Archive for 2020

Google Pay Launches SMB Loans in India, Plans to Expand American Features

June 30, 2020
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Google OfficeThis week Google announced that it is expanding its service offerings in India, with small and medium-sized businesses in the country now being able to apply for loans via the Google Pay for Business app. The result of partnerships with banks, Google also announced that it will be rolling all of its SMB-related services into one platform; these include Google My Business, an app that allows owners to make a business profile and get a Google Maps listing; and Google Pay Spot, which lets entrepreneurs customize their digital storefront, as seen by customers in the Google Pay app.

This is just the latest of features released in India by the tech giant, with it launching the ability to transfer money between Google Pay users earlier this year. What makes this interesting though is that in a recent interview with Business Insider, a Google spokesperson noted that the company’s decisions in global markets have become increasingly more influenced by its trialing of new features in India.

“We’re always trying to understand and learn from changing consumer behaviors worldwide so we can build more helpful features,” the spokesperson explained. “Our learnings from Google Pay in India will enable us to make digital money experiences simple, helpful, and accessible and create new economic opportunities for both users and our partners around the world.”

So does this mean Google will soon be joining the likes of Square and Clover and begin offering funding to American small businesses? The future is not so clear, but with the company announcing two weeks ago that it plans to incorporate digital storefronts into Google Pay, serving as an in-app portal to purchase goods, it appears that long-time features of the Indian version are beginning to bleed into the American counterpart.

Having announced its intentions to offer checking accounts in 2020, and with leaks earlier this year pointing towards a Google Pay debit card, it appears as if Google is following in the steps of its rival, Apple, and wading further into the financial services sector.

Canadian Small Business Lender Looks Doomed In Wake of COVID-19

June 29, 2020
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LendifiedAs well-known (1, 2) small business lenders in the United States continue to negotiate COVID-19 era workouts with their creditors, another in Canada appears to be falling off the cliff.

On Thursday, Lendified’s President & Director Kevin Clark tendered his resignation effective July 3rd. He follows other board members Edward Kelterborn and Benjy Katchen whose resignations went into effect on June 25th. Company CFO Norman Tan previously resigned on June 9th and no replacement has been named.

COVID-19’s arrival came at a difficult time for Lendified. Before COVID, the company had never turned a profit or reported positive cashflow in its entire history.

“Lendified is in default in respect of credit facilities with its secured lenders. Forbearance and standstill agreements are being discussed with these senior lenders, with none indicating to date that any enforcement action is expected although each is in a position to do so,” the company said. “However, no formal agreements in this regard have been concluded as of the date hereof.”

The company expressed that it would not be able to continue operations if it was not able to finalize a forbearance on its defaults AND simultaneously obtain an immediate infusion of capital to fund its operations.

Lendified’s board of directors is presently considering selling its assets or its entire business in order to raise revenue.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Lendified, Judi.ai, an automated loan underwriting platform, is poised to cease operations as a result of a cashflow shortfall. “[Judi.ai] requires cash infusions in the amount of approximately $100,000 per month in order to maintain operations,” Lendified reported. “Its cash reserves at this time are approximately $80,000. At this time, the Company is not in a position to continue to fund the Business and there can be no assurances that it will be able to do so in the future.”

The company went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange on May 26th via a reverse merger and has since experienced a 95% drop in its share price. The company’s market cap on Monday hovered around $700,000 USD.

How Should A Merchant Cash Advance Be Structured, What is Syndication, and More?

June 29, 2020
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A recent roundtable hosted by Pepper Hamilton partner Gregory J. Nowak examined some broad questions about merchant cash advances including:

  • What is a merchant cash advance?
  • How should a merchant cash advance transaction be structured?
  • What are the key features for enforceability?
  • Could a merchant cash advance transaction be a security?
  • What is participation? is it a security? If yes, what does that mean?
  • What is syndication?
  • What’s the role of FINRA?

They published the presentation on jdsupra.com and it can be viewed here:

Business Loan Broker “The Tyrant” Pleads Guilty

June 29, 2020
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Suffolk County PoliceThe owner of a Long Island business loan brokerage accused of orchestrating an advance fee loan scheme, pled guilty this month. Demetrios Boudourakis, known in his brief MMA fighting career as The Tyrant, pled guilty to the top charge of grand larceny in the 2nd degree.

