A newly launched online invoice finance platform is ready to breathe life into Italy's small businesses.
Workinvoice is the first online invoice trading operation to come to Italian shores. The platform kicked into gear in December last year and has successfully funded its first auctions. Workinvoice mirrors the MarketInvoice structure in some respects. Invoices are funded through a mixture of contributions from private and institutional investors. Every invoice enters into an auction-based bidding process in which demand drives down the cost of finance for the seller.
The newly-minted platform will outsource certain core functions to strategic partners. Credit assessment duties have been attributed to modeFinance. Settlement services are to be offered by a primary international bank – the name of which has not been disclosed.
The Italian market represents a tantalizing opportunity. Despite being the 3rd largest invoice financing market in Europe, local SMEs are grossly underserved – and have according to the platform suffered a €100 billion credit crunch since late in 2011. These businesses are also forced to contend with lengthier delays in payments than those typically faced by European SMEs.
The challenge for Workinvoice will be to reach those businesses, in a market where alternative finance has not yet caught on to the extent that it has in the UK and beyond.