Potential Match Found in deBanked UCC Filer list
|Company Name||Phone number||UCC Alias 1||Alias 2||Alias 3||Alias 4||Alias 5|
|Accord Business Funding||713-529-2570|
“We are excited to have Aldo join our team,” Adam Beebe, co-founder of Accord Business Funding, told deBanked. “Aldo comes to us with over twenty years of experience in business-to-business sales and marketing experience… [and he] will use his experience and feedback from the ISO community to help Accord find new ways of adding value to our partners’ businesses.”
Prior to Accord Business Funding, Castro worked as a strategic marketing consultant and co-founded two digital marketing agencies in Texas. Founded in 2013, Accord is a B paper funder with terms between four to eight months and merchants that include auto dealers and trucking and construction businesses, among others. The company of 20 employees is entirely driven by ISOs.
“Accord offers our ISO associates a unique combination of integrity, speed, and flexibility, helping them close their deals faster and easier,” Beebe said.
Davron Karimov, a 22-year-old MCA broker, went from $10k in debt to collecting $200k a year in commissions. It took less than three years, and Karimov shared his journey on his personal, sometimes chaotic, yet always informative YouTube channel.
The Staten Island native said he first started at a Long Island City shop and quickly made some early deals, eventually leaving to start his own firm, FunderHunt, and recently opened an office in Miami.
But do the YouTube videos help him make deals? Of course they do, Karimov says, and he not only gets deals through his video platform but he also get questions from other MCA brokers who reach out for help.
“Of course, we get people all the time calling in, people that have questions, people in the industry need help with their merchants,” Karimov says. “I started around 2018, and there was no info on YouTube about business funding, a huge void online. I stepped up and thought I could be the one to supply info.”
Nearly three years later, Karimov has built an expanding business while helping others through the struggles of being a broker and CEO in the MCA world. In the last year alone, the pandemic caused applications to explode, Karimov says.
“It’s been better than ever; I’ve never seen so many applications in March and April; they were just soaring,” Karimov says. “And then I’ve never seen so many applications get denied because of the industry at the time everything was shutting down.”
It was a time to capitalize if your shop was strong enough to survive what Karimov called the “dark ages” for MCA. If you survived, you get to reap the reward of a capital-deprived market, he says.
“The whole crisis took out so many funders that were just not good, they probably were supposed to go out of business a long time ago, but this accelerated it,” Karimov says. “It took out all the bad funders and replaced them with people that are solid, fast, and have everyone’s best interest at heart, from the merchant to whoever the ISO is.”
According to Karimov, 2020 solidified who is a real player in the game. Launching a new office himself, Davron says he enjoys sunny days in Miami while it is twenty degrees in-between blizzards in New York. Though snow wasn’t the reason he moved, but instead the funding environment.
“Everyone has been warm and welcoming [in Miami], the government knows what this is, and that’s what we do. We try to educate them: not a lot of people know here about this; it’s like it’s a secret,” Karimov says. “If you go to New York, it’s like everybody knows, there are so many shops there. But here, it’s kind of rare to see someone that knows what a cash advance is.”
Compared to New York’s increasingly restrictive funding ecosystem, the Florida space is open to growth. That’s exactly the environment Karimov hopes to profit from, expanding his business in any way that will be geared toward helping businesses.
“I’m not a huge fan of diversification,” Karimov says. “I like doing one thing. But we opened up an office in Miami; we’re bringing experienced people in and trying to fund deals as fast as possible. We’re maybe looking to develop into offering a debit card, whatever is in the business’s best interest.”
The Federal Reserve’s analysis of overall funding efforts for all small businesses demonstrates a market of unmet financial needs. In 2020, a total of 47% of firms met their funding needs, while the other half (53%) still needed capital.
23% of firms saw a “financing shortfall.” They were partially approved but still needed more funds. The other 30% have unmet funding needs because they never applied according to the survey- they’re scared of debt, risk-averse, or don’t meet requirements.
Those that did not apply for funds would have if they were not discouraged by weak sales (44%), insufficient collateral (41%), low credit (33%), and too much debt already (36%).
83% of companies used a bank or small bank as their primary financial service provider, while only 11% said an online lender or fintech was their primary.
Meanwhile, in the funding world, MCAs were only sought by 8% of all funding applicants last year, compared to 89% of firms applying for a loan or line of credit.
Most firms that went for an MCA went with a bank. 85% percent of firms that applied for a loan, credit, or cash advance used a large or small bank. In contrast, only 20% of firms applied to an online lender, falling from 33% since last year.