Boudourakis was arrested last year after joint law enforcement efforts by the Suffolk and Nassau police and sheriff’s departments, New York State Police, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration, had been monitoring his company’s business for months. According to the Suffolk County District Attorney, the investigation revealed evidence that Boudourakis offered loans to his targets in exchange for advance fees, and then collected the fees without providing the loans. Once he and his employees had received the advance fees, they would cease contact with the victims. The scheme was determined to have generated stolen proceeds in excess of $2 million.

His sentencing date is on September 4th, where he is expected to serve between 5 and 10 years in prison.

Separately, pending federal drug charges against him were recently dropped.

OnDeck Update 6/23

June 24, 2020
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On June 23rd, OnDeck filed the following statement with the SEC:

On June 23, 2020, we obtained a limited consent (“Consent”) for our corporate debt facility (“Corporate Facility”). Under the Consent, the lenders consented to delay the effectiveness of the increased monthly principal repayments until July 14, 2020 (or such later date as may be agreed by the Administrative Agent), which were triggered by an Asset Performance Payout Event (Level 2) (“APPE”) that occurred on June 17, 2020. In consideration for the Consent, the Company agreed to make a $5 million principal repayment (“Repayment”) substantially concurrent with the execution of the Consent. Under the Consent, the lenders also agreed that, at the Company’s option, the Repayment will either (i) reduce the amount of the monthly principal repayment due on July 17, 2020 by the amount of the Repayment or (ii) if the parties enter into an amendment on or prior to July 17, 2020, be credited towards any principal repayment required under that amendment. The Company entered into the Consent in contemplation of entering into a broader amendment to the Corporate Facility to address impacts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. If such an amendment is not entered into, the APPE triggers $21 million monthly principal repayments which, if not cured, would commence on July 17, 2020 and continue until the Corporate Facility is repaid in full. The Company made a payment of approximately $13 million on June 17, 2020 as a result of the previously disclosed Asset Performance Payout Event (Level 1), bringing the total balance outstanding as of that date to approximately $92 million. The Revolving Commitment Termination Date occurred as a result of such Level 1 event. Certain capitalized terms not defined in this section of the report are used with the meanings ascribed to them in the Corporate Facility as amended by prior amendments thereto and the Consent.

Shares of OnDeck closed at 86 cents yesterday. The company was previously warned that long-term pricing below $1/share would result in delisting from the New York Stock Exchange.

IOU Financial Affected By COVID-19

June 23, 2020
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IOU Financial approved the re-appointment of all of its current directors and auditors yesterday. The company, however, is currently experiencing challenges similar to other online lenders.

In late May, the company filed its Q1 financials and revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic had put them in an “over-advance position with its financing credit facilities.” At the time, the issue remained “uncured” and “the company received default notices subsequent to quarter end.”

“The Company and the financing credit facilities are working together to remedy the situation,” IOU reported. “Nevertheless, there is no assurance that these initiatives will be successful.”

IOU had furloughed 40% of its full-time employees and implemented a temporary 20% reduction in salary for all remaining employees commencing on April 1, 2020.

The company’s market cap has plummeted to CAD$7 million, down from $18 million in February. The company had previously been on a fairly positive trajectory until Q1 when they cranked up their provision for loan losses in anticipation of the fallout caused by the pandemic.

Kabbage and Uber Partner for PPP

June 18, 2020
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UberTwo months after its first round, Kabbage and Uber have partnered to offer a streamlined PPP application process for the latter’s drivers. In a surprise move, the companies have come together to offer Uber drivers a fast-tracked and automated option to apply for the Payment Protection Program. According to a Kabbage press release, the specialized application will be sped up by prepopulating relevant information, outlining eligibility, and automated decision-making.

“They basically will go through a totally separate path that’s purpose-built for Uber drivers,” said Kabbage CEO Rob Frohwein in the statement. “With more than $100 billion left in the PPP, there is a meaningful opportunity for the self-employed to still apply and receive funding. With Uber, we aim to provide hundreds of thousands of more independent contractors access to federal funding.”

With Uber defining its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, these drivers were initially ineligible for certain unemployment benefits. However the CARES Act expanded these benefits to include independent contractors from various industries.

This is not Uber’s first foray into providing some sort of assistance for its drivers. Following the signing of the CARES Act in March, the ride-hailing company released a detailed guide for its drivers explaining how to apply for these benefits. As well as this, in France the company has offered drivers emergency grants during the pandemic as well as a stipend to cover sterilizing and safety products.

