Q&A
TuningBill Business Model

How digital banking and supply chain finance services work

Q. What is TuningBill and what services does it provide?

TuningBill is a digital banking as a service provider that provides comprehensive banking services to Importers and Exporters (traders) around the world. TuningBill is unique because it can open bank accounts for its customers in multiple currencies thus helping those customers who deal with multiple currency when executing cross-border trades.

The bank accounts opened for the traders on the TuningBill platform are called wallet. There is a wallet associated with bank account of each currency. As an example, a GBP account will have a sort code and account number, whereas a USD account will have a routing number and account number and so on.

In addition, TuningBill provides financing and treasury services to the traders. TuningBill helps its traders finance their trades that would otherwise not be financed by traditional banks and alternative funders.

Q. What financing services are provided by TuningBill and how does it compare with similar services available in the industry?

TuningBill provides business loan to Importers so that they can pay their Exporter on time and thus free up working capital for both themselves and their Exporters. Various types of financing models are available in the industry to facilitate cross-border trades. They include letter of credit (by Banks), invoice factoring and invoice discounting as well as reverse factoring.

A cross-border (export-import) invoice has a fixed term of payments from 15 days to 90 days. Most of the solutions available in the market are cumbersome and do not address the key problems of facilitating a trade. In stead the financing services are focused on one side of a trade at a time (either export or import) thus not providing a wholesome solution.

As an example, the LC provided by an Importer to an Exporter can be expensive to service and may require collateral by both the Importer and Exporter to facilitate the overall financing, first by the Importer bank to guarantee the LC and then by the exporting bank to encash the LC. Similarly, the factoring services are also dependent on the Exporter’s collateral and credit insurance limits of the Importer though the credit risk is mainly about the Importer’s ability to pay.

TuningBill removes all the above complexities by simply providing a business loan to the Importer and enforcing a simple condition that the business loan funds can only be used to pay to their Exporters.

Q. What is the “Business Model” of “TuningBill”?

TuningBill business model is based on providing business loans to the Importers. The business loan rates are dependent on the credit quality of the Importer. TuningBill charges interest to the Importer. The Importer may or may not decide to pass on their cost of financing to their Exporter. TuningBill does not participate into any such negotiation between the traders. The key features of the TuningBill model are:

a. TuningBill verifies an Invoice put up for sale by a trader (either Exporter or Importer). The validation involves the confirmation by the Invoice Payer (Importer).

b. TuningBill credit risk and pricing engine suggests an interest rate to be charged to the Importer for financing the invoice.

c. The interest charges are calculated on daily basis and there is a minimum locking period of one month for each payment. There is no early payment penalty or charges. The interest charges include the TuningBill fee for the services.

d. One or more than one Investor can purchase parts of the Invoice.

e. As and when a part of the Invoice is purchased by an Investor, the Importer automatically receives the money in their wallet (which is a bank account on the TuningBill platform).

f. A legal contract regarding the terms of payback is created between an Importer and Investor(s).

g. Upon receipt of the payment from the Importer, the money is returned to the Investors after deductions of TuningBill’s fee.

 

Platform users and their registration

Q. Who can register on the TuningBill platform?

TuningBill has three types of participants/customers:

a. Exporters

b. Importers

c. Investors (Funders used interchangeably)

The platform has specific and user-friendly registration process for each type of customer.

Exporter or Importer (Trader)

Q. How long does it take to register as an Exporter or an Importer (trader) and what information is required?

The registration process for a trader takes about 15 minutes. A trader is required to input their company information to be filled in by a company representative.

TuningBill performs the following KYC on the Seller:

a. Business check for the soundness of the business;

b. Compliance check for the sanctions, PEP (politically exposed persons), AML/TF (anti-money laundering and terrorist financing checks) of the business and their owners;

c. IDV check for the representative who uploads the information.

The above process normally takes less than 30 minutes. If any of the KYC fails, we revert to the trader for additional information and the process may take a maximum of 24 hours.

Q. Can you request additional information from a trader?

Yes, we can ask a trader to provide additional information about their business and people of significant control in their business.

Q. Please explain the Invoice selling process.

Once a trader is successfully registered, they can upload an Invoice on the TuningBill platform. The process is very quick and easy, and an Invoice upload shall take less than 5 minutes.

A trader must first link a Bank Account to be able to upload an Invoice for sale.

Once an Invoice is validated by the Importer, TuningBill Platform makes it available for Funders to fund the Invoice. The funds are disbursed to the Importers account as a business loan. The money can then be sent from the Importer’s bank account with us to the corresponding Exporter.

