Why Lending-as-a-Service is the Future for Small Businesses

Companies can raise capital in a variety of ways. To keep growth increasing, many startups and smaller ventures go to the bank for a loan. Lines of credit, venture capital, angel investing and other methods exist as well, but a straightforward loan has always had the biggest advantages for a young company.

Since 2008, the lending industry was forced to transform. What emerged was a far cry from what once was — but borrowers loved it. Though institutional lending has faced several challenges in the last few years, a new segment of small business lending is experiencing extreme growth: lending-as-a-service (LaaS).

What is Lending-as-a-Service?

Lending-as-a-service is a new twist on an old banking function, the lending of capital. LaaS companies use the latest advances in software to streamline the lending process, making it inexpensive and swift. Not for lack of technology, this was not common in the pre-2008 financial era, but the results are now gaining credence — and customers as well.

It might take weeks to procure a loan from a bank due to requirements like paperwork, in-person identification, bureaucracy and a lack of connectivity between branches.

Now, lending-as-a-service leaders like ezbob, by contrast, can help borrowers access financing in as little as 30 minutes. They can accomplish a feat like this due to a proprietary automated system for verifying creditworthiness, finding suitable loans, and offering these options in real-time to users.

Tomer Guriel, the CEO of ezbob, views his company as a technology solution that helps ease the often tenuous procedure of lending. And the idea for ezbob is grounded on experience with banks and the lending sector.

“The idea of being a technology provider was born in 2012. At the time, we teamed with Accenture in order to sell our platform to banks. Unfortunately, at that time, the banks were not ready to work with a start-up, Fintech. The only way we could get the business off the ground was to start lending ourselves.”

How Did We Get Here?

Post-financial crisis, credit from many large institutional banks largely dried up. In the four years after 2008, lending from banks to small businesses fell by $120 billion. It does not matter whether this was due to all-time low trust in banks, or simply less business to go around.

Afterwards, small businesses which did not want to give up were forced to find alternative sources of capital, many from high-rate lenders.

Eager to avoid a repeat of 2008, regulators installed laws making transparency and accessibility of data a requirement for any financial institution. While banks slowly adjusted, the fintech industry rose from the ashes and worked quickly to apply technology to finance before offering a streamlined solution to customers. This has not made banks obsolete, but represents one of the best choices a small business has when it needs a cash injection.

Small Businesses and LaaS: A Match Made in Heaven?

Banks remain an excellent way to find funding. As the wake of the last depression becomes less turbulent, however, banks have fallen behind. LaaS has taken up residence in the void, and small businesses are flocking to these companies for funding. Why?

Quick Turnaround

Smaller companies are more time sensitive than larger firms and are also more exposed to market conditions. They have less maneuvering room, and their needs are always more urgent than those of major companies with high capitalization. For filling payroll, taking advantage of a growth opportunity and more, speed is crucial for small businesses, because the cost of failing to meet these small milestones is significantly greater.

This is the primary reason that small businesses prefer LaaS loans. Borrowers can access funds at the snap of a finger, when compared with institutional behemoths, which operate with frustrating sluggishness. Quick funding empowers small and medium-sized businesses to be flexible and free, rather than tied up collecting all the bank’s necessary paperwork.

Trust in Tech

The trust that people place in their cellphone’s social media platforms is increasingly applied to traditional areas like lending. Technologies like the kind running new age lending applications is powerful and safe, and often more secure than the systems once used by big banks. With encryption, private networks and full compliance with regulators, small businesses see no reason not to use these services.

Cutting the Bottom Line

The manpower once required to propel a loan application through a bank’s bureaucracy is entirely unnecessary with LaaS. Because algorithms and software can be trusted to accomplish the same tasks, the process is much cheaper for alternative lenders. In turn, these savings are passed on to the borrower.

