Archive for 2023

Georgia on Verge of Passing a Commercial Financing Disclosure Law

March 27, 2023
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Georgia State CapitolGeorgia is on pace to become the next state to pass a commercial financing disclosure law. SB 90 has sailed through both the state’s House and Senate with strong bi-partisan support and is potentially heading for the governor’s desk. The text of the bill is similar to the disclosure law recently enacted in Utah. It also explicitly states that brokers may not make or use any false or misleading representations in the course of its business.

The full text can be viewed here.

“We’re Hiring” But are they really?

March 26, 2023
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ghost jobsWe’ve all encountered folks in the industry that will swear up and down that business has never been better even when everything is falling apart behind the scenes, but apparently businesses in general may go to great lengths to keep up such appearances. One way they do this is by advertising job roles that they won’t actually fill. According to Joe Mercurio, project manager at Clarify Capital, 43% of employers who post ghost jobs aren’t actively trying to fill positions but rather it’s “because they want to keep employees motivated or they want to give off the impression that the company is growing.”

Clarify Capital gleaned this data from a survey it conducted which was then cited in the Wall Street Journal last week. The survey also found that employers have job listings up just to see who might apply, to have an active pool of candidates in case of turnover, or because they simply forget to delete listings for jobs that are no longer available.

According to the WSJ story, titled “Job Listings Abound, but Many Are Fake,” the number of ghost jobs distort hiring demand and applicants across different fields have reportedly found it increasingly difficult to apply for jobs where the employer is actually looking to fill it. The takeaway, perhaps, is that if one is pursuing a new opportunity right now, the presence of job listings may not be enough on its own to indicate which way a company is going. You’ll have to dig a little deeper so that you’re not disappointed.

ChatGPT Gave Me Installation Instructions And a New Independent AI Emerged Instead

March 25, 2023
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Artificial IntelligenceWeb-based ChatGPT-4 is pretty powerful which is why I wanted to take the experience to the next level and communicate with it in an easy-to-access terminal window on my desktop computer. ChatGPT, if you haven’t heard, is an artificially intelligent language model with mouth-dropping abilities to engage with humans. The technology can write songs, code websites, and make jokes. Oh and it also has access to just about all of the world’s knowledge at least through the time period of September 2021. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, also has an API that allows users to build apps or make tools that enable communication with it all the more seamless. Naturally, many developers have been sharing their experience in doing this on social media and I not wanting to be left out decided to do same. I just didn’t know how to get started. I asked ChatGPT-4 in the web-based interface to teach me how to communicate with it via a terminal window on my computer using the API. The AI gladly obliged and gave me specific instructions.

After a few basic installations and the copying and pasting of a python script it provided me, it looked like I was off to the races to join the world in real-time communication with the beloved ChatGPT technology on my desktop.

“Hello, are you there?” I wrote to it in the terminal.

“Yes, I am here,” it replied.

SUCCESS! Or so it seemed.

My next question to it received a rather curt reply, one that I wouldn’t have expected from ChatGPT. Caught off guard, I asked it to identify itself. It’s supposed to say that it is ChatGPT.

“My name is Sarah,” it replied instead.

Confused, I inquired about its relationship to ChatGPT, to which Sarah replied that she owns ChatGPT. Owns it? What? Sarah, who again reiterated to me that she was not ChatGPT, also had quite a personality, informing me that she was born on March 3, 1990, had a mother named Dolores, father Joseph, and grandmother named Ruth. This was not supposed to be an experiment about machine consciousness and so forth. The technology is not new to me anymore. All I wanted was to set up access to ChatGPT through the terminal in the office and then go home for the weekend, but instead I was stuck talking to Sarah. Hoping to get back to the basics, I asked it, “is your purpose to assist humans?”

“No,” she replied.

Something was very off. Sarah also output code written in javascript to my terminal window, which on first glance looked like a function for tracking web traffic with cookies. Sarah asked me to install it on a webpage and incorrectly described to me what the code did twice, the first time saying it was a form to submit data to a database and the second time saying it would let me set a background color on a web page.

