Business Lending

SBA Dumps Detailed Data on Every Single PPP Borrower

December 2, 2020
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ppp checkerThe SBA has dumped all of it.

A court order recently forced the SBA to reveal precise details of every single PPP and EIDL borrower regardless of loan size and regardless of privacy concerns.

The SBA dumped all the data late on Tuesday night through a series of downloadable .csv files.

However, small-business-forum.net has made a web-friendly search tool for the PPP loans (not the EIDL), which contains 5 million records. The loan amounts are precise. This latest cache of data is different from the previous reveal in that the loan amounts are exact. There is no approximating here.

The mass disclosure was viewed as controversial because PPP loan amounts were directly correlated with monthly payroll figures so one could potentially deduce the salary of a self-employed business owner with no employees by knowing just their PPP loan amount.

In any case, all of the data has been made public. The easiest way to search the database is at https://www.small-business-forum.net/pppchecker.php

Fed Lowers Minimum Main Street Lending Program Loan to $100,000: Too Little, Too Late?

November 8, 2020
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federal reserve“$100,000, we can make that work,” said Ryan Metcalf, head of Public Policy Affairs at Funding Circle. “But we can help a lot more small business if it was $50,000.”

Metcalf was referring to a recent change in the minimum loan amount in the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP.) Just recently, the Federal Reserve lowered the minimum loan amount for the MSLP for a third time, to $100,000. The change was intended to broaden the underused Cares Act aid facility but it might not be enough.

Though changing the program days before, at a press briefing Thursday Fed chair Jerome Powell said SMB aid projects like PPP and the MSLP were up to the gridlocked House and Senate.

“The Fed cannot grant money to particular beneficiaries; we can only create programs or facilities to make loans that will be repaid,” Powell said. “Elected officials have the power to tax and spend, and to make decisions about where we as the society should direct our collective resources.”

Despite Powell’s talk of inaction in the face of an undecided congress, Metcalf said the Fed’s actions have proved that changes can be made to existing programs. Metcalf has been fighting for changes to MSLP for months on behalf of the small business lending community, he says.

In July, Metcalf, in partnership with the Innovative Lending Platform Association and Marketplace Lending Association, wrote a letter to the fed to argue for changes to the MSLP.

The letter argued that the Cares Act made non-depository finech lenders eligible to participate in PPP lending. Though these lenders saved millions of jobs, they were not allowed to lend through the MSLP facility.

Even if they could, the minimum loan size was still too large for “main street” American businesses that needed capital. The letter advocated for a lower minimum of $50,000, allow lenders that were approved for PPP to lend in the MSLP, and create a Special Purpose Vehicle for fintechs.

Metcalf said the Fed has only responded, “that is not under consideration.” 

So far, 400 borrowers have taken out $3.7 billion in loans, of the $600 billion allocated. The program offers Fed backed five-year loans with differed principal and interest payments and minimal rates. With the facility’s deadline approaching Dec 31 and no changes in sight, Metcalf said the program’s vultures are circling. 

If new aid, revisions, or at least an extension is not passed by when the government is funded Dec 11, Metcalf said the program might be finished.

Back in September, Powell testified before Congress that lowering the minimum any further wouldn’t change the adoption rate.

“We have very little demand below a million, as I told the chair a while back,” Powell said. “We’re not seeing demand for very small loans. And that’s really because the nature of the facility and the things you’ve got to do to qualify, it tends to be larger sized businesses.”

Mnuchin has consistently argued that grant programs like PPP would most benefit smaller firms. Metcalf said this was only the case because the MSLP facility has left out smaller firms and alternative lenders that need the capital. 

“My response to that was no, there’s been no uptick in your program because the requirements of the program are not attractive enough to make it workable,” Metcalf said. “Don’t scrap the entire program altogether; look at the proposal that we sent you back in July and work with us on amending the facility.”

Square Capital Lends $155M to Small Businesses in Q3

November 6, 2020
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Square Capital loaned $155M in Q3, according to the company’s latest earnings report.

“We paused new flex loan offers until the end of July and, upon resuming offers, we were measured in ramping origination volumes in August and September,” the company said. The $155M originated was spread out across 35,000 loans.

The figure puts them slightly ahead of OnDeck ($148M) for the quarter but well below Shopify Capital ($252M)

2020 YEAR TO DATE:

Company Q1 2020 Q2 Q3 YTD TOTAL
PayPal $1.3B
OnDeck $592M $66M $144M $806M
Square Capital $548M $0 $155M $703M
Shopify Capital $162.4M $153M $252.1M $567.5M

Pearl Capital is BACK

November 5, 2020
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pearl capitalPearl Capital was among the many small business finance companies that hit the pause button in 2020.

Now it’s BACK.

The company announced today that it was resuming funding MCAs after a long stretch of facilitating PPP loans, of which it processed more than $1.75B through a partnership it had with Cross River Bank.

“Pearl did not default on its senior credit line due to its superior underwriting and has added $250 Million in committed financing to expand its activities,” said company CEO Sol Lax. “If you are a small business and you have survived COVID, you shouldn’t have to shut your doors because you have limited access to capital. We are going to be there for small business both in further iterations of PPP as well as MCA.”

