|02/24/2020||Fifth Third partners with Fundation|
|11/23/2019||Fundation collaborates with Fifth Third|
|05/17/2018||Fundation secures $120M credit facility|
|01/19/2018||Fundation secures financing from Waterfall|
|11/14/2017||Fundation purchases select assets from Able|
Potential Match Found in deBanked UCC Filer list
|Company Name||Phone number||UCC Alias 1||Alias 2||Alias 3||Alias 4||Alias 5|
|Fundation||888-390-0064||Fundation Group LLC|
Fundation is back at it, this time announcing a deal with Citizens Bank to offer “digital lending capabilities to small business customers.”
According to a press release:
The added capability will enable small businesses to apply for loans and lines of credit through a simple online application at citizensbank.com. In most cases approval is provided within minutes, and loans are funded in as little as three business days. Additionally, Fundation will offer credit to some customers that do not meet Citizens’ credit guidelines, helping the bank to serve more of its small business customers’ credit needs.
Expected to go into effect in mid-2017, it should be a huge improvement to Citizen’s existing online loan application process, which doesn’t appear to even exist. A cursory review of their website indicates that business owners can at best, schedule a consultation with a banker over the phone.
Fundation has transformed this process for other banks in the past, Regions Bank for example, as we showed in a prior post. The partnership should be valuable for both Fundation and Citizens.
The online lending party isn’t over yet. And neither is bank lending…
Fundation, which company CEO Sam Graziano described to the WSJ as a credit solutions provider rather than a lender, has secured a $100 million credit facility from Goldman Sachs. But they are a lender, a direct small business lender in fact, that uses their own balance sheet to make loans.
Fundation is different in that they bolt their platform on top of the traditional banking system. Their partnership with Regions Bank for example, allows Regions Bank customers to apply for a Fundation loan right through the Regions.com website.
The sizable credit facility, the system it will help foster, and the name behind it further demonstrates the demise of peer-to-peer lending. “We decided to be an integrated partner of the banking system,” said Fundation’s Graziano to the WSJ in regards to the saturated environment of lending platforms.
The WSJ also reported that the firm will use the funds to make more loans to Regions bank customers as well as other community banks that they have partnered up with.
After ten years of debate over when and how to roll out the CFPB’s mandate to collect data from small business lenders, the Bureau has initially proposed to exclude merchant cash advance providers, factors, and equipment leasing companies from the requirement, according to a recently published report.
The decision is not final. A panel of Small Entity Representatives (SERS) that consulted with the CFPB on the proposed rollout recommended that the “Bureau continue to explore the extent to which covering MCAs or other products, such as factoring, would further the statutory purposes of Section 1071, along with the benefits and costs of covering such products.”
The SERS included individuals from:
- AP Equipment Financing
- Artisans’ Bank
- Bippus State Bank
- CDC Small Business Finance
- City First Bank
- Floorplan Xpress LLC
- Fundation Group LLC
- Funding Circle
- Greenbox Capital
- Hope Credit Union
- InRoads Credit Union
- Kore Capital Corporation
- Lakota Funds
- MariSol Federal Credit Union
- Opportunity Fund
- Reading Co-Operative bank
- River City Federal Credit Union
- Security First Bank of North Dakota
- UT Federal Credit Union
- Virginia Community Capital
The panel discussed many issues including how elements of Section 1071 could inadvertently embarrass or deter borrowers from applying for business loans. That would run counter to the spirit of the law which aims to measure if there are disparities in the small business loan market for both women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
One potential snag that could complicate this endeavor is that the concept of gender has evolved since Dodd-Frank was passed in 2010. “One SER stated that the Bureau should consider revisiting the use of male and female as categories for sex because gender is not binary,” the CFPB report says.
But in any case, there was broad support for the applicants to self-report their own sex, race, and ethnicity, rather than to force loan underwriters to try and make those determinations on their own. The ironic twist, however, according to one SER, is that when applicants are asked to self-report this information on a business loan application, a high percentage refuse to answer the questions at all.
The CFPB will eventually roll the law out in some final fashion regardless. The full report can be viewed here.
Here’s where fintech and online lending rank on the Inc 5000 list for 2020:
|351||Direct Funding Now||1,297%|
|647||Fund That Flip||724%|
|1229||Smart Business Funding||365%|
|1282||Global Lending Services||349%|
|1502||Fountainhead Commercial Capital||293%|
|1933||Choice Merchant Solutions||218%|
|2466||Bankers Healthcare Group||167%|
|2537||Central Diligence Group||162%|
|3062||Shore Funding Solutions||127%|
|4344||Yalber & Got Capital||76%|
|4509||Expansion Capital Group||70%|
A new study on transparency conducted by the Federal Reserve on non-bank small business finance providers indicates that borrowers are not driven by costs or disclosures. The #1 reason for a business to apply with an online lender was the speed of the process, the study showed. #2 was the likelihood of being funded. Cost ranked near the bottom of the list.
