American Journal of Economics, Finance and Management, Vol. 1, No. 5, October 2015 Publish Date: Aug. 3, 2015 Pages: 503-509

Factoring as Financing Alternative: Reasons for Non Patronage in Nigeria

Alayemi S. A.*, Oyeleye O. A., Adeoye E. T.

Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, Department of Accounting, Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Nigeria


This paper examined factoring as alternative source of finance and the reasons why it is not patronized in Nigeria. The objective of this paper was to explore factoring as a source of finance an alternative source of finance instead of bank loan with its attendant high interest rate. Factoring makes it possible for business to readily convert a substantial portion of its account receivable into cash. Factoring; the world all over has become a growing source of external finance for corporations and small and medium size enterprise. Depending on the participant, factoring may be domestic or international. There are two principal methods of factoring. Factoring can be with recourse where the client is not protected against the risk of bad debt. Hence, in the case of uncollectable debt, the client bears the loss. The other one is factoring without recourse. Under this scenario, the uncollectible debt is bore by the factor. However, factor should not be seen as debt collector. In the case of Nigeria, this method of finance is not patronized because of the state of the economic situation, incompetence of financial system in allocating financial resources and weak legal system which are features of emerging market. The determinants of the level of factoring activity in an economy depends on first, the availability of financial information about enterprises; and second, the overall level of economic activity. The reasons why factoring as an alternative source of finance is not embraced is simply because Nigeria is an emerging market where our financial system is not efficient coupled with the weak legal system. This is coupled with our political system that do not create an enabling atmosphere for smooth operation of financial institutions and Nigeria legal system.


Factoring, Account Receivables, Factoring with Recourse, Factoring Without Recourse, Bad Debt, Emerging Market

1. Introduction

Factoring is a financial transaction whereby a business sells its accounts receivable to a third party (called a factor) at a discount. Factoring makes it possible for a business to convert a readily substantial portion of its accounts receivable into cash. This therefore makes factoring to be a method of credit management with specialized activity and involves a lot of time effort of a company. For companies, collection of receivables is a bit problematic. It is possible for a company to assign its credit management and collection to specialist organisations called factoring organisations. Factoring is a business involving a continuing legal relationship between a financial institution(the factor) and business concern (the client) selling goods or providing services to trade customers (the customers) whereby the factor purchases the client’s accounts receivable and in relation thereto, controls credit, extended to customers and administers the sales ledger (Biscoe, 1975).

Financing is very important in business set up and in expansion of operations, development of new products and investment in new staff or production facilities. There are different sources through which businesses can fish for fund. However, it is possible to make a distinction between internal and external financing sources. At the start up, businesses can put reliance on internal sources as well as during their growth and developmental stage. However, there is a limit to which businesses can rely on internal sources during the developmental stage of the business lifecycle. The objective of this paper is to show factoring as an alternative source of finance devoid of administrative bottle neck in terms of processing and why it is not embraced or patronized in Nigeria as result of the weak political, legal and financial systems which are characteristics of emerging market.

2. External Sources of Financing

The external financing sources can take any of the following forms:

Informal financing sources for instance money raised through friends, family. This mode of external financing is for sole proprietorship. Formal sources of external financing that include: traditional debt finance in the form of loans from bank and other financial institutions, lease or hire purchase. Other external sources include risk capital (venture capital, equity financing) which is good for high-growth firm, factoring (the main trust of this paper) and trade credit.

Around the world with the exception of Africa and Nigeria in particular, factoring is a growing source of external finance for corporations and small and medium size enterprise. The development of factoring is dated as far back as sixties of last century in the United State of America where there was extension of purchase of goods on debt (Janekova, 2012).

According to Factor Chains International (FCI), a global factoring trade group, annual global factoring turnover increased from around $384 billion, in 1996, to over $1,276 billion, in 2005. In the work of Bakker, Klapper and Udell, 2004 factoring has emerged as the most important source of working capital for Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in many economies. As a result of crisis in the financial sector, this has culminated into the banks being skeptical in extending credit facility in form of traditional financing method. Hence, the attention of researchers has been directed to the mechanics of factoring and the reasons that explain cross country differences in annual factoring turnover (Lotz, 1992; Mian and Smith, 1992; Bakker, Klapper and Udell, 2004; Berger and Udell, 2004; Klapper, 2000, 2006). This paper is set to discuss why factoring as a financing option is not embraced in merging market and Nigeria in particular.

