Alt Lending week ending 25th February 2022


More Scandal from Credit Suisse

For poor Credit Suisse it seems that it never just rains but is a continual and extremely heavy downpour. This time it is an information leak published in both the Guardian and the New York Times which shines a light on some of  less than squeaky clean clients. On its own not a disaster but when it follows on from what seems an interminable drip feed of negative stories from the Swiss lender then it makes one wonder whether there is something more systemic going on. This week I was reminded by one of those unfortunate occurrences when Greensill came to mind. An old colleague well versed in trade finance had got sight a of deal under which fixed assets were clearly being financed by revolving trade finance facilities.( or was this what supplier chain fiancé actually was)  It was clear to him that the lender involved did not know how trade finance facilities actually worked and he was somewhat surprised. Welcome to all of our worlds these days. Some good old fashioned training  in how shipping documents LC’s and collections actually work might be a good investment for some banks. An MBA might not cut it.


Klarna launches controversial reward programme

Swedish Buy now pay later company Klarna is introducing its Vibe reward programme to the UK next year. The scheme which essentially gives rewards to people who buy goods using its deferred payment scheme is viewed by its detractors including the Debt Charity step change encourages particularly younger borrowers to overspend. Apparently the scheme is already running in both Australia and the US but no data is available on its bad debt experience. Nevertheless the company insists its thrust is to encourage good behaviour as punters only receive rewards for good behaviour. Even the Telegraph article points out that the instalments are “ interest free”. Well i hate to disappoint you Klarna customers but someone is paying the interest in some way. I can’t help remembering the line from the Pat Boone his Speedy Gonzales. “Hey Rosita come quick: down at the Cantina they’re giving Green Stamps with Tequila. Heaven help us.


Is HSBC wise to bet the bank on China?

The Daily Telegraph’s City Editor Ben Marlow takes issue with HSBC’s strategy of getting even closer to China the largest authoritarian regime in the world. He cites several examples of risk including the ongoing property collapse featuring Evergrande, an impossible Zero Covid strategy and the continuing demise of Hong Kong as a financial centre. All true I suppose. Competitor Standard Chartered has decided to move in the other direction. A glance at Ukraine might convince the powers to be at HSBC that dealing with regimes that are not accountable to their citizens and in reality don’t really respect or care about them is not a particularly good idea in the long run. It seems that some elements in the banking business seem to have lost sight of the moral issues surrounding their activities. Everybody that cares about basic human dignity should take note.



Howard Tolman is a well-known banker, technologist and entrepreneur in London,We have a self imposed constraint of 3 news stories per week because we serve busy senior  Fintech leaders who just want succinct and important information.For context on Alt Lending please read the Interview with Howard Tolman about the future of Alt Lending and read articles tagged Alt Lending in our archives.

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