Study: Global Trade Credit Payments

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COVID-19’s Impact on Global Payment Trends in the First Half of 2020

The 2020 Global Trade Credit Payments Study, by Dun & Bradstreet’s Worldwide Network Partner CRIBIS, outlines the international picture of payment practices in 36 markets around the world.

As seen in previous editions, the 2020 study showcases broad differences in payment practices and trends between markets. This edition, focusing on the first six months of 2020, reflects individual reactions to the COVID-19 global pandemic, which continues to impact economies around the world.

Trade Credit Payments Trends in the U.S.

The U.S. payment situation in H1 2020, post COVID-19, showed a moderate decrease in punctual payments as compared with the end of 2019. On-time payments dropped by 0.7%, while late payments of more than 90 days increased by 0.1%.

At the end of 2019, 54.9% of companies were paying on time. By June 2020, that percentage had dropped to 54.2%.

The share of “bad payers” at the end of 2019 was 2.8%; that percentage ticked up slightly to 2.9% by the end of June 2020.

Looking at specific industries and sectors, the most noticeable declines in on-time payment performance were seen in 1) local and interurban passenger transit; 2) coal mining; and 3) automotive dealers and service stations. All three sectors suffered from steep pandemic-related falloff in demand during the first half of the year.

Trade Credit Payments Trends in the U.K.

The analysis of U.K. payments also shows a moderate first-half decline in the due date (on-time) payments class, although more pronounced than in the U.S. The percentage of companies paying on time fell by 2.3%, from 43.8% to 41.5%.

The severely delinquent “bad payers” account for 3.8% of the sample analyzed — up slightly from 3.7% at the end of 2019. This percentage puts the U.K. in the top three worst payers in the study’s North Europe cohort of 11 countries.

In North Europe as a region, the sectors that have suffered the most during the COVID-19 pandemic include transport, hotels, and motion pictures. The U.K.’s most severely affected product sectors, with the steepest declines in payment performances, were motion pictures, with productions shutting down due to virus transmission fears; oil and gas extraction; and local and interurban passenger transit.

Conclusion: Despite Pandemic, Diversity Among Payment Trends

Different markets and regions reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic with a variety of trade credit payment scenarios. Specific domestic patterns, industrial characteristics, and the business culture of each country contribute to diverse outcomes and trends. In some cases, patterns have changed course in unexpected ways and in defiance of conventional wisdom about how a country’s businesses might be impacted.

The global economy has recovered somewhat from the plunge triggered by the “Great Lockdown” in April 2020, but macroeconomic forecasts maintain a certain negativity due to the continuing spread of COVID-19. At this writing, many countries have pulled back on reopening plans and some are imposing a second round of restrictions as winter approaches.

Looking ahead to 2021, businesses should carry out thoughtful credit assessments to help safeguard their cash flow and quickly manage breaches in contract and late payments by customers and suppliers.


The Global Payment Study was compiled by CRIBIS, the Dun & Bradstreet Worldwide Network Partner (WWN) in Italy, using data up to June 30, 2020. The WWN is an alliance between Dun & Bradstreet and leading business information providers in dozens of markets.

For each country, the patterns of commercial transactions were analyzed in comparison with previous years. The main sources of information used in this study were payment data from the D&B Worldwide Network, the DUNTRADE® program, D&B Paydex values, and analysis of commercial transactions worldwide.

Click the link below for the comprehensive payment study on 36 markets: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China Mainland, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden,  Taiwan Region, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, and the US.

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