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FIT Alliance launches eBL declaration - Industry roundup: 6 September

FIT Alliance launches eBL declaration to secure commitment to digitalisation

BIMCO, DCSA, FIATA, ICC, and Swift (The FIT Alliance) have launched the “Declaration of the electronic Bill of Lading” to promote the adoption of eBLs as a way to help make international trade more efficient, reliable, sustainable, and secure. The aim of the declaration is to secure a commitment from all stakeholders in international trade to collaborate on driving digitalisation, starting with eBLs, within their industries.

Every year, ocean carriers issue around 45 million bills of lading, one of the most crucial trade documents in shipping. Currently, many international shipping documents are not standardised, and the majority are still paper-based, requiring physical hand-off between participants. The adoption of eBLs will enable the trade industry to benefit from faster transactions, cost savings (e.g. reduced administrative cost of cargo holding and document processing), and lowered fraud risks (through digital authentication systems).

In 2022, only 2.1% of bills of lading and waybills in the container trade were electronic. This is despite the fact that end-to-end digitalisation of trade documentation, starting with eBL, will cut costs and make international trade more efficient, reliable, secure, sustainable and less susceptible to illegal activity or fraud. In the dry bulk sector, there are some encouraging signs of growth. Four of the world’s largest mining companies already carry around 20% of their iron ore shipments on eBLs.

“A universal eBL will benefit all stakeholders involved in the global supply chain whether in bulk shipping or container shipping. Achieving widespread adoption of a standards-based eBL will benefit not only the shipping industry, but also the global movement of goods, at a time when supply chain resilience is challenged,” the FIT Alliance said in a joint statement. 

The FIT Alliance was formed in 2022 by BIMCO, the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (Swift). In allying, the groups have united behind the mission to standardise the digitalisation of international trade.


UK bank employees struggle to recommend their international payment services to customers

A survey has revealed that only 51% of employees at the UK’s top banks would recommend their respective institutions’ international payments services. The research, conducted by Censuswide and commissioned by global technology company Wise, set out to understand whether banks’ employees are bought into their international payment products. As it turns out, many struggle to stand by what they’re selling. 

Barely half of those surveyed believe that the fees they charge to customers sending money abroad are fair, with 19% of respondents explicitly stating that they are not proud of their international payments services. A further 32% admit that although they have recommended their bank’s services in the past, they would not do so again.

On top of the lack of confidence bank employees have in recommending their products to others, the survey revealed an even greater lack of confidence in using their own products themselves; 62% of respondents claimed that they would consider using a fintech card abroad this summer in favour of their own bank’s.


Emirates NBD invests in trade finance fintech Komgo

Emirates NBD has invested in trade finance software development and technology services company Komgo. The strategic equity investment was made by Emirates NBD’s Innovation Fund, the bank’s corporate venture fund. Created earlier this year, the fund has the objective of strengthening synergies from strategic partnerships by combining the Bank’s digital ambitions and regional expertise with the agility and technological innovations of fintech companies.

Emirates NBD Innovation Fund’s mandate is to invest in a wide range of stages, from early to growth, depending on the strategic fit for the group, to deliver strategic benefits and realise a long-term return from investments.

Komgo’s solutions empower treasury, credit, and trade finance operations, streamlining communications and strengthening operational capacity for more than 10,000 enterprise users worldwide. From its Swiss roots, the company has expanded to international locations, including Singapore, Paris, London, Toronto and Houston, with a customer base of more than 200 multinational corporations and global trade banks. Approximately US$1bn in transaction value flows through the Komgo network daily.

“Our strategic equity investment in Komgo reflects our commitment to constantly innovate and develop tech solutions that can accelerate business processes,” said Ahmed Al Qassim, Group Head of Wholesale Banking, Emirates NBD.


Generative AI poses imminent disruption to a quarter of Australia’s economy

More than a quarter of the Australian economy will be rapidly and significantly disrupted by generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI), meaning nearly AU$600 billion of economic activity faces Gen AI disruption.