For Kabbage, this marks a step away from the dark days of late March which saw the company close its offices in Bangalore, India; cut executives’ pay; and furlough an unspecified but “significant” amount of its previously 500-person United States staff, according to a company memo.

The PPP program, which ran out of money within two weeks of its first round, had more than $130 billion left to give to business owners by June 9, just three weeks before the SBA is scheduled to close the application process on June 30.

PayPal Appoints New Chief Accounting Officer

June 17, 2020
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PayPal promoted Jeffrey Karbowski from Global Controller to Chief Accounting Officer. Karbowski is also the company’s vice-president. His new position takes effect on July 31, 2020.

Karbowski has been with the company since 2013.

Good Internet Connection: A Recap of Broker Fair Virtual’s Debut

June 17, 2020
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Broker Fair 2020 VirtualLast week’s Broker Fair Virtual was the first of its kind for the industry. The day-long event offered talks and networking, just like the in-person event, albeit without the catering service and open bar. Offering a digital space that included a virtual auditorium, networking lounge, expo hall, and individual company booths, the event attempted to recreate the experience of connecting and mingling with the rest of the industry, as much as was possible.

Kicking off with a Matrix-inspired introduction to the virtual space led by alternative finance’s version of Neo’s mentor, Mur-pheus (Murray as Morpheus), the show then went in numerous directions, with panels and talks covering a variety of topics and sectors.

Funding Metrics’ David Frascella took to the virtual stage to talk about how his company and the industry at large have been getting through the pandemic; what’s to come for America was up for discussion with Scott Rasmussen, the veteran pollster, who elaborated on how business could be effected by the upcoming presidential election; the future of combining people with data was debated by figures from Become, Elevate Funding, and Ocrolus; Canada’s lending situation and prospects were talked through in Covid and Canadian Credit;The new normal was discussed by NYC’s Fintech Women; and John Henry, an entrepreneur and star of VICELAND’s ‘Hustle,’ spoke of his experience running businesses and what made his story a success.

As well as this selection of talks, another standout was the cannabis panel. Led by a number of industry veterans, which broke down the difference in funding marijuana-based companies compared to other deals, and what could be down the road for the industry as more states consider legalization.

National Funding’s CRO, Justin Thompson, held an extended Q&A session, fielding queries about how National has been faring through these times and what its approaches are as the economy begins to open back up.

How long-term is long-term for the coronavirus’s impact? Are SBA deals the way to go? Does the industry need to go further with its adaption to this new normal? All these questions were asked and answered in The Great Debate, a panel made up of industry figures from various backgrounds.

And brokers’ futures were considered by Lendio’s Brock Blake, United Capital Source’s Jared Weitz, National Business Capital & Service’s James Webster, and The Watson Group’s Gerald Watson. Here, the idea of a recovery, how each struggled through March and April, and PPP were all debated by the panelists, with perspectives of what’s to come leaning both ways.

There’ll be an evolution of new industries and how we do business,” Gerald Watson noted in his closing words, “just look at this conference for example.”

There was no lobby to find brokers and funders hashing out deals in relative privacy away from the expo hall, instead this was replaced by private messages exchanged. Rather than line up for some chicken wings, people chowed down to whatever was in their home on that day. And instead of gathering around a bar and finishing the day after the final talk, attendees cracked something at their desk and chatted it up in the networking lounge, recalling previous events and what was once taken for granted: the ability to connect effortlessly.

The coronavirus continues to physically keep people apart, but for one day last week the industry was able to come together and network, make deals, and gain insight; albeit in a different way, internet connections providing.

If You Do MCA, You’re Not a Lender (Part Two)

June 16, 2020
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wrongA three-year-old deBanked blog post turned out to be a bit prophetic.

Titled If You Don’t Make Loans, You’re Not a Lender (And definitely not a ‘direct lender’) and posted on January 19, 2017, I hypothesized that the misuse of financial language on the phone or in an e-mail, particularly if one conflated merchant cash advances with lending, could one day result in a subpoena for a deposition to explain it.

In the People of the State of New York, by Office of the New York State Attorney General v. Richmond Capital Group LLC et al, that very scenario played out. Several people were subpoenaed last year and were required to give testimony to lawyers for the New York State Attorney General to explain why internal company communications allegedly referred to MCAs as loans or why a purported MCA company website made use of lending terminology.

The answers, which are public record, were not great. At least two individuals answered that line of questioning by pleading the fifth to potentially avoid self-incrimination.

