Secured Vs Unsecured Business Loans: The Difference and How it Matters for SMEs

To sustain their business growth, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sometimes need additional working capital, and the most direct way of getting it is to apply for a loan.

With business loans coming from banks, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and private money lenders, SMEs have multiple sources to get funding for their operations and expansion. However, these credit options have their pros and cons and should be understood to choose the most helpful alternative.

Secured vs Unsecured Business Loan

Most companies are familiar with the idea of a secured business loan that requires them to offer the lender some collateral as a security against the funding provided. The credit here is issued when the borrower hypothecates a financial asset to the lender. The hypothecation ends only when the entire principal, together with interest and any other associated charges, is fully paid off.

Banks and most other conventional sources of finance are more willing to offer secured loans because from the lender’s point of view, these carry less risk than unsecured funding.

The main advantage for a borrower taking a secured business loan is that the interest on such credit is lower since a guarantee of their asset backs the loan.

Conversely, the challenge is that lenders, particularly banks, accept only selective assets as collateral. They need to ascertain that such an asset can be liquidated in minimum time in case the lender defaults on payment. Due to this condition, many SMEs find it difficult to get secured loans. They may not have assets that are considered as relevant or sufficiently valuable by the lender.

An unsecured business loan, on the other hand, is granted without any collateral. A non-banking finance company with a digital lending model offers such loans based on the creditworthiness of borrowers. If a business has a successful operational history of at least one year, and there are no blots on its previous credit history, it is eligible to get its unsecured business loan from a digitally operating NBFC, also known as a FinTech company.

For an enterprise that has no collateral for business loans, it is natural to opt for an unsecured loan even though the interest charged on this is slightly higher than on secured loans. However, some FinTech companies have created additional benefits with their policies that make unsecured business loan better than secured loans on multiple fronts.

While looking at secured vs unsecured business loan, these are some of the advantages that make the latter more valuable for start-ups and SMEs:

  • An unsecured business loan is available for short terms – borrowers can take a working capital loan for a tenure of less than one year and thus avoid the burden of debt on long term.
  • A FinTech lending company usually has a fully digital application process for its unsecured loans – it takes less than 10 minutes to complete the application and the documents to verify the information therein can also be uploaded online.
  • The time taken to receive funds from a FinTech in the business bank account is less than a week – the application is usually reviewed on the same day when it is submitted, and, if approved, the sum is disbursed in the next 2-3 business days.
  • A loan processing fee of up to 2% and the interest rate are usually the only charges on a FinTech company’s unsecured business loan – the borrowers do not have to pay any documentation fee, loan insurance premium, legal fee and other hidden charges.
  • The repayment options are more flexible for unsecured loans issued by FinTechs – the borrowers can pay off the loan sooner than the predetermined schedule, and maybe charged a nominal pre-closure charge for making the payment.

For an SME that does not have financial assets to hypothecate and needs faster access to cash, will find unsecured business loan better than secured funding.

Here is a summarised view of the features for Secured Vs Unsecured Business Loan:

Secured Business loans from Institutional lenders Unsecured business loans from FinTech companies
Collateral required Backed by a financial asset for collateral No collateral / Security
Advertised interest rate (annual) Between 12% and 24% Between 18% and 24%
Loan processing fee >= 2% <= 2%
Extra charges May have extra charges for documentation, loan insurance and other statutory requirements No extra or hidden charges
Time to get funds into account 1 to 6 weeks 72 hours
Loan application process Digital and paper-based, document-intensive loan application Fully digitalised loan application and document submission
Repayment of loan Only through EMIs Flexible repayment options

Capital Float is a leading FinTech company that asks for no collateral for business loans. We have customised our loans for a variety of business purposes and working capital needs. Our short-term unsecured business loans are issued purely on the creditworthiness of the borrowers and the potential of an organisation to pay back in time. We evaluate every loan application within minutes of its submission to provide the decision on the same day.

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If you have an attractive business opportunity to capitalise upon, do not put off your plans. Talk to a representative in our customer service team at 1860 419 0999 and avail yourself of the benefits of a loan without collateral.

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Taxes Subsumed under GST & the Components of GST

With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) set to roll out on July 01, 2017, expectations and anxieties are high with individual taxpayers and businesses trying to gear up for a brand new tax regime.

Components of GST

To be able to make the most of the new indirect taxation law, taxpayers need to understand its components well.

The GST Council which was set up by the Central Government to execute GST implementation, has proposed a new tax framework-structure for GST.

