Quicken Loans’ billion-dollar gamble pays off

There must be a billion ways for a company to create buzz.

Quicken Loans picked the billionth — and won.

Say what you will about the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge with Yahoo Sports. But the contest, which magically latched on to the mania of March Madness with the promise of a possible $1 billion prize for anyone who picked the winner of every tournament game, put Quicken Loans in rare PR air.

How rare? Try 1 billion social media and PR impressions since the contest began, estimates Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer, in an interview with USA TODAY. This comes at a time when Quicken is on a marketing roll. In its bid to reach young folks ready to buy homes, Quicken on Monday announced a PGA sponsorship. It recently announced a second NASCAR race sponsorship.

Whats more, brand awareness for Quicken — the second-largest retail lender in America, next to Wells Fargo — shot up a whopping 300% since the contest began vs. prior to February, he says.

Then there are new customer leads. While Farner is reluctant to be specific on this, he says the contest elicited millions and millions of new customer leads — though that wasnt its focus, he says. The focus, he says, was engagement. The contest, which was free to enter, had a limit of 15 million entries — but he declined to state if it reached that number.

In effect, it was a wildly successful data generation exercise, says Steve Barrett, editor in chief of PR Week. Once you have the data, its like gold dust.

The stunt already is being recognized by some as 2014s best PR move. This is easily one of the best PR stunts of 2014, says PR veteran Peter Madden. They created a tremendous campaign — part magic and part madness.

Its a one-in-a-million promo that works at all levels, says brand guru Robert Passikoff.

Did we forget to mention that it even linked-up with Warren Buffett — whose company insured the 9.2-quintillion-to-1 bet? (Odds so good, that the possibility of a billion dollar winner were eliminated days after the three-week tournament began.) Still, $2 million in prize money will be divided up among the top 20 bracket winners. And another $1 million goes to youth charities.

So successful has the ongoing contest been, that executives already are discussing next years version. Buffet Buffett, too, has publicly stated interest though we havent had a specific conversation with him, says Farner.

The only potential downside for Quicken: Buffett may have garnered even more attention than did Quicken, says Barrett.

Buffett might not have been rooting for a $1 billion winner, but if Farner had his way, somebody would have won the big prize. Im paying him for the insurance. I wanted someone to win this thing.


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Your Money: Secure your own retirement before gifting assets to family and charity

Tad, 68, and Wendy, 65, have raised three children, and now theyre focusing on retirement. Huge on their to-do list is preserving their assets so they can leave something behind for their children.

We have deferred collecting Social Security for Wendy until she reaches age 70. We have applied for spousal benefits in its place, Tad says. We will withdraw from my IRA to cover any income shortfall.

They also want to leave their bodies to science, specifically to the UMDNJ cadaver donation program.

The couple also plans to convert assets from Tads IRA to a Roth IRA while theyre in a lower tax bracket, and they want to gift assets to minimize their estates exposure in the event they ever need Medicaid.

The couple, whose names have changed, have saved $562,000 in IRAs, $27,400 in a brokerage account, $4,000 in savings and $2,000 in checking.


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For Conservatives Like Paul Ryan, How You Make Your Money Is What Really …

Economic policies often rest on assumptions about human motivation.

Rep. Ryan (Republican of Wisconsin):

The left is making a big mistake here. What theyre offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. People dont just want a life of comfort. They want a life of dignity — of self-determination.

Fox News has been hitting the theme of Entitlement Nation lately. The conservative case against things like food stamps, Medicare, welfare, unemployment benefits, etc., rests on some easily understood principles of motivation and economics.

  1. Giving money or things to a person creates dependency and saps the desire to work. Thats bad for the person and bad for the country
  2. A person working for money is good for the person and the country.
  3. We want to encourage work
  4. We do not want to encourage dependency
  5. Taxing something discourages it.

Now that youve mastered these, heres the test question:

According to conservatives, which should be taxed more heavily:

a. money a person earns by working
b. money a person receives without working, for example because someone else died and left it in their will

If you said b, youd better go back to conservative class. A good conservative believes that the money a person gets without working for it should not be taxed at all.*

Not all such money, of course. Lottery tickets are bought disproportionately by lower-income people. If a person gets income by winning the PowerBall or some other lottery, the federal government taxes the money as income. conservatives do not object. But if a person gets income by winning the rich-parent lottery, conservatives think he or she should not pay any taxes.

