business cash advance

The Missing Puzzle Pieces

July 24, 2014
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the loan puzzleAbout 1% of my LendingClub consumer loan portfolio bounces their very first payment. It’s discouraging stuff, especially considering these loans range between 3 and 5 years. Granted, most manage to get caught back up at least for a little while.

LendingClub, like the rest of the alternative lending industry relies on ACH debits to retrieve those monthly payments. I’ve published my feelings before on single monthly debit payment systems (they’re like roulette). Out of 30 days of the month, you’re betting on the balance being available on just 1 particular day. When I noticed that 1% of my borrowers were failing right out of the gate, it validated two practices that originated in the merchant cash advance industry, daily payments and the analysis of historical cash flow.

For all the underwriting data points that LendingClub offers its investors, I don’t get to see average daily bank balance, overdraft activity, NSF data, or anything at all related to the borrower’s bank account. Ironically, many merchant cash advance companies consider that data to be the single most important piece of assessing a deal.

The problem my 1%-ers have is not a credit problem or a stable income problem, it’s a cash flow problem. You can have 750 credit and be broke. You can have a good job with a hefty salary and be broke. You and I knew this already, which is why it’s odd that LendingClub and other p2p lenders like them still rely mainly on employment data and FICO score.

What I want to know is if the borrower is broke…

That’s something that LendingClub can’t tell me and doesn’t know. Hence a good looking borrower like the one mentioned below, missed the first payment. That led to a negotiation for a reduced monthly payment. They then failed to pay even the reduced amount.

lendingclub payment plan

This was a very low risk B1 note. The borrower is a nurse that has worked at their current job for 5 years. They had over 700 credit and very little revolving debt, only $5,500 (compared to some on the platform that have more than 50k!). It was a 3 year loan and it has blown up in my face.

The borrower is broke and nobody knew it.

missing puzzle piecesThe Missing Puzzle Pieces
This borrower may very well have done better with a change in how the deal was both underwritten and structured. With daily payments:

  • The borrower will know exactly how much cash they can really spend on any given day. They don’t have to worry about trying to set aside for that one big day.


By examining their last 3 months bank transactions:

  • Their payment plan will be based on more relevant data. There are 3rd party tools like yodlee that consumers could connect their bank accounts to, so at the very least LendingClub could see what’s really going on. Why business lenders consider this essential while consumer lenders completely ignore this, I don’t understand. Business lender Kabbage for example requires applicants to connect their bank accounts in the application process before they even type in their business address. It is the single most important part of their underwriting.

Picking loans on LendingClub is like trying to complete a puzzle without half the pieces. If you guessed the puzzle on the right was an ocean scene with dolphins playing because of the pretty blue border pieces, you were wrong. It’s actually a picture of a guy on a boat holding a bank statement that shows a negative $3,000 balance and 10 NSFs.


What Would Barney Frank Say?

July 16, 2014
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While crowd funders navigate the JOBS Act and a possible revision to what constitutes an accredited investor, non-bank business lenders are raising eyebrows with sky high interest rates. Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) are reaching into the triple digits and critics are reaching for their megaphones to say something about it.

Unfortunately APRs don’t spell out the true dollar for dollar cost, a flaw pointed out by OnDeck Capital CEO Noah Breslow in regards to daily amortizing loans. In the June Access to Capital Small Business Panel, Breslow explained that a 60% APR loan could actually only cost 15% on a dollar for dollar basis over 6 months simply because of daily amortizing.

Still, the figures make for enticing headlines and it is to be expected that they will come under greater public scrutiny as time goes on.

In an opportunity I got to speak one-on-one with former Congressman Barney Frank in June, he offered some pretty interesting thoughts on the governance of business to business transactions.

Former Congressman Barney FrankFrank, who was the key author of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was signed into law in 2010, was a longtime champion of consumer financial protections. But he sings a different tune when it’s all about business. Many people may not realize that he opposed the Durbin Amendment of the Dodd-Frank Act, the addition that placed caps and restrictions on debit card interchange fees. Federal restrictions on how much a business can charge another business? Not his thing…

Unsurprisingly then when I asked him if he’d be in favor of a federal cap on business loan interest rates, he sternly replied, “no.” He went on to say that he supported transparency in business loan transactions, such that the borrower should be easily able to identify the terms, but that the premise behind consumer loan protections was that consumers were less sophisticated.

