Amazon’s Business Loan Program Relatively Flat, And The Company is Now Possibly the Largest MCA Broker?

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amazon truckAmazon’s seller lending program, in which the company extends working capital loans to Amazon sellers to buy inventory, has been somewhat flat this year. Its seller lending receivables in Q3 were unchanged from Q1, coming in at $1.2B. It had briefly gone up in Q2 to $1.3B.

Amazon rarely mentions its seller lending business which is but a blip compared to the $143B in net sales the company recorded in just the third quarter. Despite all this cash, Amazon relies on a $1.5B secured revolving credit facility with a lender in the same way many small business lenders do to facilitate this amount of loan volume.

deBanked has been tracking the company’s seller lending receivables balance since 2016.

Amazon’s separate merchant cash advance program is not counted as part of their selling lending program. Amazon partnered up with Parafin in November 2022 to offer MCAs to their clients. One consequence of that is that Amazon sellers talk publicly in the company’s Seller Central forums and this has been no exception. There, most mentions of Parafin have so far been less than flattering.

Much of the confusion reported by sellers is centered around the percentage collected from each sale. Unlike most MCA funding companies, which either withhold a percentage of card sales or debit a fixed daily amount that can later be trued-up upon request, Amazon was previously collecting its percentage “based on whether a seller had received any disbursements, automatic or manual, in the prior week.” However, that changed this past August, according to Amazon who published the following note in their forum:

Payment is deducted from your bank account based on your current Amazon disbursement schedule. If you receive disbursements weekly, payments for your cash advance will be deducted weekly. If you receive disbursements bi-weekly, payments for your cash advance will be deducted bi-weekly. In instances where Amazon sales data is delayed in reaching Parafin, Parafin combines the payment amount with the subsequent payment to avoid debits happening on unexpected days of the week. Sellers whose payments are impacted by these instances receive emails from Parafin detailing the expected payment dates and adjusted amounts.

“Your merchant cash advance will be paid off automatically over time as you make successive sales-based payments. Because your offer is determined in part by your past business performance, our estimate is that you’ll pay your merchant cash advance within the estimated timeframe stated when you accepted it. If your sales ramp up or slow down, your payment amounts (and therefore the estimated payment period) may ramp up or slow down with them. The payment rate itself will not change and is a fixed percentage of monthly sales.”

Although there is some irony to Amazon playing the role of MCA broker and MCA customer service, Amazon also refers its loan-interested sellers to Lendistry and Marcus by Goldman Sachs. All of this activity started late last year just as Amazon was on pace to max out its own credit facility with its own lending program. Since then, the company’s flat business loan receivable balance might suggest that Amazon’s seller financing business is actually growing, just not on its own balance sheet since its brokering the deals out.

So who’s the biggest MCA broker in the US? Amazon generated $514B in net sales in 2022. $1B in MCA deals wouldn’t be so hard for a company already doing about a billion a year in loans. It would be quite ironic to discover that the biggest MCA broker in 2023 was Jeff Bezos, but it’s a real possibility.

Last modified: October 29, 2023
Sean Murray

Category: merchant cash advance

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