Finding the means to fund a new project or venture can be hard work. Banks have strict criteria on their lending, and it can be a tricky process to get through their acceptance requirements to secure the cash you need.
Peer-to-peer business lending is a rapidly growing area which offers more financial opportunities to those who may have been rejected from traditional lending programs.
This system works via peer-to-peer lenders. who underwrite borrowers, but are not responsible for funding the loans directly.
These lenders act as intermediaries between the person borrowing money and the investors, which might come in the form of a hedge fund or investment bank.
Funding Circle is one such provider.
What is Funding Circle?
Funding Circle is an online lender specializing in peer-to-peer lending.
Originally from the UK, they went on to offer services in the US by merging with Endurance Lending Network to expand their reach and growth.
They primarily offer media-term installment loans (or term loans) to businesses who are already established. The lengths of these loans range from between six months and five years and have the advantage of competitive rates and few fees outside the origination fee and interest.
All payments are monthly, occurring from the date you accept the agreement. Apart from late payment or insufficient fund charges, you will not be continually plagued with external costs.
There are also no penalties incurred if you decide to pay off your loan early, allowing you greater financial freedom and control.
The rate of interest changes from customer to customer and depends on a number of factors, such as the strength of your business, the type of business you are running, your creditworthiness, how long you have been trading for, and your real-time cash flow.
The term length of the loan is also a factor in affecting the interest rate; shorter terms will usually have higher charges, while longer terms offer a lower amount.
While the rates are favorable and the costs low, having established yourself as a business is a prerequisite, making this an unsuitable option for startups or smaller firms who have yet to find their feet.
All companies must have been trading for at least two years, and a credit score of at least 620 is required, though they do not state a minimum annual revenue. The company cannot have had tax liens in the last ten years or bankruptcies in the last seven.
The application process is generally faster and more convenient than going to a bank for traditional funding, though the latter may be able to offer better rates. If you are short on time and need the cash fast, however, Funding Circle is an ideal solution.
What is Not Included?
Although this is an excellent option for businesses looking to boost their finances, it is important to remember that there are restrictions on who can qualify, occurring in the form of a prohibited industry list.
Those who are ineligible include:
- Gambling businesses
- Marijuana dispensaries
- Weapons manufacturers
- Non-profit organizations
- Speculative real estate
Unfortunately, if your business falls into one of these categories, you will not be eligible to apply for funding from Funding Circle.
How Do I Apply?
One of the key appeals of Funding Circle versus traditional lenders is the ease with which the application process can be completed.
This process is split into a few steps:
The initial application is an online submission, and this helps to determine whether you are ‘pre-qualified’ for a loan. In other words, does your business meet the minimum qualifications required by Funding Circle for funding?
At this stage, a soft check of your credit will be carried out, visible only to you and Funding Circle.
If you are successfully pre-approved, you will receive a quote which will contain an estimated interest rate based on a range of factors, as described above.
You will then be contacted by a representative from Funding Circle, who will discuss your quoted loan options with you.
This gives you a chance to ask any questions or clarify information, as well as weigh the options you have been offered.
If you are happy to go ahead, you will be required to provide any necessary additional documentation and extra information about your business to ensure that you can prove eligibility.
A hard credit check will be carried out—this leaves a record on your file and may affect your credit score.
The documents required by Funding Circle are:
- Two most recent years of business tax returns
- One most recent year of personal tax returns
- Six most recent months of bank statements
- Business debt information
Following your consultation and submission of necessary paperwork and documents, your application will begin underwriting.
Your offer from Funding Circle will be sent after a few days, and this will include information such as your interest rate and the origination fee.
Should you choose to accept the offer at this stage, you will receive your funds within a few days. If you decline, remember the credit check will leave a mark on your file, and this could affect your ability to obtain credit in the future.
The whole process should take ten days or less according to Funding Circle, making this a faster and simpler alternative to contacting a bank or traditional lender.
Should You Borrow from Funding Circle?
Like any lender, Funding Circle comes with its fair share of pros and cons. You have to weigh those against your priorities to decide if you should consider a loan from the platform.
- Rates are very low compared to other online peer-to-peer lenders: The annual percentage rate on a Funding Circle loan ranges from around 10.91 to 35.5 percent.
- Faster processing times: Applications can take just ten minutes to complete, with funds received in ten days. This makes it ideal for business owners looking to boost finances in a hurry.
- No prepayment penalty: This is a considerable advantage, as it puts you totally in control of your finances without fear of charges or penalties if you choose to pay off the loan early.
- Not suitable for smaller or startup businesses: The rigorous requirements mean that Funding Circle is only an option for companies who are already established and have the evidence to prove this.
- Can be very high-interest rates compared to a loan from a bank.
- Hard to get accepted: Compared to alternative online lenders, the requirements and criteria which must be met are stringent, and it can be hard to get through enough hoops to be approved. A credit score of at least 620 is required; this is steep compared to the 500 which some other lenders require. You will also need to provide extensive documentation.
- Not the fastest on the market: The ten-day period between acceptance and receiving funds is quick, but compared to some providers offering next day solutions, can seem a lengthy process.
Future Circle can be an ideal solution for established businesses looking to boost their finances. It offers a viable and reasonable alternative to banks or more traditional lenders.
The criteria are strict, but being accepted means access to low rates and few extraneous or unwanted charges and fees.
The lack of penalty charges for early payment is also a bonus, helping you stay more in control of your money.
This is an ideal alternative to traditional lending and a favorable option for established and creditworthy businesses.