The Silicon Review
The financial markets consist of a wide range of institutions that perform a variety of functions. From providing investment vehicles such as bond, equities and derivatives, to supplying mortgages, loans, deposits and other instruments, the financial institution’s main function is to pool resources and smoothly, ethically and compliantly channel funds from lenders/savers to borrowers/spenders providing the liquidity and expertise to enable businesses achieve fast growth and sustainable long-term revenue.
Financial institutions are focused on making profit, developing new methods and procedures that allow the market to function smoothly and take advantage of emerging opportunity. In these challenging times, banks will be key to ensuring good funds and financial instrument flows as companies of all sizes look to secure trade with new supply chains in the right location at the right price.
Globally there are various financial institutions that help businesses flourish, but one that stands out from the rest is Euro Exim Bank. The company was first registered in the UK in 2015 as a small payment institution. However, the competitive pressures meant that it had to focus on its strength – which was, and is trade finance. Euro Exim Bank realized that it needed a jurisdiction with a very strong regulator and that was politically and geographically close to key markets. This led the company to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. The Saint Lucia Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) is very highly regarded and collaborates closely with other regulators across the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and CARICOM. Euro Exim Bank has a growing team of key people in St. Lucia and has a representative office in London. It is also looking to expand presence in Singapore, India, and Dubai, and other cities where it sees trade opportunities and client demand. In the last five years, Euro Exim Bank has seen exponential growth in agents and partners, ex-bankers and financial specialists, with over 250 people now working with the company. Euro Exim Bank assists corporates ad SME’s across the globe looking to import goods or services, specifically work with clients in key trade locations, through web and mobile transactions.
In conversation with Graham Bright JP, Head of Compliance & Operations at Euro Exim Bank
Please talk about the developments of your company since we last spoke to you.
Supporting international trade requirements with its complex ecosystem and many non-standard proprietary elements has led to significant product development of our real-time blockchain-enabled trade platform. With digital document handling throughout the transaction lifecycle, audit, and instrument creation, the platform is undergoing continuous enhancements, providing ease of use for staff and clients alike. We are also introducing merchant accounts and online banking services, with a view to issuing more instruments to meet the growing demand for innovative trade products.
Explain your services in brief
We provide the following services:
Our differentiators include, trust, leadership, experience, personal relationships, country expertise, speed of response, cost effective instruments and above all continued contact and information sharing.
Success in the era of digital banking means more than having a mobile app. It means digitizing your entire brand. How do you do that?
The financial services sector is a pioneer of digitalization. With online banking constantly evolving, the industry and its disruptors continue to spearhead customer experience (CX) innovation and shake up client delivery mechanisms. User demands have risen rapidly, where customers now expect user-friendly services and streamlined efficiency from their online banking services, as are delivered through social media platforms. If providers fail to deliver ease of switching and access to multiple products, a once loyal customer base can easily turn to competitors. Providing an optimal user experience and keen costs across banking applications is business-critical for retaining existing clients,, engaging with and attracting new customers. Also, the sensitivity of financial data, its security, use, and potential risk of a breach is high on the user agenda. Fundamentally, to ensure a smooth digital journey, client onboarding requires deep due diligence, KYC checks and continued verification. To survive in an incredibly competitive environment, it’s vital that banks master customer experience and security. And deploying efficient identity management practices is a crucial first step.
What are the different financial strategies that you implement and how do you develop one?
The barriers for many smaller participants and new entrants onto the global trade arena involve costly and uncompetitive access to funds, lack of trust and confidence, and a lack of business appetite. Liquidity in small local banks, corruption, and lack of knowledge in dealing with complex instruments are also common barriers to entry. Whilst not trading in the volatile world of cryptocurrency markets, we participate with the Distributed Ledger, blockchain-enabled, network technology solutions offered by Ripple. Specifically, with RippleNet xCurrent financial service for payments, and ODL for solving liquidity problems, switching from the local currency to digital assets (XRP), and paying out in local currency at the receiver end, the service resolves the time issue of delivery and authenticity but also negates switching into and out of expensive US dollars or Euro. This eliminates high costs and, with guaranteed timing and rates, protects clients from wildly fluctuating cryptocurrency rates. Funds reach an ultimate destination and are credited to a beneficiary account in real-time, with the benefits of speed, low cost, immutability, and transparency with a full audit trail. These secure services are significant for economies in Africa, as cash-challenged companies no longer need to wait days for their money to traverse correspondent banks with associated funding and dispersal costs from local accounts.
Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your employees?
Trade is a dynamic business, with every day presenting new challenges and opportunities. Our teams, agents, and partners are constantly updated, made aware of rules, regulations, international, national, and local implications of health issues and impacts on trade (i.e., Covid-19), regulation and sanctions, astute in spotting potential fraud or fake items. This allows us to be ever vigilant in the fight against fraud, double invoicing, scams, and money laundering. It is this depth of information, constantly changing requirements, and desire to learn that sees every role as vitally important. Our staffs recognize that they can grow their expertise, making their skills transferable and valuable across our institution’s various departments and in their future careers.
Do you have any new services launching soon?
We have been focusing exclusively on trade finance in the past, and as a wholesale trade specialist, and worthwhile mentioning that we do not offer loans, deposits, collateralization, discounting of invoices, and other services. We have found that our clients want to use trusted new ways to pay their fees and their suppliers. That is why we set up the new Merchant Account Facility. The clients can use a credit card, M-Pesa, and other digital means to make payment to us at any time. We charge fees on the basis of the size of the invoice that is being supported by an LC or other instrument. Importantly, onboarding of clients to the Merchant Account Facility gives us the opportunity to carry out immediate payments, all supported by tight due diligence.
We are always opportunistic in taking a long-term view and anticipate a rapid evolution in trade finance and expansion into more account services. We do expect greater usage of technology-based enablers such as Blockchain in identifying counterparties, facilitating payments, and securing a trusted exchange of documents. We will also see more standardization and digital exchange of immutable, internationally accepted trade related paper, such as bills of lading, insurance and inspection certificates.
The industry will see fewer institutions involved in trade finance. Many banks are already either outsourcing to specialist organizations, closing key location trade offices or leaving the sector altogether. Supply chains will also become more diversified. The ‘Made in India’ campaign focusses on closing costly trade gaps. Countries are exercising more nationalistic and isolationist stances, all affecting global manufacturing’s source and destinations. Particular East African countries are already benefitting from growth and changing demand for raw materials, agricultural product and technology services. More generally, we expect that sales of services through digital channels will also increase with a reversal of the significant dip in global trade see over the last year, a clear result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, China is already reporting record levels of imports and exports, and UK post-Brexit trade deals look set to exploit new partnerships, revenue streams and building new levels of international business. There is renewed potential for improvement in trade to provide sustainable growth, improve social welfare, financial inclusion and reducing poverty in countries unable previously to compete effectively on the international stage. Through our specialist services, Euro Exim Bank stands ready to play a significant role in serving emerging markets with dynamic supply chains, new clients in new jurisdictions, cementing our place as a key player in facilitating trade across the globe.
Meet the leader behind the success of Euro Exim Bank
Graham Bright JP is the Head of Compliance & Operations at Euro Exim Bank. Graham studied Business and Law at University, then worked in a US partner company of Unilever specializing in computer timesharing applications. Three years at Control Data in credit analysis applications, banking and treasury systems was followed by 20 years at SWIFT in sales and partner solutions, culminating with working with application vendors and market infrastructures such as The Bank of England on RTGS projects. Subsequently, he was MD at the technology subsidiary of a French Bank for 5 years, EMEA SME on Investment Management and international banking at EMC, and after a period of consulting, joined Euro Exim Bank in 2015. At EEB, Graham’s primary role is in compliance and operations, negating and mitigating risk in the bank’s processes, software and client activity. The role involves meeting with clients, regulators, applying local, national and international rules, mandates and recommendations. He is a regular speaker at international trade conferences, writer and award winner for innovation in trade.