Why Merchant Cash Advance is an ideal finance option for SMEs

An increasing number of businesses in India, even the smaller ones, are beginning to accept payments for their products and services via credit cards. The acceptance of credit card payments is not only convenient but also a boon for these units, as the same can be used to get short-term funding or advances from funding agencies. A merchant cash advance, as the name suggests, is a cash advance to merchants against their future credit card payment receivables.

Merchant cash advance is a relatively new form of funding in India for small businesses that need fast access to cash and have an established credit card transaction history. Widely used in the US and Canada for several years now, this type of lending is a convenient and easy method of raising funds. It’s not really a loan, rather an advance payment against the future income of a business. Merchant cash advance loans are an ideal solution for small businesses and entrepreneurs who lack adequate organized funding and often resort to borrowing from friends, family or unorganized lenders. They are emerging as an optimum solution for meeting the funding requirements of businesses with a regular income received via credit cards.

SMEs and Funding Options

A majority of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) today operate with cash cycles of 60 days or more, but options for getting working capital finance are severely limited. Although the SME segment plays a key role in India’s economic growth, these enterprises suffer on account of inadequate funding options and thus resort to high interest loans from the informal segment.

Recent years have, however, witnessed the development of innovative products by non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and micro lenders to fill the funding gap in the SME segment. Merchant cash advance is one such product that aims to help small businesses garner the necessary working capital by way of advances against the future income of a business.

Merchant Cash Advance: A Simple and Convenient Product

A merchant cash capital provider would give you a lump-sum amount, which is paid off automatically when they take a percentage of your daily credit card receipts. Since the repayment is linked to credit card receipts, this funding option is suitable for businesses that have a significant portion of their income via the credit card receipts. These include restaurant owners, online shopping sites, merchants and service providers.

The rate at which repayments are made or the retrieval rate can vary from 5% to 20% of the credit card receipts of a business. This retrieval rate is decided on the basis of the amount of advance, the quantum of sales via credit cards and the repayment period. Another important feature of this type of funding is that repayment begins immediately after the receipt of the funds with the total duration of the advance ranging between 180 and 360 days.

The amount of advance that a small business can get is determined by its average credit card sales. A merchant advance provider generally reviews your income inflow over the past six months to determine the advance amount that you can get. The funds provider generally ties up with the credit card payment processors with a predetermined percentage of the merchant’s credit card sales being transferred to the lender directly. The time taken to repay this advance is dependent on the percentage of credit card sales being given to the finance provider. The higher the percentage, the shorter is the time it would take to repay the advance.

Why Opt for a Merchant Cash Advance?

There are several reasons that make a merchant cash advance a preferred funding option for small businesses with high credit card transactions. These include:

1. Easy to Apply: It is very easy to apply for a merchant cash advance. All you need to do is to fill an online application form and upload the required supporting documents like your tax returns, bank account statements and credit card processing statements.

2. Quick Processing: Fund providers like Capital Float that rely heavily on cutting-edge technology take a decision within a few hours and deliver the funds within a few days. This is highly beneficial for businesses that require quick cash to cover unexpected business expenses.

3. Perfect Credit Score Not the Criteria: A merchant cash advance is sanctioned solely on the basis of the credit card receipts of a business and their consistency, without assigning too much importance paid to the credit score of an individual or business.

4. Unsecured Loans: A merchant cash advance is an unsecured loan that can be obtained without mortgaging any asset. No collateral is required and the focus is the future income.

5. Flexible Repayment: Since the repayment amount is a specific percentage of your credit card sales during a month, you are not overburdened or under pressure to pay more even during a lean period for your business or when your business is going through a rough patch and the sales are not up to the mark.

6. High Limits: Advance fund providers generally offer a higher borrowing limit than banks since they take their decisions on the basis of your future income.

7. No Impact on Credit Report: Since merchant cash capital is actually a sales transaction, it does not get reflected in the credit record of the business or the business owner.

A word of caution before you decide to take a merchant cash advance for funding your working capital needs. The cost of this type of funding may be higher than the loans taken from banks because the repayment is dependent on the factor rate of your advance. This factor rate is multiplied by the amount of advance to derive the total amount to be repaid. You can reap the benefits of merchant cash advance loans to fund your working capital needs by negotiating a lower holdback percentage. Although this will increase the repayment duration, it will help you minimize the cost.

