Factoring’s origins lie in the financing of trade, particularly international trade. It is said that factoring originated with ancient Mesopotamian culture, with rules of factoring preserved in the Code of Hammurabi.

Factoring as a fact of business life was underway in England prior to 1400, and it came to America with the Pilgrims, around 1620. It appears to be closely related to early merchant banking activities. The latter however evolved by extension to non-trade related financing such as sovereign debt. Like all financial instruments, factoring evolved over centuries. This was driven by changes in the organization of companies; technology, particularly air travel and non-face to face communications technologies starting with the telegraph, followed by the telephone and then computers. These also drove and were driven by modifications of the common law framework in England and the United States.

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