3. Literature Review

This section discussed the conceptual framework to throw more light on the concept of factoring and thereafter existing literatures were appraised to see the direction of current research and the gap in the existing literatures.

3.1. Concept of Factoring

Factoring is a form of commercial finance involving a business selling its accounts receivable (inform of invoices) at a discount. As a complex form of finance, factoring involves participation of three parties. The three parties that are directly involved in factoring are: the one who sells the receivable, the debtor (the account debtor, or customer of the seller), and the factor.

3.2. Operation of Factoring

The following operation is involved in the operation of factoring:

The existence of receivables which is recoverable by the supplier from his customer;

The transfer or sale of these receivables to a bank or a specialized financial institution;

Services provided by the factor in exchange of a fee, which may include the following services: invoices financing; transfer of receivables management; debts recoverable from debtors and hedging against the risk of accounts not being settled.

3.3. Functions of a Factor

Payment to the client for their invoices as issued by the client;

Provision of services (collection of payment from the customers, provision of advice to client against bad debts).

The implication is that the benefits of factoring are not limited to immediate cash payment. If the factor provides credit management services too, then there is the prospect of an improvement in the speed at which debts are collected , giving a further positive impact on cash flow, and reduces interest charges.

3.4. Types of Factoring

There are different types of factoring products which is classified from various criteria:

(a)Depending on the method of collection as well as debt management, factoring can be grouped into:

Partial factoring. Under this arrangement, invoices are selected, that is not all the invoices are accepted for buying; the obligation to cash the invoices belongs to the customer because the factors do not take their administration;

Total factoring: All the invoices are taken by the customer and administered by the factor. The factor will cash the invoices from the debtor, finance the operation and cover the credit risk.

(b) Depending on the moment of payment of the debt by the factor. They are the following:

Old-line factoring (classical factoring): Here the factor pay the invoices in the moment he takes them.

Materiality financing: The debts of customer are paid in the moment of their maturity

Mixed factoring: The factor pay a part of the invoices value as advance (not less than 85% from their value), the difference is paid at a later date.

(c) Depending on the participants to the factoring operation, this may take the following forms:

Domestic financing: This is done on the same country and there is a single factor.

International factoring: this is the existence of international trade contract. In the operation there will be two factors (the import and the export one). The export factor buys the exporter debts.

(d) Principal methods of factoring:

There are two principal methods of factoring vis-à-vis recourse factoring and non-recourse factoring. Under the former method, the client is not protected against the risk of bad debt. With non-recourse factoring, the factor assumes the entire credit risk.

3.5. Selected Empirical Studies

Mian and Smith, 1992 surveyed firms to study the choice firms make between different account receivable management policies such as factoring, accounts receivable secured debt, captive finance subsidiaries and general corporate credit. The study revealed that size, concentration and credit standing of the firm’s traded debt and commercial paper are important in explaining the firm’s choices between the alternative policies. The larger more credit worthy firms establishes captives, while the smaller, riskier firms issue accounts receivable secured debt. Each of the specific policies has also been studied.

Sopranzetti, 1998 carried models factoring of accounts receivable with respect to the recourse conditions and finds that high bankruptcy firms may not be able to factor their receivables even with full recourse. In the research carried by Klapper, 2005, the study showed evidence suggesting that lines of credit secured by accounts receivable are associated with business borrowers who exhibit a high risk of default.

In the same vein, Sufi 2009, studies the role of bank lines of credit in corporate finance and finds that these revolving facilities are used as a liquidity substitute only for firms that maintain high cash flows.

Furthermore, Van Horne, 2004 researched into the use of trade credit in 39countries and discovered that trade credit is used as a competitive tool, particularly for small and young firms. Fisman and Raturi, 2003 found that competition encourages trade credit provision in five African countries. In addition, McMillan and Woodruff, 1999 studied the use of trade credit in Vietnam and found out that small firms are more likely to both grant and receive trade credit than large firms. It is clearly evident that small firms in emerging markets generally provide trade credit and hold illiquid accounts receivable on their balance sheets.

