DBS Bank has completed the first trade finance transaction through the CamelONE portal on Singapore’s national trade platform.

The inaugural transaction relates to a S$4.8mn letter of credit (LC) by Singapore-based wholesaler and supplier Super Steel for a shipment of steel from China to Singapore, DBS tells GTR.

The bank says it has a further two deals slated to close later this week, but is yet to disclose information regarding the size of the transactions or the clients involved.

The multi-bank portal connects to Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform (NTP) – which launched in 2018 – to aggregate trade finance products, enabling businesses to apply for multiple trade finance solutions from different providers via CamelONE.

This comes after DBS closed the first trade finance transaction on the NTP for a S$3.5mn LC earlier this year.

Nine banks have backed the CamelONE initiative by offering trade finance products, from LCs to receivables financing to pre- and post-shipment financing products, through the service since its November launch, including ANZ, BNP Paribas, DBS, HSBC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, MUFG Bank, OCBC Bank, Standard Chartered and United Overseas Bank.

Users of the NTP are able to apply for 12 different trade finance products through the portal and can receive real-time status updates on their applications, improving efficiency and productivity for both banks and corporates looking to access trade finance. Alongside improved efficiency, a duplicate invoice check feature helps to prevent the double-financing of invoices.

By providing a standardised application form for all portal products, CamelONE removes the cumbersome task of having to navigate different banks’ trade finance processes, resulting in quicker application times and reduced manual errors.

The information and data submitted for other trade purposes on the NTP, such as permit declaration, freight booking and cargo insurance can also be used to supplement corporates’ digital trade applications to banks.

Sriram Muthukrishnan, group head of trade product management at DBS, says: “By digitalising trade financing services via a one-stop portal, we are able to provide swift, easy and contact-free financing solutions to help our customers enjoy greater peace of mind when it comes to managing their banking needs.”

In other digitisation efforts in the region looking to reduce paper-heavy trade finance processes, Singapore Customs’ electronic banker’s guarantee programme (eBG) launched yesterday, with OCBC as well as DBS completing digital guarantee issuances.

OCBC says it issued the first eBG to Singapore Customs in a statement. The eBG came on behalf of vCargo Cloud (VCC), an infocomm technology solution and service provider that performs customs declaration services for forwarders and shippers; it is also the technology provider of the CamelONE portal. Meanwhile, DBS’ transaction relates to a S$49,000 LC by automotive group, Komoco Holdings.

Muthukrishnan tells GTR that “corporates are increasingly keen to transform the way they operate to survive and thrive in the digital economy”, adding that the eBGs “offer clear benefits in time and remove the hassle of arranging for a courier”.

The eBG was developed as part of efforts to improve the banker’s guarantee lodgement process by digitising it. Prior to the launch of the eBG, corporates needed to deliver the hard copy of the banker’s guarantee to Singapore Customs by courier.

Now banks’ corporate customers are able to send their guarantees directly and digitally to customs, helping to cut short the banker’s guarantee issuance and submission process from an average of three to four working days, to less than 24 hours.

Muthukrishnan adds that DBS expects to see wider adoption of eBGs in the coming months, given industry efforts to streamline trade finance processes.