Impact on Retailers in India after 2018 Union Budget

The Union Budget for FY18-19 was much anticipated, owing to reasons more than one. The first full-fledged financial plan after the introduction of GST and the last one by the Narendra Modi-led government, the most significant event of the Indian financial year is over. With the national polls looming in, the Union Budget rolled out by finance minister Arun Jaitely was favourable towards agriculture, rural development, social infrastructure and digital transformation. However, international mobile phone companies, bond investors, equity servicing institutions and the defence sector are at the not-so-advantageous end of the spectrum. In general, this year’s Union Budget has been a shift from the typical stance of the government that all segments need equal attention.

An industry segment that sees clear growth opportunities is retail. Amidst public opinion that the budget had not mentioned the retail segment, the various provisions have subtle repercussions that will help widen the scope of consumption. Consequently, this will have a long-term impact on retailers, where they can reap benefits from consumers with a higher expendable income.

Here are the key provisions of the Union Budget for FY 18-19 that have relevant implications for retailers.

  • Reduction in Corporate Tax
    With regards to taxation, the budget has declared a reduction in corporate tax to 25% for companies with an annual turnover of up to Rs 250 crore. This accounts for almost 99% of the companies in India and would have an impact of Rs 7000 crore on government finances. As only 250 companies have a turnover above the threshold value, this is a significant reduction in terms of the business turnover cutoff of Rs 50 crore that had been announced in last year’s budget for the same tax bracket.
    This move has resulted in a decrease in the tax burden for small and medium businesses, who can now use these additional funds to purchase inventory or machinery, expand their premises, hire new employees or for marketing activities. In case it does not cover your entire expenses, retailers can also avail easy business finance from digitally-enabled FinTech lenders who provide customized credit products like Merchant Cash Advance.
  • Increased Investments in Digital India
    Lack of investment in digital infrastructure by the government has always been a pain point that has deterred the productivity and development of startups and small businesses. This is especially true for the e-commerce sector, as rural India is the driving force behind its growth. This year alone, e-tailers recorded a three-fold increase in the number of shoppers in small towns compared to metro cities.
    Under the massive Rs 3,073 crore Digital India Program, over 5 lakh Wi-Fi hotspots will be set up to provide broadband access to 20 crore rural citizens in over 2,50,000 villages. This opens up an avenue for individuals in rural India to harness the Internet for trade, banking, logistics and even to avail formal finance from digital lenders. E-commerce retailers can use this opportunity to its fullest, as 55% of the 185 million active consumers are predicted to be from rural India by 2020.
  • Changes in Personal Taxation
    A welcome move for the salaried middle class, this budget proposed a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for transport allowance and medical reimbursement. While this may seem irrelevant to retailers, the impact of this allowance does indeed affect them. As personal income increases, so does the disposable component. Consumer behavioral studies ascertain that the disposable income is equitable to spends on retail. Thus, the re-introduction of medical and travel benefits is a favourable budget impact on retailers.
  • Refinancing for MSMEs
    The micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector plays a major role as India progresses towards becoming one of the biggest economies in the world. Despite contributing a staggering 15% to the country’s GDP with a high market share of 40% towards employment, these businesses have an unmet credit demand of $ 400 billion.
    Acknowledging the fact, the budget declared an allocation of Rs 3794 crore to the MSME sector for credit support, capital and interest subsidy on innovation. With this reform in play, the refinancing policy and eligibility criteria under Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) program will be reviewed to encourage easier financing of MSMEs by NBFCs. This impact of the budget on retailers opens plenty of avenues avail formal source of finance in a timely manner.
    A unique Aadhaar-like identity for each enterprise will also be implemented for streamlining business identity. This measure can further enable Fintech lenders like Capital Float to process eKYC of enterprises swiftly and offer working capital finance in a matter of seconds.

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5 Big Reasons to Opt for a Merchant Cash Advance Loan

While dining at a restaurant, customers either settle the bill through cash or by using a credit or debit card. Similarly, online shopping also offers the advantage of choice of paying by cash or card. In both cases, apart from offering quality service and/or products, the customer experience is further enhanced when a merchant offers the convenience of choice. Keeping customer satisfaction in mind, the use of card payment devices has become a norm for modern-day businesses. After all, a business’ success largely depends on how happy its customers are. A well-run business attracts more customers and eventually ensures long-term gains. These include better profit margins, wider customer base, higher brand value, etc.

One of the key factors that makes all this possible for a business, regardless of its size, is working capital. A travel agency runs very differently from, let’s say, a flourishing B2B business. However, the need for access to quick finance is something they have in common. Given that swiping of credit or debit cards is fast becoming commonplace, businesses are waking up to the fact that they can utilize point-of-sale card machines to their advantage. In other words, they can use the cash flowing into their merchant account from card swipes to avail of merchant credit advance.

Merchant cash advance companies ensure a quicker and easy access to money. Turning to a conventional lender for working capital needs is not always possible for a small business, nor in most cases is it simple. This swings the spotlight on merchant cash advance loans. A tailor-made financial product, Capital Float’s merchant cash advance option has benefited several Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Our association with several point-of-sale card machine vendors like Mswipe, ICICI Merchant Services, Pine Labs, Bijlipay and MRL Posnet enables a wide range of merchants to obtain customized working capital solutions from us in the form of a merchant cash advance loan.