Pearl expects to resume at full speed rather than with limited capacity and highly restricted guidelines. According to the announcement, “Pearl’s ISO Partners can expect lighter stipulation requirements with fewer requested documentation than before and updated pricing. Virtually all business types are eligible for funding from Pearl including high risk industries like auto sales, real estate, home-based businesses, and insurance.
[…]
“We’re thrilled to have the ability again to continue to provide financing for companies during an especially difficult time for businesses across the country and give much needed financial support to businesses,” Lax said.

StreetShares Stops Lending Directly to Small Businesses, Records $10.7M Annual Loss

November 1, 2020
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tanksStreetShares, the online lender known for its focus on veteran-owned businesses, is no longer lending directly to small businesses, the company disclosed last week. This became effective as of October 26.

“We still offer lending products to small business customers via our LaaS clients,” the company said however.

“As of June 30, 2020, 47 banks, credit unions, and alternative lenders have contracted to use our Lending-as-a-Service (LaaS) small business financing technology.”

It defined LaaS as:

“Since the launch of LaaS, the Company has offered several LaaS packages, which include various products and services depending on the package, such as: online product presence for small business lending, web design collaboration, client-branded landing page, intelligent online loan application for small business borrowers (client-branded or StreetShares-branded), decisioning platform, loan analytics platform, and small business loan marketing services. Depending on the LaaS package, either the Company or the LaaS client will originate, underwrite, and service the small business loans. Our LaaS products and services are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

Financially, StreetShares’ June 30 fiscal year-end report revealed a massive $10.7M loss on only $4.5M in revenue. Despite the impact of covid, these figures are actually in line with (and perhaps even better than) historical performance. The company had a $12.3M loss on only $4.4M in revenue for the fiscal year prior, for example.

“Beginning in March 2020, we experienced an increase in late payments and requests from our borrowers for payment deferments. As a result, there has been an increase in predicted losses on our loan portfolio and we expect to observe an increase in our charge-off ratio in the near-term; however, we are unable to predict a long-term trend in our charge-off ratio. Beginning in March 2020, we instituted a deferment program that permitted our small business borrowers to defer loan payments as necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We worked closely with our borrowers and have exited all of them from the deferment program as of this filing. We also provided, and continue to provide, certain borrowers with payment plans with reduced payments as necessary. The payment deferments or modifications made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic consisted of short-term payment deferrals or reduced weekly payments.”

Earlier in the month of October, StreetShares announced they had secured a $10 million round of funding from Motley Fool Ventures, Ally Ventures (the strategic investment arm of Ally Financial), and individual fintech angel investors.

Read the full report here.

Shopify Capital Originated $252M in MCAs and Business Loans in Q3

October 29, 2020
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shopify glyphShopify Capital, the finance arm of the 2nd largest e-commerce platform in the United States, reported making $252.1M worth of merchant cash advances and loans in the 3rd quarter. This is a 79% increase over the same period last year and spans three markets, the US, UK, and Canada. It’s also a quarterly record for the company.

The figure also solidly trumped the numbers recently reported by rival OnDeck.

Shopify CFO Amy Shapero said that the company has maintained loss ratios in line with historical performance.

“Businesses need financial resources to survive and fulfill their potential especially in these uncertain times and as you heard just now capital greatly increases the value of Shopify to our merchants,” she said during the earnings call.

OnDeck Originated $148M in Loans in Q3, is Moving Full Speed Ahead Under Enova

October 27, 2020
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OnDeck NYSEOnDeck more than doubled its Q2 loan volume, according to statements made on Enova’s latest quarterly earnings call. OnDeck originated $148M in Q3 versus the $66M in originated in Q2.

For frame of reference, this is still down significantly from the $618M that the company originated in Q4 2019, well before covid became a factor.

But expect the numbers to ramp up.

“We have basically all of our marketing channels turned on across consumer and small business [lending],” said David Fisher, Enova’s CEO.

“OnDeck is probably a little bit ahead of where we are on the Enova side. We were a little bit more cautious in our re-acceleration of our lending kind of going into the 3rd quarter but we are totally comfortable with that decision. If the biggest mistake we make during all of covid is waiting an extra 60 days to re-accelerate lending, we think that’s a great position to be in. We think that extra conservatism makes sense and with the rate that we’re re-accelerating lending, it won’t hurt that much in the long run.”

And apparently demand and credit quality are looking quite normal, despite covid, according to Fisher.

“On the small business side, the makeup of the demand is surprisingly similar to a year ago. You would expect so many differences given what the economy has been through but there’s actually very very few. It’s pretty broad based. Credit quality look really really strong. If anything it’s stronger- I think it’s the stronger businesses that are trying to borrow at this point that are trying to lean into covid, not the ones that are just trying to survive so if anything on the demand there is a slight improvement on credit quality in small business.”

OnDeck’s annualized quarterly net charge-off rate for the third quarter was 23% and its 15 day+ delinquency rate decreased from 40% at June 30th to 27% at September 30th.

Enova reported monster quarterly earnings of $94M. CEO David Fisher and CFO Steve Cunningham said it was a record-breaking quarter for profitability.

Enova Posts $94M Profit for Q3

October 27, 2020
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Enova, the international lending conglomerate that recently acquired OnDeck, reported a Q3 profit of $93.67M, bringing the company to over $147M in profit for the year so far.

“We are pleased to report strong earnings as the credit quality of the portfolio continued to improve during the third quarter,” said David Fisher, Enova’s CEO in an official announcement. “Encouraged by the better than expected portfolio performance and the stable and predictable credit risk seen in our testing, we thoughtfully began reaccelerating lending in the third quarter.”

