What Is an Assignment of Proceeds?

An assignment of proceeds occurs when a beneficiary transfers all or part of the proceeds from a letter of credit to a third party beneficiary. Assigning the proceeds from a letter of credit can be utilized in many types of scenarios, such as to pay suppliers or vendors in a business transaction or to settle other debts.

Key Takeaways

  • An assignment of proceeds can be used to redirect funds from a line of credit to a third party.
  • An assignment of proceeds must be approved by the financial institution following a request and fulfillment of any obligations by the original beneficiary.
  • A benefit of this type of transaction is the ability to redirect only a portion of the proceeds, in which case both the original beneficiary and third party can access the same letter of credit.
  • A drawback of this type of transaction is that the original beneficiary is still responsible for fulfilling all requirements under the letter of credit, even when the funds are redirected to the third party.

Understanding an Assignment of Proceeds

A letter of credit is a letter from a bank guaranteeing that a buyer's payment to a seller will be received on time and for the correct amount. In the event that the buyer is unable to make a payment on the purchase, the bank will be required to cover the full or remaining amount of the purchase. The original beneficiary, the named party who is entitled to receive the proceeds from a letter of credit, may choose to have them delivered to a third party instead through an "assignment of proceeds."

Due to the nature of international dealings, including factors such as distance, differing laws in each country, and difficulty in knowing each party personally, the use of letters of credit has become a very important aspect of international trade.

In order to process an assignment of proceeds, the original beneficiary of the letter of credit must submit a request to the bank or other financial institution issuing the letter of credit requesting to assign the funds to a different individual or company. The assignment of proceeds will need to be approved by the financial institution once it is submitted, pending fulfillment of any requirements set forth in the letter of credit. If the original beneficiary does not meet the obligations outlined in the letter of credit, no assignment will take place. Once approved, the bank or other entity will release the money to the specified third party to be drawn upon at will.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Assignment of Proceeds

The main benefit of an assignment of proceeds is that the original beneficiary has the ability to assign all or just a portion of the letter of credit to the third party. The original beneficiary will retain access to any portion of the proceeds not redirected to the third party. This allows both entities to make use of the same letter of credit when necessary.

This benefit must be weighed against the potential drawback of this type of transaction. When an assignment of proceeds takes place, the financial institution is not contracting directly with the third party beneficiary. It is only acting as an agent in supplying the funds to the third party. The original beneficiary is still responsible for completing any and all requirements under the letter of credit.

Example of an Assignment of Proceeds

Assume XYZ Customer, in Brazil, is purchasing widgets from ABC Manufacturer, in the United States. ABC Manufacturer requires XYZ Customer to get a letter of credit from a bank to mitigate the risk that XYZ may not pay for the widgets once they are shipped out of the country.

At this point, ABC Manufacturer is able to request that a portion of these funds be redirected to DEF Supplier, whom ABC still owes money for parts used in making the widgets. Even though a portion of the funds has been redirected to DEF Supplier, ABC Manufacturer still has to fulfill its obligations under the letter of credit, such as shipping out the widgets to XYZ.