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03/17/2021On Covid: "Florida got it right"
12/07/2020SoFi exploring an IPO
09/27/2020Florida enters Phase 3, bars packed
09/04/2020Florida man bought $700k boat with PPP
07/03/2020Prashant Fuloria promoted to CEO of Fundbox



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SEAA Kicks Off in Florida

May 25, 2021
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More than a thousand people are attending the 20th annual SEAA conference in Bonita Springs, FL that started on Monday. The show is a staple of the payments industry.

“It’s a changing game every minute,” said SEAA board member Derek Vowels about what’s going on in payments .

The packed event has more than 90 companies exhibiting. The “Flamingo” level sponsors include American Express, IRIS CRM, Worldpay, Cardconnect, and Electronic Merchant Systems.

deBanked has been streaming live at debanked.com/tv/. Attendees are saying that it’s great to be back in person.

The May 25th Live Stream schedule is as follows:
9:00 – 10:45am,
3:00 – 4:00pm
5:00 – 6:30pm

Opening 9 minutes from May 24th:

Greenbox Capital Comments on Landmark Florida Legal Victory

January 7, 2021
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Greenbox capitalGreenbox Capital was the victor of a major lawsuit argued before Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal that conclusively established the legality of merchant cash advances in the state.

When asked for comment, Greenbox Capital® CEO Jordan Fein said:

“It’s been a long, arduous, and expensive battle over the last few years proving in a court of law that a Merchant Cash Advance is not a loan. Today, we celebrate a win for all Merchant Cash Advance companies in Florida and the entire United States who are dedicated to funding small businesses through ethical practices. Our hard work and commitment to helping small businesses grow was validated and we are thrilled with the final decision of the District Court of Appeal.”

The decision in Florida echoes a similiar opinion reached in New York in 2018.

It’s Official, Merchant Cash Advances Not Usurious in Florida

January 6, 2021
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Flag of FloridaBig news in the State of Florida. The Third District Court of Appeal entered its order on January 6th to decide the fate of Craton Entertainment, LLC, et al., v Merchant Capital Group, LLC, et al..

Merchant Capital Group, LLC dba Greenbox Capital sued Craton in December 2016 over a default in a Purchase and Sale of Future Receivables transaction. In turn, Craton responded with various defenses and counterclaims that asserted the underlying transaction was really an unenforceable usurious loan.

The Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County sided with Greenbox in August 2019. The defendants appealed.

The District Court of Appeal decided the matter conclusively on January 6, holding that the original ruling was affirmed on the basis that:

  • The transaction is not indicative of a loan where repayment obligation is not absolute but rather contingent or dependent upon the success of the underlying venture
  • that the transactions in which a portion of the investment is at speculative risk are excluded from the usury statutes
  • when the principal sum lent or any part of it is placed in hazard, the lender may lawfully require, in return for the risk, as large a sum as may be reasonable, provided it is done in good faith.

The decision can be viewed here.

The lawyers representing Appellee Greenbox Capital were Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., William Boltrek III, Shannon M. Puopolo and Douglas B. Szabo.

You should contact an attorney to discuss the implications of this ruling. Merchant Cash Advance contracts are not all the same.

This ruling is similar to a ruling in New York that was made in 2018.

Prashant Fuloria Explains Why Fundbox Has Been Successful in 2020

September 28, 2020
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Prashant Fuloria - FundboxWhen Prashant Fuloria joined Fundbox as Chief Operations Officer in 2016, the San Franciscan firm was a three-year-old startup with less than eighty employees. By the time Fuloria moved into the office of CEO this July, the small business credit and invoice financing company had grown exponentially, with more than $430 million in raised capital to date and triple the number of employees.

At the height of the pandemic, many firms halted funding or shuttered their doors for good. Meanwhile Fundbox kept lending, and outperformed the market, Fuloria said.

“It’s become very clear to us that we have greatly outperformed the market,” Fuloria said. “In terms of delivering value to customers, and also in terms of our business performance.”

In the toughest weeks of the pandemic, he said that Fundbox’s loan delinquency rose to 8-9%, up from a “low single-digit number” pre-pandemic. In comparison, the industry standard according to Fuloria, was a delinquency rate of 30-40%, including from larger firms and more traditional lenders like big banks.

“I think we’ve performed extremely well during COVID; the numbers just validate the investment we’ve made, especially in data,” Fuloria said. “That puts us in a very good position because a number of folks have exited the market and the need, the demand has not gone away.”

“WE’VE INVESTED A LITTLE OVER $100 MILLION IN OUR DATA ASSET”

 

The number one thing you can do to perform well in a recession is to have a strong business going into it, Fuloria explained. Fundbox attributes part of its strength to its data. Nearly a fourth of Fundbox’s capital goes toward data assets, Fuloria said.

“If you add it all up, we’ve invested a little over $100 million in our data asset,” Fuloria said. “It’s a big investment for anybody- particularly a big investment for a mid-sized company.”

