Nine banks have backed the CamelONE trade finance portal which has launched on Singapore’s digital trade platform; DBS Bank tells GTR the three key benefits of the initiative.

CamelONE Trade Finance aims to offer a more secure and simplified trade finance process, with the company behind the platform, vCargo Cloud (VCC), saying it is the first multi-bank trade finance portal to be developed by a technology company in Southeast Asia. VCC, a trade facilitation platform provider, commenced development on the solution in the latter half of 2017 with support from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

ANZ, BNP Paribas, DBS, HSBC, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, MUFG Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, Standard Chartered and United Overseas Bank have all backed the initiative by offering trade finance products through the service.

The platform enables users of Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform (NTP) to apply for up to 12 trade finance products through the portal. Users can receive real-time status updates on their applications, improving efficiency and productivity for both banks and those looking to access trade finance. Alongside improved efficiency, a duplicate invoice check feature will also help prevent the double-financing of invoices.

Sriram Muthukrishnan, head of global transaction services at DBS Bank tells GTR: “With the CamelONE platform, DBS is able to embed itself in the settlement journey and offer corporates online trade financing services by leveraging on verified data that is stored on the NTP. This enables corporates to not only enjoy better cash flow, but also helps provide an added push to help smaller corporates, such as micro, small and medium enterprises, go digital.”

Registering interest for early onboarding to use the solution is open until January 22, 2020 via the NTP. There are no registration or subscription fees for the portal.

VCC has previously worked with corporate and government entities to build trade facilitation platforms, and is currently already providing the NTP with automated customs permit preparation and Smart eCertificate of Origin applications services.

Muthukrishnan says why it is important for banks to back trade finance digitisation initiatives: “Banks are an integral part of the trade settlement journey, helping to facilitate the financial trade flow and provide working capital to corporates. DBS believes that it is important for banks to take the lead to support and promote adoption as well as be open to collaborate with other parties to create a sustainable value chain.”


Three big benefits

Muthukrishnan explains the key advantages of using the technology for DBS, including decreased manual errors, better control over the trade finance application process and higher efficiency.

Reduce manual data re-entry. By leveraging data captured upstream in the trade value chain, corporates can reduce manual errors and gain efficiencies in their bank application process for a more seamless experience.

Centralised monitoring. Allows a corporate to keep track of applications, statuses and bank responses across their partner banks in a single environment.

Increase operational efficiencies. By leveraging on APIs, DBS will be able to capture the digital structured data and leverage the bank’s back-end automation through robotics and artificial intelligence to provide a faster turnaround time and greater productivity.


An eye on Asia

Asia’s national trade platforms are stealing the spotlight at the moment, with Thailand’s digital platform the latest to make the news. The country’s Joint Standing Committee of Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB) revealed the successful completion of a blockchain technology trial with NTT Data for Thailand’s National Digital Trade Platform (NDTP) project earlier this month.

No doubt Thailand is taking a leaf out of Singapore’s book. Revealed in September last year, the NTP brings the entire trade ecosystem to a single online location, digitising the trade process in Singapore. Recently, the NTP launched Tradeteq’s AI-based credit scoring system on the platform to enable its users to better assess counterparty risk in trade deals. And, to boost security, NTP also rolled out Trade Finance Compliance (TFC), an e-service that comes as a result of a joint government-industry partnership. Now live on the NTP, the TFC service will help tackle trade finance compliance challenges by addressing obstacles faced by financial institutions when financing trade in Asia, such as trade fraud risks and the lack of reliable data to conduct price checks for non-commodity goods.

Another one to keep an eye on is Hong Kong’s eTradeConnect platform. Launched at the end of last year, the blockchain-based trade finance platform is aimed at digitising open account transactions and reducing fraud. Recently it revealed the successful completion of two new proofs-of-concepts with CargoSmart and PwC to boost its efficiency in facilitating the financing of trade. The first proof-of-concept between the parties has been designed to demonstrate to lenders and their trade finance customers that if ocean carriers and terminals can share shipping information on a real-time basis it would prove more efficient for all parties. The second aims to integrate eTradeConnect with customer procurement systems.