What conservatives are saying to you is this: if you work for your money is not as good as instead of inheriting it.** This message seems to contradict the principles listed above. But, as Jon Stewart recently pointed out, conservatives apply those principles of economics and motivational psychology only to the poor, not to wealthy individuals or corporations.

Me, Im with Rep. Ryan on this one. I think that the children of the wealthy would not at all mind paying considerable taxes on their inheritance. What abolishing inheritance taxes offers people is a full stomach (not to mention a full bank account, stock portfolio, a full house or two, etc.) but an empty soul. To repeat the Wisdom from Wisconsin: People dont just want a life of comfort. They want a life of dignity — of self-determination.

Unfortunately, conservatives want to take away that dignity and self-determination.

——-

* Conservatives like to call the inheritance tax the death tax as though a person is being taxed for dying. But its not the deceased who is being taxed. Its the lucky people who are given the money.

** Conservatives also favor lower taxes on other ways of getting money that are available mostly the wealthy and involve little or no work — gambling on stocks and more complicated derivatives for example.

Jay Livingston is the chair of the Sociology Department at Montclair State University. This post first appeared on his blog montclairsoci.blogspot.com


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Special Report – How China’s official bank card is used to smuggle money

MACAU (Reuters) – Growing numbers of Chinese are using the countrys state-backed bankcards to illegally spirit billions of dollars abroad, a Reuters examination has found.

This underground money is flowing across the border into the gambling hub of Macau, a former Portuguese colony that like Hong Kong is an autonomous region of China. And the conduit for the cash is the Chinese government-supported payment card network, China UnionPay.

In a warren of gritty streets around Macaus ritzy casino resorts, hundreds of neon-lit jewellery, watch and pawn shops are doing a brisk business giving mainland Chinese customers cash by allowing them to use UnionPay cards to make fake purchases – a way of evading Chinas strict currency-export controls.

On a recent day at the Choi Seng Jewellery and Watches company, a middle-aged woman strode to the counter past dusty shelves of watches. She handed the clerk her UnionPay card and received HK$300,000 ($50,000) in cash. She signed a credit card receipt describing the transaction as a general sale, stuffed the cash into her handbag and strolled over to the Ponte 16 casino next door.

The withdrawal far exceeded the daily limit of 20,000 yuan, or $3,200 (1,925.62 pounds) (1,925.51 pounds), in cash that individual Chinese can legally move out of the mainland. Dont worry, said a store clerk when asked about the legality of the transaction. Everyone does this.

Internal discussion documents prepared by UnionPay and by financial authorities in Macau and China show these fake sale cash-backs are widespread in such retail stores. The practice violates Chinas anti-money-laundering regulations as well as restrictions on currency exports, according to Chinese central bank documents reviewed by Reuters. Chinese authorities also fear the UnionPay conduit is being used by corrupt officials and business people to send money out of the country.

Its unclear why the central bank, the Peoples Bank of China (PBOC), hasnt cracked down harder on the practice, although the documents Reuters reviewed show the bank was aware it had become a growing problem.

Industry experts point to a weak enforcement culture in China, a reluctance to hurt Macau financially with 80 percent of the citys revenues drawn from gambling, and a willingness to tolerate some capital flight – especially if it can be tracked through names on bank cards. Moreover, the rapid growth of UnionPay, including the spread of its terminals at retail stores across the world, is playing a key role in Chinas strategy for making the yuan a global currency.

No one knows for sure how much Chinese money is being channelled illegally into Macau. Tam Chi Keong, an assistant professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology, puts the total at HK$1.57 trillion (121.5 billion pounds) a year through various channels.. Tam says his estimate is based on his analysis of Macaus finances and interviews with gambling industry participants.

A senior UnionPay executive said the Shanghai-based company has long been aware of the payment card abuse in Macau and elsewhere, but was limited in its ability to act. Thats because the primary responsibility lies with authorities in Macau or any other country where the fraud is taking place, he said.

The problem you are talking about has existed for several years, said the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. We have continuously taken measures.

THE GOVERNMENTS SON

Though relatively unknown in the West, UnionPay has quietly grown to become one of the biggest card brands and payment networks in the world, accepted in 142 countries. There are more UnionPay cards in circulation now than any other brand – 3.53 billion, or nearly a quarter of the worlds total, according to the industry newsletter, the Nilson Report. Visa remains the world leader by transaction value with $4.6 trillion in card transactions in the first half of 2013; UnionPay was second with $2.5 trillion.

