Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) is gaining popularity among small and mid-sized businesses as a means to get quick, low-risk funds. As the industry matures, top industry leaders are trying to set standards to ensure just and equitable treatment of business owners. It is necessary to protect the image of the MCA industry to ensure its popularity and longevity in business.
MCA providers are not creditors as they purchase credit card sales of a business on a discount. Their activities are not regulated by the same laws as banks and other loaning agencies. Industry leaders have voluntarily banded together to form the North American Merchant Advance Association (NAMAA) to regulate activities of the MCA industry. NAMAA hopes to weed out unscrupulous providers trying to cheat small business owners, and make merchants aware of unethical MCA collection tactics.
Top industry leaders have established ‘best practices’ for MCA providers to ensure responsible funding. Knowledge of these norms also prevents merchants from being swindled by disreputable providers. Merchants should follow these guidelines when looking for an MCA provider:
Clear terms of contract
The contract between the merchant and the MCA provider should be clearly understood by the merchant. Check that the provider has not referred to the business advance as a loan or mentioned any personal guarantees. Some service providers offer MCA as part of a package. Make sure there is no ambiguity in the contract before signing on the dotted line.
MCA provider should verify business’ performance
MCA providers do not trust in the profitability of a business blindly. They verify the credit card sales of the previous year and the credit score of the business. This information is easily verifiable and the business advance is disbursed to the merchant within one week. Do not trust a provider who promises a quick business advance without verifying your business’ credit history.
Collection rates should be appropriate
Merchants take out an MCA to maintain cash flow to continue business operations. Unscrupulous providers charge inappropriate collection rates such that the business has no chance of making profit. The MCA industry sets a standard for reasonable collection rates so that the business has sufficient margin to function profitably.
Collection rates are always fixed
MCA providers that suggest variable collection rates should be avoided. The contract clearly states the percentage of the credit card sales that will be received by the provider. Any change in the percentage of the credit card sales needs the approval of the merchant. Make sure the contract does not have any veiled terms and conditions for hiking collection rates.
Merchant cash providers have a business model that works well for small business owners. MCA is attractive to merchants as it is obtained faster than bank loans through an easy application process. However, the MCA industry is still young and must maintain its image by ensuring fair play and shaking out dishonest players. Merchants should follow the guidelines laid down by the MCA industry to push crooked MCA providers out of business.