A survey conducted by Overland Park, KS-based Strategic Capital revealed that only 36.8% of respondents plan to completely return to the office full-time after cities fully open back up. The vast majority of respondents were small business finance brokers.
44.7% selected that they would minimize office space or only use office space to house core team members while 18.4% planned to terminate their office lease altogether and adopt a work from home model permanently.
Coming June 11th, Broker Fair in Virtual Reality. Much different from a webinar, Broker Fair Virtual will actually be a virtual world with a lobby, exhibit hall, networking lounge, and auditorium. Attendees will be able to interact with each other as well as visit and interact with sponsors at their virtual booths.
There will be live video sessions too of course (see the agenda here), but if you’re there for the networking, get ready for a totally unique experience!
Broker Fair 2020 Virtual isn’t replacing the In-person event. That’s been rescheduled to 3/22/21 at the same location, Convene at Brookfield Place in New York City. All attendees registered for the in-person event are able to attend this virtual event on June 11th for free. If you never registered for that, you can still buy tickets that grant access to both at: https://brokerfair.org/register/
See you at Broker Fair!
“Obviously, funding has really come to a standstill.”
So said Lendinero’s CEO and Founder, Gil Zapata, over a call with deBanked last week. Speaking about how his company, a broker firm based in Doral, Florida, and the industry have been affected by the novel coronavirus, Zapata explained the steps that he and his team have taken to try keep their heads above water.
Following a period of expansion that saw new hires in both their Florida offices as well as their premises in Nicaragua, covid-19’s shutdown of the American economy served as a full stop to what Zapata referred to as “growth mode.” Lendinero has kept the wheels turning by helping business owners secure EIDL and PPP funding and in the process planted seeds he hopes will prove profitable in the future.
Accompanying these PPP loans is the revenue coming from Lendinero’s recent partnership with Benworth Capital. With Benworth being an SBA-authorized PPP lender, Lendinero has acted as an agent for the lending company, assisting them with their focus on businesses in Miami.
To speed up these processes, Zapata and his team created a one-stop portal for potential borrowers.
As well as this, in order to cut expenses, Lendinero had to make significant reductions in its staff, affecting workers in both his North and Central American offices.
“We kept the best of the best and that’s helped out. And we restructured a lot of payments.”
Having brought on new workers during their period of growth, it was many of these who were let go, as Zapata and his colleagues decided that it would be best to keep on the more experienced staff who would not need training and as much oversight.
“We came to the conclusion that whoever is going to stay with us, they know that obviously they need to do something and they need to generate results for us or contribute to us … I think that to be micromanaging people at this time is nonsense.”
With these steps taken, Zapata is confident that Lendinero can continue operating for about a year, but is hopeful that the MCA industry will bounce back over the next six months.
“Something has to happen. Maybe a vaccine comes or maybe it doesn’t come but state governments are probably going to take some sort of action and measures to reopen, and we’ve seen that already. I think in six months from now, it’s not going to be the same growth that we had, but those who are able to come back and open up their businesses will help revitalize the MCA market.”
eCommerce platform Shopify, 2nd only to Amazon in retail eCommerce sales, issued $162.4M in merchant cash advances and business loans in Q1, up from $115.9M in the previous quarter. The statistic pushed them past the $1 billion threshold of funds cumulatively issued since inception.
The company’s provision and allowance for loan losses ticked up from significantly from the same period the prior year but Shopify at that time was originating 50% less volume.
The company reported a GAAP net loss of $31.4M on $470M in revenue. Shopify also has approximately $2.36B in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet.
The company reported an increase of monthly recurring revenue, thanks to an increase in the number of merchants joining the platform, strong app growth, and Shopify Plus fee revenue growth.
Shares of Shopify (NYSE: Shop) jumped by more than 5% after the announcement.
RC’s year-end earnings provided some additional insight into the state of Knight Capital at the time it was acquired. This included balance sheet figures that recorded $48.4M in assets ($39.5M of which were purchased future receivables) and $31.8M in liabilities.
