Counter-fraud platform UAE Trade Connect has unveiled plans to expand its blockchain-based invoice checking tool to other markets, amid a broader rebrand in which the company has been renamed Haifin. 

Duplicate financing fraud, where companies use the same documents to obtain financing from multiple banks, has plagued the trade finance sector in recent years. Haifin’s platform compares invoice data submitted by banks and uses artificial intelligence to flag potential duplicates. 

Alongside the launch of the Haifan brand at the GTR Mena event in Dubai last week, chief executive Zul Javaid explained the platform has already proven highly successful in its home market since going live in 2021. 

“In 2023, we had 13 live participants on our platform, and AED 120bn (US$32.7bn) in value in that one year alone,” Javaid told GTR on the sidelines of the event. The total figure since launch is over AED 200bn. 

“We found a very high incidence of duplicate finance requests. Even our seasoned bankers were surprised by how common the problem is.” 

Haifin’s platform does not assess whether a duplicate or partial match is definitively an indication of attempted fraud. However, Javaid said he is aware that following alerts, banks have blacklisted some customers, restricted limits to others, and in a handful of cases, reported suspected fraud to regulators. 

“Our banks, which include the largest and smallest banks in the UAE, all believe this is a blind spot they could not fix by themselves,” he said. “They need multiple banks working on it, and a trusted third party with the right level of cybersecurity and no vested interest in outcomes one way or the other. 

“That’s why we feel confident about the promise of our solution in other countries.” 

The first target markets are those with similarities to the UAE, Javaid says, adding Haifin has had advanced discussions in Oman and Bahrain, and has visited Saudi Arabia. 

Its parent company, e& – a brand launched by telecoms company Etisalat Group in 2022 – already has operations across North Africa and in some other African markets. Other potential targets include Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and South Africa, he said. 

Haifin started as a collaboration between e& enterprise and First Abu Dhabi Bank, with six other banks signing up to a pilot project in 2019.

By its commercial launch in 2021, Commercial Bank International, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Emirates NBD, Mashreq Bank, National Bank of Fujairah and Rakbank had joined the platform.  

Since then, other institutions that have joined include Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Al Masraf, Invest Bank and United Arab Bank. The platform is also open to fintechs, with peer-to-peer lending platform Beehive a consortium member, alongside DP World Trade Finance.

Javaid added Haifin is continuing to develop additional use cases for the platform in partnership with member banks. It is currently used for transactions that involve commercial invoicing, including documentary trade, open account and factoring.