Q. Please explain the fund flow.

When an Investor funds an invoice, the money is sent from the Investor’s wallet to the Importer’s account. At the same time a contract is generated and electronically signed between the Investor and the Importer implying a business loan from the Investor to the Importer. The payback date is pre-selected by the Importer or Exporter (if uploaded by the exporter) at the time of the invoice upload.

Once the money is available in the Importer’s wallet, it can be sent to the Exporter. The money cannot be used or withdrawn for any other purpose

At or before the maturity of the business loan but no earlier than 1 months, the Importer funds their wallet with the loan principal and accrued interest as shown by the platform. The fund is then returned to the importer along with the interest.

TuningBill receives the fee at the same time.

Q. How does an Invoice get priced?

Please refer to the section “Pricing and Fee”

Q. Can a trader withdraw an Invoice?

Yes, unless an Invoice is fully sold.

In case an Invoice is part sold, the trader can choose to withdraw the Invoice from sale for the remaining share of the Invoice value. The sold portion will still appear in the asset ownership of the Investor.

In case the Invoice is not sold at all, the trader can choose to fully withdraw the Invoice from sale.

Q. What if an Invoice is uploaded with wrong information?

If there is no investment in an Invoice yet, the trader can edit the Invoice and the Invoice will undergo the standard verification. The Invoice would no longer be available for the Investors to invest while the verification of the changes is underway.

If an Investor has already invested in an Invoice in part or in full, the trader must call the TuningBill customer service to get the Invoice amended. This will require amendment to relevant contracts with the concerned Investors and Payers and a full reverification of the Invoice.

Q. Why should an Importer register at TuningBill platform?

An Importer enjoys multiple benefits from registering with TuningBill.

a. An Importer can earn fee in return for validating the Invoices sold through the TuningBill Platform and if the invoice was uploaded by an Exporter.

b. TuningBill provides a free cashflow management and FX management tools to its Importers

c. TuningBill helps improve the supply chain quality of the Importer by helping their Exporters.

d. An Importer can anonymously choose to advance-pay their preferred Exporters.

Q. Are there any additional fee for financing export-import invoices through TuningBill?

The interest rate charged to the Importer includes the fees that are payable by the traders to TuningBill.

Investors

Q. How long does it take to register as an Investor and what information is required?

The registration process for an Investor takes about 15 minutes. An Investor is required to input their personal information in the case of an Individual. In case of a legal entity, the Investment Company information shall be filled in by a company representative.

TuningBill performs the following KYC on the Investor:

a. Compliance check for the sanctions, PEP (politically exposed persons), AML/TF (anti-money laundering and terrorist financing checks);

b. IDV check for the representative who represents the Investing company;

c. Source of fund declaration from the Investor;

The above process normally takes less than 30 minutes. If any of the KYC fails, we revert to the Investor for additional information and the process may take a maximum of 24 hours.

The registration process is in line with the current regulation and the full documentation and checklist is detailed in our KYC and AML document.

Q. What are the eligibility criteria for an Investor?

An Investor can be an Individual who is either a High-net-worth Investor (HNI) or is self or otherwise certified sophisticated Investor.

Institutional investors can be any fund with appropriate mandate provided they pass our KYC checks.

We take the source of funds verification very seriously and in line with the current regulation, we reserve the right to ask for any information that may be required to ascertain the goodness of the fund. TuningBill reserves the right to decline any Investor, either Individual or Institutional at its sole discretion.

Q. How does an Investor start Investing into Invoices?

Upon successful registration, an Investor is required to link their Bank account that goes through a compliance check. Once the linked bank account clears the compliance, the Investor can choose to Invest in any active Invoice on the TuningBill platform.

To facilitate a smooth Investing experience, the TuningBill Platform provides a user-friendly dashboard to allow for the browsing of Invoices.

An Investor can filter the invoices based on the currency, level of return, credit quality of the payer, duration etc. If the Investor wants to invest into an Invoice, they can simply click “Buy” button to allocate an investment amount from their wallet. The share of the Invoice is added to their cart once the Investor allocates a fund.

As a last step, the Investor can review all the purchases in their cart and checkout after review. The Investor can change any selection while reviewing their investment in the cart.

Q. How does investment in part of an Invoice work? Please explain the ownership mechanism.

The Platform allows an Investor to purchase a part of an Invoice with a minimum set at $1,000/£1000/Euro 1,000/Rupee 100,000 or lower if the Invoice face value is lower. All fees and discounts are computed on a weekly basis with an upper ceiling on the fraction of a week. Please refer to the section “Pricing and Fee” for more information.

