Kittredge Carswell

The growing impact of intelligent automation in trade finance

Banks engaged in trade finance today are entering an incredibly exciting period of digital revitalization—a true turning point in their productivity and efficiency. Technologies such as intelligent data capture, predictive analytics, robotics and artificial intelligence are making sweeping changes possible, radically redesigning how banks conduct their business going forward.

Indeed, banks that are slow to respond to these emerging technologies will be challenged to keep up with corporate buyers and sellers because many are now using these technologies to transform their own supply chains and trade finance operations. As a result, performance expectations for banks, insurers, suppliers and other key trading partners are significantly increasing.

This is not to suggest that supply chain automation, electronic data interchange and other interoperability capabilities are anything new. For many years, corporate-to-corporate collaborative platforms have facilitated digital trading. Today, however, distributed ledger networks and blockchain technology have the potential to take this trading activity to the next level. Banks are challenged with not only coping with the increased data and transaction volumes flowing into and out of their internal systems, but also with turning this traffic into competitive advantage.

Not an easy task. Trade finance is a complex, multi-faceted and paper-intensive process. More often than not, it requires extensive manual interventions like document reading, data entry, data analysis and decision-making. Until now, that is.

Streamlining trade finance through intelligent automation

Working with client banks, CGI’s Trade Innovation Lab explores how intelligent automation (IA) services and technology can streamline a bank’s internal trade finance processes. The most promising solutions include:

  • Intelligent data capture using natural language processing and machine learning to facilitate data extraction
  • Robotic process automation to automate repeatable tasks
  • Artificial intelligence for deep learning and data analytics to perform or assist with information processing
  • Predictive analytics to formulate recommendations and solutions

Technologies such as these will help banks reduce the extensive amount of manual effort currently required to extract data from documents, to achieve straight through processing, and to assist smart workers in becoming more productive—spending less time on repetitive activity and more time on higher value tasks.

The benefits of IA technology will increase over time as the ability of banks to manage and leverage massive amounts of data increases. Improved analytics and forecasting will help banks better understand client needs, spot trends, assist customers with more timely recommendations, increase cross-selling opportunities and build more durable, longer-lasting business relationships.

For banks engaged in trade finance, we believe the choice is clear. As innovations like block chain and IA blaze new trading frontiers, “business as usual” thinking increases the risk of business obsolescence. These types of technologies have opened important doors to value creation and new business opportunity.

There is a great opportunity today for banks to invest in thoughtful digital revitalization—rather than “change for change’s sake” revolution. Moving ahead in a manner that leverages existing technology investments and makes sensible new technology investments will take strategic vision and discipline. Success requires a deliberative process marked by the ability to understand, rationalize and prioritize a complex business environment. It also will require technology solutions backed not by hyperbole and buzzwords but by real metrics and proven use cases

CGI is an IT and business consulting services partner with deep financial industry expertise that can help convert a bank’s broad vision for trade finance transformation into a step-by-step process for achieving success in both the near and long term. If you’d like to learn more about our digital work in trade finance and discuss the opportunities for your organization, feel free to contact me.

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