The findings are part of a report titled ‘Generation AI: Ready or not, here we come!’ co-developed by Deloitte Access Economics and the Deloitte AI Institute to provide insights for Australian C-suite executives on Gen AI and its increasing popularity with students and employees. As well as conducting economic research, 2,550 individuals were surveyed, including 2,000 current employees from across 18 industries and 550 students.

The report examines which sectors face the biggest and most imminent disruption and who already uses Gen AI. It also shares seven ‘no regret’ moves organisations can make to ensure they disrupt with, rather than get disrupted by Gen AI.

The survey also found that 32% of employees surveyed use some form of Gen AI for work purposes, but about two-thirds of people using it believe their manager doesn’t know about it. Three-quarters (75%) of employees are concerned with Gen AI’s use of personal, confidential or sensitive information

Australia ranks second-last out of 14 leading economies on its deployment of Gen AI, according to one international study. Gen AI will rapidly disrupt 26% of the economy – including finance, ICT and media, professional services, education and wholesale trade. So far only 9.5% of large Australian businesses (those employing over 200 employees) have officially adopted AI in their business. This drops to 1.4% among all companies in Australia.


NatWest adopts low code approach for payments modernisation

NatWest has selected Icon Payments Framework (IPF) to accelerate the bank’s payments modernisation as it continues to align with the new global ISO 20022 payment data message standards.

The partnership allows Natwest to initially leverage a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) processing engine along with ready-made scheme packs, including the recently mandated SEPA Instant capability, in addition to existing Credit Transfer and Direct Debit capabilities that provides customers more choice and establishes the foundation for future innovation. The modernisation will enhance the end-to-end experience for customers as they seek greater flexibility in their initiation of payment flows. 

The IPF framework uses low code to let business payment experts create workflows and enables software engineering teams to extend and create customisable integrations into existing bank systems.

“The low code aspect of the framework (Icon’s IPF) empowers and enables organisations to control its delivery and feature richness while the simple extensibility of the capability allows software engineers to focus on high value integrations and innovation,” commented Ian Povey, CIO Payments Technology, NatWest.


J.P. Morgan taps Network International for Middle East payments acquiring push

Digital commerce firm Network International (Network) has partnered with J.P. Morgan Payments to strengthen the bank’s acquiring offering. Access to Network International’s acceptance solutions and expertise in card processing and value-added services in the region should enable J.P. Morgan Payments to expand and complement its existing payments proposition in the region to its customers.

Network offers technology-enabled payment solutions to merchants and financial institutions of all types and sizes. The firm says it has worked closely with governments and financial institutions in the Middle East to promote financial inclusion and to drive digitisation.

“The Middle East forms a very crucial part of the firm’s payments growth agenda,” stated Sandeep Dhawan, CEEMEA Product Head for J.P. Morgan, Payments. “It’s an exciting place to be right now with a huge growth opportunity. In this regard, we are investing in the region and are delighted to be partnering with notable regional players such as Network International, to complement our existing capabilities in the region.”


New treasury and trade consultancy T3i Partner Network launches

T3i Partner Network, a global collective of specialists in trade, treasury and technology, has officially announced its launch with a mission to drive success in the trade finance and treasury landscape.

T3i Partner Network was founded by four established industry experts: Daniel Cotti, Shalini Lall, Michael Vrontamitis and Frank Wendt, who are joined by an initial cohort of 30-plus partners. Together, they aim to become the trusted partner and advisor for clients seeking expertise in trade finance, treasury, working capital, transaction banking and digitisation, addressing the evolving needs of fintech companies, corporates, banks, non-bank financial institutions, investors and industry bodies.

T3i offers a go-to-market growth accelerator service that supports clients in articulating and defining their challenges, finding the most suitable solutions, and leveraging them to accelerate growth and bolster sales. The firm also provides specialist advisory and consulting services, including interim management, coaching and training supporting strategy development and execution. These services cater to financial institutions, corporates and fintech companies and are aimed at guiding them through the complexities of digital transformation, access to working capital and aiding in the scaling of their business.

Commenting on the business's launch, Frank Wendt, one of T3i’s founding partners, said: “There is a significant gap in support in the sector, and we recognised that independent practitioners can only operate within the confines of their individual limitations. T3i’s approach consolidates resources to effectively address challenges encountered by industry peers, irrespective of their size.” 

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