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Sponsored: Reinventing trade finance

Global / 27-09-17 / by

BNP Paribas has been working on a range of new initiatives to shake up the trade finance industry. Jacques Levet, the bank’s head of transaction banking EMEA, provides an overview of these plans, and what it hopes to achieve.


Why does the world of trade finance need to be reinvented?

Levet: Trade finance aims to mitigate risks and provide financing for commercial transactions – it is probably one of banks’ oldest activities. Over time, it has become more and more complex, notably due to the multiplication of stakeholders, the increasing number and complexity of regulations, and the sophistication of new instruments and solutions. Nevertheless it has remained essentially a manual and paper-driven process.

The digital revolution and exponential development of new technologies are about to trigger a true transformation in trade finance. The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, amongst other developments, will not only bring increased speed, efficiency, transparency and traceability, but they will also profoundly change some commercial business models. The reshoring of factories closer to customer markets, for instance, boosted by the development of 3D printing, robotics, etc, could shift global transportation activity from trans-continental shipments to last-mile delivery. As the paradigm of physical trades evolves, trade finance will follow.

The convergence between the physical and the financial supply chains, through the development of trade platforms and market places, will also dramatically accelerate the transformation of trade finance. Those platforms that have traditionally facilitated the trading of goods between buyers and sellers through delivery services, swift circulation of information and seamless payments, have also started offering financing solutions. The cornerstone of their model is the data generated at all stages of a trade. This data is aggregated and analysed through complex algorithms allowing for improved quality of service, mitigation of risks, identification of new commercial opportunities and behavioural predictions. Having a holistic view of the ecosystem and being able to aggregate and analyse data has become critical.

The necessity to re-invent trade finance, is, of course, challenging but also extremely exciting and an amazing opportunity for us at BNP Paribas to differentiate ourselves. It also generates an incredible amount of positive energy, both within and outside of our organisation. Indeed, we won’t re-invent trade finance by ourselves: it will happen jointly with our clients, our partners and our peers.


How important is it to work together with clients in solving these problems, and how is the bank doing so?

Levet: There is no strong-enough way to express how essential it is to involve your clients from day one, be it in the resolution of minor issues or in the development of major new products or services. Although it seems trivial today, positioning our clients at the heart of our activity and ensuring they are deeply involved in all our innovation initiatives was not completely obvious in the past.

Corporates are becoming increasingly demanding and are requesting tailor-made solutions to match their specific issues and ambitions. Banks, on the other hand, strive to industrialise their processes to make them cost efficient. Co-development and new technologies are therefore key to reconciling what appears to be conflicting interests and achieve a kind of mass personalisation of services.

Co-design starts with the understanding of our respective pain points, constraints and objectives. This mutual empathy exercise is what leads to a true partnership and ultimately to the launch of the relevant solution. So much so that the involvement of at least a couple of clients has become a prerequisite for the launch of any new transaction banking innovation project. In addition to all the relevant people within the bank (business line, IT, operations, legal, risk and compliance) and our clients, we also often include other external partners such as financial technology (fintech) companies, in the co-design.

After the prototyping phase is complete, we widen the group of clients to participate in the testing. A good example of this occurred in April 2017 at our “Let’s build our future together” event, where eight prototypes were tested by about 40 clients. The feedback we received during this event allowed us to validate, accelerate the development of, or kill some of those prototypes. Other similar events where clients get a peek at what we have in our innovation pipe, called “Technights”, occur on a regular basis. In September we hosted these events in Paris, Milan and Madrid.


How is BNP Paribas hoping to achieve change – what has the bank done thus far?

Levet: Change is first and foremost a mind-set, a culture. It cannot be the sole responsibility of a handful of people. It is critical to on-board all employees on that journey, to ensure you give them the means to participate proactively in the transformation of our business line.
Every single employee should indeed be able to provide his or her contribution, however modest, to the trade finance revolution. It starts with empowerment and trust, which are paramount to releasing creative energies.

