The Silicon Review
Digital transformation has revamped various industries and now it has reached financial services industry. This was inevitable because pervasive connectivity, advanced analytical tools, mass data storage, and ubiquitous computing power can be efficiently used in financial services. Personalization and immediacy has become a significant part of consumer goods and services. In recent times the interest is growing overwhelmingly for the financial technology segment. Fintech services have wide application and it is capitalizing on the explosive growth of technologies. Even though the fintech market is receiving interest from financial industry leaders, the growth is still in infant stage. The financial services sector across the globe is facing drastic changes. Startups and other innovators are striving to create a place for themselves in the market and they are backed by new technologies.
Fintech companies provide solutions that can make traditional banking processes obsolete and Euro Exim Bank is one such firm whose focus is on serving clients and businesses involved in cross-border transactions with a range of financial instruments and specialized services. The company was founded in 2015 and it is based in Rodney Bay, Gros-Islet. Processes of Euro Exim Bank is carefully crafted to create convenience for their clients. The company holds Class “A” St. Lucia International Banking License; this allows them to function easily with third parties. The company’s main motto is to remain a trusted partner to their clients and connect them to new opportunities to help them thrive among the competition in the market.
In conversation with Kaushik Punjani, Founder and CEO of Euro Exim Bank
Q. How do you define the current global financial landscape?
I would define it as risky, uncertain, diverse and fascinating. From a risk perspective, more availability of tools to speed up risk assessment, as application providers look at mitigating every KYC, Due diligence, AML and PEP element in every trade, checking identity, companies, documents, individuals, reputation, adverse press etc. Traditional players see the need for blockchain and AI technologies but are slow to implement them, and new disruptive fintech entrants are far better equipped to provide future-ready applications and pick up market share. Financial markets have always had their share of uncertainty, now fuelled by wild stock market fluctuations as investors search out safer havens for investment funds as supply chains are restricted, output slashed and global fear regarding the long-term effects of COVID-19. We have already witnessed massive swings in oil and gold price and demand, looming long term recession and currency crises, lowest ever interest rates and cost of borrowing and increase in demand for liquidity. In summary, there is fear, uncertainty and doubt. However, investors must hold their nerve and plan for the day when this pandemic is beaten and eradicated, when markets will inevitably recover, flow of goods will re-start and a semblance of normality will return. The financial landscape will have changed, with potentially less players, less bricks and mortar institutions, but more competitive and technology savvy players.
Q. Do you provide tailor-made solutions depending on the clients’ requirements?
Whilst we adhere as much as possible to standards in the verbiage, terms and conditions in our instruments, the industry has to cope with many variations in type of goods, structured finance models and new jurisdictions, meaning that flexibility is the key. As part of flexibility, we take a more tailored and pragmatic approach to doing business. Unlike the requirements of other institutions mandating buyers to place up to 110% of the face value of trades in escrow accounts, our operating methodology looks to assist clients to trade, compete and settle effectively, unlocking the restrictions and expense of long-term tied cash flow.
Q. Internet banks or banking process creates a lack of personal relationships with bank personnel. How do you leverage modern technologies to bridge this gap?
Straightforward payments of low value do not normally require face to face relationships, and this has fuelled the rise of multiple internet banking participants today offering limited, vanilla services. Whilst account management for high net worth individuals may need professional services to assist with investment opportunities, and additionally regulated products, normal single payments are simple, and may easily be handled remotely. Access to smart phones, mobile or desktop technologies are enough to handle 99% of banking activity. Even paying in cheques through banking apps by scanning them on your mobile phone is now commonplace, reducing the need for headcount in retail branches. Trade instruments such as structured Letters of Credit with multiple non-standard data fields require a more personal touch, experience, trust, patience and an understanding of more than just the financial element of the trade. Staff must understand UCP-600 guidelines, multi-county regulation, legality, sanctions, implications of terminology, use or absence of information, and timings associate with the life-cycle of the trade. For this reason, modern technology can assist but not replace. Trade remains a people business, assisted by the electronic gathering and remittance of the instruments, and unless buyers all have the same level if understanding of the process, reliance will still be placed on a human element.
Q. How do you gain sustainability, speed and cost out in order to expand in trade finance—particularly with the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) segment?