“SMALL BUSINESSES HAVE THE COMPLEXITY OF ENTERPRISES BUT THE SCALE OF CONSUMERS”

 

Fuloria said this money goes toward collecting customer information, which is processed by in-house tech and a talented team of engineers who can turn data into valuable information for serving SMBs.

“Small businesses,” Fuloria said, “they have the complexity of enterprises but the scale of consumers.”

Coming from twenty years of tech and product managerial experience at firms like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, Fuloria knows a thing or two about scale. He said he found his roots at Google, working when it was just a small team- by the time he left six and a half years later, Google had 35,000 employees.

When it came to joining Fundbox in 2016, Fuloria said he was attracted by the company’s mission, the talented team there, and how in just three years, the small firm had demonstrated how it could help SMBs.

“Fundbox as a company said ‘We are a financial services platform that is powering the small business economy with new credit and payment solutions,'” Fuloria said. “And that mission was very strong: it made sense to me, and it resonated with me.”

Small Business Funders Court Florists Before Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2019
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valentines dayEarlier this month, LendingTree published results from a survey they conducted about consumer spending on Valentine’s Day.

The main takeaway is that men are planning to spend almost two and a half times more than what their significant others (of either gender) expect them to spend. So there might be some nice surprises today! On average, according to this survey, men plan to spend $95 today for their significant others, while women plan to spend $41. Also according to this survey, those who are engaged plan to spend $92 on their significant other, people in the dating stage of relationships plan to spend $88, and married people plan on spending $57. (The average for men is increased by spending based on generation.)  

Regardless, Director of Personal Loans at LendingTree, Michael Funderburk, said that these amorous expenses are typically not large enough to show any spike in consumer borrowing. Small business borrowing, however, is a different story. As might be expected, there is a noticeable spike in borrowing from florists, among other small businesses that cater to the holiday.

Chad Otar, CEO of New York-based Excel Capital, a small business funder, said that they always fund more florists, chocolate shops and gift shops leading up to Valentine’s Day because these merchants need additional money to buy more inventory. Excel’s team of a little under 20 includes an in-house sales team that Otar said markets to these kinds of businesses in the weeks before Valentine’s Day.

The larger Reliant Funding, which has a sales team of about 100 people, makes an active marketing push before Valentine’s Day to reach more than 13,000 U.S. florists in its database, according to its Chief Marketing Officer Steve Kietz.

“Our business with these firms increases before Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day,” Kietz said. “We see lots of repeat business from those firms as they stock up for peak season. [And] we increase our mail and digital marketing activities to sync with when florists will be most responsive.”

Houston-based Accord Funding, doesn’t have an in-house sales team. Still, its CEO, Adam Beebe, said that while they don’t track submissions by merchant category, they do underwrite florists with seasonality in mind.  

Details Emerge in Florida Lawsuit Against Corporate Debt Advisors

August 9, 2018
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debt cureA debt settlement company being sued by Itria Ventures in Miami-Dade County, FL was asked to prove its claim that it has managed over $1.5 billion in total debt, court records show. That company, Corporate Debt Advisors (CDA), advertises that it provides debt relief for small business owners.

CDA responded to Itria’s request on June 29th with information relating to just two employees, Tony Shea and John Philbin, who combined through their previous experience have purportedly managed $1,584,000,000 of debt.

Not mentioned in their response is that each individual is prohibited from engaging in debt settlement services with Florida consumers where Corporate Debt Advisors is located.

According to the Office of the Attorney General, both Shea and Philbin previously and independently settled with the State after being investigated for running questionable debt settlement businesses. (See here and here)

In the lawsuit filed against CDA by Itria, it’s alleged that CDA is advising merchants to commit fraud by moving money owed to Itria to a new secret hidden bank account at a local bank in Florida where it will be out of reach from Itria.

This is not the first time Corporate Debt Advisors has been sued. In early July, a competitor to Itria, High Speed Capital, petitioned a New York court to turn over funds it believes CDA has in its possession for unlawful budget planning services rendered to a Florida-based business.

Florida Court of Appeals Finds Usury Does Not Violate Public Policy, Denies Temporary Injunction

August 8, 2015
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FloridaThe Florida Office of the Attorney General was granted a temporary injunction against CashCall, Inc. The Attorney General’s action was based on alleged violations by CashCall of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act related to loans CashCall had issued to Florida residents that charged rates in excess of Florida’s usury law. The injunction required CashCall to pay all loan proceeds it received during the pendency of the underlying litigation into the court registry and to establish a reserve of one million dollars. CashCall appealed to the Court of Appeals.

In its review, the Court explained that “[a]s a matter of law, in order to obtain a temporary injunction the Attorney General must demonstrate that ‘it has a clear legal right’ to the injunction…” and that “the viability of the Attorney General’s action is dependent on its ability to avoid the choice of law provision in the loan agreements.” The provisions provided that the loans at issue would be governed under the laws of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe which permitted the rates charged.

