In December 2007, I wrote a post entitled 2008 Merchant Cash Advance Industry Predictions and being that we are now just halfway through 2008, I wanted to follow up on this previous posting.
It looks like it's only 1/2 way through the year and I went 3 for 4 on my merchant cash advance industry predictions with 6 months to go for the fourth one to come true.
Here is a recap:
1) Underwriting will tighten up / approval rates will go down - this one I definitely hit on the head. Between a combination of a down economy, merchant cash advance providers working together to prevent fraud and many merchant cash advance providers that have either lost or in jeopardy of losing their credit lines, it's common knowledge that while merchant cash advance submissions are way up as a whole, the industry approval % is down double digits %s. This low approval rate has actually driven many large, high overhead MCA brokers to either lay off employees or completely shut down because some of the "junk paper" that was approved in 2007, simply no MCA provider will accept now.
2) Sales Agent Commissions will stabilize and/or decrease - in 2007 we saw some companies paying extravagant sales agent commissions that simply didn't make sense. One would think they were trying to buy marketshare. I would imagine after they reviewed their financials / profitability, they realized they couldn't make money paying out the type of commissions they were, hence the marketplace has adjusted accordingly. Some merchant cash advance providers / merchant cash advance agents have actually raised their cost to the customer to maintain some of these commissions.
3) Self Regulation - In December 2007, I had indicated that:
"The industry has grown to large and has too many providers to not have best practices / industry standards in place. In 2008, I believe you will see a group of the key merchant cash industry players come together to announce a set of best practices for not only the merchant, but practices to protect the merchant cash advance providers as well."
In April 2008, a merchant cash advance industry trade association called the The North American Merchant Advance Association was announced to promote best practices as well as allow the leading merchant cash advance providers to work together to introduce various risk tools to combat merchant fraud.
4) Mergers & Acquisitions - In 2008 I believe we will see the first major merger and/or aquisiton in the merchant cash advance industry.
While we haven't seen any significant US merchant cash advance provider merge with or acquire another US based provider, I still think we have some time to go. There is a huge upside in the merchant cash advance industry for private equity firms looking to enter this space. We did see a private equity firm make an investment in one leading merchant cash advance provider so far this year and I expect there will be some other deals done this year as well.