Category Archives: Fintech Services

Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry Partner

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NCFA Canada | June 11, 2020

Hub and Co joins NCFA as an industry partner - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry Partner

TORONTO and WATERLOO, June 11, 2020:  The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA) is pleased to announce that Hub & Company has  joined NCFA as an industry partner.

NCFA's industry partners are builders, investors and  innovators who have  provided a significant level of service and/or contribution towards the sustainability and  growth  of NCFA and  related fintech  sectors globally. We encourage the fintech  ecosystem to support and  collaborate with NCFA's global  network  of industry  partners by engaging directly with their ventures of mutual interest.

Hub & Company, headquartered in Waterloo, is a venture studio and consultancy that helps you launch, grow or build your organization to attract the next generation of digital natives with integrated, analytical and unique strategies that promote hyper-virality and scale. Our team has extensive experience in growing brands, building products, and fundraising to meet the ever-evolving needs of new markets, platforms and channels.

"Amongst technologists it is clear that the world of digital finance is the future, the trouble lies in creating and communicating financial products that are relevant to consumers.”

               – Olivier Szczepaniak, Managing Partner, Hub & Company

 

"At it's core, Huband.co represent the future of your canvas.  A forward thinking and adaptable venture studio driven by Gen Z innovators and technologists...we're very excited to see where this partnership can go!"

               – Craig Asano, Founder and  CEO, NCFA

 

 

The best place to connect and get more information is at huband.co

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NCFA Interview with Olivier Szczepaniak, Managing Partner at Hub & Company

What excites you most about digital assets and decentralized finance?

It seems most of the innovations in the startup ecosystem could be classified as innovations of convenience. They tend to automate workers on the periphery doing menial tasks, digital assets, and decentralized finance can automate away the centre. Instead of putting the taxi drivers out of a job, digital assets and decentralized finance can put Uber out of a job and put the power into the hands of the taxi drivers. I find the potential of creating novel incentive structures most exciting.

 

Where do you see this industry going in 5-10 years?

There has been a tremendous amount of unbundling in the fintech space, everyone is now offering a bunch of different product lines, and around narrow wedges like payday loans and payment financing. I think we’re reaching a point where it will become overwhelming for consumers to keep up with 10 different apps to manage their money. Thus, I think there will be a re-bundling. It may look like something akin to a “super app,” like we see in the Asian market with Grab or Alipay. It could be the return of more robust personal finance management apps. Or it could happen through automation (ex. Tally which consolidates credit card debt). Fintech seems to be maturing and slowly becoming saturated. CAC is going through the roof, and mindshare is getting harder to come by. I believe that this will lead to the rise of embedded finance. Uber, SmileDirectClub, and Shopify are amongst the first to add financial products to their offering. However, flexible payments and insurance are the tip of the iceberg. I foresee brands like Nike or even Fortnite, that have a deep brand loyalty will start to become big players because they have a natural entry point. If more brands start adding fintech as a feature, all these companies will need infrastructure. I expect more investing dollars will go toward these companies that will help them manage compliance, fraud and other building blocks.

The big winners over the next 5-10 years will be companies who embrace the need for a better user experience for the end user, whether that be in international markets or domestically. Digital assets and democratized finance have come a long way, but the industry seems to just be warming up, and at Hub & Co we can’t wait to see where things go.

 

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges with Fintech in Canada and how can industry, government and key stakeholders best lead the way for a sustainable and successful future?

I’m long Canadian talent, short Canadian regulation. Our financial regulation is great for stability but often inhibits startups ability to move quickly. In a global competitive landscape this can be catastrophic. It would be great to see more innovation tracks in our regulatory system.

 

 

# # #

 

About NCFA

The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

About Hub & Company

Founded in 2019, Hub & Company is a venture studio and consultancy that works with companies looking to improve their bottom-lines, public images, corporate strategies, or products. We built our organization on the foundation of partnership and realized that with the collaboration of a large number of successful individuals, students, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and organizational strategists, we could help our clients grow quickly. For more information at Hub & Company, please visit: https://huband.co

 

 


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Ethereum Co-Founder’s Firm Starts Compliance Service for Tokens

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Bloomberg | Olga Kharif | Jun 8, 2020

Joseph Lubin consensys - Ethereum Co-Founder’s Firm Starts Compliance Service for Tokens

Key Points

  • ConsenSys know-your-customer product will focus on DeFi
  • Automated system will track 280,000 tokens issued on Ethereum

ConsenSys Inc., which is seeking to transform itself into a full-service software provider for the Ethereum network, is releasing an automated service for catching crypto’s bad guys.

