News Article

Export & International

Long overdue invoices disrupt cash flow in the Americas

By CreditMan Thursday, September 24, 2015

1 in 3 businesses surveyed in Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States reported that around one-fifth of the value of their B2B receivables is more than 90 days overdue. The largest part of these long overdue invoices refer to sales to foreign B2B customers. As long outstanding receivables are highly likely to become bad debts and be written off, this may cause severe disruptions to cash flow.

The September 2015 edition of the Atradius Payment Practices Barometer, a survey of B2B suppliers in Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States, reveals that, approximately 95% of the respondents in the region reported having experienced late invoice payment from their domestic and foreign B2B customers over the past year (response rate in Europe: 92.8%). This translates into an average of nearly 50% of the total value of B2B receivables, most often on foreign trade, being defaulted on. Respondents in Mexico (54.2%) experienced late invoice payments from domestic customers the most often, while respondents in the US (56.5%) experienced late payments most often from foreign customers.

2.2% of the value of B2B receivables was written off by survey respondents as uncollectable. Mexico and Brazil were the hardest hit by uncollectable receivables. For 54.6% of respondents in the region, write offs were most often due to the customer being bankrupt or out of business. Other reasons were the failure of the collection attempts and that the customer could no longer be located (37% and 35.3% of respondents respectively).

The Atradius survey also investigates the key factors for customer payment delays, the challenges to business profitability, and the respondents’ opinion on payment practice trends by industry in the next 12 months.

David Huey, Regional Director of Atradius Trade Credit Insurance NAFTA commented: “The report highlights the need to understand the cash flow effect of dealing on credit, particularly in export markets. This means that a supplier may find their cash flow projections based on the home market average payment of 30 days is disrupted by a norm of 90 days elsewhere. While many suppliers understand the added risk of providing credit terms to export customers (and consequently credit insure those transactions), it is eye-opening that over 45% of domestic invoices are reported as unpaid past the due date”.

The complete report highlighting the survey findings of the 2015 Atradius Payment Practices Barometer for the Americas can be found in the Publications section of the website.