Cloud computing can accelerate the recovery of trade finance, enabling banks to build a strong architecture for maximizing profitability by making such services more affordable and accessible to customers.
• Cognizant 20-20 InsightsHow Cloud Computing ImpactsTrade Finance Executive Summary offer dedicated solutions with rigorous security controls, freeing both banks and customers from As worldwide trade gradually recovers, the expensive IT investments.2 financial climate enablers remain challeng- ing. Affordability, accessibility and adherence Trade Finance Industry Players to newer, stricter Basel regulations stand as unabated hurdles in the path to rapid recovery of Trade finance is already an extremely mature trade finance.1 According to a survey conducted industry, with numerous incumbent players. All of by International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in these players are impacted directly or indirectly 2010, a total of about 42.9 million transactions with the kind of technology prevalent in the trade were registered, representing a 5.81% increase market. The players and the impact of technology over 2009 — a slight gain after the previous year’s on them can be classified as the following: fall. • Importers (Buy Side): These players have the Technological innovations are bound to play a need to buy goods or services from a seller in a crucial role in accelerating the recovery process different country. Importers use trade finance through the streamlining of front-end to back-end instruments from their respective banks processes, enabling trade finance institutions to for ensuring the timely delivery and quality offer customized, low cost, value-added solutions of goods or services against the payments that meet the requirements of geographically made. They expect a fast flow of documents diverse customer segments. and their verification to save demurrage costs and standing charges. The higher the Straight This paper discusses a key technological advance- Through Processing (STP) rate in a transaction, ment, cloud computing, which is already making the better it is for the importer. Communica- inroads at leading trade finance software players. tion needs to be efficiently managed between This development enables a bank to build a the bank and the importer. strong trade finance architecture for maximizing profitability, a goal which starts with making • Exporters: These players form the sell side of the trade finance supply chain. When selling such services more affordable and accessible to goods or services to a party in a different customers. country, the sellers want to mitigate the default (non-payment) risk of the buyer. Using trade Within trade finance and other corporate trans- finance instruments, a seller ensures timely action banking services, financial institutions are payment for goods or services delivered per moving ahead to reap the benefits from lower-cost the trade agreement. The exporter’s finances private cloud services. These cloud services cognizant 20-20 insights | november 2011
Cloud Computing’s Full Gamut Present Day Cloud Computing Standards Cloud Computing: Infrastructure: Leveraging third-party computing messaging, network, queuing capability over the network to Computing cut costs, increase scale, improve Computing Fabric agility, and access best practices Virtual Instances Storage Block Storage Keyed Storage Open APIs: identify technical domain-specificFigure 1 can be greatly affected by the STP rates, the technological change and adapt accordingly to time required for document verification and the needs of their clients. the speed of communication with the bank. • Product Companies: These are the players• Banks: Financial institutions play a major role that develop specialized technology products in trade finance business. They provide various to facilitate trade finance processing for financial instruments to mitigate the risk banks. Misys, Surecomp and China Systems arising out of a nonpayment in an internation- are examples of companies that have al trade transaction. Adoption and upgrade of developed specialized technology products technology is of utmost importance for a bank’s for trade finance processing that incorporate trade business as it is often the deciding factor the industry’s best business practices. These for the customer in choosing a trade finance players must continuously upgrade their bank. Banks need systems running on robust products to adjust to ongoing, industry-wide infrastructure, the latest technology, the ability technological transformation. to accommodate constant regulatory changes and the industry’s best practices. • Outsourcing Banks: These are the banks that have built their own trade finance processing• Finance Providers: This role is primarily systems on a large scale and provide the facility assumed by banks. Exporters require financing to smaller banks to leverage these services. The for procuring raw materials for fulfilling the smaller banks generally prefer to outsource import orders. Similarly, importers may require their technology-intensive trade processing financing to pay for goods being imported. to larger banks or avail themselves of these Financing is an extremely crucial activity in services through white labeling. An example of the trade finance area and helps the parties such outsourcing is MaxTrad, a customer inter- in maintaining a healthy cash flow. Technology facing trade solution by Royal Bank of Scotland can play a vital role in enabling the financiers (RBS). Within the ever-changing technological to make quicker and better decisions with landscape, smaller banks rely on larger banks regard to finance disbursements. to keep abreast of new developments.• Technology Vendors: These companies play a Technology Initiatives for major role in providing customized technology Trade Finance services and solutions as per the requirements of banks and corporate customers. Technology Following the steep downturn in 2008-2009, the vendors also provide specialized systems main- trade finance industry has made a recovery. The tenance, upgrade and support to the banks. outlook for the year 2011, despite the uncertain They can quickly absorb any industry-wide global economy, is positive, with increasing cognizant 20-20 insights 2
