Category Archives: Referrers

P2P lending continues to grow in Europe

 

P2P-Banking.com has released its lending volumes for May 2017, and has measured a major increase in the volumes of almost all P2P market places compared to last year’s May. This has come to an approximate $500 million dollars in added volume. Globally, Morgan Stanley forecasts lending volumes of up to US$290 billion dollars by 2020.

 

We’ve seen a major increase in Chinese P2P lenders, with 2612 lenders coming out of China and turning over approximately $US$18 billion dollars in loans a month. Though, harsh central bank regulations are seeing a threat to this volume as they continue to increase regulations on P2P lending.

 

Achieving global recognition

Over the last half a decade, we’ve seen P2P lending go from a niche to a reasonable method of investing. This sort of recognition is what P2P lending needs to reach the next level and become wide-spread amongst retail investors as well.

 

A few years ago, P2P lending was considered to be a fad that would be extinguished very quickly due to its high risks for investors. Though we’ve seen some issues with Lending Club in the U.S., specifically related to some shady loans covered by Bloomberg in 2016.

 

P2P lending critics are quick to bring up Lending Club’s faults and extrapolate them to reflect the entirety of the P2P lending markets. But, we have to remember that there are a few bad eggs in any market. Conventional banking has led to some of the worst financial crises in history or do we just pretend to ignore sub-prime loans?

 

It’s important to be aware of the flaws in a financial institution but shady deals and risky ventures done in a few companies do not reflect the entirety of that financial market. P2P lending has the opportunity to excel and grow to huge levels as it garners more and more recognition in the financial sector.

 

We’re excited to be a part of this growth and we hope you have a look at MarketLend as a means of lending.

Debtor finance is an important factor to economic growth

Debtor finance is something that isn’t really considered in-depth when we look at the economy as a whole.

Most of debt-financing occurs when a company borrows a percentage of an outstanding debt invoice, and they are given that money to place into their business rather than waiting until their products are sold. Businesses grow quicker, the amount of working capital grows, businesses are able to hire more staff and contribute back into the Australian economy.

Debtor finance is a measure of SME confidence. In a recession or an economic slow-down, small businesses are reluctant to take on debt and don’t borrow as much as they would like to. This slows down the growth of the business, and when you aggregate that out to SMEs as a whole, it slows down Australia’s economic growth and prosperity.

But it’s on the rise: Small businesses are becoming more confident. We’ve reached similar levels to pre-GFC, and have seriously surpassed the levels achieved pre-2007.
annual turnover

Statistical Update 2015

Why?

Because there are more options than ever before, and debtor financing makes sense. Most businesses run in different fashions. They don’t all act similarly. They aren’t uniform. Debtor financing solves this, to an extent. It bridges cash flow gaps to allow companies to be more flexible with their production and their investments.

More Options:

Banks aren’t the only entrant into the debtor financing world; innovation has played a major part. As online finance security increases and the capabilities of technology increases, we’ve seen a massive influx in P2P debtor finance. P2P lending has revolutionised how debtor financing works, and it is only going to increase in the future.

Australia vs the World

Australia is only starting to catch up with the EU and Britain in regards to debtor finance. These countries have been seen rates of up to 15% of GDP being handled through debtor finance, where Australia is only recently reaching the 5% mark. It’s a vibrant and promising market, and MarketLend is very interested to see how the market will evolve and grow over the next few years.

Is Australia up to scratch? Diversify with peer to peer lending

 A look at how the 2008 financial crisis changed the way policy-makers use monetary and fiscal policies.

It’s a bold statement to say that Governments always learn from their mistakes. But, for the most part, they at least attempt to learn from their mistakes and the outcome is generally positive. However, what if a Government got off scot-free and they didn’t really have to learn anything?  This is the case for Australia, but it is not that simple.

Pre-crisis monetary policy was heavily based on one target, inflation, and one policy instrument, the policy rate. It was a heavily one-dimensional and naïve approach to the nuanced and dynamic 21st century economies that exist today. The assumption being that the policy rate could be manipulated to ensure a stable inflation rate. The stable inflation rate would then lead to a stable output gap. However, after the crisis occurred in 2008, policy-makers realized that this was not enough.  Firstly, they realized the relationship between the policy-rate and the output gap was not as strong as they initially expected. Secondly, a stable inflation rate and output rate does not necessarily ensure that the financial sector is stable.

This has resulted in a global rejuvenated focus on macro-prudential policies in order to stabilize the financial sector. This regulation can take many forms, there is no instrument to stabilize the financial sector. In Australia, we have already seen this with the enforcement of higher capital to credit ratios in the larger banks.