If UnionPay poses a problem for Chinese authorities, it is a problem of their own making. The card brand is often seen as an arm of Chinese state policy.

UnionPay was established in 2002 by the PBOC and the State Council or Cabinet. Its founding shareholders were 85 Chinese banks, led by the five biggest state-owned banks. Former senior PBOC officials still fill the companys top ranks, including UnionPays current chairman, Su Ning, and its former president, Xu Luode. They declined requests to be interviewed.

UnionPay dominates the card market in China thanks to a central bank decree that requires all card issuers, including foreign ones, to process their yuan-based transactions through UnionPays electronic payment network. All Chinese merchants and automated teller machines are required to process their yuan transactions through UnionPay. The World Trade Organization in July 2012 ruled that China was discriminating against foreign card brands, but it made no specific recommendations. Foreign card brands still have to use UnionPay for settlements in China.

UnionPays increasing use overseas is part of Beijings multi-pronged strategy to eventually open up Chinas capital account and internationalize the yuan, which is formally known as the renminbi or yuan. Beijing also eased restrictions on many kinds of capital transfers as it gradually loosens up control over the currency, making it easier for money to leave Chinas borders. The efforts have paid dividends. The renminbi has already overtaken the euro to become the second-most used currency in trade finance, according to data from global transaction services organisation SWIFT.

(China) may be happy to see UnionPay sweeping different markets across the world in different countries and territories, said Yan Lixin, head of Fudan Universitys China Centre for Anti-Money Laundering Studies in Shanghai. It is backed up by the government. It is the real son of the government.

At the same time, these changes have vastly complicated the compliance challenges for UnionPay. While the card system is helping monetary authorities open up the capital account, it is also enabling people to funnel their ill-gotten gains out of China, said Yan. Its not the only tool for money laundering, Yan says, but its a major tool.

Macau is a prime gateway for this activity. It is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, and so Chinese gamblers bring vast sums of money here. Because Macau is administered separately from the mainland, there are restrictions on how much currency mainland Chinese can take into the gambling haven. But gamblers find ways of skirting currency controls when they cross into Macau. And much of the money these mainlanders ostensibly take to Macau for gambling, Chinese authorities believe, is actually going abroad into bank accounts.

Any steps to clamp down on UnionPay cashback transactions would likely rattle Macau, because the cash also feeds the casino sector on which the territorys $43.6 billion economy overwhelmingly depends. Macau is now the worlds biggest gambling hub, with revenues seven times those of Las Vegas. Last year, gambling revenue rose 19 percent to $45.2 billion. Nearly 40 percent of that went to the government in taxes.

Beijing is particularly concerned about the role of this capital flight in the countrys endemic government corruption scandals. An internal research report in 2008 by the PBOC identified UnionPay cards as one of the main tools for corrupt individuals to facilitate cross-border transfer of funds. The central bank report said the practice was growing rapidly.

Many card users follow their money abroad. Since the mid-1990s, an estimated 16,000 to 18,000 Communist party officials, businessmen, CEOs and other individuals have disappeared from China, according to a separate PBOC report prepared in 2008 – taking with them some 800 billion yuan ($133 billion).

But the practice isnt limited to corrupt officials. The ubiquitous UnionPay card, with its instant access to piles of cash, has made the task of whisking money out of China far easier for ordinary Chinese.

CAPITAL FLIGHT

Today, the outflow is gathering pace.

In Macau, UnionPay card transactions reached 130 billion Macau patacas ($16.77 billion) in just the first four months of 2012, up from 88.1 billion patacas in all of 2011, according to a confidential report by Macaus banking regulator, the Macau Monetary Authority reviewed by Reuters. Around 90 percent of those transactions were highly concentrated in jewellery, ornament and luxury watch sales, the report said.

If that rate persisted for the full year, UnionPay sales in Macau for all of 2012 would have reached nearly $50 billion – nearly $45 billion of it for jewellery-related sales, a figure exceeding even Macaus total gambling revenues that year.

Are these actual transactions? Where does this money come from? the deputy head of the Monetary Authority, Wan Sin Long, asked in the document.

Banks have not carried out good monitoring, nor earnestly handled the situation, Wan was cited as saying in the document. If this continues, this could affect the question of the further opening up of the yuan.

