What Is the Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE)?

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DEFINITION
The Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE) serves as a data exchange and trade association that aggregates small business credit and payment information.

The Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE) serves as a data exchange and trade association that aggregates small business credit and payment information. Member-owned by small business lenders, the SBFE is built on what’s called a “give-to-get” methodology, whereby members provide data on their small business clients in exchange for credit reports from SBFE-certified vendors. 

The SBFE can not only help lenders make sound lending decisions, but creates an opportunity for small businesses to grow securely. It shares payment data that can be crucial for boosting business credit reports, which are typically necessary to apply for loans. If you’re a small business owner seeking fair access to capital to grow your organization, it’s important to understand more about what the SBFE is and how it works. 

Definition and Example of the Small Business Financial Exchange

The SBFE is a nonprofit trade association and data exchange that claims to aggregate the largest amount of small business payment data in the U.S. Members include various small business lending entities that report payment activity from their small business customers. The data is used to build a holistic view of the business that's shared in exclusive business credit reports with members. 

  • Acronym: SBFE

As a small business owner, you often need access to working capital to expand your inventory, increase marketing, or create a new product. This is where the SBFE becomes a crucial function of your operations. You’ll need to show a strong picture of your financial health via a business credit report, and the SBFE generates these reports for vendors. 

Even a few late payments can severely impact your business credit, and your SBFE report includes information on your payment history, whether good or bad. The more late payments you make to SBFE lenders, the less demonstrative your business credit report will be.

How the SBFE Works 

The SBFE was launched in 2001 to create a more accurate portrait of small business financial health. Credit unions, banks, and institutional lenders came together to ensure that the lending organizations had efficient processes and information to assess small business risk. 

The SBFE works on a model called the “give-to-get” financial exchange. This means financial performance data sharing is in the hands of those who most need access to it: the lenders themselves. SBFE-certified vendors then create credit products with this data that SBFE lenders can utilize to make lending decisions. Experian, Equifax, and Dun & Bradstreet are three certified vendors that create reports from SBFE-aggregated data, which includes info such as:

  • Total percent of utilization
  • Payment performance (good and bad payment history) 
  • Business identification information 

The SBFE essentially functions in a closed loop as data from SBFE lenders guides certified vendors in building credit reports. Small business owners can make the most of this system by applying for loans from SBFE members. Your credit history will have the most accurate representation if you maintain relationships with these lenders, making it easier to obtain capital.

Partnering With the SBFE

As a small business owner, you can often be faced with a need to increase your available cash flow to build out inventory or increase marketing efforts. One way to do that is by applying for a small business loan through SBFE members such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or PNC. 

However, these lenders can be more cautious when it comes to providing small business loans as they may take on more risk since a small business may not have been established long enough, have great credit, or be able to offer a more comprehensive picture of its financial state. 

This is where the SBFE becomes a critical partner both for small businesses when it comes to receiving fair judgment and for lenders to build their portfolios. The organization works with dozens of lenders that receive exclusive access to SBFE-generated business credit reports. 

The SBFE points out that it is not a commercial credit bureau and does not create or sell business credit reports or provide scores.

The SBFE certified vendor reports share a long history of your small business payment data. A fully developed view of your financial health can make you more credible when it comes to receiving a loan. As such, you appear as a more compelling business to a lender that wants to upkeep a thriving portfolio.   

Key Takeaways

  • The Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE) is a trade association of financial lenders who share the payment history of their small business consumers.
  • Small business payment info is aggregated into a secure data warehouse that SBFE certified vendors use to build credit reports for members. 
  • The SBFE reports can build more credibility for small businesses looking to raise capital and for lenders looking to expand their portfolios.
  • The SBFE gathers and reports your information as a small business. To receive more fair loan opportunities, you must prioritize on-time payments to maintain financial health.

Article Sources

  1. Small Business Financial Exchange. “How the SBFE Model Works.” Accessed Jan. 6, 2022. 

  2. Dun & Bradstreet. "D&B Small Business Financial Exchange." Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.

  3. Small Business Financial Exchange. “Commonly Asked Questions About the SBFE Model.” Accessed Jan. 6, 2022.