Commercial Debt Statistics: Facts and Numbers

Commercial debt plays a vital role in business finances, acting as both a driver for growth and a potential indicator of a company's financial stability.

May 09, 2024

Commercial Debt Statistics

To gain insights into this aspect, we conducted an in-depth analysis of our client database spanning from 2021 to 2023. Additionally, we incorporated open-source statistics from reputable companies to offer a nuanced perspective on the current state of commercial debt.

This article aims to present a comprehensive overview of the prevailing commercial debt landscape, providing valuable information for all stakeholders. Such insights are particularly crucial for navigating the economic uncertainties that may arise alongside fluctuations in commercial debt.

The motivation behind generating these statistics arose from the absence of an updated source that combines information from multiple reputable sources, providing a global understanding of commercial debt.

The Distribution of Commercial Debt Across Countries

The Distribution of Commercial Debt Across Countries

The provided text presents the percentage distribution of debtors across various countries based on Payfor’s database analysis, with the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (USA), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) being among the notable entries. The percentages represent the proportion of commercial debt businesses hold in each respective country.

1.Top Countries in Commercial Debt:

  • The USA has the highest percentage of commercial debt among the listed countries, indicating a significant reliance on debt within its business landscape (24.68%).
  • The UK follows closely, with a substantial share of commercial debt (18.83%).
  • France also stands out with a notable percentage (6.36%).

2.Middle Range Countries:

  • Several countries, including Germany, Spain, and Switzerland, fall within the 2-4% range, suggesting a moderate level of commercial debt.

3.Low Commercial Debt Countries:

  • Many countries, such as Hong Kong, Poland, Bulgaria, and others, have relatively low percentages (below 2%), implying a lower reliance on commercial debt.

For businesses in countries with high percentages (e.g., USA, UK, France), there may be a greater need for effective business debt strategies to mitigate financial risks.

Countries With a Higher Percentage of Business Creditors

Countries With a Higher Percentage of Business Creditors

Regarding implications for businesses, a higher percentage of creditors from a particular country may suggest more significant economic activity and business engagements in that region. Conversely, a lower rate may indicate a less significant economic presence.

Countries with higher percentages may be considered more attractive for international business relationships due to the larger number of creditors. On the other hand, those with lower percentages may present challenges regarding business opportunities.

Derived from our clients' database (the analysis covered clients from 2021 to 2023), and after conducting a comprehensive examination, we have identified the following:

United Kingdom (% of total creditors: ~31%): The UK has the highest number of creditors, constituting a significant portion of the overall distribution. This indicates a substantial engagement with creditors and a robust financial ecosystem.

Ukraine (% of total creditors: ~9%): Following the UK, Ukraine holds a notable percentage of creditors, showcasing a considerable involvement in credit relationships. However, it is significantly lower than the UK.

United States (% of total creditors: ~8%): The USA also has a substantial presence among creditors, contributing to a noteworthy portion of the overall distribution. It stands as one of the key players in credit engagements.

Belarus, UAE, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Poland (% of total creditors: ~2-4% each): These countries exhibit a moderate level of participation in credit relationships, with a relatively balanced distribution among them.

Estonia, Malaysia, and Portugal (% of total creditors: ~1-2% each): These countries have a lower but still noticeable representation in the creditor landscape, indicating a degree of involvement in credit transactions.

Bulgaria, Latvia, Isle of Man, Israel, Lithuania, Singapore, Sweden, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, The Cayman Islands, and Australia (% of total creditors: ~<1% each): These countries contribute minimally to the overall creditor count, suggesting a lesser degree of engagement in credit-based activities. 

It's important to note that this analysis does not consider individual business creditors' size or financial strength, focusing solely on the distribution across countries based on the number of creditors.

General Commercial Debt Collection Statistics

As of February 2023, Toyota, the Japanese automotive giant, held the unenviable position of being the company with the most substantial global debt, reaching a staggering 217 billion U.S. dollars. Trailing closely behind was the Chinese real estate player Evergrande, ranking second with a substantial debt of approximately 170 billion U.S. dollars. Volkswagen secured the third position in this less-than-desirable list.

Source (

As of the conclusion of 2020, the cumulative debt held by non-financial businesses in the United States stood at approximately US$17.7 trillion. From 2010 to 2019, there was a consistent annual growth rate of 5.5% in debt. However, in the year 2020, this growth experienced a significant surge, reaching 9.1%. 

Source (

In the second quarter of 2023, the United States witnessed a debt-to-equity ratio of 79 percent. 

Source (

As of the first quarter of 2023, non-financial companies' debt reached a staggering 90 trillion U.S. dollars globally. Notably, this figure surpassed the total value of the global GDP for the first time in 2020, a phenomenon triggered by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A noteworthy observation is that companies based in emerging markets hold approximately 45 percent of this substantial debt. This percentage has been consistently upward over the past few decades.

