<Attention Job Seekers> Spring Asia does not represent Triterras for our recruitment needs. Click for details.

  • Home
  • Resources
  • Digitization in Trade Finance: Convenience or Risk Mitigation? Both.

Digitization in Trade Finance: Convenience or Risk Mitigation? Both.

By Sri Vasireddy and John Galani

Sending goods from one country to another on a large container ship is by definition risky. Cargo could be stolen. Ships could have problems or be delayed. Signed paperwork thought to be legitimate could be fraudulent. Language barriers and jurisdictions could get tricky.  The risk inherent in trade finance is why banks and investors engage in it: yields can be quite good, broken down into credit and operational risks.

The need for digitization in trade finance is obvious. But digitization is about much more than convenience; in our world it’s also about risk mitigation targeting the operational risk level.

Using the analogy of trading a share of stock online, retail investors can now do so on their smartphone with no commissions and instant confirmations. Thirty years ago, such trades took place over the phone, were recorded on paper, and took three business days to cash settle. With this process came greater execution risk, high fees and low transparency. Investors today would not stand for this. But some elements of trade finance still resemble the above.

Below are three areas of our business where we see digitization transforming the landscape.

KYC, AML and Onboarding Protocols

Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) protocols are the foundation of risk management in trade finance, but are notoriously resource intensive. Digitally native platforms now are able to tap into companies via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that specialize in performing these functions, meaning that customer onboarding is easier and more dependable than ever.

Companies in our space with legacy systems have to reinvent the wheel every time new regulatory and capital requirements come about, compounding existing burdens. Digitizing these processes not only shortens onboarding times dramatically, but also formats relevant data that conform to industry standards and presents it to potential funders (with the consent of borrowers) instantaneously.

But digitization will not automate risk management entirely. Just because KYC/AML processes are simpler does not mean that domain knowledge and human judgment go out the window. These qualitative assessments are especially important in emerging markets, where awareness of local rules and business dynamics are paramount.

Tamper Resistant Contracts

One foundation of the Kratos platform is the ability to log transaction entries into ledgers that are immutable and tamper resistant. In theory, such a protocol creates a level of trust and transparency for which there is no going back to analog practices and increased risk of trade failure.

Forming the consortiums to use such a platform to its full potential is still a work in progress.  One element inherent in blockchain-based systems that will help cement these communities of traders, lenders and suppliers is the smart contract.

Again using a consumer analogy, when someone orders a product online, the ecommerce provider keeps a longitudinal record from when the order is placed to when the package arrives at your door, documenting all the stops along the way. Similar levels of transparency and accountability are being implemented in trade finance right now.

For example, buyers of agricultural commodities may want to maintain a certain temperature in a shipping container during its journey. With Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies, it is possible to connect sensors in the container to the cloud and have the desired temperature be tracked and recorded throughout the shipment. Those recordings can then be stored in a tamper resistant fashion on a blockchain network to help enforce a contract. 

Customer Experience 

The first iteration of any digital platform is more focused on a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to ensure key capabilities and iron out any kinks.  Great companies are always updating and improving their customer experience based on feedback.

But making major changes to a platform to incorporate this feedback often takes months of work and robust testing before going live. Transitioning one platform to another is fraught with execution risk if not handled properly.  Once the building blocks are in place the pace of change standardizes from major revamps to continuous enhancements, as can be seen from Operating Systems and Microsoft Office for example.

As you focus on the chain of financing trade, the individual links come into focus.  Given the complexity and risks inherent in trade finance – supply, geopolitical, weather, credit, logistics – we decided early on to tackle one link at a time with our various services. This reduces the risk of disrupting the customer experience when making visual and functional changes to the platform. By keeping services separate, we ensure that changes to one module does not disrupt the functionalities of another.

We understand that digitizing our industry is a dynamic undertaking across each and every facet of multiple sectors, participants and industry.  It will remain a “work in progress” for many years. Thankfully there are precedents we and our valued partners can look to in order to help achieve our business and growth goals.

Sri Vasireddy was recently named the Chief Technology Officer at Triterras.

John Galani is the Chief Operating Officer at Triterras and oversees the firm’s business development team, which recently announced an expansion.


Related Articles

FinTech’s Green Revolution: Nurturing Sustainable Practices Among Small Businesses

BY Triterras
Ashish Srivastava, our Triterras' Chief Commercial Officer shares in-depth with Intelligent Fin.Tech, a global technology intelligence platform which gathers the latest financial information, on how FinTech has emerged as a crucial catalyst, motivating and supporting small to medium enterprises on their path towards environmental responsibility through sustainable trade finance.

Revolutionizing Trade Finance with Tech, Collaborations & SME Empowerment

BY Triterras
In an exclusive interview with Dubai Diaries on pages 18 to 20, Ashish shares his thoughts on harnessing new technologies (AI, ML), enhancing user experience of our blockchain platform, forging of strategic partnerships to broaden our global presence, prioritizing client data protection via regulatory compliance, and on how Triterras addresses a key issue that SMEs face in the UAE - impeded access to vital trade finance support which stunts their business growth.

Triterras Announces Collaboration with Card Cutters

BY Triterras
The collaboration agreement with Card Cutters will allow Triterras to directly promote its end-to-end digital lending services to their clients in the UAE; this initiative is a part of Triterras’ larger strategy to partner similar e-commerce and point-of-sale (POS) platform operators to provide such comprehensive financing solutions.

How blockchain is reshaping UAE trade

BY Triterras
Ashish Srivastava, Triterras' COO shares with Edge Middle East on how embracing fintech solutions which are based on blockchain, can bring numerous benefits to businesses such as having access to affordable financing options, enhanced transparency throughout the entire supply chain, being able to tap into a growing ecosystem that supports innovation and entrepreneurship, just to name a few.