The above studies highlight the many differences between the policies as well as the different characteristics of firms using each. These firms are characterized by a wide range of sizes, balance sheet strength and operating results. This study explores whether the firm’s information asymmetry characteristic is a common factor that may explain a firm’s choice to use account receivable as a financing tool.

Evidence in previous literature finds that trade credit is used more in countries with greater barriers to SME financing. For example, a study by Demirguc-Kunt and Maksimovic (2001) in their work found out that in 39 countries around the world, trade credit use is higher relative to bank credit in countries with weak legal environments, which make bank contracts more difficult to write. Fisman and Love (2003) highlighted the impact of inter- firm financing by showing that industries with higher dependence on trade credit financing exhibit higher rates of growth in countries with relatively weak financial institutions. Van Horen (2004) studied the use of trade credit in 39 countries and finds that trade credit is used as a competitive tool, particularly for small and young firms.

Fisman and Raturi (2004) found that competition encourages trade credit provision in five African countries. McMillan and Woodruff (1999) study the use of trade credit in Vietnam and find that small firms are more likely to both grant and receive trade credit than large firms. This evidence suggests that small firms in emerging markets generally provide trade credit and hold illiquid accounts receivable on their balance sheets. In addition, firms in developed countries often refuse to pay on receipt to firms in emerging markets since they want time to confirm the quality of the goods and know that it could be very difficult to receive a refund from firms in countries with slow judicial systems.

The literature points to two major determinants of the level of factoring activity in an economy: first, the availability of financial information about enterprises; and second, the overall level of economic activity.

Bushman and Smith (2003) presented a framework for understanding the links between the availability of reliable financial information and enterprise level efficiency and firms’ choice of financing mechanism. Reliable and adequate information helps to identify promising investment opportunities with less error, lowers the principal-agent problem between shareholders and managers, and reduces the information asymmetry between investors and firms. A lack of adequate financial information, in general, and informational asymmetry between SMEs and financial institutions, in particular, is the most commonly cited reason for the existence and development of factoring. According to Mian and Smith (1992) and Smith and Shnucker (1994), firms factor accounts receivable to better manage their exposure to credit risk. Specifically, a factor that specializes in an industry with many buyers and sellers may be able to pool information among sellers to help reduce credit risk.

4. Determinants of Factoring

In the current literature, factoring is examined in the context of the operation of the financial system in an economy. Schumpeter (1911), in his research pointed out that a well-functioning financial system is vitally important for technological advancement and economic growth. The quality and competence of an economy’s financial system in the allocation of financial resources depends on many factors including the following: (a) robustness of its financial institutions and financial markets (b) the strength and integrity of its legal system (c) and the quantitative and reliability of information with which both suppliers and demanders of capital are able to assess risk. In a political system where there are weak laws and/or poor enforcement brings into being an agency problem that tends to water down the efficiency of a financial system. In economies with a weak financial system, firms face significant hurdles in obtaining capital from financial institutions and financial markets, sources traditionally used in economies with more complete financial systems. Factoring is particularly useful as a source of short-term working capital in such economies because receivables are sold, rather than collateralized, and factored receivables are not part of the estate of a bankrupt firm. In addition, underwriting in factoring is based on the risk of the accounts receivables themselves rather than on the risk of the borrower.

As a result of weak laws, poor enforcement, and the associated informational opacity in Nigeria has put companies at a disadvantage as a borrower coupled with poor corporate governance. Daniel, Mushfiq, Traris and Shelton, (2010) in Litan, Pomerleano, and Sundararajan, (2002) opined that when it comes to the working of the financial system, corporate governance problems have added complexities, because they accentuate incentive conflicts and agency problems which are further compounded by government ownership and regulation of the financial institutions. The extent to which poor governance has led to the ascendancy of factoring as the preferred short term financing mechanism is an important empirical question, which is yet to be answered.

