Is it time to declare online lending a fad and head home?


“As stories circulate regarding Lending Club, Prosper and OnDeck that all is not well in the online lending sector, Eyal Lifshitz, CEO of Bluevine, describes why fintech isn’t disappearing anytime soon”

It has been a rough period for online lenders. Lending Club’s woes made the Wall Street Journal’s front page. OnDeck recently missed earnings and revealed lower demand from investors interested in purchasing its loans. Fintech has been a consistent darling among investors, but now many fintech doubters are eager to say “I told you so” as online alternative lenders stumble.

So is it time to declare online lending a fad and head home? Hardly.

Lending Club’s troubles have certainly sent a chill through the fintech world, but the headline-grabbing issue seems to be an isolated incident, not a fundamental flaw in the business model.

Traditional lenders are still taking the segment seriously: OnDeck and JPMorgan Chase signed a high-profile deal, Citi’s venture arm invested in BlueVine, and Wells Fargo recently launched its own online, fast-approval small business lending product. All of these moves validate the basic premise of online alternative lenders: the product experience matters, and there is a profitable segment of businesses and consumers who are willing to pay more for a fast, simple online experience.

Specifically in B2B financing, most of the online lenders started by targeting small businesses which were under the radar of the entrenched banks. This way they established themselves in an under-served market (like BlueVine has done in online invoice financing).

Expect to see more news of new and traditional financial players partnering up in the upcoming years. Big banks are continuing to lose profitable segments of business to online lenders and will want to reclaim this business. But they will also want to grow into the new segments that online lenders have opened up and cross-sell other products. Fintech companies, for their part, will continue to drool over access to banks’ vast existing customer base.

Talking about the future overthrow of the big banks may be great for online lenders’ hype and valuations, but eventually reality sets in. That reality is likely to be a world in which fintech players drive innovation in the space while big and established players give scale to that innovation.

Some banks like JPMorgan Chase may take a partnership approach while others like Wells Fargo build their own competing products. Expect to see some acquisitions, too, as banks attempt to bolt on proven fintech companies.

This plays to the strength of each side: big banks have established regulatory expertise, the back-end “plumbing” that makes the current financial system run, and the ability to cross-sell to their big customer base. Tech-based lenders have built great product experiences and have the agility to quickly refine their product for their target customers.

The disappointing performance of some of the biggest online lending names has proven that it won’t be all rainbows and unicorn (companies), but online alternative financing is here to stay.

 

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With over $125m raised in funding, we asked 6 leading CFO’s/Heads of Finance about the challenges they face at some of Europe’s leading tech businesses?!


“At Yoyo Wallet, we believe a company’s key assets are its people. It is no secret that it is a very competitive market for talent in London, and it is difficult to find the right candidate for the job when you needed someone yesterday. In the midst of rapid growth, it can be easy to neglect the other side of the equation – retaining and nurturing top talent. We at Yoyo are keenly focused on devoting resources to invest and promote our top performers, balancing the agility of a growth start up while building a foundation of talent for long term excellence.”

Min Teo | Director of Strategy and Finance, Yoyo Wallet

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“After fund raising, the challenge turns into preserving cash. First use the cash balance to get a least 3 banking relationships.  Remember, this will be harder to do when you are about to run out of cash. Secondly, invest. For this budget, planning must be reliable in order to pick up the right maturities. However, given current interest rates this may not be that relevant after all. I would then recommend to implement strict cost control / expense management processes. There’s nothing worse than opening the door to dummy spending because there is a feeling rich effect.”

Laurent Descout | CFO, Kantox

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“Like any startup scaling at pace, managing supply and demand on the platform is a constant challenge. At Property Partner we are buying institutional-grade properties across the country on a weekly basis, so the capital flows are substantial. Making the right hires across the business is another big challenge, and the finance team is no exception – at the moment we’re looking for a Senior Finance Analyst. My priority is to grow capacity and resilience as we drive towards our goal of creating a global stock market for property.”

