What are the main types of trade finance?

Different types of trade financeTrade finance is a broad term that covers any form of financing used to facilitate international trade, there are many different types of trade finance, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of trade finance are letters of credit, export credits, and FEMA guarantees. Letters of credit are a commitment by a bank to pay the seller of goods or services once the buyer has fulfilled their obligations.

This type of financing is often used in situations where the buyer and seller are located in different countries. Export credits are loans that are provided by governments or financial institutions to support the exports of goods or services.

FEMA guarantees are government-backed guarantees that are typically used to insure against political risks such as war or revolution. While each of these types of trade finance has its own unique features, they all share the common goal of helping to facilitate international trade.

Different types of trade finance

There are a number of different types of trade finance, here are the most common:

Trade credit

Trade credit is an important financial tool that can help businesses to grow and expand. By extending trade credit to customers, businesses can increase sales and turnover, as well as reduce the amount of cash that they have to tie up in inventory. Trade credit offers advantages and can also help businesses to build stronger relationships with their customers, as it shows that the business is willing to trust them with goods or services before they have paid for them.

Offering trade credit is not without its risks, however, and businesses need to be careful when extending trade credit to customers. If a customer fails to pay, the business may be left out of pocket and could also find it difficult to recoup the money owed. Despite these risks, trade credit can be a valuable tool for businesses that are looking to grow and expand.

Cash advance

Cash advance is a type of payment made by a buyer to an exporter before the goods or services have been delivered. It is popular with exporters because it allows them to start manufacturing their goods right after they receive an order. However, it can be a high-risk approach for buyers, as production could be delayed and the order may never be fulfilled. A cash advance is often seen as a risky investment, but there are ways to minimise the risk involved.

For example, buyers can research the exporter’s track record, request samples of their work, and require regular progress reports during the manufacturing process. By taking these precautions, buyers can reduce the chances that they will end up unprotected in the event of a delay or cancellation

Purchase order (PO) finance

Purchase order finance is a type of short-term business loan that can help companies to free up cash flow and take on new orders. Purchase order finance is typically used when a company has been awarded a contract but does not have the necessary funds to pay for the materials or products required to fulfill the order. Instead of taking out a traditional bank loan, the company will secure finance from a lender that specialises in purchase order financing.

This can be a quick and convenient way to access the funds needed to complete a project, without putting strain on the company’s cash flow. In most cases, the finance will need to be repaid within a few months, once the order has been completed and invoiced. Purchase order finance can be an useful tool for companies that are growing quickly and need to take on new contracts, without jeopardising their financial health.

Receivables discounting

Receivables discounting is a form of short-term financing that allows businesses to receive funding based on their outstanding receivables. Receivables are amounts owed to a business by its customers, and they typically have a 30-60 day payment terms. Receivables discounting allows businesses to receive funding sooner than they would if they wait for their customers to pay their invoices.

This type of financing is typically used by businesses with strong receivables and healthy cash flow. Receivables discounting can be done through a financial institution or through a Factor, a Receivables Exchange platform.

The Receivables Exchange is an online marketplace that allows businesses to sell their receivables to investors in exchange for funding. This type of financing can be a great option for businesses that need quick access to funding and have strong receivables.

Export finance

Export finance is a form of financial assistance that is designed to help businesses cover the costs of exporting goods and services. This type of financing can be used to cover the costs of shipping, insurance, and other necessary expenses. Export finance can also be used to provide working capital for businesses that are expanding their operations into new markets.

This types of finance is typically provided by banks and other financial institutions, but there are also government-sponsored export financing programs available in some countries. Export finance can be an extremely helpful tool for businesses that are looking to enter the international marketplace.

Letter of credit

A letter of credit is a document that guarantees payment for goods shipped from one country to another. It is typically used in international trade transactions, where the buyer and seller are based in different countries. export businesses often use letters of credit to secure payment from buyers. In most cases, the issuing bank ensures that the buyer has the funds available to pay for the goods before they are shipped.

This protects the seller from non-payment and allows them to proceed with the export transaction without financial risk. Letters of credit are an essential tool for export businesses, and can help to reduce some of the risks associated with international trade.


Trade finance covers a wide range of products and services that are designed to support international trade. The main types of trade finance are letters of credit, export financing, and supply chain financing. Letters of credit are often used to protect buyers from the risk of non-delivery by sellers. Export financing is available to companies that sell goods or services to buyers in other countries. Supply chain financing helps companies to finance their supply chains, by providing funding to suppliers in order to improve payment terms.

Each of these are types of trade finance that comes with its own risks and rewards, and choosing the right option depends on the particular needs of the buyer and seller.

Lee Jones profile picture
Business Finance specialist at Invoice funding

Seasoned professional with a strong passion for the world of business finance. With over twenty years of dedicated experience in the field, my journey into the world of business finance began with a relentless curiosity for understanding the intricate workings of financial systems.

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