Category Archives: Finance

Debt

Debt is money owed by one party, the borrower or debtor, to a second party, the lender or creditor. The borrower may be a sovereign state or country, local government, company, or an individual. The lender may be a bank, credit card company, payday loan provider, or an individual. Debt is generally subject to contractual terms regarding the amount and timing of repayments of principal and interest. A simple way to understand interest is to see it as the “rent” a person owes on money that they have borrowed, to the bank from which they borrowed the money. Loans, bonds, notes, and mortgages are all types of debt. The term can also be used metaphorically to cover moralobligations and other interactions not based on economic value. For example, in Western cultures, a person who has been helped by a second person is sometimes said to owe a “debt of gratitude” to the second person.

A company may use various kinds of debt to finance its operations as a part of its overall corporate finance strategy. A term loan is the simplest form of corporate debt. It consists of an agreement to lend a fixed amount of money, called the principal sum or principal, for a fixed period of time, with this amount to be repaid by a certain date. In commercial loans interest, calculated as a percentage of the principal sum per year, will also have to be paid by that date, or may be paid periodically in the interval, such as annually or monthly. Such loans are also colloquially called “bullet loans”, particularly if there is only a single payment at the end – the “bullet” – without a “stream” of interest payments during the life of the loan. A syndicated loan is a loan that is granted to companies that wish to borrow more money than any single lender is prepared to risk in a single loan. A syndicated loan is provided by a group of lenders and is structured, arranged, and administered by one or several commercial banks or investment banks known as arrangers. Loan syndication is a risk management tool that allows the lead banksunderwriting the debt to reduce their risk and free up lending capacity. A company may also issue bonds, which are debt securities. Bonds have a fixed lifetime, usually a number of years; with long-term bonds, lasting over 30 years, being less common. At the end of the bond’s life the money should be repaid in full. Interest may be added to the end payment, or can be paid in regular installments during the life of the bond.

A letter of credit or LC can also be the source of payment for a transaction, meaning that redeeming the letter of credit will pay an exporter. Letters of credit are used primarily in international trade transactions of significant value, for deals between a supplier in one country and a customer in another. They are also used in the land development process to ensure that approved public facilities will be built. The parties to a letter of credit are usually a beneficiary who is to receive the money, the issuing bank of whom the applicant is a client, and the advising bank of whom the beneficiary is a client. Almost all letters of credit are irrevocable, i.e., cannot be amended or canceled without prior agreement of the beneficiary, the issuing bank and the confirming bank, if any. In executing a transaction, letters of credit incorporate functions common togiros and traveler’s cheque. Typically, the documents a beneficiary has to present in order to receive payment include a commercial invoice, bill of lading, and a document proving the shipment was insured against loss or damage in transit. However, the list and form of documents is open to imagination and negotiation and might contain requirements to present documents issued by a neutral third party evidencing the quality of the goods shipped, or their place of origin. Companies also use debt in many ways to leverage the investment made in their assets, “leveraging” the return on their equity. This leverage, the proportion of debt to equity, is considered important in determining the riskiness of an investment; the more debt per equity, the riskier.

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions, and is part of the process of accounting in business. Transactions include purchases, sales, receipts, and payments by an individual person or an organization/corporation. There are several standard methods of bookkeeping, such as the single-entry bookkeeping system and the double-entry bookkeeping system, but, while they may be thought of as “real” bookkeeping, any process that involves the recording of financial transactions is a bookkeeping process. Bookkeeping is usually performed by a bookkeeper. A bookkeeper is a person who records the day-to-day financial transactions of a business. He or she is usually responsible for writing the daybooks, which contain records of purchases, sales, receipts, and payments. The bookkeeper is responsible for ensuring that all transactions whether it is cash transaction or credit transaction are recorded in the correct daybook, supplier’s ledger, customer ledger, and general ledger; an accountant can then create reports from the information concerning the financial transactions recorded by the bookkeeper. The bookkeeper brings the books to the trial balance stage: an accountant may prepare the income statement and balance sheetusing the trial balance and ledgers prepared by the bookkeeper.

