News from the Merchant Funding Industry

Cheryl Conner ,


I write about communications, business and the ways the two intersect

'Money, Money' -- How Alternative Lending Could Increase Your Company's Revenue in 2013



Forbes Article Continued (from our home page)

I spoke first with Sheinbaum, who was also quoted in Farrell’s article in 2008. Shienbaum founded MCC in 2005 and has led the company to provide $500 million in loans of some 25,000 cash advances to approximately 12,500 customers so far. The company employees 100 people in New York, but provides advances to clients throughout all 50 contiguous U.S. states.

Why the need and the rapid growth of merchant advances? Shienbaum notes that his company is seeing small but steady increases in the strength of the economy, employment and consumer spending, yet lending policies from banks have not loosened. This means that financing to merchant vendors to fund expansion, equipment purchase or leases or to gain additional cash flow to fund operational growth remains incredibly tight. Furthermore, the kind of criteria banks and traditional sources look at – length of operating history, length of loan, and amount of collateral needed – is difficult or impossible for merchant vendors to meet.

“If someone has any kind of a credit issue, or if they need to borrow for 3-15 months as opposed to 5-10 years, the banks can’t help them,” he notes. “Small companies, with less than $5-10 million in annual sales, are particularly vulnerable right now.”

MCC has developed a variety of lending products to help these merchants by providing cash advance loans against their future credit card sales, to provide funds the merchants can use to purchase inventory, to manage cash flow to support staffing, or to accommodate growth such as opening up additional retail locations.

Sheinbaum has also been instrumental in helping to found and manage the primary association that works to ensure best practices in the merchant cash advance space, NAMAA (the National American Merchant Advance Association, at NAMAA provides education, training, and best practice guidelines to help ensure merchant advance providers are legitimate and trustworthy and that they provide needed assistance at reasonable prices that don’t “choke out” the merchant businesses they serve.

The company has ample examples of how their lending scenario works. For example, the Bar at Killarney, in Southern Vermont, experienced a severe downturn in 2011 due to damage from Hurricane Irene and the slow restaurant season that followed the storm. To survive, the restaurant obtained a business cash advance from MCC. The advance provided critical funding the business couldn’t obtain from traditional sources. The owner, Mark Verespy was so pleased he has returned to MCC again, to fund its current expansion. For him, the short term and structure of the cash advance was ideal.

While MCC specializes in retail merchants, Tim Valdez, of Pavestone Capital, provides factoring loans of up to 90% of the amount of invoices due to his client customers in industries such as transportation or service. Founded in 2012, Pavestone has grown rapidly (due in part to a fortuitous acquisition) to an anticipated $30 million in 2013. By managing the invoices of its clients, Pavestone also takes over the work and process of credit analysis and receivables collection, helping customers to conduct their business processes more efficiently and quickly.

As to the interests and rates Pavestone charges–rates will vary, but in a current example we discussed in our interview, Pavestone charged a lending customer 9.5% interest, annualized, along with fees for the confirmation, management and collection of the client’s invoices. All combined, the customer is paying an annualized rate of interest and fees in the mid to high teens, depending on average invoice size and level of administration–not cheap, but no more expensive (and probably less) than the debt service on a typical credit card, and with the added benefit of taking the back office functions of bill collection and several other administrative tasks off of the customer’s desk.

My attention was piqued and as a service business, I realize I am potentially interested in engaging Pavestone myself. Valdez also discussed an innovative option his firm is pioneering to give clients an alternative to the typical operating line of credit: In these cases, Pavestone will pool the customer invoices into a fund that becomes the functional equivalent of a traditional line of credit. The customer can “draw funds” from the pooled invoices as needed up to 90% of their sum, but pays interest and fees on only the portion it draws and only for the period of time the funds are outstanding. The result: a functional line of credit without the onerous approval requirements and covenants of a traditional bank. (When the invoices are collected, Pavestone rebates the 10% back to the customer, minus the contractual fees.)

Valdez advocates the formation of strong associations to police and advance the business practices for his industry sector as well. In the case of factoring, the primary association is IFA, the International Factoring Association (, where he served as an officer until April 2012 and periodically publishes articles on factoring and financing trends.