An Investor owns the % value of the Invoice Face Value that the Investor would have purchased. The Investment and the ownership are clearly recorded with TuningBill and the relevant contract can be downloaded directly from the Platform.

If an Investor chooses to invest $1,200 of an Invoice whose discounted value is $2,400 and face value is $2,500, the Investor would own $1,200/$2,400 = 50% of the Invoice. Upon the payment of $2,500 from the Importer, the Investor will receive 50% of $2,500 = $1,250 net of any bank or brokerage fee if any.

Q. Is there a mechanism to do automatic selection of Invoices?

Yes, an Investor can set their Investment criteria so that their money can be automatically allocated to a set of Invoices. However, this feature is not open as of now until the platform has enough volume and diversity.

Q. What if an Investor has chosen to Invest in a set of Invoices but doesn’t have enough money in the wallet?

An Investor is limited by the value in their wallet as to how much they can shop on the Platform. At the time of allocating investment to an Invoices, an Investor will not be able to allocate funds in value more than their wallet value.

Q. Can an Investor maintain wallets in multiple currencies?

Yes, an investor can maintain wallets in multiple currencies. We allow investors to convert their money from one currency to another using our Broker services. Please note that there could be brokerage charges involved if an Investor converts money from one currency to another.

At the same time, an Investor is not required to convert their money into the Invoice currency to invest into an Invoice. TuningBill allows an Investor to hedge their currency exposure without the need to convert their investment currency into the Invoice currency.

 

TuningBill Investments and comparable asset classes

Q. What can an investment through the TuningBill platform be compared to?

TuningBill platform provides an investment opportunity into short dated cross-border trades with a duration of 15 days to 90 days. The investments are priced as per the credit risk of the Importer and they are uncollateralized but are secured by the goods underlying the trade invoice as well as the personal guarantee of Importer company’s person of significant control.

The immediate asset class to compare with these investments are T-Bill or Treasury Bills with similar duration. However, since the T-Bills have an extremely low default risk, they provide much lower return, usually the federal fund rate. Unlike T-Bills, the receivables carry the credit risk of the Payers and hence provide a healthy return for those risks.

Cross-border trade invoices can also be compared to the short dated commercial papers issued by corporates. However, the commercial papers are debt instruments backed by the corporate assets and hence have lower returns compared to the receivables.

The following table shows a schematic comparison of Invoice discounting risk and returns compared to other similar fixed income asset classes.

Risk
and Return
USD
Tresury Bill
< 6 month
USD
Tresury Note
2-5 years
USD
Commerical
Payer (CP)
Emerging
Market CP FX
Hedged
EM Bonds > 1
year
Invoice
Discounting FX Hedged
Return1-2%2-3%3-4%7-10%10%+7-10%
Duration RiskSmallMediumSmallSmallMediumSmall
FX RiskNoNoNoNoYesNo
Credit RiskLowLowMediumHighHighLow
LiquidityHighHighMediumLowLowHigh

 

Q. Can an Investor re-sell an Invoice? How is the liquidity of an Invoice on the TuningBill Platform?

As of now an Investor can only buy an Invoice or its part. In future we will enable the ability for an Investor to resell an Invoice.

The Invoices are extremely short duration, so it may not be cost effective to buy and sell Invoices too frequently due to inherent transaction costs of the transfers and brokerage and banking charges. However, due to the short-dated nature of the Invoices, the overall investment portfolio is very liquid with an Investor getting their investment back on average in 30-45 days.

 

TuningBill Risk Management Framework

Q. How does TuningBill minimise risk for its Investors?

TuningBill takes various steps to reduce or minimise risks for its Investors.

Client onboarding

Every trader goes through rigorous business and compliance checks. A trader can upload an Invoice only after successful onboarding.

Invoice Validity

Every Invoice goes through a validation with the Importer and establishment of a contractual obligation by the Importer to explicitly acknowledge the change in the ownership of the Invoice to the Investor through the TuningBill “Terms of Services”. The Importer contractually accepts that the goods and services related to the Invoice have been fully delivered and hence there is no reason to decline the payments due to lack of goodness of the goods or services. This removes any frauds related to duplicate selling of the Invoice or incorrect Invoice upload.

Credit Risk

Once, the Invoice validation risk is removed, the Invoice has no credit exposure to the Invoice Seller.

To minimise the Credit Risk, TuningBill provides the functionality to invest in part of Invoices. Therefore, an Investor can spread their credit exposure to multiple Payers. They can choose to invest in multiple industry and currency to further diversify their risk.