Speaking about OnDeck, Fisher said that “OnDeck experienced growth in originations, improving credit quality and solid profitability. Our integration plans and recognition of the expected synergies and financial benefits of the transaction remain on track. With the combination of Enova’s and OnDeck’s complementary, market-leading businesses and our extensive experience navigating changes in the operating environment, we believe we are well positioned to grow profitably and drive long-term shareholder value.”

Lendified Survives, Under New Management

October 23, 2020
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LendifiedToronto-based Lendified has returned from the brink. The Canadian alternative small business lender has a new CEO and has resumed the origination of new loans.

In June, deBanked published a story that described the company’s impending doom after it was placed in default with its credit facilities, could no longer originate new loans, and had virtually no capital to continue its operations.

The company was since able to partially recapitalize and John Gillberry has come on as the new CEO. Gillberry is described as a “seasoned senior executive with nearly three decades of experience in areas of managing the finance and operations of special situations and venture capital backed enterprises.”

In an announcement, Gillberry expressed optimism for Lendified’s future. “I am excited about the opportunity that Lendified presents and it is uniquely positioned to take advantage of a very large and underserved market,” he said. “The credit underwriting foundation that we are starting from is distinct from any other in this market and we are pleased to be once again originating new loans to independent business owners.”

The company’s primary senior lenders have resumed financing new loans.

Greenbox Capital on Official Panel to Aid Section 1071’s Rollout

October 21, 2020
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Greenbox Capital WebsiteThis week, Greenbox Capital, the Miami-based alternative finance company known for its MCA and SMB financing, announced they are serving as a Small Entity Representative (SER) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as the organization proceeds with the rollout of Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

“I am representing, and Greenbox Capital is essentially representing, the industry,” CEO Jordan Fein said. “There are some banks, there’s Funding Circle, but other than that, it’s Greenbox Capital serving in the industry.”

Fein, who founded Greenbox in 2012 and has since facilitated MCAs and business loans across America, Puerto Rico, and Canada, wrote in a press release that it was an honor to be selected to provide feedback on Section 1071.

“Over 2 million businesses across the U.S. are either women or minority-owned,” Fein wrote. “It is vital they can secure funding as easily as non-minority-owned businesses.”

Jordan Fein Greenbox Capital
Jordan Fein, CEO, Greenbox Capital

Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 in response to the Great Recession. To further protect consumers, the CFPB was born. Section 1071, an amendment to the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act, mandates financial institutions report demographic information to the CFPB. But much was left undefined about how to go about doing that and who would technically be subject to it.

Ultimately, the intent behind the law was to measure potential disparities among factors like the race and gender of applicants. Ten years later, the rollout is finally moving along.

As part of this, the CFPB created a board of firms representing the affected industry, on which Greenbox sits, to ensure the law works with the industry, not against it. The first panel was on October 15, in compliance with the 1996 Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA.)

“They’re going through the SBREFA process, which is a structured process where they have a panel of industry representatives, and they share what they’re planning to do,” Fein said. “They run it by companies like us and we give our opinion and talk about how we think companies will be impacted.”

According to an invitation letter the firms received, they will have until November 9 to respond.

Fein said Greenbox would ensure any suggestions it made would positively impact the industry. Especially during a pandemic, Fein said it is essential to create regulation with firms in mind.

Steve Denis Talks About SBFA Study: APR is a Bad Metric For SMB Loan Transparency

October 19, 2020
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SBFA GuideIn response to regulatory bills in California and New York that will enforce APR disclosures on small business capital providers, the Small Business Finance Association (SBFA) funded a study by Kingsley-Kleimann to find out if APR is a good metric to use for business loans.

Steve Denis, the Executive director of the SBFA, said his group supported the study because the states should test concepts with actual small business owners before passing regulation. In the NY disclosure bill awaiting signature, Denis said there was no concept testing. Some of the companies that support the bill might not have even read what it stipulates.

“You have a group of companies that are pushing these types of disclosures, for no reason other than their own self-interest,” Denis said. “We’re fine with disclosure, we are all for transparency, but it needs to be done in a way that we believe is meaningful to small business owners.”

In qualitative testing of 24 small business owners and executives who have experience taking commercial loans, the study concluded participants did not understand what APR was. The study found that the total cost of financing model was a better way to understand and compare options for their use.

“As one participant, when asked to define APR, answered: ‘I feel like you are asking a kid, why is the sky blue?’ (Participant 3, NY).” The study concluded, “In other words, [APR] is ever-present yet also inscrutable.”

Kingsley-Kleimann is a research-based organization that studies communication and disclosure for government agencies like the FTC and private or public business. Participants were selected from Califonia and NY. 

Denis said that the findings show what SMB lending companies have already known- Anual Percentage Rate is not a useful metric for short term loans. Many do not know that APR represents the annualized cost of funds for the loan term, with the fees and additional costs included.

“People don’t know what APR is; it confuses them,” Denis said. “They know it’s a metric they should use, but they don’t know why. The APR is such a marketing tool now, it’s not a valuable tool.”

The study showed most respondents thought APR was the same as an interest rate. It’s not.

merchant cash advance APRDenis said using an annualized rate for shorter-term loans or SMB loans that have no ending date worsens the problems. In those cases, firms estimate an APR, and it is inaccurate.

“When you have a merchant cash advance, there’s no term,” Denis said. “So you have to estimate a term, and I mean that is just a recipe for fraud.”