Among Knight’s intangible assets were a valuation of $880,000 assigned to the Knight Capital trade name, $1.2M assigned to the value of Knight’s broker network, and $3.8M assigned to the company’s internally developed software.
Goodwill of $11.2 million was recognized as the consideration paid exceeded the fair value of the net assets acquired.
Maryland Merchant Cash Advance Prohibition Bill Put on Hold After State Abruptly Ended The Legislative SessionMarch 19, 2020
The State of Maryland decided to end their 2020 legislative session late last night rather than on the original April 6th deadline, due to COVID-19 concerns. Legislators managed to pass 650 bills in a “3-day sprint” but did not get to everything. Among the bills that did not even make it to the floor were SB913 and HB1478, the bills that called for an outright prohibition on a narrow definition of merchant cash advances.
But it’s not over. Legislative leaders plan to hold a special legislative session at the end of May which they may use to vote on the numerous bills they were not able to pass in time this week.
Senate President Bill Ferguson told the Baltimore Sun, “We want to give enough time for the public health crisis to move past.”
The bills were not exactly on the fast track as it was, having only gone through 1 committee hearing leading up to the deadline.
If the bills do not pass during the special legislative session in May, they might not be picked up again until the normal session resumes in Mid-January 2021.
In the past week and a half it appears as if six months of panic, reaction, and preparation have taken place. With the coronavirus having transformed from a subconscious worry at the back of our minds to a global pandemic that is leading industries and nations to be reshaped, uncertainty and a lack of information may lead to further confusion and anxiety.
As such, deBanked reached out to a number of funders within the alternative finance space to gauge how they’re feeling on the pandemic and understand what measures they are taking at this time.
One such company was BFS Capital. With its headquarters in Florida, CEO Mark Ruddock explained that he and his employees are used to preparing for crises. “It’s prime hurricane land. So we have a capability to operate without a single human head in the office. We have 100% capability for all of our team to work remotely regardless of whether they have work laptops or not.”
Communication is at the heart of this ability, with offices in Toronto, Omaha, New York, Chelmsford in the UK, and outsource partners in Guatemala, BFS relies on software like Microsoft Teams and Zoom to ensure smooth contact is maintained between its employees across the world.
And this mindset has recently been further enforced with regards to company-customer relations, Ruddock explained, noting that in that wake of the coronavirus, BFS has amped up its outreach to existing customers.
“Instead of just waiting for active inbound communication from our merchants, we actually now have an active outbound calling program. We’re trying to reach out to many of our merchants and understand how their businesses are doing, understand what sort of support and help they’re looking for. We’re trying to draw from this not only information about the specific merchant, but also information about that merchant’s geography, sector, and so on. And all of that is being fed back into a real-time dashboard internally.”
Beyond BFS, merchant outreach was a trend amongst the companies deBanked talked to. With funders reporting that they have teams trained to discuss future funding options with businesses if their finances suffer from a decrease in customers.
At the same time, some funders have decided to focus their efforts on tightening underwriting and funding channels, applying a conservative approach to which industries and locations will be served.
Velocity Group USA shared an internal memo to its ISOs with deBanked which detailed some instructions to brokers. Among these was the prompt for “our ISO’s to place more focus on essential businesses.” Non-essential businesses being categorized as community and recreation centers; gyms, including yoga, spin, and barre facilities; hair and nail salons and spas; casinos, concert venues, and theaters; bars and liquor stores; sports facilities and golf courses; most retail facilities, including shopping malls.
Placing a limitation upon funding like this has been a hot topic amongst the alternative finance community within recent days. A thread on the online discussion forum DailyFunder featured speculation and arguments over who is and isn’t funding anymore.
With so much of this being hearsay and rumor, deBanked found that asking funders directly whether or not they were funding currently to be the best remedy to this uncertainty. As of the time of publication, deBanked found that LoanMe had suspended funding until April 1 and that 1st Merchant Funding suspended further funding temporarily, with Vice President of Credit Risk Dylan Edwards saying that it would be “completely irresponsible” to continue funding.
