Archive for 2021
Debt settlement companies are still using their tricky tactics, according to Efraim Kandinov of Fundfi Merchant Funding. He says a large group of funders are currently strategizing a mounted response to activity he believes is illicit.
Fundfi’s lawyers have already begun to send out Cease and Desists to the companies that have been telling his clients to breach their contracts and stop paying. He says it has become such an issue, that merchants in other parts of the country have begun ignoring his calls because of his New York area code, which they now associate with this kind of scam.
“[The merchant] said,‘I’m having all these New York numbers specifically, call me and plead with me ‘why are you doing this to yourself? Stop paying. Don’t pay these guys, pay me a fee and I’ll take care of it.’”
”This merchant was smart enough to say, ‘hey, this sounds like a scam’ and gave me the rundown.”
According to Kandinov, his company is one of the many that merchants are being told not to pay, while there are other funders who the debt settlers instruct to keep paying.
“They’re specifically targeting certain funders,” said Kandinov. “Whether they’ve been sued before by other ones, or have agreements, I have no idea. However I’m starting to realize, they’re specially targeting certain companies.”
Nuula, formerly known as BFS Capital, has 5,000 merchants on a waitlist to access a line of credit after just four months of its application process being made available.
But there’s more.
“Nuula is built to not only deliver our own financial products, but it’s developed to help us provision and deploy third party financial products that come from our ecosystem,” said Mark Ruddock, Nuula’s CEO. “So what we’re trying to do here is not really be a broker, but we will carefully curate products.”
“That could be larger, longer loans from one partner, it could be insurance from another partner, it could be entrepreneur wealth management from a third partner,” he continued.
“So we bring those partners onto the platform, and then we expose their functionality within the app, in a way that’s consistent with all the other tools in the app. So yes, there is room for third party lenders.”
Ruddock spoke about how as of now, Nuula’s infrastructure only offers opportunities to those interested in directly funding businesses. The company profits via revenue sharing when businesses are provided with capital from a third party funder on the platform.
Despite not being available yet, he hinted at possibly incorporating broker-esque products as the app’s financial product suite grows.
“Today, we don’t see a near term role for brokers on the app, because we’re not really trying to create a marketplace of a multitude of products, we’re really trying to curate things very, very carefully,” said Ruddock. “However that’s not to say say that we will not over time provide the ability for the more digital brokers or intermediaries to play a role as we seek to broaden the portfolio of tools that we offer.”
“I would say no to brokers in the sense that we really don’t have a compelling offer for them at the moment, but yes to other financial services providers.”
Ruddock described how Nuula is serving a niche customer base, a tech-centric merchant who is looking for an easy-to-use mobile software that can manage their businesses’ X’s and O’s. Not only is this type of merchant underserved and beginning to substantiate in numbers according to Ruddock, but they are extremely eager for access to capital.
“It’s a fundamental change in the way underwriting has been done, away from kind of a rearward looking model, towards a real-time forward looking model, and that’s what we believe is going to be required to unlock capital to this new generation of businesses.”
“[Nuula] reimagines underwriting in a way that says ‘don’t just look at the last six months of bank statements’,” Ruddock said. “[We] look on not only of the day of lending, but the lifetime of your relationship, and how those businesses are recovering, growing, and thriving.”
He spoke about how with real-time data being accessible through Nuula, businesses that are building their creditworthiness can have a mobile reference point for the data that they need to see their real-time financial state, while simultaneously giving lenders a live picture of the businesses’ books.
“So even if a business is not strong enough for credit today, it might be in three months, and we can go watch your progression through this period and unlock the capital when the time is right, and then if that business grows out of the pandemic and recovers and is stronger, we’re going to be able to a broader and richer portfolio of credit.”
Although their target customer seems to be a digitally native merchant, Ruddock says that Nuula’s onboarding process is designed to be simple enough for a merchant who may not be as familiar with fintech.
“I’m a fifty-plus year-old CEO of a fintech company, and I would say I’m as digitally savvy as a twenty year-old, so it isn’t really about age anymore,” said Ruddock. “It’s by the way which [merchants] have embraced technology.”
“What we’ve done with Nuula is we’ve tried to make this product intuitive and simple for a first time app user and we’ve tried to help these folks get access to the data that now is sitting in a multitude of systems. While we believe people who have grown up in an app-centric world are going to be amongst the first adopters, we’re trying to make this product accessible for the fifty year-old restaurant owner too.”