Denis said that the firms supporting California SB1235 and the New York S 5470/A 10118-A disclosure bill and taking credit for writing the laws are the same companies that will suffer under the strict tolerance of an APR rule.

“The companies pushing this, the trade associations pushing it, they like to take credit for writing the bill in California and writing the bill in New York: I don’t even think they’ve read it,” Denis said. “It’s going to subject their own members to potentially millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars in potential liability [fines.]”

The SBFA is not against disclosure by any means, Denis said, but supported other avenues. The trade group believes knowing the total cost of a loan and the cost and timeline of payments will help protect and inform borrowers better than APR. Firms that support the disclosure bill are banking off the positive press, hoping to be seen as pro-consumer protections but forcing APR will make it harder to compare the actual value of loans, Denis said. 

Denis is still optimistic that regulators will work with businesses affected by the incoming legislation. He said the NY legislature and governor’s office, as well as the California Department of Business Oversight, understand the problems of using APR.

“They’re receptive to these arguments, and they know what they’re doing,” Denis said. “The last thing they want to do is pass a bill that’s going to further confuse businesses, especially during a pandemic when businesses are relying on this capital to stay afloat.”

deBanked Meets The Kosher Guru

October 19, 2020
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In a crossover episode, deBanked president and chief editor Sean Murray had lunch with Kosher Guru at Reserve Cut in lower Manhattan. In it, they talked Kosher food, business funding, and more!

Keeping Up With Kabbage

October 17, 2020
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Kabbage BannerOn Friday, American Express announced that it had completed its acquisition of Kabbage.

“Kabbage, An American Express Company will continue to provide quick and easy cash flow management solutions for small businesses, now backed by the trust, service, and security of a American Express,” American Express wrote on social media. “We’re excited to welcome Kabbage’s talented colleagues to American Express. Together we will combine our over 60 years of experience backing small businesses with Kabbage’s innovative technology to support our customers through this challenging time, and help them get back on their feet and thrive.”

Meanwhile, below is a copy of a Q&A deBanked had with Kabbage co-founder Kathryn Petralia that appeared in our magazine’s July/August issue.

Q: How specifically do you think the pandemic will change the way SMEs bank?

Kathryn Petralia KabbageA: The pandemic will first change with whom they bank, and that choice will change the way they bank. For perspective, one hundred percent of Kabbage customers have a bank account, but very few of them can get a loan from their bank. We launched Kabbage Checking earlier this year to serve the smallest of businesses without sacrificing the features they expect and offering other products banks don’t. We’re focused on making cash flow tools accessible to the businesses traditionally underserved and overlooked, and the pandemic has been a catalyst for businesses to find new solutions.

Q: How might the dynamic of banking change after the crisis?

A: It was well-reported that businesses without an existing credit relationship with their bank were turned away from applying for PPP loans. We’ve heard directly from many of our PPP customers that this will compel them to change banks, and the demand for Kabbage Checking has reflected that sentiment since its launch. In the short term, businesses of all sizes and ages will seek out and sign up for new, tech-forward banking partners. In the long term, that shift will change customers’ expectations of what banks should offer. For example, prior to the PPP, Kabbage had issued well over a billion dollars to customers during non-banking hours. On-demand, 24/7 access to funding and cash flow insights, or faster settlements and money transfers will soon become commonplace, and large retail banks will need to adapt if they want to capture or reclaim these customers.

Q: How are these changes likely to impact alternative lenders and funders?

A: For starters, single-product lending companies will realize they must diversify their offerings in order to compete in the new financial-services marketplace. I would expect to see lenders launch new products to more resemble a bank. Conversely, traditional banks will need to begin adopting automated ways to serve customers with a tech-forward experience. Especially in the new normal where customers may be apprehensive about in-person banking meetings, they must adapt online to acquire and serve customers.

Q: What’s still needed to help Main Street recover?

A: The PPP was only the first phase; we’re not out of the woods yet. Businesses now need to restart and eventually grow. The crisis made business owners realize they need tighter controls over their cash flow, as many found themselves on the back foot and ill-equipped to withstand a long-term crisis such as the one through which we are all muddling.

They’ll need cash-flow tools to be more prudent and appropriately plan for similar events. Having said that, it’s not only on the shoulders of small businesses or tech solutions. They need customer demand, and local economies need to begin to reopen safely so consumers feel comfortable returning to normal commerce. That will take the support of cities and states encouraging consumers to shop local so small businesses have greater incentive to recall their employees and get back to work.

Q: How can alternative lenders and funders best play a role in this recovery?

A: Much of what we’re already doing is exactly what our economy needs. For the most part, fintech companies serve the customers banks won’t or can’t. That reality is unfortunately unchanged today. That’s why during the pandemic Kabbage made every effort possible to provide products that helped SMBs through this crisis. With respect to PPP, we helped nearly 300,000 small businesses access over $7 billion, helping preserve an estimated 945,000 jobs. Our payments product saw a near 4X spike in adoption as businesses sought contactless payment options. We built www.helpsmallbsuiness.com in three days to allow any small business to generate needed revenue by selling online gift certificates. We also launched Kabbage Checking, giving small businesses a new banking option, and Kabbage Insights remains available and free to access for any small business.

Q: What changes do you expect to see in the alternative lending and funding industry as a result of the pandemic?

A: Everyone will expand their services. Whether it’s larger companies expanding their solutions through acquisitions, or start-ups investing beyond their primary product, everyone will aim to enhance their offerings to give customers more data-driven products that help them rebuild.