A daybook is a descriptive and chronological record of day-to-day financial transactions also called a book of original entry. The daybook’s details must be entered formally into journals to enable posting to ledgers. Daybooks include:

  • Sales daybook, for recording all the sales invoices.
  • Sales credits daybook, for recording all the sales credit notes.
  • Purchases daybook, for recording all the purchase invoices.
  • Purchases Debits daybook, for recording all the purchase Debit notes.
  • Cash daybook, usually known as the cash book, for recording all money received as well as money paid out. It may be split into two daybooks: receipts daybook for money received in, and payments daybook for money paid out.
  • General Journal daybook, for recording journals.

The bookkeeping process primarily records the financial effects of transactions. The difference between a manual and any electronic accounting system results from the former’slatency between the recording of a financial transaction and its posting in the relevant account. This delay—absent in electronic accounting systems due to nearly instantaneous posting into relevant accounts—is a basic characteristic of manual systems, thus giving rise to primary books of accounts such as Cash Book, Bank Book, Purchase Book, and Sales Book for recording the immediate effect of a financial transaction.

In the normal course of business, a document is produced each time a transaction occurs. Sales and purchases usually have invoices or receipts. Deposit slips are produced when lodgements (deposits) are made to a bank account. Checks (spelled “cheques” in the UK and several other countries) are written to pay money out of the account. Bookkeeping first involves recording the details of all of these source documents into multi-column journals (also known as books of first entry or daybooks). For example, all credit sales are recorded in the sales journal; all cash payments are recorded in the cash payments journal. Each column in a journal normally corresponds to an account. In thesingle entry system, each transaction is recorded only once. Most individuals who balance their check-book each month are using such a system, and most personal-finance software follows this approach.

As a partial check that the posting process was done correctly, a working document called an unadjusted trial balance is created. In its simplest form, this is a three-column list. Column One contains the names of those accounts in the ledger which have a non-zero balance. If an account has a debit balance, the balance amount is copied into Column Two (the debit column); if an account has a credit balance, the amount is copied into Column Three (the credit column). The debit column is then totalled, and then the credit column is totalled. The two totals must agree—which is not by chance—because under the double-entry rules, whenever there is a posting, the debits of the posting equal the credits of the posting. If the two totals do not agree, an error has been made, either in the journals or during the posting process. The error must be located and rectified, and the totals of the debit column and the credit column recalculated to check for agreement before any further processing can take place.

Once the accounts balance, the accountant makes a number of adjustments and changes the balance amounts of some of the accounts. These adjustments must still obey the double-entry rule: for example, the inventory account and asset account might be changed to bring them into line with the actual numbers counted during a stocktake. At the same time, the expense account associated with usage of inventory is adjusted by an equal and opposite amount. Other adjustments such as posting depreciation and prepayments are also done at this time. This results in a listing called the adjusted trial balance. It is the accounts in this list, and their corresponding debit or credit balances, that are used to prepare the financial statements.

Finally financial statements are drawn from the trial balance, which may include:

  • the income statement, also known as the statement of financial results, profit and loss account, or P&L
  • the balance sheet, also known as the statement of financial position
  • the cash flow statement
  • the Statement of changes in equity, also known as the statement of total recognised gains and losses

Financial Statement

Financial statements is a formal record of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity. Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form easy to understand. They typically include basic financial statements, accompanied by a management discussion and analysis:

  1. A balance sheet or statement of financial position, reports on a company’s assets, liabilities, and owners equity at a given point in time.
  2. An income statement or statement of comprehensive income, statement of revenue & expense, P&L or profit and loss report, reports on a company’s income, expenses, and profits over a period of time. A profit and loss statement provides information on the operation of the enterprise. These include sales and the various expenses incurred during the stated period.
  3. A Statement of changes in equity or equity statement or statement of retained earnings, reports on the changes inequity of the company during the stated period.
  4. A cash flow statement reports on a company’s cash flow activities, particularly its operating, investing and financing activities.

For large corporations, these statements may be complex and may include an extensive set of footnotes to the financial statements and management discussion and analysis. The notes typically describe each item on the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement in further detail. Notes to financial statements are considered an integral part of the financial statements.  Management discussion and analysis or MD&A is an integrated part of a company’s annual financial statements. The purpose of the MD&A is to provide a narrative explanation, through the eyes of management, of how an entity has performed in the past, its financial condition, and its future prospects. In so doing, the MD&A attempt to provide investors with complete, fair, and balanced information to help them decide whether to invest or continue to invest in an entity. The section contains a description of the year gone by and some of the key factors that influenced the business of the company in that year, as well as a fair and unbiased overview of the company’s past, present, and future. MD&A typically describes the corporation’s liquidity position, capital resources, results of its operations, underlying causes of material changes in financial statement items, events of unusual or infrequent nature, positive and negative trends, effects of inflation, domestic and international market risks, and significant uncertainties.

