Considering life in a post-bank world

Trade Financing Matters welcomes this Guest Post by George Mitchell, senior conference producer at Global Trade Review

“Digital is the main reason just over half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000” Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture

Digital evolution is picking up pace in the international trade sector, and big trade banks are worried about going the way of the dodo.

Being privileged to organise annual conferences in markets from Shanghai to Mexico City, all focused on financing the movement of physical goods, GTR is observing this evolution on a global scale. At our recent East Africa conference in Kenya, one local fintech explained how they utilize an algorithm to analyse cell phone account data, replacing credit scoring and facilitating lending to Kenya’s unbanked small hold farmers. I’d bet not many in the business saw that coming 10 years ago.

Last week I attended research meetings in preparation for our annual Nordic region conference. The tech revolution is equally pronounced in this market, which offers its own stark example of the risks inherent in failing to keep ahead of the tech curve. 400+ attendees at last year’s Stockholm meeting were asked if they used a Nokia cell phone 10 years ago. A vast majority did. They were then asked if they still use one today. Zero hands were raised. In 2000, Nokia accounted for 4% of Finland’s GDP, and 21% of its exports. By 2013 its GDP contribution had shrunk to 0.4%.

One of last week’s meetings sticks in the memory. A global head of supply chain finance at a large regional FI explained candidly that successfully investing in and implementing tech that meets the client need is nothing less than a matter of survival. They now must consider not only the expectations of their client CFOs, but also those of the CFO’s (millennial) successor.

How to predict the wants and needs of these ‘entitled millennials’? Moreover, how can corporates justify implementing digital trade and supply chain finance solutions when the ‘next big thing’, promising to revolutionize the trade finance sector (again), could mean today’s investments are made redundant tomorrow? Is this the beginning of the end for the ‘traditional’ role of banks in trade finance, and what will this mean for companies’ trade?

We’ll be examining these themes and more at the US Trade & Working Capital Conference in Chicago next week.

Successfully managing the digital transformation of the trade finance sector will shape tomorrow’s market, and the U.S. is at the forefront. Communicating requirements between stakeholders, particularly by a vocal corporate sector, will be key to creating a trade financing market that works for all. Join us in Chicago and make your voice heard.

You can register for the Conference here

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