While a focus group pointed out many areas that are ripe for improvement, the Fed was left to conclude that “clearer information—in the form of standardized disclosures—will not necessarily alter the decisions of some small business borrowers about whether and where to obtain financing.”
The Fed further commented that some loan applicants revealed that they had already “committed the expected loan proceeds” before a lender could even present rates and terms. Others borrowers wished they could know their approved rate and terms before even providing a lender with any data. These findings seem to undermine the potential value of enhanced uniformity in disclosures.
The report, which attempts to paint a bleak picture of online lending in spite of the data, seems to validate what online lenders have been saying all along, that speed is supreme. Even where transparency is lacking, it cannot be overstated that big banks scored lower on transparency than online lenders did.
Uncertain Terms: What Small Business Borrowers Find When Browsing Online Lender Websites evaluated BFS Capital, CAN Capital, Credibly, Fundation, Funding Circle, Kabbage, Lending Club, National Funding, OnDeck, Rapid Finance, PayPal Working Capital, and Square Capital.
Publicly-traded Ready Capital Corporation has acquired 100% of Knight Capital LLC. The total sales price was undisclosed but it consisted of cash and 658,771 common shares of Ready Capital stock. A share currently trades at $15.83, valuing the stock portion in excess of $10 million.
More details may emerge when Ready Capital publishes quarterly earnings next week.
“The acquisition of Knight Capital expands Ready Capital’s product offering to small businesses and does so on a platform that has achieved scale,” said Tom Capasse, Ready Capital’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in a public statement. “Furthermore, the addition of Knight Capital will allow us to leverage its proprietary technology to further increase the efficiency of Ready Capital’s lending platform, enhance our borrowers’ experience and expand existing customer acquisition channels.”
Ready Capital, a multi-strategy real estate finance company, is better known by its management company, Waterfall Asset Management, LLC. Waterfall has previously provided credit facilities to companies like OnDeck, Fundation, and UK-based Lendable.
Ready Capital is headquartered in New York City and employs 400 lending professionals nationwide.
Early this week TangoTrade announced its partnership with the online lender Fundation. TangoTrade, which deals primarily in payment assurances for US small business importers and exporters, will now offer alternative financing to SMBs with the help of Fundation.
The development is a reaction to the struggles faced by small businesses who engage in global trade. Sam Hayes, Co-founder and President of TangoTrade, said that “If you’re an SMB and a transaction goes south, it causes major problems for cash flow. There’s very little recourse you can have as a small business.”
Explaining that about one-third of all US imports and exports originate from small businesses (roughly 200,000 small businesses import and 300,000 export), Hayes notes that this is a large portion of the American economy that is potentially at risk. Especially when they are being left out to hang by banks whose debit and credit facilities come attached with lengthy approval wait times and complex application processes that are often too inconvenient for SMB owners.
The partnership with Fundation, which is backed by both Goldman-Sachs and SunTrust Bank, will enable TangoTrade to fund SMBs up to $1 million. As mentioned, TangoTrade also offers payment assurance for importers and exporters, which reduces payment risks by managing the entire payment process for both parties involved and offering imbursement via 130 currencies. As well as this, the option to wire funds globally is available through TangoTrade’s partnership with TempusFX.
These services have been centralized by TangoTrade, being made accessible through the business’s site, a decision that is key to the company’s vision of offering services through a platform, Hayes told deBanked. “We’ve seen innovations in cross-border payments and global sourcing, but not a whole lot in this particular area,” which is why TangoTrade is pushing to incorporate fintech in their dealings.
And this impetus has attracted attention. With a diverse set of investors ranging from Hard Yaka, which has ties to Square, Ripple, and Twitter; to Village Global, a venture capital network that is backed by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg, TangoTrade has links to large names. Such diverse connections are mirrored in the company itself, with their team bringing together experience from MasterCard, Payoneer, NASDAQ, and Oracle.
A cabal of tech heads to be sure, Fundation CEO Sam Graziano says that this approach will “enable small businesses to access low-cost capital through an integrated user-friendly digital experience on their platform.”
