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Essential Fintech Reading: May 14-20


HSBC Trims Branch Network In India

HSBC is halving its branch count in India to 26, focusing its attention on digital banking. “This change reflects changes in customer behaviour, who are increasingly using digital channels for their banking,” HSBC said in a statement. Rethish Varma, head of research at Aditya Trading Solutions, told Bloomberg that “this move suits HSBC as their target retail customers are mostly in urban centers and are affluent with access to digital-banking channels.” Among HSBC’s competitors in India, Singapore’s DBS Group Holdings Ltd. has also pursued a digital strategy.
Alternative Lenders Facing Cloudier Future After LendingClub Debacle

Following the resignation of LendingClub CEO Renaud Laplanche and revelations that the firm sold $22 million worth of loans that didn’t meet the criteria of investment bank Jefferies, acting CEO Scott Sanborn has been trying to put out the fire. "Let me assure you that we are in a strong financial position with a substantial amount of cash and securities on our balance sheet -- $868 million," acting CEO Scott Sanborn wrote in an e-mail to investors who buy LendingClub's loans. "We plan to be around for many years to come." The Economist reports that rivals were not reveling in LendingClub’s woes, with one complaining that it was “a gift for the banking lobby and regulators vexed by the rise of an efficient market for credit that they did not control.” The Treasury Department recently issued a white paper calling for tougher oversight of P2P lenders. The pain has also been reflected in the market as Citigroup stopped buying debt from Prosper Marketplace and losses continued at On Deck Capital.

MCX Facing Extinction?

MCX, the consortium of retailers formed to build a mobile payments solution rivaling Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, announced that it had laid off half its staff (30 employees). CEO Brian Mooney said in a statement that MCX would be delaying the rollout of its CurrentC payments app for the second time in a year. The consortium includes Walmart, Target and BestBuy, but many participants have hedged their bets. Walmart launched its own payments app, Walmart Pay, in December, taken by some as a sign that the retailer was no longer committed to the MCX consortium. Digital payments consultant Nick Holland writes that MCX may have succumbed to having too many cooks in the kitchen. “The yardsale of retailers under the umbrella overlapped competitively which undoubtedly caused friction. In particular, WalMart as a retailer that competes in every segment of the rest of the members was notably feisty. It’s no great surprise that they have recently launched their own mobile payment network.”

Mobile Banking Enrollment Spikes, USAA & BBVA Features Garner Praise

Mobile banking enrollment rose from seven percent in 2014 to 30 percent in 2015, with 29 million more mobile banking users in the US. New Javelin research shows that financial institutions are answering this huge shift. For example, support for mobile new account opening among the top 30 FIs doubled over the past year, as a third now provide this functionality. Ranking the quality of providers’ offerings, Javelin awarded USAA the top spot, praising its artificial intelligence virtual assistants, biometric login options and control of payment cards. BBVA Compass was also recognized as a mobile banking leader, attaining a perfect score in alerts by providing real-time or near real-time information about customers' accounts.