Financial statements have been created on paper for hundreds of years. The growth of the Web has seen more and more financial statements created in an electronic form which is exchangeable over the Web. Common forms of electronic financial statements are PDF and HTML. These types of electronic financial statements have their drawbacks in that it still takes a human to read the information in order to reuse the information contained in a financial statement. More recently a market driven global standard, XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language), which can be used for creating financial statements in a structured and computer readable format, has become more popular as a format for creating financial statements. Many regulators around the world such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissionhave mandated XBRL for the submission of financial information. The UN/CEFACT created, with respect to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, (GAAP), internal or external financial reporting XML messages to be used between enterprises and their partners, such as private interested parties and public collecting bodies. Many regulators use such messages to collect financial and economic information.

Financial Accounting

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is a private, non-profit organization standard setting body whose primary purpose is to establish and improve generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) within the United States in the public’s interest. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) designated the FASB as the organization responsible for setting accounting standards for public companies in the U.S. The FASB replaced the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) Accounting Principles Board (APB) on July 1, 1973.

In 2009 Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and others claimed that the FASB succumbed to “political pressure” and lobbyists and tweaked mark-to-market accounting to accommodate “banks with toxic assets on their books.” Since 2009 the FASB added the disclosure framework project to its conceptual framework in order to make financial statement disclosures “more effective and coordinated and less redundant. As part of this process, in September 2015 the FASB issued a controversial proposal regarding “the use of materiality by reporting entities” and an amendment of the definition of the legal conceptmateriality. Materiality is “a mainstay of corporate financial disclosure that determines what a company must tell investors about its operations and result. Harvard professor, Karthik Ramanna and lawyer, Allen Dreschel claim FASB’s proposed revised definition of materiality “could put the economy at greater risk of another huge accounting fraud, like Enron or Lehman Brothers” by weakening disclosure which is “the cornerstone of fair and efficient markets.” For example, if the new proposal is enacted—a pharmaceutical company would be allowed to not disclose to its investors that its new drug in the pipeline performed poorly in drug trials because there is a “substantial likelihood” that the information could sway investment decisions. Some Fortune 500 companies and the United States Chamber of Commerce argue that investors and companies suffer from “disclosure overload.”

FASB and the International Accounting Standard Board are working closely together to develop a common Conceptual Framework. The goal is develop standards that are objectives-based, internally consistent, and internationally converged. Currently Statement of Financial Accounting Concepts No. 8 “Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting” is being used in the United States. The Conceptual Framework include: measurement attributes used to measure and report economic transactions, events, and arrangements in financial statements; and accounting principles and assumptions that guide recognition, derecognition, and disclosure, as well as the classification and presentation of information in financial statements.

Fundamental qualitative characteristics, relevance and faithful representation allow for decision usefulness. Information that is capable of making a difference in decisions made by financial statement users is relevant. The three components of relevance are:

  • Predictive Value – information that should help users form expectations about the value
  • Confirmatory Value – information that provides feedback to confirm or correct prior predictions and expectations
  • Materiality – refers to the nature and magnitude of an omission or misstatement of accounting information that would influence the judgment of a reasonable person relying on that information

Faithful representation is when the words and numbers accurately predict the economic substance of what they purport to represent. The three components of faithful representation are:

  • Complete representation – provides a user with full disclosure of all information necessary to understand the information being reported, with all necessary facts, descriptions, and explanations
  • Neutral representation – not biased, slanted, emphasized or otherwise manipulated to achieve a pre-determined result or to influence users’ behavior in a particular direction
  • Free from error – the information is measured and described as accurately as possible, using a process that reflects the best available inputs

Internet Banking

internet banking, e-banking or virtual banking, is an electronic payment system that enables customers of a bank or other financial institution to conduct a range of financial transactions through the financial institution’s website. The online banking system will typically connect to or be part of the core banking system operated by a bank and is in contrast tobranch banking which was the traditional way customers accessed banking services.

