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Invoice Discounting: A Guide to the Process, Advantages, and Different Types

Updated on: Feb 8th, 2024

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6 min read

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Invoice discounting is a way to generate cash by keeping sale invoices as collateral with the financing institution by paying a service charge before the due date. It improves the working capital of the organisation.

What is meant by invoice discounting?

Invoice discounting enables the business to obtain a loan by keeping its trade receivable as collateral. A certain percentage of trade receivables is issued as a loan. This is a very effective financing solution as businesses receive advance cash due from customers through invoice discounting. This is a short definition for what is invoice discounting. 

Purpose of invoice discounting 

Invoice discounting increases the cash flow in the business organisation. This fund helps to accelerate additional growth. Here, instead of waiting for the customers to pay, one can discount the sales invoices from the lending institution to meet its cash requirements.

Examples of invoice discounting

Example 1: If you finance an receivable for Rs.20,000 with a financial institution, they will give an advance of up to 80% of the invoice amount. It can be Rs.16,000 when the invoice is assigned to them.  When the customer pays towards the invoice on the due date, you will then receive the balance of the Rs.4,000 (after reducing a small amount, about Rs.400 or so, towards fee by the finance institution). In this case of invoice discounting transaction, Rs. 4,000 was the discount.

Example 2: M/s XYZ Ltd has entered into an invoice discounting arrangement with the invoice discounting company to manage their cash flow. Whenever, XYZ Ltd. issues an invoice to their customers, suppose take an invoice priced Rs. 50,000 for products sold. An advance percentage mentioned as per the contract with the invoice discounting company is 75% which means XYZ Ltd. gets advanced Rs.37,500 by the invoice discounting company immediately the invoice is submitted. XYZ Ltd. generally uploads the invoice to their online account with the receivable financing company after which they get paid.

 XYZ's customers pays towards the invoices within 60 days, in this case Rs.50,000. It is paid into the trust account managed by the receivable financing company. The invoice discounting company funds XYZ Ltd. the rest of the amount, being “balance money (minus) fee” or Rs.12,500 - Rs. 1,250 which amounts to Rs.11,250. Hence, XYZ Ltd. receives Rs.11,250 in this illustration. Prima facie, the transaction seems like a direct settlement by customer to the supplier, whereas it is being funded through the receivable financing company.  

Who carries out invoice discounting?

  • Invoice discounting company- Any company such as manufacturing, logistics, FMCG, pharmaceuticals, etc., can avail invoice discounting facility. It is a type of loan wherein funds can be availed against unpaid sales invoices.
  • Lending institution- The lending institution charges a service fee for providing short-term loans against the unpaid sale invoices. 

Invoice discounting process

  1. A business entity prepares invoices for goods sold to customers.
  2. These invoices are then sent to the lending institution for raising funds.
  3. The lending institution verifies the invoices and issues funds as per agreed terms. The funds are issued as a certain percentage of the invoice value.
  4. The invoice amount is collected by the business entity or the lending institution as per the agreement terms.
  5. When the customer makes a payment against the invoice, the amount received more than funds issued is returned to the business entity after deducting its service fee.

Advantages and disadvantages of invoice discounting

Below are some of the advantages of invoice discounting:

  • Availability of cash- By using this type of financing, one can easily avail funds within 72 hours of applying. It is beneficial for businesses generating high-value invoices. A single unpaid invoice keeps a huge fund tied up.
  • Protection from bad debts- A few lending institutions also provide protection against bad debts by charging a fee for additional services. 
  • Confidentiality- One can enter into a confidential invoice discounting if they fear losing customer confidence. 
  • Higher funds- As the business grows, one becomes more eligible to avail higher funds based on trade receivables.
  • It brings a solution to slow payment. The funds raised can be used for business cash flow and dies to provide the necessary capital for business growth.

Below are some of the disadvantages of invoice discounting:

  • Meet eligibility criteria- Small entities may not fit into the eligibility criteria of the lending institution. However, businesses can overcome this disadvantage by building a steady track record, instilling confidence among financers.
  • Increase in cost- The financers charge a huge fee for providing invoice discounts. This will increase the business cost.
  • No help in getting payments from customers- Unlike factoring, this discounting method does not provide any assured facility or assistance in collecting unpaid sales invoices.

Types of invoice discounting

  • Whole turnover invoice discounting- In this type of invoice discounting, one can avail loan on each invoice generated in the business. Thus, funds can be raised on the total turnover.
  • Confidential invoice discounting- This type of invoice discounting ensures confidentiality so that the customers and vendors of the businesses won’t come to know about such type of business arrangement.
  • Selective invoice discounting- Only selective party invoices are given as collateral for raising funds under this type of invoice discounting.

Analysing the viability of invoice discounting

There are various financing options available in the market. Now the question arises, how to decide whether invoice discounting is suitable for your business? There are certain factors-

  • Lower chances of bad debts.
  • Receipt of timely payments from customers.
  • Meeting minimum turnover levels for availing this financing facility.
  • Robust credit control measures are being followed in the organisation.

If a particular organisation meets all the above factors, it can go for invoice discounting.

Comparison between invoice discounting and invoice factoring

Invoice factoring and invoice discounting are similar. In both types of financing agreements, funds are issued against unpaid sales invoices. However, the fundamental difference between factoring and invoice discounting is managing the credit control process and collecting payments from customers. 
In factoring, the lending institution manages the sales ledger and credit control process. The responsibility of collecting money from customers is that of the financing entity. Here, the lending institution buys the sales invoice.
In invoice discounting, the responsibility of collecting money from customers is that of the business entity. Thus, complete confidentiality is maintained in this type of financing arrangement. Here, the sales invoices are just used as collateral for providing short-term loans.

How does Clear Invoice Discounting help?

Clear Invoice Discounting is a smart Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning-based platform capable of connecting with ERPs of enterprises to help suppliers manage discounts of sales invoices more conveniently and workable for enterprise and their supplier. On the other hand, enterprise customers can flexibly choose from a range of financing options to fund their early payments, with their own surplus cash, or by opting for a line of credit via banks, or pushing invoices to various TReDs marketplaces from within the platform.

Your enterprise is opened to an opportunity of gaining about 2-5x additional returns with zero overheads!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is invoice discounting?

Invoice discounting refers to a process in which an enterprise sells an invoice to a financing company to access cash tied up in unpaid invoices.

Which is the best invoice discounting platform in India?

Clear Invoice discounting is the best invoice discounting platform in India as it helps you maximise EBITDA letting you gain 2-5x additional returns with zero overheads with flexible finance options. 

What types of invoices can be discounted?

Any final invoice that is unpaid becomes eligible for invoice discounting.

What are the eligibility requirements for invoice discounting?

Enterprises that qualify invoice discounting are those that have lower chances of bad debts, expect timely receipt of payments from customers, meet minimum turnover levels for availing this financing facility and follow robust credit control measures.

Is invoice discounting right for my business?

If your business has any unpaid invoices, with a history of getting paid within the invoice due date, meets the turnover criteria and follows all the credit control measures, then you can explore invoice discounting financing option.

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