The Attorney General argued that the choice of law provision was unenforceable because it violated Florida’s strong public policy against usury. CashCall disagreed. It countered that Florida had no such policy against usury and the provision should be upheld.

CashCall’s argument prevailed. The appellate court cited two cases where the Florida Supreme Court had declined to apply the public policy exception to set aside a choice of law provision in a usury context. In those cases, the Supreme Court held that Florida has no strong public policy against usury as long as there is a reasonable relationship between the chosen jurisdiction and the transaction.

The Court of Appeals highlighted that the Attorney General had essentially agreed with this finding during the lower court proceedings. The Court quoted a portion of the Attorney General’s statement:

Hey, that money you’re getting from Floridians, let’s put it into the Court Registry until we can hear your Motion to Dismiss from all of your hundreds of attorneys and we can talk about hundreds of years’ worth of tribal authority. And you know what, they might win. There’s good case law I think as Brian said on both sides. It is an interesting argument. But I would like to ask the Court to focus on what we asked for and are we entitled to it.

Based on the Attorney General’s statement and Supreme Court precedent, the Court of Appeals found that the Attorney General had failed to demonstrate a clear right to the injunction and reversed the lower court’s decision.

Cashcall, Inc. v. Office of the AG, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 11559 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. July 31, 2015)

Miami is Now Making Money Off of Its Own Crypto Coin

October 7, 2021
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downtown miamiFrancis Suarez, the crypto-crazed mayor of Miami that has attempted to make his city the next center of innovation in the industry, has recently generated more than $7.1M in funding for Miami’s government via MiamiCoin. Arriving in the form of a crypto “donation” to the city, it was all made possible by CityCoins, a nonprofit that allows users to mine coins that the company claims can help the wallets of both coin holders and the cities with whom they look to invest in.

According to CityCoins’ website, each time a city launches a new coin, users can mine coins themselves. They are an open-source network that allows developers to create smart contracts on top of the same layer used by Bitcoin, a feature normally reserved for blockchains like Ethereum or Cardano.

“Each time a new CityCoin such as MiamiCoin launches, 20+ unique wallets are needed to activate the token’s mining process,” the site reads. “Once this happens, a 150 block (~24 hour) countdown begins, signaling the start of the CityCoins’ mining process at the end of the countdown period. From there, anyone is eligible to participate in the CityCoins mining process within a given Stacks block and be rewarded for their contributions.”

The system creates a bidding process, sending Stack tokens to the chosen city’s smart contract for a specific block. The more Stack tokens that are sent to the contract, the more likely a user is to win rewards for that block. This creates a system where anyone can compete for the coins, as the process of mining a CityCoins product is completely free of any type of hardware.

Thirty percent of miners’ forwarded Stacks is directed into a crypto wallet for the respective city, and the remaining 70% can be used to earn Stacks or Bitcoin. Winners of the coins through CityCoins’ mining process, are chosen by a Verifiable Random Function (VRF) that takes into account the number of Stacks sent to specific contracts.

Anyone would be forgiven if the process and potential utility sounds convoluted. It becomes even more so after examining what exactly a “Stack token” is.

Stacks, a type of blockchain token originated into existence in 2019, were previously registered as securities with the SEC, a rarity in the crypto space. The company that issued them, however, has since changed course and has chosen to no longer register them. This was based upon the company’s own legal opinion, not the SEC’s.

Bottom line: However this CityCoins systems works and whatever the reasons why anyone would participate in it, it has somehow managed to yield more than $7 million for the city of Miami.

When speaking about the city’s involvement in becoming a fintech hub with The Floridian, Suarez credited timing to why his city is becoming the go-to spot for fintech businesses to flock. “We had an opportunity,” Suarez said. “You had cities across America, urban cities, pushing out innovators through taxation policies, sometimes elected officials saying “F” Elon Musk, or Amazon picks New York and they push them out.”

Suarez, a member of the Florida BlockChain Task Force, also credited his December 2020 viral tweet as a reason for tech’s attraction to Miami. Suarez answered a tweet with “how can I help?” after a user took to Twitter asking people if they believed Silicon Valley should move to Miami. “It was so counter-narrative to the way elected officials were dealing with technology and technologists,” he said, in reference to the Tweet.

According to Suarez, the city’s focus on crypto and fintech has made Miami a tech-trendsetter for other cities. Thanks to tech’s arrival, Miami is the first city to pursue paying workers in Bitcoin, the first to allow citizens to pay taxes in Bitcoin, and hitting huge numbers in the city’s job market. According to Suarez, the city added 8,000 jobs with an average annual salary of $120,000 in the past nine months.

“For the first time in [Miami’s] history, we are now creating high paying jobs,” Suarez said. 

Threads on deBanked


01-11-2021

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