For almost a year now I have served as editor of the Lending-Times daily news digest. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in this capacity. To prove it, I thought I’d share what I think are the most interesting news stories as covered by Lending-Times this week. These stories represent what I think are the most interesting stories to hit the news cycle in the alternative lending niche, not necessarily the most important or the best stories overall.
- RateSetter withdraws from the UK P2P Finance Association. Originally published at Crowdfund Insider, this story appeared in the Monday August 21 2017 issue of Lending-Times. This is interesting because the association was initiated by the top three of the UK’s top peer-to-peer lending platforms, including RateSetter, in 2011 (the other two were Zopa and Funding Circle). The association’s purpose, as stated on its About page, is three-fold:
- to seek to secure public policy, regulatory and fiscal conditions that enable the UK-based peer-to-peer finance sector to compete fairly and grow responsibly;
- to ensure that Members demonstrate high standards of business conduct, to demonstrate leadership and to promote confidence in the sector; and
- to raise awareness and understanding of the benefits and risks of peer-to-peer finance;
RateSetter had some trouble not long ago with several large loans and had to take them over. The Crowdfund Insider report on that can be found here. Earlier this month, LendInvest announced that it was leaving the P2PFA. So my question is, is there trouble brewing inside the association, which bills itself as a self-regulatory association for P2P lending in the UK? If so, when will that story break?
- Lufax turns profit ahead of IPO. Lufax is China’s largest P2P platform. Reported by the Nikkei’s Asian Review, this story highlights an early success story. It also appeared in Monday’s Lending-Times.
- Amazon Alexa will upend wealth management. This one appeared in Lending-Times on Tuesday August 25, 2017. It’s interesting because Amazon isn’t often thought of as a pure technology company. It falls squarely into the e-commerce category. But this story, originally reported by FinancialPlanning, indicates that Amazon Web Services is pitching its machine learning and natural language processing technology, what powers Alexa, to wirehouses, robo-advisors, and broker-dealers. If that is the case and they succeed in selling the benefits of their proprietary technology to financial advisors, registered investment advisors, and other wealth managers, then it could change the wealth management industry from the inside out. Amazon could become a fintech power in its own right. But we’ll have to wait and see.
- Walmart could start financing point-of-sale purchasing through Affirm. This is such a huge story that Lending-Times spent two days on it. We covered it both Wednesday and Thursday. The story first appeared at TheStreet. As far as I know, Affirm and Walmart haven’t cut a deal yet. They’re only talking about it. But if it happens, this could put Affirm in the same league as Prosper and LendingClub. POS financing is shaping up to be one of the biggest stories of the year, and no U.S. firm is out in front as much as Affirm, a small company most Americans haven’t heard of yet. They provide the technology that allows retailers to finance point-of-sale purchases without credit cards. But Affirm does have its detractors. This is the biggest story of the week, in my opinion.
- Women now have their own investment platform. I’m always amazed when I hear that women need extra encouragement on financial matters. I don’t know why. Suze Orman has been offering financial advice for years and is very popular. Men are just expected to know what to do, and to do it. But here’s a woman who saw an opportunity to set up an investment platform targeting women specifically, and she recently raised $32 million for a platform called Ellevest. I really like that name. This story appeared in today’s issue of Lending-Times and was originally reported by Business Insider.
- Man gets money without a loan. This one is weird and also appeared in today’s Lending-Times. Reported by local news station Wood TV out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a man finds $6,000 in his bank account, evidently dropped there by LendingClub, and tries to give it back. Initially, LendingClub wanted to charge him interest. The man claims he didn’t apply for any loans, but he got one anyway. Eventually, LendingClub took the money and ate the interest, but they say they didn’t originate the loan. This one deserves an investigation.
- The first digital mortgage is finally a reality. Also today, Broadway World reported that eOriginal and Notarize partnered to close the first digital mortgage. This is interesting because there seems to be a race to revolutionize the world of mortgage lending the same way LendingClub and Prosper revolutionized consumer lending. This could quicken the pace of the race toward re-making the mortgage industry with a respectable digital, online-only ecosystem that mirrors that of small business and consumer lending.
There you have it, the most interesting stories in alternative lending this week.
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