First and foremost, GST represents a “One Nation, One Tax” outlook, which is necessary to do away with multi-tax regimes that lead to inefficiencies such as cascading taxes, levy of excise at the point of manufacturing and lack of uniformity in tax levies. Currently, Goods and Services are taxed under various disparate tax categories such as Excise Duty, VAT or Central Sales Tax, Service Tax (in the case of services dispensed) and Customs Duty (for imports). Some of these taxes are levied by the Central government, and others by the state government. A unified approach— GST— will help do away with these complexities by enabling a single tax regime right from manufacturer to consumer. It is important to know that GST is a destination-based tax i.e., the tax is credited to the taxation authority whose jurisdiction prevails at the place of consumption (also called the place of supply). Moreover, GST will be levied on value-addition, by allowing for input tax credit at each stage of the transaction chain.

GST Structure

GST will have four slabs of indirect taxation: 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%, with goods and services attracting any of these slab percentages depending on various factors such as being a luxury good/service. The current indirect tax structure will give way to a Dual GST model, with the Centre and States simultaneously levying GST on a common tax base, as follows:

  • Central GST Bill (CGST): For intra-state transactions related to supply of goods and/or services, levied by the Centre.
  • State or Union Territory GST Bill (SGST or UTGST): For the supply of goods and/or services in the States and Union Territories, levied by the States/Union Territories.
  • Integrated GST Bill (IGST): For inter-state transactions and imports related to supply of goods and/or services, carried out by the Centre.

Under this structure, the CGST and SGST/UTGST will be levied simultaneously on the same price or value. Here is an example of how this will happen: Consider a steel supplier who manufactures in Jharkhand and supplies steel to another company within Jharkhand. Let us assume the rate of CGST to be 10% and SGST to be 7% and the selling price of the steel to be Rs. 100. The supplier will charge the client a CGST of Rs 10 and SGST of Rs 7. The supplier needs to deposit Rs 10 in his Centre taxation account, and Rs. 7 in the State taxation account. Due to input credit facility, the supplier has the option of setting off the total payment (Rs 17) against the tax he paid on his purchases or inputs. However, these credit values cannot be mixed—for CGST-setoffs he can utilize only the CGST credit; for SGST-setoffs he can utilize only SGST credit.

Dual GST

A Dual-GST is particularly suitable for the Indian economy because in India both the Centre and States are assigned the duty of levying and collecting taxes. So far, the Constitution clearly demarcated the tax levying and collection duties of the Centre and State, with the Centre responsible for taxing the manufacture of goods, and the State responsible for taxing the sale of goods. For services, only the Centre was allowed to levy Service Tax. To override this segregation of power, and enable the smooth implementation of GST, a Constitutional amendment (Constitution Act, 2016) was made so as to simultaneously empower the Centre and the States to levy and collect this tax. With this amendment, the Dual GST regime will now align well with the fiscal federal protocols of India.

Taxes subsumed under GST

The following are the disparate taxes (levied by the Centre and States) which will be subsumed under the new dual-GST regime.

(A) Taxes currently levied and collected by the Centre:

  • Central Excise Duty
  • Duties of Excise (Medicinal and Toilet Preparations)
  • Additional Duties of Excise (Goods of Special Importance)
  • Additional Duties of Excise (Textiles and Textile Products)
  • Additional Duties of Customs (commonly known as CVD)
  • Special Additional Duty of Customs (SAD)
  • Service Tax
  • Central Surcharges and Cesses so far as they relate to supply of goods and services

(B) Taxes currently levied and collected by the States:

  • State VAT
  • Central Sales Tax
  • Luxury Tax
  • Entry Tax (all forms)
  • Entertainment and Amusement Tax (except when levied by the local bodies)
  • Taxes on advertisements
  • Purchase Tax
  • Taxes on lotteries, betting and gambling
  • State Surcharges and Cesses so far as they relate to supply of goods and services

The taxes to be subsumed were decided after intense debate and consideration of some core principles that were in line with the GST ethos. Each tax was first examined to ensure it qualified for indirect taxation and was related to the supply of goods or services. Moreover, a tax which was to be subsumed needed to be part of the transaction chain right from imports through manufacturing to the provision of services and the consumption of goods/services. Another important criteria to allow a tax to be subsumed was that the subsumation should lead to free flow of tax credit at Intra- and inter-State levels. Also, the revenue considerations of both the Centre and the State were taken into perspective while arriving at the final list of subsumed taxes.

Clearly, the change is huge, and the sooner consumers and businesses get familiar with the implications on Term finances, the better they will be equipped to benefit from the new GST reforms.

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Oct 24, 2018

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What Makes Unsecured Business Loans Safe for Your Small Business?

