Peer-to-peer lending has been an important form of alternative financing for over a decade. To date, most P2P lending sites have focused on personal loans that borrowers can use any way they choose.
But SMBx took the success of P2P lending websites and reimagined them for businesses seeking funding. By harnessing the power of storytelling and social media, SMBx has created a small business lending marketplace where everyday people can lend money to the small companies that they love.
SMBx isn't the first P2P marketplace. But it's one of the few focusing on business loans between peers. We break down how it works and its main benefits in our full review below.
- Small business-focused P2P lending
- Invest in small business bonds for as little as $10
- Learn the story and financials of businesses before investing
Up to 9%
Open To Non-Accredited Investors
What Is SMBx?
SMBx is a peer-to-peer lending place that focuses on small business loans. This focus on democratizing small business financing allows investors to provide loans to businesses they love while small businesses get affordable loans.
SMBx is only a peer-to-peer marketplace. It doesn't actually issue loans or handle money. Its banking partners host escrow accounts that manage the money.
What Does It Offer?
SMBx is a website that allows investors and small businesses to find each other. SMBx focuses on small business lending. That means investors provide loans to small companies.
The loans are repaid in monthly installments. The monthly payments include a return of principal and a fixed interest rate. Assuming the small business pays off the loan as expected, the bonds will yield between 6%-9% per year. Of course, defaults can drive down effective yields.
Invest In Small Business Bonds For Businesses You Believe In
SMBx specializes in telling the stories of small businesses that want to take out a loan. Companies that may struggle to qualify for an SBA or other low-interest loan may have compelling financials and stories.
Together, these qualities may attract investors seeking to invest in companies they care about. Investors who want to do social good with their investment money may find that investing in small businesses aligns with their values better than mainstream investments.
Low $10 Minimum Investment
SMBx sets small investment minimums on its platform. Investors with just $10 may buy into a bond investment. Even investors with relatively small amounts of money can start buying small business bonds through SMBx. However, note that most investors will face maximum investment limits.
Investors that earn less than $107,000 can invest 5% of their income or net worth, or $2,200 per year (whichever of the three numbers is greatest). Those who earn more than $107,000 can invest the lesser of 10% of their income or net worth. Finally, accredited investors have no limits.
Yields Up To 9%
At this time, all bonds listed on the site showed yields ranging from 6% to 9%. These rates are far higher than the average yields on corporate bonds. However, individual bond investing, especially in unproven companies is risky. When businesses default, investors may lose money.
No Investing Fees
SMBx does not charge any fees to its investors. Small businesses that take out loans through the SMBx platform, however, do have to pay a 3.5% upfront funding fee.
Are There Any Fees?
SMBx does not charge fees to its investors who use a bank account to fund the investment. But anyone that chooses to use a card will face a 4% transaction fee with each investment.
Instead of charging investors, SMBx earns money by charging fees to the small businesses that take out loans through SMBx. Small businesses will pay a 3.5% upfront financing fee when their loan is funded.
Investors will be responsible to pay taxes on the interest (yield) that they earn through SMBx. SMBx will send investors a 1099-INT statement each year so that they can determine their tax liability.
How Do I Contact SMBx?
The primary office for SMBx is located in San Francisco. Its address is:
486 15th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118
If you need help, you can contact SMBx by emailing email@example.com, or by calling (415) 869-8819.
How Does SMBx Compare?
However, the loans aren’t the same as the loans on other P2P platforms. SMBx focuses on responsible lending for businesses. Businesses must explain how they intend to use the loan. And small businesses can advertise the loan directly to their loyal customer base.
However, SMBx has one downside for P2P investors. The site has a relatively small number of offerings. Investors cannot easily diversify among a large number of loans to ensure that they have reasonable diversification within a risky asset class. Here's a quick look at how SMBx compares:
Up to 9%
Up to 10.3%
Up to 29.99%
Open To Non-Accredited Investors?
How Do I Open An Account?
Anyone who has a US Bank Account can sign up to become an investor in SMBx. To create an account, investors must create an investor profile on SMBx.
This includes basic details about investment income and more. Once the investment profile is complete, investors set investment limits and finally link a bank account.
Is It Safe And Secure?
SMBx provides a loan prospectus and financial details on every bond it issues. SMBx facilitates deals between small businesses and investors. But, again, it does not hold investor money.
Actual funds are held by escrow accounts. And loan payments are facilitated through a separate escrow account. This separation of funds helps to protect both investors and small business owners.
However, the security of your personal information is not the same as the riskiness of the investment. Small business loans are a risky asset class. Investors may lose their money (including the principal balance of the loan) when investing through SMBx.
Is It Worth It?
SMBx is an exciting new take on P2P lending. That said, the investment premise is risky. And the returns are capped below 10%. It seems unlikely that this type of risk and reward paradigm should play a prominent role in most investors' portfolios.
Overall, SMBx seems best-suited for investors who want to support specific small businesses for non-financial reasons. But if you don't fit into that category, you'll probably want to keep the majority of your investments in more mainstream assets like stocks, bonds, funds, and real estate.
Investors who make less than $107,000 per year: 5% of income or net worth or $2,200 (whichever is greater)
Investors who make more than $107,000 per year: 10% of income or net worth
Accredited investors: No limits
Fee For Small Businesses
3.5% of amount financed
6 to 9%
Open To Non-Accredited Investors
Small business bonds
High -- loan prospectus and financial details provided for every offering
Share Redemption Program
Customer Service Phone Number
Customer Service Email Address
Mobile App Availability
Commissions and Fees
Ease of Use
SMBx is a public exchange that allows investors to support local small businesses by purchasing shares of Small Business Bonds.
- Minimum investment of just $10
- Detailed prospectus for each loan
- Provides monthly passive income
- Yields generally capped at 9%
- Only a few active bonds at a time
- Small business investing is risky
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.
Editor: Clint Proctor