OnDeck, the reigning king of small business lending among U.S. financial technology companies, is sharpening its business strategies. Among its new initiatives: the company is launching an equipment-finance product this year, targeting loans of $5,000 to $100,000 with two-to-five year maturities secured by “essential-use equipment.”
In touting the program to Wall Street analysts in February, OnDeck’s chief executive, Noah Breslow, declared that the $35 billion, equipment-finance market is “cumbersome” and he pronounced the sector “ripe for disruption.”
While those performance expectations may prove true – the first results of OnDeck’s product launch won’t be seen until 2020 – Breslow’s message seemed to conflict with OnDeck’s image as a public company. Rather than casting itself as a disruptor these days, OnDeck emphasizes the ways that its business is melding with mainstream commerce and finance.
Consider that the New York-based company, which saw its year-over-year revenues rise 14% to $398.4 million in 2018, is collaborating with Visa and Ingo Money to launch an “Instant Funding” line-of-credit that funnels cash “in seconds” to business customers via their debit cards. With the acquisition of Evolocity Financial Group, it is also expanding its commercial lending business in Canada, a move that follows its foray into Australia where, the company reports, loan-origination grew by 80% in 2018.
Perhaps most significant was the 2018 deal that OnDeck inked with PNC Bank, the sixth-largest financial institution in the U.S. with $370.5 billion in assets. Under the agreement, the Pittsburgh-based bank will utilize OnDeck’s digital platform for its small business lending programs. Coming on top of a similar arrangement with megabank J.P. Morgan Chase, the country’s largest with $2.2 trillion in assets, the PNC deal “suggests a further validation of OnDeck’s underlying technology and innovation,” asserts Wall Street analyst Eric Wasserstrom, who follows specialty finance for investment bank UBS.
“It also reflects the fact that doing a partnership is a better business model for the big banks than building out their own platforms,” he says. “Both banks (PNC and J.P. Morgan) have chosen the middle ground: instead of building out their own technology or buying a fintech company, they’ll rent.
“J.P. Morgan has a loan portfolio of $1 trillion,” Wasserstrom explains. “It can’t earn any money making loans of $15,000 or $20,000. Even if it charged 1,000 percent interest for those loans,” he went on, “do you know how much that will influence their balance sheet? How many dollars do think they are going to earn? A giant zero!”
Similarly, Wasserstrom says, spending the tens of millions of dollars required to develop the state-of-the art technology and expertise that would enable a behemoth like J.P. Morgan or a super-regional like PNC to match a fintech’s capability “would still not be a big needle-mover. You’d never earn that money back. But by partnering with a fintech like OnDeck,” he adds, “banks like J.P Morgan and PNC get incremental dollars they wouldn’t otherwise have.”
The alliance between OnDeck and old-line financial institutions is one more sign, if one more sign were needed, that commercial fintech lenders are increasingly blending into the established financial ecosystem.
Not so long ago companies like OnDeck, Kabbage, PayPal, Square, Fundation, Lending Club, and Credibly were viewed by traditional commercial banks and Wall Street as upstart arrivistes. Some may still bear the reputation as disruptors as they continue using their technological prowess to carve out niche funding areas that banks often neglect or disdain.
Yet many fintechs are forming alliances with the same financial institutions they once challenged, helping revitalize them with new product offerings. Other financial technology companies have bulked up in size and are becoming indistinguishable from any major corporation.
Big Fintechs are securitizing their loans with global investment banks, accessing capital from mainline financial institutions like J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo, and finding additional ways — including becoming publicly listed on the stock exchanges – to tap into the equity and debt markets.
One example of the maturation process: through mid-2018, Atlanta-based Kabbage has securitized $1.5 billion in two bond issuances, 30% of its $5 billion in small business loan originations since 2008.
In addition, fintechs have been raising their industry’s profile with legislators and regulators in both state and federal government, as well as with customers and the public through such trade associations as the Internet Lending Platform Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both individually and through the trade groups, these companies are building goodwill by supporting truth-in-lending laws in California and elsewhere, promoting best practices and codes of conduct, and engaging in corporate philanthropy.
Rather than challenging the established order, S&P Global Market Intelligence recently noted in a 2018 report, this cohort of Big Fintech is increasingly burrowing into it. This can especially be seen in the alliances between fintech commercial lenders and banks.
“Bank channel lenders arguably have the best of both worlds,” Nimayi Dixit, a research analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence wrote approvingly in a 2018 report. “They can export credit risk to bank partners while avoiding the liquidity risks of most marketplace lending platforms. Instead of disrupting banks, bank channel lenders help (existing banks) compete with other digital lenders by providing a similar customer experience.”
