In this New Year Special I’ll survey the state of the art and present a report card for each of the main Fintech sectors – P2P, Bitcoin, Blockchain, Money, App-only banks, Insuretech, Digital I.M., Regtech, Payments and a deeper dive into the leading AI of 2017. We also examine the broader context for Fintech – namely US Tech Giants who had a seismic shift in 2017.
No awards as such this year but plenty of honourable mentions and a host of goodies for those of you in search of new ideas.
Data is the new oil ‘innit. Fintechs use it by the bucketload don’t they? Incumbents are slow off the blocks aren’t they? What if a lot of this is simply not true? What if its hype and spin? What is the reality?
We are joined today by Max Pell CEO of Validis a Fintech based in London and Austin Texas who seamlessy connect data in SME end systems to your hot sexy Fintech or solidly engineered incumbent. Clients include Barclays, RBS, most of the Big4 accountants and a number of Fintechs so Max is well placed to talk about what is actually going on.
What if the world isn’t as we have been led to believe? What if the reality is that many Fintechs are focuse don being marketing machines and are not that data rich? Eg and esp in P2P. Well that hooked me as I have long felt/intuited/been winked at that all these quotes complex unqotes credit models are not actually – er – complex.
What if the reality was that in new FS and old FS organisations have actually, away from the PR froth and hype, only started putting their toes in the shallow end let alone actually swimming?
What if (as Louise Beaumont was saying in LFP087) most organisations haven’t grasped the strategic implications of data?
Can we (as Snowden and more senior ex spy-industry have argued) have too much data? Can we then start to lose the wood in the trees?
Much Fintech (online wealth managers qv) is just “putting lipstick on a pig” – digitising existing processes at oldskool prices. No-one can say this about CrossLend who securitise loans ~200,000 times cheaper than oldskool prices and securitise down to one single loan as small as €1,500 :-!
Furthermore oldskool securitisation has all too often been a metaphor for investment bankers taking a huge chunk of value out of a package of assets and slicing and dicing the residual into complex tranches that even bamboozle the ratings agencies. With catastrophic effects – 2008 & CDO-squareds qv.
CrossLend has grown to a team of around 45 people, based in Berlin and Luxembourg and work across Europe – Germany, Netherlands, Spain, UK, Norway, Finland.
Conrad was on the show back in LFP020 since when he has built Funding Options (strapline “your free marketplace for business finance”) into one of the most successful London Fintechs. They were chosen as one of three UK government mandated SME Referral Portals, are the largest of those by an order of magnitude, increased revenue fourfold last year, are on target to triple again this year as well as being on target to be the UK’s largest introducer of working capital finance.
Funding Options essential task/service is lining up all the many SME borrowers out there with relevant sources of Finance. A task made all the harder by the plethora of lenders and the many types of lending finance available.
Trade Finance is one of those less media-highlighted but vital areas of the economy – it really is the oil in the engine of international trade. It’s one of those “how hard can it be” areas where it turns out quite a lot of wrinkles make it more of a speciality field than it might be. One can presume that this is due to it being an ancient business, after all finance was needed for the silk road and all other routes and merchant banking had its origins in international trade.
TradeRiver were founded in 2011 and have provided over £100m of working capital finance to businesses in the UK. They provide UK businesses with a unsecured line of revolving trade finance to fund purchases of goods or services within 24 hours, both worldwide and in the UK. Facilities can vary from £100k up to £5million. They recently opened an office in Baltimore to serve the US market.
Being a digital player their aim is to be quick, simple and paperless (more rare than you might imagine in Trade Finance).
I am delighted to be joined today by Guy Willans, Trade River’s COO whose varied career – from Sandhurst, working around the world, an AIM listed dot-com, importing, sales and twelve years at HSBC et al certainly provide a rich enough background to discuss Trade Finance in the round and in context.
We all know that buying a property in the UK is a nightmare, that property prices are through the roof, that a first time buyer in London has an average age of 39 and that the “Bank of Mum and Dad” now has to contribute to around a third of first time purchases. Yet most folks in the UK are owner-occupiers and have to go through this.
How can Fintech help?
