Santander has made a strategic equity investment into commodity trade finance platform Komgo, as part of its plans to accelerate the digital transformation of its trade and working capital products.

The amount of the investment was not disclosed. Santander now becomes a Komgo shareholder alongside a mix of corporate and financial players including ABN Amro, BNP Paribas, Citi, Consensys, Crédit Agricole, Gunvor, ING, Koch Supply & Trading, Macquarie, Mercuria, MUFG, Natixis, Rabobank, SGS, Shell, SMBC, Société Générale and Total.

Komgo, which says it is now the world’s largest multi-bank trade finance network, went live at the end of 2018. Based in Geneva with a presence in the Americas and Asia, Komgo offers several modules to improve efficiency and security of trade finance transactions, including Trakk for document fraud checking and Konsole for trade finance.

As a partner of Komgo, Santander says it will leverage its unique global footprint and leadership in trade finance to contribute expertise and tailor-made financing solutions for Komgo’s client portfolios in Europe and the Americas, while benefitting from Komgo’s technology to improve client-to-bank communication and to deploy innovative solutions in trade finance and commodities.

“We want to support our clients simplify and digitalise trade finance,” says Mencia Bobo, Santander’s global head of trade and working capital solutions. “Partnering with Komgo means we can automate communications, optimise end-to-end processes, reduce operational risk and deliver the best client experience. In addition, it will enable us to innovate and find synergy in our broad trade finance business.”

Souleïma Baddi, CEO of Komgo, adds: “Komgo is the preferred trade finance network for the industry’s largest banks, and delivers the best experience to corporate users in their workflow management. As a leading financial institution and one of the largest trade banks globally, Santander CIB’s investment in Komgo adds another layer of trust to our network. We are especially proud to be supporting its clients’ transformation journey.”

This development further supports Komgo’s plans to expand its trade finance proposition, following its acquisition of Canada-based Global Trade Corporation (GTC) last year. Jointly, the two companies provide trade finance digitalisation solutions to over 120 multinational clients and over 11,000 subsidiaries, connecting them to their financial institutions and trade service providers.

Last week, Crédit Agricole, one of Komgo’s founding shareholders, became the first bank to implement the Trakk solution to secure the issuance of paper guarantees. Using Trakk, beneficiaries – who do not usually have a direct link with Crédit Agricole as the issuing bank – can verify the origin of the original paper document and confirm that it has not been tampered with.

“Crédit Agricole CIB is proud to be the very first bank to introduce Komgo Trakk to protect its guarantee operations,” says Javier Sanchez-Asiain, Crédit Agricole’s global head of global trade finance. “We expect this simple security solution to be widely adopted and even become the new industry standard.”

The investment by Santander marks the latest in a series of moves by banks to tighten their links with fintechs. This week, JP Morgan took an equity stake in, further cementing its relationship with the compliance vendor after the two sides entered a strategic alliance last September, while last month saw Barclays invest £3mn into fintech company Trade Ledger to drive the growth of its digitally enabled working capital offering.