What is ITFA?

ITFA is a global community covering the broad trade finance market both in terms of specialisms and geographical location. It operates at multiple levels: personal, professional and product-wise.

ITFA is run by a voluntary board consisting of 11 board members, each of which represent regions, or are in charge of technical areas, such as insurance, market practice or fintech. Our most recent addition is a board member to represent the Americas.

ITFA currently has more than 300 members located in over 50 different countries.

What are the key ITFA updates this year?

We have become very active over the last few years; specifically we have launched a number of strategic initiatives, and established more working groups to dig into areas of market concern. We will continue to engage our members so that we are dealing squarely with the problems that matter to them most.

A few of the key ITFA updates in 2020 involve fintech. The first is the Trade Finance Distribution Initiative (TFDI), which we’re going to ensure contributes to the wider industry. The other is the Digital Negotiable Instruments Initiative (DNI), where the issue is less technical and more legal in nature, so we’re advocating for legal changes and have provided interim solutions. We have recently announced the formation of a new technology-centric advocacy task force: The Technology Experts for Regulatory Action (TERA).

During the year, our Insurance Committee has been very active in lobbying in the interests of our members, mainly regarding the implementation of the recent changes to Basel III into European law (CRR and CRD) and have prepared a briefing note.

Another project we are excited about is our structured letters of credit whitepaper which we will be producing later this year.

We are also looking at LIBOR discontinuation.

What are the key COVID related initiatives you’ve worked on and how can we effectively ‘turn trade on’ as we head into recovery?

The most important COVID related initiative is definitely the E-signatures paper which ITFA released back in April.  We had a lot of enquiries in the first couple of weeks of COVID on e-signatures, with issues around operational feasibility or efficiency being front and centre in getting  deals over the line. We have since published our guidance on digital signatures, which people have found very helpful. Many members have thanked us for helping them keep their businesses going with this advice which is very heartening.

Digitalisation has also been an important topic, not only for trade documents, such as letters of credit, but also for practical day-to-day operations, with people now working from home. So we have been focussing on these more operational areas.

Another area we have focussed our attention on is insurance. Members need to know the status of the insurance market given that some banks have closed their lines and are re-evaluating their portfolios.  ITFA has led another industry wide initiative to draw the attention of governments and regulators to the importance of the continuous support of all the different insurance tools in times of crisis. In the US, we are working with brokers to convince the US Fed to provide backing for trade credit insurance.

Key Dates and Projects for 2020

  • Webinars – as many of you have seen, ITFA is organising weekly educational webinars on various areas and topics; fintech, insurance, legal and regulatory, regional etc. And we are pleased to  see that all our webinars were well attended, with positive feedback from many registrants.
  • Conference – regrettably, our annual conference which was to be held in Singapore this coming September, is being postponed. Our priority at the moment is health and safety, so once it is safe for our members to travel, we will announce details of an annual conference hopefully early in 2021. An AGM will be held electronically in October.
  • Release of Whitepaper – the ITFA market practice committee is working hard to release a whitepaper on Structured Letters of Credit – watch this space!

Find out all of the latest updates in trade and credit insurance in our latest edition of Trade Finance Talks, here.

Now launched! Summer Edition 2020

Trade Finance Global’s latest edition of Trade Finance Talks is now out!

This summer 2020 edition, entitled ‘Coronavirus & The Fourth Industrial Revolution’, is available for free online, covering the latest in trade, export credit insurance, receivables and supply chain, with special features on fintech and digitisation.