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Podcast: The Future of Alternative Finance with Richard Swart, Ron Suber, and Shelly Hod Moyal

Innovation is primarily a function of need. Faced with a given problem, an entrepreneurial mind knows only one response – to devise a solution. To use a famous example from Israel itself, the development of efficient irrigation systems didn’t simply emerge from a vacuum. Faced with arid conditions and weak import prospects, drip irrigation developed […]

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Innovation is primarily a function of need. Faced with a given problem, an entrepreneurial mind knows only one response – to devise a solution. To use a famous example from Israel itself, the development of efficient irrigation systems didn’t simply emerge from a vacuum. Faced with arid conditions and weak import prospects, drip irrigation developed because the need was sufficiently acute that failing to find a solution just wasn’t an option.

The same phenomenon can be applied to the aftermath of the global financial crash. As public trust in our financial institutions collapsed and the banks ceased lending, and regulators demanded ever-higher levels of capital adequacy, consumers and small businesses found themselves increasingly locked out of the credit cycle, and unable to finance their homes and ideas. Against this backdrop, the alternative finance sector emerged, growing to reach more than $36 billion in the US alone. All US figures are dwarfed however by the Asia Pacific market, now totaling $102.8 billion, following 323% annual growth.

In the latest episode of Invest with Influence: The iAngels Podcast, we take a close look at the future of the burgeoning alternative finance industry.

As investor-side and lender-side finance platforms continue to grow, individuals, enterprises, and institutions are facing a new set of issues, including questions of regulation, liquidity, consolidation and cryptocurrency. To discuss what’s next for this burgeoning industry, and offer clues for the impact of alternative finance on insurance also, host Max Marine is joined by iAngels Founding Partner Shelly Hod Moyal, President of Prosper Marketplace Ron Suber and UC Berkeley’s Richard Swart.

At the heart of alternative finance is the principle of p2p (person-to-person) – a model of finance where private individuals are incentivized to take on traditional banking and investment house roles, by distributing loans, credit, debt and equity.

Inevitably, the growth seen in alternative finance globally has generated p2p momentum in Israel’s startup scene.

Among the many investment candidates we’ve seen, iAngels has already put its faith into Backed, a social p2p lender, enabling young borrowers to leverage the superior credit rating of their peers to gain favorable loan terms. Beyond Backed, another p2p lending platform, BLender, is currently in the process of expanding its successful beta in Israel into markets in central and eastern Europe, backed by $5 million from Blumberg Capital.

There’s movement within other verticals too, as seen by companies like Invoice Cycle, which trades outstanding invoices for credit. Just last week also, we saw the high-profile launch of Lemonade, an Israeli peer-to-peer insurance company which has been in stealth mode since announcing its $13 million seed round last year, led jointly by Sequoia and Aleph Capital. Lemonade can’t be faulted for ambition. In aiming to bring p2p to the world of insurance, they’re seeking to tackle the last great pillar of the financial services industry to have avoided the clutches of technological disruption. Analysts will be watching closely, for indications of how far the p2p revolution can reach.

Finally, no synopsis of alternative finance is complete without referencing our own sector – equity crowdfunding. Without drafting an entire white paper here on the impact of equity crowdfunding for VC worldwide, it’s worth pausing for a moment to stress the diversification that’s taken place in the sector in recent years.

At one end of the spectrum, there are numerous ‘pure’, almost open source equity crowdfunding platforms. While they often have compelling arguments in an abstract sense, and there’s no doubt that their model is attractive to a certain category of entrepreneur, we’re unconvinced that it’s a model that’s scalable or sustainable.

At the other end of the spectrum – but bound by a passion to embed the values and tools of the global entrepreneur community within the actual capital raising process itself  – there are hybrid platforms, including iAngels itself. For iAngels, ‘crowdfunding’ is an integral part of our DNA, allowing us to build, service and grow a sophisticated global base of HNW LPs, but it sits alongside due diligence practices harnessed in the world of traditional finance. In this combination, the revolutionary alongside the proven, we’ve built our business, and we see it as a strong guideline for assessing investment opportunities among alternative finance startups beyond our four walls also. 