Bringing Banks Into the Fold

Many lending-as-a-service services are not looking to compete with banks, but rather to assist them. The capital backing their loans for their cutting-edge systems find must come from somewhere, and banks are the perfect place. In the most common type of LaaS and bank relationship, the LaaS software platform simply finds candidates that can match the bank’s existing loan standards. This affiliate-type relationship is beneficial to both parties and customers as well, who can access an inexpensive loan backed with the credentials of a traditional brick and mortar institution.

LaaS Leading the Way

As new regulations and financial practices become the standard, the lending-as-a-service industry will simply become the lending industry. The public support for LaaS makes this almost an inevitability, and the markets have already tested and largely proven the model. Small businesses have more financing choices in front of them than ever before, and few can argue against the economic benefits of such a trend.

Fintech Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Why Lending-as-a-Service is the Future for Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends

Android Oreo Promises Less Battery Use, Adds Picture-in-Picture for Business Multitasking

This week Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) released Android 8.0, and this time named for a crowd pleasing favorite of the dessert world, Oreo. As Android continues to mature, the changes are not going to be as dramatic. There are some visible changes, but more important are a couple of tweaks under-the-hood designed to improve performance.

On the blog announcing the availability of Oreo, Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management Android and Google Play, said, “The latest release of the platform… is smarter, faster and more powerful than ever.”

New Features

What makes it smarter is a picture-in-picture feature so you can see two apps at once, which can come in handy when you are on a video conference call. Notifications have also gotten smarter, with dots identifying new updates for apps. This lets you take quick action for security updates or other options with apps you use most.

The speed comes from the way Oreo boots up. According to Samat, it can be up to twice as fast on Pixel. In addition to fast boot times, Autofill lets you login more quickly to your apps (with permission). And Instant Apps teleports you directly into new apps without installation.

If you are a small business outside of the office using your smartphone or tablet to work remotely, all of these features will make you more efficient. But the last improvement, which makes Oreo more powerful, extends the life your battery while ensuring the security of your apps and device.

Oreo extends the battery by minimize unintentional overuse from apps in the background, which are notorious for draining the power.

The security is improved with Google Play Protect. This feature will let you lock and wipe your device remotely, as well as locate it with Find My Device. It also checks on your device and applications for “harmful behavior.”

Android Oreo Promises Less Battery Use, Adds Picture-in-Picture for Business Multitasking

When Can You Expect The Android Oreo Update for Your Device?

The Android ecosystem is a fractured one, which makes it difficult to gauge the availability of new updates across all vendors. In the blog, Samat said, Pixel, Pixel C, Nexus 5X/6P and Nexus Player have entered carrier testing, rolling out in phases soon (no exact date). But if you own these devices and you can’t wait, you can update them now by going to the Android Beta Program page set up by Google.

As for other vendors, Essential, General Mobile, HMD Nokia Phones, Huawei, HTC, Kyocera, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp and Sony are scheduled to launch or upgrade their devices. The end of 2017 and beyond are the expected dates.

Images: Google

This article, "Android Oreo Adds Picture-in-Picture and Other Business Friendly Features" was first published on Small Business Trends

Zoho SalesInbox for Salesforce

Zoho has brought two essential small business sales tools together.

Zoho SalesInbox for Salesforce

Zoho SalesInbox is now available to Salesforce users. The service was previously available to Zoho users by request.  It combines previously siloed applications so salespeople have sales related emails with all the relevant information from Salesforce and other CRMs in one location.

New Email Client Tool

The new email client tool that’s directly compatible with Salesforce promises to streamline the CRM experience for small business sales. It will make for faster email follow ups and the kind of deep insights that close deals quickly.

Sifting through customer data in Salesforce Sales Cloud and automatically prioritizing client conversations, SalesInbox works with all the standard email services like Yahoo!, Exchange and Gmail.

Here’s What it Can Do for Your Sales Team

If you’re a member of a sales team, you know you get lots of emails every day. The problem is you always stand a chance of missing an important one with the volume you get. But SalesInBox provides a solution for this conundrum.

