News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

Young woman whispers in friend's ear

1.UK – FinTech 

Finextra reports: 

 

“UK fintech PensionBee is working with PrimaryBid to give its customers first dibs on its putative London listing. 

The company, which has over £1.2bn in assets under administration from over 65,000 invested customers, is exploring a listing on the High Growth Segment of the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market - currently home to just one other company, Just Eat.

PensionBee is to use its Open API to connect interested customers’ accounts to PrimaryBid, the LSE-backed retail investor platform, should the company take the plunge.” 

 

 

2. UK - FinTech 

 

Another new digital entrant to the banking space, reported by AltFi. 

 

Tandem’s transformation over the last few years has been mighty confusing, but things at the bank seem to be settling down, as demonstrated by the launch of its ‘green’ savings account on Friday. 

As a reminder, Tandem arrived back in 2016 with plans to build a digital bank—plans which were subsequently derailed by a failed funding round, Tandem acquiring Harrods Bank to secure a banking licence, launching a range of credit cards, then cutting said credit cards after a switch to subscription pricing flopped. 

Today Tandem is reinventing itself as a ‘green digital bank’ following its acquisition of Allium Lending Group last September, and buying up £44.6m in unsecured consumer loans from Honeycomb and a £100m mortgage book from Bank and Clients. 

On Friday Tandem launched a highly competitive 0.5 per cent easy access savings account, which it says is just part of a full suite of ‘green’ products being rolled out.” 

3. International – FinTech 

The Fintech Times runs an opinion piece from a Swiss crypto frontrunner:

 

“Back in 2013, SoftSwiss was the first company in the world to introduce an online crypto casino solution. Now eight years on, and having been present in the iGaming market for over a decade, the company is still keen to innovate at every step of the way. 

Here, SoftSwiss founder Ivan Montik shares his thoughts on the development of the online crypto casino market, as well as the key trends and opportunities it might face in the near future. 

At the beginning of 2020, the forecast for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency as a whole did not look so promising due to a prolonged price slump and a severe rise in crypto crime. 

However, due to COVID-19 destabilising the global economy and marketplace in March 2020 and turning everybody’s heads mostly online, it all was a game-changer for crypto. By the end of 2020, Bitcoin skyrocketed to new highs as a serious concern of macroeconomic instability drove investors toward the cryptocurrency.” 

4. International - FinTech 

Crowdfundinsider runs coverage of a new report on microlending: 

 

“global micro-lending market is projected to reach a valuation of $343.84 billion by 2027, according to a new report. 

The expected increase in adoption of microlending in developing countries may improve consumers’ lifestyle or standard of living. The anticipated shift from traditional lending to micro lending may reduce operational costs and lower market risks, the report noted. 

Based on providers, the banking segment held the “major share” in 2019. By region, the market across the APAC area should remain “lucrative” during the forecast period (until 2027). 

As mentioned in the report by Allied Market Research (AMR), the global microlending market was valued at around $134.35 billion in 2019 and is on track to surpass the $340 billion mark by 2027 (a CAGR of 12.6% from 2020 to 2027). 

As noted in the report: 

“High interest on small amounts and shorter repayment [schedules] … by micro lenders [could] restrain the growth to some extent. [But the] adoption of advanced technology in micro financing is projected to create lucrative opportunities in the near future.” 

While highlighting some key developments, as they may relate to the Covid-19 outbreak, the report from AMR confirmed that the pandemic led to the shutdown of many micro and small businesses. This has negatively affected the global microlending market, the report added. 

It also mentioned that the worldwide pandemic situation also “hampered the cash flow of several business operations, which in turn paved the way for lucrative opportunities for the frontrunners in the industry.” 

The AMR report further noted that the Micro Finance Institute (MFI) segment may register the fastest CAGR of 14.0% from 2020 to 2027. 

Based on end-users, the small enterprises’ segment represented almost 40% of the total market revenue during 2019 and is projected to grow steadily until 2027 (at least). Notably, the solo entrepreneurs or self-employed segment on track to record the fastest CAGR of 13.9% during the forecast period.’ 

 

5. International - FinTech 

 

An opinion piece on independently distributed digital scarcity (aka cryptos) in AltFi: 


“Watching the price of Bitcoin go up while tweeting rocket emoji is fun, but restructuring the incentives that govern how we trade and collaborate could reshape society for the next thousand years. 

Every few years the price of bitcoin jumps by an obscene amount in a matter of weeks. It's hard to predict when it will happen next (or whether it will ever happen again), but when the price of bitcoin hits the front pages two things are guaranteed.  

The first is that each of us will torture ourselves with some quick mental maths on how much we could have made had we only followed through with our plans to buy some more crypto with last year's birthday money.  

The second is that journalists will manage to find a few more unlucky souls who lost their private keys eight years ago and make them relive their anguish in the public eye. Most of us will have a cry, have a chuckle, and get back to our lives. 

Yet this would be to miss the point. Bitcoin and other cryptoassets represent more than just a sci-fi penny stock that refuses to die. Cryptoassets have the potential to reshape how humans participate in productive society fundamentally. There are myriad hurdles still to be overcome, but the genie is out of the bottle. 

The internet and the digital revolution have changed everything. By encoding information in electrons, we can trade ideas and information with anyone in the world at lightning speed for zero marginal cost. This has supercharged our ability to collectively get smarter and collaborate on building the amazing things we have in the world. But replicating information at zero marginal cost means that we can't inherently capture real world value.  

Things in the real world are scarce—they cost time and resource to create and replicate. Things in the digital world are not scarce—they cost nothing to replicate. In order to put real world value in the digital world we need to replicate its inherent scarcity, and we entrust organisations to do this. It would theoretically cost my bank nothing to add a few zeros to the end of my current account balance, but that would break the whole system of trust. 

The system of trust usually works. We put trustworthy people in regulated environments so that they won't steal from anyone. Sometimes, however, the people connive against us (famously Bernie Madoff). Sometimes, they change the rules on us (like blocking us from trading $GME). More importantly, the people we trust are also the gatekeepers to progress. If we want to change the way a network is run, we need to convince those in charge to give us permission. These are closed ecosystems. 

On the other hand, open ecosystems have created the vast majority of the innovation in the world over the last fifty years. Because nobody needs anyone's permission to write code and share it with others on the internet, we've seen an explosion in amazing digital services that have put a rocket under human productivity. Anything involving value and money, however, has, for the most part, remained behind closed ecosystems because to open it up would make it too easy to cheat, until crypto came along. 

Creating distributed digital scarcity is the fundamental premise behind why crypto is so interesting. For the first time, we're able to ascribe real world value to digital assets without a central gatekeeper's control (or protection). We're effectively able to create 'permissionless' financial lego bricks governed by encoded and tamper-proof incentive structures that anyone can see, scrutinise, and replicate. 

This means nobody can steal (at least not on-chain), nobody can suddenly change the rules, and anyone can run experiments. The incentives become wildly different to those we know today. Our current hierarchy of centralised power formed as a necessity of the physical world. 

For thousands of years, it was harder to protect value from bandits' violence than to create value in the first place. We quickly figured out that we would need institutions to wield legitimate violence and protect us from the bandits if we wanted to incentivise participation in productive society. 

In the digital world the things we create are no longer subject to the same threats, so we can start to re-assess our need for the structures we've long taken for granted. That's certainly worth paying attention to.”