Trade Finance Technology (TradeTech)

Trade finance technology (abbreviated TradeTechtradetech, or sometimes Trade Tech) refers to the use of technology, innovation, and software to support and digitally transform the trade finance industry.[1] TradeTech can be seen as a subcategory under FinTech.[2] As digital information becomes more readily accessible, convenient, and available, the trade finance industry is being gradually modernised and digitally transformed.[3][4] TradeTech puts a particular emphasis on the application of technology and software to modernise trade finance.[5]

Definition

TradeTech is the technology, software, and innovation that aims to enhance traditional financial methods in international trade and that is applied in making available trade finance and related services.[6]

TradeTech seeks to reduce transaction costs for businesses, lower compliance costs, and increase efficiency and transparency for firms, regulators and consumers.[7][8] The application of TradeTech results in new business models, applications, processes or products with an associated material effect on trade finance markets and institutions.[9]

This is achieved in several ways, such as introducing automation, artificial intelligence (AI), or blockchain networks to existing processes.[10]

Origins

The term TradeTech was first officially established and recognised by the World Economic Forum in a 2018 white paper, highlighting the importance of technologies such as internet of things (IoT), blockchain, and artificial intelligence to facilitate international trade and support trade finance.[11] Wolfgang Lehmacher co-authored the report.

In the private sector, the emergence of private companies that typically use the cloud through software as a service to provide applications is accelerating the availability of TradeTech applications.[12] Companies are often startups founded to modernise the traditionally conservative trade finance market.[13]

The emergence of TradeTech can be linked to a broader trend of making international trade more efficient by removing barriers.[14][15] This ongoing modernisation of trade began with the invention of shipping containers in the mid-twentieth century, which largely solved the issue of reliability and safety in international trade and also greatly reduced the cost of loading and transportation.[16]

High transaction and financing costs can create a high barrier to cross border trade with high trade costs effectively nullifying comparative advantages as they render exports uncompetitive.[17]

As such, many TradeTech initiatives seek to reduce administrative and bureaucratic costs associated with financing the transporting of goods across a border.[18] This often includes applying technology to global supply chain finance, logistics, and to improve connectivity between trading partners.[19]

In the 1980s, some trade finance processes were digitised, such as with the introduction of the electronic bill of lading.[20] Meanwhile, supply chain finance initiatives emerged in the 1990s but only began to impact the market after 2000.[21] Most recent developments have seen the rise of asset distribution providers which seek to increase liquidity in the trade finance sector.[22] There is also a push to use blockchain in trade finance.[23]

Recent developments

According to a round table event hosted by trade financier Deutsche Bank and media company GTR, “Digitalisation of trade finance is something the entire trade finance industry agrees is vital for trade’s longevity”.[24] The rapid development of tradetech and fintech applications is cited to make reporting of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors a lot easier for the trade finance industry.[25]

Examples

Digitalisation

TradeTech received an early start with providers that developed products for financial institutions to both digitise and automate their payable and receivable processes.[26] This made it possible to upload trade documentation such as invoices and purchase orders, and then enable their validation and processing.[27]

Blockchain

The latter half of the 2010s witnessed a significant expansion of blockchain technology, and it is also beginning to be applied to international trade.[28] Specifically, the traceability and security of information of a blockchain network have been noted for its potential for increasing transparency between trade partners and supply chains, as well as the subsequent reducing the potential of fraud

Asset Distribution

Marketing sellable trade finance assets is another application emerging within TradeTech.[30] The aim of this is to create new sources of liquidity within the market, thereby increasing the funding available to businesses to continue trading.[31] The Basel Accords limit the amount of funding banks can issue to businesses as they are now required to retain a certain volume of their liquidity.[32] Furthermore, there is a perceived risk associated with issuing trade finance to businesses without credit histories.[33] This culminates into a scenario wherein Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often struggle to access the finance they require.[34] As a result, asset distribution providers seek to alleviate the pressure from banks by distributing trade finance assets to alternative investors, such as a non-bank financial institution.[35]