Source (

The information technology, communication services, and healthcare sectors in the United States have been at the forefront of debt growth since 2010. Notably, the average annual increase in long-term debt from 2010 to 2019 for information technology stood at 20.1%, while communication services experienced a growth rate of 13.4%. In addition, these sectors continued accumulating debt despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Conversely, there has been a decline in the share of long-term debt in industrials and utilities, aligning with their relative contribution to the broader economy. However, 2020 brought a shift in this trend, with industrials taking the lead in debt growth, experiencing a notable 24.9% increase.

Source (

Disparities in the incidence of insolvencies among nations can be attributed to various economic, institutional, and legal factors. 

  • As of 2023, France was anticipated to experience the highest number of business insolvencies globally, totalling nearly 60,000 for that year. 
  • China has recently witnessed a substantial surge in business insolvencies, soaring almost fourfold since 2015 to 12,000 in 2022. This escalation is not only a consequence of the mounting corporate debt in China during this period, but is also indicative of modifications made to bankruptcy procedures. The Chinese bankruptcy code underwent a comprehensive overhaul in 2007, and specialised courts for bankruptcy proceedings were established between 2007 and 2017. Moreover, the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic have further fuelled the surge in insolvencies.

Source (

Small Business Debts Global Statistics

Based on findings from a 2021 survey, it was revealed that 17% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United States carried debts ranging from $100,000 to $250,000. Concurrently, 26% of SMEs indicated having no outstanding debts.

Source (

Analysis from 2022 research indicates that, on average, quarter-on-quarter:

  • 52% of businesses faced issues with late payments.
  • 25% observed a surge in late payment instances.

The sectors most adversely affected by this trend include education, construction, administrative, professional, scientific, transportation, IT, arts, human health, and social work.

Notably, small businesses situated in the southeast and east of England, as well as Northern Ireland, were more prone to encountering challenges related to delayed payments.

  • 37% of businesses sought credit solutions to manage their cash flow.
  • Contrary to this, 62% of the people believe businesses typically receive payments within a week.
  • A significant 55% of the British people supported implementing additional controls to regulate the payment processes.

Source (

Within the European Union (EU), an average of 1 in every 2 invoices related to commercial transactions faces delayed payments, and in some cases, payments are not made at all. Instances of late payments tend to escalate during periods of economic crises. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which heavily depend on consistent and predictable cash flows for their operations, are particularly susceptible to the adverse impacts of delayed payments.

Across Europe, 70% of EU companies have acknowledged that receiving timely payments would enable them to fulfil their own financial obligations to suppliers promptly.

Research shows that a mere one-day reduction in payment delays could augment the aggregated cash flow of EU companies by 0.9%, potentially saving them a substantial €158 million in financing expenses.

Source (

Giles Goodman - Payfor CEOAuthor: Giles Goodman, Founder CEO of Payfor Limited
Drawing from his solid experience in commercial debt collection, Giles
offers invaluable expertise in solving claims owed between companies worldwide. Through his writing,
Giles shares insights tailored to business owners, leveraging his wealth of experience to provide practical
guidance and support.

Linkedin Logo LinkedIn


This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information provided in this post is based on general principles and may not apply to specific legal situations. Laws and regulations vary by jurisdiction and can change over time. Readers are advised to seek professional legal counsel before making any decisions based on the information provided in this blog post. Payfor Ltd is not a law firm and does not provide legal services. The company disclaims any liability for actions taken based on the contents of this blog post.

More Blogs & Insights

Commercial Debt in the US When You Are in Israel

How to Recover a Commercial Debt in the US When You Are in Israel?

If you are an Israeli business seeking to recover a commercial debt owed to you in the United States, it's essential to understand the intricacies and procedures involved in such a pursuit.

Femida and a backround with books and hammer for legal debt collection

Legal Procedure for Commercial Debt Recovery

Commercial debt recovery can be a complex and challenging process for businesses. From unpaid invoices to overdue payments, encountering debtors unwilling to settle outstanding dues is a common predicament.

Businesses Benefit From Offshore Jurisdictions

How Do Businesses Benefit From Offshore Jurisdictions?

Offshore jurisdictions like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands are a prevalent strategy for companies engaged in commercial debt collection or aiming to enhance their financial and tax planning initiatives.

How to Write a Demand Letter for Commercial Debt

How Do You Write a Demand Letter for Commercial Debt?

Unpaid business debts can be challenging for commerce businesses. When traditional debt collection methods fail, turning to legal recourse becomes necessary.

