Trade finance is undergoing a significant transformation, fuelled by advancements in technology and data-driven solutions. This theme was the core of a panel I sat on at this year’s GTR UK conference, alongside leaders from Peridot, Silver Birch, Remcom and XE. Three clear topics emerged from that discussion.
Data: The Key to Unlocking Trade Finance Potential
Data has emerged as a game-changer in the world of trade finance & working capital solutions, offering unparalleled opportunities for risk assessment, efficiency, and informed decision-making. Unlike other asset classes, trade finance transactions generate vast amounts of data throughout their lifecycle. From purchase orders and invoices to shipping documents and financial statements, every step in the supply chain leaves a digital footprint. This wealth of data provides valuable insights into trade patterns, counterparty behaviour, and creditworthiness.
By harnessing this data, financial institutions can gain a deeper understanding of their clients, assess risks more accurately, and streamline the approval process. Data analytics can enable better credit scoring models, enhanced fraud detection capabilities, and optimised compliance procedures, thus reducing operational costs and improving overall efficiency.
The Data Dilemma: Challenges in Utilising Trade Finance Data
Despite the potential benefits, the broad utilisation of data in trade finance is still limited. Several factors contribute to this challenge. Firstly, the extraction, mapping, formatting, and scrubbing of data is a complex and time-consuming process. Trade finance data often resides in disparate systems, in different formats, and lacks standardised structures. The manual effort required to consolidate and cleanse this data can deter financial institutions from fully capitalising on its potential.
Additionally, there are concerns regarding data quality, integrity, and privacy. As trade finance involves multiple parties across borders, ensuring data accuracy and security becomes paramount. Compliance with regulatory requirements, data protection laws, and the need for robust cybersecurity measures further complicate the adoption of data-driven solutions.
Empowering SMEs: Tech and Data to Facilitate Funding:
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in driving economic growth, but they often struggle to access affordable financing. However, with the advent of technology and data-driven innovations, there is an opportunity to bridge this funding gap.
By leveraging data analytics and alternative data sources, financial institutions can gain deeper insights into the creditworthiness and performance of SMEs. Traditional credit assessment models heavily rely on historical financial statements, which may not adequately capture the potential of dynamic SMEs. By incorporating non-traditional data such as transaction history, online reviews, and social media presence, lenders could build more comprehensive credit profiles, enabling them to extend funding deeper into the SME market.
Furthermore, the use of technology platforms and digital marketplaces can facilitate direct connections between SMEs and potential funders, offering greater choice and transparency for those companies searching for funding.
Conclusion: Data integration could revolutionise Trade Finance
In conclusion, the integration of data and technology into trade finance has the potential to revolutionise the industry. Despite the challenges associated with data extraction and quality assurance, the benefits of utilising trade finance data far outweigh the costs. By leveraging data analytics, financial institutions can enhance risk assessment, streamline processes, and make more informed lending decisions.
Moreover, the adoption of data-driven solutions can significantly benefit the underserved SME sector. Through advanced data analytics and alternative data sources, SMEs can access the financing they need to grow and thrive. The emergence of tech-enabled platforms and digital marketplaces further democratises access to funding, empowering SMEs and driving economic development.
As we move forward, it is crucial for financial institutions, regulators, and industry stakeholders to collaborate and address the challenges surrounding data utilisation in trade finance.
Angel G. Blanco joined Demica in April 2016. He previously worked at Banco Santander as Head of Receivables Products, Angel has over 10 years’ experience in Corporate Banking performing different roles in Structured Trade Finance and Working Capital Solutions. He was globally responsible for origination, structuring and execution of transactions, helping corporates to optimise their working capital and meeting their strategic financing needs.
Published 27th June 2023 in Blogs