Frequently Asked Questions
We have tried to address the most likely questions you will have. If you have any questions not covered here, please don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. As a supplier, how to I upload invoices?
A. It couldn't be easier. Just like with most auction websites, select the "Sell" option on the homepage. This will prompt you to enter the details necessary to upload an invoice for investors to bid on.
Q. How long do the auctions last?
A. As long as the supplier wants. As with any auction site, when the invoice is initially uploaded, the supplier sets the length of the auction. It could be an hour; it could be a month. The supplier will want to keep in mind that the closer an invoice comes to its due date (or, if unpaid, the more time elapsing after its due date), its value may change in the minds of investors. For example, if an investor knows that an invoice is due to be paid in three days, she may be willing to pay more for it than if it were due to be paid in thirty days. Similarly, if an invoice is two days overdue for payment, an investor may be willing to pay more for it than if it if were twenty days overdue.
Q. What actually happens when an invoice is purchased?
A. Whether purchased outright or with a winning bid, ownership of the invoice (and underlying rights to income) pass to the buyer. The good or service which the invoice concerns does not pass to the buyer. For example, if a £150 invoice in respect of a washing machine is sold, the invoice buyer receives the right to the £150 owed by the customer, but not the right to or ownership of the washing machine itself, and nor does the washing machine represent collateral which the invoice buyer can claim in cases of non-payment or underpayment by the customer.
When an invoice is purchased, the customer will receive an email and a letter (relevant contact details for the customer must be provided by the supplier when the invoice is first uploaded) informing them that the invoice has been sold to a third party. This is a legal requirement. The email and letter will also inform the customer of the new payment details they will need to use when paying the invoice. FluidP2P acts a payment agent for the investor, and will receive the invoice amount from the customer and pay it on to the investor, net of commission.
Q. What if, post-sale, the customer pays the supplier by mistake?
A. Normally, when an invoice is sold on FluidP2P, the customer is contacted to inform them of the new details with which they should settle the invoice. If the customer pays the supplier by mistake, instead of paying FluidP2P (acting as payment agent for the investor), FluidP2P will invoice the supplier for the full amount of the payment. Any costs associated with making the payment will be borne by the supplier.
Q. What if, while the account receivable is being auctioned, the customer pays the supplier?
A. An invoice is put up for sale on FluidP2P by the supplier, but then the customer unexpectedly settles the invoice early, before it can be sold, and there is no longer an amount due to the supplier. When this happens, the supplier needs to remove the account receivable from FluidP2P immediately, as it is no longer for sale. If an account receivable is sold via FluidP2P even after the customer has paid, the supplier is nonetheless contractually obliged to sell the account receivable to the investor for the agreed amount. For example, a £1,000 invoice is put up for auction on FluidP2P by a supplier. The invoice payment terms are 30 days. However, the customer unexpectedly settles the invoice with the supplier after just 15 days, while bidding is stil ongoing for the invoice on FluidP2P. The supplier should cancel the auction immediately. If this doesn't happen, and a winning bid of £950 is reached, the supplier is obliged to sell the account receivable (notwithstanding it has already been paid) to the investor for £950. The cash flows would be as follows:
1) Customer pays supplier £1,000.
2) Investor pays supplier £950.
3) Supplier pays FluidP2P (acting on behalf of the investor) £1,000.
4) FluidP2P pays investor £1,000, net of commission.
The end result is that the investor makes a £50 gain, and the supplier is left in the position it would have been in had it sold the invoice for £950.
Q. What if the customer never pays, or underpays?
A. Every investment is risky. The key risk with invoice financing is that the customer does not pay, pays late, or underpays. This may occur for many reasons (cash-flow issues, a dispute over the invoice amount, etc.). FluidP2P will automatically chase debts on your behalf, and can arrange for the invoice to be sold to a non-recourse debt factoring firm. This may be a useful way of minimising a loss or securing a return.
Q. As a supplier, can I set a minimum reserve price for an invoice?
A. Yes, just as with most auction websites, it is possible to set a minimum reserve price - the lowest you will be willing to sell the invoice for. This is kept secret from bidders. If bidding fails to reach the minimum reserve price by the time the auction finishes, the invoice can be withdrawn (i.e. not sold), or sold for the highest offer.