesses can leverage their customer base and strengthen loyalty; while friends become part of each other’s’ success. Flender does this while adding a new element of trust via social network connections.

Flender emphasizes the social relationships between borrowers and lenders. Don’t you think borrowers are hesitant to ask friends and connections for money?

The social lending market among friends, family and connections has never been formalized, which is crazy when you consider that this is a market worth over 3 billion EUR a year in Ireland and the UK based on independent research performed in September 2016.

Asking people that you know for money – and lending to them – is an awkward thing to do and is certainly an unreliable means of finance. Whether it’s to fund further study, grow a business or to fund home improvements, Flender will let you borrow from and lend to people with whom you have a connection much more easily.

For individuals, there is the satisfaction of helping others while earning more interest than a standard savings account while businesses can have access to funds faster and at the interest rate they prefer. Everyone wins.

P2P lending has evolved a lot over the past 10 years. Your model has a back to the roots touch to me. Do you see your model as a reinvention of the true spirit of p2p lending?

I believe p2p lending and the sharing economy is the future of finance.

We have all lent or borrowed money at some stage of our lives and will use some sort of finance in the future – be it mortgage, car leasing, credit card, deposit account or investments. Similarly, we all have people in our social circles and professional networks who have money to lend or are looking for finance. It makes no sense that rather than doing these transactions with people who you know and trust we would do these with complete strangers with whom we know little or nothing.

Flender is not trying to create a new marketplace. We are simply formalising existing massive social lending market and by providing a seamless user experience and having first- mover advantage we feel we can dominate this sector.

The pitch video

Flender positions itself as different to other p2p lending marketplaces. Yet you take these as benchmarks for valuations in an exit. Furthermore your expected margin is much higher than those of other UK p2p lending marketplaces. What is the reasoning behind this?

Yes, we are very different to other p2p platforms, but investors will initially want to benchmark against something with which they are familiar, hence our comparison to existing platforms. Continue reading

New European Alternative Finance Industry Report – Sustaining Momentum

The European online alternative finance market, including crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, grew by 92 per cent in 2015 to €5.431 billion, according to the results of the 2nd Annual European Alternative Finance Industry Survey conducted by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at University of Cambridge Judge Business School, in partnership with KPMG and supported by CME Group Foundation.

The report released today, titled “Sustaining Momentum”, had the support of 17 major European industry associations and research partners, and was based on data from 367 crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and other alternative finance intermediaries from 32 European countries – capturing an estimated 90 per cent of the visible market. P2P-Banking.com is one of the research partners.

The United Kingdom was by far the largest in Europe at €4.4 billion, followed by France at €319 million, Germany at €249 million and the Netherlands, €111 million. Other large European markets include Finland with €64 million, Spain at €50 million, Belgium at €37 million and Italy at €32 million. The Nordic countries collectively accounted for €104 million, while Central and Eastern European countries registered a total of €89 million.

Excluding the UK, the European alternative finance market grew by 72 per cent from €594 million in 2014 to €1.019 billion in 2015.

“Although the absolute year-on-year growth rate slowed by 10 per cent” (from the 82 per cent growth excluding the UK between 2013 and 2014) the industry is still sustaining momentum with substantive expansion in transaction volumes recorded across almost all online alternative finance models,” the report said.

Peer-to-peer consumer lending is the largest market segment of alternative finance, with €366 million in Europe in 2015. Peer-to-peer business lending is the second largest segment with €212 million, with equity-based crowdfunding in third with €159 million and reward-based crowdfunding fourth at €139 million.

Sustaining Momentum Figure 11
Table: Figure 11, page 31 of ‘Sustaining Momentum’, volumes by market segment in Europe 2015 (outside UK)

Among other findings:

  • Estonia ranked first in Europe in alternative finance volume per capita at €24, followed by Finland at €12 and Monaco at €10 outside of the UK.
  • Online alternative business funding increased by 167 per cent year-on-year to €536 million raised for over 9,400 start-ups and SMEs across Europe.
  • Institutionalisation took off in mainland Europe in 2015, with 26 per cent of peer-to-peer consumer lending and 24 per cent of peer-to-peer business lending funded by institutions such as pension funds, mutual funds, asset management firms and banks.
  • Across Europe, perceptions of existing national regulations in alternative finance are divided. About 38 per cent of surveyed platforms felt their national regulations for crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending were adequate and appropriate, 28 per cent perceived their national regulations to be excessive, and a further 10 per cent said current regulations were too relaxed.
  • The biggest risks perceived by the alternative finance industry are increasing loan defaults or business failure rates, fraudulent activities or the collapse of platforms due to malpractice.

Perceived risks
Chart: Figure 28, page 47 of ‘Sustaining Momentum’, risks to the industry as perceived by the polled platforms

Robert Wardrop, Executive Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, said: “European alternative finance transaction volume increased to more than €5 billion in 2015, with volume outside of the UK market exceeding €1 billion for the first time. The European alternative finance industry is still small, however, and the slowing rate of growth during the year is a reminder of the risks the industry must contend with in order to transition from a start-up to a sustainable funding channel within the European financial services ecosystem.”

Irene Pitter, Global Executive, Banking & Capital Markets and member of the FinTech Leadership Team at KPMG, said: “This report shows that the alternative finance sector is set to continue to grow and mature. 2016 marks a significant year for ‘alternative finance’ in Europe as the market demonstrates clear signs of continued strong growth and increased maturation in the sector as a whole. European activity, excluding the UK, showed solid growth of 72 percent last year and demonstrated client demand for alternative finance solutions even in the smaller EU countries.”

Rumi Morales, Executive Director, CME Ventures, said: “The prominent feature of financial technology is that it is truly borderless. No one country is harnessing alternative financial markets or business models to the exclusion of any other. Rather, from the UK to Estonia and from Finland to Monaco, the entire European continent is experimenting and expanding upon innovations that can provide greater access to capital and financial services to more people than ever before.”

See the full report below. 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