INVOICE FINANCE - invoice discounting 

Invoice discounting

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Waiting months for invoices to be paid can be a headache for small businesses by slowing cash flow. With limited capital available, delays can severely limit opportunities for growth as well as causing problems when it comes to paying staff and suppliers on time. With invoice discounting, you'll be able to receive the cash owed to you in outstanding invoices quickly and easily, whilst retaining complete control over the management of your sales ledger and credit control processes.

What is invoice discounting?

Invoice discounting is a type of invoice finance that allows small businesses to access the funds tied up in their outstanding invoices before the customer pays them. Unlike traditional business loans, invoice discounting involves using your unpaid invoices as collateral to secure a line of credit. This means that you can access the funds you need without accumulating additional debt.

How does invoice discounting work?

Invoice discounting uses your invoices as a way to quickly access capital. The process of invoice discounting works like this: 

  1. You raise invoices for the goods or services provided to your customers as usual. 
  2. You select the invoices you want to discount and share them with the invoice discounting provider. They will then verify the authenticity of the invoices and the creditworthiness of your customers.
  3. Upon verification, the invoice discounting provider advances a certain percentage of the invoice value to your business, typically around 70-90%. This provides you with an immediate injection of cash.
  4. Your customers continue to make payments directly to you, as they would normally. 
  5. Once the customer pays the invoice, the invoice discounting lender deducts its fees and the advanced amount. The remaining funds are then remitted back to you.

Advantages and disadvantages of invoice discounting

Pros of invoice discounting

  • Invoice discounting can speed up your cash flow, providing you with much-needed working capital to cover operational expenses, or invest in business opportunities.
  • Invoice discounting doesn't require you to use assets or property as security. The amount you can access grows as your sales and invoicing increase.
  • Invoice discounting is often confidential, meaning your customers may not be aware that you're using it, allowing you to maintain control over your customer relationships.
  • Invoice discounting doesn't create additional debt on your balance sheet, so it's an appealing option for small businesses looking to manage their financial obligations wisely.
  • Generally, the cost of invoice discounting can be lower than other forms of short-term financing, like unsecured business, because the financing is secured against the value of the invoices.
  • Invoice discounting offers flexibility in terms of when and how much you choose to borrow. You can select which invoices to discount, to tailor the financing to your needs.

Cons of invoice discounting

  • A con of invoice discounting is the cost involved, as businesses sell their invoices at a discount, they receive less than the full value of the invoice upfront. This discount represents the fee charged by the financing company for providing the funds early.
  • Not all invoices may be eligible for discounting as the invoice discounting lender assesses the creditworthiness of both the business and its customers before approving the transaction. If a business has a high proportion of risky or low-credit customers, it might find it challenging to qualify for invoice discounting.
  • Invoice discounting is typically more suitable for business-to-business (B2B) transactions. It might not be a feasible option for businesses that primarily deal with individual consumers.
  • Your business's ability to access finance through invoice discounting is dependent on your customers' payment behaviour. If your customers delay payments or if there are disruptions in the payment cycle, it could affect your access to funds.

Confidential invoice discounting 

Many businesses choose to opt for invoice discounting instead of invoice factoring as you are able to retain confidentiality about using invoice finance. 
Invoice factoring involves giving the responsibility of credit control over the invoice factoring provider. However with invoice discounting, you retain the responsibility of collecting the invoice from your customers. This means your customers will not know that you are using invoice finance, helping to reduce any risk to your customer relationships.

Why use invoice discounting?

Is invoice discounting right for my business?

Invoice discounting can be ideal for any business dealing with large volumes of invoices, looking to reduce the hassle caused by lengthy repayment terms. This accessible, flexible borrowing option is designed for businesses which already have sufficient credit control practices in place coupled with reliable, creditworthy customers

Almost any business to business invoice can be advanced through invoice discounting. There are no restrictions on what the capital can be used for. You could purchase new stock to fulfil a large order, hire new staff, or bridge a cash flow gap. 

Each provider offers their own limits in terms of how much can be advanced from each invoice, with payments typically made within 24 hours of approval. 

The funds will be sent directly to your business bank account once an invoice has been raised to your customer with the total amount borrowed repaid, plus interest and any accumulated fees, once the balance has been settled. You'll be able to take advantage of these services time and time again, giving you the peace of mind that you can quickly access capital when your business needs it most. 

Can I get invoice discounting with bad credit?

Invoice discounting lenders typically assess the creditworthiness of your customers, more so than the creditworthiness of your own business. This is because invoice discounting uses the invoice as security for the loan, so the likelihood of the lender being repaid depends on whether your customers pay your invoices. This means you could get invoice discounting even if your business has bad credit.

You can check the creditworthiness of your customers with Capitalise for Business

frequently asked questions about invoice discounting

While both involve invoice factoring and invoice discounting use invoices to access funds, invoice discounting is more confidential. With invoice discounting, the business retains control over customer relationships and payment collection. However, invoice factoring involves selling invoices to a third party who then takes over the responsibility of collecting payments.

Invoice discounting can be confidential, meaning your customers may not be aware that you're using this financing method. This allows you to maintain your existing customer relationships and collection processes.

The cost of invoice discounting includes a fee or interest based on the time between invoice creation and settlement. Additionally, there might be administrative charges. It's important to compare these costs against the benefits of improved cash flow.

Yes, you can generally select which invoices to discount based on your immediate cash flow needs. However, some discounting providers might have minimum invoice amounts or specific criteria for eligibility. You can find out more about selective invoice finance. 

Your customers will continue to make payments to you as usual. Once they settle the invoices, the invoice discounting provider releases the remaining percentage of the invoice value to you after deducting their fees.

Invoice discounting is generally a short-to-medium-term financing solution, more suitable for managing cash flow and working capital. If you're looking for long-term financing, other options like long term loans might be more appropriate.