Source: https://www.iangels.com/2016/09/podcast-the-future-of-alternative-finance/

Private Equity

Alternative Investments: Accelerate’s Alt ETFs Now On RBC Dominion Securities A+ Platform

Accelerate Financial Technologies Inc announced this week that its alternative ETFs have been added to the RBC Dominion Securities A+ platform. RBC Dominion Securities describes the A+ as the next level of wealth management.

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Alternative Investments: Accelerate’s Alt ETFs Now On RBC Dominion Securities A+ Platform

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The A+ is for you if “you require serious investment management for your serious money.”

Accelerate Financial Technologies Inc announced this week that its alternative ETFs have been added to the RBC Dominion Securities A+ platform.

RBC Dominion Securities describes the A+ as the next level of wealth management.

For select clients with serious money, the platform provides greater convenience, customization, RBC’s Unified Managed Account technology, access to elite money managers worldwide, and tax efficiency.

Accelerate’s Alt ETFs on RBC A+

The range of alternative ETFs from Accelerate allows investors to diversify beyond stocks and bonds by including alternative asset classes in their portfolios.

The firm is known as a pioneer in institutional caliber alternative ETFs including hedge fund and private equity ETFs. It claims it is “disrupting the asset management industry by offering performance-oriented alternative investment strategies previously reserved for wealthy investors at a fee significantly lower than competitors.”

“We are pleased to be chosen by RBC Dominion Securities, a global leader in wealth management, as one of the select group of high-quality investment managers on the exclusive A+ platform for RBC Dominion Securities advisors and their clients,” said Accelerate CEO Julian Klymochko. “In an era of rock-bottom interest rates and record-high stock market volatility, we are pleased to provide investors with diversification, alternative yield, and alpha generation solutions through alternative investment strategies including absolute return, arbitrage, enhanced equity, and private equity replication.”

Selected ETFs

The alternative ETFs on the RBC Dominion Securities A+ platform include:

  • Accelerate Absolute Return Hedge Fund (TSX: HDGE) – a diversified, liquid, and performance-oriented long-short equity hedge fund
  • Accelerate Arbitrage Fund (TSX: ARB) – provides exposure to SPAC arbitrage and merger arbitrage investment strategies
  • Accelerate Enhanced Canadian Benchmark Alternative Fund (TSX: ATSX) – combines exposure to the S&P/TSX 60 plus a long-short Canadian equity overlay
  • Accelerate Private Equity Alpha Fund (TSX: ALFA) – designed to provide investors with private equity-like investment returns

Related Story:  Liquid Alt ETF Provider Accelerate Offers Ready-Made Alternative Investment Strategy                                                

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/accelerates-alt-etfs-now-on-rbc-dominion-securities-a-platform/

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Private Equity

Venture Capital: AgTech Startup Benson Hill Lands $150M

Benson Hill, an agtech startup based in St. Louis, announced Thursday its close of a $150 million Series D round led by Wheatsheaf and GV (formerly Google Ventures). It uses biotechnology and data science to enhance the nutritional qualities and sustainability of crops.

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Venture Capital: AgTech Startup Benson Hill Lands $150M

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Benson Hill uses biotechnology and data science to enhance the nutritional qualities and sustainability of crops.

Benson Hill, an agtech startup based in St. Louis, announced Thursday its close of a $150 million Series D round led by Wheatsheaf and GV (formerly Google Ventures).

The company said other strategic and ESG focused investors also participated. These included Argonautic Ventures, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Emart, GS Group, Louis Dreyfus Company, iSelect Fund, Fall Line Capital, Mercury Fund, Prelude Ventures, Prolog Ventures, S2G Ventures, and additional strategic and family office investors.  (FOOD navigator-USA.com)

Benson Hill technology

Benson Hill uses biotechnology, data science, and AI to enhance the nutritional qualities, flavor, and sustainability of crops and vegetables.

