Merchant Cash Advance

Merchant cash advance companies provide funds to businesses in exchange for a percentage of the businesses' daily credit card income, directly from the processor that clears and settles the credit card payment. A company's remittances are drawn from customers' debit and credit-card purchases on a daily basis until the obligation has been met. Most providers form partnerships with payment processors and then take a fixed or variable percentage of a merchant's future credit card sales.

These merchant cash advances are not loans — rather, they are a sale of a portion of future credit and/or debit card sales. Therefore, merchant cash advance transactions are not subject to state usury laws that limit lenders from charging high-interest rates. Critics argue that, as a consequence, they operate in a largely unregulated market and charge much higher rates than banks. On June 10, 2016, a New York Supreme Court judge presiding over a published merchant cash advance case ruled that "if the transaction is not a loan, there can be no usury," adding also that asking the court to convert an agreement to sell future receivables into a loan agreement "would require unwarranted speculation." 

This structure may have some advantages over the structure of a conventional loan. Payments to the merchant cash advance company fluctuate directly with the merchant's sales volumes, giving the merchant greater flexibility with which to manage their cash flow, particularly during a slow season. Advances are processed quicker than a typical loan, giving borrowers quicker access to capital. Also, because MCA providers typically give more weight to the underlying performance of a business than the owner’s personal credit scores, merchant cash advances offer an alternative to businesses who may not qualify for a conventional loan. An example transaction is as follows: A business sells $25,000 of a portion of its future credit card sales for an immediate $20,000 lump sum payment from a finance company. The finance company then collects its portion (generally 15-35%) from every credit card and/or debit card sale until the entire $25,000 is collected.

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