It’s a trend that will only accelerate. “We expect more digital lenders to incorporate this funding model into their businesses via white-label or branded services to banking institutions,” the S&P report adds.
Forming partnerships with banks and diversifying into new product areas is not a luxury but a necessity for Fundation, says Sam Graziano, chief executive at the Reston (Va.)-based platform. “You can’t be a one-trick pony,” he says, promising more product launches this year.
Fundation has been steadily making a name for itself by collaborating with independent and regional banks that utilize its platform to make small business loans under $150,000. In January, the company announced formation of a partnership with Bank of California in which the West Coast bank will use Fundation’s platform to offer a digital line of credit for small businesses on its website.
Fundation lists as many as 20 banks as partners, including most prominently a pair of tech-savvy financial institutions — Citizens Bank in Providence, R.I. and Provident Bank in Iselin, N.J. — which have been featured in the trade press for their enthusiastic embrace of Fundation.
John Kamin, executive vice president at $9.8 billion Provident reports that the bank’s “competency” is making commercial loans in the “millions of dollars” and that it had generally shunned making loans as meager as $150,000, never mind smaller ones. But using Fundation’s platform, which automates and streamlines the loan-approval process, the bank can lend cheaply and quickly to entrepreneurs. “We’re able to do it in a matter of days, not weeks,” he marvels.
Not only can a prospective commercial borrower upload tax returns, bank statements and other paperwork, Kamin says, “but with the advanced technology that’s built in, customers can provide a link to their bank account and we can look at cash flows and do other innovative things so you don’t have to wait around for the mail.”
Provident reserves the right to be selective about which loans it wants to maintain on its books. “We can take the cream of the crop” and leave the remainder with Fundation, the banker explains. “We have the ability to turn that dial.”
The partnership offers additional side benefits. “A lot of folks who have signed up (for loans) are non-customers and now we have the ability to market to them,” he says. “After we get a small business to take out a loan, we hope that we can get deposits and even personal accounts. It gives us someone else to market to.”
As a digital lender, Provident can now contend mano a mano with another well-known competitor: J.P. Morgan Chase. “This is the perfect model for us,” says Kamin, “it gives us scale. You can’t build a program like this from scratch. Now we can compete with the big guys. We can compete with J.P. Morgan.”
For Fundation, which booked a half-billion dollars in small business loans last year, doing business with heavily regulated banks puts its stamp on the company. It means, for example, that Fundation must take pains to conform to the industry’s rigid norms governing compliance and information security. But that also builds trust and can result in client referrals for loans that don’t fit a bank’s profile. “For a bank to outsource operations to us,” Graziano says, “we have to operate like a bank.”
Bankrolled with a $100 million line of credit from Goldman Sachs, Fundation’s interest rate charges are not as steep as many competitors’. “The average cost of our loans is in the mid-to-high teens and that’s one reason why banks are willing to work with us,” Graziano says. “Our loans,” he adds, “are attractively structured with low fees and coupon rates that are not too dramatically different from where banks are. We also don’t take as much risk as many in the (alternative funding) industry.”
Despite its establishment ties, Graziano says, Fundation will not become a public company anytime soon. “Going public is not in our near-term plans,” he told deBanked. Doing business as a public company “provides liquidity to shareholders and the ability to use stock as an acquisition tool and for employees’ compensation,” he concedes. “But you’re subject to the relentlessly short-term focus of the market and you’re in the public eye, which can hurt long-term value creation.”
Graziano reports, however, that Fundation will be securitizing portions of its loan portfolio by yearend 2020.
PayPal Working Capital, a division of PayPal Holdings based in San Jose, and Square Inc. of San Francisco, are two Big Fintechs that branched into commercial lending from the payments side of fintech. PayPal began making small business loans in 2013 while Square got into the game in 2014. In just the last half-decade, both companies have leveraged their technological expertise, massive data collections, data-mining skills, and catbird-seat positions in the marketplace to burst on the scene as powerhouse small business lenders.
With somewhat similar business models, the pair have also surfaced as head-to-head competitors, their stock prices and rivalry drawing regular commentary from investors, analysts and journalists. Both have direct access to millions of potential customers. Both have the ability to use “machine learning” to reckon the creditworthiness of business borrowers. Both use algorithms to decide the size and terms of a loan.
Loan approval — or denials — are largely based on a customer’s sales and payments history. Money can appear, sometimes almost magically in minutes, in a borrower’s bank account, debit card or e-wallet. PayPal and Square Capital also deduct repayments directly from a borrower’s credit or debit card sales in “financing structures similar to merchant cash advances,” notes S&P.