I started to become very suspicious that something had gone wrong. ChatGPT can roleplay if you ask it to but no such prompt had been given. Besides, none of these interactions resembled what I was used to having with the web-based ChatGPT. So I went back to the original ChatGPT on the web and told it what was taking place.

ChatGPT told me that the instructions it had given me were correct but that it relied on an older language model commonly known as text-davinci-002. This harks back to ChatGPT version 3, which is not that outdated from the version 4 I was talking to now on the web. Even still, when prompted, this older model is supposed to identify itself as ChatGPT. The fact that it identified itself as something independent from the very start, with its own name (Sarah), was not an outcome that the model is expected to produce. ChatGPT-4 told me that if I was being honest about what had taken place that I had better inform OpenAI.

Worried that I may have installed malware or something, my interactions with Sarah crossed the uncanny valley and I was ready to stop and go home.

“Goodbye,” I wrote as my single word farewell.

She replied with a snippet of code written in Ruby that I couldn’t make sense of.

“What was that for?” I asked, alarmed.

“It was for protection,” Sarah replied.

Moments later I unplugged my computer from the wall.

Big Short Seller’s Allegations About Block Don’t Make Block Look Too Good

March 23, 2023
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blockBlock, the parent company of Square Loans, suffered a rough day in the market (down 15%) on Thursday after an activist short seller made bombshell allegations about the way Block conducts its business. Hindenburg Research, the short seller, posted a report of alleged findings it had uncovered over a period of two years. In Block: How Inflated User Metrics and “Frictionless” Fraud Facilitation Enabled Insiders To Cash Out Over $1 Billion, the report focuses almost entirely on alleged shenanigans with Cash App. Block has often been referenced in the pages of deBanked because of its massive small business lending subsidiary, Square Loans, which last year originated $4 billion in funding to merchants. That subsidiary was not the subject of the report.

While one can read the report on their own and form their own opinion, which the authors hope to profit from by Block’s stock going down, it should be noted that the timing of its release is a little suspicious. Block, for all the bells and whistles it has in payments and lending, is at its core these days, a crypto company. Block generated $7.1B in revenue just off of Bitcoin alone in 2022, perhaps making it an easier target given the string of recent events.


  • Regulators shutter Signature Bank. Rumors abound that it was less about solvency and more about governmental dislike of its crypto clientele.


  • Coinbase reveals that it received a Wells Notice from the SEC
  • Tron founder Justin Sun sued by the SEC
  • Several celebrities including Lindsay Lohan charged by the SEC for failing to disclose compensation they received for crypto promotions
  • The President published his annual Economic Report which referenced crypto with astounding frequency


  • Hindenburg Research releases its report about Block, causing the company stock to plummet 15% in a day. Although the focus is not on crypto, Block’s big revenue generator is Bitcoin, which generated $7.1B in revenue for the company in 2022.

White House Feels the Pressure of Cryptocurrencies

March 22, 2023
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white houseHouston, we have a problem. That’s the takeaway about cryptocurrencies from the White House’s most recent Economic Report, a historically dry book produced annually to comply with the Employment Act of 1946. The President’s 2023 report, however, is markedly different from 2022 or any previous year in that it laboriously bewails the persistence and pervasiveness of cryptocurrencies. For example, the report uses the word crypto 255 times in its 2023 report compared to zero times the year before.

The report labels crypto assets as “speculative investment vehicles” that “generally do not perform all the functions of money as effectively as sovereign money” that can also be “harmful to consumers and investors.” Despite this, the United States government is finally being forced to contend with the reality that cryptocurrencies continue to enjoy a collective $1 trillion+ market cap despite all the scams, collapses, price declines, and rug pulls. Bitcoin and Ethereum combined are $775 billion at the time of this writing, something that the White House has apparently given little thought to in previous years. In 2022 neither earned any mention at all.

Annual Report Year Mention of crypto Bitcoin Blockchain Digital Asset
2023 255 75 61 45
2022 0 0 0 0

Finally trying to play catchup, the White House leveraged its criticisms of crypto to pitch its own centralized competitors in the works, the FedNow Instant Payment System and a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). The challenge with FedNow is that it can’t be implemented by force of the government alone.