42% of firms that worked with online lenders or fintech companies were dissatisfied with support during the pandemic. Comparatively, firms that did receive some funding from an online lender were far happier: only 18% were dissatisfied.
New technical issues are plaguing the latest round of PPP funding, according to Rob Nichols, the President and CEO of the American Bankers Association. On Monday, Nichols wrote to the acting heads of the SBA and Treasury addressing them.
Though thousands of businesses are awaiting forgiveness, the SBA’s online portal is not allowing a second loan to be processed unless pending first-round forgiveness applications are marked as complete. This runs contrary to the official SBA rules that state a borrower can apply if they can prove they spent their first loan correctly by the time they get a second.
“We urge SBA to fix this technical error and permit a lender to upload a borrower’s second draw PPP loan application irrespective of the status of the borrower’s First Draw Loan forgiveness application,” Nichols wrote. “More broadly, lenders are receiving a high number of incorrect error messages when the lender attempts to submit PPP loan applications through the portal.”
Part of those errors come from confusion Nichols writes, between previous guidance handed out by the SBA and current stipulations. Funders are unclear as to why a $30,000 per employee loan cap exists or why some borrowers found that the documentation they prepared to prove a 25% reduction of revenue met requirements two weeks ago but don’t meet the criteria recently, Nichols wrote.
“From inception through 2019, [Par Funding] incurred a cash loss from operations of $136.2 million.”
That’s the conclusion reached by Bradley D. Sharp, CEO of Development Specialists Inc (DSI), the financial advisor to the Receiver appointed in the Par SEC case.
Par has scoffed at the Receiver’s analysis of its business. “We do not necessarily begrudge attorneys, whose skill sets are often in other areas, a potential inability to understand the math that often makes for a strong and profitable financial model,” Par’s lawyers wrote in an October court filing. “There is a reason that smart, mathematically inclined people are typically hired by banks, hedge funds and financial services firms. But the Receiver and his counsel’s inability to understand Par’s business has led to all manner of baseless accusations that are easily answered in the very documents they possess but do not understand…”
Par says it was profitable and walks the Court throught its mathematical process. Sharp says Par’s assessment “is misleading and does not reflect actual operations at the company.”
Sharp alludes to Ponzi-like characteristics but refrains from using that term. “From inception through 2019, [Par] paid $231 million to investors, consisting of principal repayments totaling $135.6 million and interest payments totaling $95.4 million. [Par] could not have made these principal and interest payments to the investors without additional funds from the investors.”
Par explained that the key to its business is in the compounding:
“The merchant funding model is profitable because merchant funding returns are reinvested, either in a new or different merchant, or in an existing merchant with adequate receivables as a consolidation, or as a refinance of a merchant which may already have MCA funding from another provider. And the reinvestment begins on the merchant funding returns which commence immediately and occur daily. In very simple form, the math works as follows. Assuming $10,000 is funded to a merchant pursuant to a funding agreement providing for a funding return of $13,000 over the course of 100 daily ACH withdrawals, the agreement would provide for repayment to begin immediately with daily payments of $130. As those monies are returned, portions are used to pay operating expenses, but most of the monies are re-invested to fund other merchants. Mathematically, this means that the original $10,000 is being used to fund more than one merchant. Over the life of a single $10,000 funding, that same $10,000 can be used to fund multiple merchants, all of whom are paying funding fees in excess of the principal amount received. Thus, the original $10,000, at a 1.30 factor rate, generates $13,000 on the first merchant cash advance (MCA). Those funds are reinvested and generate $16,900 on the second MCA, and $21,970 by the third MCA – an increase of $11,970 over and above the initial $10,000. And that can happen within a year. This is the powerful compounding effect of the financial model.
That is the simplest version of the model. In practice, the model is far more sophisticated than that because the leveraging to new merchants of the MCA returns begins as soon as the MCA payments come in.”
Par additionally said:
“At the conference on October 8, 2020, the Receiver’s counsel told this Court, and many investors, that out of $1.5 million received per day from merchants prior to July 28, 2020, $1.2 million was used for new MCA funding. Thus, according to the Receiver’s counsel, only $300,000 constituted net collections, about 20%. The Receiver’s counsel appears to be suggesting that the company is not holding on to receivables but, instead, is refunding the same merchants 80% of receipts. This proposition is wrong and its assertion shows that the Receiver and his counsel do not understand the MCA business.”
One could assess that a large element of this case consists of the Receiver being like, ha! well look at this! and Par responding, well, yes, that is actually how our business works.
In fact, that is precisely the angle Par took in defending its use of funding new deals with money collected from deals previously funded.
