Starling adds Growth Street to marketplace

Starling’s marketplace already covers several partners ranging from Direct Line insurance to online mortgage broker Habito. It allows data to be …
Challenger Banks

The digital bank said the small business peer-to-peer firm is part of ‘a new generation of lenders’.

Starling adds Growth Street to marketplace

Image source: Company supplied

Starling has added small business lender Growth Street to its marketplace of firms connected through the digital bank’s platform.

The London-based peer-to-peer firm offers loans of between £25,000 and £2m to small businesses. Growth Street’s flagship product is GrowthLine, which works much like an overdraft, with small businesses given a limit, they can draw down on and make repayments as often as they like, within agreed limits.

Starling’s marketplace already covers several partners ranging from Direct Line insurance to online mortgage broker Habito. It allows data to be shared securely with other organisations, giving customers access to a suite of financial products to help them manage their money.

Growth Street lends small firms who find their cashflow squeezed up to 85 per cent of the value of a customer’s invoices, up to 35 per cent of work in progress, or up to 35 per cent of the value of a company’s stock.

New lenders

“A new generation of lenders such a Growth Street are providing access to flexible forms of credit, to help businesses deliver on their growth plans,” said Starling as it introduced the peer-to-peer lender in a blog yesterday.

Earlier this week, Starling, launched in 2014, said it has around 770,000 account holders, and expects to top one million customers by the end of the year. It holds £600m in deposits, and estimates it will pass £1bn of customer deposits by the end of 2019.

Starling, led by chief executive Anne Boden (pictured), competes against other UK and European fintech banks such as Revolut, Monzo and N26.

Last month, Growth Street said it had originated more than £500m of loans since the business lending platform was launched five years ago. The firm, led by co-founder and chief executive Greg Carter, currently has around 2,500 investors, who are a mixture of institutional and individual backers.


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Alternative Lending Market – Expected to Boost the Global Industry Growth in the Near Future …

… SoFi, OnDeck, Avant, Funding Circle, Zopa, Lendix, RateSetter, Mintos, Auxmoney, CreditEase, Lufax, Renrendai, Tuandai, Maneo, Capital Float, …

A latest study released by HTF MI on Global Alternative Lending Market covering key business segments and wide scope geographies to get deep dive analysed market data. The study is a perfect balance bridging both qualitative and quantitative information of Alternative Lending market. The study provides historical data (i.e. Volume** & Value) from 2013 to 2018 and forecasted till 2025*. Some are the key & emerging players that are part of coverage and have being profiled are Lending Club, Prosper, Upstart, SoFi, OnDeck, Avant, Funding Circle, Zopa, Lendix, RateSetter, Mintos, Auxmoney, CreditEase, Lufax, Renrendai, Tuandai, Maneo, Capital Float, Capital Match & SocietyOne.

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HTF Market Report is a wholly owned brand of HTF market Intelligence Consulting Private Limited. HTF Market Report global research and market intelligence consulting organization is uniquely positioned to not only identify growth opportunities but to also empower and inspire you to create visionary growth strategies for futures, enabled by our extraordinary depth and breadth of thought leadership, research, tools, events and experience that assist you for making goals into a reality. Our understanding of the interplay between industry convergence, Mega Trends, technologies and market trends provides our clients with new business models and expansion opportunities. We are focused on identifying the “Accurate Forecast” in every industry we cover so our clients can reap the benefits of being early market entrants and can accomplish their “Goals & Objectives”.

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Indifi raises funding in round led by CDC

Existing investors. including social impact funds Omidyar Network and Elevar Equity, and venture capital firm Accel Partners, also participated in the …

Mumbai: Fintech startup Indifi has raised 145 crore in a Series C equity round led by CDC Group, the development finance arm of the UK government, said a senior executive.

The fundraise comes at a time when domestic lenders have been bogged down by a severe liquidity crunch.

Existing investors. including social impact funds Omidyar Network and Elevar Equity, and venture capital firm Accel Partners, also participated in the round.