Speed is naturally of the essence. You can never move quickly enough. Nobody is willing to wait, not our clients, or our employees, and certainly not the competition. We must become agile and dramatically reduce our new products’ time-to-market. To achieve this, we need to mimic the attributes of the fintech world within a large international group and foster so-called “intrapreneurship” (behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organisation). In that respect, we have organised, for all employees, multiple training and, more importantly, sharing sessions to interact with fintechs and start-ups, in order for them to be exposed to disruptive ideas and new technologies. All employees are also vividly encouraged to take part in an agile project of their choice, alongside their daily responsibilities, to learn and experience first-hand new working tools and methodologies, such as Design Thinking, Lean Start-up, and others, that are essential to moving fast, concretely and efficiently, with a test and learn approach.

Agile projects launched in the last couple of years have come in different shapes and forms. Some are essentially technology-related (blockchain, robotics, AI, IoT, etc), while others focus on the convergence of physical and financial flows. What all of them have in common is the quest for a dramatically improved client journey and the need to make use of smart data. Alongside automation, reporting and benchmarking, data is also used to develop predictive tools.

Looking at blockchain technology, for instance, we are currently rolling out two proof of concepts that were developed following a BizHackathon held in January 2016.

“MyCollat” is a collateral management solution for commodity clients, co-developed with Sucafina (a multinational coffee merchant based in Switzerland), which is expected to be live by the end of the year. “Cash without border”, co-developed with Panini Group (a leader in the published collectable sector and publishers of children’s magazines and books, founded in Italy ) and Amcor (an Australian-based multinational packaging company), will allow real-time cash transfers within the BNP Paribas environment and will be live in Q1 2018 in six countries.

Marketplaces are also high on our agenda and several initiatives have been launched, both internally and together with external partners, to explore the potential of such platforms. Our objective is to help our clients develop their core business and venture into new developments by facilitating their access to, and organising seamless co-ordination with, an ecosystem of new and existing counterparties.

Although fintechs remain competitors by nature, co-working with them can in fact be mutually beneficial. We are therefore working extensively with some of them to see if – and how – we could package some of their innovative solutions within our own offering. To do so, we can develop simple relationships, enter into true partnerships, or even make equity investments. Whichever makes the most sense. Fintechs are true catalysts of innovation, extremely agile companies, which can potentially support us in simplifying and improving our clients’ user experience.

Finally, we also work with banks within and outside of public consortiums, like R3 for instance. Those consortiums, led by either a technological partner, a third party or the banks themselves, have an important role to play, notably when market standards are still being developed or ensuring interoperability.


Looking ahead to future projects in the trade finance space, what sectors will you be focusing on?

Levet: Our ambition is to enable the exchange of goods and services anywhere, anytime and in a safe and trustworthy ecosystem. To support our clients with their commercial activities, we must aggregate and offer a wide range of innovative solutions (be they internal or originating from third parties), offer a global view and analysis of their activity, extend the financing capacity to the whole value chain and ultimately help our clients better serve their own clients.

To support our clients’ growth, we should also facilitate their access to different platforms to enable a seamless selection of, and connection to, new partners. Our expertise, notably in risk management, together with our extensive geographical footprint and strong multi-local franchise are also key assets in supporting our clients’ global business.

We discussed the importance of data management earlier on and clearly that remains a major focus for us, including, of course, the security aspect of this activity which, as you would expect, is our number one priority. The proper use of internal and external data increases transparency, traceability and allows the development of new services, including predictive analysis, around, for instance, open account activity.

Finally, and perhaps a bit more down to earth, we also work extensively with our clients to help them improve their working capital metrics and accelerate their cash conversion cycle. As the tools to do so are deeply embedded in the core operation of a company, it is paramount to work not only with finance, but with all stakeholders: procurement, operations, sales and accounting – all of which have their own specific, and sometimes divergent, KPIs. As such, this becomes a true co-development exercise.

Those are truly exciting times for trade finance, during which we need to be focused, agile and swift.

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Privacy Policy

Our privacy commitments

This Privacy Policy outlines the information we may collect about you in relation to your use of our websites, events, related publications and services (“personal data”) and how we may use that personal data. It also outlines the methods by which we and our service providers may (subject to necessary consents) monitor your online behaviour to deliver customised advertisements, marketing materials and other tailored services. This Privacy Policy also tells you how you can verify the accuracy of your personal data and how you can request that we delete or update it.

This Privacy Policy applies to all websites operated by Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd (as indicated on the relevant website).

This privacy statement does not cover the activities of third parties, and you should consult those third-party sites’ privacy policies for information on how your data is used by them.