“First, the numbers show that collections are used to fund new MCA deals,” Par’s attorneys wrote. “This may come as a total surprise to the Receiver and his counsel, but funding merchants is the business of Par. That is like criticizing Ford Motor Corp. for using its car sales income to build and sell more cars.”
Both sides agree that Par advanced over $1 billion to small businesses but Sharp says that “reloads” distorted the numbers.
“Use of reloads escalates the obligations of the merchant as each reload adds an additional ‘factor’ along with any new funds advanced,” Sharp wrote. “In [one example the reloaded funds are] subject to the factor twice; once when the funds were originally sent and again when they are included in the reload advance. The use of reloads also significantly distorts the calculation of loss rates as the advances are simply refinanced without becoming a loss.”
Sharp concludes that the true end result for Par is a much higher default rate than it lets on to.
And then there’s this
Sharp has repeatedly brought attention to a list of merchants with unusual payment and funding activity. Par countered by saying there are good explanations for each.
Amongst all of this is that company insiders are alleged to have received tens of millions in payments from Par and the Receiver is confident, in part due to DSI’s report, that Par was majorly unprofitable.
“Based on our review to date, it is apparent that [Par] would not have been able to continue to provide payments to investors, or to continue to operate, without additional funds from investors,” Sharp wrote in a December 13th report.
This case is not the first rodeo for Sharp and DSI in the merchant cash advance business. They were also assigned to manage the 1 Global Capital case.
The case is ongoing. The Court recently approved a motion to expand the Receivership estate.
LendingClub is finally ending the “peer-to-peer” aspect of its platform for good. Earlier today, the company announced that it would cease offering and selling Member Payment Dependent Notes effective December 31st.
“Ceasing the Retail Notes program will allow LendingClub to redeploy capital and improve platform efficiency, enabling the company to help even more members as LendingClub progresses towards closing the Merger and becoming a bank holding company,” the company said in an official statement. “All Retail Notes outstanding as of the date the Retail Note program is ceased will be unaffected by the cessation of the program. Accordingly, with respect to such outstanding Retail Notes, LendingClub will continue servicing the corresponding member loans and information regarding such Retail Notes will remain viewable in the applicable Retail Note investor accounts.”
LendingClub rose to fame with its peer-to-peer model nearly a decade ago, but using retail investors to fund loans has been eroding over time. ‘Peers’ Are Almost Gone From Lending Club’s Funding Mix was the title of a February 2019 deBanked story that highlighted this trend, for example.
Meanwhile, the focus on Radius Bank is a reminder that the announcement made nearly 8 months ago is still a work-in-progress.
“In connection with and in furtherance of the Merger, LendingClub has been in regular contact with federal banking regulators and, on September 25, 2020, filed an FR Y-3 application with the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company,” the company said. “LendingClub plans to offer a full suite of products as a bank. This includes a high-yield savings account that will be initially exclusively available to its existing retail investors and will offer a compelling interest rate, as well as other products that take advantage of the marketplace to allow its customers to both pay less when borrowing and earn more when saving.”
Radius Bank was the subject of a major deBanked Magazine story in 2017 titled Tech Banks: Will Fintech Dethrone Traditional Banking?
A number of small businesses—including those in the merchant cash advance industry—faced with little or no way to make money for months—have pivoted to selling personal protective equipment.
It’s no wonder businesses across the U.S. have shifted gears. With the pandemic raging, and consumers and businesses trying to return to some sort of normalcy, there’s high demand for these products, causing even businesses that previously had no connection to them to spring into action.
“It’s not my forte; I had to pivot just to make sure I could stay afloat before things turned around,” says John DiCanio, founding partner of Direct Merchant Funding in Bethpage, N.Y.
This past spring, at a time when everything in the MCA business stopped, he heard from a merchant in the medical supply field that masks were becoming very important. The merchant connected him to a contact in Hong Kong from whom he was able to buy hospital-grade and non-medical grade masks and sell them to local hospitals, local businesses and others.
DiCanio says he did it for a short time only—two months—which was enough to tide him over under his
regular business started coming back. Mask-making is still a big business and a lot of people are still doing it, but he prefers to stick to merchant cash advance, which he’s been doing for around 15 years. He says business has picked up enough that he no longer has the need to do anything on the side—and he hopes it stays that way.
Many funding industry participants are still selling these types of products, but it’s somewhat of a hush-hush business. Not everyone wants to talk about it for any number of reasons, including embarrassment and fear of looking weak to customers and business connections. Even so, small businesses that pivoted say they are doing the best they can to stay afloat—and there’s no shame in that.
