Serai, an online B2B platform for SME trade, has partnered with credit insurer Coface to bring counterparty risk management tools into its solution.

Launched in February 2019 and led by Vivek Ramachandran, who left his role as global head of growth and innovation at HSBC to run the project, Serai is an invitation-only tech-based solution built on Google Cloud that allows suppliers and buyers in the apparel industry to search, find and connect with each other via their trusted networks.

As part of the partnership with Coface, businesses on Serai’s platform can now access a range of credit risk information and monitoring services at a discounted cost, including customer credit opinions, non-payment risk prevention and debtor risk assessment, enabling them to identify, monitor and mitigate issues within supply chains. This solves for a key issue faced by the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, as physical audits of suppliers to monitor issues such as productivity and financial solvency have been curtailed as a result of movement restrictions.

“This partnership with Coface is a logical and strategic move to bring more value to Serai’s customers,” says Ramachandran. “It’s vital for businesses, regardless of size, to know and understand the financial situation of potential or existing business partners. Any delays or issues with their customers’ ability to repay, for instance, will impact their cash flow. That same business could also be interested in the financial health of its suppliers in case it impacts their ability to deliver and perform.”

For Hugh Burke, chief commercial officer at Coface Asia Pacific, this collaboration also represents an opportunity for the insurer to expand its footprint across the region. “This partnership with Serai illustrates Coface Asia Pacific’s ambition to develop new digital distribution channels,” he says, adding that the two sides are now working together to combine their business ecosystems to guide companies through the complexities of global trade.

This is the latest partnership for Serai. Earlier this year, it joined forces with two digital applications for the fashion industry, Coats Digital and Res.Q, as part of wider efforts to provide real-time data and end-to-end supply chain transparency, reducing costs for the industry at a time when revenues have fallen by as much as a third as a result of the pandemic.