Nuula plans on expanding their data harnessing tools with other fintechs early next year. “Over the next two weeks, we will actually unlock the ability for [merchant] sales data from Shopify or Square,” said Ruddock.
“I don’t think the industry would really be the same if we didn’t have brokers anymore.”
Dave Stewart, who was recently promoted to Sales and Partnerships Manager at Idea Financial, spoke to deBanked about the role brokers will play in the future of business financing. With so many different kinds of innovation being offered in the financial world through technology, Stewart shared his thoughts on how brokers, funders, and merchants can get the most out of a technology-infused lending environment.
“We think about the whole fintech thing, everything getting technology based, and that there’s a missed opportunity for the human touch,” said Stewart, when asked how technology will influence the way merchants apply for capital. “There’s a lot of clients out there that can go online and fill out an application, but they don’t understand the in’s and out’s.”
“When [the merchant] doesn’t understand how everything actually works, they usually fall back and seek a broker at some point in time.”
Stewart highlighted how from the lender’s perspective, the value of brokers is in being the face to the experience of purchasing a financial product. He described it as someone who can guide the merchant to the right type of financing and then through that specific funding approval process.
“I think there is value in the experience,” said Stewart. “I don’t go to a restaurant to cook my own meal. I go to a restaurant because the service is going to be great, the food is going to be great, and hopefully I have a great experience, and I think that’s a great example of what the broker does.”
Despite believing that the broker’s role in financing is invincible to fintech’s innovation in lending, Stewart didn’t dismiss the value of understanding and leveraging different types of technology in order to be competitive.
“There’s an art to being a good broker,” said Stewart. “There are a lot of people who are not tech savvy and are just monster brokers or monster sales people, but they definitely need or rely on somebody else to explain the technical aspects.”
Costa Mesa, CA— Finance technology (FinTech) in the traditional and alternative business finance industry is seeing a massive enhancement with the release of new technology from Centrex Software.
Centrex Software, a dedicated business lending CRM and loan/advance servicing software platform that brings multiple technologies all under one roof for direct funders, brokers, and investors, experienced 22% growth from 2019 to 2020 and 35% growth from 2020 to 2021, during a global pandemic. With that growth has come quite a bit of new thinking out of the Centrex Software management team.
When it comes to the business lending space, FinTech companies spend huge amounts of time focused on how to drive more users into their software. This strategy makes sense as it is what a large operating software company is required to focus on to generate revenue. “But what about our customers’ customers? What if we spent more time focused on driving our customers’ customers not to our software, but to our customers’ software? In our business, we fail if our customers can’t engage, retain, and sell to their customers. We want that relationship to thrive and grow so we have built technology to aid that,” says Trey Markel, Senior Software Specialist with Centrex.
In realizing there was a tech need for this new way of thinking, Centrex Software built a mobile app that is white labeled to Centrex Software customers so they can offer more relationship retaining and building solutions to their customers. Keith Nason, President at Velocity Funding Group, and a Centrex Software customer, explains, “Trey, Michael and the Centrex team are going to put my brand in the pockets of every single one of my customers. It was an entirely new strategy that you simply don’t see from other software companies, and it should create customer engagement like we have never seen before.” The new white labeled mobile app has a few features that will really put your marketing hat on. First, the white labeled app is fully integrated with Plaid so that pre- and post-funding, Centrex clients can actually link their banks accounts and manage their finances. On top of that, Centrex Software has an admin portal where Centrex clients can manage all their app users. One of the best parts is that, in the admin portal, Centrex clients will have the ability to send push notifications to smart watches and to mobile devices that can communicate to the end mobile app user. Plus, there are several other features that keep mobile app users engaged with Centrex clients and the broker partner via the mobile app.
