Virginia Community Capital | Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Virginia Community Capital is providing new financing to IT consulting agency Omegus Prime under the bank's Asset-Based Lending program. The program is designed to assist small government subcontractors in securing their first government contracts and is bundled with technical assistance from a certified small business support entity, in this case the George Mason Enterprise Center. Rashad Rivera, who founded the company after working as an IT consultant on federal contracts for 15 years, hopes the assistance will allow his firm to go from subcontractor status to a prime contractor.

New York Times | Wednesday, March 12, 2014

As "crowdfunding" financing platforms grow more prevalent on the web, it is easier than ever for merchants to solicit funds from customers — but is it a good idea? After nine years in Brooklyn, the Chocolate Room, a specialty food shop, experienced a crippling rise in rent. The cafe’s owners, Naomi Josepher and Jon Payson, reluctantly decided to abandon their space and begin figuring out how to finance a $200,000 relocation. They settled on launching a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Word spread quickly and by the third day, the shop had more than $1,000 pledged toward its goal of $40,000. Then the resistance began. “There’s something about asking your customers to help fund your expansion that just feels a little ... wrong,” posted a commenter on one community website. “Cool or not cool?”

Washington Post | Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Senate has confirmed Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin as deputy secretary at the Treasury Department, making her the highest-ranking woman in the agency’s history. Raskin joined the Fed in 2010 and was known for her focus on consumer protection. In her speeches, she has called attention to problems in the mortgage and foreclosure industries, the consequences of growing wealth and income inequality and the plight of low- and middle-income consumers. Before joining the Fed, Raskin was the chief financial regulator for the state of Maryland. Her confirmation creates another vacant seat on the seven-member board of governors. 

Reuters | Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Senate Banking Committee leaders Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) have announced an agreement on legislation to wind down government-owned mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Under the plan the financiers would be replaced with a new government reinsurer called the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corp. The senators also plan to replace affordable housing goals that Congress had given Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with new housing-related funds to ensure the availability of affordable rental properties. To create space for community banks in the system, the senators said they would seek to establish a "mutual cooperative jointly owned by small lenders" to offer a cash window for eligible loans while allowing the institutions to retain mortgage servicing rights.

American Banker | Friday, March 7, 2014

First Bancshares based in Hattiesburg, Miss., has agreed to buy BCB Holding in Mobile, Ala. First Bancshares will pay about $6.6 million for BCB, assuming BCB's debt and preferred stock issued to the Treasury Department. BCB, the parent of Bay Bank, has four branches and about $80 million in assets. "We are extremely excited and look forward to welcoming Bay Bank to our team," Hoppy Cole, First Bancshares' president and chief executive, said. "We believe it is a great combination of two service oriented community banks and by joining forces, we will improve our market presence in the Mobile area."

New York Times | Friday, March 7, 2014

Chicago-based First American Bank surprised banking analysts with an unusally public debit card fraud announcement released after 18 days of frustration. Their investigation began Feb. 10, when the bank received 11 fraud complaints in one day from checking account cardholders. First American determined that the customers had all experienced fraud right after using their debit cards in Chicago taxis. The bank started shutting down debit cards, issuing new ones and informing customers. At the same time, the bank was trying to get MasterCard and Bank of America to shut down card acceptance in cabs, stop the breach or at least explain what it knew about the problem, but made little headway.

Forbes | Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kat Taylor, CEO of One PacificCoast Bank, sat down for a wide-ranging video interview with Forbes Magazine on the state of socially and environmentally-responsible CDFI banks and B-corps. One PacificCoast Bank pursues economic justice and environmental sustainability along with profitability. "We wanted banking to be based on relationships and to produce social justice and environmental well-being at the same time that it's financially sustainable so that it can persist and grow bigger, serving more people and achieving more mission."

New York Times | Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dealstruck is among a new group of alternative lenders offering a middle path between banks and cash advance lenders. The latest upstarts combine digital innovation and efficiency with true term loans akin to bank loans. Their rates are higher than those charged by banks but lower than those charged by short-term alternative lenders. Dealstruck uses a peer-to-peer model in which wealthy investors put up the capital for individual loans, lowering the lender's cost of capital by freeing them from raising money. The lender also offers lower rates by targeting midprime or near-prime borrowers and lending larger amounts for longer terms. Dealstruck’s interest rates range from 8 to 24 percent for loans of up to $250,000 that can stretch for three years.

Wall Street Journal | Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A crop of new lenders is jumping into the subprime personal-loan market, wooing consumers with flawed credit. Among these firms is FreedomPlus, a lender which targets people with credit scores between 600 and 700. It offers loans up to $35,000, to be repaid over two to five years at rates ranging from 7.49% to 36%. Randy Green, a U.S. Air Force paramedic benefitted from the service. He lacked a long credit record, making it difficult to get a personal loan. So he borrowed on credit cards, paying interest rates upward of 20%. FreedomPlus stepped in with more favorable terms, lending $4,000 to be repaid over three years at an annual rate of 18%. "We see the term ["subprime"] as derogatory," said FreedomPlus President Joseph Toms said. Instead, he calls the market "emerging prime."

American Banker | Tuesday, March 4, 2014

President Obama's latest budget contains a few surprises for bankers. First, the budget predicts that the Federal Housing Administration, which announced in September it would need a $1.7 billion bailout, will have a positive year-end capital reserve of $7.8 billion and require no more transfers from Treasury. The proposal also includes new funds for housing, with $1 billion in spending to capitalize the National Housing Trust Fund. The affordable rental and housing program has been in turmoil due to the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This $1 billion allocation would "jumpstart" the fund. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also saw a bump in funding. But perhaps most controversial is the administration's call for a new "financial crisis responsibility fee" on the biggest banks to help pay down the Troubled Asset Relief Program.