The firm’s “Cloud Biology” is the fusion of data, machine learning, and AI techniques with biology. Its “CropOS” is a proprietary platform that facilitates the accessibility and actionability of Cloud Biology.

The CropOs platform uses plant phenotyping, predictive breeding, and environmental modeling algorithms to better control the plant breeding process and realize these advantages:

  • Produces plants that are highly productive, highly nutritious, and better tasting
  • Better texture
  • Reduce the number of processing steps
  • Reduce the need for additives
  • Grow plants that “do more with less,” thus boosting sustainability

The company’s work so far has been concentrated around soybeans.

Its new, ultra-high-protein (UHP) soy products spiked the interest of investors. They come from a highly productive non-GMO soybean that is rich in oleic oil content.

Use of funds

Benson Hill plans the commercial launch of the first Ultra-High Protein soybean varieties in 2021, among other product launches.

It also plans to expand its team by adding top talent and continue the development of Cloud Biology and CropOS.

“As a society, we’re at a crossroads made more evident as the pandemic has revealed strengths and vulnerabilities in our food system,” said Matt Crisp, Benson Hill CEO. “Food choices that create enjoyment, make us stronger, and help preserve our environment need to be accessible to everyone, and the power of plant diversity and technology innovation can help fuel that evolution.

Related Story:   Smart Farm Technology To Take The Drudge Out of Plant Breeding

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/agtech-startup-benson-hill-lands-150m/

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Private Equity

FinTech: Alliance Data Buys BNPL Fintech Bread For $450M

Alliance Data Systems (NYSE: ADS) said Thursday that it will acquire Bread and its digital platform for $450 million of which $100 will be paid through Alliance stock. The transaction would expand Alliance Data’s own digital offerings by including buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) products.

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FinTech: Alliance Data Buys BNPL Fintech Bread For $450M

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Alliance Data will pay in cash and stock for the acquisition.

Alliance Data Systems (NYSE: ADS) said Thursday that it will acquire Bread and its digital buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) platform for $450 million of which $100 will be paid through Alliance stock.

The transaction would expand Alliance Data’s own digital offerings by including BNPL products. BNPL is a major trend now that consumers have embraced the interest-free, zero-fee facility to pay in installments. Alliance is a provider of data-driven marketing, loyalty, and payment solutions. (Alliance)

Digital BNPL is particularly popular with millennials and the younger set. They prefer not to run up credit card debt and like the speed and convenience. The technology and products acquired from Bread will address this segment of the population.

Bread already has tie-ups with merchants such as online jewelry seller Noémie, the luxury watch seller Hublot and Newton Baby, the crib mattress provider.

BNPL customer experience

“Bread’s flexible, easily-integrated payment solutions, coupled with Alliance Data’s Enhanced Digital Suite, will improve the digital customer experience and support increased acquisition and checkout rates, offering the best payment product to the right consumer at pivotal moments in the customer’s online shopping journey,” Alliance said in a statement.

Alliance intends to leverage Bread’s solutions along with its own existing private label, general-purpose and commercial products.

COVID-19

Its brand partners will therefore get another advantage in the eCommerce channel, with online businesses already getting a boost from COVID-19.

“With the timing of the holiday season upon us, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, and perhaps nowhere as significantly as in financial services and payments,” said Val Greer, chief commercial officer, Alliance Data.

BNPL is now crowded with cash-rich players

Payments giant PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL) announced in August that it would begin offering BNPL services, recognizing that COVID-19 had triggered a dramatic increase in their popularity.

Other players in the BNPL field include Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay, and Quadpay.

In a recent study, Tech Crunch found that PayPal had the highest retailer coverage with a presence of 65% retailers. Afterpay was a distant second at 10%, then Affirm 6%, Klarna 5%, and QuadPay 2%.

The study concluded that PayPal was primed to dominate the BNPL wars.

Related Story:   PayPal Challenges Klarna In U.K. BNPL Tussle                                                

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Source: https://dailyalts.com/alliance-data-buys-bnpl-fintech-bread-for-450m/

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