Singapore fintech firm says launches first digital platform for trade finance assets

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singapore central bank-backed fintech firm, CCRManager Pte Ltd, on Tuesday launched what it says is the first digital platform for the distribution of international trade financing, transactions now handled mainly by phone and email.

A view of the skyline of Singapore March 26, 2017. Picture taken March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Woo Yiming

CCRManager Pte Ltd, which received a grant from the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Financial Sector Development Fund, is supported by 16 financial institutions, including Bank of China, DBS Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Spain’s BBVA and the commercial insurance arm of Swiss Re.

“We believe that in year one, we will have approximately 30 institutions signing up. Our end goal is about 400 institutions by year five,” Tan Kah Chye, CCRManager’s chairman, a former banker for over two decades, said at the launch of the platform.

The firm aims to hit $10 billion in transaction volume in the first year and is targeting $250 billion in the fifth year. CCRManager charges a transaction fee on every successful deal.

The Singapore-based company said its users will be able to list assets for distribution, negotiate deals, and manage supporting documentation in a secure environment. The web-based platform will enable members to manage the entire process of distributing trade finance internationally to other banks, credit insurers, and fund managers.

Currently, banks largely handle the process of trade finance distribution by phone and email - a cumbersome manual exercise.

“This platform provides transparency to the market, and will facilitate access to the trade markets for a broad range of investors, such as private insurance companies or investment funds,” Francisco Javier Fernández de Troconiz, head of global trade & international banking at BBVA, said in a statement.

Before the platform was launched, banks in 14 countries participated in its successful testing.

Some challenges digital platforms, such as CCRManager, could face include data confidentiality and the security of technology systems, executives of some banks told Reuters.

At a time of growing intra-regional trade in Asia, the largest trading region in the world, and expansion of supply-chain networks beyond China, banks are ploughing more resources into the bread-and-butter trade financing business.

CCRManager is the latest example of how Singapore is trying to reinvent itself as Asia’s fintech hub, an industry that has shaken up the traditional banking and financial services sectors.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Randy Fabi