Any questions regarding this Policy and our privacy practices should be sent by e-mail to or by writing to Data Protection Officer at, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd, 4 Hillgate Place, London, SW12 9ER, United Kingdom. Alternatively, you can telephone our London headquarters at +44 (0) 20 8673 9666.

Who are we?

Established in 2002 and with offices in London and Singapore, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd is the world’s leading trade and trade finance media company, offering information, news, events and services for companies and individuals involved in global trade.

Our principal business activities are:

  • Business-to-Business financial publishing. We provide a range of products and services focused on international commodities, export, supply chain and trade finance markets including magazines, newsletters, electronic information and data
  • Organisers of seminars, conferences, training courses and exhibitions for the finance industry

Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd is a company registered in the United Kingdom with company number 4407327 | VAT Registration: 799 1585 59

Data Protection Policy

This Data Protection Policy explains when and why we collect personal information about people who visit our website, how we use it, the conditions under which we may disclose it to others and how we keep it secure.

Why do we collect information from you?

Our primary goal in collecting personal data from you is to give you an enjoyable customised experience whilst allowing us to provide services and features that will meet your needs.
We collect certain personal data from you, which you give to us when using our Site and/or registering or subscribing for our products and services. However, we also give you the option to access our Sites’ home pages without subscribing or registering or disclosing your personal data.

We also collect certain personal data from other group companies to whom you have given information through their websites (including, by way of example, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd and subsidiaries, in accordance with the purposes listed below). Should we discover that any such personal data has been delivered to any of the Sites, we will remove that information as soon as possible.

Why this policy exists

This Data Protection Policy ensures Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd:

  • Complies with data protection law and follow good practice
  • Protects the rights of staff, customers and partners
  • Is open about how it stores and processes individuals’ data
  • pretexts itself from the risk of a data breach

We may change this Policy from time to time so please check this page occasionally to ensure that you’re happy with any changes. By using our website, you’re agreeing to be bound by this Policy.

Data protection law

The Data Protection Act 1998 described how organisations – including Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd – must collect, handle and store personal information. These rules apply regardless of whether data is stored electronically, on paper or on other materials. To comply with the law, personal information collected must be stored safely, not disclosed unlawfully and used fairly.

The Data Protection Act is underpinned by eight important principles. These say that personal data must:

  • Be processed fairly and lawfully
  • Be obtained only for specific, lawful purposes
  • Be adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Be accurate and kept up to date
  • Not be held for any longer than necessary
  • Processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects
  • Be protected in appropriate ways
  • Not be transferred outside the European Economic Area (EEA), unless that country of territory also ensures an adequate level of protection

How do we collect information from you?

We obtain information about you when you use our website, for example, when you contact us about products and services, when you register for an event, register to receive eNewsletters, subscribe or register for a trial to our GTR magazine/website.

 Types of Personal Data Held and its Use

1.      Customer Services and Administration

On some Sites, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd collects personal data such as your name, job title, department, company, e-mail, phone, work and/or home address, in order to register you for access to certain content, subscriptions and events. In addition, we may also store information including IP address and page analytics, including information regarding what pages are accessed, by whom and when.

This information is used to administer and deliver to you the products and/or services you have requested, to operate our Sites efficiently and improve our service to you, and to retain records of our business transactions and communications. By using the Sites and submitting personal information through the registration process you are agreeing that we may collect, hold, process and use your information (including personal information) for the purpose of providing you with the Site services and developing our business, which shall include (without limitation) the purposes described in the below paragraphs.

2.      Monitoring use of our Sites

Where, as part of our Site services, we enable you to post information or materials on our Site, we may access and monitor any information which you upload or input, including in any password-protected sections. Subject to any necessary consents, we also monitor and/or record the different Sites you visit and actions taken on those Sites, e.g. content viewed or searched for. If you are a registered user (e.g. a subscriber or taking a trial), when you log on, this places a cookie on your machine. This enables your access to content and services that

are not publicly available. Once you are logged on, the actions you take – for example, viewing an article – will be recorded (subject to any necessary consents). We may use technology or a service provider to do this for us. This information may be used for one or more of the following purposes:

  • to fulfil our obligations to you;
  • to improve the efficiency, quality and design of our Sites and services;
  • to see which articles, features and services are most read and used
  • to track compliance with our terms and conditions of use, e.g. to ensure that you are acting within the scope of your user licence;
  • for marketing purposes (subject to your rights to opt-in and opt-out of receiving certain marketing communications) – see paragraph 3 below;
  • for advertising purposes, although the information used for these purposes does not identify you personally. Please see paragraph 5 below for more details;
  • to protect or comply with our legal rights and obligations; and
  • to enable our journalists to contact and interact with you online in connection with any content you may post to our Sites.