Unsecured small business loans are considered as one of the safest ways to raise short-term finance for meeting the working capital requirements or urgent funding needs of a business. The safety feature is attributable to the fact that these unsecured small business loans do not require any collateral or security in the form of assets of a business. Most small businesses do not have adequate assets to offer as collateral. The elimination of the need for collateral makes it possible for such businesses to raise loans.

Recent years have witnessed the launch of new-age lenders and the introduction of products that have revolutionized unsecured business loans in India. This is not merely via the easy access to funds, but also offering customized solutions for different businesses and tying the repayments to the accounts receivables or inflows from credit card sales of a business.

Ensure uninterrupted business operations

Often small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need funds for their daily operations to ensure the smooth functioning of their business. Funds may be required to purchase raw materials, pay wages and salaries, clear utility bills and meet unexpected expenses. SMEs may also need immediate funds to grab a business opportunity or take advantage of a seasonal upswing in the demand for their products. These funds are required before a business services its customers and raises invoices. The lack of availability of funds at this time can threaten the very survival of a business and, at the least, could throttle any growth opportunities.

This is when unsecured small business loans come to the rescue. SMEs are able to sustain their businesses with the help of such funding options.

The main reason behind the increasing popularity of unsecured small business loans in India is their easy availability. Only a few years back, businesses had no other option but to approach banks and other traditional financial institutions to raise funds. Even if a business could satisfy the stringent eligibility criteria for loans, it could take months before the funds were disbursed.

With the emergence of FinTech lenders, it has become possible to secure funds in a matter of days. Such lenders use the latest technology to assist the loan approval process, making the sanctioning and disbursal of loans swift and easy. Such loans are safe because they are easily available and ideal for preventing any disruption to operations.

Protect Your Bottom-Line

Most SMEs are unable to meet the eligibility criteria put forth by traditional financial institutions. In fact, it was impractical to approach banks for urgent liquidity needs, given their long-drawn approval processes. Thus, most businesses were left to the mercy of unorganized money lenders who would charge steep interest rates.

FinTech lenders now offer loans that are easy to access, with faster approval processes and more affordable interest rates. With these solutions in place, businesses can protect their bottom-line by raising unsecured business loans without paying exorbitant rates of interest charged by unorganized moneylenders.

Flexible Repayment Options

Unsecured business loans come with flexible repayment options. The term of the loan could range from six months to three years. The repayments can be on a daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. Some products like Capital Float’s Online Seller Finance and Merchant Cash Advances link repayment to the operating cycle or receivables and credit card sales of the business. This flexibility puts a business in a better position to make repayments. Since the repayment is a specific percentage of the monthly sales, there is no added pressure on the borrower to repay the loan. This also ensures that the borrower is not stressed about repayments when business is slow.

No Restriction on Use of Funds

When a business takes an unsecured short-term loan, the lender does not impose any restriction on how the business deploys these funds, unlike in the case of secured loans. The borrower can use the loan amount to fund daily operations, purchase raw materials, pay utility bills or market its business.

Flexible Loan Size

In the case of a secured loan, the amount that a business can borrow is determined by the value of the collateral. In the case of unsecured business loans, the amount can be determined by the need for funds. With Capital Float’s Merchant Cash Advances, a business can borrow any amount ranging between ₹1 lakh and ₹1 crore. Although the amount is correlated to the credit/debit card payments to a business, the loan can be as high as 200% of the monthly card settlement.

Related: How to Get Collateral Free SME Loans for Your Business in India

Defaulting on Repayment of Unsecured Small Business Loans

Unlike in the case of secured loans, a lender cannot seize any assets of the business in case of a nonpayment of the loan amount. However, defaulting on a loan can have serious consequences. A business may not be able to take another loan once it has defaulted in repaying one. The failure to meet repayment obligations could end in a lawsuit.

Prior to taking such serious measures; however, lenders would offer options to make it easier for a business to repay the loan. If a business is unable to repay a loan as per the scheduled timeline, the best thing to do is to contact the lender to explain the reasons for default and to set a revised repayment plan.

In fact, most experts advise SMEs to build a long-term relationship with the lender. Unsecured loans can be taken on a recurring basis, making money available exactly when a business needs it and planning repayments when the business is expecting an inflow of funds from customers.

Oct 24, 2018

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Impact of GST on Your Day to Day Business

The Goods and Services Tax or GST goes live on July 1, 2017, but the process of consolidation and enrolment has already begun. Aiming to standardise indirect taxation in the country as far as goods and services are concerned, the GST will have a multi-fold and direct impact on the workings of businesses, whether large corporate houses or SMEs.

A quick overview of GST will help businesses understand its implications play to its advantage.

