Welcome to the TFG TradeTech hub. International trade and trade finance is going through rapid innovation, thanks to the advancement of both developed and brand new technologies. In the TFG TradeTech hub, we focus on how technologies affect the digitalisation of freight and transport, trade and customs and access to finance. TradeTech can help reduce some of the biggest challenges when it comes to paper documents, access to MSME finance and getting goods from A to B would be easier.
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TradeTech – Layers
TradeTech – Frequently Asked Questions
Trade finance technology, often abbreviated as TradeTech, refers to the use of technology, innovation, and software to support and digitally transform the trade finance industry. It is often considered to be a subcategory of the more widely used term, FinTech. TradeTech, which can include several technologies, puts a particular emphasis on the application of technology and software to modernise trade finance.
These technologies include but are not exclusively limited to cloud computing, optical character recognition (OCR), internet of things (IoT), big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, distributed ledger technology (DLT) and application programming interface (API).
TradeTech can be used by any firm in the international trade ecosystem. While TradeTech applications are often developed by large banks or innovative technology companies, the applications themselves are not limited to this demographic.
Many micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), however, are often under the impression that technology is simply not for them and view it as complex and costly. This may be due to the idea that some digital trade technology solutions focus more on trying to explain the technology itself rather than simplifying the explanation and service offering to MSMEs, leading to a lack of audience engagement. Continual efforts to make MSMEs aware of the plethora of opportunities available to them are important. Governments may have a role to play in this respect to raise awareness and provide education for MSMEs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the development and adoption of many TradeTech applications. Largely, these have come about as a result of a lack of physical employee presence at the usual places of business, coupled with the inability to print and transport documents. Operating under “normal” processes has not been an option. To cope, banks have been forced to create or scale up ad hoc digital processes.
Despite this firm-level acceleration, there have also been indications that many banks have not received significant meaningful support from government authorities to facilitate trade on digital terms. Nevertheless, the desperate necessity for paperless workarounds has set the industry on a digital course.
Absolutely. Given the vast amounts of data that exist today, data security must be treated as a top priority and subsequently exists at the heart of nearly every TradeTech application. For some, like distributed ledger technology, the security of data is at the core of their reason for being.
For many firms, using TradeTech applications will go a long way towards boosting their data security. This is because TradeTech providers generally operate internationally. In order to do so effectively, the data security standards that they use to protect consumer data must meet the stringent requirements of every region they operate within. For most end-users, this means that their data will be protected to a standard greater than that legally required in their own jurisdiction.
There is a complex interplay between all of the technologies used in trade. Each technology relies on the capabilities of others to deliver its most powerful benefits. Some of them work to collect and deliver data, others analyse and interpret this data, and still others provide the infrastructure which allows this communication to occur. Take, for example, the role of the internet of things (IoT) in this relationship. IoT devices and sensors on their own provide minimal value. However, when they are combined with the secure transmission capabilities of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and the analytical capabilities of big data analytics tools enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), they are able to deliver meaningful and actionable information.
To name one technology as the most prominent would be like deciding which part of a car is the most important. One could argue the engine, or the brakes, or the tires – but it is safe to agree that the car is just better when it has all of these combined together.
Many of the cumbersome processes that exist in trade today have been developed to allow parties to a transaction to trust the outcome of the transaction even if they do not trust their counterparties. Considering that the counterparties are often on opposite sides of the globe and operating in vastly different legal systems, it has been critical to thoroughly develop robust instruments that both parties trust to facilitate these transactions.
Until recently, the technological tools that could be used simply did not suffice in facilitating this trust – meaning that they were just not good enough to replace the paper processes that were already in place. This led to several decades of technological progress in other industries that effectively bypassed international trade.
Today, however, with advancements in technology such as distributed ledger technology (DLT), it is finally possible to trust digital mechanisms in lieu of their paper counterparts that have been in use for so long.
Most current national regulations do not allow most TradeTech solutions to be widely adopted. This stems from legal concerns, such as the ambiguity of Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP) rules, which do not specify whether digital tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) can be used in lieu of humans. As increased developments and proofs of concept demonstrate the efficiencies and power of TradeTech, policymakers around the globe will be forced to modernise their nation’s policy or sit idly by as the global economy moves on without them.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has already developed a model law that would create an enabling regulatory framework recognizing e-signatures and e-documents – the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR). The UNCITRAL MLETR has already been adopted by 2 countries – the Kingdom of Bahrain and Singapore. Its adoption by the broader global community is critical to the continual development of TradeTech solutions.
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1 | TradeTech – Home
2 | The Role of Technology in Trade
3 | Cloud Computing
4 | Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
5 | Internet of Things (IoT)
6 | Application Programming Interfaces (API)
7 | Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)
8 | Big Data Analytics
9 | Artificial Intelligence (AI)
10 | Quantum Computing
11 | TradeTech Research
12 | 2021 Whitepaper
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