News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

Presentation room with screen and chairs.

1.UK – FinTech


AltFi looks at Acre and mortgages on blockchain.


“The idea of putting mortgages on the blockchain is nearly as old as Bitcoin itself. 

The slow, high-value mortgage transaction seems particularly well-suited to a distributed ledger technology which is poorly suited to fast, low-value transactions.

But despite the idea bubbling around since the early 2010s, millions being raised in funding from VCs and from ICOs, and several startups promising to revolutionise the industry… the mortgage application process remains a mire of paperwork, phone calls and waiting.

Enter Acre.

With the backing of £5m from industry heavyweights Aviva and Sesame Bankhall Group, and under the leadership of Justus Brown, the former Head of Product at Brent Hoberman’s Founders Factory, Acre’s pitch is that it will overhaul the existing way mortgages work.

Brown’s company will help traditional mortgage brokers compete against digital mortgage brokers like Trussle and Habito, by creating “one unchangeable ‘record of the transaction’” on the blockchain.

Given its investor, Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG), is the largest intermediary distributor of mortgages and responsible for around 13% of the entire UK mortgage market, and the implication being that SBG will adopt this blockchain technology, Acre says it will become “one of the largest users of blockchain in the UK”.


2. UK – P2P


P2PFN reports a new chairman at troubled Crowdstacker.


“CROWDSTACKER has hired former RBS senior corporate director Ken Hillen as its new credit committee chairman.

The peer-to-peer business lender announced the new appointment on Wednesday. Hillen has spent 40 years working in the financial services sector, having previously held roles at RBS, Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland.

Crowdstacker said that Hillen will be tasked with “re-aligning all the lending and monitoring processes to prepare Crowdstacker as it makes changes to its business throughout 2019.”

3. UK – IFISAs


More on the FCA’s requirement for warnings from the Mirror.


4. International – FinTech


Crowdfundinisder reports:

KBC Banking Group announced on Tuesday it has partnered with Fitbit to launch Fitbit Pay services in Belgium. According to KBC, all KBC, CBC and KBC Brussels customers who have a Fitbit smartwatch or activity tracker may now use it to pay in shops that accept Maestro and have contactless payment available.

KBC claims that the initiative makes it the first financial institution in Belgium to offer Fitbit Pay, which is described as a fast, secure, free and convenient contactless payment option for customers who lead an active life.”


5. US – FinTech


Crowdfundinsider reports on a long-awaited statement on digital assets from the SEC.


“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has published a statement on the “Framework for ‘Investment Contract’ Analysis of Digital Assets”

The public statement announcing the Framework was co-signed by Bill Hinman, Director of Division of Corporation Finance and Valerie Szczepanik, Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation.

The clarity in the regulatory approach regarding blockchain technology and digital assets has long been messaged by the Commission. While the statement represents SEC Staff views and is not viewed as a set in stone rule, regulation, or statement of the Commission, the publication should be positively received by this fast emerging sector of Fintech.

Largely based on the Howey Test, the guidance provides insight as to when a cryptocurrency may be traded and perhaps not be deemed a regulated security.

The statement concludes:

“[this] identifies some of the factors to be considered in determining whether and when a digital asset may no longer be a security. These factors are not intended to be exhaustive in evaluating whether a digital asset is an investment contract or any other type of security, and no single factor is determinative; rather, we are providing them to assist those engaging in the offer, sale, or distribution of a digital asset, and their counsel, as they consider these issues.”

The framework is being published in coordination with a No-Action letter by the SEC regarding the issuance of digital tokens for TurnKey Jet – a company that requested the Commission deem its TKJ token not be viewed as a security.

Crowdfund Insider Contributor and Security Attorney Anthony Zeoli provided a comment on the new Digital Asset Framework:

“It is great to see the SEC taking affirmative actions to help define what tokens/cryptocurrencies will be treated as securities. In order for this industry to reach its full capabilities the players need to know the rules and this new guidance goes a long way towards defining those rules.”