5. Do Nigerian Business Organisations Make Use of Factoring as Mean of Finance

From available literature as far as factoring as alternative mean of financing is concerned, the authors have not come across ‘factor’ company in Nigeria. This means this method of finance is totally neglected and not embraced in Nigeria at all. This is evident in Table 1 below where in the whole of Africa continent, there are only five countries namely: Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia. The question that readily comes to mind is why is this form of finance not patronised in Nigeria? The reason may not be unconnected with the simple fact that Nigeria is an emerging market where our financial system is not efficient coupled with the weak legal system. The last straw that breaks the carmel’s back is our political system that do not create an enabling atmosphere for smooth operation of financial institutions and Nigeria legal system.

Table 1. Total Factoring Volume by country in the last 7 years (in Millions of EUR).

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Var
Argentina 362 355 335 350 475 614 856 39%
Bolivia - - 18 18 35 35 31 -11%
Brazil 21,060 22,055 29,640 49,050 45,623 43,627 31,552 -28%
Canada 4,270 3,000 3,250 3,723 5,284 7,100 5,680 -20%
Chile 14,620 15,800 14,500 16,422 21,500 24,000 25,500 6%
Colombia 2,030 2,100 2,392 2,784 4,990 4,562 7,076 55%
Costa Rica  - - - 160 30 180 115 -36%
Mexico 9,200 9,550 2,120 14,538 21,074 26,130 28,061 7%
Panama 483 460 500 600 700 852 724 -15%
Peru 648 875 758 2,712 2,461 2,310 8,163 253%
United States 97,000 100,000 88,500 95,000 105,000 77,543 83,739 8%
Uruguay - -  -  -  - 61 58 -5%
Total Americas 149,673 154,195 142,013 185,357 207,172 187,014 191,555 2%
Austria 5,219 6,350 6,630 8,307 8,986 10,969 14,110 29%
Belarus - - - - -  - 450  -
Belgium 19,200 22,500 23,921 32,203 38,204 42,352 47,684 13%
Bulgaria 300 450 340 550 1,010 1,500 1,600 7%
Croatia 1,100 2,100 2,450 2,793 2,269 2,269 3,146 39%
Cyprus 2,985 3,255 3,350 3,450 3,758 3,350 2,823 -16%
Czech Rep. 4,780 5,000 3,760 4,410 5,115 5,196 5,302 2%
Denmark 8,474 5,500 7,100 8,000 9,160 8,800 8,932 2%
Estonia 1,300 1,427 1,000 1,227 1,164 1,877 1,899 1%
Finland 12,650 12,650 10,752 12,400 13,000 17,000 17,699 4%
France 121,660 135,000 128,182 153,252 174,580 186,494 200,459 7%
Germany 89,000 106,000 96,200 129,536 158,034 157,420 171,290 9%
Greece 7,420 10,200 12,300 14,715 14,731 12,761 12,094 -5%
Hungary 3,100 3,200 2,520 3,339 2,817 2,676 2,661 -1%
Ireland 22,919 24,000 19,364 20,197 18,330 19,956 21,206 6%
Italy 122,800 128,200 124,250 143,745 175,182 181,878 178,002 -2%
Latvia 1,160 1,520 900 328 371 542 592 9%
Lithuania 2,690 3,350 1,755 1,540 2,134 2,488 2,763 11%
Luxembourg 490 600 349 321 180 299 407 36%
Malta 25 52 105 136 200 240 178 -26%
Netherlands 31,820 30,000 30,000 35,000 46,000 50,000 52,000 4%
Norway 17,000 15,000 15,100 15,075 16,395 18,115 16,296 -10%
Poland 7,900 7,800 12,000 16,210 17,900 24,510 31,588 29%
Portugal 16,888 18,000 17,711 20,756 27,879 22,948 22,303 -3%
Romania 1,300 1,650 1,400 1,800 2,582 2,920 2,713 -7%
Russia 13,100 16,150 8,580 12,163 21,174 35,176 41,960 19%
Serbia 226 370 410 500 926 950 679 -29%
Slovakia 1,380 1,600 1,130 981 1,171 1,024 1,068 4%
Slovenia 455 650 650 650 550 650 626 -4%
Spain 83,699 100,000 104,222 112,909 122,125 124,036 116,546 -6%