Four Categories

SalesInbox tackles the issue by placing your emails in four distinct categories  — deals, contacts and leads, not in CRM and colleagues. Opening an email in one of those categories supplies more relevant information including background notes and contact information. There is even a timeline of activities associated with every contact. The application acts like a virtual assistant of sorts or an online filing system.

Drag and Drop

You can even drag and drop emails across the categories.

“We have seen this innovation benefit the users of Zoho CRM to a great extent, and wanted salespeople to have the benefits of using it, irrespective of the CRM they use,” said Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist at Zoho. “So we’re making it available to Salesforce users.”

Pricing

The pricing is attractive to sales teams in the small business arena, too.

There will be Professional, Enterprise, Unlimited and Developer editions available for users of Salesforce CRM. They will be priced at $20 per user per month, along with a 90-day free trial.

Here are a few of the other features that make a difference

Insights that Boost Sales

SalesInbox offers open and click rates for the emails already sent to clients. It’s a helpful arrow in the quiver of the travelling sales person or team. When they need to know who the prospects are that are most likely to buy, this is the metric they can use.

Email Templates

If you’re a sales rep for a plumbing company, this tool will let you put together different email templates and then measure the ones that work best. The analytics provided by SalesInbox are a treasure trove for managers who want to see how their sales teams are performing.

Filters

SalesInbox also has filters so you can flag top deals and keep on top of responses from the ones with the most potential.

Zoho is a single platform operating system for business that supplies cloud based applications. The company has over 30 million users worldwide.

Image: Zoho

This article, "Zoho Makes CRM Email Tool SalesInbox Available to Teams Using Salesforce" was first published on Small Business Trends

Lack of Cybercrime Awareness to Blame: 45% of Small Business Owners Have Fallen Victim to Cyber Attack But They Didn't Know It Happened

Think your small business is unlikely to fall victim to a cyber attack? New data from Nationwide suggests that mindset could be a mistake.

Lack of Cybercrime Awareness to Blame

In fact, 45 percent of business owners have been victims of cyber attacks that they didn’t actually know were attacks, according to the Nationwide survey, which featured responses from more than 1,000 business owners. More specifically, just 13 percent of business owners in the study said they knew they had fallen victim to cyber attacks. But when business owners were given a list of different types of cyber attacks to choose from, that number jumped up to 58 percent.

What this suggests is that cyber attacks are much more prevalent than a lot of business owners think. You might assume that something like unpatched software or a phishing email isn’t a big deal. But it could lead to major consequences for your business.

Additionally, 76 percent of the business owners surveyed said they think cyber attacks are unlikely to affect their businesses. And 41 percent think that cyber attacks impact large businesses more often than small businesses. But data suggests that small businesses are almost as likely as their larger counterparts to fall victim to those issues.

“Nationwide’s annual survey reminds owners to focus on managing what they can control,” said Mark Berven, president and chief operating officer of Nationwide Property and Casualty. “The world is only getting more complicated, and the elements outside our control that have the potential to inflict great harm on businesses are increasing. An owner can’t control if a hacker will target their business in a cyberattack, nor can they control the weather, for example. What an owner can do is prepare — and that’s where we and our agent force can help. There is no time like the present to create a plan to prepare and protect your business for the future, and whether you’re a Nationwide customer or not, our Business Solutions Center serves as a great resource and starting point.”

There are things your business can do to try to prevent those attacks, or at least minimize the impact. One of the best things you can do is hire cybersecurity experts to focus solely on this area. However, just 37 percent of the businesses surveyed said they currently have at least one such employee. That same percentage of business owners also said they have a succession plan in place for their business, suggesting that both of those strategies are under-utilized by businesses.

