Articles by Adam Zaki
Adam is a Reporter from Long Island and graduate of Brooklyn College.
Small business lender Fountainhead has hired former US Airforce Veteran and SBA District Director Joseph Amato as their new Senior Vice President. Amato served for four years as the District Director of the SBA’s Nevada District Office prior to taking his new position at FountainHead.
“Joe’s strong work ethic and extensive knowledge base will be an invaluable asset to Fountainhead, as we build on our past success as the largest nonbank SBA lender in the Southeast and execute our nationwide growth strategy,” said Fountainhead CEO and Founder Chris Hurn.
Amato assisted Nevada’s SBA program in the implementation of stimulus programs that helped keep many Nevadan businesses afloat during pandemic-induced lockdowns. Many of these stimulus programs have been credited to keeping places alive, like the businesses on the Las Vegas strip, for example.
“I’m eager to leverage my experience with the SBA and beyond to help Fountainhead drive financing opportunities and support to millions of small businesses across America,” said Amato.
“I don’t always believe people that say they are surprised about having to pay taxes on crypto. There’s a field on your tax form to say where you’ve made money doing illegal things. If you sell drugs, there’s a place to report how much money you’ve spent selling drugs. The IRS doesn’t care. Everything is taxed in this country.”
There is no such thing as too many crypto transactions when it comes to accounting purposes, according to Patrick White, CEO of Bitwave. Bitwave operates the software that does the accounting for major blockchain companies and retailers who have taken crypto as payment.
White says that the high volume of crypto transactions aren’t coming from individuals sending digital assets back and forth, but rather from the companies that host the infrastructure of these transactions.
“It’s not just trading, trading is fun and we all love the rat race that is trading, but where it’s a lot more interesting is how some of our customers who are in the NFT space are seeing millions of revenue transactions a month.”
These sites like OpenSea, a client of Bitwave, are seeing sky high amounts of these types of transactions. When asked about the cost of accounting for an individual doing ten-thousand trades a month, White laughed.
“Ten-thousand trades a month is nothing,” he said.
White spoke of an instance which is seemingly a common occurrence in the crypto world. “We had a customer who when we were running their [transactions], I couldn’t figure out [an issue] with one of their months. I went to go look at the data, and they had turned on a Binance bot and without even realizing it, they didn’t know this, they accidentally had 200,000 trades in a month. The volume is incredible.”
When asked about how digital assets have impacted the accounting world, White stressed that the amount of transactions have resulted in companies appearing larger than they are from a transactional-perspective. According to him, some of his clients are doing as many transactions as some of the largest companies in the world.
“[One client] is a one-year old company that is doing the volume of a sixty year-old retail business, it’s unheard of.”
When asked further about the difference of cost in accounting digital assets versus dollars, White explained that it isn’t much different than how larger companies have maintained their books for some time.
“No matter what, if you are a high frequency trader and you’re making hundreds of millions of trades a year, you will need software to deal with that,” said White. “I wouldn’t say that [the amount of transactions] are increasing costs across the board, it is a cost that you would already be expected to [have].”
When asked about the apparent vacuum of crypto-native accountants, White seemed to cast blame on the approach of the information. When hiring, he says he finds more value in people with engineering experience over accounting experience, and blockchain experience over anything else.
“[Other accountants] are trying to apply finance 1.0 things to this crypto world,” said White. “We look for good engineers. A good engineer can figure anything out, a bad engineer with accounting experience can’t. We’re looking for blockchain experience, as blockchain [technology] is more difficult than accounting in many ways.”
While most businesses will file extensions this time around and finish their taxes in October, White believes that blockchain accounting will become more widespread as new firms leverage the infancy of the space and settle into their niches.
“Cottage industries will come up in order to enable the IRS,” said White. “I don’t expect the IRS to build this technology or this understanding in-house. There will be people and businesses that will do it for them.”
With the IRS’ decisions about taxing crypto having the potential to change at any notice, White stressed the necessity for malleability when developing this kind of accounting technology in such an unpredictable space.
“We’ve designed Bitwave from the very beginning to be able to rapidly adjust to the new laws that are coming out,” he said. “Even back then, it was very obvious that we couldn’t build this tech in such a way that it is inflexible.”