How to Avoid Late Payments in B2B Transactions

How to Avoid Late Payments in B2B Transactions?

Late payments pose a significant challenge for businesses, impacting cash flow, profitability, and overall financial stability.

Commercial Debt Statistics

Commercial Debt Statistics: Facts and Numbers

Commercial debt plays a vital role in business finances, acting as both a driver for growth and a potential indicator of a company's financial stability.

Why Payfor Is Different From Other B2B Collection Agencies

Why Payfor Is Different From Other B2B Collection Agencies?

Unlike other agencies, Payfor prides itself on its unique approach to commercial debt recovery, blending industry expertise with a commitment to client satisfaction.

How to Calculate Business Debt

How to Calculate Business Debt: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding and accurately calculating business debt is essential for maintaining financial stability and making informed decisions.

How to Recover a Debt in the US When You Are in Egypt

How to Recover a Debt in the US When You Are in Egypt?

Given the geographical and legal barriers, recovering a debt in the United States while residing in Egypt can present a formidable challenge.

Debt Collection for Startups

What are Commercial Debt Collection Challenges for Startups?

Startups often encounter unique hurdles when it comes to recovering owed funds. From establishing effective credit policies to navigating legal complexities, startups must navigate myriad obstacles to ensure timely payments and maintain financial stability.

Negotiation Tactics in Debt Recovery

Negotiation Tactics in Debt Recovery: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Commercial debt recovery is an essential, yet intricate, facet of business operations that requires an amalgamation of skills—from legal understanding to business acumen.

How to Recover Debt in the US When You're in Ukraine

How to Recover Debt in the US When You're in Ukraine?

Navigating the complexities of debt recovery across international borders presents unique challenges for businesses, particularly when seeking to recover debts owed in the United States while operating from Ukraine.

legal debt recovery as a strategic imperative

Is Legal Recovery the Answer When Your Business is Owed Money Across Borders?

When your business faces the challenge of recovering owed money from companies operating across international borders, legal recovery emerges as a strategic imperative.

Commercial Debt Collection Recovery Campaigns

How Do Commercial Debt Collection Recovery Campaigns Work?

Commercial debt collection recovery campaigns are intricate processes designed to retrieve outstanding debts owed by businesses to creditors.

Jurisdiction in Commercial Debt Collection

Why Jurisdiction Is the Most Critical Factor in Commercial Debt Collection?

When it comes to commercial debt collection, one question often trumps all others: "What is the key most important factor when chasing a debt?"

Arbitration vs Issuing Legal Proceedings

What is the Difference Between Arbitration and Issuing Legal Proceedings/Litigation?

The choice between arbitration and litigation is a pivotal decision that can shape the course of dispute resolution.

Amicable Commercial Debt Recovery

What is Amicable Recovery?

Amicable Recovery is a consensual and cooperative debt collection method that aims to settle outstanding payments without resorting to judicial measures. This process often commences with a courteous reminder, followed by mutually beneficial negotiations, in an effort to secure payment.

What is Jurisdiction in Global B2B Debt Collection

What is Jurisdiction in Global B2B Debt Collection?

Jurisdiction determines the legal authority and framework within which commercial debt collection efforts can be pursued across international borders.

Determine if a Debtor is Solvent

How to Determine if a Debtor is Solvent Enough to Repay Debt: An Expert Guide

In the intricate world of commercial debt collection, one of the most challenging yet imperative tasks is assessing the solvency of a debtor.

Small Business Debt Collection Guide

Small Business Debt Collection: A 7 Point Guide

This guide covers seven key points, ranging from understanding legal frameworks to negotiating payment plans. It equips small business owners with the knowledge and tools necessary to successfully pursue outstanding debts. 

Commercial Debt Collection Explained

What is Commercial Debt Collection?

Commercial debt collection is when a third-party agency recovers unpaid debts owed by one company to another. The recovery agency contacts the company owing the debt requiring it to pay the debt.

Commercial Debt Collection Challenges for US Companies

What Are Commercial Debt Collection Challenges for US Companies?

Commercial debt collection presents myriad challenges for US businesses, including complex jurisdictions and contractual elements.

How Much Debt Should a Business Have

How Much Debt Should a Business Have?

Striking the right balance between business debt and equity is paramount for maintaining financial health and sustaining growth.

Commercial Debt Collection Challenges and Solutions for Ukrainian Businesses

Commercial Debt Collection Challenges and Solutions for Ukrainian Businesses

In today's economic climate, Ukrainian companies encounter many obstacles when recovering commercial debts.

How is Bad Debt Defined in Business

How is Bad Debt Defined in Business: A Short Explanation

The term "bad debt" holds significant importance for businesses and can often signal trouble for enterprises of varying sizes.

