NEW YORK (
) -- What's happening in small business today?
1. Amazon gets into commercial lending.
(AMZN - Get Report)
is selectively offering loans to merchants that sell on its website through its one-year-old venture, Amazon Lending. The company is looking to help sellers obtain cash quickly when they're rejected by a bank or other lender through its subsidiary, Amazon Capital Services, according to
The Wall Street Journal
Merchants who spoke with the
say they were offered loans ranging from $1,000 to $38,000. Interest rates ranged from less than 1% (for one merchant) to 13.9% compared to small-business credit card rates between 13% and 19%. The merchants also considered themselves "heavy sellers" of goods through Amazon, according to the article.
The company is considering offering the lending platform to third-party sellers based outside the U.S. as well, the article says.
Other sellers through Amazon question the company's motives for the lending option. Some don't want to give the online retailer even more control over their goods than they already have. Others don't want to be restricted in selling elsewhere if they got a loan through Amazon.
Of course, Amazon stands to benefit from these loans. It collects between 6% and 15% commission on many sales made through its website. If the lending program helps sellers bring in more sales, that means more commission revenue in addition to the loan interest, the article points out.
2. Big bank lending increases in September.
According to the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, last month large banks (those with more than $10 billion in assets) approved 14.2% of funding requests by small companies, a 30% jump from the prior month.
The figure represents the highest approval rating percentage for big banks since Biz2Credit began the index in 2011.
The index compiles a monthly analysis of 1,000 loan applications on
"Lenders including Citibank, Sovereign and Citizens Bank are jumping head-first back into small-business lending. The economy seems to be improving slowly, and the improvement has been a factor in their willingness to lend to small businesses," according to a statement by Rohit Arora, Biz2Credit co-founder and CEO, who oversaw the research. "This is a good sign for the economy. Combined with surprisingly good September jobs report, the positive economic news comes just as President Obama tries to recover from his poor debate performance against Mitt Romney."