To access a financial institution’s online banking facility, a customer with internet access will need to register with the institution for the service, and set up a password and other credentials for customer verification. The credentials for online banking is normally not the same as for telephone or mobile banking. Financial institutions now routinely allocate customers numbers, whether or not customers have indicated an intention to access their online banking facility. Customer numbers are normally not the same as account numbers, because a number of customer accounts can be linked to the one customer number. Technically, the customer number can be linked to any account with the financial institution that the customer controls, though the financial institution may limit the range of accounts that may be accessed to, say, cheque, savings, loan, credit card and similar accounts.

The customer visits the financial institution’s secure website, and enters the online banking facility using the customer number and credentials previously set up. The types of financial transactions which a customer may transact through online banking are determined by the financial institution, but usually includes obtaining account balances, a list of the recent transactions, electronic bill payments and funds transfers between a customer’s or another’s accounts. Most banks also enable a customer to download copies of bank statements, which can be printed at the customer’s premises (some banks charge a fee for mailing hard copies of bank statements). Some banks also enable customers to download transactions directly into the customer’s accounting software. The facility may also enable the customer to order a cheque book, statements, report loss of credit cards, stop payment on a cheque, advise change of address and other routine actions.

Online banking facilities typically have many features and capabilities in common, but also have some that are application specific. The common features fall broadly into several categories:

  • A bank customer can perform non-transactional tasks through online banking, including –
    • Viewing account balances
    • Viewing recent transactions
    • Downloading bank statements, for example in PDF format
    • Viewing images of paid cheques
    • Ordering cheque books
    • Download periodic account statements
    • Downloading applications for M-banking, E-banking etc.
  • Bank customers can transact banking tasks through online banking, including –
    • Funds transfers between the customer’s linked accounts
    • Paying third parties, including bill payments and third party fund transfers
    • Investment purchase or sale
    • Loan applications and transactions, such as repayments of enrollments
    • Credit card applications
    • Register utility billers and make bill payments
  • Financial institution administration
  • Management of multiple users having varying levels of authority
  • Transaction approval process

Some financial institutions offer special internet banking services, for example:

  • Personal financial management support, such as importing data into personal accounting software. Some online banking platforms support account aggregation to allow the customers to monitor all of their accounts in one place whether they are with their main bank or with other institutions.

Financial Audit

A financial audit is conducted to provide an opinion whether “financial statements”are stated in accordance with specified criteria. Normally, the criteria are international accounting standards, although auditors may conduct audits of financial statements prepared using the cash basis or some other basis of accounting appropriate for the organisation. In providing an opinion whether financial statements are fairly stated in accordance with accounting standards, the auditor gathers evidence to determine whether the statements contain material errors or other misstatements. The audit opinion is intended to provide reasonable assurance, but not absolute assurance, that the financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, and/or give a true and fair view in accordance with the financial reporting framework. The purpose of an audit is to provide an objective independent examination of the financial statements, which increases the value and credibility of the financial statements produced by management, thus increase user confidence in the financial statement, reduce investor risk and consequently reduce the cost of capital of the preparer of the financial statements.

In accordance with the US GAAP, auditors must release an opinion of the overall financial statements in the auditor’s report. Auditors can release three types of statements other than an unqualified/unmodified opinion. The unqualified auditor’s opinion is the opinion that the financial statements are presented fairly. A qualified opinion is that the financial statements are presented fairly in all material respects in accordance with US GAAP, except for a material misstatement that does not however pervasively affect the user’s ability to rely on the financial statements. A qualified opinion can also be issued for a scope limitation that is of limited significance. Further the auditor can instead issue a disclaimer, because there is insufficient and appropriate evidence to form an opinion or because of lack of independence. In a disclaimer the auditor explains the reasons for withholding an opinion and explicitly indicates that no opinion is expressed. Finally, an adverse audit opinion is issued when the financial statements do not present fairly due to departure from US GAAP and the departure materially affects the financial statements overall. In an adverse auditor’s report the auditor must explain the nature and size of the misstatement and must state the opinion that the financial statements do not present fairly in accordance with US GAAP.

Financial audits are typically performed by firms of practicing accountants who are experts in financial reporting. The financial audit is one of many assurance functions provided by accounting firms. Many organizations separately employ or hire internal auditors, who do not attest to financial reports but focus mainly on the internal controls of the organization. External auditors may choose to place limited reliance on the work of internal auditors. Auditing promotes transparency and accuracy in the financial disclosures made by an organization, therefore would likely reduce such corporations concealmeant of unscrupulous dealings. Internationally, the International Standards on Auditing (ISA) issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) is considered as the benchmark for audit process. Almost all jurisdictions require auditors to follow the ISA or a local variation of the ISA.

