Ann McCormick, Director, Senior Product Manager, Global Trade & Supply Chain Finance at Bank of America, provides a practical overview of how the trade industry can cut paper and make smarter decisions.


Key takeaways:

  • Business continuity concerns, supply chain health and efficiency imperatives are accelerating the transition to digital trade finance.
  • Simpler workflows, easier integration, broader visibility and smarter data-driven decisions through emerging technologies represent key competitive advantages.
  • Digital trade finance solutions and guidance from Bank of America address key needs, including real-time tracking of goods and funds, ERP integration, simplified supplier onboarding, and driving the collaboration tools and standards of the future.

Trade wars and pandemic-related supply chain disruption forced almost every company back to the drawing board in 2020. Many businesses are now accelerating the switch from inefficient, paper-based processes of the past to embrace digital solutions that have long been talked about in the industry, but slow to scale.

Emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) and the focus on increasing working capital and strengthening the supply chains for treasurers have created a new momentum towards digitisation.

At Bank of America, we work closely with our clients to deliver solutions that meet their current and future business through innovation that addresses their needs in the ever-changing global economies.

Here are a few ways Bank of America is helping businesses to modernise their supply chains.


Reasons to change

In an industry that’s notoriously paper-heavy, digitisation can help you create simpler workflows, track flows of goods and funds in real time, and make smarter financing decisions based on this data. And there are other reasons to digitise that apply more broadly across your business.

Last year taught everyone that business continuity is essential. Ensuring remote access to treasury portals – such as our CashPro® Trade solution – and protecting your systems against cyber threats are critical to your future success. Offering early pay opportunities to suppliers through digital channels provides needed cashflow to ensure suppliers’ resiliency during challenging economic conditions as experienced in 2020.

Wide-ranging solutions

At Bank of America, we are creating a complete suite of digital trade finance tools so that we can offer the right mix to meet every client’s unique needs. From blockchain to data capture and ERP connectivity, our perspective is to create a custom digital fit that works for you. Let’s look at some of the opportunities ahead:

Supplier enablement portal: Our unique portal can greatly simplify supplier onboarding. Rather than rely on paper, it uses digitisation, automation and AI to give you better data, easier workflows, personalisation for strategic suppliers and enhanced reporting for optimised working capital management.

Our supplier enablement portal was recognised as a Trade Finance Innovators 2020 winner by Global Finance magazine.

Blockchain: Distributed ledgers that enable all parties to track goods and funds in real time are evolving to create an ecosystem that will facilitate financial settlement and ability to forecast cash more efficiently. By integrating physical and financial supply chains into one system that’s visible to buyers, suppliers and their banks, it’s possible to digitise trade transactions like never before. Through our work in consortia, we are influencing the creation of distributed ledger networks that will advance digitisation end to end for clients and their suppliers.

ERP connectivity: Through a new concept called “supply chain as a service”, we are creating the ability to integrate directly with your ERP system to identify suppliers and transactions that can shore up the financial health of your supply chain through early-payment financing. We are creating solutions that work within the client’s ecosystem versus requiring them to work within the bank’s.


The future of trade finance

Here’s a look at some other areas of focus:

The Marco Polo Network: Bank of America is part of a consortium that is creating a network of buyers and suppliers across key trade instruments utilising blockchain technology that can make it much easier to exchange trade information. Marco Polo members can collaborate in near-real time and experience more reliable transaction initiation and updates.

The Digital Standards Initiative: While creating the digital solutions outlined above, we are also helping to develop the digital standards that will enable these solutions to function and communicate with one another. Through industry leadership and close collaboration, we are making the future of trade finance open-sourced, interoperable and networked.