The SME sector is precisely where we see the majority of business and we focus on assisting buyers in Asia, Middle East and Africa, in areas with complex legal and financial requirements. Some tier 1 banks have withdrawn from these areas or heavily reduce their presence as they are often perceived as high-risk especially when dealing with low volume, small value trades. By offering a more bespoke service, with appropriate collateral requirements and building relationships at local level supported by robust KYC, due diligence and compliance measures, we are able to service these companies, permitting them to compete internationally with appropriate cost-effective instruments, with increased frequency.
Q. How do you secure your solutions without increasing the complexity of the financial activities?
Trade flows can be complex, and the ecosystem comprises many participants from different industry sectors, each with their own standards, systems and processes. Navigating a smooth safe passage through the myriad of players can be challenging for new market entrants, and companies need assistance with simplified processes and guaranteed payment corridors. Ultimately, we make the whole process as seamless and uncomplicated as possible for clients. Euro Exim Bank are actively expanding our operational footprint to enable corporates easier passage both rapidly and seamlessly without the need for complex payments infrastructures or fragmented correspondent bank relationships. Our clients crave fast service, best prices and guaranteed delivery, and we use innovative technology internally as the foundation to support external clients, bringing benefits of them simple cost-effective competitive instruments. Supporting all of this is our team of trade experts with years of experience in financial messaging, systems and trade in general. Their efforts have resulted in the creation of our blockchain and AI-enabled trade workflow platform, featuring rapid generation of instruments, complex KYC handling and processing remittances and settlements within tight time frames.
Q. How efficient are your solutions for streamlining business processes for the trade industry?
We have created a world-class trade platform, directly attuned for our target market and written specifically for our mode and style of business, without having to radically adapt our processes, or trying to shoehorn our practices to meet commercial package constraints. Through our partnership with RippleNet, Euro Exim Bank has implemented innovative Ripple services, enabling settlement of cross border transactions using XRP cryptocurrency. This is more cost-effective than traditional international wire transfers and much faster; virtually instantaneous vs. 3-5 business days. We achieve this through Ripple xCurrent and On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) which facilitate frictionless, real-time direct financial exchange. The former directs cross-border payments into customer accounts without correspondent bank relationships or currency fluctuation. The latter minimizes liquidity costs, reducing cash flow issues, using XRP as the underlying digital asset, rather than switching into more expensive often restricted fiat currencies. We have also built our own trade finance workflow platform, future-proofed with blockchain, covering the entire lifecycle of trades, from first proforma invoice from the seller, to settlement of the transaction.
Q. Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your clients?
Trust is a fundamental differentiator, as are leadership, experience, personal relationships, country expertise, speed of response, cost-effective instruments and above all continued contact and information sharing. Trust is earned through visibility and track record of delivery, all of which help maintain and grow business. Euro Exim Bank operate in specific focussed markets, accessible internationally to clients, through electronic means and publications, and at events in key trade locations, where clients are invited to join us for heavyweight expert opinion, and of course meeting face to face.
Q. Is it true that striving for both ‘ethics’ and ‘success’ in a business is a tough feat?
In our view the two are complementary, as we operate with an ethos of doing the right things and doing things right. This means that the processes with which we work, the instruments and businesses we assist, and our reputation all support sustainable healthy trusted repeat revenue. Whilst the trade landscape is getting more complex, with more frequent frauds and scams, we take the moral high ground in using often extreme measures to protect ourselves and our clients, even if we lose business as a result. Striving for ethics and success can be tough. We continue to exercise and act with moral responsibility, growing our reputation, justifying and retaining our place as a leader in our industry.
Q. There are other reputed companies in the market providing such services, how are you a better service provider?
We welcome competition and maintain good relations with other companies. However, rather than broad untargeted head on competition with our peers, we have identified core areas of differentiation in terms of price, goods transacted, markets, geographies, apt collateral requirements, processes, speed and relationships. Competition is not always about winning every deal, but excelling in what we do, positioning us as the de-facto company for trade finance for a growing market of repeat buyers and business across the globe.
Meet the leader behind the success of Euro Exim Bank
Kaushik Punjani is the Founder and CEO of Euro Exim Bank. Originally with a degree in Chemistry, Kaushik Punjani moved into manufacturing, global distribution and into the finance industry, as director and beneficial owner of Euro Exim Bank. His experience covers on-line payments systems, confirmations, reconciliation, and his roles have covered management and delivery of financial solutions at UK businesses at all levels.