Category Archives: Payables Finance

Ad Hoc Working Capital and the Diversification of Liquidity

Toyota supply chain

When it comes to working capital and liquidity today, there are more options than just black. Almost all companies have some form of permanent capital to fund their business operations. Even the smallest companies typically have an overdraft facility or business line of credit with their bank. Larger companies are serviced by an array of conventional (banks, factors, ABL) and non-conventional (asset managers, insurers, specialty finance) financial firms. Until recently, however, the idea of ad hoc working capital to supplement more permanent forms was not a reality, since the combination of technologies such as e-invoicing, dynamic discounting, API integration and supplier portals were being developed along with third-party sources of capital. But through rapid B2B digitization and more widespread deployment of purchase-to-pay and supply chain collaboration platforms, companies now interact with their buyer-supplier ecosystems in new ways that enable and simplify ad hoc working capital.

Why E-Invoicing Needs Machine Learning to Accelerate Invoice Finance

In the past, most procurement organizations would admit to doing a generally poor job of linking buying processes to the actual receipt of invoices, the invoice approval process and the subsequent payment to suppliers.

But in more recent years, corporations have moved to the cloud for document and data exchange around their source-to-pay processes, driven by factors including the rise of platform-based technologies that drive efficiency and effectiveness in the procurement and accounts payable areas as well as by government tax regulations.

Many invoices still come in via PDF and paper, and require some form of machine recognition. With machine learning, providing scanned documents and automatic extracting offers a way to make instant credit decisions for off-platform funding.

How the Contagion Effect Could Blow Up Network Finance

In the real world, you plan for an event and it works out for a while. Then things fall apart. So you react and plan more — hoping to stop the problem from creating a contagion effect.

And here you are, thinking that you built this nice network finance model to finance your suppliers not just on approved invoices, but invoices that have been issued, or even more upstream, purchase orders that have been issued. And things have been working smoothly for a couple of quarters, or maybe for even a year or two.

But then it happens. More things fall apart.

The Blurring of Supply Chain Finance Definitions

I often get this question about how factoring and supply chain finance differ from traditional invoice finance. And the real answer is its very murky. There is certainly a blurring between invoice finance, invoice discounting, factoring, supply chain finance and asset-based lending.

By whatever name you want to call it, what really matters is what usury laws are governed by the lending technique and how bankruptcy court will interpret the structure (loan, asset purchase) and what the state or legal jurisdiction laws are in relation to the technique. Definitions are fine to help educate and illustrate, but they are meaningless when it comes to judges and investors.

Supply Chain Finance: Gray Area Abounds on Early Pay Programs, Accounting

Whichever way you look at it and define it, supply chain finance has grown into a big number. And if you define it as using the balance sheet of a large company to offer early payment to some or all of its suppliers, it is has gained in popularity. Plus, it’s not only offered by large banks who can both originate and distribute large-scale programs for the likes of Unilever or Procter & Gamble, but also non-bank asset arrangers like Greensill, Seaport and others working together with source-to-pay platforms or directly with buyers to develop programs. And always in the background we have heard this whispering of accounting treatment. And by now, most people who have dabbled in this space know the issue: Is it trade payable or is it debt? Fewer understand the implications.

4 Traps when applying Artificial Intelligence to B2B Lending

The crowdsourcing concept called the “wisdom of the crowd” is where a thousand non-experts will make better decisions than the most sophisticated experts in any field. Yet humans are subject to biases in their decision-making. These biases can bleed into the artificial intelligence algorithms we design to try to make us more efficient and effective. Read about the four that we should recognize.

Why Platforms Need to Monetize Their Supplier Ecosystem

Because P2P solutions started giving away supplier portals, cash flow optimizers, analytics, support, etc., they closed a revenue door. Trying to build a sustainable business model when half your ecosystem is not monetized is very challenging, even as P2P platforms add features and functionality. Sure, many platforms are trying to figure out payments, and that is something that scares the bejeebers out of them due to regulations and compliance rules. (Don’t pay that blacklisted vendor or person, or else.) But payments is not a profitable business for platforms, it’s a service.

Post-Confirmation Dilution in an Uncertain Credit World

e-invoicing

How long has this benign credit cycle been going on? How about since 2008, when the Fed began dumping money into the economy to go way beyond its mandate as a last-stop liquidity gap. This has led to many distortions in the credit and capital markets, and one area where this is poorly understood is around “approved” invoices. Despite what many players in the space might believe, underwriting is necessary — even  critical. Even though the invoices that are on the platform are, by definition, approved for payment (i.e., highly de-risked), they are by no means risk-free.

Intelligent Trade Finance: The Road Ahead

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Biji John, product manager, trade finance, at Finastra.

The trade finance industry is undergoing a unique moment of transformation. There is a virtuous circle between how the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution will enable trade financing, and how this in turn will power the innovation and adoption of these technologies in “Industry X.0.” In our last post, we explored ways in which AI, blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) will transform how trade finance is done. Here we explore some of the hurdles that banks face on the road to true intelligent trade finance, and provide some practical examples of banks that have overcome these challenges and serve as prime examples of intelligent trade finance in action.

Early Pay Finance Ain’t Easy: Understanding Customer Deductions

Every industry is affected by customer deductions. Called a variety of names by companies — including deductions, chargebacks or short-pays — from the perspective of a digital lender focused on invoice finance, understanding the nature of deductions is a first start to building smart underwriting and dynamic lending capabilities. Why? Deductions mean a diluted invoice value.

Intelligent Trade Finance: The Confluence of Blockchain and the Internet of Things

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Biji John, product manager, trade finance, at Finastra.

The fundamentals of trade and trade finance have not changed in centuries: it’s process heavy, with bottlenecks and disputes everywhere. Characterized by paper and manual operations, the back office is ripe for next-generation transformation. In the middle and front office there is potential for far greater automation and use of real-time data, for example in the accounts receivables process, in SME credit underwriting, loan booking, and monitoring and indeed for relationship managers (human and virtual) to surface and analyze data to gain insights and provide more data-driven recommendations to corporate clients along the financial supply chain.

Fintech or House Bank for Early Payment Solutions: Key Differences

There are three buyer-centric solutions to facilitate early payment for suppliers: supply chain finance, dynamic discounting and commercial cards (p-cards, v-cards). Bank-developed solutions in this space rely heavily on companies using credit lines. The focal point tends to be on p-card solutions, not dynamic discounting. Why? P-cards generate much more in fee revenue than dynamic discounting, particularly if a client uses its own funds to facilitate early payment instead of a bank credit line.