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Changes in the GST Taxation System – with effect from 15 November 2017

Composition Scheme Changes

  • GST rate at 1% for manufacturers and traders
  • Composition scheme limit to be extended to ₹1.5 crore
  • Composition tax of 1% on turnover of taxable goods
  • Interstate sales are not permissible for composition dealers. Input tax benefit not allowed.

GST Filing Extensions

GSTR form Previous Due Date Revised Due Date
GSTR-5 (for Non-Residents) Before 20th August 2017 or & days from date of registration 15th December 2017
GSTR-4 (for Composition Dealers) 18th October 2017 24th December 2017
GSTR-6 (for Input Service Distributors) 13th August 2017 31st December 2017
ITC-04 (for the quarter of July-September) 25th October 2017 31st December 2017
TRAN-1 30th September 2017 31st December 2017

Taxpayer Relief Measures

  • Reduced Late Fee: For delay in the filing of NIL returns, late fee will be reduced from ₹200 per day to ₹20 per day.
  • Credit of Late Fee: For filing of GSTR-3B for the months of July, August and September, late fee has been waived. Any late fee paid will be credited back in Electronic Cash Ledger under ‘Tax’ and can be utilized for GST payments.
  • Manual filing for ‘Advance Ruling’ to be introduced
  • Export of services to Nepal and Bhutan are now exempt from GST. Input tax credit, if paid, can be claimed for refund.
  • Taxpayers with turnover less than ₹1 crore should file invoices every month, while those with turnover greater than ₹1 crore should file invoices every quarter.

Revised GST Rates for 178 Goods and Services

Goods/Services Present GST Rates Revised GST Rates
Guar meal, Khandsari sugar, Dried or frozen vegetables, Uranium ore concentrate, Hop cones, Unworked coconut shells 5% Nil
Desiccated coconut, Idli Dosa Batter, Coir products, Fly ash bricks, Worn clothes or rags, Fishing hooks, Leather or chamois after tanning or crusting, Nets of textile material, Restaurants (non-Ac) 12% 5%
Potato flour, Chutney powder, Sulphur recovered as by-product in refining of crude oil, Specified parts of aircraft, Scientific and technical apparatus, Computer software and accessories, Restaurants (AC) 18% 5%
Condensed milk, Diabetic foods, Refined sugar, Medicinal grade oxygen, Printing, writing and drawing inks, Pasta, Curry paste, Mayonnaise and salad dressings, Mixed seasoning, Parts of agricultural & sewing machinery, Bamboo and cane furniture, Frames and mountings for spectacles, Hand bags and shopping bags of cotton and jute 18% 12%
Wet grinders, Tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles 28% 12%
Chewing gum, Chocolates, Preparation of facial make-up, Preparations for oral hygiene, Toothpaste, Shaving and after-shave items, Shampoo, Deodorants, Detergents, Granite and marble, Handmade furniture, Electric switches, Watches, Sanitary ware, Cases, Cutlery, Refrigerators, Flavoured drinks, Water heaters, Fire extinguishers, Printers, Automatic goods vending machine, Transmission shafts and cranks, Fork-lift trucks, Self-propelled bulldozers, Batteries, Static converters, Vacuum cleaners, Cameras and projectors, Microscopes, Musical instruments 28% 18%

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Oct 24, 2018

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Old May Not Always Be Gold

Like most college friends, Ankit, Murthy and Kumanan lost touch with each other soon after graduating. Unlike most friends who lose touch with each other, they ran into each other while vacationing in the same resort at the same time to celebrate new years’ eve. While their career paths had diverged 15 years out of college, they were soon reminiscing the good old days with an equally old bottle of scotch. After rewinding and replaying the past a few times, the conversation caught up with time and they started talking about work.

After several years of working in a traditional bank, Ankit got bored and joined a new age digital lending company as the head of credit. Kumanan worked at large garment manufacturing units in India, Bangladesh and China. Watching the industry disappear around him, he sensed opportunity and had recently started his own T-shirt design and manufacturing company where he was riding the e-commerce boom and sold most of his inventory online. He had ambitions of starting his own brand soon. Murthy had joined his father’s business and expanded a single department store into a chain across the entire city. He also supplied snacks, beverages, toiletries, cleaning equipment to the largest software company of his city and they were constantly demanding that he supply paper, ink and most other consumables as they grew and expanded.