Bank Transfer

Bank transfer or credit transfer is a method of electronic funds transfer from one person or entity to another. A wire transfer can be made from one bank account to another bank account or through a transfer of cash at a cash office. Different wire transfer systems and operators provide a variety of options relative to the immediacy and finality of settlement and the cost, value, and volume of transactions. Central bank wire transfer systems, such as the Federal Reserve’s FedWire system in the United States are more likely to be real time gross settlement (RTGS) systems. RTGS systems provide the quickest availability of funds because they provide immediate “real-time” and final “irrevocable” settlement by posting the gross (complete) entry against electronic accounts of the wire transfer system operator. Other systems such as CHIPS provide net settlement on a periodic basis. More immediate settlement systems tend to process higher monetary value time-critical transactions, have higher transaction costs, and a smaller volume of payments. A faster settlement process allows less time for currency fluctuations while money is in transit.

Bank wire transfers are often the cheapest method for transferring funds between bank accounts. A bank wire transfer is effected as follows:

  1. The entity wishing to do a transfer approaches a bank and gives the bank the order to transfer a certain amount of money. IBAN and BIC codes are given as well so the bank knows where the money needs to be sent.
  2. The sending bank transmits a message, via a secure system (such as SWIFT or Fedwire), to the receiving bank, requesting that it effect payment according to the instructions given.
  3. The message also includes settlement instructions. The actual transfer is not instantaneous: funds may take several hours or even days to move from the sender’s account to the receiver’s account.
  4. Either the banks involved must hold a reciprocal account with each other, or the payment must be sent to a bank with such an account, a correspondent bank, for further benefit to the ultimate recipient.

Banks collect payment for the service from the sender as well as from the recipient. The sending bank typically collects a fee separate from the funds being transferred, while the receiving bank and intermediary banks through which the transfer travels deduct fees from the money being transferred so that the recipient receives less than what the sender sent.

With bank-to-bank wire transfer, each account holder must have a proven identity. Chargebacks are unlikely, although wires can be recalled. Information contained in wires are transmitted securely through encrypted communications methods. The price of bank wire transfers varies greatly, depending on the bank and its location; in some countries, the fee associated with the service can be costly. Wire transfers done through cash offices are essentially anonymous and are designed for transfer between persons who trust each other. It is unsafe to send money by wire to an unknown person to collect at a cash office; the receiver of the money may, after collecting it, not provide whatever goods or services they promised in return for the payment, but instead simply disappear. This scam has been used often, especially in the so-called 419 scams which often nominate Western Union for collection.

International transfers involving the United States are subject to monitoring by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which monitors information provided in the text of the wire and then decides whether, according to the US Government’s federal regulations and political positions, money is being transferred to terrorist groups, or countries or entities under sanction by the United States government. If a financial institution suspects that funds are being sent from or to one of these entities, it must block the transfer and freeze the funds. SWIFT or IBAN wire transfers are not completely free of vulnerabilities. Every intermediary bank that handles a wire transaction can take a fee directly out of the wire payload (the assets being transferred) without the account holder’s knowledge or consent. In many places, there is no legislation or technical means to protect customers from this practice. If bank S is the sending bank (or brokerage), and bank R is the receiving bank (or brokerage), and banks I1, I2 and I3 are intermediary banks, the client may only have a contract with bank S and/or R, but banks I1, I2 and I3 can (and often do) take money from the wire without any direct arrangement with the client. Clients are sometimes taken by surprise when less money arrives at bank R. Contrast this with cheques, where the amount transferred is guaranteed in full, and fees (if there are any) can be charged only at endpoint banks.

Mobile banking

Mobile banking is a service provided by a bank or other financial institution that allows its customers to conduct financial transactions remotely using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Unlike the related internet banking it uses software, usually called an app, provided by the financial institution for the purpose. Mobile banking is usually available on a 24-hour basis. Some financial institutions have restrictions on which accounts may be accessed through mobile banking, as well as a limit on the amount that can be transacted. Transactions through mobile banking may include obtaining account balances and lists of latest transactions, electronic bill payments, and funds transfers between a customer’s or another’s accounts. Some apps also enable copies of statements to be downloaded and sometimes printed at the customer’s premises; and some banks charge a fee for mailing hardcopies of bank statements.

