New Orleans-based The Receivables Exchange opens for trades on Monday (17 Nov) after an 18-month development cycle.
Businesses register with the exchange, a process that entails uploading financial statements and completing an application. The Receivables Exchange conducts due diligence on the potential participant to ensure that it is legitimate.
Businesses must meet the following criteria:
- Minimum of $1.5 million in annual sales
- At least 2 years of operating history
- Registered to do business in the United States
Upon approval, the business can list specific invoices for financing, with a minimum total value of $10,000. Then accredited investors (SEC definition here) bid to provide short-term financing until the receivables are collected. Sellers are encouraged to upload PDF copies of invoices, proof of delivery, and so on to get the best rates. However, many documentation requirements are optional.
Sellers select the terms they are willing to accept and the bidder that beats those terms by the widest margin wins the credit. If no bidder meets the minimum terms, the auction ends without a trade.
In an era of tight credit, it's a welcome addition to the financing tools available for small and mid-sized businesses. Larger businesses typically have more options through commercial paper and other capital markets.
The startup expects banks to be valuable sources of referrals. Although, at this point, there are no referral fees or revenue-sharing options.
So far, The Receivables Exchange has signed up sellers with a total of $2 billion in annual sales. And there's been a lot of interest. Founder Nicolas Perkin says his company has been approached by 20 $1+ billion companies.
But what about the other side of the trade, the lender/investor? The company says it has access to $8 billion deployable capital. Of course, that doesn't mean that the capital will be easily enticed into actual deals.
Starting Monday, we'll see what the buy side thinks. Are they willing to risk their capital in the unproven market? If The Receivables Exchange can drive out fraud and deliver on its promises, we think the answer will be yes.
The Receivables Exchange homepage (11 Nov 2008)