Singapore-headquartered fintech firm dltledgers has launched a platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access trade financing from alternative financiers.

SmartFin is a blockchain-based system that matches SMEs that are seeking finance to funders who can provide it. According to dltledgers, over 400 companies have already signed up, and can currently access financing from a handful of non-bank financiers, including TradeFlow, Drip Capital, Funding Societies, Crowd-Genie, Stenn International and Capital Match.

SMEs sign up to the platform via the web or on their mobile phones. They are contacted by the dltledgers customer service team in order to verify their credentials, and once this is completed they can submit their request for funding along with all their supporting documents directly via the blockchain platform, and control which lenders their application goes to. A dltledgers spokesperson tells GTR that SmartFin means that, instead of having to submit documents multiple times to different lenders, they can centralise the process in one place and control who accesses their data.

“On SmartFin, SMEs can compare financing rates, and also see which lenders on the platform specialise in lending to particular industries, such as copper, cotton, or sugar,” the spokesperson says.

Plans for the new feature were originally revealed to GTR by dltledgers in 2019, with the key aim of SmartFin being that it enables users to request rates from multiple financial institutions on a single transaction, rather than having to agree rates with their financiers outside of the platform.

“If all the documents are digitised and digitally signed and consented on the blockchain, the trader can request rates from multiple banks on the platform, instead of going through emails and WhatsApp. Whoever is giving them the best rate is going to win the deal. That goes for both trade financing and foreign exchange,” said Samir Neji, founder and CEO of dltledgers, at the time.

Unlike dltledgers’ core offering, which has seen numerous banks carry out cross-border trade finance transactions for large commodity players, for the time being, no traditional lenders are signed up to SmartFin, although the company says that it expects to expand the number of available financiers in due course.

“The whole play here is around how we leverage blockchain technology not just for large enterprises and commodity players and banks but also for SMEs,” says dltledgers’ spokesperson. “This is one of the use cases from the SME perspective. Eventually, we would anticipate that banks will come on board, as this is another use case where banks can validate all of the documents on an SME before they finance their trade.”

The move by dltledgers is part of an ongoing trend by fintechs to create SME-targeted versions of their existing digital trade finance solutions. Last month, another a Singapore-based firm, Trames, launched a feature-lite version of its platform to help SMEs optimise supply chain operations and improve overall profitability.

Kevin Lim, Trames’ CEO, explained that the solution was built upon feedback from multinational clients who have been using the platform to digitise their supply chain operations. “However, unlike multinationals, we’ve learnt that SMEs require a solution that is more standardised, turnkey, intuitive to use and simple to onboard in order to solve their pain points,” he said in a recent interview with GTR.