Trade Finance Market Players Technology Layer Product Companies Banking Layer (Misys, China Systems, Trade Finance Surecomp, etc.) Banks Outsourcing Corporate Layer Banks Finance Technology Providers Importer/Buyer Exporter/Seller Vendors Inter-Bank (IBM, Accenture, organizations Cognizant, etc.) (SWIFT/Regulatory bodies)Figure 2demand for traditional trade finance instruments. the entire trade finance operations lifecycle.By choosing the right IT platform for themselves These solutions are based on the latest technol-and their customers, banks can more effectively ogies like service-oriented architecture (SOA),profit from the ongoing recovery by increasing Web services standards and XML, which provideSTP rates for their transactions and increasing the control and agility for achieving efficientthe affordability and availability of trade finance and fast trade transactional processing capa-by reducing the cost and time related to manual bilities. These solutions also provide interfacesprocessing. Over the years, numerous technologi- to bank’s internal functions like limits and lia-cal innovations have emerged in the trade finance bilities checking, document verification, letterindustry. The more prominent developments are generation, financing options, and generationas follows. of Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) messages as well• Front-end Technology: Trade portals provide as postings to the required core banking and corporate customers with an innovative Web accounting systems. browser-based approach for online requisition of business requests. It benefits the bank and • Interbank Technologies: Global interbank societies led by SWIFT have been actively its trade services or international guarantee involved in evolving innovative approaches teams by providing a personalized and such as Trade Services Utility (TSU) for open dedicated front end to their back-office users, accounts transactional datasets matching, to sales teams and administrators to review enable high STP rates in fast-paced interbank and process customer requests.3 Front-end transactional flows. . customer portals leverage technology to enable faster processing of trade finance appli- Trade Finance Trends cations and eventually contribute to achieving higher STP rates. This is made possible by ICC’s trade finance survey published in March 2011 using advanced XML techniques which map reveals the following trends regarding the afford- information fields of the customer’s online ability of trade finance products and services:4 application directly with the bank’s back-end trade processing system, thus reducing the • The cost of trade finance remains high in many parts of Asia and Latin America. need for manual input.• Back-office Technology: Trade finance back- • Traders in many low-income countries still have considerable difficulty accessing trade office solutions provide advanced work-flow finance at an affordable price, particularly for management that enables the streamlining of import finance. cognizant 20-20 insights 3
Figure 3 shows the reasons cited by banks for 2. Insufficient turnaround time. losing corporate business in the wholesale 3. High interest rates and fees (high cost). banking segment.5 4. Inadequate products and services. Bank’s View of Corporate 5. Insufficient geographic coverage and reach. Banking’s Decline 6. Inconsistent customer service. Based on SWIFT message figures published by Percent of Banks Responding ICC in March 2011, approximately 43 million trade Inadequate Products & Services 62% finance messages were transmitted over the SWIFT network in 2010 (see Figure 5). Assuming Interest Rates & Fees 57% that the majority of these are contributed by Ease of Access to Services 400 prominent banks worldwide, we deduce that & Information (channels) 57% major banks on an average issue and advise close Insufficient 56% to 10,000 trade finance products such as Letters Turnaround Time of Credit (LCs), guarantees and collections Insufficient Geographic per month. Coverage & Reach 56% Percent of Banks Responding Inadequate Products Financial Weakness 25% 62% SWIFT Trade Traffic Worldwide & Services Interest Rates & Fees 57% 50 Source: Market Intelligence Report, Ease of Access to Services Finextra/Pegasystems, 2010 & Information (channels) 57% 40 Figure 3 Percent of Corporates Responding Insufficient Ease of access to Turnaround Time services & Information (channels) 46% 56% 30 Insufficient Geographic Similarly, Inconsistent& Reach cite the following corporations reasons Coverage Customer Service 46% 56% 20 for reducing business with a bank. 6 Financial Weakness 23% Financial Weakness 25% 10 Company View of Corporate Interset Rates and Fees 23% Banking’s Decline Insufficient