“Like all fintech startups, we were also hit by the NBFC crisis, and are the first small and medium business fintech lender to raise external funding in the past year,” said Alok Mittal, co-founder and chief executive, Indifi, in a phone interview.

“Raising external capital has been very hard,” Mittal said, referring to the liquidity squeeze in the domestic market. Lending startups, both marketplaces, as well as those that lend from their own books, have been struggling to raise funds, after a string of defaults by lenders, including Dewan Housing Finance Corp. Ltd and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd.

While digital lending startup Capital Float had to call off talks with South Africa’s Naspers for a potential fundraise, digital lending marketplace Rubique had to halve its workforce due to scarcity of equity capital.

Founded by angel investor Mittal, along with Siddharth Mahanot and Sandeep Saini, in 2015, Indifi provides loans to small businesses in travel, e-commerce and retail.

Indifi provides loans of 1-50 lakh, with an average ticket size of 5 lakh, to enterprises that have an annual turnover of 50 lakh to 10 crore. Along with lending from its own books, it also acts as a marketplace, to lend to businesses by tying up with other lenders.

It currently has 300 crore of assets under management.

After it lends in a particular sector, with a successful outcome and data to back its investment, Indifi ties up with lenders, such as RBL Bank, Lendingkart and InCred Finance, to offer loans to other businesses in the same sector.

“We plan to use the funds raised to increase the share of the marketplace mode, which currently contributes about half of our business. We will also look to lend to newer sectors, such as trucking and logistics, where growth capital is needed,” Mittal said.

New investor CDC has also been active in the Indian market in recent times, with direct investments in startups, such as online grocer BigBasket, as well as in venture capital and private equity funds such as Lighthouse Funds.

Mint reported on 23 July that CDC plans to double its exposure to India with investments of up to $3-3.5 billion by 2021. About 30-35% of its overall portfolio dedicated to India, focuses on seven core sectors, including financial services, infrastructure, healthcare, affordable housing, food and agriculture, and consumer and education, for direct investments.

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Credit score UK: How to improve your credit score – why an overdraft could actually help

“Setting up a standing order or a direct debit is a good way to ensure your bills are paid on time each month,” Credit Karma suggested.

There are a number of different things which can affect a credit score, as Credit Karma explains.

This includes payment history, such as paying credit card bills late – which can potentially have a negative impact.

The length of one’s credit history, the types of credit one currently has, and their credit utilisation may also play a part, as can recent credit.

A spokesperson for Credit Karma said of the latter factor: “Creditors may review your credit reports before they make a decision to lend to you.

“In some cases, A hard inquiry can hurt your scores. Usually though, a single hard inquiry has little effect on your score.”

So, how can a person improve their credit score?

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Equifax Cash Settlement Backtracking Leaves a Bad Taste

The FTC should have known that the mere existence of firms like Credit Karma shows the monetary value of credit monitoring to consumers to be $0.

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission, in conjunction with the Consumer Financial Protection Board and all 50 US states, announced a settlement of up to $700 million with Equifax over that company’s 2017 data breach exposing personal information on 147 million Americans. This settlement was different from some previous ones, where the main benefit to victims—if there was any at all—was free credit monitoring. In this case, victims could opt for a cash payment of up to $125 instead of credit monitoring and could apply for additional financial restitution for time wasted dealing with Equifax’s negligence. The FTC said the settlement included up to $425 million to help those affected by the breach.

Unsurprisingly, this was big news, and we in the media responded by publicizing the heck out of it (see “You May Be Entitled to $125 or More in the Equifax Breach Settlement,” 26 July 2019). People responded, with millions signing up for their cash payments: $125 if you already had credit monitoring and $25 per hour for up to 20 hours that you spent dealing with the breach, plus coverage of your out-of-pocket losses up to $20,000. Sounds good, right? Finally, the people who are actually harmed in a data breach are recompensed for their trouble!