All the counter-parties involved benefit from these cashback transactions, an industry source said. The retail merchant makes money on the exchange rate, the way a currency trader would. The Macau banks overseeing the merchant charge 1 percent to 2 percent on the transaction. And the UnionPay card-issuing bank back in China will generally charge around 1 percent on the transaction, the source said.

The cashback activity is spreading beyond Macau to other Chinese tourist destinations, including Taiwan, Japan and South Korea, people in the credit-card industry say.

UnionPay cashback transactions reached 9.78 billion yuan ($1.59 billion) in 2012 in Taiwan, almost doubling from the year before, according to a report by Taiwans government investigation agency. Taiwan authorities said in January, given the abnormal UnionPay transactions they found, they would consider setting up a cross-straits mechanism to ensure timely information exchange and prevent illegal money laundering, according to CNA, its semi-official news agency. Taiwans cabinet is considering the proposal.

China isnt standing still. A decade ago, the government began trying to rein in money laundering, and since then it has amended criminal laws and strengthened commercial banking rules.

UnionPay officials say they are trying to stamp out the illicit transfers. One of the main steps the company took came in June of 2012, when it required UnionPay card-issuing banks to put a 1 million yuan ($166,000) daily limit on any transaction in Macau, down from 5 million to 10 million yuan previously. That limit applies to actual sale transactions.

UnionPays rivals, meanwhile, dont appear to be playing the cashback game. Macau jewellery stores visited for this article said Visa and Mastercard were not generally used for cashback transactions.

A senior executive with a rival card brand said his company had zero tolerance for the kind of cashbacks allowed by UnionPay. We dont allow jewellery stores to give any form of cash whatsoever, this person said. Thats completely illegal… Both as a bank and a (card) network, were supposed to close it down immediately.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES RESPONSIBLE

In a written response to questions for this article, UnionPay said it has always strictly prohibited the swiping of cards for cash without any goods being purchased and has collaborated from many sides to boost the investigation of such risks.

According to UnionPays Operating Regulations, overseas banks participating in the UnionPay system are required to close the accounts of merchants found to be engaged in fraudulent transactions.

But local authorities such as the Macau Monetary Authority have the primary responsibility for investigating suspicious cross-border transactions, the company says.

The Macau Monetary Authority said in a written response that bank card-related businesses in Macau have been subject to very stringent ongoing supervision.

The authority noted it has come across a couple of cases of supervisory concerns, and legal proceedings were taken against the parties concerned, including merchants. It didnt elaborate.

Deborah Ng, head of Macaus Financial Intelligence Office, said UnionPay has tried to take a more active role recently to take care of whether there are some irregular activities involved.

But the card company can do more, she said in an interview. They need to have some monitoring of abnormally large transactions, (and) frequent transactions from some commercial merchants, Ng said.

NO LIMITS

Despite the professed intensity in scrutiny, the practice continues openly.

At a jewellery outlet run by Hong Kong-listed Chow Tai Fook in the Grand Lisboa casino, staff said customers could swipe UnionPay cards to buy gold bullion of up to 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) – then sell it straight back for hard cash.

A Chow Tai Fook spokesman confirmed that. He said the store had no specific limits on the amount that our customers can buy using any form of payment, as long as the payment is approved by the bank when we swipe the card.

At a jewellery store inside the Venetian Macau casino run by Las Vegas Sands, a manager said card cashbacks constituted most of the shops business. The shop was run by the owner of a VIP room or junket operator, which brings in big gamblers from the mainland.

I would say theres no upper limit for UnionPay, said the black-suited manager, who spoke on the condition he not be identified. The credit limits arent enforced at all.

An executive at Las Vegas Sands, speaking on condition of anonymity, said vendors with UnionPay card-swiping machines have been caught wandering around the casino.

People walk around with mobile union pay card machines on the gaming floor, the executive said. They are linked to China (computer) servers, not (ones in) Macau. So it is like they are getting cash out in China. When we see them on the floor we kick them out.

That practice also exists outside the casinos, too. Macaus merchants lately have tried to better disguise the UnionPay transactions by routing transactions electronically across the border to China to escape the scrutiny of Macau authorities, a banker in Macau said.

They closed the Macau tap, but theyve opened an even larger China tap, said the Macau banker with direct knowledge of the practice. The merchants are always cunning.

A UnionPay memo to banks and counterparties in Macau, dated October 29 and reviewed by Reuters, said the company was aware of these practices and had initiated steps to stop it. It urged Macau banks and UnionPay counterparties to crack down by blacklisting such retailers and fining them.