Kat Rosati, founder of Apparel Booster in Riverside, Calif., a product development agency for luxury and socially conscious brands, began hand-sewing masks to help support her business that had been hit-hard by the pandemic.
She has manufacturing partners all over the world, and production was at a standstill for her various products. She couldn’t import fabric needed for the company’s various projects and a lot of production partners were forced to close. Luckily, she had a connection to a fabric mill in Pennsylvania that focuses on antimicrobial products that was willing to provide her with material.
She hired temporary workers to help her make masks, which she’s producing at a rate of about 150 a week. She sells them to consumers and small businesses. The revenue has helped defray overhead expenses, among other things. “It hasn’t been super profitable, but it’s definitely helped keep the business alive,” she says.
She had to furlough her four-person team because she can’t afford to pay them without regular client work coming in. Her husband, who works in the restaurant industry, was also furloughed. So whatever money she can bring in, helps. “I’m watching small business owners around me that haven’t made any kind of pivot close left and right,” she says. “The fact that I can keep mine alive makes it worth it for me.”
To be sure, small businesses pivot for all sorts of reasons, and it’s not always because they are struggling. Francis Perdue, a publicist and business consultant in Birmingham, Ala., began selling PPE products including gloves, kn95 masks, surgical masks, customizable cloth masks, child and adult-sized shields, suits, gowns and the Xenon Fever Defense machine which uses AI technology to measure skin temperature and detect potential fever. She says she saw a need for these types of products in local schools as well as in hospitals and clinics in predominantly black neighborhoods. She is still consulting, but doing this as a side gig while the need persists.
Another example is MORGAN Li, a retail and hospitality manufacturer in Chicago Heights, Ill. The company identified the need and opportunity to help businesses remain open or reopen to customers while abiding by new recommendations to support public health. Thus, the company began producing customized social distancing materials including sneeze guards, safety shields, signage and floor graphics for various businesses to remind employees and customers to comply with social distancing requirements, according to a spokeswoman.
More recently, Andy Rosenband, the company’s chief executive, saw another opportunity to help communities prepare for another critical stage—reopening schools. He created a line of personal protective equipment that specifically addresses the challenge of social distancing in schools to keep students, teachers and staff safe.
For some small businesses, the shift is likely to be a permanent one.
JB Herrera, founder of Perceptive Insights a San Diego-based small and medium business consulting and mentoring company, says his firm was growing, but PPE products offer the ability to create a broader impact and are likely to be more profitable than merely a consulting business.
He has clients in China and back in December when things were starting to get bad there, he realized that the problem could spread massively to the U.S., and if it did, 80 percent or more of businesses would be negatively impacted, in his estimation. Using his business expertise regarding supply chains and pre-existing and new contacts, his company shifted gears to introduce in March a line of FDA-registered products designed to create and maintain safe environments. The products include commercial and personal cleaning solutions, masks, light technology disinfectants, air filtration, and personal sanitizing kits.
Even before the pandemic, the PPE market was worth several billion, he says, and that’s likely to grow exponentially over the next five to 10 years. So much so, that he expects the new business line to represent 90 percent of his revenue for the next three years—at least.
“Even after the spike goes away, it’s still going to be a profitable business in its own right,” he says.
While the news media, regulatory agencies, and law enforcement are high-fiving each other over the course of events in the Par Funding saga (a lawsuit, a receivership, an asset freeze, and an arrest), there lies a major problem: The SEC already suffered a major defeat.
On July 28th, rumors of a vague legal “victory” for Par Funding circulated on the DailyFunder forum. The context of this win was unknowable because the case at issue was still under seal and nobody was supposed to be aware of it.
Cue Bloomberg News…
In December 2018, Bloomberg Businessweek published a scandalous story about a Philadelphia-based company named Par Funding. And then not a whole lot happened… that is until Bloomberg Law and Courthousenews.com published a lengthy SEC lawsuit less than two years later that alleged Par along with several entities and individuals had engaged in the unlawful sale of unregistered securities.
At the courthouse in South Florida, those documents were sealed. The public was not supposed to know about them and deBanked could not authenticate the contents of the purported lawsuit through those means. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the mixup happened when a court clerk briefly unsealed it “by mistake” thus alerting a suspiciously narrow set of news media to the contents. deBanked was the first to publicly point this out.
In court papers, some of the defendants said that they learned of the lawsuit that had been filed under seal on July 24th from “news reports.” Bloomberg Law published a summary of the lawsuit on its website in the afternoon of July 27th.