While there are a lot of colorful details to consider in this case, the AG’s lawsuit dives into the various ways in which the defendants allegedly conflated financial products, including that a defendant company allegedly advertised itself as a “lender” when it actually was not.

While the allegations in the AG’s complaint are probably somewhat unique, there are claims and arguments within them that may be worth further legal review and analysis. Contact an industry-knowledgeable attorney if you have questions.

Broker Fair Has Completed A Historic Milestone

June 12, 2020
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Broker Fair reached a milestone yesterday by successfully completing the industry’s first-ever virtual conference. The experimental concept was a response to this year’s restrictions and precautions on large gatherings.

We hope that the hundreds of attendees found the event fun, educational, and productive! The in-person show is still happening at Convene at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan on March 22, 2021.

Yesterday’s show included live sessions, a networking chat, and a virtual exhibit hall. Attendees will have formal access to the recorded sessions very soon (There were a lot of them).

What's Ahead for Brokers

NYC Fintech Women

The Great Debate

deBanked Booth

The Commercial Finance Coalition Applauds Actions by the Federal Trade Commission and New York State to Thwart Bad Actors in Business Lending

June 11, 2020
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Commercial Finance CoalitionThe Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James have filed formal actions against two small business financing companies for allegedly using egregious and deceptive tactics to seize assets from small businesses, non-profits, religious organizations, and medical offices.

“The Commercial Finance Coalition whole-heartedly applauds the efforts of the FTC and Attorney General James. As a coalition of responsible financial services companies committed to funding small businesses, the CFC believes there should be zero tolerance for bad actors and deceptive practices in our industry,” said Executive Director Dan Gans.

Gans added, “Hopefully this will serve as a warning to all companies in the business finance space to serve merchants through best practices centered on respect and integrity in compliance with state and federal law.”

##

The CFC is a not-for-profit alliance of innovative financial technology companies that are working together to deploy capital to help small and mid sized businesses grow.

Press Release
Contact
Dan Gans
626-755-6545
Release Date
June 11, 2020

The Funders Are Coming Back

June 10, 2020
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ComebackNearly three months on from the beginning of the United States’ lockdown, the alternative finance industry is starting to feel a recovery. As states look to ease lockdowns, businesses seek to start back up, and offices are reopening, an element of normalcy, if it can be called that, appears to be returning. deBanked reached out to a number of businesses in the industry to find out how they were plotting their recovery, as well as what they thought of the future for the space and the American economy.

One such company was Everest Business Funding. After experiencing a strong start to 2020 in January and February, covid-19 and the economic shutdown that accompanied it came as a shock to Everest, CEO Scott Crocket explained.

“It’s difficult to imagine an exogenous event outside of our control that could more squarely impact an industry like this,” Crockett stated. “I mean, after all, we provide capital to small and medium-sized businesses all across the United States, all 50 states, every type of small business you can imagine. And we’re cruising along, we had a record 2019, we’re off to a great start with January, February, even the beginning of March … and we really saw it come on in the third week of March, the week that started with Monday the 16th. It started as a kind of a trickle in, but by the end of the week it was more of a tidal wave in terms of the number of small businesses in our portfolio that were calling in looking for some type of relief as a result of what was happening.”

Crockett said that they paused all new funding the following week, out of concern for the company’s ability to generate business while there was a national economic shutdown in place. Since then however, Everest has been slowly getting back to what it was, with employees now returning to the office in waves and discussions being had over when exactly to start funding again, be it late June or early July.

“IT’S GOOD TO SEE THAT THE OLD-SCHOOL APPROACH IS BACK AND WORKING AGAIN”

Another firm that halted its funding operations was the New York-based PIRS Capital. Similarly, it was mid-March when the pressure was first felt, and PIRS didn’t return to funding until May 15th. PIRS COO Andrew Mallinger chalked this up to the company’s lack of reliance on automated underwriting processes, saying that although “the industry was leaning towards automatic funding and all these models and 20-second approvals, we weren’t fully invested in that yet. So it was good to see that the old-school approach is back and working again, interfacing with these brokers and really understanding their deals and what they’re bringing to the table.”

Mallinger is also confident going into the rest of 2020. Saying that while the company is maintaining a cautiously optimistic outlook, PIRS is working off the assumption that there will eventually be growth this year and that it is set to continue working from home for however long that may be, on the basis that New York may be one of the last states to return to offices.