In regards to how funders have been dealing with the coronavirus in their immediate surroundings, many, such as RDM’s CEO Reuven Mirlis, have noted that their employees have been offered the option of working from home, while others have made it a mandate to work from home. BlueVine’s CCO Brad Brodigan explained that this decision was part of their Business Continuity Plan and that prior to this they took extra measures so that their office was thoroughly disinfected and that social distancing was practiced within meetings of 5+ people.
Meanwhile Velocity Group USA has brought in Pat Gugliotta, the Commissioner of the business’s local fire department, to help establish contagion prevention protocols, based upon the screening processes practiced in JFK Airport. Explaining that this includes daily interviews with every staff member in the morning which look for trends relating to where they’ve been, who they’ve been in contact with, and how they’re feeling. As well as this, employee vitals are documented, with infrared thermometers being employed to monitor temperatures. “I’m trying to mirror our program to that program because I know the program works,” Gugliotta mentioned in a call.
While this may sound extreme, it must be remembered that this is an unprecedented crisis, meaning most strategies are untested and many funders are open to exploring novel precautions and solutions.
“This is an unprecedented event, which in its own right means you have to look at it differently,” BFS’s Ruddock explained. “I think it’s the sheer scope and speed that we have to cope with here. Scope meaning that this isn’t a hurricane which hits a region for a period of time and causes economic distress, which requires rebuilding, this is something that is international. This is not something that, like a recession, creeps at you over months and weeks and sometimes even signals orders. This is something that is happening with alarming speed. So in that way, these are unprecedented times now.”
This article will continue to be updated with funders who announce and disclose to us changes in their services, so check back to stay updated. Please do reach out if you would like to discuss the status of your company and how the coronavirus is affecting your business.
With New York in a State of Emergency, Its Legislators Rush to Regulate Disclosures in the Commercial Finance IndustryMarch 16, 2020
On March 7th, Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency for New York State. Four and 6 days later respectively, legislators in the state Assembly and Senate introduced commercial financing disclosure bills that would regulate all business-to-business financing transactions including secured loans, factoring, and merchant cash advances. The bills intend to create uniform disclosures for comparison purposes while also placing control of the commercial finance industry under the purview of the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS).
The bills also state that merchant cash advance companies may be required to prepare funding reports on all of their deals for the DFS to inspect so that the superintendent can analyze the difference between the estimated anticipated APR and the actual retrospective APR that resulted after the merchants delivered all of the receivables to the funder on each deal.
The bills are said to have been in the works for some time, but the timing of their introduction is awkward given the sudden economic situation that is unfolding in the state.
The bills are actually quite lengthy so you can read them yourselves in full here:
Assembly Bill A10118 – Introduced by Kenneth Zebrowski
Senate Bill S05470A – Introduced by Kevin Thomas
With companies in Australia, Britain, and the United States, David Goldin has weathered storms of various sizes and seriousness over the past two decades. Whether it was the recent wildfires that saw state-sized infernos engulf the Australian countryside, the regulatory upheaval that is Brexit, or the unprecedented shockwaves sent by the 2008 financial crisis, the CEO has seen his fair share of global disruption.
So when deBanked got in touch with Goldin about his perspective on the coronavirus pandemic, how it compares to what he’s seen before, and what funders should do to combat contagion, he was happy to discuss the insights he’s garnered from twenty years in business.
The following Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity and succinctness:
deBanked: Generally speaking, how bad do you think the coronavirus pandemic is going to get?
“I don’t think anyone knows the outcome. I think what you’re going to see is the industry completely change over the next few days. In the last 48 hours you went from mild cancellations to, today alone, the NBA, NHL, and MLB. And Cuomo just announced in New York that there can be no more than 500 people at events, colleges are shutting down left and right, and schools as well. Basically, we’re heading in the direction of shutting down the entire country at some point.
So I think funders have two issues. One is their existing customers, right? And how do you lend in this market? There’s the obvious and the not so obvious, because, for example, a deal that may have been great a few days ago, let’s say there’s a college bar near SUNY Albany, and they just announced this shutting down of schools, that bar may not see any business for who knows how long.
