Both invoice discounting and factoring are ways to enable businesses to release funds tied up in unpaid invoices. While there are many similarities, there are also distinct differences.

In both cases, a third party company advances money against outstanding debts or balances. However, the role the third company plays is the major distinction between the two methods of invoice financing.

With factoring, the third party company processes the payment of invoices and takes control of the sales ledger, managing the credit control of the business and chasing customers for the settlement of the invoices. Factoring is a more comprehensive service and means that the customers are fully aware of the third party’s involvement; however it is also more expensive. Factoring typically works better for small businesses.

With invoice discounting, customers are unlikely to be aware of the third party’s involvement. The business retains control of the invoice processing, sales ledger and chasing payment. Invoice discounting typically works better for larger businesses with greater resources, and is cheaper as less work is being outsourced.

Another difference is the provision of credit checking. This is usually included in factoring, but not in invoice discounting. Factoring also offers non-recourse, which means that if a customer fails to pay an invoice, the factor will still pay it. This incurs an extra cost to cover the credit insurance.

Finally, there is a difference in the percentage of the outstanding invoices advanced. Factoring gives businesses up to 85% payment for submitted invoices, while the percentage advanced under invoice discounting is agreed after a check of the business, its customers, and its systems.