Millennial-focused share trading platform Superhero says it’s not a clone of the popular but controversial US app Robinhood, insisting it is subject to far more stringent regulation than its overseas peer.
Superhero, which launched in September last year, has secured $25 million in funding from billionaire Alex Waislitz’s Thorney Investment Group, Phil King’s Regal Funds Management, Afterpay co-founder Nick Molnar, Zip co-founder Larry Diamond and Finder co-founder Fred Schebesta.
The latest funding round values the fledgling startup at more than $100 million and Superhero, just like Robinhood, is tapping into the surge in retail investors into the market, which fuelled the GameStop short selling frenzy in the United States.
Robinhood played a key part in helping Reddit posters buy GameStop stock, driving up its price, but then controversially moved to restrict their purchase to contain market volatility. With the episode highlighting the power trading apps can exert in distorting the financial markets, Superhero’s co-founder and chief executive John Winters said while the platform was built to remove barriers to sharemarket investing it wasn’t looking to be a clone of Robinhood.
Pandemics, Climate Change, Recessions – Oh my! How Do You Manage Commercial Credit Risk in an Ever-Changing Landscape?
Title: Pandemics, Climate Change, Recessions – Oh my! How Do You Manage Commercial Credit Risk in an Ever-Changing Landscape?
Date: Thursday, June 10, 2021
Time: 1:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time
Duration: 1 hour
Once we’ve overcome the pandemic, the next crisis regulators will be turning their attention to is climate change. Unlike Covid-19, climate change isn’t something we can develop a vaccine for – and it is here to stay. Climate change risk will therefore be a key focus area for regulators going forward, so banks need to be thinking about how they’ll address and analyze climate-related risks and opportunities at a portfolio level.
Featuring Jeremiah Norton, former FDIC; Bruce Richards; former Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Mark Levonian, former OCC; and David Penn, Research Analyst, Finovate.
BNPL Fintech Graviti Founder Explains how his Firm Helps Unbanked Mexico Residents Make Flexible Payments on Basic Appliances
Yusef Jacobs, the 28-year-old Founder and Chief Executive at Graviti, aims to transform microfinance by allowing consumers to gain access to essential appliances. Jacobs believes that people who might not have a lot of funds will still pay for items they really need.
Jacobs has introduced Graviti, a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) platform for essential home appliances for the unbanked consumers residing in Mexico.
Graviti gives low-income Mexico residents the chance to purchase solar hot water heaters, refrigerators, and washing machines even if they don’t have the funds for buying such items. People who need these basic appliances may be able to get access to credit so they can still afford to buy things they need.
In statements shared with CNBC, Jacobs explained that what they measure is whether this client really needs a particular product. And if they do, then they are going to pay for it eventually.
Graviti aims to place Internet-connected meters on the appliances in order to gather data about how the client may be using them — and also turn them off remotely if a user happens to skip or fall behind on their payments.
Jacobs notes that what existing microfinance platforms do is if a client gets behind on their payments, then they begin charging late payments. He also mentioned that in Mexico, they “go over 100 annual percent interest rates … which is crazy” and that just “over-indebts the customer and increases the debt.”
Instead of burdening borrowers with a lot of debt, Graviti chooses to gradually reduce the functionality if clients are not making payments.
Jacobs explained that if people get behind on their payments, by a few weeks, then what control meters allow them to do is to control the flow of hot water from the water heater, and perhaps limited to a particular amount of liters each day. He added that if clients keep getting behind on their payments, “maybe we should shut down the flow of water completely.”
This business idea appears to be working because Graviti has an overall default rate on its loans of just 1.21%, Jacobs revealed in an interview with CNBC.
Meanwhile, the default rate on credit cards in the US stands at 3.15% (in March 2021). This, according S&P Dow Jones Indices and Experian data published last month.
Jacobs, who is orginally from Mexico City and has been living there his entire life, established Graviti in late 2019 with solar hot water heaters.
He noted that they acquire the customer, and they carry out the underwriting of the credit, and they also approve the credit. After completing these steps, they “basically connect that customer and the credit with the distributor that holds the product and the distributor goes and installs the product.” Graviti pays the distributor for the product “upfront” and then they “do the payment collection of the credit from the customers,” Jacobs explained.
These flexible payment options may be quite useful for people who may not have access to banking and other financial services. World Bank data reveals that just 37% of Mexico residents have a bank account.
Graviti generates revenue by taking a commission from appliance distributors it does business with. These companies reportedly include Whirlpool, Acros, Daewoo, Mabe, among others. Graviti also earns its income from the interest rate its clients pay on their loans.
Jacobs has secured $3 million in total funding for his company, to date.
Most of the funds, or $2.5 million, that Graviti has acquired came via an investment round finalized last month.
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B-North, a Fintech Building an SME Lending Bank, Makes New Hires, Focused on Acquiring Banking License
Manchester-based B-North, the challenger developing an SME lending bank for the United Kingdom, has hired five more professionals to support its finance and risk departments.
David Travis has joined as B-North’s Secretary and General Counsel, Andrea Harrison will be serving as Head of Financial Reporting and Control; Simon Nicholson has been appointed as Risk and Compliance Manager; Faye Comerford is the new Financial Crime Manager and Deputy Money Laundering Reporting Manager; and Sarah Hewitt will be now be working as Underwriter, Credit Risk.
The new hires have been announced as B-North moves closer to acquiring its banking license.
David Travis will be tasked with supporting B-North as a member of the executive team in order to ensure proper corporate governance and he will provide effective management of legal risk as the firm expands its operations.