Turnaround Time 15% 0 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Insufficient Geographic Reach 0% Total growth 5.31% Percent of Corporates RespondingInadequate Products & Services 0% Cat 7 growth 8.24% Ease of access to services 46% & Information (channels) Cat 4 growht -0.79% Inconsistent 46% Customer Service Financial Weakness Note: Measured in number of messages, 23% 2003 – 20107 Source: ICC Interset Rates and Fees 23% Figure 5 Insufficient Turnaround Time 15% Insufficient Geographic Reach 0% Leveraging the Cloud Inadequate Products & Services Cloud computing supplies what IT always needs: 0% a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel or licensing new software. Source: Market Intelligence Report, Cloud computing encompasses any subscription- Finextra/Pegasystems, 2010 based or pay-per-use service that, in real time Figure 4 over the Internet, extends IT’s existing capabili- ties.8 Distilling these data points, the following issues Existing bank-supplied trade finance solutions are the primary reasons for the decline of the and services are hosted on infrastructure wholesale banking industry: consisting of data centers that are monitored and 1. Ease of access to services and information maintained by financial institutions themselves (channels). around the clock and incur immense investment cognizant 20-20 insights 4
of time and money. Contrary to this, content a flexible capacity model that would be inflatedon the public domain is accessible commonly during peak periods and decreased during the offon the Internet without the need to maintain season, thereby scaling costs to service demand.the underlying hosting infrastructure which ismanaged by content providers (for example, Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS cloudsGoogle Docs managed by Google). provide a platform-based approach to developing or customizing business applications. A platformThis provides an attractive opportunity for can be comprised of a development environment,banks to reduce or eliminate associated costs a database management suite, a hosting service,of provisioning and maintaining these applica- etc. From an international trade perspective, appli-tions “in-house.” What is crucially required is the cations such as customer portals, trade transac-guarantee from cloud service providers of service tional processing solutions and trade reportingdelivery and data protection.9 Typically, this systems can be developed in any programmingguarantee can be provided through Service Level platform hosted on a PaaS layer.Agreements (SLAs) and data protection NDAs Software as a Service (SaaS): This type ofbrokered between the providers and consumers. cloud computing delivers applications throughCloud Capabilities for Trade Finance a thin client, generally a standard Web browser, to thousands of customers using a multi-tenantCloud computing has gained momentum and architecture. From a trade finance perspective,prominence due to the immense cost saving especially for small players, SaaS can be leveragedpotential that it promises for businesses. Based to host a bank’s entire trade finance system onon discussions with various vendors, analysts and cloud resources provided by a trusted partner.IT customers, the following is a rough breakdownof what cloud computing can offer and how can it Cloud Computing for Trade Financebenefit the trade finance industry. The trade finance processing system encompass-Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This layer es a customer interfacing trade portal, back-of-of cloud computing provides flexible on-demand fice transactional trade processing system, SWIFTstorage space and virtual computing resources. transmission system, transactional data transfor-The range of resources typically encompasses mation and communication system and reportingon-demand memory management, computation- system. In a combined manner, trade financeal power and secondary storage available from systems form a crucial part of corporate bankinga virtual resource pool over a network on a pay- services for banks or financial institutions. Such aper-use basis. In the long run, IaaS may emerge trade finance system must be extremely robust,as a highly cost-effective alternative to data scalable, secure, automated and compliantcenters for hosting back-office trade transaction- with ICC regulations and Basel II norms. If suchal processing. The cost advantage emerges from a system is to be based on a cloud computing platform, the onus of managing it shifts partly to the cloud suppliers who must have expertiseCloud Computing Ecosystem in handling technological platforms and a great sense of responsibility to address business-criti- cal issues. Software-as-a-Service Market Trade Finance System Within a Cloud 2012 Market: $21B (20% CAGR) Maturity We believe the ecosystem must have the following Platform-as-a-Service components (see Figure 7, next page). Value 2012 Market: $9B Add (70% CAGR) Service provider: A cloud vendor providing appli- cation hosting, data center management, virtual Gross Infrastructure-as- Margin databases, virtual server processing capabilities a-Service 2012 Market: $2B and storage and business support. (30% CAGR) On the bank’s side, it will include trade finance applications, such as: • Customer portals.Source: AMR, Gartner, IDCFigure 6 • Back-office trade processing system. cognizant 20-20 insights 5