“ANYONE WHO CAN WEATHER THIS STORM IS GOING TO COME OUT 10 TIMES BETTER THAN THEY DID GOING IN”

Also looking forward is Velocity Group USA’s Trace Feinstein, who believes there will tough times ahead for many in the industry, but who also holds that there are opportunities for those who can make it through.

“Anyone who can weather this storm is going to come out 10 times better than they did going in.” The Chief Syndication Officer said in a call. “It’s an adjustment for our economy, it’s an adjustment for our country, and I think it’s an adjustment for our industry on top of that. So there’s a lot of different changes and things are going to be happening, but I think it’s going to be very good for the ones who make it out of it.”

Feinstein, who said that most of Velocity’s workers are back in its offices, noted that it approached underwriting during the pandemic with thoroughness. Daily underwriting meetings entailed going through each state, looking at what was happening there with infection rates, and discussing how various industries could be affected.

Reporting that applications following the lockdown were actually cleaner than before, with average credit scores going up to be between 650 and 750, Feinstein explained that he pushed underwriters to rely on common sense rather than overthinking their decisions and to treat these deals like they would any MCA application.

And while many funders have struggled through the lockdown period, another part of the industry, collection agencies, have been doing well after an initially tough stretch.

Shawn Smith of Minneapolis’ Dedicated Commercial Recovery has claimed to have grown the company’s portfolio by 100% in 60 days despite a particularly trying period in mid-April. Explaining that the company was two weeks away from having to bring in strict measures to keep things going, Dedicated began getting calls again just in time, with its clients mostly phoning in about MCA deals.

Looking ahead, Smith is anticipating a busy summer and fall as businesses, funders, and the courts come back, but he is worried about a second wave and the alternative finance industry not putting in the precautions needed to stave off the economic impacts this next time around.

“WHEN IT GOT STRESS TESTED, THE PAIN CAME BACK REAL QUICK”

“Anyone can lend out a lot of money or put out a lot of money on the street, but your ability to get it back is going to be very important, and you want the fire extinguisher in place before the house is on fire … what you’re seeing in the MCA industry is because it’s just not as aged as the equipment leasing and banking industries … the MCA companies just didn’t have 20-30 year veterans in collections and legal … we’re so concerned with how to write more deals and get more money out there, and not about how to get it back and not about having strong enough underwriting standards and things like that. So when it got stress tested, the pain came back real quick.”

Likewise, Kearns Brinen & Monaghan’s Mark LeFevre claimed that after having a rocky road during the earlier stages of the pandemic and switching to a “plan B” for the year, the collections company is optimistic about going forward. Having weathered what may be the worst stretch without having had to furlough or lay-off anyone, KBM now has brought most of its workers back after a reworking of the office space. A pre-return fumigation, sneeze guards, and temperature-taking upon re-entry to the office building have all been employed after KBM’s employees asked to return to the workplace.

“The industry is changing literally day to day,” explained the President and CEO. “Some of the laws that are passed by the House and by the Senate are changing quicker than I’ve ever seen. I’ve just never seen it before. But I think it’s for the better and we’re starting to see the comeback of the economy, the stock market, employment. The unemployment numbers are really good and, in my opinion, [the numbers will] continue to go down from what we’re seeing in our industry.”

Impact Of COVID-19 on The Merchant Cash Advance Market

June 8, 2020
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deBanked recently caught up with Gunes Kulaligil, author of Merchant Cash Advance Valuation Dynamics.


Gunes Kulaligil (gkulaligil@methodicalmgmt.com) is a co-founder of Methodical Management, a New York based firm providing valuations, transaction advisory and due diligence services to lenders and investors active in the specialty finance sector. www.methodicalmgmt.com


deBanked: The economic effects of the coronavirus are myriad and widespread. What are some of the specific challenges that the merchant cash advance market is currently experiencing? And what new obstacles can the industry expect further down the line as a result of the pandemic?

Gunes Kulaligil: The pandemic has redefined what “off the charts” means for unemployment claims and other leading economic indicators, but the full impact of job losses and halted economic activity has yet to be observed in the credit performance of many specialty finance assets. MCAs are unique in the sense that payments are daily or weekly and tied directly to revenues. As such, we were able to observe the preliminary impact of the lockdown on MCA cashflows earlier than for most other types of non-bank specialty finance loans.

