What is Reverse Factoring?

Reverse Factoring, also known as supply chain financing or supplier financing, is a financial solution where a business arranges for a third party (usually a financial institution) to pay its suppliers on its behalf. This arrangement allows suppliers to receive payments earlier than the agreed terms while the business extends its payment period with the financier. Here’s a detailed explanation tailored for a UK audience:


  1. Definition:
    • Reverse Factoring: Reverse factoring is a financial arrangement where a buyer (the business) partners with a financial institution to pay its suppliers earlier than the standard payment terms. The buyer then repays the financial institution at a later date, typically extending their payment period.
  2. How It Works:
    • Agreement Setup: The buyer enters into an agreement with a financial institution to set up a reverse factoring programme.
    • Invoice Approval: Once the buyer approves the suppliers’ invoices, they are sent to the financial institution.
    • Early Payment: The financial institution pays the suppliers early, often at a discount.
    • Buyer Repayment: The buyer repays the financial institution on the original invoice due date or an extended date, as per the agreed terms.
  3. Key Features:
    • Early Payment to Suppliers: Suppliers receive payments sooner than the original credit terms, improving their cash flow.
    • Extended Payment Terms for Buyers: The buyer benefits from extended payment terms with the financial institution, enhancing their cash flow management.
    • Lower Costs for Suppliers: Typically, the cost of financing through reverse factoring is lower for suppliers compared to traditional factoring or other financing methods, as the risk is based on the buyer’s creditworthiness.
  4. Benefits:
    • For Suppliers:
      • Improved Cash Flow: Suppliers get paid faster, which can significantly improve their working capital and financial stability.
      • Reduced Financing Costs: Lower interest rates compared to traditional financing due to the buyer’s stronger credit profile.
    • For Buyers:
      • Strengthened Supplier Relationships: Early payments help build stronger relationships with suppliers, potentially leading to better terms and reliability.
      • Cash Flow Management: Buyers can manage their cash flow more effectively by extending their payment terms without negatively impacting suppliers.
    • For Financial Institutions:
      • Low Risk: Financial institutions face lower risk as the buyer’s creditworthiness is generally stronger and more reliable.
  5. Considerations:
    • Cost: While beneficial, reverse factoring comes with costs, including fees and interest, which need to be weighed against the benefits.
    • Implementation: Setting up a reverse factoring programme requires coordination between the buyer, suppliers, and the financial institution, and may involve integration with existing accounting and procurement systems.
    • Supplier Participation: Success depends on supplier participation; not all suppliers may be willing or able to join the programme.
  6. Example:
    • A large UK-based retailer partners with a bank to implement a reverse factoring programme. The retailer approves invoices from its suppliers, which are then sent to the bank. The bank pays the suppliers within 10 days, even though the retailer’s payment terms are 60 days. The retailer then repays the bank at the end of the 60 days, benefiting from extended credit terms while ensuring suppliers receive prompt payment.
  7. Legal and Regulatory Considerations:
    • Contractual Agreements: Clear agreements between the buyer, suppliers, and financial institution are essential to outline terms, responsibilities, and costs.
    • Compliance: The arrangement must comply with UK financial regulations and accounting standards to ensure transparency and legality.
  8. Industry Usage:
    • Large Corporations: Commonly used by large companies with strong credit ratings to support their supply chain and improve supplier relationships.
    • Supply Chain Management: Particularly beneficial in industries with long supply chains and significant working capital requirements, such as manufacturing, retail, and automotive.

In summary, reverse factoring in the UK is a financing solution that allows suppliers to receive early payments for their invoices while providing buyers with extended payment terms. This arrangement enhances cash flow management for both parties and strengthens supplier relationships, with the financial institution facilitating the process. However, it requires careful consideration of costs, implementation, and legal compliance.