DoorDash has made its way into the small business financing game. DoorDash Capital, as the financing arm is so named, claims to provide merchant cash advances to DoorDash partners against future sales orders placed through the DoorDash app.
The DoorDash website explains the product in detail.
“There is no interest rate because a merchant cash advance is not a loan,” the website says. “There is a fixed fee stated up front which will be collected together with the capital advance. Your fee will never change after you have accepted the offer.”
All of these deals are processed through Parafin, a Silicon Valley-based funder who was started by former Robinhood data scientists and engineers. They spoke to the Wall Street Journal in September about their launch and the onboarding of their first customer, Mindbody.
As a software provider with a financing arm of their business, Mindbody reportedly uses Parafin’s funds to provide financing through Mindbody Capital. When speaking to the Journal, Parafin’s Chief Executive Sahill Poddar said that Mindbody customers would pay fees between 6%-15%.
“We are categorically distinct from online lenders,” Poddar told the Journal.“We only get paid back when the [small business] makes sales.”
It’s still unclear the amount of DoorDash merchants getting financing from DoorDash Capital. From the looks of it, the program is still in its infancy.
When deBanked reached out to DoorDash for a progress report on the program, the company declined to speak. “No comment at this time,” said a DoorDash representative when asked about the progress, usage, and ideas behind DoorDash Capital.
“Our goal is to provide our partners with fair, fast and convenient financing,” the DoorDash website says. “To help partners gain access to additional capital, we partnered with Parafin, a business financing provider, to offer cash advances that you pay back automatically with your DoorDash sales. You can use the capital for inventory, payroll, rent, marketing or for your cash flow needs.”
“I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I have had a client under the age of 25.”
Tom Tantillo, an IRA Specialist with NuView Trust, thinks that cryptocurrencies can be the way to finally get younger people excited about investing for retirement. As the emergence of web3 has opened up the door to parts of the financial world for many who would otherwise had never have taken part, Tantillo believes that the same can now be mimicked in IRAs.
“Everyone loves paying less taxes, and everyone loves giving less money to Uncle Sam,” said Tantillo. “[However] the main thing is getting young people excited to save for retirement, because it’s not sexy.”
According to Tantillo, a self-directed IRA with digital assets creates a perfect balance of risk and reward for a digitally native investor. Much like mutual funds or traditional stocks, crypto packaged alongside other conservative investments can create big returns in portfolios.
“If you put 2-3 percent of your portfolio into crypto, just the top ten ones off market cap, not going crazy or anything, you can boost your portfolio returns past the S&P 500 average and up to 16 percent.”
After NuView’s investor’s retreat last week, Tantillo claims that after inquiring about feedback from clients, the highest rated panel at their event was the three hour panel dedicated to digital assets. “Clients were like, ‘this cryptocurrency stuff, I don’t know much about it, but I’m interested and I want to get started.’”
Not only do digital assets provide a trendy appeal to retirement investing, they also provide the technology element that younger people see as a sense of legitimacy in a financial product. Tantillo believes that although the potential for digital assets is astronomical in terms of changing the investment mindset of younger people, he also is aware that the current system and demographics in retirement savings are holding the innovation back to a certain extent.
“The whole reason why I educate myself on this is so I can stay ahead,” he said. “That’s what I encourage everyone to do. I don’t want to be that old parent asking their son or daughter how to use tech, I don’t want to fall behind.”
With the maximum contribution in most IRAs being no more than $6,000, Tantillo argues that it’s almost a no-brainer for a financially intelligent crypto enthusiast to bank on digital assets for retirement. “You can do quite a lot of damage with $6,000,” he said. “If you put $6,000 of Bitcoin in an IRA six years ago, you’d be chillin.”
“I know it might seem sudden for you, but we’ve been engaged in discussions since the Summer, and [BlueVine] has been in discussions internally for certainly longer than that.”
FundThrough announced their acquisition of the factoring division of BlueVine on Thursday. A deal that has been long in the works will make the Canadian factoring company’s American portfolio 80 percent of their business.