When incomes and revenues are disrupted, consumers and businesses alike will often prioritize which debt to service first. They may be unwilling to pay certain accounts, even if able to do so, in order to preserve cash for prolonged uncertainty. However, this is not the case for MCAs as payments are remitted automatically; therefore, the cashflows are aligned with and reflect true business performance free of the impact of payment prioritization. As early as the second half of March, we observed payments from merchants drop approximately 20% to 30% depending on the type of industry. In addition, payment pace continued to decline into April and May, albeit at a slower pace, as modifications and servicing efforts picked up. Funders have a vested interest in merchants being able to stay in business and to build their revenues back up. Thus, any modification effort — whether that is a deferral, reduced percentage of sales remitted, or lower payback amounts — that incentivizes the merchant and provides some flexibility goes a long way.

At the same time, funders’ portfolios look worse as performing MCAs pay down and a lack of new origination results mechanically in the remainder of their portfolios having more tail risk – a lack of new origination would be a drag on performance even without the pandemic. For these portfolios, it is crucial to monitor portfolio performance at a granular level to identify businesses that will successfully navigate reopening and increase their revenues; so that servicing resources can be directed where they are most needed and will be most effective. Funders that have invested in technology and maintain connectivity with merchants via CRM tools and with established servicing / resolution teams and processes will have a competitive edge in doing so.

Poor performance caused by the pandemic has also led warehouse facilities to breach covenants or take-out partners to pause purchases unless platforms pledge additional skin in the game or pay higher interest rates to go forward with covenant modifications or resume purchases. They may also increase monitoring requirements and the level of oversight they apply.

deBanked: Conversely, is the pandemic creating any opportunities for funders and brokers as the situation develops?

Gunes Kulaligil: Indeed. While the near-term outlook is grim, a lot of relief and stimulus is working its way through the economy. The U.S. Government is intent on providing support as states are starting to re-open as quickly and as safely as possible. In retrospect, nobody had a pandemic playbook and programs like PPP were designed, deployed and funded on the fly with collaboration from both banks and non-bank lenders during volatile markets.

Non-bank lenders’ success in being able to reach truly small businesses, as well as the speed and efficiency in deploying the funds, has not gone unnoticed. The PPP experience also highlighted stark differences between the types of clients that large commercial banks serve versus those served by non-bank lenders. As deBanked reported, banks focused on larger clients whereas non-bank and fintech lenders assisted much smaller businesses in comparison. Origination fees on PPP loans were not insignificant either. SBA pays PPP lenders a 1% to 5% origination fee depending on the funded amount. For example, Ready Capital reported a gross revenue of $100 million on $2.1 billion funded. Notably, Ready Capital’s average PPP loan size was approximately $70,000 compared to an average of more than $500,000 for JP Morgan Chase for approximately $15 billion the bank funded in round one of PPP.

Small business activity is not only a leading indicator of distress but also at the center of any significant economic recovery. Small businesses account for 45% of GDP with 88% of these businesses employing fewer than 20 people. There is no meaningful recovery without small businesses getting back on their feet. As businesses re-emerge, their financing needs will vary widely in timing, amount, frequency, term, etc. depending on industry and many other factors. Continued involvement from the federal government whether in the form of deploying more low-interest rate loans, forgivable loans or loans with some sort of guarantee is likely. Lenders who can continue to serve their clients either by extending a suite of bespoke private credit or by facilitating the deployment and servicing of government funds will succeed.

Broker Fair 2020 Virtual Video Q&A

June 6, 2020
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Broker Fair 2020 Virtual is this week! Still have questions? I answered some of Johny Fernandez’s questions in this video interview below:

Register for Broker Fair Here

How Stimulus Packages are Accidentally Ending Up in The Trash Bin

June 3, 2020
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money in trashSince March, over 150 million Americans have woken up to find their banks accounts newly graced with checks from the government. Allowed by the CARES Act, this stimulus package, titled the Economic Impact Payment, was dispatched to help ease the short-term financial troubles that arose from covid-19’s disruption of the economy. And while many Americans have received their money from the Treasury, a selection of recipients are dropping their stimuli into the garbage.

The reason for this being that the mode of delivery was switched up mid-May. Instead of having the money directly wired to their bank accounts, roughly four million Americans will instead receive their packages via prepaid VISA debit cards. This group is made up of those taxpayers who do not have bank information on file with the Treasury and who had their tax returns processed by the Andover or Austin Service Centers.

Treasury-sponsored and issued by MetaBank, these cards are shipped in a plain envelope that bares the words “Money Network Cardholder Services, and which contains instructions alongside the card: making the stimulus package look more like marketing spam than anything else. As such, numerous complaints have been made about the delivery method, with many of those who received the cards saying they threw out the entire envelope without thought, believing it to be junk mail.

