Payset prespective
May 25, 2023

What Is Trade Finance and How Does it Work?

Trade finance allows companies to get a payment based on their receivables. In this guide, we explain more about trade finance and how it can benefit your business.

If you operate a business, you may be aware of trade finance. This term refers to agreements used by importers and exporters in conjunction with a financial institution.

Trade finance reduces the risks involved in global trade by protecting against failure-to-pay on the part of importers and against failure-to-ship on the part of exporters. However, trade finance is a broad category, and there are many financial instruments involved. 

Here’s what you should know if you are planning to participate in trade finance.

What is trade finance?

Trade finance includes several financial instruments that businesses use when they engage in trade and commerce. The term covers many different financial tools, including but not limited to factoring, lines of credit, working capital, and insurance.

How does trade finance work?

Trade finance is employed when importers and exporters arrange certain transaction agreements. Exporters receive purchase orders from importers, while importers receive payments from exporters. Either party may rely on trade finance to complete the transaction.

Here is one example of when you might need to rely on trade finance:

If you sell an item to various retailers, you might experience greater demand at certain times. You might not be prepared to pay your own supplier for extra products, even if you can afford to do so.

Instead of seeking out a regular loan, you can contact a bank that will handle finances with your supplier and receive payments from your buyer. This is trade financing.

How is trade financing different to general financing?

Trade financing is different from general financing. In general financing, participants usually aim to borrow money because they lack solvency or liquidity.

By contrast, trade financing usually provides participants with protection against trade-related risks. That is, participants who rely on trade financing intend to avoid risks such as non-payment, non-shipment, currency fluctuations, political instability, and credit and trust risks. Trade financing participants do not necessarily lack funding.

What types of instruments are used in trade financing?

There are several types of instruments that are used in trade financing, including:

  • Lending lines of credit: This type of loan is issued by a bank or financial institution; it is often used by importers and exporters 
  • Letters of credit: These documents are issued by banks; they act as a promise that a payment will be carried out when a transaction is complete  
  • Export credit and working capital: These funds are provided by governments and count toward purchases in certain export markets
  • Insurance: Insurance is used to protect importers against an exporter’s failure to ship; additionally, insurance can protect exporters against an importer’s failure to pay 
  • Bank guarantees: Bank guarantees ensure that an exporter receives payment for a product, even when an importer is unable to pay for that product
  • Factoring: Factoring allows exporters to sell accounts receivable to a factor at a discount, helping them to meet their cash needs
  • Forfaiting: Forfaiting is similar to factoring but applies in more limited circumstances and involves a forfaiter rather than a factor

How does trade finance reduce risk?

Trade financing reduces risk by helping importers and exporters meet their different needs. International trade requires extensive arrangements, and there is a risk that exporters will fail to ship — or that importers will fail to pay for — certain products or orders.

In trade finance, banks handle some aspects of transactions and financing. This means that importers do not need to make payments up front. It also means that exporters do not need to make shipments up front. As such, both parties are protected from risk.

Trade finance agreements can also protect importers and exporters from currency fluctuation and other risks, though this depends on other instruments such as contracts and options.

What are the benefits of trade finance?

Trade finance has numerous benefits, for example:

  • Reduced risk: Trade financing primarily reduces the risk that importers and exporters will fail to pay for, or fail to ship, products
  • Efficiency and cash flow: The various financial instruments used in trade financing allow companies to avoid delays in payments and shipments
  • Increased revenue and global trade: Trade financing can help companies find and work with businesses internationally, thereby increasing revenue 
  • Financial coverage: Credit facilities and other lending instruments can be used when finances are weak, though this is not the primary purpose of trade finance

What are the interest rates for trade financing options?

Interest rates for trade financing range from roughly 1.25% to 3% for 30 days. However, exact interest rates depend on the size of an order and on the companies involved. Large orders with companies that are actively seeking business may have the lowest interest rates.

Am I eligible for trade finance options?

Trade financing is usually an option for businesses that work with other companies — especially those that trade globally. However, you will not know whether you qualify for trade financing unless you speak to a bank and provide certain information.

Documents that your company may need to provide include:

  • Business plans
  • Financial statements
  • Budgets and forecasts
  • Details of assets and liabilities
  • Descriptions of trade cycles
  • Purchase orders and invoices
  • CVs for company directors
  • Bank references
  • Data on related companies

The bank will evaluate your eligibility after you provide the necessary information. Banks may examine details related to your finances, credit, and risk before providing you with trade finance arrangements.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a multi-currency account/virtual IBAN?

A Payset multi-currency account allows you to receive money in 34 different currencies and send money in up to 38 currencies, all within the same account.

You can deposit and withdraw funds, convert currencies at competitive exchange rates, and hold your chosen currencies to capitalize on market movements.

A Payset multi-currency account allows startups and business owners to receive payments from clients virtually anywhere in the world and pay suppliers, staff, and contractors quickly and affordably in their chosen currency.

  • Funds can be deposited and withdrawn from the account for a small fee.
  • Account holders can send and receive money with other Payset users for free.
  • Depending on your region, you can use various payment networks from your Payset account, including SWIFT, SEPA, ACH, Fedwire, Faster Payments, BACS, and CHAPS. 
  • Once you register an account, you will be provided with a Virtual IBAN (International Bank Account Number), which makes all of these transfers easy.
  • We provide you with local payments and collections. For example, transactions in USD, EUR, CAD, and GBP are processed through the local payment networks, which is far cheaper and takes minutes as opposed to days

Are there limits on the amount of money I can send and receive?

No, there are no transaction limits on Payset multi-currency accounts.

However, higher-volume transactions may require additional anti-fraud verification. If you plan to make a large transaction, contact us in advance to avoid verification delays.

How is Payset regulated?

Payset allows you to receive payments in 34 currencies. You can send payments from your account in 38 currencies. For more details, check our payment guide.

How do I send money from my account?

Once you have opened your verified IBAN account and added money to a balance, transferring funds is simple.

Simply log in into your account and add a beneficiary, then simply “make a transfer” in your preferred currency to that beneficiary.

Information contained in this publication is provided for general education and information purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, investment or other professional advice or recommendation, or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions or any other actions (or refraining therefrom); This material has been prepared without taking into account any particular recipient’s financial objectives or situation. We make no warranty, guarantee or representation, whether express or implied, as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or fitness thereof for a particular purpose; Use of images and symbols is made for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or advice to take or refraining from any action; Use of brand logos does not necessarily imply a contractual relationship between us and the entities owning the logos, nor does it represent an endorsement of any such entity by Pay Set Limited, or vice versa; Market information is made available to you only as a service, and we do not endorse or approve it; Any reference to past performance, predicted returns, or likelihood performance scenarios may not reflect actual future performance and certainly do not guarantee future outcomes.

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