In the same spirit of engaging more efficiently with customers, the Centrex team also built a WordPress plugin that allows its customers to build “Smart Applications” right on their website. Michael Lindsey, also a Senior Software Specialist with Centrex expressed, “Our clients need more tools that are forward facing to their customers to help make faster decisions and offer a better more automated experience.” Taking the automated application process a bit further, Centrex integrated the WordPress plugin with Universal Credit Services to pull and analyze credit data, and Plaid to pull and analyze financial data. This allows Centrex Software customers to automatically underwrite and create offers right on their website. The WordPress plugin will communicate all info and decisions into Centrex Software during each step of the process. Lastly, for those Centrex Software customers using both the WordPress plugin and the white labeled mobile app, once an application is completed by the business borrower on a Centrex Software customers website, it will automatically create a user for the mobile app in real-time. The end result is a completely seamless and streamlined business borrowing experience.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the two new technologies being released by Centrex Software on January 1st of 2022, is that in order to take advantage of the new tech, you don’t even need to be a Centrex Software CRM customer. “We understand that the Centrex CRM is only one option for funders and ISO’s out there. We also understand that there is much more than just CRM that is needed to build a successful finance business. Because of that, we built the WordPress plugin and the mobile app in an API based architecture so that any finance company using any CRM with an API can utilize the new Centrex technology. We wanted to capture more of the market with unique FinTech solutions, offering CRM alone can only get us a to a certain point.” says Trey Markel.
Needless to say, Centrex Software has really stepped it up as a full circle FinTech solution provider to the finance industry. Centrex Software will also be launching its new open REST API and amortization calculators in the new year to expand their tech offering. You can reach Centrex Software at www.centrexsoftware.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
During this year’s online Christmas shopping you may have noticed a new button at checkout from your favourite BNPL providers – “Pay Now”.
The pay in full option allows shoppers to initiate a direct bank transfer without pulling out a credit card. Both Klarna (through their acquisition of Sofort) and Affirm have launched theirs.
This begs the question… umm why?
Customer preference. “I thought the whole point of BNPL was to spread your payments out over time?” Merchants attract more shoppers, shoppers receive interest free loans. It’s a win-win.
Correct. But not all shoppers are looking to defer payments in installments or to the end of the month on their credit cards. By offering a one-click pay in full option, BNPLs widen their net to shoppers not interested in financing.
Regulation. As with all financial products, regulators are sensitive to marketing; particularly ensuring that consumers are not being encouraged to take on more than they can afford. A pay in full option sends a strong sign to both regulators and consumers that BNPLs are completely aligned with any payment preference.
Banking > Lending. BNPLs are expanding beyond POS finance to a full banking suite of products:
- Klarna recently launched virtual cards in the UK.
- Affirm launched a cash-back savings account.
- Afterpay is now part of the artist-formerly-known-as Square (Block), and will be integrated into their suite of small business banking solutions.
- PayPal has gone the opposite way, starting with checkout and expanding into BNPL themselves and through their acquisition of Paidy in Japan.
All four of these companies are converging around an online banking model that goes well beyond payments and lending.
Payment processing. Payments are a zero-sum game. At checkout, there can only be one winner per transaction. A shopper either pays with cash, cards, or more recently installments (over simplification). Visa and Mastercard have expressed concern that BNPL eats into the demand for revolving credit, and in turn their payment rails. A pay now option will take even more traffic away from these rails, allowing BNPLs to compete head to head with the payment titans.
Move over ConstitutionDAO, the latest Decentralized Autonomous Organization, known as elfDAO, is seeking to leverage the power of crypto-fundraising to “fund, organize, and donate gifts to institutions, orphanages, and low-income neighborhood centers [in order to] bring holiday joy to as many children as possible.
It can all be accomplished through an ethereum wallet and an app where the DAO holds the funds, where more than $30,000 was raised in the first 24 hours since the campaign went live. That’s enough to pay for approximately $1,200 gifts for kids.
“We are not formally affiliated with ConstitutionDAO,” a representative of the DAO said, “however, many members of our advisor team were previously part of the core team at ConstitutionDAO. We are so grateful for their guidance.”
The idea for the campaign came from Byeongjun, @bjmoonn on twitter, who was eager to build something meaningful. From there, a team was assembled to turn the concept into reality.
“This is entirely a charitable endeavor,” the representative said. “All funds raised, apart from the 2.5% of funds raised to cover overhead costs (1% for multi-signature wallet and Juicebox gas fees, 1.5% for enDAOment, our fiscal sponsor’s transaction fees) will go towards charitable causes. All overhead costs will be transparently documented and none will be used to compensate the core team — leftover operational funds will be contributed to charity.”
The deadline to contribute is December 31st. The hope is that the DAO will raise $1 million, enough to buy gifts for 40,000 kids.