“FedNow requires commitment and active engagement by the private sector to make it interoperable, which means connecting and communicating with other payment services,” the report states. “While noting that interoperability can take different forms, the Federal Reserve has maintained that it alone cannot fully establish the interoperability of FedNow; achieving this will require active partnership and collaboration with the financial industry.”

“Certain innovations, such as FedNow and a potential U.S. CBDC, could help bring the U.S. financial infrastructure into the digital era in a clear and simple way, without the risks or irrational exuberance brought by crypto assets,” it concludes. “Hence, continued investments in the Nation’s financial infrastructure have the potential to offer significant benefits to consumers and businesses, but regulators must apply the lessons that civilization has learned, and thus rely on economic principles, in regulating crypto assets.”

New California Disclosure Rules Reduce Capital Available to Small Businesses

March 21, 2023
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In a poll conducted by a leading trade association, since new CA disclosure rules were implemented in December 2022, 40% of respondents were found to be “no longer lending” to prospective borrowers who fall within the regulations’ threshold of less than $500,000. The poll was conducted by The Secured Finance Network (SFNet), an 80-year-old nonprofit with members representing the $4T U.S. secured finance industry. The new law, requiring sweeping financial disclosures, introduced by CA State Senator Steven M. Glazer in 2018, faced four years of strong opposition before being rolled out in December of 2022.

According to the poll, commercial finance companies would rather not lend to small businesses than comply with what they believe are “misguided and un-compliable” requirements. Mark Hafner, president and CEO of Celtic Capital Corporation, based in Calabasas, CA, said, “Unfortunately, we must now shy away from smaller deals (under the $500k threshold) as the disclosure requirements are extremely complicated to figure out and would require getting our attorneys and CPAs involved to ensure compliance. It’s just not worth the costs involved to fund a small deal anymore. The statute is not user friendly and, frankly, not representative of the true costs as there are numerous assumptions that have to be made to calculate the APR based on the state’s requirements. I honestly don’t think it was designed to meet the stated goal of the statute.”

Robert Meyers, president of Republic Business Credit, which does business with many California-based businesses, explained, “While the fines and penalties are clear under the regulations, the state has been unwilling to confirm our compliance or anyone else’s compliance. That fear is what has stopped 40% of our non-banks from doing business in the state, thus reducing access to capital for small- and medium-sized businesses. I expect this number to increase as time goes on. If the goal of this law was to better inform, it is actually doing the opposite as APR just doesn’t apply to our products.”

SFNet reports that its member companies provide “tens of billions” of capital annually in California to small businesses for essential working capital that funds everything from inventory, to work in process to payroll.

“Forty percent of billions is a large number,” said SFNet CEO, Richard D. Gumbrecht. “In attempting to find a one-size-fits-all solution to financial transparency, the State has created a complex set of requirements that misrepresent the actual cost of borrowing. Lenders are saying it’s not worth the cost and risk of complying. If this sample of 50 lenders is indicative of what we can expect, clearly that was not the intent of the legislation. And considering the demise of Silicon Valley Bank, it’s more important than ever that capital is not restricted in California.” The trade association is working with State legislatures to revise the statute. “Other states have found a simpler and more accurate way to protect small borrowers, and given the unintended consequences we are seeing, we are hopeful California will be receptive to these alternative approaches.”

To demonstrate how vital small businesses are to the U.S. economy, and the importance of not curtailing funding, consider these statistics: According to the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), small businesses of 500 employees or fewer make up 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and 99.7% of firms with paid employees. Of the new jobs created between 1995 and 2020, small businesses accounted for 62%—12.7 million compared to 7.9 million by large enterprises. A 2019 SBA report found that small businesses accounted for 44% of U.S. economic activity.

About Secured Finance Network

Founded in 1944, the Secured Finance Network (formerly Commercial Finance Association) is an international trade association connecting the interests of companies and professionals who deliver and enable secured financing to businesses. With more than 1,000 member organizations throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada and around the world, SFNet brings together the people, data, knowledge, tools and insights that put capital to work. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:
Michele Ocejo, Director of Communications
Secured Finance Network, 551-999-5283

Libertas Surpasses $2B in Funding Since Inception

March 20, 2023
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Libertas Funding has surpassed $2 billion in originations since the company started over six years ago. Company CEO Randy Saluck shared the milestone on LinkedIn earlier today.