I’m delighted to be joined today by Alex Michelin, a former investment banker turned highly successful property developer, who not only has been immersed in this for over 15yrs but who recently founded CapitalRise a Fintech property portal. The team of eight at CapitalRise has over 75yrs of direct retail investment experience between them and the co-founders Alex and Andrew Dunn, who have acquired, developed and sold over £1bn of real estate. CapitalRise has been spun out of the highly successful top-of-the-market luxury property developers Finchatton.
Given the “challenges” (<coughs>) of the UK property market how can Fintech help? Before we get to that Alex sets the scene with an overview of all the many ways one can get exposure to UK property. So by the time we get to Fintech y’all should have a good idea of where it fits in, what it disrupts and its potential relevance to you.
“Everyone” frets over financial advice in the Fintech Age. Regulators set out to “protect the consumer”, worthy bodies talk no end about the need to protect “people” (never themselves oddly – generally they imply (/mean) folks of lesser education/wealth) and the rest of us are just confused over the labyrinthine rules around tax, savings and investments.
Needless to say a myriad on rules and regulations and the implicit costs of this suprastructure all act together in a Kafkaesque way to produce the opposite result – known as “the advice gap”.
In Fintechland breathless media and PR firms high on sugar, caffeine and other stimulants promise us a golden era of so-called “roboadvice”.
How to make sense of all this?
I am delighted to be joined today by Dan Kiernan Research Director at Intelligent Partnership “the UK’s leading provider of research, training and events on Alternative Investments” to cut through all this and to give us insights into why advisers are not recommending eg P2P to their clients when it has outperformed bank deposits for more than a decade.
Reformation or refactoring of banking is the Holy Grail of the Fintech Revolution. Do that and the revolution is a big deal. Get nowhere near and its all rather marginal. So-called challenger banks have ended up rather same-y. Will “App-only” banks end up going down the same route forced my micro-regulation and micro-supervision into the same tight mould. Or will they somehow remain within the constraints of the mould but somehow break it at the same time?
Its that paradox that faces Tom Blomfield CEO and founder of Monzo Bank. (and co-founder back in the day of GoCardless who were on the show in LFP046) A long way towards full authorisation as a bank will they become merely “me-too” or will they refactor banking as we know it?
I have been an interested spectator on the sidelines for come time wondering which way the ball will bounce. At Lendit Europe 2016 I finally succumbed and took one of Tom’s pre-paid Mastercards – not least as which they offer wholesale exchange rates abroad and I was just off on holiday. It’s actually quite cool and more useful than expected. Certainly one gets a clear idea of what its like to feel like the business is really focusing on you as a customer-centric organisation with great design and service.
But back to the big picture – will Tom change the mould or will the mould change Tom?
2016 is the year Fintech realised it had to aim for making a profit. Very few do and for the tiny handful that do its mostly “minimal”. Solving this problem is absolutely vital for the Fintech revolution. This is the story of a Fintech that has done just that – satisfying customers, staff and shareholders. Blue Motor Finance has gone from 12 to 100 staff, 0 to 40 people “on the road”, £0 to £200+m loans, and £0 to seven-figure profits in just two years. A phenomenal achievement, and by a firm not widely known in the broader Fintech world.
So listen up and find the real secrets of balanced Fintech success as CEO and founder Bob Jones shares how a lifetime’s lessons (having been in asset finance for over 50 yrs) has enabled him to reach these goals.
Bob has been a CEO of some big companies, many of which he turned round. An management buy-in provided a bridge from the top roles in BigCo to starting from scratch and leveraging all that experience.
After organising nearly 1,000 folks in the O2 for Europe’s largest P2P conference ever I managed to grab Peter long enough to have a fascinating tour of the globe and P2P sitrep in the three major hubs.
Peter Renton has perhaps has more of a broad and deep understanding of P2P worldwide than anyone.
When he first came on the show way back in LFP015 he shared with us the fascinating history of US P2P with its hugely up and down roller-coaster road.
Since then he has created the world’s go-to conferences on P2P in the US, China and Europe which gives him a unique insight into what’s what and where.
It’s a big world and P2P is a vast domain these days so there is plenty to discuss. Key topics are: Continue reading →