To keep alternative financing safe, Valdez advises the following precautions:

  1. Does the funding provider understand your business? Transportation, construction, energy, for example—different vertical niches have vastly different business processes that require high understanding and precision in order for the working partnership between business and factoring partner to succeed.
  2. Look closely at the management team of your funding partner. What do they know about the industry and how reliable are they? What is their source of capital? These precautions could have done much to eliminate the bad experiences and bad reputation merchant advances and factoring loans acquired during 2008-2009.
  3. Location isn’t a big deal. Industry specialization and experience is a far bigger criteria to consider in selecting a funding partner, Valdez says.
  4. What are the terms of the transaction? Examine all aspects of the funding agreement in careful detail. What portion of the cost is interest (the money cost) and what will you pay for the service component? How will these costs compare with your other funding alternatives? How will they be offset by the business growth and revenue security the funding will help you achieve?

John Tozzi, of Businessweek, provides this advice for companies considering cash advance or factoring funding as well:

  • Understand the full contract before you proceed. Tougher lending standards are helping to curb the abuses as these alternative lending industries grow, but careful understanding of the terms of the contract is the best way for prospective merchants to ensure they’ll be pleased.
  • Get a copy of the actual contract you’ll be expected to sign in advance. This will help determine if you’re dealing with the actual advance provider or with a broker. Know who you’re dealing with and vet the management team and the length of time the provider has been in business. Talk to other customer references who’ve worked with the provider as well.
  • Ensure a good company fit. Do they understand your particular sector or market? Will they be seamless and cohesive in the work they do in collecting invoices due from your company’s customers? This will be vitally important to protecting the valued relationships your company has worked to achieve.

Complaints about these kinds of firms and their practices, while growing more rare, are continuing to happen, industry experts affirm. However, responsible merchant lenders are doing much to make their practices self-policing, as Sheinbaum and Valdez attest. Having access to these innovative services at today’s competitive rates can make the difference between not only growing or not growing, but even between life and death.

In summary: while alternative lenders can provide the means for growth and cash flow salvation to a growing venture, entrepreneurs should examine these lending products and partnerships with both eyes open, to stay both sharp and aware. Have you used an alternative lending provider to grow your company? Who did you use, and what has your experience been? I welcome your thoughts.


Our Simple Funding Process

Entepreneur Magazine article
Case Study: How a Merchant Cash Advance Worked in a Pinch

Between His Own
$700,000 investment and $500,000 from his partners, Arturo Calderon thought he had the financing for his new restaurant in the bag. But construction costs of the 3,000-square-foot Yucatan Taco Stand in The Woodlands, Texas, ran $80,000 over budget, sapping much of the operating cash he had set aside for the September 2011 (read more)

Merchant Cash Advance Solution… How Tully’s Coffee Found Liquidity without a Traditional DIP LoanBy Rob Carringer & Matt Farrell

When Tully’s Coffee found itself in a serious liquidity crisis and facing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Deloitte CRG stepped in to secure a merchant cash advance. The authors provide insights into why this financing solution can be a perfect fit for any restaurant or retailer that lacks hard assets but has high credit card volume.(read more) 

Merchant Cash Advances on the Rise
Merchant cash advances have been steadily increasing over the last five years. According to the Green Sheet, a new chapter is opening for the industry as analysts report the merchant cash advance market is expected to grow within the next several years. Green Sheet estimates that over the next few years alternative lending through merchant cash advances may reach $3 billion to $5 billion. The market is currently valued at $500 million to $700 million.(read more)

How Merchant Cash Advances Work - Bloomberg News Article
mall-business owners who need quick access to capital have a burgeoning industry eager to fund them: merchant cash advance providers. The decade-old industry has grown significantly in the past two years, to more than 50 providers, observers say, and the tight credit environment is fueling demand. As interest in their business grows, providers—who charge premiums of 30% or more on the money they advance—are trying to promote industry standards to avoid scrutiny from regulators.(read more) 

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A merchant cash advance works in a simpler, more streamlined way than a traditional bank loan. Upon receiving your advance, our working capital financing programs operate by deducting a small, predetermined, fixed percentage of your daily business sales until the full amount is paid back. With no imminent fixed repayment terms, our process ensures minimal strain on your business cash flow, keeping you stress-free and your business growing. What could be better than that?


Our Simple Funding Process

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