I’m not the CDC, I’m not the WHO, I’m not a medical expert, but I know in life, people are always afraid of the unknown and panic induces panic, but this is just my opinion. So I think once people start getting this virus, which is inevitable, and they recover from it, I think that’s going to offset some of the panic.
I think you’re going to have a couple of more shock factors. I would not be surprised if we learn in the next few weeks that the President of the United States has it.”
And what about our industry specifically?
“I think right now, lenders will say, ‘Well, if I [tighten up], typically what happens in our industry is if a company runs into trouble, it’s usually just that company,’ right? So if they start tightening up, they lose the business.
The entire playing field will be level by Monday or Tuesday of next week, by the latest. I think some of the playbook will be that some funders may take the position to stop funding for the next couple of weeks and look to see what happens because no one knows how bad this is going to get.”
Do you have any advice for funders?
“I think you have to price the risk because I think everyone is foolish to think that the bolts are not going to go off. So you’re either going to have to increase the pricing to the customer or raise the rates to the broker and limit the amount they could charge the customer temporarily for the increased risk your portfolio is now going to take.
I think you need to shorten the term. During the 2008 recession, the industry was at a 1.35 to a 1.37 factor rate, averaging six or seven months. There weren’t too many providers back then going past a year, there really was no such things as a second or third position.
This is a much different world we live in. So I think, unfortunately, some of the platforms that tend to be longer-term players which do one year, two years, three years, even four years, I think they’re going to be in a lot of trouble. Their ships are too far out to sea and I think they’re really going to have to focus on portfolio management and collections.
There’s going to be opportunities in the marketplace for those that don’t take a prudent approach, but I think in the short term people have to shorten their terms, potentially raise pricing for risk, and decrease the amount of capital that they’re taking out of a customer’s gross sales.”
What lessons do you think can be learned from this?
“I think as a platform you have to look at redundancy of capital, and that the time to raise money is when you don’t need it. So I think this could be a lesson for all to perhaps have more than one funding source.
I think brokers are going to really have to diversify. There’s good and bad, I think the approval rates at companies are going to fall through the floor, but I think you’ll get a lot of borrowers over the next few weeks that can typically go to a bank that won’t be able to go to a bank. But you’re going to see a lot of watching and waiting right now. And you’re going to see the industry revert back to where it was a while ago: shorter term deals, pricing in the risk, lower gross sales taken.”
How does this compare to previous crises?
“So I think this one’s a little bit different. It’s affecting everything and your playbook is going to change literally daily. This will be affecting the majority of the major cities. When you’re shutting down things like the MLB, the NBA, the NHL, shutting down colleges and universities, I don’t think this country or the world has ever experienced anything like this for this extended period of time.
Now that doesn’t mean everyone’s going to go out of business, there’ll be a redistribution. For example, if it was a restaurant in midtown Manhattan that relied a lot on people going from work, and these people are now working from home, perhaps their local restaurants or supermarket may see an uptick in business.
I think you’re going to see decisions slowing down and really digging a lot deeper into the underwriting, understanding what the business actually does, how it’s potentially affected.”
What should funders be doing to combat contagion?
“They should be testing a disaster recovery plan to work remotely.
But most importantly it’s really about everyone being healthy, helping their families and their employees. That’s first and foremost.”
A new $100 million revolving credit facility is poised to give a big boost to small business funding provider Funding Metrics. The company operates the Lendini and QuickFix Capital brands, and this new credit facility comes as the company seeks to increase its base of more than 9,500 small businesses served so far.
“We now have the money to grow over all aspects of that spectrum,” President Jim Carnes said. Since 2014, the company has provided more than $500 million dollars of funding to small businesses in a variety of industries, including healthcare, real estate, construction, restaurants and others.
The $100 million worth of revolving credit comes from what the company called a “a multi-billion dollar institutional credit fund,” with Brean Capital serving as Funding Metrics’ exclusive financial advisor for the transaction. The new credit line as well as a newly developed website and streamlined funding process will allow for growth and fantastic customer service. Among the company’s main ideals is to provide funding request approvals or denials within three hours or less.