At its website, here is how PayPal explains its loan-making process. “The lender reviews your PayPal account history to determine your loan amount. If approved, your maximum loan amount can be up to 35% of the sales your business processed through PayPal in the past 12 months, and no more than $125,000 for your first two loans. After you’ve completed your first two loans, the maximum loan amount increases to $200,000.”
PayPal, which reports having 267 million global accounts, was adroitly positioned when it commenced making small business loans in 2013. But what has really given the Big Fintech a boost, notes Levi King, chief executive and co-founder at Utah-based Nav — an online, credit-data aggregator and financial matchmaker for small businesses – was PayPal’s 2017 acquisition of Swift Financial. The deal not only added 20,000 new business borrowers to its 120,000, reported TechCrunch, but provided PayPal with more sophisticated tools to evaluate borrowers and refine the size and terms of its loans.
“PayPal had already been incredibly successful using transactional data obtained through PayPal accounts,” King told deBanked, “but they were limited by not having a broad view of risk.” It was upon the acquisition of Swift, however, that PayPal gained access to a “bigger financial envelope including personal credit, business credit, and checking account information,” King says, adding: “The additional data makes it way easier for PayPal to assess risk and offer not just bigger loans, but multiple types of loans with various payback terms.”
While PayPal used the Swift acquisition to spur growth and build market share, its rival Square — which is best known for its point-of-sale terminals, its smartphone “Cash App,” and its Square Card — has employed a different strategy.
OF A FREIGHT TRAIN
By selling off loans to third-party institutional investors, who snap them up on what Square calls a “forward-flow basis,” the Big Fintech barged into small business lending with the subtlety of a freight train. In just four years, Square originated 650,000 loans worth $4.0 billion, a stunning rise from the modest base of $13.6 million in 2014.
Square’s third-party funding model, moreover, demonstrates the benefits afforded from being deeply immersed in the financial ecosystem. Off-loading the loans “significantly increases the speed with which we can scale services and allows us to mitigate our balance sheet and liquidity risk,” the company reported in its most recent 10K filing.
Square does not publicly disclose the entire roster of its third-party investors. But Kim Sampson, a media relations manager at Square, told deBanked that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board — “a global investment manager with more than CA$300 billion in assets under management and a focus on sustained, long term returns” – is one important loan-purchaser.
Square also offers loans on its “partnership platform” to businesses for whom it does not process payments. And late last year the company introduced an updated version of an old-fashioned department store loan. Known as “Square Installments,” the program allows a merchant to offer customers a monthly payment plan for big-ticket purchases costing between $250 and $10,000.
Which model is superior? PayPal’s — which retains small business loans on its balance sheet — or Square’s third-party investor program? “The short answer,” says UBS analyst Wasserstrom, “is that PayPal retains small business loans on its balance sheet, and therefore benefits from the interest income, but takes the associated credit and funding risk.”
Meanwhile, as PayPal and Square stake out territory in the marketplace, their rivalry poses a formidable challenge to other competitors.
Both are well capitalized and risk-averse. PayPal, which reported $4.23 billion in revenues in 2018, a 13% increase over the previous year, reports sitting on $3.8 billion in retained earnings. Square, whose 2018 revenues were up 51 percent to $3.3 billion, reported that — despite losses — it held cash and liquid investments of $1.638 billion at the end of December.
King, the Nav executive, observes that Able, Dealstruck, and Bond Street – three once-promising and innovative fintechs that focused on small business lending – were derailed when they could not overcome the double-whammy of high acquisition costs and pricey capital.
“None of them were able to scale up fast enough in the marketplace,” notes King. “The process of institutionalization is pushing out smaller players.”
Who does monthly payments and has an iso program?...
looking for some new lenders to submit deals through that offer monthly payments besides loanme, bluevine and fundation that have an iso program. shoo...
fundation but i am going to get a lower rate which happens to be what that deal specifically needs to close. this kind of falls back on whoever is allocating the deals, they should know where to place deals to maximize the approval + allow for the biggest commission as a result. successful retail shops are organized and notate these things to be able to ferry subs over quickly with the right guidelines. also helps tremendously if you have someone with at least a mediocre underwriting ability to scrub the docs once you get a full package to better appropriate the deals. the better they're placed the more likely you are to get an offer that makes sense,.. fund, and be skipping all the way to the bank hoping they don't clawback your ish. lol, i'm just kidding....
fundation were setup to process sba throughout the covid shutdown....
fundation.. they closed for now, , anyone else...