“The key takeaway from our annual survey of business owners is that it’s critical they continue to prepare for growing threats against their businesses,” added Berven. “This is important not only for the viability of their businesses, but the overall health of the economy. Our survey uncovered alarming discrepancies in how business owners think versus how they behave. For cybersecurity best practices specifically, there exists a 33 percent gap in awareness versus action; a vast majority of business owners (83 percent) believe it’s important to establish security practices and policies, yet only 50 percent say they have established security practices to protect sensitive information.”

There’s no way to completely guarantee that your business won’t ever fall victim to a cyber attack. But simply assuming that it will never happen isn’t the answer. More than half of businesses have had to deal with some type of cybersecurity issue already. And those attacks are becoming increasingly prevalent among businesses of all sizes.

So explore the different options for preventing or minimizing the risk, depending on your business’s specific needs and resources. And remain aware of the risks and trends involved in the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

Image: Nationwide

This article, "45 Percent of Small Business Owners Have Fallen Victim to Cyber Attack Without Knowing It" was first published on Small Business Trends

Lack of Cybercrime Awareness to Blame: 45% of Small Business Owners Have Fallen Victim to Cyber Attack But They Didn't Know It Happened

Think your small business is unlikely to fall victim to a cyber attack? New data from Nationwide suggests that mindset could be a mistake.

Lack of Cybercrime Awareness to Blame

In fact, 45 percent of business owners have been victims of cyber attacks that they didn’t actually know were attacks, according to the Nationwide survey, which featured responses from more than 1,000 business owners. More specifically, just 13 percent of business owners in the study said they knew they had fallen victim to cyber attacks. But when business owners were given a list of different types of cyber attacks to choose from, that number jumped up to 58 percent.

What this suggests is that cyber attacks are much more prevalent than a lot of business owners think. You might assume that something like unpatched software or a phishing email isn’t a big deal. But it could lead to major consequences for your business.

Additionally, 76 percent of the business owners surveyed said they think cyber attacks are unlikely to affect their businesses. And 41 percent think that cyber attacks impact large businesses more often than small businesses. But data suggests that small businesses are almost as likely as their larger counterparts to fall victim to those issues.

“Nationwide’s annual survey reminds owners to focus on managing what they can control,” said Mark Berven, president and chief operating officer of Nationwide Property and Casualty. “The world is only getting more complicated, and the elements outside our control that have the potential to inflict great harm on businesses are increasing. An owner can’t control if a hacker will target their business in a cyberattack, nor can they control the weather, for example. What an owner can do is prepare — and that’s where we and our agent force can help. There is no time like the present to create a plan to prepare and protect your business for the future, and whether you’re a Nationwide customer or not, our Business Solutions Center serves as a great resource and starting point.”

There are things your business can do to try to prevent those attacks, or at least minimize the impact. One of the best things you can do is hire cybersecurity experts to focus solely on this area. However, just 37 percent of the businesses surveyed said they currently have at least one such employee. That same percentage of business owners also said they have a succession plan in place for their business, suggesting that both of those strategies are under-utilized by businesses.

“The key takeaway from our annual survey of business owners is that it’s critical they continue to prepare for growing threats against their businesses,” added Berven. “This is important not only for the viability of their businesses, but the overall health of the economy. Our survey uncovered alarming discrepancies in how business owners think versus how they behave. For cybersecurity best practices specifically, there exists a 33 percent gap in awareness versus action; a vast majority of business owners (83 percent) believe it’s important to establish security practices and policies, yet only 50 percent say they have established security practices to protect sensitive information.”

There’s no way to completely guarantee that your business won’t ever fall victim to a cyber attack. But simply assuming that it will never happen isn’t the answer. More than half of businesses have had to deal with some type of cybersecurity issue already. And those attacks are becoming increasingly prevalent among businesses of all sizes.

So explore the different options for preventing or minimizing the risk, depending on your business’s specific needs and resources. And remain aware of the risks and trends involved in the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

Image: Nationwide

This article, "45 Percent of Small Business Owners Have Fallen Victim to Cyber Attack Without Knowing It" was first published on Small Business Trends