Warren Bath | CFO, Property Partner

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“Our biggest challenge is matching Onfido’s pace of growth with a financial infrastructure that is not only robust, but also scalable and flexible enough to incorporate the company’s international expansion. As a startup, Onfido must make decisions fast and effectively, and the Finance Team should respond quickly to evolving business needs. That requires significant investment in finding the right talent – we need people who feature a rare combination of detail-obsession, resourcefulness and commercial awareness.”

Alex Cram | Finance Director, Onfido

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It was never going to be easy starting a new company that competes directly with the large established financial companies however three particular challenges have been:

  1. Recruiting and building the right team – Finding the right combination of passion and skill is crucial to all startups who are trading on it’s innovation and fast paced development
  2. High growth – A luxury problem sure however scaling a customer base faster than you can say “Now hiring more customer support agents” can be challenging!
  3. Uncertain regulatory environment – With the possibility of Brexit looming, startups face a lot of uncertainty

Laurence Krieger | COO, Revolut

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“Our biggest challenge is being able to maintain the agile company culture and processes, whilst delivering significant growth globally”

Corinne Thompson | Head of Finance, GoCardless

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Five proven ways to get your start-up noticed (in a good way) By Jennifer Janson, owner, Six Degrees and author, The Reputation Playbook


Infographic

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SilverRail’s new London HQ ; Inspiring and collaborative


The remodelled and refurbished Heal’s Building at 1 Alfred Mews in Central London provided a fantastic opportunity for SilverRail to design a new space for the next phase of their growth.

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We asked 12 leading entrepreneurs ‘What would leaving the EU mean for London and the UK’s tech community?’


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Linda Main, Partner at KPMG, sits on the prestigious Tech City advisory panel responsible for identifying the fastest growing and most disruptive tech companies in the UK. With a significant number located in London we asked Linda ‘what do these businesses really need from the next Mayor?’


London

What do tech businesses really need from the next Mayor?

London is home to a thriving population of tech entrepreneurs and innovators thanks to the rise of Tech City and other digital hubs.  The next mayor must take positive action to retain the talent and entrepreneurial spirit that has recently brought so much to London.

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Having witnessed the 2013-14 changeover from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Bill de Blasio and the rapid growth of New York’s tech ecosystem we caught up with Daniel Glazer, Partner at leading international lawyers Fried Frank and asked: What will London’s new Mayor need to do to make our capital the most tech friendly City in the World?!


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Gregor Pryor is one of the Top 100 most influential people in digital media (Wired Magazine) We asked Gregor what London really needs from its next Mayor?!


London has for many years been one of the world’s best cities; a melting pot of art, music, fashion and technology. But if we are to remain a stomping ground for the most exciting creators, innovators and entrepreneurs, the next Mayor of London must sustain and further promote the city’s entertainment and media sector. As Los Angeles, arguably the home of global entertainment, is now witnessing a technology boom, London too has the opportunity to lead the way.

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BloomNation, UrbanStems and The Bouqs have raised over $7.5m in funding in the USA as the business of On Demand flowers continues to grow! Aron Gelbard ,CEO of London based Bloom and Wild, talks funding, flowers in the mobile age and the future.


It’s an exciting time in the world of startup flowers. In the US, a number of startups are disrupting the $35B flower industry, and Bloom Nation, Urban Stems, The Bouqs, and Bloomthat have all recently raised venture capital funding to offer modernised, user-friendly flower buying experiences.

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‘Social networks will help education to realise its true potential’ (Reid Hoffman ‘The Wired World in 2016’)


‘To get the most out of a highly connected digitalised world, you need platforms that emphasise personal interconnectivity…..In 2016 I believe the education world will embrace this fundamental lesson..’
We asked Ben Grech, Co founder of fast growing Uniplaces, to talk about the future of student accommodation, raising almost $30m in funding and using education as an online platform for other services!

Three trends are very likely to shape the future of education. We have seen them gain momentum the last few years, and they’re set to keep getting stronger: the number of students will keep increasing, they will use social media networks more and more, and will be increasingly mobile.

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