Why Merchant Cash Advance is an ideal finance option for SMEs

Rajath Kumar

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.