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Press release: Companies’ payment discipline is good, but the quality of background research is falling

17. Feb 2015

The share of invoices paid in time has been increasing year after year and has reached the record of 72 per cent of all the issued invoices according to Krediidiinfo’s study “Credit policy of Estonian companies, 2015”. Good payment behaviour lowers the quality of background research and creates a fertile ground for fraud. 

A total of 13% of the invoices are paid with a slight delay up to seven days. Longer payment delays (8–30 days) characterise only 11% of invoices, and the payment of 5% of invoices is delayed over 30 days. 

Estonian payment culture is good: the average payment delay only constitutes 6.9 day. 

Over the year, the share of invoices with shorter payment deadlines (1–14 days) which amounts to 55% of all the invoices has increased significantly. At the same time, the share of invoices with payment deadlines within 15–30 days and advance invoices has decreased. The average payment due period in Estonia is 15.3 day. 

An exceptionally large share of Estonian enterprises (92%) is content with the payment behaviour of their customers. 

The period of stability has caused changes in companies’ credit behaviour. As there are few companies with high credit risk, around a third of enterprises do not impose sanctions on customers in arrears, and this indicator has increased by 7 percentage points within the past year. The measure applied to customers in debt the most often was withdrawing credit (45% of the respondents). 

Likewise, around 63% of enterprises do not use professional credit counselling services. The use of legal assistance and collecting agencies has decreased the most (by 14% and 13% respectively). 

Three quarters of Estonian enterprises always check new customers for debts to the state before giving them a credit, and 53% of respondents check for debts to other companies (using the Credit Register). Only 19% of companies look through the annual report and 11% check financial ratios. If checking debt information is all what is done for credit control, the company can easily become a fraud victim because, as a rule, fraudsters operate without debts. 

Krediidiinfo AS has been performing credit policy studies among Estonian companies since 2007. This study was conducted between 3 and 6 February 2015. The sample comprised ten thousand randomly selected companies registered and operating in Estonia.