The average small-to-medium-size business in the United States keeps just enough of a cash buffer to last 27 days worth of normal operational costs, but in 2016 81% of all B2B invoices were delayed at least 30 days or more past the due date of payment.
Furthermore, in 2016, the average SMB held roughly $84,000 in unpaid accounts receivables, with that number also varying across industries. As an example, the average IT SMB held roughly $163k in unpaid accounts receivables, while the average transportation company held roughly $102k in the same. Yet we wonder why 50% of all SMBs close shop in under 5 years of their existence.
Late business-to-business (B2B) payments are symbolic of rampant trade credit. The conditions surrounding the need, use, exploitation, and the legal protections to curb trade credit vary significantly across nations and business cultures. However, while cultural practices do have a way of impacting commerce, the various instances of late payments across the world have several other universal factors in common as well.
In this paper, we take a look at some global economies and the particularities of practices influencing late payments within their borders. We then dissect their public policies in an effort to gauge the pressure points which they hope to address - as well as any noticeable impact such policies may have had on future payment practices. We then juxtapose our lessons from public policy against the impact of private market solutions and technologies aimed at resolving late payments, and use those contrasting images to better understand the various factors that may have been left unanswered in public policy.
Finally, I use my experience dissecting and studying the impact of public legislation to craft and put forth policy proposals of my own - aimed at resolving the most common imbalances and exploits observed during the course of my study.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Accounts payable; Corporate debt--Government policy; Industrial marketing--Government policy; Invoices
Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Public Policy (CLA)
Walker, Adam, "A Hoard of Unpaid Invoices: Dissecting Economies & Private Market Forces To Solve B2B Late Payments" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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