Jacco de Jong, Global Head of Sales at Bolero International, outlines the myriad ways in which financial technology companies can help drive the digital transformation for trade finance banks and their clients.


Digital transformation is pivotal to the success of any financial institution in today’s ever-changing digital landscape. Technology has completely disrupted the financial sector, with traditional institutions such as banks and credit unions being forced to adapt, or risk being left behind.

Fintech companies are specialists in the latest financial technology and are helping to drive the digital transformation of the financial sector. They are working with financial institutions of all sizes to help them keep pace with the latest digital trends and meet the needs of their customers.

There are several ways that fintechs like Bolero are helping financial institutions to stay ahead of the curve.

Quickly delivering a great digital experience

Through our Galileo trade portal as-a-service (TPaaS) solution, banks are now able to allow their trade customers to not only conduct transactions but also handle the full spectrum of related activities directly from a single portal application.

Although many of the world’s largest financial institutions would like to offer a fully digitised service to their trade customers, they are not able to do so because of the immense cost, time, and complex implementation processes required. However, with advancements in recent technologies, such as Bolero’s Galileo TPaaS, banks like UBS are well placed to offer truly digitised experiences to their customers, allowing them to conduct their business quickly and efficiently.

The pandemic has revealed the shortcomings of traditional trade finance operations, leading to a surge in demand for digital trade services. Today’s trade customers want to conduct their business online, so banks must digitise the customer experience quickly or risk losing them.


Fixing a broken portal

Banks are under significant pressure to provide new and improved digital services to their corporate customers because of corporates’ digitisation of their trade finance processes.

We have spoken to some banks who tell us that their existing portal solutions no longer meet the requirements of their clients.

Today, corporations are looking for solutions that can quickly and flexibly adapt to new requirements, offering their corporate clients a quick and smooth transition from old to newer, more innovative systems. They can handle trade finance transactions and ensure that all correspondence between trade clients and banks takes place electronically.


Eliminating sunk costs

Many banks are reluctant to offer their trade customers improved experiences because the total cost of ownership for a trade portal is prohibitive. The high setup costs slow down the adoption of these services despite the incredible appetite from trade customers.

A subscription-based, turnkey solution like Galileo TPaaS can reduce the cost of acquisition from millions to a fraction of the cost. It can also reduce the need to hire teams to build solutions and to support clients by developing new upgrades and providing regulatory-change compliance.

Banks are able to deliver a more sophisticated digital experience to their customers by replacing their legacy systems with a state-of-the-art technology platform. This platform is more efficient and lower in cost than the systems used before.

Banks that serve many clients who engage in international trade often find it worthwhile to install a portal solution that makes it easier for their clients to do business. However, smaller regional banks that don’t have many trade clients may not find it worth the effort and resources required to install such a solution. A plug and play solution, however, opens the market up for financial institutions of all sizes.


Freedom from the shackles of technical debt

Banks pursuing bespoke solutions are often deterred by technical debt, as the expensive upkeep of trade portals can become a major factor.

Many banks are adopting white-labelled solutions in order to cut costs and free themselves from the need for constant updates for their trade customers. This allows them to provide upgrades to their online banking platforms and make a positive change to the customer experience. By using white-labelled solutions, banks are able to channel innovation into a booming industry without the technical burden caused by in-house solutions.


Keeping structured communications and audit trails

The clear structuring of communications and audit trails between banks and their clients is of utmost importance. By ensuring that communications are unambiguous and well-defined, banks can help to avoid any potential misunderstandings. Furthermore, it is crucial that the correct parties respond to communications in a timely fashion, so that there is a clear record of the exchange for all individuals involved.

On many occasions, we have seen cases where a client does not respond to a notice from the bank immediately. The client may not be aware of the deadline or what actions need to be taken as a result. The lack of proper structure and clear messaging can lead to delays in responding to requests from banks.


Connecting corporates to their banking partners

An increasing number of corporates that use the services of multiple banks are finding it inefficient to work with every bank on an individual basis. This is because the demand for multi-bank trade finance solutions has more than doubled over the last few years.

Smaller corporates may not have the same bargaining power as larger corporates when it comes to dictating bank formats, but they can still convince their banks to work with them by buying or building a multi-bank solution. Although this may be expensive, it could prove to be worth the investment in the long run.

Many banks face a difficult hurdle in meeting the growing demand for multi-bank solutions.

Their focus on client needs leaves them little room to explore new options or services. As a result, they may be forced to turn away potential clients or offer less than optimal products.

In conclusion, a black swan event has resulted in both chaos and new opportunities for businesses.

To be successful in the new landscape, corporations must adapt to new technologies. Banks, in particular, must keep up with these advancements.