In its infancy, the merchant cash advance (MCA) business was a one-product, alternative funding solution that garnered great praise and criticism in equal measure. While it helped open merchant doors and generate revenue for resellers, MCA also raised the hackles of those who worried that high costs could damage their relationships with merchants, and that government intervention was likely.
Companies like Rapid Financial Services LLC, doing business as RapidAdvance, entered the industry with the aim of making things better.
Founded in 2005, RapidAdvance currently has 83 employees led by Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Brown. The company, which is focused on building a robust portfolio of both alternative and mainstream funding solutions, noted that since its founding, it has never wavered from its commitment to offer its products at fair and reasonable rates, backed up by informed and transparent support.
According to RapidAdvance Chief Revenue Officer Mark Cerminaro, that is why RapidAdvance has emerged as a leader in a new kind of cash advance industry. "We restructured to better serve the marketplace by offering multiple products that provide the best type of financing for each individual merchant," Cerminaro said.
In addition to MCA, RapidAdvance offers its customers bridge loans, lines of credit and small business loans. "Rapid also works hard to ensure that our products are priced appropriately for the size and cash flow strength of the merchant customer, while still adequately compensating our strategic sales partners," Cerminaro said. RapidAdvance offers lower-cost loan products, and lower-cost, longer-term cash advances, and has funded over $600 million in working capital to date, he added.
RapidAdvance also made an early decision to differentiate itself by offering unmatched service to both resellers and end users. "We know that our delivery of service reflects on our ISO partners," Cerminaro said. He noted that the company focuses on developing high-tech systems that add a speed of decisioning, but it never lets automated processes run without a creative, customized personal review.
"We built our systems to be flexible, and we created a process flow that is as easy to use for a one-man shop as it is for a large entity," Cerminaro said. "But at the end of the day, our third-party distribution channel is robust because we always focus on being personally responsive, responsible and flexible to the end customer."
In September 2013, RapidAdvance was acquired by Rockbridge Growth Equity LLC, a private equity firm that is part of the Rock Ventures Family of Companies. Its flagship company, Quicken Loans, is the nation's second largest retail mortgage lender. Rockbridge also owns equity stakes in multiple companies, including Connect America, AccountNow, Protect America, Northcentral University, One on One Marketing, Purchasing Power and Triad Retail Media, and is affiliated with more than 100 companies as part of Rock Ventures, Cerminaro reported.
This was an acquisition based on an alignment of goals, RapidAdvance said, pointing to the fact that Quicken Loans has won repeated recognition by J.D.Power and Associates for its level of customer service.
"Our new affiliation with Rockbridge lends technological resources that will enable a more accelerated build-out of tools that will lead to faster decision-making and greater growth," Cerminaro said. "But the corporate culture and commitment to high-touch flexibility will remain the same."
Over the past three years, RapidAdvance has developed a distribution channel of more than 1,000 ISO sales partners and experienced year-over-year double-digit revenue growth, the Bethesda, Md.-based company stated. It credits its success to making smart choices during a time of intense industry scrutiny and change.
"We started as a niche industry, but today we are mainstream," Cerminaro said. "We are referenced in the Wall Street Journal; we are an opportunity to better serve customers and protect processing business; we are a staple in small business financing that ISOs can't afford to ignore."
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