UnionPay said in the memo it hoped that all parties with UnionPay linked business would make a concerted effort to rectify Macaus UnionPay card transaction market discipline and sustain its stable longer term development.

A visit to Macau since the memo was issued, however, found cashback services to be flourishing.

Inside seven such stores, customers were observed swiping UnionPay cards at glass counters and receiving wads of cash without actually buying anything.

We can remit as much money as you like with your UnionPay card, said a red-haired man surnamed Lai at one jewellery shop. A yellow sign carried the slogan: Welcome Renminbi. Welcome UnionPay cards.

You dont actually buy anything, said Lai, standing near a half-empty display case containing a messy spread of watches and jewellery. We just help people get money out of China so they can gamble more.

(Additional reporting by Farah Master in Macau and; Yimou Lee in Hong Kong. Editing by Bill Tarrant and Michael Williams)


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Lending Club now offering business loans

Lending Club CEO Renaud LaPlanche has been open about Lending Clubs plans to expand into home loans, business loans, and even student loans, and today it looks like the company is kicking off that expansion. The peer-to-peer lending platform announced Thursday that it will now offer business loans.

Business loans will range from $15,000 to $100,000 to start with, and will eventually increase to $300,000. Fixed interest rates will start at 5.9% with terms of one to five years and no prepayment penalties.

Personal loan borrowers can take out up to $35,000. The average A1 grade loan on Lending Club comes with an interest rate of 6.78%, compared with the national average of 9.8%.

We designed this product to fit the needs of small business owners, said Laplanche, in a statement. Bigger businesses can get large loans from banks, but smaller businesses are not well served by existing banking products from traditional banks. We believe our technology-driven solution can bring costs down and make credit more available and more affordable to small businesses in America.

Launched in 2007, over $3.8 billion in loans have originated through the Lending Club platform, which is nearly double where it was just eight months ago. Last summer, Lending Club passed the $2 billion in loan volume mark, and its growing at a rate of $750 million a quarter. Since facilitating its first loan in 2007, the company has doubled loan volume each year.

In the banking sector, efficiency is measured by operating ratio: marketing costs divided by loans outstanding. That usually translates to about 5% to 7%. So if the bank makes a $100 loan, it costs them $5 to $7. Lending Club, by comparison, has an operating ratio of just 2%, so if it issues a loan of $100, it only costs the company $2 to do so. As a result, the cost savings for Lending Club translate to lower interest rates for borrowers with the best credit history.

Lending Club has made headlines in recent months for its high profile directors. The company has attracted some of the most influential movers and shakers in the world of finance to its board of directors, including Internet analyst turned Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker, former Secretary of the Treasury and Harvard PresidentLarry Summers, and former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack.

Lending Club has raised $220 million from Google Capital, Foundation Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Union Square Ventures, Thomvest Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Canaan Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures, and more.


Small Business Loans Benefit from New SBA Rule

DENVER, Feb. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — New, liberalized SBA rules predict increased access, greater availability of funds, and improved participation from small businesses when it comes to applying for government-backed business loans. With manufacturers and small businesses taking a priority with the Obama Administration, it is no surprise that the current administration is doing all it can to boost the economy and overall job growth.

The New York Times reported that SBA. proposed modifications to its rule that would relax its affiliation rules, which are designed to ensure a small business loan applicant is not controlled by a larger company. Essentially, the new standards would streamline and simplify the application process and ensure funds would reach a larger proportion of small businesses, which, in turn, are expected to boost the economy as a GDP engine. In 2013 alone, the agency was expected to max the legal limit of $22 billion in small business loans, as reported by The New York Times.

Billions are available for small business owners and yet the participation rates are dismal. At Cash Advance USA we have made extra efforts to improve participation in small business loan applications and programs. In addition to shoring up our internal resources, we have setup a support network that would foster loan growth and support businesses during the approval process, explains Mark Miller, founder of Cash Advance USA, a site that specializes in providing short term personal loans and business loans as well.

As an entrepreneur, this is truly news to me. I honestly did not know that SBA was going out of its way to help entrepreneurial ventures like mine. Until recently, I approached traditional lenders to get working capital or expansion funds. Now, I have the option to tap into a government-backed resource and take advantage of business friendly terms. I give this initiative a two thumbs up, says Mark April, a small business owner that specializes in selling craft merchandise.