From the bank’s point of view, mobile banking reduces the cost of handling transactions by reducing the need for customers to visit abank branch for non-cash withdrawal and deposit transactions. Mobile banking does not handle transactions involving cash, and a customer needs to visit an ATM or bank branch for cash withdrawals or deposits. Many apps now have a remote deposit option; using the device’s camera to digitally transmit cheques to their financial institution. Mobile banking differs from mobile payments, which involves the use of a mobile device to pay for goods or services either at thepoint of sale or remotely, analogously to the use of a debit or credit card to effect an EFTPOS payment.

Typical mobile banking services may include:

  • Account information
  1. Mini-statements and checking of account history
  2. Alerts on account activity or passing of set thresholds
  3. Monitoring of term deposits
  4. Access to loan statements
  5. Access to card statements
  6. Mutual funds / equity statements
  7. Insurance policy management
  • Transaction
  1. Funds transfers between the customer’s linked accounts
  2. Paying third parties, including bill payments and third party fund transfers(see, e.g., FAST)
  3. Check Remote Deposit
  • Investments
  1. Portfolio management services
  2. Real-time stock quotes
  3. Personalized alerts and notifications on security prices
  • Support
  1. Status of requests for credit, including mortgage approval, and insurance coverage
  2. Check (cheque) book and card requests
  3. Exchange of data messages and email, including complaint submission and tracking
  4. ATM Location
  • Content services
  1. General information such as weather updates, news
  2. Loyalty-related offers
  3. Location-based services

A report by the US Federal Reserve (March 2012) found that 21 percent of mobile phone owners had used mobile banking in the past 12 months. Based on a survey conducted by Forrester, mobile banking will be attractive mainly to the younger, more “tech-savvy” customer segment. A third of mobile phone users say that they may consider performing some kind of financial transaction through their mobile phone. But most of the users are interested in performing basic transactions such as querying for account balance and making bill payment.

  • Future functionalities in mobile banking

Based on the ‘International Review of Business Research Papers’ from World business Institute, Australia, following are the key functional trends possible in world of Mobile Banking. With the advent of technology and increasing use of smartphone and tablet based devices, the use of Mobile Banking functionality would enable customer connect across entire customer life cycle much comprehensively than before.

Illustration of objective based functionality enrichment In Mobile Banking:

  • Communication enrichment: – Video Interaction with agents, advisors.
  • Pervasive Transactions capabilities: – Comprehensive “Mobile wallet”
  • Customer Education: – “Test drive” for demos of banking services
  • Connect with new customer segment: – Connect with Gen Y – Gen Z using games and social network ambushed to surrogate bank’s offerings
  • Content monetization: – Micro level revenue themes such as music, e-book download
  • Vertical positioning: – Positioning offerings over mobile banking specific industries
  • Horizontal positioning: – Positioning offerings over mobile banking across all the industries
  • Personalization of corporate banking services: – Personalization experience for multiple roles and hierarchies in corporate banking as against the vanilla based segment based enhancements in the current context.
  • Build Brand: – Built the bank’s brand while enhancing the “Mobile real estate”.

Factoring

Factoring is a financial transaction and a type of debtor finance in which a business sells its accounts receivable to a third party (called a factor) at a discount. A business will sometimes factor its receivable assets to meet its present and immediate cash needs. Forfaiting is a factoring arrangement used in international trade finance by exporters who wish to sell theirreceivables to a forfaiter. Factoring is commonly referred to as accounts receivable factoring, invoice factoring, and sometimes accounts receivable financing. Accounts receivable financing is a term more accurately used to describe a form of asset based lending against accounts receivable. The Commercial Finance Association is the leading trade association of the asset-based lending and factoring industries. It is Also Covered Under INDAS as same. Factoring is not the same as invoice discounting. Factoring is the sale of receivables, whereas invoice discounting is a borrowing that involves the use of the accounts receivable assets as collateral for the loan. However, in some other markets, such as the UK, invoice discounting is considered to be a form of factoring, involving the “assignment of receivables”, that is included in official factoring statistics. It is therefore also not considered to be borrowing in the UK. In the UK the arrangement is usually confidential in that the debtor is not notified of the assignment of the receivable and the seller of the receivable collects the debt on behalf of the factor. In the UK, the main difference between factoring and invoice discounting is confidentiality. Scots law differs from that of the rest of the UK, in that notification to the account debtor is required for the assignment to take place. The Scottish Law Commission is reviewing this position and seeks to propose reform by the end of 2017.