“From FundThrough’s perspective, we’ve always had BlueVine’s factoring business on our radar,” said FundThrough’s Co-founder and CEO Steven Uster, exclusively to deBanked. “We started around the same time, they grew their business nicely, and then they started to branch out to other products.”
Uster spoke about BlueVine outgrowing their factoring business, while FundThrough was growing enough to acquire it. “From the outside looking in, it looked like this might’ve been turning into a non-core asset for them, but yet very core for us.”
For FundThrough, the move is substantial. The company has acquired their largest competitor’s inaugural product. According to Uster, the move brings two companies together who are starkly similar in more ways than just the product they sell.
“We share similar cultures, we’re much smaller obviously as a whole, but our factoring business is bigger,” he said. “We share a similar mindset, we’re also a technology based business, our systems are quite similar, so the move [will] be an easier, elegant transition.”
“We determined that FundThrough is perfectly positioned to serve our factoring clients with the care and individual attention they need and deserve,” said Eyal Lifshitz, Co-founder and CEO of BlueVine. “Our factoring clients will be in great hands with FundThrough.”
Lifshitz spoke on his company’s growth, and how the move will allow the company to focus on better serving their existing customers. “Since launching BlueVine, we’ve been focused on the financial needs of small businesses and are very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. As we evolve our products and services, we continuously examine how we can better serve our customers at scale.”
According to Uster, fintech-inspired invoice factoring has sparked unprecedented interest in the financial world lately. While he is unsure of the reason, the engagement and inquiries FundThrough has received prior to the acquisition have been significantly higher than in the past.
“Something shifted over the last twelve months,” Uster said. “All of the sudden, without much branding, we have been getting a bunch of inquiries about partnering and providing this embedded invoice factoring solution.”
With their acquisition comes confidence, and it sounds like FundThrough is ready to be on the forefront of tech-infused financing. “[The acquisition] provides us the scale to be the partner of choice. We are now the players in the market,” Uster said.
“If you want to offer tech enabled instant funding on invoices in your B2B marketplace, FundThrough is now the solution.”
After having their entire industry threatened by pandemic-induced restrictions, the Canadian alternative finance space has started 2022 off with a bang. Canadian lending saw billions in growth, as the industry hopes to utilize fintech’s technology and the government’s new take on open banking to bring their industry back to full swing.
“Main Street small business recovery is looking very strong for 2022 as restrictions ease moving into the warmer weather,” said Tal Schwartz, Senior Advisor for the Canadian Lenders Association. “However, in the short term, lenders are paying close attention to the Omicron variant, and particularly how aggressive the federal government is prepared to be in terms of sustained subsidies.”
Despite the uncertainty of the next several months, Canadian finance seems to have a healthy balance of offering modern financial products alongside an effort a return to normalcy. The crypto-lender Ledn raised $70M USD for the world’s first crypto-secured mortgage product, while the BNPL company Flexiti received a $527M facility from the National Bank of Canada. Merchant Growth, a small business lender, also raised $4m in equity financing.
According to Schwartz, most lenders who stayed in business used the last year to deeply invest in their technology across the board.
“[Lenders] have equally repositioned themselves in ways that better service a post-pandemic SMB clientele,” he said. “There is significant effort among lenders to evolve into financial health dashboards of a business, rather than being viewed exclusively as a financing source.”
According to the numbers, there has been significant growth by two notable Canadian lenders that are acting both as a financial management tool and a lending source. Canada’s largest subprime lender goeast Ltd, and Borrowell, a mobile loan marketplace, achieved $2B in portfolios and 2M users respectively to end the year.
“Fintech platforms become more sticky and can capture more client data if they become a hub for business management, with financing simply being a component of their platform,” said Schwartz. “Fintech lenders are coming out of the pandemic much stronger and with a sharper mandate than before.”
Codat and Moody’s Analytics are partnering to bring the fintech’s API software into Moody’s CreditLens solution. The move will enable Moody users looking to fund small businesses the ability to access and manage all of the accounting data for the respective merchant looked to be funded.
Along with an effort to increase efficiency in the approval and funding processes, both companies seem to hope that the partnership will also improve access to capital for small businesses across the US.
