Even though the SME sector is the proverbial “backbone” of the US economy, it still faces a lot of difficulties in accessing credit. Six in 10 businesses find it difficult to borrow, which is essential to expedite their growth plans. Around 58% of SMEs rely on bank loans, and 50% of SMEs use working capital to fund their businesses. This has led to a spurt in considering non-traditional channels like private equity (36%) and crowdsourcing (35%) for funding requirements. Though financing conditions have eased up after the 2008 financial crisis, there is still a massive demand-supply mismatch and alternative lenders are swiftly moving in to exploit the opportunities.
Following the growth trajectory of other industry players, PayPal, the online payments giant, has acquired Swift Financial, a leading provider of working capital solutions for small and medium enterprises in the U.S., in its bid to expand their working capital unit.
Swift Financial was founded in 2006 by Ed Harycki and is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. Since its inception, it has provided funding to more than 20,000 small businesses. Because of its unique technology platform that combines data, technology, and outstanding customer service, it has been recognized for its excellence by J.D. Power and was awarded “contact center operation customer satisfaction excellence in the live phone channel” under the J.D. Power Certified Contact Center Program. The company has developed sophisticated credit scoring and pricing tools and data.
Swift Financial had raised over $56 million before it agreed to sell itself to PayPal. Loan amount ranges from $5,000-$75,000, and the loan-term ranges from 13-52 weeks. The loan APR ranges from 2.5% to 18.75% and the median APR is 13.52%. It has originated loans worth $800 million (approximately). On average, Swift funds applications within 3 days.
PayPal enables its users to transact through their bank accounts, credit card companies, and more, while keeping their personal information discreet. In 2013, PayPal launched its lending arm. The Working Capital Unit provides cash advances to its clients based on their sales volume. It uses the data collected through its payment platform for assessing the creditworthiness of the borrowers. Since its launch in 2013, PayPal’s Working Capital Unit has provided more than $3 billion in funding to more than 115,000 small businesses (with maximum funding of up to $125,000). PayPal describes it lending arm, Working Capital Unit, as a strategic offering that drives merchants to increase their sales growth and helps in increasing processing volume.
How PayPal is Charting Its Own Path
After being acquired by eBay in 2002, PayPal split from the multi-national ecommerce J.D. J.D. PowerPowers company in 2015. It listed itself on NASDAQ under the ticker PYPL. Since then, it has been trying to chart its own path. 2017, particularly, has been busy for the company as it has been expanding partnerships and acquiring businesses that will help the company create a financial services behemoth.
- Partnered with Skype (August 2)
- Expanded relationship with JP Morgan Chase (July 20)
- Expanded partnership with Citibank (July 20)
- Finalized acquisition of TIO Networks (July 18)
- Expanded partnership with Samsung (July 17)
- Launched capability to pay for app store purchases using PayPal (July 11)
- Launched instant bank account transfers (June 20)
- Enabled Android users on Chrome to authorize PayPal purchases with their fingerprint (May 17)
- Extended partnership with Google (April 18)
Apart from the above-mentioned partnerships and acquisitions, one of its biggest pushes into alternative lending is acquiring Swift Financial to bolster its lending arm Working Capital Unit. The company should have been a leader in the space considering the share of online payments it controls, but had lagged behind rivals like Kabbage and OnDeck in the previous years.
The Reason PayPal Acquired Swift Financial
PayPal’s current market cap is around $70 billion; company’s 2nd quarter revenue was $3.14 billion, a jump of 20% year over year. It has added 22 million active accounts, and its mobile payment volumes have increased by 50% since the second quarter of 2016. Its Venmo payment volume was up by 103% to $8 billion in the second quarter of this year. It has the resources to dominate the segment, and Swift Financial will give it that much-needed shot in the arm.
The company earlier entered into a commercial white-label partnership with Swift Financial for providing affordable funding solutions to small businesses. It is anticipated that the acquisition of Swift Financial will enable PayPal to expand its lending ecosystem. The acquisition will allow PayPal to increase its maximum loan size from the current $125,000 to almost $500,000. PayPal sales were dependent on serving merchants on it’s own platform. This allows PayPal to create a different sales funnel and introduce new merchants to its bouquet of products. Cross-selling opportunities are immense and will surely add a lot of value to the deal in the future.
Moreover, Swift Financial’s technology platform will provide supplementary data to PayPal’s underwriting algorithm that will help it to fully understand a business’s strength and will also support PayPal in offering add-on financial services to its clients.
Impact on SME Lending
According to the Small Business Administration, there were approximately 28.8 million small businesses in the United States representing 99.7% of all businesses. Considering the multi-trillion-dollar market opportunity, and the gap while accessing credit from traditional sources, makes the Swift Financial acquisition by PayPal extremely strategic.
Since their inception, Kabbage and OnDeck have originated loans worth over $10 billion combined. A number of tech companies have set up their own lending arms to encourage spending. Amazon set up Amazon Lending in 2011 and has so far loaned out $3 billion to SMEs. Square Capital, which was launched in 2014, passed $1 billion in loans originated in November 2016. It became imperative for the company of PayPal’s size and stature to do something radical and big in order to stay in touch with its rivals. PayPal’s move is considered a bold move and a strong statement of intent.
Acquisition of Swift Finance will provide a strong foundation to PayPal’s ambition of becoming a leader in the SME lending segment. PayPal’s infrastructure, database, and big pockets means that you can bet safely that the company will be a force to reckon with in this growing industry segment.
Written by Heena Dhir.