A short guide for banks on how to develop or expand supply chain finance programs without having to build or extend an in-house platform or on-board a vendor platform.
Over-promised and over-platformed
Banks have been working with platforms for a number of years. Whether this is capital markets, trade finance, supply chain finance, SME lending, underwriting, scoring etc.
A common complaint from bankers is that platforms have over-promised and that they are over-platformed.
So how has this come about, and how can banks move forward efficiently.
Why do banks work with platforms?
There is a well-known joke about a visitor asking the village idiot how to find the pub (apologies for the English references) only to be told that he knows the way but would not start from here.
This is the position that many banks find themselves in today when it comes to IT development, innovations and generally delivering up to date user experiences to their customers. Most bank systems were built decades ago, some even as far back as the 1960s. They work, they perform, and the cost of making mistakes when handling money is high.
Change is difficult.
One way to innovate is to out-source the problem to nimble fintechs and software vendors that can develop new systems in isolation. Banks let software companies develop new systems, then cherry-pick the best and incorporate them into their products and services.
Platform success (or not)
It has been a great plan with some notable successes, mainly behind the scenes and outside the core systems environment. For example, systems to score risk or to carry out identify check - but not systems that actually book exposures and carry out life or death internal functions. There are exceptions - for example, in payments (eg: Wise).
Generally, banks have found that product partnerships in their core business areas have under-delivered and over-promised. They have been difficult to integrate and complex to scale with a poor return on investment.
Platforms in supply chain finance
An area where platforms have proliferated is in supply chain finance. Such platforms are not hard to build - and operate within the core processing space that banks tend to occupy. The functions performed are broadly:
Accept a feed of approved invoices from a large corporate buyer.
Show those invoices to the suppliers involved and offer them early payment.
The invoices for which suppliers take up the offer get routed to a bank for payment.
Off the platform, the buyer pays the invoices later to the bank and the bank checks to make sure that it has received the expected amounts.
This limited set of functions has meant that banks have often decided to build their own solution rather than partner with a platform. Banks that have partnered with platforms invest a lot of time on-boarding the platform which can take up to a year - but then have found themselves in a crowded market with no distinct competitive edge except their own credit appetite.
All rather unsatisfying.
A solution to the SCF bank-platform issue
PrimaTrade (www.prima.trade) has a solution to this issue - largely due to the different approach that is taken.
By implementing a different journey, banks can avoid on-boarding the platform completely - whilst still offering a leading-edge supply chain finance solution to their customers.
No log in
No payment feed
No visibility or connection
Simple loan or RCF and standard administration
The PrimaTrade platform can sit behind the buyer and not between the buyer and the bank. So the bank never sees or touches the platform.
The PrimaTrade journey is different and starts much earlier with the supplier when it ships:
Suppliers ship, upload their trade documents and invoice, and these are digitised during the upload process.
Via our "3-way match" at shipment process, invoices are automatically approved as soon as the supplier uploads his documents. See more about this here.
The buyer makes a drawdown request to the funder (one drawdown request for one amount).
The funds are paid to the platform (which includes its own dedicated legal entity) and the platform then pays the suppliers (the banks do not).
On the invoice settlement date, the buyer settles all the invoices in bulk to the funder who deducts his principal and interest and forwards any balance to the platform.
For banks wanting a platform solution, Prima can also sit between the buyer and the bank in the conventional way, although this would require the bank likely to have to on-board Prima as a platform.
Who needs this solution?
Our solution is relevant to all existing SCF banks and all banks who would like their own SCF offering as a lead.
Existing SCF banks with their own SCF products can extend those products easily by adding our capabilities on top. Our type of SCF is not competitive with the traditional SCF product and can be used to extend existing programs where credit appetite permits.
Banks who want to create their own SCF capability should look no further. With minimum effort and no requirement to on-board or integrate our system - SCF products can be immediately offered to corporate clients, supported by existing and standard back office and compliance processes.