Nevertheless, a POP is still occasionally requested as apparent proof that a seller has the product, A POP is realistically provided only when the Buyer's bank issues a Bank Confirmation Letter (BCL) to the Seller and or seller's bank via SWIFT. Then the Seller's bank can check the availability of funds in the Buyer's bank and issue a POP to the Buyer's bank within an agreed time period (e.g. 5 days). A seller will not issue a POP to buyer without a non- operative letter of credit opened.

RWA - Ready, Willing and Able
This is a document which is issued by the Buyer's bank. The bank confirms that their client has the sufficient funds in their possession and is ready, willing and able to engage in the contract.

SOFT PROBE. This is an authorization from the buyer to the seller to contact the buyer's bank to verify the buyer has the financial capability to purchase the amount of goods and the method of payment agreed in the (LOI) Letter of Intent.

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication - a global service which is responsible for facilitating communication between banks. Most payments are made via SWIFT.

Table 1. Terms Ranked from LEAST RISK to MOST RISK for the Seller


Usual Time of Payment

Goods Available To Buyer

to Seller

Risk to Buyer



Before shipment

After payment


Complete - relies on seller to ship exactly the goods expected, as quoted and ordered

Seller's goods must be special in one way or another, or special circumstances prevail over normal trade practices (example, goods manufactured to buyer-only specification).


(See next two items.)

After shipment is made, documents presented to the Bank.

After payment

Commercial Invoice must match the Letter of Credit exactly. Dates must be carefully headed - Stale documents are unacceptable for collection.

Letters of Credit require total accuracy in conforming to terms, conditions, and documentation. Consult your United Shipping Associate member for determining feasibility of terms and conditions.

Irrevocable Credit

After shipment is made, documents presented to the Bank.

After payment

Gives the seller a double assurance of payments - Depends on the terms of the letter of credit.

Assures shipment is made but relies on exporter to ship goods as described in documents. Terms may be negotiated prior to letter of credit agreement, alleviating buyer's degree of risk.

The inclusion of a second assurance of payment (usually a U.S. Bank) prevents surprises, adds assurance that issuing bank has been deemed acceptable by confirming bank. Adds cost and an additional requirement to seller.

Irrevocable Credit

After shipment is made, documents presented to the Bank.

After payment

Seller has single bank assurance of payment and seller remains dependent on foreign bank. Seller should contact his banker to determine whether or not the issuing bank has sufficient assets to cover the amount.

Same as above

Credit can be changed only by mutual agreement, as stipulated in a sales agreement. Becomes open account with buyer's bank as collection agent. Foreign bank may have problems making payment in sum or timeliness.

(See next two items.)

Remittance time from buyer's bank to seller's bank may still take one week to one month.

Drafts, by design, should contain terms and conditions mutually agreed upon.

A draft may be written with virtually any term or condition agreeable to both parties. When determining draft tenor (terms and conditions) consult with your banker and freight forwarder to determine the most desirable means of doing business in a given country.

Sight Draft (with documents against acceptance)

On presentation of draft to buyer.

After payment to buyer's bank.

If draft not honored, goods must be returned or resold. Storage, handling, return freight expenses may be incurred.

Assures shipment but not content, unless inspection or check-in is allowed before payment.

A draft can be a collection instrument used to exchange possession and title to goods for payment. Seller is essentially drawing a check against the bank account of the buyer. Buyer's bank must have pre-approval, or seek approval of the buyer prior to honoring the check. Payable upon presentation of documents.

Time Drafts (with documents against acceptance)

On maturity of the draft

Before payment, after acceptance

Relies on buyer to honor draft upon presentation.

Assures shipment but not content, time of maturity allows for adjustments, if agreed to by seller.

Payable based upon the acceptance of an obligation to pay the seller at a specified time. Although a time draft has more collection leverage than an invoice, it remains only a promissory note, with conditions.


As agreed, usually by invoice

Before payment

Relies completely on buyer to pay account as agreed


All terms of payment, including extra charges and terms should be mutually understood and agreed upon prior to open account initiation. Companies conducting on-going business are candidates for open account terms of payment. Seller must measure not only buyer's credit reliability but the country's as well.

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