Foreign Exchange Risk

When investing in Invoices in a foreign currency, an Investor is exposed to Foreign Exchange risk. TuningBill has partnered with FX Brokers to allow investors to hedge away any foreign exchange risk when buying an Invoice in a foreign denominated currency. Though this may reduce the total return if the Invoice Currency is from a higher interest rate regime compared to the Investor’s investment Currency, the hedging eliminates any risk related to the foreign exchange fluctuations.

The Brokerage costs related to the Foreign Exchange hedging are borne by the Investor.

Q. What type of business checks of the Importers is carried out by TuningBill?

TuningBill carries out the following checks of the Importers:

a. a full business check involving credit check and financial accounts check;

b. a full compliance check of the company and their parents and subsidiaries and their directors including persons of significant control.

The business checks are done independently by our credit partner firm in the relevant jurisdiction. Once we receive the historical financial statements of the Importer, we also run our own proprietary credit analysis to ascertain the financial soundness of the company. The model includes the analysis of the balance sheet, cashflow statement, the PnL statement, the receivables and payables records and the current credit lines with other creditors.

Along with the standalone credit analysis of the Importer, TuningBill also gives weightage to the business relationship between the Importer and the Invoice Seller including the historical payment records or past disputes if any.

Q. What is the average default rate in cross-border trade financing?

As per the International Chamber of Commerce:

“… dataset of $10.5trn of trade finance exposures from 2008 to 2016 shows a cumulative default rate of only 0.16%. This is a default rate of just 2bp per year. However, these defaults are often fully recovered (known as a ‘cured default’ in the industry). Actual credit losses over the period were a mere 4bp. Overall, this means that credit losses have amounted to only half a basis point per year.”

Q. How does TuningBill reduce the Credit Risk for its Investors?

The key to reduction of the Credit Risk for its Investors lies into the following key aspects of the TuningBill business model:

a. TuningBill has a thorough Importer and Exporter onboarding mechanism removing the companies with poor credit qualities.

b. TuningBill gets every Invoice validated by the Importer. The goods linked to the invoice act as security against the business loan to the Importer. This eliminates a possibility of fraudulent or wrong Invoice being traded at the TuningBill Platform.

c. TuningBill performs a detailed business analysis of the Importer ensuring the correct pricing of the Credit Risk.

d. TuningBill uses a three-tier risk pricing mechanism in which it applies credit risk spread to the Importer that is driven by: Market Risk (such as currency and interest rate risks), the Importer’s Credit Risk and the Exporter’s Credit Risk.

e. TuningBill provides a safe and user-friendly way to hedge any foreign exchange risk if the Investor invests in a foreign currency denominated Invoice.

f. TuningBill allows Investors to invest in parts of Invoice. This allows an Investor to spread the risk to multiple payers and hence reduce credit concentration risk.

Q. Can an Investor lose money?

The simple answer is Yes. The Investors on our Platform are supposed to be sophisticated investment firms or self-certified and financially astute Individual Investors. The additional return achieved by the Investors through the Investment in Invoice receivables is due to the additional credit risk of the Importer.

However, TuningBill creates opportunities for its Investors through the reduction of the Credit Risk as explained in the previous question. This increases the sharpe-ratio of a portfolio that invests through the TuningBill platform.

Q. What mechanisms are in place to recover delayed or part payments?

TuningBill has full contract in place with the Importer to pay the business loan they have availed as per the loan schedule. However, in the most unlikely case that an Importer delays payment or pays partially, TuningBill will first try to negotiate a recovery of the Principal along with the accrued interests as per the Terms of Services. If the Importer still does not pay, TuningBill will use legal and/or commercial avenues to recover the monies with the help of collection agencies. Additionally, TuningBill takes personal guarantee from the importing company’s principal promotor.

Q. Are there regulatory barriers to cross-border Invoice financing in your go-to market? How do you protect the data of your customers?

Our first go-to market is Importers in Europe and USA. TuningBill model is compliant with the rules and regulations related to private lending to business in the UK or the USA.

The data of the Importers and Exporters are maintained in the respective jurisdictions with the master copy of each user residing in their respective jurisdiction.

All contracts are developed as per the local regulations. As an example, a UK Importer or Investor would sign a contract built according the UK law. Currently, there is no license requirement around the private business loan in the UK and TuningBill is a technology platform not doing any lending on its own balance-sheet.

Q. What happens to the Investor’s investment if TuningBill goes bust?

Each Investor has a segregated account and hence their money is held separately from the TuningBill corporate account. The bank accounts are issued by a regulated entity and the monies are kept safely at Bank of England. In the unlikely case of TuningBill going bust, contractually, any money held in a customer’s segregated account cannot be touched by the TuningBill’s administrator. An Investor’s money that is not yet deployed will be returned with immediate effect. The money that is deployed and is expected to be repaid upon maturity by the Importers will follow the uninterrupted route from the Payer to the Investor’s segregated account and then back to the Investor with any due fee deducted from the repayment.