However, is this enough to control the credit market?

Credit is an aspect of the economy that is often over-looked. It was an excess of credit that created a bubble that eventually burst and caused the 2008 financial crisis. Basic macro-prudential policies can prevent this, but is it enough? Is it possible to efficiently enforce regulation on “too big to fail” banks? This was another lesson learned in the crisis; private banks act in self-interest and cannot be trusted to act responsibly with regards to the national and global economy. Post GFC, we have seen the banks focus on residential mortgage lending with little to none in the small to medium enterprise (SME) lending. A large question mark looming over many heads is whether Governments who were not heavily affected by the GFC will learn from these mistakes.

What does this mean for you, the investor?

I think a basic investing principle to decrease risk is the concept of diversification. It is never a wise concept to invest in shares, or property  or both and say I am diversified and protected from any downturn.

Fixed income, either securities, loans e.g. peer to peer lending or corporate debt, is another way to diversify. For many, investing in fixed income is complex and at times hard to understand, but it doesn’t need to be. The simple concept of lending to a SME or a person by participating in peer to peer lending platform, Marketlend, and Ratesetter to name a few that are available to all investors and that are accompanied with loss protection, will give you that diversity. With the added benefit, at least you know where you are invested.

Under the current government, we are heavily reliant on the Chinese economy, we haven’t really diversified and the economic complexity of our exports are low. We also lack the lessons learned in the GFC, and our policy-makers are scared to enforce a set of fiscal policies that include macro-prudency. This raises some questions.  Is our economy stable enough to withstand a recession? A steadily inflating credit market in both China and Australia is beginning to loom over us; are we up to scratch? Is your investment portfolio exposed to China, and if so, how much? Comically, there is a suggestion in the press that we should begin exporting baby milk and this will in some way compensate for the reduction of mining exports. Ask yourself, is this a real solution and is it long lasting? Can’t the Chinese make their own high quality milk formula in the future? It is not like Iron, it doesn’t come from the ground.

Ironically, one of the largest peer to peer lending markets is China, maybe we should import more of their ideas and technology than export our natural resources.

Finding the capital to kick-start your business – invoice financing

Starting a small business can be one of the most exhilarating experiences a person can undertake, which is in part due to the risks and challenges that stand before you. Once you’ve made the decision to tackle the challenge and begin your journey, it becomes quite urgent for you to be able to get your hands on a lot of capital. Unfortunately, not many people share the same enthusiasm that you have with your business and won’t be eager to hand over their funds to help you out. But why is it easier for big businesses to receive massive loans, whilst your smaller loan is mulled over by the big banks?

Bigger businesses are less likely to fail

How has a business grown big? By being successful. Successful businesses generally equal a healthy cash flow. With clear profit results, it’s a lot easier to convince a bank to lend you money. It’s like going to a horse race and having an untried two-year-old take on the defending champ. If you were a gambler, you would go with the tried and tested choice. At the end of the day, as exciting as a new talent is, potential doesn’t mean bills will be paid on time.

Fixed Cost

One of the problems that is completely out of your hands is the cost associated with a loan. Some of the costs are the same, whether you are borrowing a hundred thousand or a million dollars. Because of this, obviously a bank’s margin will be higher on the larger loan. This one is completely out of your hands, and we wouldn’t recommend you borrow more just to appease your bank.

Expensive evaluation

It is much harder to obtain a small business’s records for analysis. This could be because they haven’t been well kept, aren’t available to the public or aren’t exceptionally flattering. Without a certain degree of transparency, you are again deemed to be an excessive risk, simply because the money lender doesn’t know what it’s getting itself into. This factor you can control, but it may not help you if the numbers aren’t on your side either.

Even if you do manage to secure a loan, the process is nowhere near as quick as a larger competitor. This is why more and more small businesses are looking to marketplace lending, peer to peer lending or debt crowdfunding as their new solution.

Leveraging invoice financing to fuel business growth

Cash flow can make or break a small business. You don’t have hundreds of other customers to fall back on to pay their invoice and get you out of a tight spot. You need all of your customers to be pulling their weight, and paying their invoices as they become due. That’s in an ideal world, and more often than not, the business world is not ideal. You have to be ahead of the game and think outside of the box to get your hands on your hard earned money to grow to your full potential. This is where debtor or invoice financing comes into its’ own.