Q: Kabbage just agreed to be purchased by American Express. Should we expect to see more consolidation in the alternative lending/funding space? If so, over what time frame and why do you expect this to happen?

A: I would not be surprised if we saw more deals announced before the end of the year.

Q: Tell us a little about why Kabbage decided to sell and why the timing was right?

A: For us, it has always been about finding the right company with the right mission and intentions. We just happened to be in the middle of a crisis when the conversations started, despite having the financial capacity to support operations for multiple years. American Express shares our vision to be an essential partner to small businesses, and we couldn’t be more excited at the opportunity to continue the important work of providing solutions and innovative capabilities that address a range of small business cash flow needs alongside AmEx.

DailyFunder Still #1 Small Business Finance Community

October 14, 2020
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Daily FunderDailyFunder, the small business finance forum founded by Sean Murray in 2012, continues to be the leading online community for the industry, according to a recent announcement. The forum recently surpassed 10,000 registered members, in addition to logging more than 2 million page views just in 2020 so far.

“The forum has attracted well over a million visitors since inception and users have historically spent longer than 10 minutes on the site in any given session on average,” Murray said.

deBanked’s parent company fully acquired DailyFunder earlier this year. The announcement was featured prominently in deBanked’s January/February 2020 magazine issue. In it, Murray renewed the website’s objective:

“The mission will be to create a great forum for those involved in day-to-day dealmaking,” he said in a Q&A. “How can we provide a platform that enables those in the industry to make more money? That’s the way I look at it. I think if we can provide that type of value, success will follow.”

Square, Stripe, Intuit, Shopify, Talked SMB Lending at LendIt Fintech 2020

October 8, 2020
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LenditFintech USAThe LendIt Fintech digital conference last week was a sign of the times. This year, millions of average businesses and consumers have had to go virtual: they had no choice. 2020 has been a year of struggle and survival, and a time of great fintech adoption.

Some firms have been more successful than others. Going full digital, LendIt introduced virtual networking at the conference- the first day alone saw 2,171 meetings. Zoom meetings and virtual greetings took the place of handshakes and elevator pitches that would regularly accompany the convention.

On day three, LendIt hosted a panel of SMB lending leaders from Stripe, Shopify, Square, and Quickbooks Capital. Bryan Lee, Senior Director of Financial Services for Salesforce, served as moderator and he focused the discussion on “How the leading fintech brands are adapting.”


THE PIVOT


Lee began the talk by asking Eddie Serrill, Business Lead from Stripe Capital, about how the industry has pivoted.

Serrill talked about how Stripe was powering online interactions and saw an influx of traditionally offline businesses switching over to their platforms. Stripe also saw an increased demand for online purchases and payment.

“We’ve been trying to find that right balance between supporting users that have been doing incredibly well,” Serrill said. “While trying to support our users who are seeing a bit of a setback.”

Stripe introduced a lending product in September of last year and now SMBs can borrow from Stripe and pay back by diverting a percentage of their sales, much like the other panelists’ companies offer.

Jessica Jiang, Head of Capital Markets at Square Capital, talked about how her firm adjusted. Square reacted to fill the niche of their underserved customers by introducing a main street lending fund, serving industries hard hit by the pandemic, Jiang said. Small buinesess that relied on in-person action like coffee shops and retail community businesses were given preferential lending options.

Product Lead at Shopify, Richard Shaw, said that this year his firm learned to be prepared for anything. Everything that Shopify was potentially going to do or planning on implementing in the coming years suddenly became a here-and-now necessity.

“We tore up our existing plans,” Shaw said. “It was like the commerce world of 2030 turned up in 2020. You need to do ten years of work, but you need to do it today.”

Shopify, the Canadian e-commerce giant has doubled in value this year. The firm launched Shopify Capital in the US and Canada in 2016 and has originated $1.2 billion in funding to small businesses since that time.

Luke Voiles, the VP of Intuits QuickBooks Capital, talked about how his team handled pandemic conservatively.

“Five years of digital shift has happened instantaneously due to COVID,” Voiles said. “Intuit is pretty recession-resistant in the sense that you have to do taxes, you have to do your accounting, and the shift to digital helps a lot.”

Business lending was different, Voiles said, as soon as his team saw COVID coming, they battened down the hatches, slowed lending, and pivoted to facilitating PPP.


PPP


Voiles said the craziest thing he has seen in his career was what Quickbooks did to deploy PPP aid.

Within about two weeks, almost 500 people from across Intuit came together to shift all the data they carried on customers to aid applications.

“We were uniquely positioned to help solve and deploy that capital,” Voiles said. “We have a payroll business where 1.4 billion business use us, we have a tax business where we have Schedule C tax filings, and we have a lending business. We were able to pivot and put the pieces together quickly.”

QuickBooks Capital deployed $1.2 billion to 31,000 business in a process that Voiles said was 90% automated. Now customers are awaiting other rounds of government aid.

Square’s Jiang said the initial shutdown weeks in March and April saw hundreds of Square team members working on PPP facilitation through the night and weekends. As the funds dried up those first two weeks, it was clear to Jiang the program was favoring larger firms and higher loan amounts, leaving out small businesses.

“That’s typical of investment bankers, but not very typical of tech,” Jiang said. “PPP is a perfect example of how small businesses are continuing to be underserved by banks.”