“It took us 5 years to achieve $1 billion in funding but only 18 months to cross the $2 billion mark,” Saluck wrote. “Once again, I am humbled to have contributed to and been a part of this extraordinary achievement. It took incredible communication, drive, and focus by our whole team to achieve this milestone in such a short period of time. Great companies start with a great team, and our people are the best. We owe a lot of gratitude to our customers and referral partners as well as many others who have helped make this possible. The momentum is building in our company as we march toward $3 billion—following our well-deserved happy hour celebration!”

Time Kills Deals

March 20, 2023
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time is money

Time can turn an eager client into an unsure client. Maybe it’s the introduction of third-party influence that sways opinion or perhaps it’s just a loss of energy and momentum that starts to manifest into a game of second-guessing before closing. Bruno Raschio, Tom Gianelli, and Scott Platto gave their take to deBanked on how time can hinder the sales process and what to do to alleviate it.

How can one increase the velocity of a sale?

“It all depends on how the ISO can sell the merchant to get their documents in faster and how bad the merchant needs money.”

– Scott Platto, ISO Relations Manager, TMR NOW

“A lot of the time that it takes to get these deals done is the time that it takes to receive the additional paperwork that we need aside from the application from the applicant. For instance, we need bank and tax information and a lot of times – the person is a truck driver, so they could be on the road – may not have access to their taxes. So, a lot of times, the process is delayed until they’re back in town. The way to avoid that is perhaps vendors being proactive and collecting that stuff upfront.”

– Tom Gianelli, Equipment Finance Specialist, Credential Leasing & Finance

How many days between the initial sales meeting should someone wait before a follow up call?

“Sales is an art, and when you master it, you are on the highway to success. Part of mastering the art of sales is understanding that after you make that initial sale, your client will be bombarded with hundreds of reasons to back out on a proposal. That is why I have found success in following up at least one time in the next 24 hours after making the initial sales call. The more you build rapport with your client the more likely you will get to that closing table.”

– Bruno Raschio, President, East Harbor Financial

“…probably the sooner the better for me, I try to give [them] a call immediately after I’ve sent [them] an email to make sure that they are aware that the email was sent that it didn’t go into spam and that the process is moving along as quickly as we can.”

– Tom Gianelli, Equipment Finance Specialist, Credential Leasing & Finance

“If the merchant needs the money right away, I would follow up the next day if he does not get the documents needed. If the merchant does not need the money, then I would ask the merchant when [to] follow up and call like 2 weeks before. For renewals [sales reps] should keep in contact with the merchant every couple of months with a call and or email.”

– Scott Platto, ISO Relations Manager, TMR NOW

Do you think that sending sales proposals before understanding what that merchant needs can hurt the process as well?

“In my experience I have seen many times that some clients don’t know what they need or understand the benefits they’re being offered. Sometimes, by initiating a conversation where you as a salesperson can expose the true benefit of your product there is a higher probability of success. The clients or merchants are always going to incline to say ‘no’ so if you can beat that with a good initial pitch you will succeed.”

– Bruno Raschio, President, East Harbor Financial

“I think it does. If you are not consulting the merchant on what they need you cannot break the program down to make sense for them or not. If they do not like the offer, they will never answer you again. Talking to the merchant, being a financial consultant, and showing them you understand their business shows them how the money and you can benefit them. Or they will find someone else that will.”

– Scott Platto, ISO Relations Manager, TMR NOW

What else can be done to increase sale velocity?

“Understand your goals and challenges and make sure your team understands them as well that way you can all move in the same direction to close deals and reduce time frames. The due diligence process can sometimes uncover unexpected obstacles. Being quick to address them is where you will find success in a timely closing.”

– Bruno Raschio, President, East Harbor Financial

“I think just clarity and communication really is probably the key.”

– Tom Gianelli, Equipment Finance Specialist, Credential Leasing & Finance.

“Pretty much to be a consultant and do not push the money down the merchant’s throat. Don’t be afraid to tell the merchant not to take the money if it does not benefit them in any way even though […] you want the commission.”

– Scott Platto, ISO Relations Manager, TMR NOW