New business card concept to fill funding gaps for small developers


Caary Capital wants to establish a new type of financial relationship with businesses in Canada, one that focuses on cash flow and assets, not credit history.

They do this using a corporate credit card secured by Mastercard. Business owners can order and assign virtual cards to their staff, set spending limits and expiration dates on the cards, as well as earn 1.5% cash back for transactions on all cards including has the business owner. There are no credit checks, no annual fees, no more personal guarantees, which means the business owner will not be required to repay the credit using their personal credit or assets. They aim to serve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with revenues of $1 million to $50 million. A minimum balance of $35,000 in a corporate bank account must be approved.

A similar pattern can be seen in the US with companies like Brex, while Canadian companies like Neo Financial and Brim Financial are also making their presence known in the credit card market which is currently dominated by the big banks.

After a recent launch in Toronto, STOREYS caught up with Caary Capital CEO John MacKinlay to find out more about how the start-up could also help real estate developers and brokers.

Mackinlay, who took on the role at Caary in 2021 after leading strategy at companies like IBM and PwC, says real estate is one of their target industries, noting that like big banks, there are big property management organizations that hold a grip on the industry.

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“The ability of small developers who are more rural than urban to access credit is tested, and then the trades that are part of this ecosystem are very fragmented,” explains MacKinlay.

Currently, 100 clients use Caary’s platform, including companies in the property development, construction and renovation sector.

“On the development side, being able to manage budgets within an overall credit limit is a good thing,” says MacKinlay. “Additionally, property managers can create maps for different properties, where a physical or virtual map would then give you a different cut of data on how you track budgets.”

Cards can be programmed to be used only at a certain location (i.e. Home Depot) or at certain demographic groups to help streamline costs.

Caary changed the accreditation approach to look more at a company’s operating life, cash flow – what comes in and goes out in terms of payments – and assets under management (AUM), so that the total market value of assets the business manages for others. They use their own proprietary risk management system to perform risk scoring and determine credit eligibility and limits.

“We have visibility into their monthly spending and bank balance, so we can comfortably offer loans,” Mackinlay says. “It’s not just access to credit, because here you’re going to spend it however you want. We have built-in tools to help you manage things.

“You can have physical and virtual cards for staff with specific expenses, allocate expense controls, like $50,000 for a marketing budget, and sync with broader budgets,” Mackinlay says, adding that they provide and extend loans for cash flow, which helps when purchasing equipment, materials, or other capital goods.

Mackinlay also thinks the brokerage and realtor industry could benefit.

“Each real estate agent has their own company that they are attached to, so it is very rare, from what I understand, to secure company cards, and if they do secure one it is backed by a guarantee personal, so all of their expenses go against that personal guarantee,” Mackinlay says. “Having access without that is good for incorporated realtors.”

Caary has raised CA$21.5m to date, with his next raise set at US$30-35m. They currently serve all Canadian provinces except Quebec, which they plan to serve “in the near future.”

“In an industry like real estate, which is very project-driven with a lot of spend per project, the ability to control and manage those spend is important and that’s what we’re trying to help with,” Mackinlay says. “It’s a huge part of the value proposition.”

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