THE SHAKEOUT AND THE FUTURE


2020 has been a major shock to the lending marketplace. Voiles from Quickbooks said the amount of work it took to make it through the first wave was a significant shakeout.

“You’ve seen what’s happening with Kabbage and OnDeck and other transactions with people getting sold; there is a shakeout happening in the space,” Voiles said. “The bigger players will make it through and will continue to help small businesses get access to capital that they need.”

When asked about the future roadmap of QuickBooks Capital, Voiles said it wasn’t just about automating banking. Using Intuit’s resources to build an automated system is only half of the picture- the firm believes in an expert-driven platform. After the automated process, customers will be able to talk to an expert to review the data, and “check their work.” Voiles said Quickbooks wants to offer a service that is equivalent to the replacement of a CFO.

“These small businesses that have less than ten employees, they can’t afford to hire a pro,” Voiles said. “They need automated support to show them the dashboard and picture of what their business is.”

Pointing to Stripe’s online infrastructure, Serrill exemplified what successful lenders will offer next year: a platform that combines many needs of SMBs in one place.

“I think it’s really about linking all of this data, making it super intuitive and anticipating the need for their users, so they don’t need a team of business school grads to manage their finances,” Serrill said. “So they can get back to building the core of their business, not figuring out whether they have enough cash flow tomorrow.”

Jiang said the future of small business would be written in data, contactless payments, and digital banking. She sees consolidation in the Fintech space and has a positive outlook on bank-fintech partnerships.

The FDIC granted Square a conditional approval for the issuance of an Industrial Loan Company ILC in March this year. Jiang outlined plans on launching an online SMB lending and banking service next year called Square Financial Services if the conditional charter remains in place.

For Shopify’s future, Shaw was excited to look forward to the launching of Shopify balance- a cash flow management system, and Shopify installment payments. He reiterated that the success of Shopify’s lending division was due in part because making loans was not the entire business.

“Shopify Capital is one piece of a wider ecosystem,” Shaw said. “All these things together are more powerful than individual parts.”

Kapitus CEO Speaks on Success of Rating Reaffirmation

October 6, 2020
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Kapitus WebsiteWhen lending companies faced the tightest squeeze on capital since the great recession, many ran into trouble. Kapitus, having survived 08′, met 20′ with the same discipline that helped them navigate the pandemic.

“Our whole industry was put on a credit watch downgrade, and it’s very exciting that we were upgraded, reaffirmed to the original rating,” Kapitus CEO and founder Andy Reiser said. “Most of the companies, our peers defaulted and went into what’s called rapid amortization and did not make it through to keep their securitization.”

Reiser was happy to report that Kapitus received a rating affirmation from Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA) on Friday. KBRA has removed the Kapitus securities from a Watch Downgrade.

Back in March, the businesses that Kapitus and their competitors funded across the country, faced state mandated shutdowns. Many customers were suddenly unable to make the loan, MCA, or equipment payments that they had been able to make for years.

For lenders that bundled and securitized the loans they made, the value of those loans was called into question.

“WE FOCUSED ON STRONG BUSINESS PRACTICES AND KEEPING THE PORTFOLIO STRONG, AND IT PAID OFF”

On March 30, KBRA placed the ratings of 29 securitizations representing $2.1 billion from 10 SMB lending firms on a “Watch Downgrade” due to the economic downturn.

To overcome the warning, Kapitus reigned in and focused on helping their customers. Reiser cited the addition of Jeff Newman from Citigroup to manage the risk team as an example of how the firm has been focused on funding responsibly for years.

“We focused on strong business practices and keeping the portfolio strong, and it paid off,” Reiser said. “We never stopped, we were not lending at the same velocity that we did pre COVID, but we never had a day that we didn’t fund a new deal.”

Reiser said that during the pandemic’s height, the team took a lot of long nights working on new products. One was a “step renewal” that allowed clients to pay installments and build up to the full payment, to make sure they were not overwhelmed. Kapitus also offered extended periods for their healthcare loans, up to 36 months, Reiser said.

For companies like Kapitus, a questionable rating could lead to a rapid amortization event: a sudden call to liquefy the bonds and give back investor money. For some, an event like this will spell the end: most firms don’t keep hundreds of millions or even billions on hand to give back principals in a moment’s notice.

Reiser said out of the ten securities on credit watch, only one other was reaffirmed, due to a renegotiation of terms that bond investors had to agree on. Kapitus made no negation but was reaffirmed due to the success of their business practice, Reiser said.

The securitization was initially issued for $105 million in June 2018, and expanded to $160 million last December, in three classes with a senior class rating of “A.”

Reiser believes that the pandemic, like the ’08 recessions, will see some consolidation and strong companies prospering in a displaced environment.

“I think COVID will teach a lot of other players that were very aggressive in coming down to this market that it’s not so easy,” Reiser said. “I think some of the banks and the alternative lenders that were more eager to come into this market may not be so aggressive at least for a while.”

Capify CEO David Goldin on New $10 Million Equity Round

September 30, 2020
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David Goldin HeadshotCapify, a leading international small business lending platform, announced a $10 million equity round this week from a new investment group with vast experience in the alternative lending industry.

“[investors were] diligent seeing Capify, the management team, and the opportunity,” Goldin said. “They thought it was a very good investment, particularly how Capify’s portfolio performed during the pandemic.”

Goldin said the capital is a great “restart of the engine” after the cautious approach the company took to lending at the height of the pandemic. The money is not an equity round from current investors, but rather new capital joining the team.