About GST

GST is a standardisation of the indirect taxation regime across the nation, leading to subsuming of many earlier state and central tax regime laws. Now, goods and services will be taxed under four basic slabs—5%, 12%, 18% or 28%—creating a new norm in indirect taxation. Traditionally, indirect taxes have had a very significant impact on businesses, particularly on their working capital. A number of taxes such as VAT, Service Tax, Excise Tax and others have resulted in huge contributions to the government and in effect, a huge expense for businesses. The hidden nature of indirect taxes, often spreading across multiple stages of the product cycle, has been a significant drain on working capital. Typically, the proportion of indirect taxes is significantly more in tax collections in developing countries, as compared to developed countries, where the share of direct taxation is significantly higher.

With the implementation of the GST, tax buckets are set to change, as also the way of doing business, as the cash outflow and timelines are about to be significantly affected. Working capital is the lifeline of a business, one that keeps it up and running. Especially for SMEs, it helps carry on day-to-day operations, which are critical to business continuity and success.

Here are some key GST changes that will directly affect your business and working capital flows.

  1. Input tax credit changes: As per the existing taxation system, any tax paid on a business expense that is not directly related to taxable sales is not available as credit. For example, any tax paid on advertising expenses will not be available as credit. GST has a new concept called the “Furtherance of Business” under which it allows credit of any kind of input for business to be “used or intended to be used in the course of or for the furtherance of business”. Now, a businessman can claim credit for tax paid on advertising services as well, giving the businessman significant leeway. The positive outcome is that cost of operations will greatly reduce, and net margins will increase, thereby bettering the working capital flow of the business, and perhaps the line of credit in the future.
  2. Claims due to inverted duty structure: An inverted duty structure is one where inputs are taxed higher than outputs i.e., raw material excise duty is higher (12.5%) than finished goods (6%), leading to a situation where the excess i.e., 6.5% is unused and gets accumulated. Under the current regime, this excess is not refundable. With the introduction of GST, businesses can now claim the unutilized input tax credit accumulated due to inverted duty structure. This, coupled with a speedy claims process, is a boon to boost the working capital of businesses.
  3. Timeliness of input tax credit: Currently, the input credit that a businessman avails is not captured in real-time, or in other words, in line with the current tax liability of the supplier. With GST, the input tax credit amount will depend on the compliance level of the supplier, making it compulsory for the supplier to declare the outward supplies along with the tax payment.  In a way, you might be responsible for your supplier’s failure to furnish valid returns. This may mean a dip in your cash flows since the input credit tax that you have claimed will be reversed and you will be expected to pay interest too, apart from losing out on the credit. GST will thus mandate businesses to manage their vendors very effectively. Review your current vendors and continuously monitor compliance levels to avoid this concern.
  4. Advance tax payments: Under the GST regime, tax needs to be paid on advance receipt dates. This is a major change, since so far this was applicable to only service tax under the current system. Now, if an advance is received against supply at a later date, the tax is liable to be paid on the date of advance receipt. The matter becomes worrisome since even though the business pays tax in advance, it cannot be claimed under the bucket of input tax credit immediately. It can be availed only once the goods or services are received.
  5. Taxation of stock transfers: The current VAT rules do not treat stock transfers as “goods” or “services”. However, with the GST, this changes—stock transfers are included under the category of goods/services and are taxable. This change will directly impact companies’ cash flows because the tax is to be paid on the date of stock transfer, whereas input tax credit can be availed of on the date of stock liquidation. How the working capital holds up in the interim period can be a crucial element to maintaining the working capital levels of the company
  6. The impact of location in offsetting credit: The prevailing Service Tax regime allows for centralised, pan-India registration of business. As a result, there are no restrictions on availing input tax credit across locations. However, under GST, different state entities need to be registered separately. These will be under varying jurisdictions depending on whether they come under the Central GST Bill, Integrated GST Bill or the Union Territory GST Bill. There are certain restrictions to offset a Central GST tax with an Integrated GST tax and so on. This may create difficulties in offsetting tax input credits across locations. For example, you may not be able to offset tax liabilities of one state branch with another state branch. Your liquidity may not be useful, even though it is available, creating an undesirable working capital situation.
  7. It is clear that businesses will need to exert more caution as they transition to GST. A detailed scrutiny of current tax commitments and the impact of the four bills depending on operational locations must be done at the outset to ensure healthy levels of working capital. It is also recommended to explore opportunities for availing working capital finance, or options for a line of credit by looking for the latest financing products such as those offered by Capital Float. Our customised, innovative loan offerings include term finance and online seller finance among others to ease working capital woes that SMEs routinely face. Click here for more.

Oct 24, 2018