“We find ourselves in a time of rapid change, where new approaches to financing and technology are becoming increasingly important to small businesses,” said Peter Lord, CEO & Co-Founder of Codat . “Moody’s Analytics has impressive global scale and reach, so this partnership holds the potential to meaningfully reverse the credit crunch facing SMEs while opening up new profitable lines of business for financial institutions.”
“Together we will be able to extend the benefits of Codat’s two-way flow of financial data to more lenders and financial institutions, allowing them easier access to a wider data set to make high-quality, data-driven credit decisions,” said Lord.
CreditLens is a “credit lifecycle management solution” with access to large amounts of data from across the lending space. Codat’s software will enhance data transferring in the CreditLens platform by offering real-time accounting data on merchants that is instantly accessible by Moody users.
“We are excited to welcome Codat as a new accounting data aggregation technology partner to boost the value of Moody’s Analytics lending solutions,” said Eric Grandeo, Product Head for Moody’s Analytics Lending Solutions.”Codat provides a seamless interchange of real-time data to enable valuable credit insights and predictive capabilities.”
“We are both dedicated to helping financial service businesses gain [a] deep understanding of their client’s risk and behavior, and make better decisions based on real-time accounting, banking, and commerce data,” Grandeo continued. “Ultimately, the partnership will afford small businesses across the U.K and U.S. access to more credit options, opportunity and growth.”
“After meeting so many people at the Broker Fair in New York City, I was like, ‘you know what, now is the time for it. I’m young, so let’s take the risk and start my own company.’”
Matt Dolecki, a 23-year old entrepreneur who owned and sold two businesses before he graduated high school, is taking the young hustler’s mindset to the alternative finance world. Just this week, Dolecki started his own brokerage; dubbing it Opulent Capital.
Although Dolecki wants to start funding deals immediately and create relationships across the space, he is aware that he needs to also focus on honing in on the foundations of his business if he wants true success.
“I think a lot of people when they enter this space try to grow too fast and too big too quickly,” he said. “I’m not here to grow extremely fast or extremely big. I’m here to establish a well-rounded company and not tarnish my work just trying to grow fast.”
After interning at a funding company after college and subsequently working for a commercial collections agency, Dolecki believes his experience seeing all sides of the process will set him aside from other brokers.
“I have enough knowledge and information for the merchant to not just broker them the deal, but inform the merchant and let them know exactly what they’re getting, what’s possible for them, and what’s the better option,” Dolecki said.
“I have the debt collection side, and I’ve worked in [small business funding], so I have a really well rounded knowledge of how this whole thing works. If someone were to default, I know exactly which way to go. I can guide the lender on exactly which way to go, I have all the contacts on both sides, lenders and brokers, as well as many debt collections agencies. So I can help lenders not only get business, but retain business and get back lost revenue.”
Not only is Dolecki confident that his experience will set him and his company aside from competitors, he also believes his strength in numbers, or lack of, will allow him to operate a smooth show.
“I’m a one man shop,” said Dolecki. “I’ve talked to a lot of lenders, and they like the idea of having one person to deal with. Information is directly to the source, directly to me and directly to the merchant. It’s an easier form of communication. Every lender I’ve talked to agrees that 90% of their best selling ISOs are one man shops.”
When speaking on creating an image for his company from the merchant’s perspective, Dolecki spoke extensively about different types of marketing. He says that a strategy seemingly based on the business owner’s age can determine what type of communication should be used to pitch that particular merchant.
“If you are trying to reach out to small business owners over the age of 60, most likely a call will be more beneficial rather than investing in marketing or SEO,” said Dolecki. “Now there are so many young business owners who all love technology and doing things online, so building a platform where you can use fintech to apply for loans and search different loan options would be much more beneficial to the younger business owners.”
“I think a good mix of using fintech, algorithms, and tech, but also cold calling and [even] reaching out by mail is an effective way of trying to find that perfect mix of using both types of merchants.”
Dolecki has received support from other brokerages in the industry and claims without help, he would never be in the position he is now.
“Shout out to Porsha and Mercedes Brooks at Brooks Partners Finance,” said Dolecki. “They’ve really been a big mentor for me starting out, and helping me to get the ball rolling. I’m now calling merchants, signing on as an ISO with different lenders, and still just getting started.”