Approaching merchant cash advance companies like Capital Float makes sound sense for SMEs in search of quick access to funds. Here are 5 important reasons why SMEs should opt for merchant cash advance loans over other types.

1- Broader loan range: Capital Float’s merchant cash advance loan offers SMEs the flexibility of choosing the exact amount of capital they need. Addressing credit requirements ranging from as low as Rs. 1 lakh to as high as Rs. 3 crores, this is a customized financing option based on the monthly card settlement of a business. A merchant credit advance loan is an ideal solution for those who have consistent card inflows as well as short-term investment requirements.

2- Flexible loan tenure:  Apart from offering the advantage of cashless transactions, point-of-sale machines can help speed up access to working capital. Capital Float’s merchant cash advance loan, based on card swipes comes with the benefit of flexible loan tenure. SMEs can opt for a 6-month or 12-month repayment term, making it easier to pay back the loan at their convenience.

Besides, payment to the merchant cash advance company varies directly with the merchant’s sales volumes. This means SMEs have the option of paying less during a low season. Additionally, with this innovative alternative, they need not pay monthly EMIs which are the norm in traditional small business loans; they can pay weekly or fortnightly installments too.

3-Get up to 200% of your monthly card settlement: Merchant credit advance loans work like a charm for retail businesses as well as restaurateurs. Given the high extent of card swipes in today’s digitized and connected world, one can receive financing up to 200% of monthly sales from card payment machines. Higher card swipes can mean a higher loan amount.

4- Apply anytime, anywhere: Typically, loan applications are a laborious process requiring several trips to the bank. But alternative financing options like merchant credit advance are anything but that. In fact, merchant cash advance companies offer a quick and hassle-free online application process, with forms that can be filled and uploaded anytime, from anywhere. The entire process of filling out an application form and submitting the required documents takes just 10 minutes. It is time to bid adieu to lengthy procedures and paperwork required for a conventional loan.

What’s more, at Capital Float we understand the value of quick access to credit. Meeting an unexpected business expense or leveraging a lucrative business opportunity can be a challenge for well-managed businesses. Utilizing innovative technology for speeding up loan approvals, Capital Float disburses merchant cash advance loans within 72 hours.

5. Simple pre-requisites: Merchant credit advance is something SMEs can easily apply and avail of. The prerequisites are simple and include the following qualifiers:

  • Operational history of one year
  • Minimum turnover of Rs 20,00,000
  • Card acceptance vintage of six months
  • Minimum monthly card volume of Rs 1,00,000
  • Minimum of six settlements per month

Personalized and transparent

Capital Float fully comprehends the fact that loan products need to be customized according to the needs of a business. Therefore, going for a financing option like merchant cash advance loan makes sound sense. SMEs receive exactly what they are looking for in terms of working capital; and the merchant credit advance is convenient in terms of repayment.

Capital Float believes in conducting business in a transparent manner; we do not levy any kind of hidden charge whatsoever. There is no pre-closure penalty either — another advantage in the merchant cash advance loan. The borrower is only obligated to pay a processing fee of up to 2% of the loan.

Capital Float aims to remove financial barriers that stand between SMEs and growth by providing easy access to capital.  Our merchant cash advance loans are a simple and secure means to bridge the credit gap that small businesses routinely face.

Oct 24, 2018

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6 things school owners must know before taking a School loan

Lack of adequate finance should not be a constraint when it concerns improving or a running education institution. There are several options in the financial market for school loans that can be procured to upgrade campus infrastructure, buy new equipment for your labs/classrooms, add new facilities for students and staff or any other productive purpose.

How to get loan for school” is no more a concern for prospective borrowers. The availability of multiple alternatives, however, makes it necessary for the borrowers to be aware of certain factors before they settle upon a particular source of funds. Let us look into six of these.

1. Does the loan require collateral?

Loans for private schools may be secured or unsecured. Many banks still ask borrowers for collateral to be pledged as security. While the low interest rate of such school loans may be alluring, the idea of hypothecating a valuable asset to the lender feels distressing. Fortunately, schools that cannot afford secured loans can get collateral-free finance from digitally enabled NBFCs, also known as FinTech companies. A FinTech lender usually does not require collateral, and issues loans based on the borrowers’ creditworthiness.

2. Is there a limit on the minimum loan amount to be taken?

Inflation rates warrant that nothing worth investing is cheap. However, why take a big loan that will entail much interest? FinTech companies keep an adequate range on the issuable loan amount to accommodate the needs of all institutions that want to apply for school loans. There are no rules requiring schools to apply for a large ‘minimum’ amount if they need merely 5-10 lakhs for the planned purpose.

3. What will be the tenure of the loan?

No institution would like to be debt-ridden for long. Payment of total interest is also high on long-term school loans. This is why it is advisable to check the tenure before accepting the funding from any lender. A FinTech company can be very accommodating and can provide a loan that can be paid back in only one year. A loan for educational institutions may also be stretched to three years.