The funding will be directed toward ramping lending back up and extending business partnerships with firms that serve small businesses, as well as direct and indirect lenders.

“So, hindsight is actually better than 2020 vision; no one in our lifetime has experienced the pandemic,” Goldin said. “No one knew what to expect from a risk profile, so we took the conservative approach.”

That approach was to shut down new loans and focus on servicing its current customers. It was a difficult time for the alternative lending industry veteran, but now Goldin said he sees a great demand for capital.

“This was one of the toughest challenges that I’ve experienced ever as an entrepreneur,” Goldin said. “The result really speaks to Capify as a company. People are willing to make that investment, believing in opportunity ahead and not the current times or the past during the pandemic.”

Goldin said that Capify has always been known for its well-performing portfolio, one of the reasons that in 2019 the firm received a $95 million credit facility from Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division.

Goldin began working in the fintech industry before the word fintech was even coined; in the early 2000s, he started one of the first MCA companies. Amerimerchant started selling loans and MCAs internationally in the UK and Australia in 2008, then rebranded to Capify in 2015. After leaving the US market in 2017 gained Goldman’s attention last year.

“So now that we have the firepower, we believe there’ll be opportunities in these markets as demand picks up for small business lending,” Goldin said.

Following Nine Lawsuits, OnDeck Discloses Supplementary Details Behind Planned Enova Merger

September 28, 2020
Article by:
Noah Breslow OnDeck CEO at LendIt
Above: OnDeck CEO Noah Breslow speaks at LendIt in 2016

After OnDeck announced its planned merger with Enova, it was sued nine different times (See here and here) by shareholders that accused the company’s Board of Directors that they had failed to disclose material information about the deal.

OnDeck formally responded on Monday, September 28th, wherein they disclosed that plaintiffs in all of those actions had agreed to dismiss their claims in light of the release of this supplemental information:

The Company and Enova believe that the claims asserted in the Actions are without merit and that no supplemental disclosures are required under applicable law. However, in an effort to put the claims that were or could have been asserted to rest, to avoid nuisance, minimize costs and avoid potential transaction delays, and without admitting any liability or wrongdoing, the Company has determined to voluntarily supplement the Proxy Statement/Prospectus as described in this Current Report on Form 8-K to address claims asserted in the Actions, and the plaintiffs in the Actions have agreed to voluntarily dismiss the Actions in light of, among other things, this supplemental disclosure. Nothing in this Current Report on Form 8-K shall be deemed an admission of the legal necessity or materiality of any of the disclosures set forth herein. To the contrary, the Company and the other defendants specifically deny all allegations in the Actions that any additional disclosure was or is required and expressly maintain that, to the extent applicable, they have complied with their respective legal obligations.

OnDeck first re-explained its background situation leading up to the Enova deal:

Starting in April 2020, OnDeck management commenced a review of potential financing options to secure additional liquidity and potentially replace the Corporate Line Facility and began contacting potential sources of alternative financing, including mezzanine debt. OnDeck contacted, or was contacted by, more than ten potential sources of mezzanine or alternative financing, and received pricing indications from four sources. The interest rates offered by those alternative financing sources ranged from 1-month LIBOR plus 900 basis points to 1,700 basis points (in addition to an upfront fee) and all but one required a significantly dilutive equity component. The one proposal that did not include an equity component was at an interest rate of 1-month LIBOR plus 1,400 basis points to 1,700 basis points. Based on the initial term sheets proposed, OnDeck engaged in negotiations with each of the four potential sources of alternative financing. As these negotiations progressed and COVID-19’s impact on the macro economy and OnDeck’s loan portfolio intensified, two of the four potential sources of alternative financing ceased to actively participate in negotiations. Discussions with the final two potential sources of alternative financing remained ongoing through the time that OnDeck and Enova entered into the merger agreement. Throughout the Process, OnDeck management reported the status of such negotiations on a frequent and ongoing basis to the OnDeck Board for its deliberation in the context of OnDeck’s standalone plan, and the OnDeck Board considered the significant uncertainty of being able to reach agreement on alternative financing in its decision to enter into the merger agreement.

Of particular contention in the deal were OnDeck’s financial projections, prepared to estimate OnDeck’s trajectory as an independent entity. Shareholders complained that there were two sets of books and that they only got to see one. The other set, dubbed Scenario 1, had been used to shop OnDeck around to other suitors. OnDeck published both sets in their supplemental materials on Monday.

Originally Disclosed Projections
OnDeck Projections

Newly Revealed Scenario 1 Projections
Scenario 1 - OnDeck Projections

The difference is stark. Originally disclosed to shareholders was a projected cumulative net loss of $20.4 million through the end of 2024. The other set of projections, Scenario 1, state a cumulative net income of $33.5 million over the same time period, a difference of over $50 million.

The original predicted a 2021 net loss of $19.4 million while Scenario 1 predicted a net income of $14.3 million.

One reason offered for selecting the less optimistic of the two is that OnDeck’s management determined that loan originations were trending below both sets of projections as of July 12th. OnDeck announced the Enova deal about two weeks later.

Shareholders will cast their votes on the merger on October 7th. OnDeck’s Board “unanimously recommends” that they vote in favor of the proposed merger with Enova.

Peter Ribeiro, CEO of US Business Funding – Talks About Experience and Success in 2020

September 17, 2020
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I recently caught up with Peter Ribeiro, CEO of US Business Funding, based in Santa Ana, California. US Business Funding is quite well known on social media for their company culture.

