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1.UK – SMEs
P2P Finance News reports that demand for corporate credit in the UK remains subdued, according to the Bank of England’s latest report into business conditions.
“The central bank attributed the weak demand to both strong cash balances and heightened uncertainty.
It noted that there had been demand for finance to support M&A activity, and some firms had undertaken pre-emptive refinancing ahead of Brexit.
The Bank also said that the supply of credit had tightened slightly for small firms.
Overall, investment intentions remained modest, reflecting continued uncertainty around Brexit, according to the report.
“From a refinancing perspective, many British firms have entered battle stations in advance of Brexit,” said Mark Dyason, managing director of the specialist finance broker, Thistle Finance.”
2. US – P2P
P2P Finance News reports that Victory Park has joined US trade association, the MLA.
“VICTORY Park Capital (VPC) has joined US industry body the Marketplace Lending Association (MLA).
VPC, which manages the London-listed alternative finance fund VPC Specialty Lending, has joined as an associate and investor council member along with Laurel Road, Education Loan Finance, Arcadia Funds, PricewaterhouseCoopers and First Associates.
The MLA, which represents the interests of peer-to-peer – or marketplace – lenders in the US, has also announced three new member firms, Social Finance(SoFi), LendingPoint and College Ave, taking total membership to 24 including big names in the US such as LendingClub, Prosper and Funding Circle.”
3. US – FinTech
CCN reports an equity raise by a blockchain innovator.
“Digital identity startup Cambridge Blockchain has closed as $7 million Series A round of financing led by Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn’s investment arm.
Announced Tuesday, the $7 million financing round also included previous investors Partech and Digital Currency Group, who injected new capital and converted the startup’s outstanding debt in exchange for equity. Partech general partner Romain Lavault specifically highlighted the startup’s enterprise data management software finding its first customers in the European market that will be fall under the norms of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
“Our platform allows financial institutions to meet the strictest new data privacy rules, eliminate redundant identity compliance checks and improve the customer experience,” the startup claims on its website.
Notably, the startup confirmed that Foxconn, one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers, is “now exploring deployments” of its blockchain software to enhance its global supply chain operations and IoT device management.”
4. US – FinTech
Crowdfundinsider reports: “US Regulators on Consensus Panel Claim Their Doors Open and Rules Clear Regarding ICOs (Initial Coin Offering):
Representatives from the three bodies policing securities in the US and the Chief Strategy Officer from the Bittrex cryptocurrency exchange spoke on an “Enforcement” panel May 15 at the Consensus conference in New York.
Citing an “open door” policy, the regulators- James McDonald, Director of Enforcement, Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Robert A. Cohen, Chief- Cyber Unit, SEC Division of Enforcement; and Sujit Raman, Associate Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice- seemed to politely take issue with the idea forwarded by Kiran Raj of Bittrex that they have left tech companies issuing ICOs in the dark regarding what is and is not a security.”
5. International – FinTech
The Baltic Times reports n a vigorous, innovative but small market.
“When people talk about their own silicon valley or where the magic happens in disruptive technologies, its the Baltics you can’t miss in EU Fintech.
Last week the Lithuanian ministry of finance introduced the world’s first security ICO platform open for global-blockchain-businesses, setting the standard towards the first security exchange.
Being on the forefront of technological innovations the Baltics saw the birth of many online lending marketplaces, including: Bondora, a pioneer out of Estonia, Savy (LT), Mintos (LV) and Twino (LV).
Due to the high level of technology penetration and technology education, these countries have produced a disproportionally high number of technology hardware and software startups ever since the beginning of the digital revolution
The Baltics have been first movers on many technological innovations being stimulated by an environment where government and business interests are aligned, letting Fintech emerge.
From being the birthplace of companies interrupting the payment space such as Transferwise to a multitude of P2P platforms being on the forefront of the P2P investing revolution.”
6. International – FinTech
Securities Lending Times reports a new blockchain securities platform.
Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), professional services group Accenture and global financial technology (fintech) innovation centre The Floor, are to develop a new blockchain securities lending platform powered by Intel.
TASE said this makes it the first global player in the Israeli market to embed this cutting-edge technology into its operating business, utilising it as the technological basis of a new securities lending platform.
There is currently no central securities lending platform in the Israeli market, TASE said. Securities lending is at present executed in the capital market, primarily using inter-bank mechanisms within, and if necessary outside, banking group limits.
As a result, it added, the market has not been fully exploited to satisfy the potential needs of economic agents.
TASE said the purpose of this project is to create one central platform that will transform the country’s securities lending market by enabling direct lending among all the major financial instruments.
This platform will function as a one-stop-shop for all securities lending activities, permitting access to larger securities volumes within shorter timeframes, even operating in shorter-term positions, it said.
The use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) as the basis of the new trading platform will harness some of the blockchain’s primary advantages and features, such as direct peer-to-peer transactions, Smart Contract, and enhanced security through immutability, said TASE.
All of these are expected to benefit it, its custodians and their clients by reducing costs, increasing security and enabling the market to exploit its full potential.
The co-operation originated in March last year during an international blockchain hackathon and quickly transitioned to a concrete opportunity, explained TASE. The project is structured with a two-phased approach comprising an initial proof of concept (PoC), which upon its success will be followed by a deployment of the solution in a production environment.
Hyperledger Sawtooth is the infrastructure on which the project is based—an enterprise blockchain platform for building DLT applications. Intel worked with Accenture and TASE and The Floor to deliver a private ledger on Hyperledger Sawtooth that utilises Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) technology to encrypt transaction data.
7. International – FinTech
Venture capital divisions are all the rage these days as tech giants realise it's a lot cheaper to fund useful projects from inception, rather than buying them out later. Coinbase recently jumped in with its own VC fund, Coinbase Ventures, which made its first investment shortly afterwards.
The recipient is a startup called Compound. As the story reported in TechCrunch goes, Compound was just about to wrap up its funding round when Coinbase VC was announced. The Compound team sent an email, and after a few hours of thorough evaluation, the fledgling company was a few million dollars richer.
"In 12 hours they researched us, met our team, diligenced it and evaluated it more than almost any investor had to date," said Compound co-founder and CEO Robert Leshner.
It might be a good combination. Coinbase customers might be able to benefit from Compound's services, which currently have little overlap with Coinbase's existing product range, while Compound's business model calls for a big launch with plenty of partners and users right from the start.”