4. What is the interest rate, processing fee and other charges on the loan?

While taking loans for private schools in India, check the interest rate and additional charges upfront. Banks and traditional NBFCs often have low interest, but their processing fee, documentation charges, legal fee, commission and a bunch of other charges may add up to a significant amount. At times, this is also necessary to cover their paper-centric loan approval process. Conversely, FinTechs that have a succinct digital application process charge a processing fee of up to 2.5%.

5. Are there any pre-closure charges?

Whether you are applying for a loan for construction of school building or to buy new equipment for teaching, your earnings may make it possible to pay off the outstanding balance earlier than its tenure. Such an eventuality is usually met with pre-closure penalties. It is advisable to check the rate of this fee before paying off a lump sum. As compared to banks, most FinTech companies have no or low prepayment charges on their loans.

6. How will the loan be repaid?

Along with the repayment charge, it is also good to check the repayment options for school loans. EMIs are the only way to pay off the debts availed from a majority of the traditional lenders. In comparison, FinTechs have flexible repayment options that can be adjusted as per the borrower’s preferences.

Capital Float is a leading FinTech lender for educational institutions in India. Visit https://www.capitalfloat.com/school-loans to know more about our school loans.

Oct 24, 2018

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We want to be in 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months: Gaurav Hinduja & Sashank Rishyasringa – Business Standard

Written by Alnoor Peermohamed

Bengaluru-based startup Capital Float, which lends to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), plans to grow its presence from 40 cities to a 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months. While sellers on e-commerce platforms make up a large chunk of whom the company lends to, it says it will focus more on tier 2 and tier 3 businesses, which might be solely offline but have the potential to grow massively. Gaurav Hinduja and Sashank Rishyasringa, founders of Capital Floatalk to Alnoor Peermohamed in the company’s plans. Edited excerpts:

The e-commerce segment is fairly new and there’s bound to be volatility. How do you think that might impact your business?

Hinduja: E-commerce merchants are the core to what we do and it’s an important vertical, but we’ve also diversified outside.

We do loans to a lot traditional SMEs — brick and mortar, manufacturing and service type of organisations because that segment is 30-40 million, whereas e-commerce is 100-200 thousand. I think almost all sellers sell on all marketplaces. And when we underwrite the business, we look at a combination of things. Sales across marketplaces, and how does that look across his offline sales as well, because a lot of sell offline. We look at a holistic view of the business before we actually decide to give the person a loan.

Data on sellers is harder to come by in the offline world. How are you tackling that?

Rishyasringa: You’ll be surprised as to how much data is available on any business in India and that’s very much a big part of the IP we’ve built since the early days. I think what we’ve been able to do is build a lot of pipes for data sources such as Aadhaar, NSDL, and a whole host of other government and legal databases.

The borrower is also able to give us access to a lot of data that we can then use in deciding what terms and what kind of loan to give them. For example, social media is a very interesting input that we consider in our underwriting model.

On the online piece, yes there is some additional data which helps with the speed of lending. So today we give real time approvals to e-commerce sellers in 10 to 15 minutes.

What is your primary source of raising capital?

Hinduja: Like most financial institutions we obviously raise equity right, and we have raised a little over Rs 100 crore from some of the best VCs, but also we have raised debt.

What are your sort of default rates? How are you working to keep them low?

Hinduja: Ironically, a lot of the bank’s defaulters are not coming from the SME sector. They’re actually coming from large borrowers. A lot of what we do is the underwriting, through different data, and we do that to keep our credit costs, which are defaults, et cetera, really low.

Today they are very low, I’d say 80-90 per cent better than any NBFC that lends to SMEs out there. That said, it is still early days. This is a lending business at the end of the day, there are going to be defaults.

What do you think will happen when guys like Alibaba increase their focus in India? Where do you fit in?

Rishyasringa: B2B e-commerce has the potential to be far larger than B2C e-commerce in India. And we think what Alibaba has been able to achieve in China and in India with its SME base for exporters and importers is tremendous.

We are partners with Alibaba. You can infer from that, that we’re already active in the space and its part of our strategy.

How is this partnership going to work?

Hinduja: They’re going to look at us to help get more SMEs to become active Alibaba users. But at the same time a lot of their SME merchant base will require financing, whether it’s for domestic transactions, or cross border transactions. They will look at a financer that really has the speed and the agility to meet the SMEs requirements in that sense.

What are your growth plans?

Hinduja: We want to be in 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months and obviously a lot of that growth is going to come from tier 2 and tier 3 towns. Because banks really don’t have a presence there.

While people and SMEs in the top 8-10 cities can still access a bank branch, bank branch penetration in those tier 2 tier 3 towns is almost negligible. I think that’s where we’ll see a lot of growth and through the make in India and e-commerce stuff you’ll see a lot of business growth in those cities as well.

What sort of regulatory hurdles do you see yourselves having to cross?

Rishyasringa: Actually in the financial services space I think we’ve got a very proactive regulator and what you’re seeing in these payment banks, small finance banks, e-KYC, I think these are all steps in the right direction and we obviously hope that we continue to see these steps.

News piece sourced from Business Standard. Read the full piece here.

Oct 24, 2018