You can rely on your sales

Big businesses gain their security through their assets. Their multimillion dollar property would be the most obvious example. You don’t have that (yet) so your sales really are the life blood of your business. Relying on your own hard work, rather than a non-current asset will grow your business at the appropriate rate for you.

Your business grows with you

When businesses survive the initial startup, they can fail in the growth stage. Success can allow a bank to lend you too much money, which can prove to be too much of a temptation for some. Invoice financing controls the growth at which you are expanding. You don’t have to predict growth; you can only expand as your bank account does. Invoice financing is a much safer option; especially if this is the first time you’ve created a startup. Invoice financing doesn’t mean you have to give away your customers. Your customers will realise that you are funding your business and still you as the supplier. A good invoice financing solution will result in improved customer relations as there is more communication with them by you and the invoice financing solution provider.

You don’t have to offer discounts

A strategy many businesses utilise to guarantee early payment is a discount. You are essentially underselling your product in exchange for an earlier return. With debtor financing or invoice financing, you’re guaranteed the cash flow, and can now afford yourself the luxury of time to receive full payment. This way you are not undervaluing yourself, and receiving the full payment which is rightfully yours.

Personal relief

This one is possibly the reason that will allow you to sleep a lot easier at night. Your personal property won’t have to be used to help finance your tougher times. If you’ve had an exceptionally busy month, which will take a few months to recover all of your payments, two months can be a very long time for your business to live on promises. Instead of having to delve into your own pockets, your invoice financing will leap to your rescue, and ensure you live to fight another day.

Don’t go for a quick solution

When you start looking for invoice or debtor financing, what you are essentially seeking is someone to buy your invoices with ease, without administration hurdles and most importantly at a competitive price. You may find that there are many different solutions that may look cheap at the time of offering, but when you take into account service fees, selection criteria and the short-term nature of their financing, you will find there are only a few offerings that make sense. What makes marketplace lending or peer to peer lending solution of debtor or invoice financing attractive is that you set the term, the rate you are willing to pay and also there are no hidden fees. Your investors are your peers, not some large multinational that may leave you when the times change or they have a restructure or strategy rethink. With marketplace lending you get to say these are my terms and invest now to take advantage of a great opportunity, not what are your terms and can you please lend. More importantly, marketplace lending sets you up for the future because you build an investor base that supports you in your business.

Administration

The biggest downfall of many small businesses is that when they start out, they have only a few people doing tasks or they do it all themselves, but as they grow the administration tasks expand and leave these people bogged down with administration tasks. This is where Marketlend, a well establish marketplace lender also known as a peer to peer lender, not only assists you with the improved cashflow with debtor financing or invoice financing, but also handles all the collections, payments and legal processes.

For more information check out  Marketlend  or call them on 0280066798.

The Danger of “Status Quo”, Credit Card Surcharges, and Interest Rate gouging

Why it is important to stop anti-competitive behaviour in its tracks?

Humans are strange; we are so very opposed to change before it happens and shortly after it happens, but after some time has passed, we quickly adapt. We forget why we are angry, and accept it. This is dangerous behaviour.

Banks, like any institution, hold a lot of clout, politically and financially. An oligarch or four banks governs Australia’s finance, and Australians have grown to accept their behaviour. The banks tell us their questionable behaviour is for “the minimization of risk, and the stability of the sector”, and we accept that. Similarly, many merchants have been abusing their ability to charge credit card surcharges, gouging consumers who choose to use credit.
Over the last few months, the Government began to crack down on this behaviour. So have the people. We realize the ridiculousness of these status quos. Most recently, Westpac has placed an increase of 20 basis points onto their consumer mortgage accounts. This was implemented after the RBA made several interest rate cuts in the last year; the most recent being an interest rate cut in May by 25 basis points, down to 2%. In the same vein, Government regulators have ordered major banks to increase their capital relative to loans; a method to insure that the banks do not collapse as a result of a housing bust.
Instead of lowering their profits, they have passed the costs of this regulation onto the consumer. I think I speak for most Australians when I say I find this ridiculous.

In contrast to many other OECD countries, Australia is governed by these banking oligarchs. They gobbled up our smaller banks after the GFC and we were left with a sector that lacks any sort of competition. The disparity between term deposit interest payments and mortgage interest payments is shocking and unfair. Lack of competition and complete market dominance almost always leads to inefficient solutions. These are solutions where consumers feel helpless, but have to rely on them. I think this is changing, at least I’d like to hope so.

On a positive note, it doesn’t have to be the businesses that change. In this circumstance, I think the technology is changing. Peer to Peer lending or marketplace lending as it is also known globally is allowing us to access a whole range of financial instruments that weren’t available before, and prices that were not available before.