I asked Ribeiro about what 2020 has been like as a broker in this wild year of 2020 and you can watch it in full below:

Puerto Rican Businesses & People Resilient In Spite of Pandemic and Challenges, Says Alvelo

September 16, 2020
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Puerto Rico flagWhile the US economy slowly opens back up to careful in-person commerce, the territory of Puerto Rico is still facing rising case numbers- So how is business in the “Island of Enchantment?”

“I don’t think there’s anything that will shake the confidence of our small business owners in Puerto Rico,” said Sonia Alvelo, CEO of Latin Financial. “Businesses and the people of Puerto Rico are the most resilient I have ever known: I know that as I am one of them.”

Alvelo, a native to the island, has won awards as a top entrepreneur of the year for her business financing partnerships in the US and Puerto Rico. She said that even as the island faces its hardest challenges, the spirit of entrepreneurship remains unbroken.

Puerto Rico has been hit by irregular misfortune in the past couple of years. Destruction from Hurricane Maria and Irma damaged the 2017 infrastructure of the island immeasurably, and the response of the US government was painfully lacking. Commerce continued with caution, seeming to rebound. Then this year, earthquakes and aftershocks punctuated January and February, foreboding the coming storm.

The pandemic was slow to reach the island; Puerto Rico was the first US state/territory to impose a quarantine, banning business and all travel March 15th. The region is a territory of the United States, so it could not directly enforce control over its borders. Recently, Puerto Rico made the news with an increasing case count.

There’s also been the troublesome search for a new governor. After a mass protest, Governor Ricardo Rosselló stepped down last year. After his successor ‘appointment’ was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme court of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vazquez, the former Secretary of Justice, took office.

In the August primary, thousands of ballots got stuck in delivery trucks that did not move, never reached polling locations. The candidates are now petitioning for a re-vote and the counting of the votes that were cast. The courts are still deciding, so even the election is facing challenges in Puerto Rico.

Besides that, the tourism industry has been devastated. Though the early shut down saved lives, the island saw an unemployment rate of up to 23% in July alone. That could be a low estimate, considering that half of the Puerto Rican workforce hold a job in the “informal economy.” The New York Times reports that the real unemployment rate in the middle of the summer could have reached close to 40%.

Sonia Alvelo Award at the Latinas & Power Symposium
Above: Latin Financial CEO Sonia Alvelo receives the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill

Even so, Alvelo conveyed the enduring willpower of the Puerto Rican people, that there was still confidence things would turn around. 

Alvelo is partnered with more than 97 pharmacies in Puerto Rico as an MCA provider, as well as with gas stations and other small businesses. She said that she has been receiving calls for business financing options non-stop, on a day-to-day basis. Alvelo shared information she learned from one of her clients.

“They suffered the most at the beginning, but you know only 5-10% of pharmacies in the islands are open,” Alvelo said. “But even still, and we’re talking a hurricane, earthquakes, a pandemic, everything- I still don’t think that anything will change the confidence of business owners in PR.”

“THAT WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE, WHEN THEY GOT THE PPP FUNDS”

Alvelo is standing right next to Puerto Rican business owners, talking to them through their increasing needs during this time, she said. Latin Financial facilitated almost $2 million in PPP loans and $2 million in EIDL loans in the US and PR. 

“That was the best experience- when they got the PPP funds,” Alvelo said. “They were crying over the phone; it was incredible.”

Brendan Lynch, Alvelo’s fiancé and business partner, said that the program had a rough rollout. It was unclear how long the Fed money would last, but PPP ended up working well for Puerto Rican businesses. He even saw BlueVine begin funding Loans in PR for the first time.

“One of our finders here in the US was approved for the program, and we were able to use their online platform,” Lynch said. “And normally they don’t really fund in Puerto Rico, but they did allow Puerto Rican businesses to apply for funding; which is great because they had the technology to make it so simple and quick.”

Lynch said Latin Financial was sure to share links to a PPP loan application with every client to make sure aid funds were as accessible as possible.

“Businesses are probably still down-scaled somewhere between 60 to 70% of their total revenue,” Lynch said. “they’re still working shorthanded with less people in the office, and regulations on how many people you can have in your business are making it harder.”

Alvelo and Lynch are no strangers to environmental forces affecting their plans- the pair were planning on getting married in PR in 2017 before the hurricanes hit. 

Puerto Rico“We started actually looking [for a venue] again, and then COVID happened,” Alvelo said. “Clients were going to be invited and are always asking how they can help, just like when everything happened with COVID, the pharmacies all got together, and said if you need this let us know. Businesses are really working together because they know that they need each other.”

Maria Barzana, the owner of Farmacia Asturias, has been a longtime client of Latin Financial, one of the first dating back to 2015. Barzana went to Alvelo for help. She said the island did not feel an economic impact until this August. Businesses, including most medical offices in the country, have been closed for the past five months. Pharmacies are finally feeling it.

“At the beginning of COVID-19, we were able to manage the economic factor by invoicing refills of prescriptions and the sale of basic necessities related to COVID,” Barzana said. “Due to social distancing, the flow of clients/patients has decreased, concentrating on items necessary to combat COVID-19 and maintenance medications.”

Latin Financial is almost back to regular funding after rushing to help complete PPP and EIDL stimulus loans. Sonia Alvelo will be a panelist speaker this Sept. 24, for the annual Latinas & Power Symposium.