Some of the logistical questions will be decided by votes cast by the contributors.
“Contributors ($GIFT token holders) will vote on our initial governance proposal, which will set the specifics for how charity proposals and voting by token holders will work,” the representative said.
Contributions can be made via elfDAO.
For full disclosure, I have personally made a donation to the DAO, but I am not a core team member, advisor, or otherwise affiliated with the project.
It’s not a loan, Pipe says. Instead businesses can sell their future recurring revenue to investors on a trading platform for cash upfront today. Led by CEO Harry Hurst, the former founder of a rental car delivery service, Pipe has provided an astounding $1.2B worth of capital to businesses this year, putting them on pace to become one of the largest small business finance companies nationwide.
The company claims to have made recurring revenue into an asset class while making Miami their home base, much to the joy of the city’s tech-friendly mayor.
I am so grateful for everyone participating and joining forces to make Miami a global hub for innovation.
Read more: https://t.co/OtxrRad0yq
— Mayor Francis Suarez (@FrancisSuarez) December 22, 2020
Pipe considers itself to be the “Nasdaq for revenue” and calls its employees “plumbers” instead of sales agents, underwriters, and engineers.
People wonder how big @pipe is.
In our first full year of trading we’ve provided access to over $1.2B in financing to companies of all shapes and sizes, from bootstrappers to public co’s – all on their terms.
Proud of our team of 76 plumbers is an understatement.
Bring on ‘22!
— Harry Hurst (@harryhurst) December 21, 2021
Pipe has already raised $300 million of equity financing in the last year from investors including Shopify, Slack, Okta, HubSpot, Next47, Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures, Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, Chamath Palihapitiya, MaC Ventures, Fin VC, Greenspring Associates, Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley) and more at a valuation of over $2 billion.
“Pipe is levelling the playing field for companies in the capital markets,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder & CEO, Social Capital, to finledger. “By taking the underlying contracts that generate recurring revenue streams and making them tradable for the first time, Pipe has unlocked a multi-trillion dollar asset class, revenue.”
With permission for reprint from Leasing News and credit to Ken Greene
The California DFPI has extended the deadline for transitioning to the NMLS to March 15, 2022 for all those with a California license.
I had a long talk with the DFPI NMLS specialist and the agency is well aware that the transition process is not simple, and that many companies are having difficulty with it. I was also advised that if an application is pending but not approved when the deadline passes, your license will not be revoked. That is also good news.
This three-month extension should give everyone sufficient time to get the transition done. The process is confusing, but the folks at the DFPI are quite helpful. I urge anyone having difficulty to call them. Still, don’t wait until the last minute!
Here is the announcement:
Extension – NMLS Transition for California Financing Law Licensees: Deadline Extended to March 15, 2022
Notice of Extension
The deadline for licensees under the California Financing Law not currently on NMLS to transition onto NMLS is extended to March 15, 2022.
All licensees not yet on NMLS must establish an account in NMLS and submit their information through NMLS on or before the March 15, 2022 deadline.
Begin by Establishing an Account in NMLS
Licensees seeking to transition onto NMLS may access NMLS’s website here. From this homepage, select the button for “Getting Started – Company.”
To facilitate creating an account in NMLS, all transitioning CFL licensees should be familiar with the documentation required when setting up the account. This NMLS Account Creation Help Document describes step-by-step how to create an NMLS account and the documents needed.
Input Licensee Information
After establishing an account, a licensee must input its information on two electronic forms (three electronic forms if the licensee has branch locations). Information about the licensee is entered on the “Company Form,” MU1. Information about each key personnel (owners, officers, directors, managing members, partners, etc.) is entered on the “Individual Form,” MU2. Information about branch locations/licenses is entered on the “Branch Form,” MU3. After completing the applicable information, submit the information through NMLS.
NMLS has state-specific checklists to assist licensees transitioning onto NMLS, and FAQs for guidance on transitioning a license onto NMLS.
For questions regarding the creation of an account in NMLS, contact the NMLS Call Center at (855) 665-7123. For questions regarding transitioning a CFL license onto NMLS, contact DFPI at CFL.Inquiries@dfpi.ca.gov or (866) 275-2677.
Finally, for those of you who missed it, here is a link to my Leasing News article from 12/8/21 outlining the CFL to NMLS transition process:
Ken Greene Leasing & Finance Observations