Curiously, there are a few states that impose caps on commercial interest rates, making the regional landscape for high rate business lenders a little bit tricky. In a recent publication by financial law firm Hudson Cook, they spelled out federal laws that already govern business loans.

To date there has been no legislative activity related to merchant cash advance or alternative business lenders. If such discussion did arise though, it’s ironic to say that one of the most liberal congressmen of the last decade, a man who wrecked Wall Street, would stand to make an excellent champion of the alternative business lending cause.

I never thought I’d say this, but too bad the guy retired.

How Did Kabbage Get Their Name?

July 9, 2014
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I actually always wondered this myself. Kabbage??? What??? In this short 3 and a half minute video interview with COO Kathryn Petralia she reveals a little bit about how the company started.

Industry Survey Results

July 6, 2014
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Curious what the general consensus is on a variety of issues? DailyFunder® polled business lending industry insiders and analyzed the results. Click below to expand the graph, check out the image, or scan the text beneath it:

DailyFunder Survey Results

Text version

#1 What’s a Merchant Cash Advance?
61% consider it to be strictly a purchase of future revenue.

32% believe it’s an ambiguous term that could be used to describe a purchase transaction or a loan

How much are you earning?
62% reported making at least $100,000 per year

Almost half of the respondents in that group claimed to be making more than $200,000 per year

62% said stacking is OK in the right circumstances

19% said stacking is not OK

16% said stacking is the bane of the industry

Who’s earning more?
57% of respondents that were in favor of stacking make at least $100,000 per year

73% of respondents that were against stacking make more than $100,000 per year.

Trade show anyone?
78% would attend an alternative business lending/merchant cash advance conference.

4% flat out said they wouldn’t.

Do you have skin in the game?
58% of respondents have invested funds in a merchant cash advance directly or through syndication

Top influencer?
A substantial portion of respondents wrote in OnDeck Capital CEO Noah Breslow as the most influential person in alternative business lending or merchant cash advance

Is government friend or foe?
49% fear future regulations could hurt their business

25% do not fear future regulations

What do insiders want to read more about?

  • Regulatory issues
  • Ethics, best practices
  • Lead sources, lead generation, marketing strategies, sales guides
  • The future, evolving products, trends

This graph appears in the July/August print issue of DailyFunder® magazine. Not subscribed? Get it free!

Does Culture Make a Difference?

June 30, 2014
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I came across this video that describes the work culture of Kabbage, an Atlanta-based business lender. It’s strikingly different from the way many of the MCA and business lending companies in New York operate.

Though New York is well-known for its medieval dungeon-like office environments, especially for smaller companies just getting started, do it too long and you start to believe that offices are like that everywhere.


underground ISO

What do you think? Is the Kabbage work environment more conducive to productivity and growth?

Is Larry King a Funding Spokesman?

June 25, 2014
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This commercial is making the rounds on TV and some folks are wondering if this is indeed Larry King. I think it is:

The commercial states that Larry King is a remunerated endorser of LendVantage and his face is all over their promotional materials like facebook.

Is it him? Follow the thread on DailyFunder.

High Five!

June 17, 2014
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high five ami kassar

face palm

Access to Capital – A Dose of Reality

June 15, 2014
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So much for a lack of transparency… While sitting directly next to Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the Small Business Administration, OnDeck Capital’s CEO corrected U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s comments about the APR of their loans. High teens? Not so, said Noah Breslow who explained their average 6 month loan has an APR of 60% even while costing only 15 cents on the dollar.

Why is access to capital so expensive? Rob Frohwein, the CEO of Kabbage said that up until recently his company was borrowing funds at a net rate of more than 20% APR. In order to turn a profit, they had to lend at a rate much higher than that.

The Access to Capital small business panel included:
Maria Contreras-Sweet – Head of the U.S. Small Business Administration
Noah Breslow – CEO, OnDeck Capital
Rohit Arora – CEO, Biz2Credit
David Nayor – CEO, BoeFly
Rob Frohwein – CEO, Kabbage
Paul Quintero – CEO, Accion East
Rohan Matthew – CEO, Intersect Fund
Jonny Price – Senior Director, Kiva Zip
Jeff Bogan – SVP, LendingClub
Steve Allocca – Global Head of Credit, PayPal
Jay Savulich – Managing Director of Programs, Rising Tide Capital