We’re able to acquire trade credit, debtor financing, personal loans, car loans and business loans on reasonable terms. We’re able to choose from a range of different offers from competing platforms, and choose the most competitive option.

P2P lending is disruptive, and it’s here to stay.

Why P2P facilitators have to have ‘skin in the game’

An un-named regional bank made an unusual statement in an article I read recently;

“Depositors lend them the money, not the individuals.”

 

In my opinion, the comment seems naïve, as I cannot possibly imagine that the majority of depositors see that they are the lenders themselves. The GFC demonstrated that many well-known banks had used depositors’ money to invest into assets that were considerably riskier than what the depositors believed.

 

Many have misconstrued the original concept of P2P lending. In essence, P2P lending is the idea that one party acts as a lender to a stranger, using the facilitators’ guarantee and research as a risk indicator. In contrast, if you are putting money into a fund, a managed investment scheme or debenture scheme, you are not lending to a peer, but you are investing in the facilitator.

 

P2P lending has been a hot topic recently, but it isn’t very clear what the P2P facilitators have invested themselves. By invested, I’m referring to the loss position that they take in the event of a failure of the loan.

 

In a recent interview, the interviewer stated that he believed that a P2P facilitator is unaffected by a recession because they are merely a service provider, not an investor. I corrected him; Marketlend always invests with the investor and takes a first-loss position.

 

It has been proven, over and over again, that a debt facilitator that has their own personal investment within the debts offered, has a lot more tenancy to ensure the realisation or return of those assets in a time of crisis. I refer to this as “skin in the game”.

 

I find that many investors aren’t aware of this, until a crisis occurs. It’s important to draw the fine line between what is and what isn’t having “skin in the game”.

 

Investments into their own personal businesses and provision funds withheld from the borrower, isn’t having “skin in the game”. “Skin in the game” is demonstrating that they have full confidence in the borrower, by using their own money to fund a part of the loan.

 

So when you’re looking at a peer-to-peer investment,  the question you’ll need to ask yourself is:

“What skin in the game does the peer-to-peer lender have?”

 

Many P2P facilitators describe their “loss provision”. It is a very vague and undefined term, thrown around by the facilitator’s marketing consultants. As an investor, don’t be afraid to ask the following questions.

 

How are the loss provision funds obtained, and what is the source of this money? If it’s from the borrower, is it the same money you gave to the borrower? If it is from the margin to be paid to the P2P facilitator, is it a cost that is being added to you? If so, then it is again, your money.

 

P2P lending is lucrative; it is new and exciting. But like anything, make sure you aren’t exposed as an investor. It is very easy to fall into the trap of investing with the facilitator who has the fastest processing time, especially when the economy is doing well.  However you must make sure you research each facilitator and ensure that that they have a loss protection program available.

 

At Marketlend, we invest in every loan and also offer insurance protection to investors if they choose.

 

Every loan has paid on time, and an average of 12% loss protection has been provided on each loan.

The Greek Economic Crisis and Peer to Peer Lending

Commentary
The Greek Economic Crisis:
Greece has experienced a tremendous amount of attention, after the strenuous and frustrating months of negotiation between creditors and the Greek Government have come to a crescendo.
Creditors had given Greece another opportunity for a bailout, under the provision that strict austerity must be practiced. Alternatively, Greece could vote ‘no’ to these provisions, and default on these loans.
The Greek Government put its decision to a referendum. One side, led by the opposition leader, was ‘Yes’, we will adopt austerity and accept the bail-out, and on the other, campaigned heavily by the Greek Prime Minister, was ‘no’, which risks default and exit from the euro-zone.
From the moment that the votes were rallied, and a resounding majority voted ‘no’, Greece had stepped into uncharted, yet dangerous waters. It has an opportunity to create history, and hold its own destiny in its hands, a dangerous, yet empowering situation.
Businesses and institutions are struggling to manage, as imports become increasingly harder to obtain, the entire country is strapped for cash, and more importantly the political effects of default will soon resonate throughout the euro-zone, potentially leading to Greek exit. This has led to shockwaves in the world economy, as the Australian dollar fell to a six-year low, and almost all major economies were negatively affected.
Investors have a big question mark over their heads. What does this mean for them? The Greek Economic crisis highlights the importance of independence and information in investing. Investors should know where their money is going, and it is very easy to lose sight of this idea when you are investing.
Peer to peer lending platforms, like MarketLend, and other P2P lending hubs show the importance of this idea. Banks, Governments and Politicians are not always secure, typically not transparent and it is the unknown that seems to surprise us.
Statements we are hearing from super fund participants are “I didn’t know my fund was at risk, or took risks in countries where I would not invest”. To a lot of those funds, the answer is simply it is all interconnected. But how do you know?”
Investing and transparency should go hand in hand, so that you can invest knowing the risks. It’s in situations like these, it comes to be known that directly investing is favourable because you can know your risk. Peer to peer lending offers such investments.