Invoice Bazaar collaborates with Cari for financing solutions to Restaurants

BY Triterras
The strategic alliance seeks to introduce Invoice Bazaar’s comprehensive financial solutions to restaurants affiliated with Cari's food delivery platform in the UAE, which will allow them to manage cash flow more effectively, increase their promotional spending on the Cari platform, attract more customers and to stay ahead of their competitors.

How Embedded Finance Transforms Supply Chains, Fuels Unprecedented Growth

BY Triterras
A trailblazer in global finance, Triterras is rewriting the script for UAE's business landscape. Dive into the groundbreaking insights of Vinay Kapoor, our EVP at Triterras, as he shares with Techitup Middle East, a Dubai-based interactive media and content publishing platform for technology and business, on the transformative power of Embedded Finance and how it is reshaping the way businesses operate.

Triterras Collaborates with Oman-based Mamun

BY Triterras
Our strategic alliance with Mamun will allow us to provide short-term lending solution to MSMEs and white-label Kratos, our trade finance platform to the banks in the Sultanate of Oman. We will also be introducing Mamun's direct debit payment technology solution to help ease the handling of business transactions in the UAE.

Revolutionizing Trade Finance: Visionary Dive into the FinTech Landscape

BY Triterras
Srinivas Koneru, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Triterras, shares in an exclusive conversation with Dubai Diaries, his transformative vision on how the industry is poised to revolutionize small and medium supply chain financing and offers insights into Triterras’ pivotal role in this financial evolution.

How SMEs can navigate Trade Finance challenges in the UAE

BY Triterras
The backbone of the UAE's economy, SMEs fosters innovation, job creation and overall economic growth. Yet they face challenges in accessing trade finance which hinders their potential impact on the UAE's economic prosperity. To learn how SMEs can work around these challenges, read our article in Dubai Diaries here.

World Trade Board launches plan to empower SMEs through trade and finance

MSMEs make up around 90% of businesses globally, but accounted for just 23% of applications for trade finance in 2020. Despite their low representation, these smaller firms made up 40% of rejected trade finance applications. This mismatch between demand for and supply of trade financing known as the trade finance gap, is growing rapidly - from an estimated $1.5 trillion in 2018 to $2 trillion in 2022, and shows no signs of slowing.

The Changing Face of Supply Chain Finance: New Corridors & New Techniques

BY Triterras
Watch Marina Narganes, our Triterras' Head of Distribution & Sales Strategy in action, as she speaks alongside industry experts at the ITFA Conference 2023.

Trade Finance: An Expanding Opportunity For Institutional Investors

BY Cambridge Associates LLC
Trade finance offers a differentiated combination of credit and duration risks, liquidity profile that can complement other portfolio allocations in fixed income and increase diversification. Discussions in the broader ecosystem of trade finance have consistently pointed towards a greater role for institutional investors to provide trade credit through specialized funds, which is expected to expand greatly in the coming years.

Triterras’ e-commerce financing accelerates growth of platform operators & their MSME clients

BY Triterras
With Triterras' E-commerce Receivables Financing solution for the platform's MSME clients, operators and aggregators can now promote a critical solution to a key business challenge that their clients face, create and retain their loyalty, allow clients to increase their spending on platform promotions to boost ranking and staying ahead of competitors.

Trade-finance data needs a centralized repository

BY Euromoney
“A centralized trade-data repository with standardized data formats, has the potential to offer significant benefits to funders, while investing in training programs for skilled professionals will be essential for making improvements in this area,” says Srinivas Koneru, Triterras' Chairman & Chief Executive, speaking to Euromoney. "The trade-finance industry should focus on collaborations to overcome the current limitations of trade-data analysis."

Empowering E-Commerce Microlending: Navigating Opportunities & Challenges

BY Triterras
The rise in online shopping and digital transactions are driving demand for e-commerce and microlending services. Srinivas Koneru, our Triterras' Chairman and CEO discusses with Asia Business Outlook on what it takes to meet the evolving needs of today's consumers.

Trade financing gap is restricting growth and negatively impacting SDGs

In CNBC-TV18's interview with Steven Beck, Head of Trade Finance at Asian Development Bank (ADB), a primary reason for the trade financing gap getting larger is inflation. The global economy is expected to grow at less than 3% and international trade volumes are also expected to fall to less than 1% after a decent growth last year.

The case for a more transparent & liquid market for Trade Finance assets

BY J.P. Morgan
Increased regulation and growth in world trade is sparking a need for trade financing, and there is growing interest in transferring risk from banks to non-traditional sources of capital, such as investment funds with substantial capital and liquidity.

Triterras announces the appointment of Vinay Kapoor to Executive Vice President

BY Triterras
“Triterras is on an exciting and pivotal journey as we endeavor to deliver on our promise to meet the growing demands for financial and business services in the Middle East. Vinay, an extremely well-respected and trusted industry leader with great stature in the business community, will be a great complement to our Leadership team.” said Srinivas Koneru, Chairman & CEO.

New hires to serve growing pipeline of funding opportunities

BY Triterras
Reporting to the Head of Distribution & Sales Strategy, the new hires will engage with institutional investors who are interested in deploying capital for cross-border trade finance opportunities. This comes on the back of Triterras' expansion of its lending portfolio in both emerging and developed markets.

Private Capital Investors in Trade Finance: An Asset Manager’s Perspective

Private capital within trade finance activity comes from a diverse range of participants. Given the widening global trade finance gap, trade finance has increasingly been attracting private capital across the credit spectrum and a range of participation formats. However, there are several factors which have hampered its development as a mainstream subset of private credit.
Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top Skip to content