Sweden 21,700 16,000 18,760 18,760 29,259 33,149 30,544 -8%
Switzerland 2,513 2,590 5,000 4,000 3,450 3,000 3,100 3%
Turkey 19,625 18,050 20,280 38,988 30,869 31,702 32,036 1%
Ukraine 890 1,314 530 540 955 1,233 1,340 9%
United Kingdom 286,496 188,000 195,613 226,243 268,080 291,200 308,096 6%
Total Europe 932,264 888,528 876,614 1,045,024 1,218,540 1,298,680 1,354,192 4%
Egypt 20 50 110 200 200 220 450 105%
Mauritius - - 121 125 127 128 145 13%
Morocco 660 850 910 1,071 1,406 1,844 2,755 49%
South Africa 9,780 12,110 13,500 15,120 21,378 21,378 19,400 -9%
Tunisia 245 253 276 295 340 357 373 4%
Total Africa 10,705 13,263 14,917 16,811 23,451 23,927 23,123 -3%
Armenia 50 7 7 14 14 0 62  
China 32,976 55,000 67,300 154,550 273,690 343,759 378,128 10%
Hong Kong 7,700 8,500 8,079 14,400 17,388 29,344 32,250 10%
India 5,055 5,200 2,650 2,750 2,800 3,650 5,240 44%
Indonesia - - -   3 3 819  -
Israel 800 1,400 1,400 1,650 1,650 1,422 1,060 -25%
Japan 77,721 106,500 83,700 98,500 111,245 97,210 77,255 -21%
Korea 955 900 2,937 5,079 8,087 8,000 12,343 54%
Lebanon 176 306 420 450 327 301 352 17%
Malaysia 468 550 700 1,058 1,050 1,782 1,782 0%
Qatar - - 23 23 75 75 88 17%
Singapore 3,270 4,000 4,700 5,800 6,670 8,670 9,970 15%
Taiwan 42,500 48,750 33,800 67,000 79,800 70,000 73,000 4%
Thailand 2,240 2,367 2,107 2,095 3,080 4,339 3,348 -23%
United Arab Emir. 340 1,860 1,910 2,000 1,750 2,900 3,500 21%
Vietnam 43 85 95 65 67 61 100 64%
Total Asia 174,294 235,425 209,828 355,434 507,696 571,516 599,297 5%
Australia 33,080 32,546 39,410 44,915 57,491 49,606 62,312 26%
Total Australasia 33,080 32,546 39,410 44,915 57,491 49,606 62,312 26%
TOTAL WORLD 1,300,016 1,323,957 1,282,782 1,647,541 2,014,350 2,130,743 2,230,479 5%

Source: Factors Chain International (FCI)

6. Reasons for Non-Patronization of Factoring in Nigeria

The Nigerian economy is mono economy where dependence is on one product that is, crude oil.  In this type of situation, where the government is exporter, there is no need of factor in an arrangement of this. As shown in Table 1 above, the total factoring volume by countries from 2007- 2013 in Millions of EUR are: 1,216,438; 7,613,842; 126,197 and 319,360 for Americas, Europe, Africa and Australasia respectively. The Total for the Africa continent is the lowest and Nigeria is conspicuously missing. The indication is that Nigeria is not part of the country that patronizes factoring as alternative financing source.

7. Conclusion

Factoring is a short term financing arrangement where companies that are facing a cash flow squeeze and slow paying customers sell their receivables to specialized companies call factors. The companies using factoring embrace it because; they get money quickly rather than waiting for the usual 30 or 60 days for payment. As good as the arrangement is, from the empirical studies surveyed, it was discovered that this financing method is not patronized by Nigerian companies. From Table 1, it was discovered that there are no factor company operating in Nigeria. In Africa, there are only five countries; namely Egypt, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia according to Factors Chain International (FCI). The reason for this ignorant neglect is due to the level of development of capital market, weak political and legal system symbolizing characteristics of emerging market.


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