Headed by one of Ethereum’s co-founders, Joseph Lubin, the New York-based company is rolling out a product focused on the know-your-customer regulatory compliance requirements that have proved to be a headache for many cryptocurrency firms.

“There are more and more people building decentralized apps that need this as a Lego piece,” said Lex Sokolin, an executive at ConsenSys in London. “What we are trying to do is make activity on the decentralized financial infrastructure much more safe, transparent, much easier to trace.”

With traditional payments, banks and companies like Visa Inc. keep a watch out for activities like money laundering. In cryptocurrency, know-your-customer policies have been varied and spotty -- a problem particularly as authorities are increasingly raising scrutiny.

See: 

Many crypto exchanges have hired third-party compliance and analytics providers such as Chainalysis Inc. and CipherTrace Inc. to help them determine if a particular customer and batch of coins may be related to hacks or criminal activity.

ConsenSys is entering the crowded compliance market hoping that its singular focus on just one digital-coin payment network -- Ethereum, where most tokens are issued -- will help. Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, is the “native” currency of the decentralized platform.

ConsenSys will be able to analyze transactions relating to more than 280,000 coins that have been issued on Ethereum. It will focus on exchanges and so-called decentralized finance companies, which enable lending and borrowing and other financial functions by using automated software that have become known as smart contracts.

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Is this the new face of Generation Z banking?

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Sifted | Isabel Woodford | Jun 10, 2020

Zelf - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry PartnerForget fancy apps and metal cards. A new breed of "messenger banks" are breaking onto the scene.

We’ve seen challenger banks for teens; we’ve seen pocket money apps for tweens; and now, Europe’s youngsters are getting a “messenger bank” — an encrypted chatbot that manages users’ finances and sends money via Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and Viber.

The fintech behind the venture is called Zelf and is on the cusp of launching, having signed up 350,000 users to its waiting list across France and Spain since April.

Unlike its fellow neobanks, Zelf has no app and no physical card. It also has no “offboarding” — meaning users can’t withdraw funds once inside. Instead, users will be able to transfer money to other ‘Zelfers’ or shop via a virtual Mastercard, which integrates with Apple Pay and Google Pay (allowing both online and offline shopping).

See:  Fintech Firms Fight Friction To Disrupt Banks

Unorthodox as this many sound, the company’s executives are no amateurs. Founded by an alumnus of Deutsche Bank, Barclays Capital and BNP Paribas, its team understands traditional finance — they simply want to rewrite the rules to meet the needs of a generation it reportedly ‘gets’.

So is this the new future of banking? Or is this a long-shot, that’s overly reliant on the goodwill of Big Tech and security short-cuts?

Friction-free banking

There’s no doubting Zelf’s speed.

It takes seconds — literally — to open an account. After clicking on a launch link, a new conversation with Zelf pop opens on WhatsApp or Facebook and promptly issues users their own IBAN account number and virtual card, which they can transfer money to and ‘top up’.

Users don’t even need to prove their identities until they’ve spent or received over £150, in what the company calls a “light KYC [know you customer]” approach. Zelfers can, therefore, get up and running almost immediately — even if they aren’t over 18 — without leaving their favoured app.

In comparison, setting up a new bank account requires a visit to the app store, an average of three days, and at least 24 clicks to onboard and receive a working card.

Zelf is not only speedy to sign up to, however. It also fixes the burden of having to jump across multiple financial apps to send money.

“These [social media] apps are where people spend 65%-84% of their screen time… so we haven’t built our own app by design. We want to make it more frictionless, just like sending a message,” Zelf founder Elliot Goykhman told Sifted in an interview, speaking from his native Russia.