“It is fortuitous that the Complaint was initially published before it was sealed,” an attorney representing several of the defendants wrote in its court papers. “Otherwise, [The SEC] would have likely accomplished its stealth imposition of so-called temporary’ relief, that would have led to the unnecessary destruction of a legitimate business.”
The day after this, on July 28th, a team of FBI agents raided Par Funding’s Philadelphia offices as well as the home of at least one individual. Rumors about the office raid landed on the DailyFunder forum just hours later, along with links to the inadvertently public SEC lawsuit now circulating on the web.
The New York Post caught wind of the story and published a photo of an arrest that had taken place fifteen years ago, creating confusion about what, if anything, was happening. Nobody, was in fact, arrested.
The SEC lawsuit was finally unsealed on July 31st, along with the revelation that Par Funding and other entities had been placed in a limited receivership pursuant to a Court order issued just days earlier. The receivership order was a massive blow to the SEC. It failed to obtain the most important element of its objective, that is to have the court-ordered right to “to manage, control, operate and maintain the Receivership Estates.” The SEC specifically requested this in its motion papers but was denied this demand and others by the judge who leaned in favor of granting the Receiver document and asset preservation powers rather than complete control of the companies.
The language of the Court order was interpreted differently by the Receiver, who immediately fired all of the company’s employees, locked them out of the office, and then suspended all of the company’s operations which even prevented the inbound flow of cash to the company (of which in the matter of days amounted to nearly $7 million). The SEC did successfully secure an asset freeze order.
In court papers, Par Funding’s attorneys wrote that: “The Receiver’s and SEC’s actions are ruining a business with excellent fundamentals and a strong financial base and essentially putting it into an ineffective liquidation causing huge financial losses. In taking this course of action against a fully operational business, the key fact that has been lost by the SEC, is that their actions are going to unilaterally lead to massive investor defaults.”
The Receiver, in turn, tried to fire Par Funding’s attorneys from representing Par. Par’s attorneys say that the Receiver has communicated to them that it is his view “that he controls all the companies.”
“The SEC is simply trying to drive counsel out of this case, as an adjunct to all the other draconian relief that they insist must be employed to ‘protect the investors,'” Par’s attorneys told the Court. “Due Process is of no regard to the SEC.”
As lawyers on all sides in this mess assert what is best for “investors,” seemingly lost is the collateral damage that is likely to be thrust on Par’s customers. The Philadelphia Inquirer has repeated the SEC’s contention that Par made loans with up to 400% interest. Bloomberg News has called Par a “lending company” whose alleged top executive is a “cash-advance tycoon.”
A review of some of Par’s contracts, however, indicate that they often entered into “recourse factoring” arrangements. “This is a factoring agreement with Recourse,” is a statement that is displayed prominently on the first page of the sample of contracts obtained by deBanked.
Parallels between the business practices of Par Funding and a former competitor, 1 Global Capital, have been raised at several junctures in the SEC litigation thus far. But some sources told deBanked that in recent times, Par has been offering a unique product, one that is likely to create disastrous ripple effects for hundreds or perhaps thousands of small businesses as a result of the Receiver’s actions (even if well-intentioned).
Par offered what’s known as a “Reverse Consolidation,” industry insiders told deBanked. In these instances Par would provide small businesses with weekly injections of capital that were just enough to cover the weekly payments that these small businesses owed to other creditors.
One might understand a consolidation as a circumstance in which a creditor pays off all the outstanding debts of a borrower so that the borrower can focus on a relationship with a single lender. In a “reverse” consolidation, the consolidating lender makes the daily, weekly, or monthly payments to the borrower’s other creditors as they become due rather than all at once. Once the other creditors have been satisfied, the borrower’s only remaining debt (theoretically) is to the consolidating lender.
Par does not appear to have offered loans but sources told deBanked that Par would provide regular weekly capital injections to businesses that could not afford its financial obligations otherwise. Par, in essence, would keep those businesses afloat by making their payments.
That all begs the question, what is going to happen to the numerous businesses when Par breaches its end of the contract by failing to provide the weekly injections?
As the Receiver makes controversial attempts to assert the control it wished it had gotten (but didn’t), the press dazzled the public on Friday with the announcement that an executive at Par Funding had been arrested on something entirely unrelated, an illegal gun possession charge. The FBI discovered the weapons while executing a search warrant on July 28th but waited until August 7th to make the arrest.
It remains to be seen what the 1,200 investors will recover in this case or what will become of the Receiver in the battle for control, but sources tell deBanked that the authorities are all fighting over the wrong thing.
They should all be asking “what’s going to happen to the small businesses when their weekly capital injection doesn’t come in the middle of a pandemic?”
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