Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank (AGTB), a new digital trade finance bank, has announced it is working with Microsoft as one of its key technology providers as it begins operations.

Microsoft is one of a number of vendors for the bank’s technology stack, more of which will be announced in due course, says Daniel Gould, the bank’s deputy CEO.

AGTB is leveraging the tech giant’s cloud computing service Azure in addition to other solutions. Meanwhile, Publicis Sapient, a digital transformation company, is providing the overall systems integration.

AGTB aims to become the world’s first digitally-enabled, data-driven trade bank. It is headquartered in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), but will open offices in the UK, Saudi Arabia and India.

“We have received our regulatory licence in the ADGM and are commencing business in a soft launch manner. We will be working to scale in the near future,” Gould tells GTR.

With the help of new technology, AGTB hopes it can appeal to firms that have otherwise struggled to access trade finance from incumbent banks. The cloud-based bank will focus on SMEs and look to facilitate trade mainly between the Middle East, Asia and the UK.

“Our goal from the get-go was to think of a way that we can bring trade finance to those underserved segments of international trade,” Gould told GTR in a previous interview. “Today trade finance seems to only really work for the multinational companies and large clients that can command the attention of the large incumbents. As soon as you move into the middle market and below, the level of services and product availability are very limited, particularly in international trade.”

The bank will deploy technologies such as big data analytics to better monitor and assess risk and more precisely tailor prices to its customers.

AGTB is also exploring blockchain technology to give clients better access to trade finance, and is a member of the Marco Polo blockchain project. Built by TradeIX, R3 and a group of banks on the Corda blockchain framework, the multibank platform for open account trade is due to go live later this year.

“The whole point of building a trade bank from scratch has been to avoid all those legacies of the incumbent banks – not just IT legacies, but also operational legacies and the mindset legacy that often prevent a bank from offering the trade finance services that can be offered today,” Gould said.

To begin with, the bank will offer supply chain finance, but plans to expand over time to include other open account working capital solutions such as pre-shipment finance.