With the scotch taking care of any and all inhibitions, Murthy and Kumanan’s frustrations surfaced and they started talking about how they love their work, the sense of independence, the sense of control over their destiny but how they absolutely hated dealing with lenders and banks. In their mind, Ankit personified this opaque, insensitive, slow lender and they wanted him to explain why all their past loan and credit card applications had been declined. The barrage of questions targeted at Ankit reached a point where Kumanan even wanted Ankit to explain why his voter ID had the wrong address! Ankit smiled and surprised them by saying he shared their frustration of being unable to provide the right loan to the right person at the right time in his old bank and that he also moved to a new age digital company with the intent to redefine lending in India.

Ankit then asked Kumanan and Murthy to explain how they went about getting a loan and got the answer he expected. Like most business owners, they did not have the time to deal with multiple banks and they used an agent to help them get loans. While they did not particularly like their agents, they did send a guy over to their office to fill forms, collect documents, organize bank discussions and get them their funding without them having to figure out every bank, product and process. In addition, Murthy and Kumanan both had multiple suppliers who they had worked out individual credit terms with. They also admitted that whenever they needed urgent money or large sums that banks would not provide, they got it from local moneylenders at exorbitant terms. It was quite beyond them as to why a bank would think they cannot repay a larger loan when they were clearly taking multiple loans and successfully paying them off.

Ankit explained that traditional banks and lenders had very limited scope for loan officers to think out of the box and act beyond established policies.  Banks did not have significantly different products or processes and ended up providing 2-3 year lump sum loans that were not large enough for Kumanan or Murthy.  They always ended up spending time allocating money across various activities such as expansion, payroll, supplier payments, seasonal demands, online vs offline sales where payment cycles were vastly different. The advantage of Ankit’s new age company was three fold: custom products designed to address specific financial needs of businesses, high speed customer experience with minimal documentation, and low pricing due to product features that enable non-conservative underwriting. Kumanan and Murthy’s curiosity was piqued and they wanted to know more.

Ankit asked Kumanan to imagine a world in which he downloaded a mobile app, added all his suppliers and had a line of credit with standard terms available that he could use to pay any supplier any time. He could pick his repayment period and the payment goes through immediately! No need to haggle with each supplier and the credit line grew with usage and regularity of payments. Since he sold online, he also had the option of picking a tailor made e-commerce loan where repayments were mapped to the payment cycle and a transparent cash flow control mechanism ensured that many more people qualified for affordable large loans. These loans even adjusted themselves for seasonality of his business and he could request top-ups as and when he needed them. Kumanan was very impressed that these products were not restricted to his imagination but were actual products that Ankit was able to provide via his new age digital lending company.

Murthy wanted to know if there was something for folks like him who did not sell online. Ankit told him that instead of taking long term loans that may not be utilized all the time but keep accruing interest, Murthy should opt for an invoice financing loan wherein all his supplies to the large software company could be funded as and when they make a purchase from him. That way, he does not have to plan for their expansion and is confident of the right amount of money at the right time and the right rate. Murthy agreed that while this product did sound interesting, he preferred if somebody came to his office to explain the product and handle the paperwork. Ankit mentioned that his company did not have any “paperwork” since most customer information was collected digitally but he is happy to send over a person to Murthy’s office to help guide him through the product and process. Murthy then wanted to know why he could not get a larger loan and Ankit explained that lenders and banks are happy to lend when they have some visibility into the cash flow of a business. As an example, Ankit’s company had recently launched a merchant cash advance product that collected daily payments directly from the credit card machines that Murthy had in all his stores. Typically, it was a lot easier to qualify for such a loan, there was minimal documentation and there was no need to think about payment due dates!

Having given up hope of ever hitting the gym, Kumanan and Murthy were happy with their new year resolution of trying out custom financial products from new age digital companies and keeping in mind that old may not always be gold!

Tushar Garimalla

Tushar has deep expertise in credit, risk management, portfolio management and analytics gained during his 10-year career with HSBC and Capital One in India and the US. Most recently, he worked on a small business credit card portfolio purchase for Capital One including business development valuations, due diligence, system integration and credit policy development. Tushar graduated from IIT Madras with a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering.

Tushar heads Decision Sciences at Capital Float. 

Oct 24, 2018

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Successfull business tips in 2017: way to grow

Rationally encounter consequences ut that are extremely painful nor us again all is were anyone who loves desires this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound teachings great explorer.

Oct 24, 2018