Kabbage: The Merchant Cash Advance of the Online Business World

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Show me the Kabbage! Kabbage offers working capital to Ebay sellers that have difficulty qualifying for a bank loan. They describe their financial product as an advance and funds are collected back automatically via the seller’s PayPal account. Sound strikingly similiar to something else?

Kathryn Petralia, the COO of Kabbage provided details in an interview with practicalcommerce.com. Funding ranges from $2,000 to $15,000 and approval is based on the following factors:

  • Minimum 1 year in business
  • Historical Ebay sales volume
  • Historical PayPal account activity
  • Credit score (although they are flexible)
  • Business type
  • Chargeback history

Petralia describes the cost as fee based, not rate based. “So it’s a maximum six month period that an advance can be held by a merchant and all of the merchants have to enroll in auto-payback system via PayPal. We automatically take a percentage of the initial advance amount every month. So the idea is in no more than six months, this sum of money will be paid off. A business will not be approved for an amount they cannot payback in that timeframe.”

Take away the fixed timeframe and we have all the signature features of a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA). The term loan, is even for the most part absent from Kabbage’s website. It’s difficult to overlook another feature of Kabbage, the ability to obtain funds in 10 minutes.

It’s easy to see if you qualify for an advance with Kabbage. Do you have about 5 seconds to spend with us? Simply enter your eBay marketplace ID and we will start the process. If you have sufficient activity and a great history of selling on eBay, we will then ask you to complete our application. You can go from eBay ID to cash (in your PayPal account) in as few as 10 minutes!

10 minutes? Traditional MCA funders don’t move THAT fast, nor should they. There’s a few things that alternative funding sources have learned since the financial crisis, and that’s not to go overboard. Funding in 10 minutes is great for the business owner, but doesn’t give the funding company any time to actually underwrite the deal. There’s a few questions we would like Kabbage to answer or consider.

  • Do you ask where your applicants store their inventory?
  • Is drop shipping an acceptable business model?
  • Do you ask applicants if they’re current on their business property or home? If they’re renting a location, this isn’t going to show up on their credit report. If they’re on the verge of eviction, how would you know?
  • Do you require contact information for any of their suppliers?
  • Do you perform a criminal background check on your applicants?
  • If the business conducts sales on a separate website in addition to their Ebay store, what’s to prevent them from discontinuing their Ebay operation while a balance is outstanding?
  • What is the recourse in the case of default? What collateral is there?
  • What if a business stops using the designated PayPal account and starts using another one. Are there any worthwhile deterrents?
  • What if Ebay changes how they conduct business in a way that prevents or decreases the sales capability of their sellers? Are you prepared to adapt?

Though Kabbage is not exactly a Merchant Cash Advance, it’s close enough that we should welcome them to the community. A few tips for these folks though. The more automated the approval process, the higher the default rate. Does a business really need funding in 10 minutes or less? Also, the less grounded a business is, such as a long term lease in a brick and mortar location vs. an Ebay store, the less likely they will survive in the long run.

Good luck!

– The Merchant Cash Advance Resource


Last modified: April 26, 2013
Sean Murray

Category: merchant cash advance, MPR Authored

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