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In trade finance, forfaiting is a financial transaction involving the purchase of receivables from exporters by a forfaiter. The forfaiter takes on all the risks associated with the receivables but earns a margin. The forfaiter may also be immunized from certain risks if the transaction involves payment by negotiable instrument. The forfaiting is a transaction involving the sale of one of the firm's transactions.  Factoring is also a financial transaction involving the purchase of financial assets, but Factoring involves the sale of any portion of a firm's receivables.
The characteristics of a forfaiting transaction are:
- Credit is extended to the exporter for a period ranging between 180 days to seven years.
- Minimum bill size is normally $250,000, although $500,000 is preferred.
- The payment is normally receivable in any major convertible currency.
- A letter of credit or a guarantee is made by a bank, usually in the importer's country.
- The contract can be for either goods or services.
At its simplest, the receivables should be evidenced by a promissory note, a bill of exchange, a deferred-payment letter of credit, or a letter of guarantee.
Three elements relate to the pricing of a forfaiting transaction:
- Discount rate, the interest element, usually quoted as a margin over LIBOR.
- Days of grace, added to the actual number of days until maturity for the purpose of covering the number of days normally experienced in the transfer of payment, applicable to the country of risk.
- Commitment fee, applied from the date the forfaiter is committed to undertake the financing, until the date of discounting.
The benefits to the exporter from forfaiting include eliminating political, transfer, and commercial risks and improving cash flows. The benefit to the forfaiter is the extra margin on the loan to the exporter.
The International Forfaiting Association was founded in 1999 as the worldwide trade association for the forfaiting industry with cash contribution of the VEFI (VEFI, founded in 1978 and chaired since 2003 by Mr Sal Chiappinelli is the oldest forfaiting association of the world). Its purpose is to develop business relationships and assist other forfaiting-related organizations.
- International Forfaiting Association (IFA) home page
- Association of Forfaiters in Switzerland (VEFI) home page
- Where are the independent and verifiable cites for this? Links?
- A.I. Trade Finance, Inc. v. Laminaciones de Lesaca, S.A., 41 F.3d 830 (2d Cir. 1994).
- J. Downes, J.E. Goodman, "Dictionary of Finance & Investment Terms", Baron's Financial Guides, 2003; and J.G.Siegel, N.Dauber & J.K.Shim, "The Vest Pocket CPA", Wiley, 2005.