“Let’s say you were talking to your sister on Facebook, you can send the money you owe her straight on there… She can even sign up directly on Facebook,” he notes. Even modern banking apps like France’s Lydia create new pain-points by prompting a download and a lengthy signup process, he argues. 

See:  Neobanks Can’t Fight the COVID-19 “Flight to Quality”

Indeed, as long as users can convince all their peers to sign up to Zelf, there’s no doubt it could make peer-to-peer money transfer in Europe far easier – inspired by China’s ‘messenger bank’, WeChat. It also possibly speaks to Gen Zs and millennials’ short attention spans — an average of 8 seconds and 12 seconds respectively (apparently).

Fintech consultant Aman Kohli argues there’s likely a winning banking model lying within.

“From a ‘go to where your customers are’ perspective, this is right, and allows simple and direct interaction with customers. The more powerful [social media] platforms can give interaction as good as an app… [So] it will free up banks and others from doing half-hearted, limited functionality app,” he told Sifted. “I would consider [using] it.”

A fully virtual experience could certainly hold appeal for digital innate millennials — especially in the gaming world.

Zelf also acknowledges the fact that not everyone uses Facebook and our contacts are spread across different platforms, says Oxford University professor Pinar Ozcan, who teaches on fintech innovation at the Said Business School.

“This is probably a good attempt. It takes advantage of the fact social media are owned by different entities. So if it works seamlessly without opening different accounts, that would be interesting,” she tells Sifted.

See:  Fidelity-backed crypto security startup Fireblocks launches ‘Secure Asset Transfer Network’

Notably, India’s Kotak Mahindra Bank and ICICI have already introduced a basic WhatsApp chatbot so clients can check their balance. Meanwhile, Zelf also began as a white-label provider for Russia’s MTS bank before branching out itself — suggesting this space is proving popular even among big institutions.

Trusting a faceless bank

Zelf’s enviably low cost-base is a badge of honour for the company.

“[We have] no delivery costs, no app support, no branches,” Zelf noted in an email to Sifted, adding it is was “built with profitability in mind”.

Still, it’s unclear if this extraordinarily ‘light touch’ will prove too light for its users. Gen Z — classified as those born after 1996 — are no fools and still require companies to win their trust, says next-generation fintech specialist and investor Yann Ranchere.

“You still need to convince them that you can be trusted. We’ve seen that across some apps, users do still have a genuine care for ‘is it safe,” he tells Sifted.

To guarantee users’ privacy, Zelf also put its faith in social media platforms’ claims to encryption — despite none being independently regulated or validated.

Nonetheless, Zelf — which is currently based in Latvia — has tried to establish its credentials by partnering with external banking platform Treezor, which is connected to Societe Generale. All users’ funds will be housed there, providing a layer of familiarity for those who read the fine print.

See:  BNY Mellon Report: Global Payments 2020: Transformation and Convergence

Zelf has also focused on implementing a high level of security, offering two-factor-authorisation and SMS-messaging confirmation for payments.

Additionally, although it’s a grey area, it’s within European legislation to do light KYC up to £150. Beyond that, users must text a photo of their ID and proof of address, which Treezor will process on Zelf’s behalf within 24 hours (“We would not be a good tool for illicit activity”). The company, therefore, won’t yet be able to provide full services to under 18s, who need their parents’ permission to complete KYC.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry Partner The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Plaid celebrates 12 months in Europe with an eye towards Open Finance

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AltFi | Oliver Smith | Jun 8, 2020

Keith Grose - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry PartnerA watershed moment, when it eventually arrives.

It’s hard to believe that just 12 months ago Plaid surprise-expanded to Europe with the announcement that it had already helped with the launch of Emma, the financial management app.

Now the US fintech is celebrating its first year in Europe with 30 employees spread across London and Amsterdam offices (albeit with the majority working from home at the moment).

“It’s gone great,” Plaid’s international lead for Europe Keith Grose told AltFi. “I feel like we’ve become ingrained in the tech scene and open banking community.”

Certainly Plaid’s client list has grown quickly to include the likes of British accountancy giant Sage, rental insurance group Canopy, budgeting app Cleo and digital banking giant Monzo is listed on Plaid’s website.