What is a Creditor in Business

What is a Creditor in Business?

A creditor is a party that has provided goods, services, or monetary resources to a business on credit, expecting repayment within an agreed timeframe.

What is a Commercial Debt for Business

What is a Commercial Debt for Business?

Commercial debt is the amount of money one business entity owes to another for goods or services provided on credit terms.

What Should Businesses Expect From a Modern-Day Debt Recovery Agency

What Should Businesses Expect From a Modern-Day Debt Recovery Agency?

Modern debt recovery firms are redefining industry standards by offering strategic financial solutions alongside traditional collection efforts.

Expert Tips for Choosing Reliable B2B Partners

How to Safeguard Your Business: Expert Tips for Choosing Reliable B2B Partners and Clients

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, establishing robust B2B partnerships and securing dependable clients are pivotal to achieving growth.

Commercial Debt Collection Challenges and Solutions for UK Companies

What Are Commercial Debt Collection Challenges and Solutions for UK Companies?

Navigating the complexities of commercial debt recovery in the UK presents many challenges that demand a strategic understanding and adept handling.

Debt Collection for AI Companies

A Comprehensive Guide to Commercial Debt Collection for AI Companies

As AI businesses often market their technology globally, cross-border trade is a notable challenge they face.

Commercial Debt Collection nuances for Recruitment Companies

How Does Commercial Debt Collection Work for Recruitment Companies?

As recruitment agencies strive to connect employers with suitable candidates, the issue of outstanding payments can become a common challenge for them.

Debt Collection Agencies

What are Debt Collection Agencies: Their Role in Financial Recovery

The debt collector is mainly an agency creditors hire to recover money owed by businesses that have failed to make timely payments on their debts.

Commercial Debt Collection Issues for IT and Software Development Companies

Commercial Debt Collection Issues for IT and Software Development Companies

The billing models, project timelines, and evolving client requirements create an environment where debt recovery becomes a complex and nuanced process for IT and Software development companies.

Maintaining Healthy B2B Relationships while Pursuing Debt Collection

Business Debt Collection Etiquette: How to Preserve B2B Relationships

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, maintaining positive relationships with other companies is crucial for long-term success. However, as businesses engage in commercial transactions, they may encounter instances where debtors are not forthcoming, acting in bad faith, or having a hidden agenda.

What is a Debtor

What is a Debtor in Business: Essential Guide

Commercial debtors, in essence, refer to entities that owe money to a business for goods or services provided. This financial relationship forms a critical component of the broader commercial ecosystem, shaping a business's cash flow dynamics and overall financial health. 

Global Debt Collection Explained

What is Global Debt Collection?

Global debt collection is when a collection agency or company actively tries to collect debts from debtors across international borders.

What to Do if a Company Owes You Money

What to Do if a Company Owes You Money: Resolving Unsettled Debts

In a business relationship, there might be situations where a company owes you money, and the path to resolution may not always be clear. When faced with this challenge, it's crucial to approach the situation with a level head and a strategic plan.

Top Challenges in Global Debt Collection

10 Global Debt Collection Challenges: How to Overcome Them

Identify the key challenges of global debt collection, from legal jurisdictions to assessing debtor's liquidity, and effective strategies for successful debt recovery.

Commercial Debt Collection Laws and Rules in the UK

Commercial Debt Collection Laws in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding the legal framework governing commercial debt collection is paramount for both creditors seeking restitution and debtors aiming to protect their rights.

Corporate debt recovery

What is Corporate Recovery?

A Comprehensive Guide to Collecting £100k-£250k Unpaid Invoices from International Businesses

Two men handshaking over a satisfying debt settlement

How a Ukrainian company achieved a satisfying settlement

The Ukrainian company had done everything they needed...

Portuguese company's outstanding debt collection case study

How a Portuguese company got 80% of the outstanding debt collected

A recruitment company based in Portugal was owed money from clients in the UK, Portugal and Germany.

A software development company's outstanding debt negotiation

Indian software developer got that Payfor feeling

Payfor was able to collect the outstanding debt by negotiating a resolution between the two companies.

overcome frustrating debt collections

How we overcome frustrating debt collections

A Welsh SaaS business was owed money by a London financial services company.

Collect Debt From a Business That Repeatedly Refuses to Pay

How to Collect Debt From a Business That Repeatedly Refuses to Pay What They Owe

At the start of the Covid Pandemic in the UK early 2020, companies started owing each other money left, right and centre…

Payfor Commercial Debt Recovery Agency Logo

Your global 
recovery specialists.

Payfor's Google Ratings Image


Facebook white logoTwitter bird logoInstagram logo

Global Address

Number One, Vicarage Ln, London E15 4HF  

Copyright. Payfor 2024. London.