“It really read to me like a scam,” said one woman interviewed by Yahoo! Finance. “So into the shredder it went.”

As well as this, Yahoo! also found that other recipients received cards that had mixed up their names with those of their spouse. A situation that proved confusing given that the cards must be activated via your phone using your social security number and other personal details.

Funds on the cards can be used to directly pay expenses as well as be transferred to personal accounts; they can also be used at ATMs, although the withdrawal amount per day is limited to $1,000, meaning multiple trips to a bank during a pandemic will be required.

Done in an effort to reduce instances of fraud as well as speed up the process of getting money to Americans, communication about the EIPCard setup seems to have gotten lost in the fray.

Going forward, the Treasury will be waiving the fees associated with reissuing an EIPCard to anyone who claims they shredded or threw it out, and initial reissuance fees from earlier dates will be reversed.

CFG Merchant Solutions Enhances Partnership with Arena Investors and its Affiliates to Serve SMEs

May 29, 2020
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NEW YORK, New York., May 29, 2020 — CFG Merchant Solutions (“CFGMS”), a leading financier of small and medium-sized enterprises (“SMEs”), announced today that the company is building upon its partnership with Arena Investors, LP (“Arena”), in conjunction with Ceteris Portfolio Services (“Ceteris), an Arena servicing affiliate, in servicing and providing liquidity to Platinum Rapid Funding’s (“PRF”) merchant portfolio. CFGMS has been a leading capital provider to SMEs and an originator of advances to growing merchants, providing in excess of $400 million merchant cash advances since 2015. Arena has been CFGMS’s primary capital partner since 2016.

CFGMS and Arena are determined to prioritize the needs of PRF’s existing customers in the wake of the COVID-19 crises and its resulting impact on small businesses across the country.

“Arena is pleased to continue its partnership with CFGMS and its senior management team consisting of CEO, Andrew Coon, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, Robert Martini, and President, William Gallagher. Together, we remain deeply committed to serving the needs of PRF’s existing customers, particularly for ongoing financing and liquidity needs in an environment when even much larger businesses struggle to attract capital,” said Victor Dupont, who leads Arena’s investments in the financing of the SME sector. “We welcome further involvement with PRF’s customers and their affiliated ISOs and are committed to working collaboratively with all throughout the COVID-19 crises and beyond”.

“Arena and its affiliates have built a reputation as a group that combines uniquely flexible capital with broad-based expertise in servicing, resolutions, and SME finance,” said Coon. “So, while we excel at sourcing, originations, and underwriting, we felt that they brought a critical level of IP and know-how that is uniquely suited to benefit all parties in today’s environment. Combining forces to offer a broader set of servicing solutions to the MCA market segment made complete sense.”

Jonathan Pike, CEO of Ceteris, added: “Ceteris is excited to work with CFGMS and Arena by offering best-in-class servicing strategies and assisting merchants in a difficult economic environment.”

The Small Business Association (“SBA”) estimates that traditional banks still reject approximately 90 percent of SME loan applications. Since 2015, CFGMS has emerged as a proven platform that leverages sales partner relationships, analytics, and proprietary underwriting to provide SMEs with a straightforward and streamlined access to critical funding. The company addresses the fundamental capital needs of SME owners across a broad credit spectrum and through every stage of a business’s life cycle.

SMEs across a wide variety of industries that include restaurants, retail stores, salons, spas, dry cleaners, auto body shops, and professional offices. All of these businesses, and more, rely on CFGMS to secure the necessary capital they need to grow.

For questions or funding solutions, please contact:
– William Gallagher
– (646) 880-3817
WGallagher@CFGMS.com

– Ryan Banda
– (856) 545-8322
rbanda@ceterisassetsolutions.com

About CFGMS

Headquartered in New York, NY, CFGMS specializes in providing financing to support the growth and development of underserved small-to-medium sized businesses that lack access to traditional bank funding. Founded in 2010, CFGMS’s affiliated company, CapFlow Funding Group, provides factoring, purchase order finance, and asset-based lending solutions. CFGMS and CapFlow have together provided over $1 billion in liquidity solutions to their SME clients. For more information please visit www.cfgmerchantsolutions.com

About Arena Investors, LP

Arena Investors is a privately held, SEC-registered, global alternative investment firm which combines mandate flexibility, proprietary sourcing and systems-plus-servicing to enable solutions for those seeking capital. The firm was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in NewYork with additional offices in Jacksonville, London, and San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.arenaco.com.