Financial System Reform – Recommendation 18- facilitate crowdfunding for debt – SME finance – Marketlend well poised for the future.

Financial System Review - click for the full report

Government should continue its current process to graduate the fundraising regime to facilitate securities-based crowdfunding. This would enable entities to make public offers of securities to a potentially large number of people (the ‘crowd’). The risks associated with crowdfunding investments would require some adjustments to consumer protections, including capping individuals’ investments and clearly communicating the risks.

Government should then use the policy settings for securities as a basis to assess wider fundraising and lending regulation to ensure it facilitates other forms of crowdfunding, including peer-to-peer lending.

A range of crowdfunding models are emerging globally. Crowdfunding facilitates the funding of projects or businesses, where small amounts of money are raised from the ‘crowd’ via an online facilitator (or platform).68 Financial crowdfunding models include:

  • Securities-based crowdfunding, where the ‘crowd’ invests in an issuer in exchange for securities — either equity (crowd-sourced equity funding, CSEF) or debt.69
  • Peer-to-peer lending, where an online intermediary facilitates lending between individuals, often in the form of unsecured personal loans, potentially to fund a business.70

Objectives

  • Graduate fundraising regulation to facilitate innovations in fundraising emerging from new technologies and ensure policy settings are consistent across funding methods.
  • Provide firms, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with additional funding options.

 

Financial Reform Recommendations for allowing the development of crowdfunding options for business to access

Article by Neil Slonim – Financial Reform Report released on 7 December 2014

If adopted, the financial reform recommendations made by the team headed up by businessman David Murray could usher in some of the biggest changes to Australia’s banking system in recent history.

The recommendations are broad, but the key ones impacting small business are those calling for super funds to drop their prices and the government to relax rules around governing crowdfunded equity.

The big banks will be required to hold much more common equity capital against their mortgage business if the inquiry’s recommendations are adopted, while financial planners would need to hold a relevant tertiary degree and be able to prove their competence in managing superannuation.

The inquiry has recommended a ban on self-managed super funds borrowing to buy assets and says the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, should be granted more power to crack down on white collar crime.

Numerous professional bodies expressed their support for the recommendations yesterday, including CPA Australia, whose chief executive Alex Malley said in a statement that the report “addresses some of the fundamental issues facing Australia’s financial system and signposts some of the critical work that needs to be done”.

“Recommendations for allowing the development of crowdfunding options for businesses to access, the establishment of a new ‘innovation collaboration’ and an emphasis on removing unnecessary regulatory impediments to innovation all have the potential to help business prosper,” said Malley.

However, SME banking expert Neil Slonim says that the 2.1 million small Australian businesses have missed out.

Slonim, who heads up advisory firm ‘The Banking Doctor’ told SmartCompany the report’s lack of specific recommendations relating to the SME banking sector is “disappointing”.

“There was really nothing specific in the 44 recommendations that related to SMEs and startups, other than a generic statement that the inquiry wants to encourage the development of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, which would potentially give SMEs more funding options than they currently have,” says Slonim.

“But other than that, there is really very little if anything else in the inquiry that would give SMEs hope they would get better access to funding.”

Slonim says the two key banking issues facing SMEs are a lack of access to finance and the need for greater competition between the big four banks.

“The inquiry makes some recommendations that would level the playing field between the big four banks and smaller providers of mortgage finance, which will help the consumer sector, there is nothing similar for SMEs,” he says.

“There is a lack of genuine competition between the big four banks, which control more than 80% of the marketplace, in an environment in which it is very difficult for smaller players to compete for SME business.”

And while the Murray report recommends that the government extend protections from unfair contracts for SME loans, Slonim says that “assumes” small businesses are able to sign a contract with a lender in the first place.

Slonim believes it is likely the government will adopt most of the recommendations contained in the Murray report, but says there will be another period of consultation with Treasury before the government officially responds at the end of March 2015.

“Joe Hockey will now be lobbied by all and sundry, particularly the banks” he says.

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