This methodology in its truest essence dates back to the 1940’s shortly after WWII whereby heads of states and banks came together to think up ways in which money could be generated to rebuild Europe which as completely devastated as a result of the war. This meeting was known as Bretton Woods.
Fast forward to today, the methodology can and is used to raise money for infrastructure projects around the world. Large financial bodies such as the World Bank and the IMF use specialized trading programs which generate sufficient cash to go towards large infrastructure project funding.
There is a common misconception about monetizing bank instruments and most people, brokers included, have very little to no knowledge on what it takes to successfully monetize a Bank Instrument.
Bank Instrument Misconceptions
It is not uncommon for many individuals to think that if they have a bank instrument such as a Standby Letter Of Credit (SBLC) from a bank, they can cash it in. These individuals expect that the service provider (Monetiser) will automatically give them several million in cash just like that. However the reality is much different.
In reality, there are many people who purchase a Standby Letter of Credit and are then shocked to learn that their newly purchased bank instrument was never designed to be monetized to begin with. The bank instrument is therefore deemed worthless for their intended purposes.
Purpose Of A Bank Instruments
SBLC’S issued for monetization or for the purpose of securing lines of credit tend to be worded specifically and must include certain terminology. Not all SBLC’s are intended for monetization so it is important to understand what you paying for and what you are getting to ensure that it will work for your intended purpose.
The truth of the matter is that having the money to buy a bank instrument doesn’t automatically mean that your SBLC can or will be monetized. As well, there are limited service providers who are in the business of Monetizing Bank Instruments.
If the purpose of having a bank instrument issued is for project funding, it is important to note that all the ‘components’ have to be in place. Another words the SBLC Provider, Bank Issuer, Monetiser and Trader all have to be in sync with one another to stand the best chance of raising funds for project funding.
- Service Provider
Ideally, you should know who will be monetizing your bank instrument before you purchase it. This may not be forthcoming to begin with if you are utilizing the services of a broker and are taking an instrument you already have in your possession to them. Brokers will tend to ask for a copy of your instrument first and run it past their Provider to see if indeed it can be monetised? You should also understand that not all SBLC’s are the same.
- Bank Instrument Issuance and Bank Rating
Next, pay attention to where the Standby Letter Of Credit is coming from? This will have a big impact on not only whether the instrument can be monetised but also how much LTV (loan to value) you can anticipate to receive? For example instruments from say the United Kingdom would have a much higher credit rating than an instrument from Argentina. The jurisdictions and legal ramifications are not the same and you should know and understand the differences. This will also affect the bank instrument’s cost and acceptability to Monetizing third parties.
- Bank Instrument Wording
If possible, ask for a copy of the DOA which should have a sample of the wording of the SWIFT MT-760 (the actual SBLC) and read it carefully. Pay attention to every word and have it reviewed by professionals and the beneficiary prior to paying for it. Verify if the bank instrument is suitable for monetization and if possible, try to find a service provider who will monetize it in advance. Whilst it involves extra work up front, it will pay off in the long term. There are two key words you need to look for when reviewing the text being “Cash backed.” Most monetisers will not be able to do anything with a bank instrument which is not Cash backed.
- Purchasing An SBLC For A Line Of Credit
If you are establishing a credit line with your bank, it will be helpful to them if you can show them the text ahead of time. However, just showing someone your SBLC text may not be sufficient to establish a credit line. Of course the text is the first thing a Monetiser will look at but its far from the only thing we will consider.
Monetizing Bank Instruments; Things To Consider
There are several things worth considering. For example when using a bank instrument to raise funds for a project, a solid business plan and solid relationships are a good start. In other words, you must have an actual project and a professional business plan.
If your entire business plan was to get the Standby Letter Of Credit and then send emails to companies involved in monetizing bank instruments in hopes of finding someone to give you cash, then this would not be considered as a ‘business plan.’
- Other Supporting Documentation
If you have a solid written business plan for a new company say in the energy sector as well as PPA’s and off-take agreements in place and need a Bank Guarantee to secure credit lines, this would more than likely bode well with the bank.
The key is that you must have your paperwork together and you must have a tangible way to make money from your project or investment. These are the things which credit providers are looking for. Ultimately the bank must like and believe in your project if you are looking to them to raise credit against a bank instrument. Anyone can purchase an SBLC but only those who have done the hard work and homework will stand a good chance to get the instrument monetized or have a credit line initiated if that is your end goal.
- Your Own Credit Line
If you are going down the route of having a Third Party block millions of dollars to set up a credit line for you backed by a Bank Instrument, be prepared to listen and follow instructions from the credit provider – they are assisting you and not the other way round. You are propositioning the investor, not the other way around. It is not uncommon for the project sponsor to be of the belief that theirs is the most important project and that their demands should be met. It doesn’t work that way.
If the credit line provider has set procedures and guidelines to adhere to, it is well advised to comply with their procedures. One thing for sure, service providers are in need given the lack of liquidity in the banking world and therefore they can pick and choose whom they want to work with. We have witnessed many service providers walk away from transactions due to clients being difficult and uncooperative.
Be prepared to submit a full Corporate Information Sheet (or Biography/Application) on your company and its officers along with a complete business plan. In the case of monetising an instrument, be prepared to submit the text of your SBLC. Explain how you acquired the bank instrument and why you need it monetized.
- Your Exit Strategy Plan
Go into detail about how you plan to exit this strategy and how you intend to return the instrument at the end of the term. However in the case of monetising an instrument, the monetiser will be responsible for returning the instrument at the end of the term. In essence you will be assigning the instrument to the monetiser in order for it to be monetised. Be aware that you may need to show Proof Of Funds (bank statements, not blocked funds) in many cases. If you follow the instructions and what is required of you, there shouldn’t be a problem in having your line of credit established and/or having your SBLC monetised.