Customer credit

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Under customer credit (or customer credit ) refers to the contractually provided advance by the purchaser of goods and services in the form of payments that done , before the goods are delivered or the services were provided.


After § 433 para. 1 BGB , the seller is the purchase contract obliged the buyer the goods train to train to the receipt of the purchase price passed . However, if the seller is released from his immediate delivery obligation through his payment terms , a customer credit exists. It arises when a customer pays the purchase price in part or in full before the goods are handed over and the supplier is given a delivery period . This postponement of delivery legally represents a loan from the buyer to the supplier ( § 488 BGB).

Customer loans can be granted to domestic or foreign suppliers. The customer's credit (Engl. Customer credit ) compared to exporters next to abroad includes credit risk , a country risk and legal risk because the possible recovery of prepayment and deposit requirements, of the economic / political risk of the country as well as foreign law is subject.

Legal issues

The obligation to purchase or cash advance is often intermediate clauses in terms of payment established by the customer in Conditions will be asked to make advance, although the legal regulation of § 320 BGB does not include this. The principle of performance step by step is one of the essential basic ideas of the legal regulation ( § 307 Paragraph 2 No. 1 BGB) because it guarantees equal security for both contracting parties. The down payment or advance payment obligation imposed on the customer removes the pressure of the objection of the non-fulfilled contract (§ 320 BGB) for the enforcement of his claim to fulfillment in accordance with the contract and the risk of the supplier's inability to perform. Such clauses are only effective according to § 305c Paragraph 2 BGB if there is an objective reason for them and there are no overriding interests of the customer. The cited judgment concerned a case in which the customer had to make a “final payment before delivery”, thereby depriving him of the right to examine the goods beforehand. The supplier thus benefited from the entire purchase price and no longer bore the typical risk of a loss of money. On the other hand, the customer is deprived of the right to refuse to pay the purchase price on receipt of defective goods, which puts him at an unreasonable disadvantage. "Delivery against cash on delivery" is also an ineffective advance performance clause because it deprives the customer of any possibility of offsetting.


The customer can make down payments or make advance payments . For both variants, a purchase contract or terms and conditions must already exist, where this form of payment must be regulated in the payment terms. In the case of down payments and prepayments, it is possible that the goods ordered by the customer are not yet in stock at the supplier or have not yet been produced . While down payments only cover part of the purchase price, advance payments cover the entire purchase price. Installment payments, on the other hand, are usually not part of the customer loans because, in the case of work contracts , they were preceded by an anticipated partial performance for work that has already been performed but not yet invoiced. For example, in Section 632a of the German Civil Code (BGB) it is assumed that these installments are offset by an increase in value that has arisen from construction work. The down payment is consideration for the manufacturer's services and not an advance on services that are due in the future, so that the provisions on loans do not apply. In the case of successive delivery contracts, partial services are even the subject matter of the contract and are therefore owed.


And prepayments are in the balance of the customer as "advance payments" activated ( § 266 para. 2 BI 4 HGB ) and are usually the nominal value to evaluate ( § 253 para. 1 HGB). The customer therefore bears an unsecured credit risk ( del credere risk ), which he can usually cover with a deposit guarantee / contract performance guarantee from banks or bond insurance , del credere insurance or - in the case of imports - export credit insurance. In addition to the actual del credere risk, a customer loan to foreign suppliers may also involve a country risk. If the supplier's creditworthiness is poor and there is no security, the customer will have dubious claims , if they cannot be collected - for example due to the supplier's insolvency - claims will be lost . Corresponding passivated by the supplier to the customer's credit on its balance sheet as liabilities from "received on orders" (§ 266 para. 3 C 3 HGB).


In Germany, customer and supplier credits are the most important source of outside financing for non-banks alongside group liabilities . In terms of short-term outside funds, they even occupy the top position in the financing hierarchy. According to the Deutsche Bundesbank , trade loans, with an average of € 345.2 billion for the years 2002 to 2009, are the second most important - and in the short term even the most important - source of external financing for non-banks in Germany, alongside intra-group loans (€ 399.4 billion). Measured against the balance sheet total , they reach a rate of 15.8%. As a result, the short-term and long-term debt at banks is 1 percentage point lower. The largest share have for industry , the trade receivables in wholesale and commission trade 25.4% of total assets, followed by business-related services (18.3%) and construction (16.7%). In terms of company size , small and medium-sized companies lead with 18.1%, followed by very small companies with 16.9%.

Purpose and use

The customer loan occurs in transactions where a long period of time elapses between the conclusion of the contract (or the planning or production phase) and completion or special products are made. This is especially the case in branches of industry with long lead times and production times, such as the construction industry , capital goods industry (large-scale plant construction, aircraft and shipbuilding ) or with tour operators . In some cases, payment terms customary in the industry have emerged here. It is common in the construction industry to pay a third of the contract price after the contract is signed, the shell has been completed and the handover. The supplier does not have to use his own liquidity or bank loans for production in the amount of the - mostly interest-free - down payment or advance payment . Suppliers with limited liquidity who cannot fulfill an order without down payments also require down payments. In addition, the down payment is also used for customers with poor credit ratings in order to mitigate the supplier's risk of del credere. Overall, the down payment reduces the producer's risk of non-acceptance.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. BGH, judgment of March 10, 1999, Az .: VIII ZR 204/98 ( Memento of the original of January 21, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. ^ BGH, judgment of July 8, 1998, VIII ZR 1/98
  3. Andreas Wien, Commercial and Corporate Law , 2013, p. 100.
  4. The Bundesbank statistically combines supplier and customer credits into trade credits.
  5. ^ Deutsche Bundesbank, The Importance of Trade Loans for Corporate Financing in Germany - Results of the Company Accounts Statistics, Monthly Report October 2012, p. 57.
  6. ^ Deutsche Bundesbank, The Importance of Trade Loans for Corporate Financing in Germany - Results of the Company Accounts Statistics, Monthly Report October 2012, p. 59.
  7. Jürgen Stiefl, Finanzmanagement , 2008, p. 91.
  8. ^ Ottmar Schneck, Handbook of alternative forms of financing , 2006, p. 136.
  9. ^ Andreas Wien, Commercial and Corporate Law , 2013, p. 101.