Prior to B-North, David had been working as General Counsel and Company Secretary of tech-advisory and investment company GP Bullhound. David, who’s currently also the Joint Honorary Secretary of Manchester Law Society, has also worked at established financial services companies such as Interactive Investor, RBS, the Co-operative Bank and Citigroup.
David started his career as a solicitor at law firm DLA Piper. He possesses a degree in Law and French from the University of Sheffield and is an Associate Member of the Chartered Governance Institute.
Andrea Harrison, an experienced finance professional, has prior experience working as Head of Finance at UK Asset Resolution, where she held various positions supporting the finance function.
Andrea will now be responsible for B-North’s ongoing work on its financial framework, and related processes and controls in order to support the bank’s financial reporting and operational obligations.
Andrea has prior experience working at Bradford and Bingley, where she was the Senior Finance Manager. Andrea has a Law degree from the University of Sheffield and she started her professional career on the KPMG graduate scheme where she became a Chartered Accountant.
Simon Nicholson will be responsible for supporting the B-North team across operational risk management and compliance in order to ensure that the business is able to scale in an efficient manner.
Prior to B-North, Simon was at RBS, serving as a Risk Partner (Commercial), after working as the Operational Risk Manager SVP at Bank of America..
Simon previously worked at UK Asset Resolution, Capita and Citigroup.
Faye Comerford will be working with the B-North staff members in order to prevent and identify financial crimes, like fraud and money laundering.
Faye is an experienced Senior Manager focusing on compliance and Financial Crime Risk Management. Faye previously worked at the Yorkshire Building Society, where served as Senior Financial Crime Risk Manager.
Faye, who has also worked at AXA UK, possesses a History degree from The University of Hull, and an ICA Diploma in Anti-Money Laundering.
Sarah Hewitt will be expected to play a key role in supporting B-North through the planning phase and then the mobilization stage, assisting with making loan delivery to small business clients as smooth as possible.
Prior to B-North, Sarah was at Yorkshire Bank, working as a Commercial Relationship Manager. Sarah has a degree in Business Studies from De Montfort University.
These new hires have been announced as B-North remains focused on securing its banking license, and the completion of a £20 million Series A round.
The company says it intends to disrupt the UK’s £150 billion SME lending sector by offering the first “truly” regional lending bank in 150 years.
Through its network of “lending pods” along with its Cloud-enabled banking system, B-North intends to offer loans to businesses 10x faster than the average industry standard.
The first of B-North’s pods are scheduled to be offered in Manchester at some point later this year.
Jonathan Thompson, Co-Founder and CEO of B-North remarked:
“We are delighted to welcome David, Andrea, Simon, Faye, and Sarah to the B-North team, they bring a vast range of knowledge and experience gained at some of the biggest names in financial services. We have always prided ourselves on building an expert team, and these five new hires are just the latest example of B-North attracting the best and the brightest. There couldn’t be a better time to join the team, as we move through our ‘Series A’ fundraise as well as continue to work with the FCA/PRA to secure a banking license, all while working hard to build the best possible model we can to deliver much-needed support to UK SMEs.”
Tallinn-based EstateGuru closes Seedrs funding round at €1.3 million raised from 971 investors
EstateGuru, a leading pan-European marketplace for short-term, property-backed loans today announces the successful closure of its funding round on UK-based equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Due to massive investor enthusiasm, the campaign closed 31 days ahead of schedule.
The campaign launched in private mode for pre-registered investors on 5 May 2021 and gathered the initial minimum target of €500K in a matter of hours. Subsequently, the public part of the campaign went into the overfunding stage and showed no signs of slowing down, reaching the initial intended maximum target of €1.1 million by Sunday 9 May.
Due to the high investor interest, it was decided to extend the target and the campaign was closed on 14 May, having raised a total of €1.3 million from 971 investors. The campaign was originally set to run for 40 days.
Marek Pärtel, Co-Founder and CEO of EstateGuru commented: “We expected positive investor interest and realistically hoped that we would reach our maximum target ahead of schedule, but the overwhelming response to the campaign took even us by surprise. To reach our maximum target in just 4 days of a 40-day campaign is a proud moment and shows that our business model and growth plans have struck a chord with investors who share our optimism about the alternative finance industry.
Now, of course, we have to reward that investor faith by taking the company to new heights and delivering on our roadmap of success. The key focus for the rest of this year will be on securing institutional investors, broadening our technological solutions, and maintaining or exceeding our historical growth pace. We have plans to launch in two new markets, develop an API powered investment app and integrate other market participants in our platform.”
Pärtel is also eager to stress the importance of the investor community: “It was important to us to kick off this larger funding round by giving our existing community of platform investors the opportunity to also become equity investors with the company. Rather than just look for institutions or VCs, we believe in the power of the community, which is why we chose to have another campaign with Seedrs.”
This is the company’s second fundraising round on Seedrs, having exceeded its first funding target of €350K by 261% in June 2020. Funds from that round were used in three strategic areas: geographical expansion, delivering an ambitious technology roadmap and developing the area of capital markets and institutional investments.
In addition, EstateGuru launched its operations in Finland and Germany, put in place a capital markets team in Amsterdam, integrated the Lemonway payment service platform and implemented the next phase of automated lead generation.
EstateGuru (founded in 2013) finances projects which have solid collateral, using first-rank mortgages, to achieve straightforward and secure funding in real estate lending. This model is especially useful for entrepreneurs who struggle with the ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies of banks and gives everyone the opportunity to invest at an average historical interest rate of 11.4%.
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