The factoring process can be broken up into two parts: the initial account setup and ongoing funding. Setting up a factoring account typically takes one to two weeks and involves submitting an application, a list of clients, an accounts receivable aging report and a sample invoice. The approval process involves detailed underwriting, during which time the factoring company can ask for additional documents, such as documents of incorporation, financials, and banks statements. If approved, the business will be set up with a maximum credit line from which they can draw. In the case of notification factoring, the arrangement is not confidential and approval is contingent upon successful notification; a process by which factoring companies send the business’s client or account debtor a Notice of Assignment. The Notice of Assignment serves to

  1. inform debtors that a factoring company is managing all of the business’s receivables,
  2. stake a claim on the financial rights for the receivables factored, and
  3. update the payment address – usually a bank lock box.

Once the account is set up, the business is ready to start funding invoices. Invoices are still approved on an individual basis, but most invoices can be funded in a business day or two, as long as they meet the factor’s criteria. Receivables are funded in two parts. The first part is the “advance” and covers 80% to 85% of the invoice value. This is deposited directly to the business’s bank account. The remaining 15% to 20% is rebated, less the factoring fees, as soon as the invoice is paid in full to the factoring company.

Islamic Banking

Islamic banking is banking or financing activity that complies with sharia (Islamic law) and its practical application through the development of Islamic economics. Some of the modes of Islamic banking/finance include Mudarabah (Profit and loss sharing), Wadiah (safekeeping), Musharaka (joint venture), Murabahah(cost plus), and Ijar (leasing). Sharia prohibits riba, or usury, defined as interest paid on all loans of money (although some Muslims dispute whether there is a consensus that interest is equivalent to riba). Investment in businesses that provide goods or services considered contrary to Islamic principles  is also haraam.

These prohibitions have been applied historically in varying degrees in Muslim countries/communities to prevent un-Islamic practices. In the late 20th century, as part of the revival of Islamic identity, a number of Islamic banks formed to apply these principles toprivate or semi-private commercial institutions within the Muslim community. Their number and size has grown so that by 2009, there were over 300 banks and 250 mutual funds around the world complying with Islamic principles, and around $2 trillion were sharia-compliant by 2014. Sharia-compliant financial institutions represented approximately 1% of total world assets, concentrated in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Iran, and Malaysia. Although Islamic Banking still makes up only a fraction of the banking assets of Muslims, since its inception it has been growing faster than banking assets as a whole, and is projected to continue to do so.

The industry has been lauded for returning to the path of “divine guidance” in rejecting the “political and economic dominance” of the West, and noted as the “most visible mark” of Islamic revivalism. Its most enthusiastic advocates promising “no inflation, no unemployment, no exploitation and no poverty” once it is fully implemented.  But it has also been criticized for failing to develop profit and loss sharing or more ethical modes of investment promised by early promoters, and instead selling banking products that “comply with the formal requirements of Islamic law”, but use “ruses and subterfuges to conceal interest”, and entail “higher costs, bigger risks” than conventional (ribawi) banks.

Money on the most common type of Islamic financing — debt-based contracts — “must be made from a tangible asset that one owns and thus has the right to sell — and in financial transactions it demands that risk be shared.” Money cannot be made from money. Another statement of the Islamic banking theory of finance is: “Money has no intrinsic utility; it is only a medium of exchange.” Other restrictions include

  • Islamic banks are to collect zakat (obligatory religious alms giving) from customers’ accounts — at least according to some sources.
  • A board of Shariah experts is to supervise and advise each Islamic bank on the propriety of transactions to “ensure that all activities are in line with Islamic principles”. 
  • Risk sharing. symmetrical risk and return on distribution to participants so that no one benefits disproportionately from the transaction.

In general, Islamic banking and finance has been described as having the “same purpose” as conventional banking but operating in accordance with the rules of shariah law (Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance), or having the same “basic objective” as other private entities, i.e. “maximization of shareholder wealth” (Mohamed Warsame). In a similar vein, Mahmoud El-Gamal states that Islamic finance “is not constructively built from classical jurisprudence”. It follows conventional banking and deviates from it “only insofar as some conventional practices are deemed forbidden under Sharia.”