“We’re now well on our way to becoming a European company, as opposed to a division of a US company,” says Grose, adding that Plaid’s decentralised approach means Europe has its own product and engineering team designed to let Grose’s team respond to local needs.

One of those key needs is for open banking providers to deepen their service offerings, including moving into the world of Open Finance—that is, adding data access beyond simply what happens in a person’s bank account.

See:  Open banking would (Canadian help the recovery) 

“Open Finance in general is a topic that I’m personally passionate about, payments and payments data only get you so far,” says Grose.

“Until you have more, you can’t really help people manage their financial lives.”

Open Finance is a watershed moment for Open Banking, opening up these service providers to whole new avenues of data including in our savings, credit cards, loans, mortgages, SME finance, pensions and even digital identity—or at least it will be, when it arrives.

The UK financial regulator’s call for input on setting a new Open Finance standard is open until October, after which point it’s far from clear how long new standards will take.

Last week Plaid published a report on Open Finance with fintech consultancy 11:FS, with the findings based on their joint submission to the FCA’s call for input.

“It’s still going to be a trend where there are winners and losers, but ultimately people are going to be the winners,” says Grose.

“You need to let the market help you,” he adds, a nod towards the US where Plaid helped to open up data in the market by knocking on the doors of big banks and building a one-stop-shop for open banking access.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry Partner The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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How to Improve Your Hiring Process

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Guest Post | Jun 5, 2020

hiring the right person 1 - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry Partner

If you are the owner of a company, hiring staff is an inevitable task you will have to go through no matter what. This process, however, is much more than just going through some resumes and carrying out interviews. It is the starting point for the workforce on whom the future of your company will depend. The workforce of an organization can make or break it and this all depends on the owner for hiring that workforce. If you are finding it difficult it is a good idea to visit a hiring website such as Lensa and refer to their tips for employers.

There are a few steps you can take that will ensure you encourage the right kind of applicants to submit their resumes:

Build a Strong Brand

This refers to building a name for your company by way of brand recognition, replying to reviews, keeping the company’s profile up to date, and being an overall active and involved employer. Building a strong employer brand reduces employee turnover by about 30 percent and encourages individuals to apply in your company and want to stay part of your task force.

Move Quickly and Efficiently

Good job candidates don’t stay available for long as they apply efficiently to a number of companies that are willing to hire them for competitive salary packages. A good employer has to be able to identify these employees and work quickly to hire them before they get snatched by another organization. It is a good idea to keep in touch with them during the hiring process even if you are still debating about hiring them to ensure you stay in their vision and stay available to them as an option during the time you make a decision about them.

List Jobs Accompanied With Good Job Descriptions

Companies often list job descriptions with a list of job responsibilities the applicants will have to carry out once they are hired. However, studies have shown this method deters many candidates from applying for the position.

See:  Helping your Employees Manage their Most Sacred Commodity: Time

Companies are advised to use one of two methods for listing a job one which mentions the benefits the company can provide its employees and the other highlighting the expectations of the company from its employees. These methods encourage the candidates to submit their applications and apply to the job posting.

Find the Right Person for The Job

Most employers while conducting interviews focus on the skill set an individual possesses rather than the personality of the individual and the traits they will be bringing to your company. However, they fail to realize, a skill can be learned but personalities cannot be changed. If the most skilled worker has a personality that can set back your company’s morale they are not a good employee for your company.

Keep Up To Date With Your Reviews

Last but definitely not the least important of steps is to keep an out for employee reviews and employee satisfaction. New employees looking to get hired will often want to get inside information about the treatment they will be receiving once employed by you. therefore, make sure you are taking good care of your current employees so they spread positive reviews instead of negative ones which will deter many possible candidates from applying to your company.

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry Partner The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Banks Took $11 Billion in Overdraft Fees in 2019, Group Says

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The New York Times | | Jun 3, 2020

overdraft bank fees - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry PartnerMore than 80 percent of the fees were paid by just 9 percent of account holders, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

Large U.S. banks took $11.68 billion in overdraft fees out of their customers’ accounts last year, even before the pandemic kicked off an economic crisis, according to research by the Center for Responsible Lending.