Components of a Cloud-based Trade Finance Ecosystem SaaS Layer (Business Applications) Trade Finance Environment Customer Bank’s SWIFT Gateway Portal Trade finance processing system Corporate Customer Reports and Limits Banks’ Back-end Systems Batch extracts management Processing system system Core Banking System Accounting System Bank User PaaS Layer (Development / Support Platform) Database Services Support Platforms Application Development OS Google apps Web Services Amazon EC2 Windows Azure Technical User Application development/business IaaS Layer (Infrastructure) support team, etc. Auto Scale Auto recover Monitor Resource Mgmt Physical Storage Processing Security Network Power Back-up and recovery Management SAN 1 Firewall CPU 1 SAN 2 Anti Virus CPU 2 Support User Server administrators and DBAs, etc. These are resourced by the cloud provider.Figure 7• Limits and liabilities management system. tational power upgrades).• Reporting and extracts system. • Anti-virus upgrade costs reduction (fully managed by cloud service providers).• Interface to SWIFT gateway. • Disaster recovery and backup centers cost• Interface between customer portal and back- reduction (complete management of backups, office trade system. recovery and disaster management by cloudPay-per-use Model: The services should be service providers over the long term).available on a contractual basis, with a minimumnumber of users and resources agreed upon. Strategic benefits:The system shall provide the flexibility to auto- • Increased affordability through reducedmatically allocate resources for an increased costs for banks trickling down to reduction ofnumber of users during peak periods. The cloud charges and fees on trade instruments.service provider should charge a fixed minimalprice for off-peak periods with reduced transac- • Focus shift to business growth: Management can focus on growing the business and leave ITtional processing and usage. Periods of increased management to providers.activity and usage shall be charged on a “pay-per-use” model over and above the required threshold • Easy widespread availability and accessibil-of users as agreed to in the contract. ity through the cloud without the need of huge installations.A pay-per-use model includes the following. • Decreased turnaround time of transactionsCost: with high STP rates.• Periodic license upgrade costs elimination Key challenges and concerns include: for essential software and installations (fully managed by cloud service providers). • Data integrity, control issues, regulations, security and risk are the biggest concerns• Infrastructure management cost reduction regarding cloud computing. According to a (database upgrades, server upgrades, compu- survey of banking executives conducted by cognizant 20-20 insights 6
independent research firm TechMarketView in Conclusion conjunction with core banking systems provider Cloud computing has great potential to deliver Temenos, 44% of bank executives see the lack massive cost savings to the slowly recovering trade of data security as a significant barrier to the finance industry. The benefits can be apportioned adoption of cloud computing.10 Furthermore, to increase affordability by reducing costs and only 15% of respondents are currently running increasing accessibility to trade finance solutions cloud applications. The survey revealed that for both banks and corporate customers. Studies 80% of respondents could not name a leader have shown that a full-fledged cloud migration of cloud computing in the banking sector. can help reduce processing costs by 80% to• Access of Internet/WAN is another critical 90%.11 This cost reduction would then filter down concern, especially for peak times of operation. to reduce the cost of trade finance transaction- Cost of bandwidth and other services will be al charges and fees levied by the banks, thus higher, depending on the type of application increasing affordability and yielding increased used and data intensity. usage and growth for corporate customers.• Disaster recovery and system failure is an important concern due to the potential for a “single point of failure” that will affect multiple systems concurrently.Footnotes1 ICC Trade finance survey findings, April 2011 http://www.ft.lk/2011/03/30/global-trade-recovery-takes-uneven-course-says-icc-survey/2 UK Reuters, March 29, 2011 http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/03/29/idUS132070+29-Mar-2011+BW201103293 Misys Trade portal http://www.misys.com/banking/markets/trade_services-trade_portal.html4 ICC Trade Finance survey published Mar 20115 Source: Finextra/Pegasystems Corporate Banking Customer Satisfaction Survey 2010 http://www.pega.com//sites/default/files/Corporate_Banking_Customer_Satisfaction_Survey_2010.pdf6 Source: Finextra/Pegasystems Corporate Banking Customer Satisfaction Survey 2010 http://www.pega.com//sites/default/files/Corporate_Banking_Customer_Satisfaction_Survey_2010.pdf7 ICC Global survey on trade and finance, 20118 What cloud computing really means http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/what-cloud-computing-really-means-0319 R. Buyya, et al., Cloud computing and emerging IT platforms: Vision, hype, and reality for delivering computing as the 5th utility, Future Generation Computer Systems (2009)10 M2 Publishing – Banks skeptical on cloud computing, TechMarketView and Temenos survey reveals http://www.m2.com/m2/web/story.php/200944CF0204B268F08F802575FA0037035C11 To Move or Not To Move: The Economics of Cloud Computing, March 2011 http://www.cse.psu.edu/research/publications/tech-reports/2011/cse-11-002.pdf cognizant 20-20 insights 7