That was when the fine print got big. It turns out that the actual settlement caps the $125 alternative reimbursement payments at $31 million, and it caps the claims for lost time at another $31 million. In both cases, if the claims exceed the cap, all payments will be reduced on a prorated basis. So much for that $425 million number.

Within a few days, Robert Schoshinski, Assistant Director in the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the FTC, was bluntly encouraging everyone to take the free credit monitoring instead of the payments because millions of people had already signed up for the cash. The FTC also updated the FAQ in its informational page about the settlement to clarify the payment caps and the likelihood that you’d get much less than was promised.

That may be the reality of the situation, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth for a variety of reasons.

Denial Isn’t Just a River in Egypt

Back in 2017, Equifax’s then-CEO, Richard Smith, apologized in an op-ed in USA Today. But apparently, once such an apology has been published (and the CEO who made it has been sent packing along with the chief information officer and chief information security officer), the company can negotiate a different reality.

The breach settlement site now says:

Equifax denies any wrongdoing, and no judgment or finding of wrongdoing has been made.

It grates to have Equifax—whose negligence resulted in information about 147 million Americans being exposed to criminals—pretending that it did nothing wrong. If it had done everything right, the breach never would have happened in the first place. Hackers are not an “act of god” equivalent to an earthquake or tornado. Equifax should be saying:

We messed up. We manage a vast amount of confidential, potentially damaging information about nearly all Americans, and we failed to protect it. For that, and for any inconvenience, emotional distress, or financial hardship that our negligence caused, we are truly sorry. Here’s how we’re going to make it up to you.

Making the bad taste worse is the fact that those Equifax executives got to “retire” (rather than being fired), which means that they’ll keep their unvested stock compensation. For ex-CEO Richard Smith, that was worth over $90 million.

Fines and Restitution

In the law, there is a difference between a fine and restitution. Fines go to the government prosecuting the crime, whereas restitution goes to the victims of the crime. Since we’re talking about a settlement in which Equifax gets to deny all wrongdoing, there’s apparently no crime in play. Regardless, the settlement includes both. The fines include $175 million to the states and $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the restitution is the $425 million directed to repay consumers.

Many of us are angry with the FTC’s settlement because the $31 million caps mean that the initial promise that consumers could get significant cash damages has proven to be false. The FTC should have known that the mere existence of firms like Credit Karma shows the monetary value of credit monitoring to consumers to be $0. Plus, although the credit monitoring also provides identity theft insurance and identity restoration services, Credit Karma suggests that those are not generally worth purchasing on your own. (Happily, Equifax will have to pay other companies to provide these services and can’t benefit in any way from them. So at least the fox’s failure to guard the henhouse isn’t being punished with a chicken dinner.)

The massive interest in those payments shows that the FTC utterly underestimated what consumers actually want in compensation. Perhaps the FTC will adjust its formula the next time this happens, but for now, we just have to swallow our bitter medicine.

We Are the Sausage

The final sour aspect of this situation is the fact that most people never asked to do business with Equifax. We’ve all become concerned about the spread of our personal information and how it can be used against us, but collecting and sharing data about us is Equifax’s core business (as it is for competitors Experian and TransUnion too).

At least the likes of Google and Facebook provide us with services we choose to use in exchange for our data. In comparison, the credit reporting agencies sell our data to other companies with whom we want to do business. They couldn’t care less about us because we’re just raw materials to them. It’s easy to find examples (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) of them being sued for failing to remove incorrect information, concealing charges, and other violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Dealing with pesky consumers is just a cost of doing business.

As the saying goes, if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold. And if we’re not customers, there’s certainly no need for customer service.

Of course, the final reason the Equifax breach settlement leaves a bad taste in the mouth is that there’s nothing we can do about any of this other than letting the FTC know that we’re unhappy with how things worked out. Perhaps leave a comment on the agency’s blog post. I can’t see it making any difference, but it might make you feel a little better.

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