Vulnerable people were by far the hardest hit: Nine percent of account holders paid 84 percent of the overdraft fees, according to the review, which focused on banks with assets of more than $1 billion. Those customers tended to carry low balances, averaging less than $350.

The organization said banks should halt overdraft fees during the pandemic, which has led to 40 million new unemployment claims and significant uncertainty about how any recovery will play out.

Peter Smith, a researcher who co-wrote the report, said that overdraft fees were a source of distress for many families even in the best of times and that the coronavirus pandemic only magnified their effects.

“Banks should not experience an unprecedented windfall as the direct result of their customers’ unprecedented distress,” he said.

The group, which supports policies to improve access to the financial system for poor and marginalized groups, urged banks to waive overdraft fees voluntarily, but said it was also backing a proposal to ban such fees during the pandemic.

A spokesman for the American Bankers Association, Mike Townsend, said banks across the country were providing “unprecedented assistance” to customers affected by the pandemic, although the specific actions vary by bank. “This includes fee waivers, deferred payments and other accommodations depending on the customer’s individual circumstances,” he said.

The trade group supplied a list of the banks, many of them regional, that have offered help, including with fee waivers. Some specifically said they were offering to stop overdraft fees for a particular time period, or on a case-by-case basis.

See: 

Overdrafts have already been an issue during the pandemic. Customers of some banks were unable to get access to the full amount of their stimulus payments because they had a negative balance, but other financial institutions made the full payments available to customers even if they had balances that were under zero.

Repeated overdrafts can trigger account closures, amplifying problems for low income consumers — including blacks and Latinos, who are already far more likely to lack access to banking services. In the worst cases, banks used overdraft fees — typically $35 — to strip all the money out of a low-balance account and then closed it, leaving the customer without access to banking services.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry Partner The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Innovate Finance in talks for P2P lenders to receive cheap BoE funding

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Peer2Peer Finance UK | | Jun 3, 2020

BoE - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry PartnerInnovate Finance is representing peer-to-peer platforms in talks about non-bank lenders receiving access to cheap funding from the Bank of England, Peer2Peer Finance News can reveal.

The industry body has argued that without access to the Bank of England’s Term Funding Scheme – which is currently only available to banks – many non-bank lenders have been prevented from delivering the government’s emergency loan schemes.

“We’ve made the case to the government that it’s difficult for P2P lenders to provide emergency loan schemes because they don’t have the same access to cheap funding,” said Iana Vidal, head of policy and government affairs at Innovate Finance.

“I think P2P has a huge role to play in delivering the emergency loan schemes and we’ve been trying to get that across to the government.

See:  European fintech lending industry to hit USD 9.6 billion in 2020

“Part of the purpose of the schemes is to get finance out quickly to SMEs and that’s where fintech and P2P comes into play.

“We think (fintechs) are integral to the conversation and have been saying for a number of weeks that there are some really innovative companies and we should be utilising their technology to support the wider measures out there providing finance to businesses and consumers during this time.

“And we’re fully aware that these interventions from schemes cause customers that usually would have been spread out across many lenders to just use a few institutions. We’re aware of that impact from a P2P viewpoint and generally and are monitoring it.”

P2P lending platforms have welcomed news of the talks.

“It would be brilliant,” said David Bradley-Ward, chief executive of Ablrate.

“Getting access to the cheap funding like banks and levelling the playing field with them would be great. I’ve always been an advocate of alternative finance lenders being on the same level as banks. If anything, banks’ technology is terrible.

See:  Shopify expands capital lending program to help Canadian merchants weather COVID-19

“I’d be up for something like this, but the ultimate issue is suddenly giving P2P lending platforms quick access to finance wholesale would remove the need for retail investors and it wouldn’t be P2P anymore.”

Daniel Rajkumar, managing director of Rebuildingsociety, said that having access to this type of funding would help to fight unfair competition in the marketplace, which at present, is his platform’s largest threat.

“It’s difficult to compete without being able to get access to the credit in the same way banks can get access to capital,” he said.

“It’s really important to get access to Bank of England funding options to remediate unfair competition.”

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Hub & Company Joins NCFA as an Industry Partner The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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