The sense of timing is perfect. The overall US economy is stabilizing and these loans are bound to encourage expansion and economy-driving initiatives, adds Miller.

http://www.cashadvanceusa.net/ is an innovative online marketplace where entrepreneurs and individuals can shop (and apply for) low interest, streamlined business loans. The site allows applicants to compare loan programs, complete applications, and receive funds — all within a matter of hours. The large of lenders that currently offer their expertise at the site is the primary reason why Millers company has been outperforming competitors for nearly two decades.

In addition to the sites robust lender network and technology infrastructure, a special support team provides 24/7 service to customers like Mr. April, who was only too thrilled to receive the extra attention and time-saving expertise from Marks team. Who has the time to learn everything, adds April.

Media Contact: Mark Miller, Cash Advance USA Ltd, (512) 571-3828, info@cashadvanceusa.net

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Cash Advance USA Ltd

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British smokehouse: Small-business loans key

The challenge for small businesses is how to access money, Inverawe Smokehouses said in an interview with the Financial Times.

The salmon producer, which has a contract to supply the Waitrose supermarket chain and targets the premium end of the market, told the FT stability from the new UK budget was crucial as the UKs economy begins to pick up.

Inverawes Patrick Campbell-Preston wants Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to make sure that initiatives to encourage lending to small businesses continue.

“One of the key aspects is going to be the ability to borrow. That has certainly improved, they are much more willing than they were,” he said.

With the budget now announced, Campbell-Preston noted the promise of export finance. But he said the challenge for small companies was how to access the money.

“When you hear a figure of £3 billion, just 0.1% of that would really help us. But it’s hard to tap into. You need a whizzy accountant.”

Read the full story here.


5 Reasons Why Women-Owned Businesses Are Thriving

March is Womens History Month, and never before in US history have women been so successful in launching and growing their own companies. For instance, the Guardian Small Business Research Institute projects that women-owned businesses will generate 5 million new jobs by the year 2018.

Today, a report by Biz2Credit provides more evidence that underscores the rapid advance of women in the business world.The second annual Women in Business Report found that average earnings of companies owned by females increased an astounding 54% in a year-to-year comparison.According to the research, average earnings for women-owned firms shot up to $54,114 in 2013, from $35,135 in 2012.

Further, the business credit scores of female-run companies improved on average to 610 from 592. This is important because 600 is a key benchmark for bank officers considering small business applications.It is challenging for any business with a score lower than 600 to secure a traditional bank loan. These companies are often forced to obtain loans from alternative lenders, which mean higher costs and fees.And while the average credit score for a business owned by a female was 14 points less than for a man-owned company, the difference has narrowed greatly since the gap of 40 points in 2012.

The analysis took into account bank information and tax filings of more than 10,000 companies that applied for small-business loans over the course of the past year. About 27% of the applicants were women-owned companies – a total that nearly doubled from last year’s figure.Those requests for funds raised $55 million, and the average loan amount was $85,000.On average, females are now applying for loans shortly more than two years in business, compared to the 40-month figure (just shy of three and a half years) in 2012.

There are several reasons why women-owned businesses are thriving:

No. 1: Costs of launching a business have dropped. Thanks to laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones, companies no longer need big mainframes and large servers.They can store data on a cloud system.

No. 2: The idea of working from home suits many females just fine.Today women can conduct their business from their house and still take care of the family. It is not easy, but it is possible.In decades past, having children meant a disruption to business success.

No. 3: Promotional costs have plummeted, thanks to digital marketing and social media. So rather than spending on costly network TV spots that may or may not reach the desired target audience, marketers can connect with their targets on specialized YouTube channels, as well as their followers on Facebook and Twitter.

No. 4: Use of technology in small business lending has quickened the process and lowered the cost of capital. Competition in the marketplace among banks and other financiers in the small business lending space has been a great benefit to business owners.

No. 5: More women than men attend and graduate from college these days. Further, as they gain experience running their own firms, they have become better negotiators, marketers and CEOs.Women are running their businesses more efficiently than ever.The result is that they are looking to expand their companies at earlier stages of the business life cycle, as the survey data indicates.

Even as women continue to thrive in business ownership, there are still some obstacles to conquer.

The bright side is the figure that small-business loan approvals from female-owned companies was 31% in 2013, a rise from the rate of 26.5% in 2012. However, the success rate for funding female -owned firms is 8% lower than the 39% rate of a business owned by a male.

