Opportunities and Challenges in Online Marketplace Lending U.S. Treasury Report

On Tuesday, May 10, 2016 the United States Treasury Department published a white paper entitled “Opportunities and Challenges in Online Marketplace Lending.”

“There is a clear need for greater transparency in the market for borrowers and investors,” Treasury Counselor Antonio Weiss said Tuesday in a call with reporters. He said Treasury recommends that regulators form a group to examine oversight needs for the industry and figure out “where further regulatory clarity could benefit the market.”

This report and call to action comes on the heels of the resignation of Renaud LaPlanche, the founder and now former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Lending Club, the largest global marketplace lender.  An internal review found a failure to disclose a personal interest in an investment fund the company was considering investing in. The review also found that he was among managers who had knowledge of abuses that were tied to the sale of some loans.

It has become clearer that marketplace lenders need to be more transparent about their business practices and some should be subject to additional oversight from U.S. regulators, according to a Treasury Department study released as the industry grapples with market turmoil and a scandal involving one of its leading firms.

The Treasury department said today in the released white paper/ report (attached) that companies in the burgeoning industry need to develop a public database for tracking data on their loans, and firms that lend to small businesses in particular should be subject to more federal consumer protection laws.

Treasury sought public comment on the marketplace lending industry to help government officials better understand the different business models and products being offered in July 2015.  Treasury outlined six recommendations, including calling for online lenders to improve how transparent their products are to borrowers as well as investors and the need for them to employ consistent standards and disclosures.

You can read the full report here.

The University of Cambridge and University of Chicago 2015 Americas Alternative Finance Benchmarking Survey

The study is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), KPMG and a number of leading industry research partners

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at Cambridge Judge Business School and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Chicago Booth School of Business are jointly launching the 2015 Americas Alternative Finance Benchmarking Survey. This survey will be a comprehensive and empirical assessment of crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending (marketplace lending) and other forms of alternative finance across North, Central and South America and scheduled to be available in April 2016.

Read More →

U.K. Treasury publishes draft Financial Services and Markets Act 2000

February 6, 2015

The U.K. Treasury Department has published the draft Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Order 2016 for approval by both Houses of Parliament. Various changes to the regulatory framework is underway for the the alternative financing industry such as Peer-to-Peer Lending.

Read More →

Financial Stability and Shadow Banking

Posted December 10, 2015

Federal Reserve Vice Chair Fischer delivered remarks at the “Financial Stability: Policy Analysis and Data Needs” 2015 Stability Conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the Office of Financial Research. Here is discussed financial stability and shadow banking.

Vice Chair Fischer believes that there are “five factors that contribute to financial fragility”: (a) high debt burdens at households and firms; (b) elevated leverage and maturity transformation within the financial sector; (c) complexity and interconnectedness in intermediation chains; (d) low risk premiums on assets, especially assets funded with debt; and (e) complacency on the part of investors, supervisors and decision-makers in the private sector of the financial system.

During Vice Chair Fischer’s presentation he offered an assessment of vulnerabilities in the financial system; and identified gaps in the current understanding of conditions inside and outside of the banking sector that should be addressed by regulators and researchers.

He stated, “An essential element of [the federal regulatory] infrastructure is learning the lessons of history – both the lessons of what happened, and the fact that supervisors and regulators will on occasion be surprised”.

Mr. Fischer made the following assertions regarding what needs to be understood to monitor financial stability:

  • A Closer Look at Shadow Banking: The reduction in leverage and maturity transformation associated with better regulations leaves the financial system “much more resilient – even if such regulations have modestly affected market liquidity.”
  • What We Know and What We Do Not: Data on a range of activities – including securities lending, bilateral repos, and derivatives trading – that create funding and leverage risks “remain inadequate and hence could prove destabilizing if sufficiently large or widespread.”
  • Data Are Not Enough: We Need Theory Too: An “important area in need of development” is economic modeling on interconnectedness, particularly on the interaction of shadow banking, banks and the broader financial system. Further, research that distinguishes between banks and nonbanks, or highlights how their interactions are driven by economic incentives, could guide regulator efforts to collect data and set policies to limit possible instabilities associated with interconnectedness.