All terms and conditions between TuningBill and TuningBill customers remain unaffected if TuningBill goes under administration. An Importer will not have any automatic rights to hold the payment at the Invoice maturity if TuningBill is under administration.

Further, all contracts are between Importer and Investor and an Investor has full right to take a legal course to recovery if an Importer delays, part pays or does not pay their contractual liability.

Q. What will happen with the TuningBill platform when TuningBill goes bust?

TuningBill will stop accepting new Investor money and will stop allowing new investment to be made into the active invoices with immediate effect.

All money held in the segregated account of each Investor would be returned with immediate effect post deductions of the applicable fee if any

The Importers would still be able to pay their obligations as per the contracts into the Investor’s segregated account and the TuningBill administrator will settle each Investor and Seller account with immediate effect. TuningBill’s equity and bondholders will have no recourse to the customer money.

If the TuningBill administration is affected by a rogue trader (any customer), that customer’s segregated account would be ringfenced and managed as an exception without affecting other customers

Q. What can cause TuningBill to go bust?

TuningBill can go bust either due to not being able to fulfil its bondholder’s obligations for the lack of enough profitability from the business or due to a rogue trader on its platform causing an escalating fraud situation.

TuningBill has a very strong Compliance and Risk Management framework.

Nevertheless, if there is a case of fraud, we believe our strong compliance and due diligence would keep it contained to minimise the effect on the overall company.

 

Pricing and Fee

Please explain the discount pricing and TuningBill Fee?

The following table shows samples of two invoices denominated in £ with one Investor investing in £ and the other in $. If the Investor’s currency is different from the Invoice Payment currency, there is an additional hedge cost that can reduce the returns for the investor depending on the currency pair.

The Invoice is a 60 days Invoice with the Seller offering a 2.0% discount which amounts to roughly 12% annualized discount.

Invoice Details£ Invoice and £ InvestorInvoice Details£ Invoice and $ Investor
Invoice Currency£Invoice Currency£
Invoice Notional1,000,000Invoice Notional1,000,000
Days to Maturity60Days to Maturity60
Number of weeks9Number of weeks9
Seller Discount %2.00%Seller Discount %2.00%
Ann Seller’s Discount12.00%Ann Seller’s Discount12.00%
Seller Discount in £20,000Seller Discount in £20,000
TuningBill Fee %0.83%TuningBill Fee %0.83%
TuningBill Fee £-8,333TuningBill Fee £-8,333
No FX Hedge Cost0GBPUSD FX Hedge Cost-833
Investor Pays / Seller Receives980,000Investor Pays / Seller Receives980,000
Investor’s Return11,667Investor’s Return10,833
Investor’s Return %1.19%Investor’s Return %1.11%
Investor’s Return Annualized7.36%Investor’s Return Annualized6.82%

 

Q. Do you always offer FX hedging to the Investors? What if an Investor chooses not to hedge their FX risk?

FX Hedging is a default option for the Investors whenever the Invoice payment is in a currency different from the Investor’s investment currency. This is particularly important if the Invoice is payable in an Emerging Market currency.

However, if an Investor chooses not to hedge their FX risk, we make it sufficiently clear to the Investor that TuningBill does not assume any liability for any loss to the Investor due to FX rate fluctuations.

All calculations of expected returns on an Investment are shown on the platform as per the hedged as well as unhedged scenarios.

 

Bank, Brokerage and Compliance partners

Q. Please list your partner services and how they provide safety to trading through TuningBill Platform.

TuningBill has 4 technology partners:

Bank API: TuningBill partners with a reliable banking partner who provides banking API to seamlessly manage segregated accounts for our Clients. Our partner is regulated by the UK regulator Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.

Broker API:Our brokerage partner provides a seamless API to do provide on the fly spot and forward prices and create trades as per our Investor’s need. They are also regulated by Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.

Business and Compliance API: TuningBill partners with a credit check bureau for business reports of the Importers in the UK and the USA. The credit bureau also provides us with the API for compliance checks for AML, PEP and Sanctions.

Identity Checks API: TuningBill has tied up with a start-up that does identity checks using AI-ML technologies to match live face with the IDs and compare IDs in the government database.

 

Get in touch

Thank you for your interest in TuningBill. We will review your query soon and get back to you in a follow-up email.

Get Started

Get started

Become a partner