Please see paragraph 5 below for more information on cookies and similar technologies and a link to a page where you can turn them on or off.

3.      Marketing

Some of your personal data collected under paragraphs 1 and 2 above may be used by us to contact you by e-mail, telephone and/or post for sending information or promotional material on our products and/or services and/or those of our other group companies.
We give you the opportunity to opt-out of receiving marketing communications. Further detail can be found on the applicable Site and in the footer of each marketing communication sent by us, our group companies or service providers. See also “Consents and opt-outs” section below.
We will not share your information with third parties for marketing purposes.

4.      Profiling

We may analyse your personal information to create a profile of your interests and preferences so that we can contact you with information relevant to you.

5.      Cookies and similar technologies

All our Sites use cookies and similar technical tools to collect information about your access to the Site and the services we provide.

What is a cookie?

When you enter some sites, your computer will be issued with a cookie. Cookies are text files that identify your computer to servers. Cookies in themselves do not identify the individual user, just the computer used.

Many sites do this whenever a user visits their site in order to track traffic flows, recording those areas of the site that have been visited by the computer in question, and for how long.

Users have the opportunity to set their computers to accept all cookies, to notify them when a cookie is issued, or not to receive cookies at any time. Selecting not to receive means that certain personalised services Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd offers cannot then be provided to that user.


Why do we use cookies?

  1. Log In – Where we provide log in mechanisms for site users a cookie is created at login and for the duration of the session. Each cookie contains a unique reference number only (no personal information) which is used to confirm you are authorised.
  2. Analytics – To allow us to keep track of traffic to our website we use cookies. The cookies simply tell us if you have previously visited our website so we can get more accurate figures for New vs Returning visitors.

Find and control your cookies

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We may use cookies to:

  • remember that you have used the Site before; this means we can identify the number of unique visitors we receive to different parts of the Site. This allows us to make sure we have enough capacity for the number of users that we get and make sure that the Site runs fast enough
  • remember your login session so you can move from one page to another within the Site;
  • store your preferences or your user name and password so that you do not need to input these details every time you visit the Site;
  • customise elements of the layout and/or content of the pages of Site for you;
  • record activity on our Sites so that we understand how you use our Sites enabling us to better tailor our content, services and marketing to your needs;
  • collect statistical information about how you use the Site so that we can improve the Site; and
  • gather information about the pages on the Site that you visit, and other information about other websites that you visit, so as to place you in a “market segment”. This information is only collected by reference to the IP address that you are using, but does include information about the county and city you are in, together with the name of your internet service provider.

Most web browsers automatically accept cookies but, if you prefer, you can change your browser to prevent that, or to notify you each time a cookie is set. You can also learn more about cookies in general by visiting which includes additional useful information on cookies and how to block cookies using different types of browser. Please note however, that by blocking, deleting or turning off cookies used on the Site you may not be able to take full advantage of the Site.

6.      E-mail tracking

E-mail tracking is a method for monitoring the e-mail delivery to those subscribers who have opted-in to receive marketing e-mails from GTR, including GTR Africa, GTR Asia, GTR Americas, GTR Europe, GTR Mena, GTR eNews, Third party e-mails and GTR Ventures.

Why do we track e-mails?

So that we can better understand our users’ needs, we track responses, subscription behaviour and engagement to our e-mails – for example, to see which links are the most popular in newsletters. They enable us to understand the consumers journey through metrics including open rate, click-through rate, bounces and unsubscribes. Any other purposes for which Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd wishes to use your personal data will be notified to you and your personal data will not be used for any such purpose without obtaining your prior consent.

How do you track GTR eNewsletters?

To do this, we use pixel GIFs, also known as “pixel tags” – these are small image files that are placed within the body of our e-mail messages. When that image is downloaded from our web servers, the e-mail is recorded as being opened. By using some form of digitally time-stamped record to reveal the exact time and date that an e-mail was received or opened, as well the IP address of the recipient.