Though Vice Chair Fischer made no mention of the alternative investment landscape of P2P Lending, it will be interested to see where Peer -to- Peer Lending Marketplaces will be placed as related to shadow banking as a contributor to financial stability in the coming years.




New peer-to-peer operating principles for P2P Financial Association Members

October 28, 2015, posted by Kim Wales

Christine Farnish, Chair of the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association (P2PFA) announced new operating principles that will enhance risk management and promote transparency for the sector.

Over the last 12 months, data collected by P2P FA showed that almost £2bn worth of new lending in the EU P2P industry  from consumers, small businesses and property lending almost doubling.

The new guidelines require P2P association members to publish debt data to a common standard, make their loan books transparent and ensure that retail investors are competing on the same level playing field as institutional investors.

“Our new operating principles set a benchmark of fair dealing and transparency,” said Christine Farnish, Chair of the P2PFA.  “By the New Year, all our members will publish their full loan books, show bad debt losses in a comparable way, and commit to ensuring that retail investors get a fair deal compared with institutions.

“These new measures will help build further consumer confidence, demonstrate our commitment to ethical practice and set a beacon of good practice across the market.”

You can see a copy of the new guidelines here:

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.21.41 AM


RBS fosters economic growth with P2P Lending Partnerships

By: Kim Wales (NY) — 01/23/2015

As we eagerly await the Securities and Exchange Commission to release the final rules for Titles III and IV of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) in the United States that will open the gateway to equity and debt based crowd finance for start up and emerging growth companies.

A continued push to restore confidence, foster transparency and get money into the hands of the most needing enterprises is apparent in the United Kingdom with the Royal Bank of Scotland’s move to partner with online lending marketplaces, Funding Circle and Assetz Capital. On heels of Santander Bank implementing a similar strategy in 2014, these partnerships show an emergence of acceptance that bridges traditional finance with digital debt crowd finance, which is an enticing mechanism to financing small medium enterprises.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said “It is great to see companies like Funding Circle forging a new partnership with RBS to ensure that small British companies have the best access to funding”.

Peer – to – Peer (P2P) has expanded rapidly after the financial crisis of 2008 as banks scaled back lending – leaving many smaller businesses without any access to finance.

Starting early February, RBS, the state-backed bank partnership with Funding Circle and Assetz Capital will enable it to refer some smaller businesses that it is unable to finance on to the P2P platforms. RBS said its aim is to “expand choice” for customers with loan applications that do not meet the bank’s criteria, by sign-posting them towards the P2P lenders, as well as other alternative sources of finance.

Working hand and glove with RBS, P2P platforms Funding Circle and Assetz Capital will extend bank clients located in Scotland and southwest of England that have been turned down for loans by the bank a new and nimble way to obtain debt financing for their businesses. Clients must indicate on their loan application that their information can be shared with an external third party in order for the bank to bridge the gap in helping the client obtain the financial resources. RBS is expecting to work with up to five such platforms in the coming months.

This new P2P partnerships, which do not involve fees being paid to the bank, follow plans from George Osborne, chancellor, to force banks that reject loan applications from small companies to refer them on to alternative sources of funding. The RBS referral scheme, which plans to expand nationally over the next three months, comes ahead of government plans to make referrals compulsory due to criticism that Britain’s largest banks are failing to provide sufficient credit to the sector. “A key part of our long-term economic plan is to ensure that British businesses are able to access the finance they need to grow and succeed,” said Osborne.

Kudos to the Chancellor, RBS and Santander Bank fostering the economic recovery needed during the most trying periods in history for some generations. The ecosystem to support a capital market that is multi-layered will need to be able to support competing and related interests globally as related to technology, banking facilities, communication, and distribution channels.

It is my belief that the markets that succeed in balancing public and private interests are the markets that will go the furthest in facilitating capital formation through shifting traditional paradigms. Efficient markets need to improve the allocation of capital and enhance long-term economic growth.