References

  1. ^Murphy, Patrick. “Block-buster: how TradeTech could change the world”. Clyde&Co. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  2. ^“Trade Finance and Technology”. Open to Export. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  3. ^“A Guide to Trade Finance” (PDF). Deutsche Bank. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  4. ^“The future of world trade: How digital technologies are transforming global commerce” (PDF). WTO. Retrieved 14 July2020.
  5. ^“Is technology bridging the trade finance gap?”. Pole Star. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  6. ^“Tradetech and the problem of international coordination”. Cryptoeconomics. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  7. ^“Global trade tech helping efficiency and security”. Business Standard. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  8. ^“7 Trade Finance Technology Trends”. SCF Labs. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  9. ^“Trade Tech: A New Age for Trade and Supply Chain Finance”. Bain & Company. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  10. ^Michel, Melodie. “5 Emerging Trends in Trade Finance for Europe in 2020”. Alpine Style. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  11. ^“Trade Tech – A New Age for Trade and Supply Chain Finance” (PDF). World Economic Forum. Retrieved 13 July2020.
  12. ^“How is Tradetech bridging the trade finance gap in ASEAN?”. UK ASEAN Business Council. Retrieved 14 July2020.
  13. ^“Tradetech 40”. Trade Finance Global. Retrieved 13 July2020.
  14. ^“Trade barriers: EU removes record number in response to surge in protectionism”. European Commission. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  15. ^“WEF Throws Weight Behind Blockchain For Trade Finance”. Pymnts.com. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  16. ^“The simple steel box that transformed trade”. BBC. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  17. ^“Why Trade Costs Matter For Inclusive, Sustainable Growth”(PDF). WTO. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  18. ^“Can Blockchain revolutionize international trade?” (PDF). WTO. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  19. ^Gallaher, Mike. “4 key steps to support cross-border payments and digital trade growth”. The European Sting. World Economic Forum. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  20. ^Winter, Charlotte. “E-bills of lading”. Norton Rose Fulbright. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  21. ^“Supply chain finance: Riding the waves”. Oliver Wyman. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  22. ^“Five financial institutions join industry-wide initiative to standardise trade finance distribution”. GTR. Retrieved 14 July2020.
  23. ^“Digital trade ecosystem has obstacles — Are S2P networks part of the answer?”. Spend Matters. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  24. ^“Tradetech in Asia: seeing through the noise”. Deutsche Bank. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  25. ^Prior, Charlotte. “The incorporation of ESG in the trade finance asset class” (PDF). GIB Asset Management.
  26. ^Gustin, David. “How Big is the Supply Chain Finance Market?”. Spend Matters. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  27. ^Wass, Sanne. “Trade finance digitization faces ‘tipping point’ amid coronavirus lockdowns”. S&P Global.
  28. ^“Blockchain for Global Trade and Commerce”. Consensys. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  29. ^“Global Blockchain In Trade Finance and Credit Insurance Market Report by Method, Application and by Regions – Industry Trends, Size, Share, Growth, Estimation and Forecast, 2020-2025”. Marketwatch. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  30. ^Saigal, Kanika. “Securitization could close the trade finance gap”. Euromoney.
  31. ^Wass, Sanne. “Trade finance distribution poised to grow to $3 trillion market for investors”. S&P Global.
  32. ^“Basel III: Finalising post-crisis reforms” (PDF). Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  33. ^Kowit, Robert. “Trade finance as a financial asset: Risks and mitigants for non-bank investors” (PDF). Journal of Risk Management in Financial Institutions.
  34. ^Thompson, Max. “How much of the $1.5trn trade finance gap can tech bridge?”. TXF. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  35. ^“ING selects Tradeteq to distribute commodity trade finance exposure to non-bank investors”. Finextra. Retrieved 14 July2020.

Ofer Abarbanel – Executive Profile

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Ofer Abarbanel online library

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