One of the main challenges for online small business funding and its related activities in 2020, said Funding Metrics co-founder David Frascella, is increasing awareness of all the offers and products out there, including from his company. “There are plenty of options in today’s market,” he said. Increasing that awareness, he added, is something the industry should come together to better address. “We look forward to additional submissions from the ISO network and funding the next wave of small business leaders nationwide,” he said.
Funding Metrics is also a platinum sponsor of Broker Fair 2020 on May 18th in New York City.
Maryland Legislative Committee to Meet On Merchant Cash Advance Prohibition (Rescheduled to Wednesday)March 2, 2020
Legislators in the Maryland State House will meet
today on Wednesday at 1pm EST to discuss HB-1478, a bill to make merchant cash advances illegal in the state. A similar meeting is taking place tomorrow in the State Senate. The House meeting was originally scheduled for Monday but was postponed.
All four of the House bill’s sponsors are republicans. Today’s committee is expected to discuss the potential small business effect of prohibition. A legislative note that circulated before hand cautions that:
Any small businesses that utilize merchant cash advances, as defined by the bill, may be impacted, as the bill no longer allows such transactions. The Office of Commissioner of Financial Regulation advises that small businesses are likely to engage in merchant cash advance transactions, as they accept credit card payments and those receivables are their greatest source of liquidity. As such, prohibiting the use of such transactions may remove a source of financing that has traditionally been available to small businesses in the State. Additionally, prohibiting the use of merchant cash advance transactions may also affect small business lenders in the State that engage in these types of activities.
The bill, as written, would outlaw credit and debit card split transactions if it passed.
This bill prohibits a buyer from arranging, facilitating, or consummating a “merchant cash
advance transaction” with a seller in the State. The bill defines “merchant cash advance
transaction” as an arrangement between a buyer and a seller in which the buyer agrees to
purchase an agreed-on percentage of future credit or debit card revenues that are due to a
seller for a predetermined purchase price.
A Maryland State Senator and 4 State Delegates are calling for a prohibition on merchant cash advances through a bill introduced this month that aims to make it illegal to arrange, facilitate or consummate a merchant cash advance with a merchant in the state.
AN ARRANGEMENT BETWEEN A BUYER AND A SELLER IN WHICH THE BUYER AGREES TO PURCHASE AN AGREED–ON PERCENTAGE OF FUTURE CREDIT CARD REVENUES OR DEBIT CARD REVENUES THAT ARE DUE TO A SELLER FOR A PREDETERMINED PURCHASE PRICE
If all went to plan, the law would go into effect as early as October 1st of this year. Support at this early stage is bipartisan, with the Senate Bill sponsored by a Democrat and the House bill sponsored by 4 republicans. Hearings on the matter are being held on March 2nd and 3rd.
Patreon, the membership platform that provides payment and subscription services for creators, will now start funding those artists that are on its site through Patreon Capital. Said to be modeled after Shopify Capital, the service will be available to certain creators initially, with Patreon reaching out directly to them to offer merchant cash advances.
The move comes after CEO Jack Conte had been quoted in January saying that “The reality is Patreon needs to build new businesses and new services and new revenue lines in order to build a sustainable business.”
It seems like this new service is part of a trend that has overtaken tech companies recently, best exemplified by the Apple Card, wherein established players, worried about longevity, are moving further into financial services, hoping to get long-lasting hooks into their customers.
Historically, Patreon has made money by taking a 5% cut from the subscription payments made to artists on its platform, with a further 5% going towards covering transaction fees, and the remaining 90% being left for the artist, who retains complete ownership of their work. It currently has over 100,000 creators on its site and over three million active monthly users. Contributions begin at $1, with content being unlocked in exchange for payment. Thus far, Patreon has paid out over $1 billion.
It has been reported that about a dozen deals have been made between creators and Patreon Capital so far. Hot Pod News ran a story featuring one such case, in which Multitude, a Brooklyn-based podcast studio, disclosed that it took funding of $75,000 over two years in order to pay the SAG-AFTRA rates of the actors it wanted to employ for a new audio sitcom titled Next Stop.