What may explain that is the idea that the larger banks may feel shy from doing business with a company that has been in operation less than two years.So women who own companies have been able to connect with non-banking lenders, which are more open to loaning to younger firms.Unfortunately, these lenders frequently provide capital at much higher interest rates than banks do.

Women business owners must remain confident.The more a company applies for small-business funding in the early stages, the better the rewards.Those efforts will help construct a strong business-credit history.

The more the company grows, the more women will gain that confidence that is so vital in todays business world.So as the calendar has flipped over to March, let us salute woman entrepreneurs.

Rohit Arora is co-founder and CEO ofBiz2Credit, an online resource that connects 1.6 million small business owners with 1,200+ lenders, credit rating agencies and service providers such as CPAs and attorneys via its Internet platform. Since 2007, Biz2Credit has secured more than $1 billion in funding for small businesses across the US Follow Rohit on Twitter@biz2credit.


An Extension to Federal Lending Underscores the Value of ACBL Loans

An Extension to Federal Lending Underscores the Value of ACBL Loans
Though the Federal TALF program will continue to help small businesses through the first quarter of 2014, it is no match for the lending offered at Advantage Capital Business Loans.


Economic sanctions beginning to affect Russian stocks, bank cards, credit rankings

MOSCOW (AP) – Russian stocks were under pressure Friday as another credit rating agency put the country on notice of a possible downgrade and Visa and MasterCard stopped serving two Russian banks, a day after the US ordered economic sanctions against two dozen people from President Vladimir Putins entourage.

Fears over Russias economic outlook have ratcheted up this week as the country annexed Crimea following Sundays hastily called referendum which overwhelmingly supported that move. The West considers the vote illegitimate and has slapped on sanctions in response.

President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered economic sanctions against nearly two dozen members of Putins inner circle and a major Russian bank that provides them support. Putins chief of staff and four influential businessmen who are believed to be Putins lifelong friends were among the 20 individuals sanctioned.

The MICEX benchmark was down 2 percent in late afternoon trading Friday with the companies co-owned by the Russians sanctioned by the White House leading the decline. The Russian stock market has lost than more 10 percent this month.

As Russian stocks were feeling the heat, two Russian banks including Bank Rossiya, the Russian lender which was put on the Treasurys sanctions list, said Visa and MasterCard stopped providing services to them. US officials described Russias 15th largest bank with $12 billion in assets as a personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation.

And clients of another Russian lender, SMP, woke up Friday to discover that their bank cards are not as useful as they were. In a statement, it said Visa and MasterCard stopped providing their services without prior notification. SMPs co-owners, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg – billionaire brothers and childhood friends of Putin – were hit by the US sanctions on Thursday.

The bank, which is in Russias top 40 with $5 billion in assets, said it had no assets in the United States and described Visa and MasterCards actions as illegitimate because the bank, unlike its owners, was not covered by the sanctions.

As a result, customers in the two banks wont be able to use cards backed by Visa and MasterCard to buy products in shops online or withdraw cash from ATMs beyond their own banks. They can also get cash directly inside their banks branches.

President Putin on Friday ordered the countrys central bank to help clients of Rossiya. He denied having an account there but ordered the Central Bank to take the banks clients under protection and provide all possible assistance to them.

Describing Rossiya, which was rumored to serve nearly everyone in Putins close entourage, as just an average bank, Putin said he had never had an account there, but promised to open one first thing on Monday and asked his salary to be transferred there.

Russias central bank earlier said that the blacklisting of Rossiya and its transactions by US does not have a serious bearing on the lenders financial stability.

Amid the signs that the sanctions are beginning to impact on day-to-day life in Russia, ratings agency Fitch followed Standard amp; Poors in warning Russia that it may have its credit rating downgraded. In a statement, Fitch said it has revised down its outlook for Russias debt to reflect the potential impact of sanctions on Russias economy, a day after Samp;P warned of a potential downgrade too.

Fitch operates a 23-notch rating system and Russias BBB rating ranks ninth on that scale, two above what is considered to be junk status. Lower ratings are important because it can make a countrys borrowing costs more expensive.

Putins spokesman Dmitry Peskov lambasted the move, saying it was not an objective decision and that somebody ordered it.

Since US and EU banks and investors may well be reluctant to lend to Russia under the current circumstances, the economy may slow further and the private sector may require official support, Fitch said.


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