7.      Consents and opt-outs

You can give your consent to opt-out of all or any particular uses of your data as indicated above by:

  • Indicating at the point on the relevant Site where personal data is collected
  • Informing us by e-mail, post or phone
  • Updating your preferences on the applicable Site or eNewsletter (unsubscribe and preference options are available in the footer of each eNewsletter)

To turn cookies and similar technologies on and off, see the information in paragraph 5 above. Any questions regarding consents and opt-outs should be sent by e-mail to or by writing to Data Protection Officer at, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd, 4 Hillgate Place, London, SW12 9ER, United Kingdom. Alternatively, you can telephone our London headquarters at +44 (0) 20 8673 9666.

8.      Disclosures

Information collected at one Site may be shared between Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd and other group companies for the purposes listed above.

We may transfer, sell or assign any of the information described in this policy to third parties as a result of a sale, merger, consolidation, change of control, transfer of assets or reorganisation of our business.

9.      Public forums, message boards and blogs

Some of our Sites may have a message board, blogs or other facilities for user generated content available and users can participate in these facilities. Any information that is disclosed in these areas becomes public information and you should always be careful when deciding to disclose your personal information.

10.  Data outside the EEA

Services on the Internet are accessible globally so collection and transmission of personal data is not always limited to one country. Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd may transfer your personal data, for the above-listed purposes to other third parties, which may be located outside the European Economic Area and/or with a different level of personal data protection. However, when conducting transfers, we take all necessary steps to ensure that your data is treated reasonably, securely and in accordance with this Privacy Statement.

Who has access to your information?

Confidentiality and Security of Your Personal Data

We are committed to keeping the data you provide us secure and will take reasonable precautions to protect your personal data from loss, misuse or alteration.

However, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our Site; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features described above to try to prevent unauthorised access.

We have implemented information security policies, rules and technical measures to protect the personal data that we have under our control from:

  • unauthorised access
  • improper use or disclosure
  • unauthorised modification
  • unlawful destruction or accidental loss

All our employees, contractors and data processors (i.e. those who process your personal data on our behalf, for the purposes listed above), who have access to, and are associated with the processing of your personal data, are obliged to keep the information confidential and not use it for any other purpose than to carry out the services they are performing for us.


Everyone who works for or with Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd has some responsibility for ensuring data is collected, stored and handled appropriately. Each team handling personal data must ensure that it is handled and processed in line with this policy and data protection principles. However, the following people have key areas of responsibility. The board of directors is ultimately responsible for ensuring that Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd meets its legal obligations.

Name of Data Controller

The Data Controller is Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd. Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd is subject to the UK Data Protection Act 1998 and is registered in the UK with the Information Commissioner`s Office.

How to access, update and erase your personal information

If you wish to know whether we are keeping personal data about you, or if you have an enquiry about our privacy policy or your personal data held by us, in relation to any of the Sites, you can contact the Data Protection Officer via:

  • By writing to this address: Data Protection Officer, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd, 4 Hillgate Place, London, SW12 9ER, UK
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8673 9666
  • E-mail:

Upon request, we will provide you with a readable copy of the personal data which we keep about you. We may require proof of your identity and may charge a small fee (not exceeding the statutory maximum fee that can be charged) to cover administration and postage.

Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd allows you to challenge the data that we hold about you and, where appropriate in accordance with applicable laws, you may have your personal information:

  • erased
  • rectified or amended
  • completed

Disclosing data for other reasons

In certain circumstances, the Data Protection Act allows personal data to be disclosed to law enforcement agencies without the consent of the data subject. Under these circumstances, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd, will disclose requested data. However, the Data Controller will ensure the request is legitimate, seeking assistance from the board and from the company’s legal advisors where necessary.

Changes to this Privacy Statement

We will occasionally update this Privacy Statement to reflect new legislation or industry practice, group company changes and customer feedback. We encourage you to review this Privacy Statement periodically to be informed of how we are protecting your personal data.

Providing information

Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd aims to ensure that individuals are aware that their data is being processed, and that they understand.

  • How the data is being used
  • How to exercise their rights

To this end, the company has a privacy statement, setting out how data relating to individuals is used by the company. This is available on request and available on the company’s website.

Review of this policy

We keep this Policy under regular review. This Privacy Statement was last updated in April 2018.