Global software provider China Systems has created a specialised trade digitalisation unit, which is working with trade finance fintech companies to integrate their technologies into banks and other customers’ systems.

The Trade Digitalisation Services (TDS) team has already been involved in several integration projects with fintech companies, including Contour, Traydstream and Enigio Time, reveals a statement by China Systems.

The software provider’s TDS unit takes on a consulting role which focuses on the integration of trade finance solutions.

Joel Schrevens, solutions director at China Systems, tells GTR that the unit already existed but was previously not a core part of the business. “After the three projects, I suddenly realised how advanced the group was and I said, ‘we have to keep this team together’.”

He explains: “We were set up as a project team before, but the difference is that this team also offers consulting services, and not necessarily to our typical bread and butter type of audience, the banks and our existing clients. When we worked with customers before, often there was an involvement of a third party, a digital transformation advisor or a consulting strategy advisor – another technology company. We have realised that that third party may be knowledgeable on digital transformation generally, but there’s no one that has the in-depth knowledge on trade like our team has.”

One of the three projects, executed under the International Trade and Forfaiting Association’s (ITFA) digital negotiable instruments (DNI) initiative which aims to digitalise trade documents, saw China Systems and Swedish blockchain company Enigio Time partner to digitalise key trade document flows. Enigio’s trace:original is being integrated with China Systems’ back-office platform Eximbills Enterprise. The companies demonstrated how a digital guarantee can be processed: the digitised document was supplied by Enigio, and the integration and processing executed by China Systems.

China Systems says that the TDS unit’s expertise lies in understanding trade and supply chain finance technology, especially with regards to documentary flows, risk management, financing and settlement techniques, automating corporate and bank processing flows and optimising business and technical architecture.

As the global pandemic took hold in the first quarter of the year, causing couriers carrying physical trade documents to slow, Schrevens adds that China Systems saw an opportunity arise as pressure increased on banks to digitalise their systems .

“There has been much pressure for banks to find solutions to avoid dependency on the physical location of staff to perform their tasks as well as their dependency on paper. Paper documents for trade, bills of exchange, bills of lading, etc, all those documents have a direct impact on trade and are required for parties to take ownership of goods or to trigger finance,” he says. “It is in that context that we’ve launched this trade digitalisation services unit. It has become quite an important part of our operating model.”