“We were running into this problem where we have a ton of great ideas, but because we’re a small business, we constantly have to decide between putting money towards paying our people and getting more equipment versus saving it up for a bigger project,” Multitude’s CEO, Amanda McLoughlin, told Hot Pod.
The premium attached to the financing was not revealed, however Multitude did note that the revenues of one of the studio’s other shows, Join the Party, would be taken as collateral if Next Stop is not profitable enough to pay the premium after two years.
“This arrangement is directly tied to the fact that we have successful podcasts making money on Patreon, and that we’ve already invested in the Patreon system to pay this stuff back,” comment Eric Silver, Multitude’s Head of Creative, underlining how Patreon Capital is linked with the analytics of Patreon’s base service. Much like how Amazon uses sales metrics and user data to gauge which retailers to lend to on its own marketplace, Patreon appears to be making use of seven years of data on its creators to determine who is best positioned to receive funding.
“Patreon has access to all the data about a creator’s earnings history, what they offer as benefits, how much they engage with their patrons … everything needed to forecast their earnings and retention, without a creator even needing to submit an application.” Patreon VP of Finance Carlos Cabrero stated. “This would be essentially impossible for a bank to replicate.”
deBanked’s parent company has acquired 100% of DailyFunder. I was a co-founder of the online forum that launched in 2012 and had remained a partner in it until recently when I had the opportunity to acquire the remainder of the company’s shares.
What does this mean for DailyFunder?
DailyFunder will remain an independent entity and website, and it will continue to keep its trademark name. Its concept, a message board for business finance professionals, will fit nicely into our ecosystem. Our full ownership of DailyFunder will allow us to provide the site with updates, fixes, and improved moderation. Some changes to the site may be implemented over the next several weeks and months.
More than 16,000 threads and 129,000 posts have been published on the forum since inception, a testament to the value that such a site provides to the unique community it fosters. DailyFunder has nearly 10,000 registered members. Discussion on the site originally centered around merchant cash advance but has since evolved to all types of commercial finance.
If you’re one of the men and women who fund daily, well then I hope to see you on the DailyFunder!
If you have a technical question or moderation issue, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have an advertising question, please email me at: email@example.com. Please bear with us as our team gets acclimated to the new change.
CAN Capital is continuing its executive hiring spree into 2020 with the news that it has brought on Edward Dietz as its latest Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel. After providing legal expertise to Marlin Business Services Corporation for nine years and working as an associate for two law firms in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania previous to this, Dietz will oversee CAN’s compliance with all federal and state lending, banking, and securities laws.
“Having worked with Ed and knowing his skill set and the many intangibles that he brings to CAN, I feel fortunate that he’s leading our legal and compliance efforts,” noted CEO Edward Siciliano in a statement. “Ed’s just what we needed as we position CAN for growth and to lead a new era of small business lending.”
Having graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 2004, Dietz has nearly two decades of legal experience.
Speaking on the news, Dietz said that he “could not be more excited to join a company and a team that believes so deeply that its people and its culture are the keys to harnessing the company’s growth potential.”
Liberis, the London-based small business finance provider, secured £32 million ($42 million) in capital late last month following a round of equity fundraising. The firm, which has funded businesses through cash advances since 2007, has now raised a total of over £150 million ($197 million) via debt and equity.
Having already entered Nordic markets, Liberis looks to use this funding to further expand into Europe as well as make their mark in America. Speaking to deBanked, Liberis CEO Rob Straathof explained that the company would be working with its North American partner, Worldpay, to spread itself across all 50 states. Beyond Worldpay, Liberis is planning to create more partnerships with merchant acquirers, those payment platforms which serve merchants, or “SME champions,” as Straathof calls them.
Liberis will not be using brokers to provide cash advances to business owners in the States, the reason being that the company prefers to work with its affiliated partners. “We purely rely on our partners and integrating with our partners,” explained Straathof. “In the UK we still do brokers, but that’s kind of a legacy. It works very well for us and we have a great relationship with brokers. It’s a good channel for us, but we have no intention at this point to launch that in the US.”
