As this Q3 publication, ‘The Fintech Issue’, goes to press, the digital trade ecosystem is in the midst of a bit of a shake-up.

In the last few weeks, two major bank-backed initiatives have announced decisions to close down. The developments provide a bleak contrast to the exuberance we have come to expect from the fintech industry over the last couple of years.

Blockchain-based open account trade platform was the first, revealing in May that it had failed to secure investment from its joint venture shareholders and was entering insolvency. Just days later, Serai, an HSBC-owned B2B platform for SME trade, said it would wind down its business – a decision the bank said was “purely commercial”.

The announcements serve as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by fintech startups as they work to build scale and manage their resource needs in a souring economic environment.

And it is not only business models that have come under the microscope; the applicability of the technology itself is being heavily scrutinised, and in some instances found wanting.

Separately, but in the same week in June, US-headquartered fintech MonetaGo made public its decision to ditch blockchain in favour of multiple cloud computing providers to power its anti-fraud trade finance solution. Our blockchain feature in this publication examines whether the now maturing technology is indeed the answer to all of trade’s digitalisation needs.

Still, the trends that have propelled digital trade finance efforts remain in place and the last quarter has also been characterised by new deals being cut and investors courted.

Announcements include MonetaGo being picked as the new technology provider of Singapore’s long-awaited Trade Finance Registry; Citibank throwing its weight behind LiquidX and Crowdz, two trade finance fintechs that power blockchain-based financing marketplaces; and paperless trade enabler essDocs being acquired by Intercontinental Exchange, an operator of regulated exchanges and clearing houses.

This magazine’s fintech news section profiles our most popular technology-related stories over the last quarter – according to website traffic – and provides all the details around these, and other industry developments.

Also in this issue, in our long reads, we take a look at the rise of trade-based money laundering and the role that digitalisation and data sharing could play as a solution to this growing problem in the documentary trade finance arena.

Our sanctions report investigates the ways in which Russia may look to harness its technological prowess to circumvent sanctions at sea, and the new tools required by companies and financiers to spot illegal shipping activity.

Elsewhere, our cybersecurity piece uncovers a dichotomy around the industry’s digital trade efforts, finding that while new technology is critical to combatting increased cyber threats, it is often the deployment of innovative, sophisticated systems to digitise documents and processes that present the greatest risk for cyber attacks when a robust security framework is not in place.

While last year’s GTR fintech headlines were largely focused on the pandemic-related surge in digital trade finance efforts and the arrival of new solutions and market participants, it would seem that this year the industry may be facing a plethora of critical tests.