On September 30, 2018, California enacted the nation’s first small business truth-in-lending law when Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1235. The law aims to protect small businesses from predatory lending practices by requiring increased transparency of certain business-purpose loans marketed to small businesses.
SB 1235 draws comparisons to the federal Truth in Lending Act, which imposes disclosure requirements for consumer-purpose, but not business-purpose loans. SB 1235 covers “commercial financing,” defined to include commercial loans, commercial open-end credit plans, factoring, and merchant cash advances, for transactions less than $500,000. Of note, SB 1235 applies to nondepository institutions, such as an “online lending platform,” and exempts traditional depository institutions.
Disclosures required by the law include: (i) the total amount of funds provided, (ii) the total dollar cost of the financing, (iii) the term or estimated term, (iv) the method, frequency, and amount of payments, (v) the description of prepayment policies, and (vi) the annualized rate of the total cost of financing. The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) is tasked with developing regulations to clarify the ambiguous scope of SB 1235.
The law has garnered broad industry support from signatories to the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights, which encompasses small business lenders, fintech companies, advocacy groups, and community organizations. Some business groups, including the Commercial Finance Association and Electronic Transactions Association, have chosen not to support the bill.