The company will also use the funding to increase its staff by 30% in 2020, hiring around 50 people to bolster its 165-person workforce across their four offices in London, Dublin, Stockholm, and Denver.
On January 29th, 2020 the Appellate Division, 2nd Department, of the Supreme Court of New York, upheld the original decision issued in Merchant Funding Services, LLC v Micromanos, etc. et al.. The case concerns a Confession of Judgment (COJ) filed following Micromanos’ default on a merchant cash advance contract. The defendants sought to vacate the COJ on the basis that the underlying agreement was allegedly a criminally usurious loan but the original judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
The case was so notable that deBanked published a summary of the decision three years ago. Of particular interest is that the defendants not only lost but were accused by the judge of attempting to mislead the Court. Despite that, the defendants appealed.
The defendants have now lost again. The underlying case law they had relied on to support their arguments, Volunteer Pharmacy, was overturned the same day this decision was issued, leaving little room to wonder why the Appellate Division ruled accordingly.
Merchant Cash Advances have sat on comfortable legal footing in New York ever since an appellate court ruled in favor of Pearl Beta Funding, LLC against Champion Auto Sales, LLC in 2018, but even so, it hasn’t stopped lawyers from trying to invalidate merchant cash advance (MCA) contracts on behalf of aggrieved customers.
That’s because an MCA provided by New York-based Merchant Funding Services LLC to a business known as Volunteer Pharmacy in 2016 was ruled by New York Supreme Court Judge David F Everett to be so “criminally usurious on its face” that the normal process required to vacate a Confession of Judgment could simply be bypassed without even having to evaluate the merits of each side’s arguments and the matter automatically won in favor of Volunteer Pharmacy. The judge’s written decision, which voided the MCA contract ab initio, was replete with a scathing opinion of MFS’s business model.
The decision quietly stunned the merchant cash advance industry. MFS understandably appealed.
Dozens of lawsuits against MCA companies in the ensuing years went on to cite Judge Everett’s decision in Volunteer Pharmacy with limited success. And while the industry sat around to find out what would happen in that case, Pearl Beta Funding, a rival to Merchant Funding Services, won an appeal of its own, the landmark usury case in March 2018 that seemingly solidified once and for all the commonly held understanding that such MCA agreements were not usurious.
Despite this, the uncertainty of Volunteer Pharmacy still lingered in the background, that is until now.
On January 29th, 2020 the Appellate Division, 2nd Department, of the Supreme Court of New York, overturned Judge Everett’s decision and ruled in favor of Merchant Funding Services. The panel of judges said they need not even weigh a lot of Everett’s contentions because he was wrong on the underlying procedural issue, that a judgment by confession could be vacated in such an instance without having to go through the normal legal process.
The ruling ultimately provides clarity on the process that determines how a judgment by confession can be vacated. One major impact is that lawyers seeking to invalidate merchant cash advance agreements will no longer have Volunteer Pharmacy as a crutch to rely on.
News from North Texas this month as Dallas-based Sprout Funding announced its acquisition of Jet Capital. The move comes as Sprout seeks to expand its technical operations.
“Sprout built a reputation as a group that funds a lot of its own internal deals, and Jet had spent a lot of time, energy, and money on their tech platforms,” Sprout’s CEO and Founder Brad Woy told deBanked. “So while we were really good on the sales and marketing side, they seemed to be a little bit more advanced in their tech and reporting, and we brought those two things together.”
Almost all of Jet’s employees will be joining Sprout, with the exception of one person who chose to go their separate way following the merger.
Jet’s COO Allan Thompson spoke kindly of the purchase, saying in a statement that “There is a great cultural alignment in addition to the obvious benefits of combining our technology, processes and people. The result will provide increased capabilities for Sprout and opportunity for all of our customers and partners.”
The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Ready for deBanked’s biggest event of the year? Broker Fair returns to New York City on May 18th