About Ceteris Portfolio Services

Ceteris is a nationally licensed servicing company providing debt recovery solutions and other related services for consumers and commercial businesses across a broad range of financial assets. Ceteris provides first- and third-party revenue cycle management, business process outsourcing and portfolio backup servicing to heavily regulated, high volume industries including banking, automotive finance, credit card, equipment leasing, medical, telecommunications, utilities, retail and other industries. For more information please visit www.ceterisholdco.com.

OnDeck Status Update

May 28, 2020
Article by:

OnDeck submitted an unprompted mid-quarter update with the SEC early this morning on its status. Unlike previous submissions, the company prepared a visual of its debt situation. The bad news is that there is a good amount of negotiating with creditors left to be done. The good news was that there was an uptick in borrower payments. The attached graphics were pulled straight from their filing.

The company also said that it believes it is “well-positioned to benefit from economic recovery & market dislocation.” It based that belief on the below stated bulletpoints:

  • Small business lending is a large market and will be critical in leading the economic recovery.
  • OnDeck has deep experience from a 14-year operating history to increase originations with a targeted approach and reshape the portfolio.
  • OnDeck is a scaled platform with demonstrated historical profitability and an established brand, unlike many competitors.
  • Consistent with the last crisis, banks are likely to retrench further and only selectively serve SMBs.
  • Expected consolidation of SMB lending industry will ultimately lead to improved unit economics and growth opportunities.

ondeck trends

The full presentation, which is mostly a recap of the company’s Q1 earnings data, can be accessed here.

Most Brokers Plan to Minimize Use of a Central Office Post-COVID, Survey Suggests

May 26, 2020
Article by:

altfi impactA survey conducted by Overland Park, KS-based Strategic Capital revealed that only 36.8% of respondents plan to completely return to the office full-time after cities fully open back up. The vast majority of respondents were small business finance brokers.

44.7% selected that they would minimize office space or only use office space to house core team members while 18.4% planned to terminate their office lease altogether and adopt a work from home model permanently.

The full survey results can be found here.

How NYC Fintech Women is Keeping its Community Going in a Pandemic

May 23, 2020
Article by:

NYC Fintech WomenHow does a community of people continue to support each other and network in a pandemic? What is lost when in-person meet ups are replaced by stop-start Zoom conversations? Do geographical limits even exist anymore when everyone is bound to their homes? These are the questions that NYC Fintech Women are dealing with now.

Founded in 2017, NYC Fintech Women is an organization of roughly 5,000 members that aims to provide its members with the opportunity to build a web of connections that might otherwise be out of reach. Open to both men and women, the group revolved around regular gatherings that afforded the chance to rub shoulders with both those entrenched in fintech as well as figures from institutional finance. Ranging from mid-tier employees all the way up to executives, the organization encompasses a broad section of those working in the intersection of finance and technology.

Born out of the frustration that Founder Michelle Tran felt when trying to locate fintech people at New York events which largely catered to institutional and traditional finance, the plan for the organization was two-pronged: get all these fintech types together for easier communication while also creating an environment that will allow women to “build their own board.”

Described by Tran as part of Fintech Women’s ethos, the idea is that you’ll have to build your own team if you’re going to get anywhere. “You really need to build your own personal board in order for any type of career advancement,” Tran explained over a call. “So making sure you’re pulling in the right leaders, the right support systems that are also diverse, and the best way to do that is to have a strong network of people at your fingertips.”

And it’s this ethos as well as the social aspects of community that have been challenged by the pandemic. But determined not to let covid-19 get the best of what the organization has become in the past three years, the group has been forced to adapt.

Like the rest of us, telecommunication is being brought in to replace what once came naturally. Slack will offer the chance to chat as a large group, smaller coffee chats will replace the opportunities to talk amongst peers, and a mentoring program launched in January is in the process of being turned fully virtual. And as well as these developments, the decision to expand beyond New York, a move that’s been on Tran’s mind for a while, is now looking more likely as events go online, removing the barriers that come with location.

“It’s a bit harder to just meet somebody, but we’re going to facilitate a number of different platforms in order to do that,” Tran said. “That’s one of the things that we continue to say is really important, and I think that’s what a lot of people miss too, as we’re all sitting alone in our home or with our families. We missed that engagement that we have with others, so we’re finding ways to do that.”