Where Tungsten Finance Goes Next: An Interview with Prabhat Vira

I had a chance to have a discussion with Prabhat Vira, who recently was appointed President of Tungsten Network Finance, the supply chain finance arm of the Tungsten Network business.

David: how do you sell money when you don't have relationships with suppliers?

Prabhat:               I agree with what you say.  Our network is very strong.  We have 185 buyers and are invoice-compliant in 47 countries.  So I look at Tungsten as having a strong network from a digital automation perspective.  The convergence and ability to provide value financing and analytics is an interesting opportunity.

That is what I have come to build on and take to the next level. Where do we go from here in terms of journey?

You are right, the term supply chain finance is confusing. Different companies in different segments, whether they are verticals, construction, retail, technology or whether they are segments, small business to large corporates, their monetization of the terms of trade takes different dimensions in terms of pricing, the financing structure and the client need perspective, whether its on balance sheet or off balance sheet, or whether its a receivable sale. The needs vary.  And for me it’s not one size fits all.  The journey is very customer focused.  We are very focused on the needs of particular segments.

When one uses technology, it becomes a very compelling proposition. That is the journey I am looking to take on the Tungsten platform.  I am looking to take the journey in very modular steps. And I am looking to take the journey in a very practical step to provide value to the network, in a way it is scalable.

DG: You had 90 suppliers using finance, 70m euros, which was below market expectations.  What do you do to make that growth more aggressive?

PV: Quarter-on-quarter growth has been encouraging. How do you take it to the next level?  You referred to DDM, that is an offering which is competitive in nature, I look at that as an adjacent service and something one must have.  But the larger journey comes from providing financing to the network from third party funding.  Third party funding comes with a balance of a risk appetite of a funder versus the needs of borrower.  From a growth perspective, I am looking to create that match in the most efficient manner.  And create that match very specifically to the financing needs of the segments in our network.  I am not looking at one size fits all.  In putting that in practical terms, we build the propositions out and use technology to make it simple to use. We use analytics to provide analytical-based risk mitigation to the funders and provide buyer and supplier dashboards as well.

Our value proposition is a combination of the right proposition to the right segments. All of this wrapped around a risk appetite acceptable to the borrower and funder.

DG: how many different countries do you finance today and how many currencies?

PV: Largely the U.S. and the U.K, and pounds and dollars.

DG: I know you use BNYM as a funder, have you added others?

PV: The one funder we had has been very encouraging and supportive partner.

DG: do you see yourself moving into other forms of finance – beyond approved invoices?

PV: In the early days I am focused on scaling up approved invoices.  Conceptually speaking, I see value in certainly extending along the trade flows from approved invoices to pre approved invoices.

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