Author: Gordon Platt



Western Europe
Royal Bank of Scotland
Asia Pacific
Standard Chartered Bank
Central & Eastern Europe
Middle East
Arab Bank
Standard Bank


With its in-country trade capabilities in 81 countries, Citi handles more than two million international trade transactions a year. The bank has partnerships with 65 export credit agencies. Its supply-chain finance offering supports more than $40 billion of annual payment flows. In the Americas, Citi has trade experts stationed throughout the US, Canada and Latin America. A regional processing center in Tampa, Florida, supports trade transactions for Citi’s branches in 23 countries in Latin America. The bank has significant market shares for trade products in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. It offers supplier-finance programs in Latin America to more than 8,500 suppliers in 16 countries. The US Ex-Im Bank provides a partial risk guarantee to cover receivables purchased under a Citi supplier-finance program. In Latin America last year, Citi issued the first letter of credit denominated in Chinese renminbi. It has made payments in renminbi for its clients in Latin America since 2011. Citi also provides a wide range of trade services to financial institutions, including white-labeled products. Citi founded a multibank global trade program in 2010 that gives participating banks the ability to originate and fund trade assets through the structured issuance of asset-backed securities and commercial paper. The program is helping banks to continue to offer trade finance in a new regulatory environment, where the implementation of the Basel III capital rules is making it more difficult to compete.

WESTERN EUROPE: Royal Bank of Scotland

Royal Bank of Scotland’s trade finance focus starts with the UK and extends to the 38 countries that are most important to its clients. In its home market, RBS partnered with asset finance company Lombard to introduce an innovative capital-import finance product that enables companies to import plant and equipment to expand their business. RBS has executed large guarantees in Europe for multinational companies with complex supply chains. It is the leading UK bank to provide deals backed by the country’s Export Finance department. A new China desk in London helps Chinese companies expand internationally and helps European companies do business with China. In addition to its offshore renminbi operations in Hong Kong and Singapore, The Royal Bank of Scotland owns a locally incorporated leasing company, RBS China, on the mainland, as well as stakes in joint-venture companies. RBS employs more than 1,500 trade staff globally. It offers sector-specific trade services in the retail and consumer businesses, petrochemicals, telecoms, manufacturing, automotive, and metals and mining industries. More than 1,200 suppliers worldwide use the bank’s MaxTrad supply-chain finance portal to sell their receivables to RBS. Amid growing demand from corporates for alternative sources of liquidity in a tightening credit environment, The Royal Bank Of Scotland offers innovative supply-chain finance solutions. The bank’s e-invoicing service facilitates the secure exchange of documents online between buyers and suppliers. By integrating supply chain finance with e-invoicing, RBS has reduced invoice approval times and enabled straight-through processing for its clients.


Nordea has a leading market share in the Nordic region of more than 38%, on average, for letters of credit and trade collections, not including guarantees. It handles more than 6,000 Nordic trade transactions a month across documentary credits, collections and guarantees. It has the largest distribution network in the Nordic and Baltic regions, with approximately 1,000 locations. Nordea’s trade finance business uses a global operating model, with the same system for processing transactions and serving customers worldwide. It focuses on delivering consistently high-quality services. In addition to the Nordic and Baltic regions, Nordea has trade finance units in Central and Eastern Europe, North America and Asia. Nordea is continuously developing its trade finance processes in close cooperation with its customers. For example, it created a customized procedure for the electronic presentation of documents under export documentary credits. The bank also supports the use of Swift corporate-to-bank messaging for trade finance. Its e-invoicing solution demonstrates that Swift can bridge bank and nonbank service providers across borders.


UniCredit is a market leader in Central and Eastern Europe, where it is one of the biggest international banking groups. The Italian bank’s network of more than 4,000 correspondent banks gives it a global reach that extends well beyond the 50 countries in which it has a direct presence. UniCredit’s global transaction banking unit employs more than 2,000 people. Its clearing gateway throughout Europe offers a single point of entry for letters of credit and guarantees related to beneficiaries based in all the countries where it operates. The Central and Eastern European region is still strongly dependent on Western Europe for trade and investments, particularly from Germany and Italy. The bank’s @GlobalTrade offering enables corporate clients to handle guarantees and letters of credit with all their banking partners through a single platform tailored for large corporations with significant volumes. Suppliers are able to sell invoices through the bank’s trade purchase program at a discount. This enables buyers to extend their average days payable outstanding (DPO), reducing the need for working capital. UniCredit has also been a leader in the adoption of the bank payment obligation (BPO), which has the characteristics of an electronic letter of credit payment instrument and fits well with supply chain financing.

ASIA-PACIFIC: Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered has an extensive Asian presence, covering 20 countries with more than 1,000 branches. Growing trade flows and the dominance of open-account transactions are placing a greater emphasis on supply chain finance, an area in which Standard Chartered excels. Standard Chartered has been a leader in the rapidly expanding renminbi business. It was the first foreign bank to obtain a settlement and agency bank license in China. It facilitated the first two-way (payments and collections) renminbi cross-border trade settlement, as well as the first domestic trade in Hong Kong settled in renminbi. It offered the first renminbi bid bond in Malaysia, which was the first renminbi guarantee in the region. Standard Chartered has 99 branches across India, where its trade volumes have continued to grow despite slowing GDP growth and weakening trade flows. It is a leading provider of strategic and comprehensive working-capital solutions. The bank takes a holistic view of the business model and working-capital cycle of its clients. Its vendor prepay program integrates clients’ accounts payable systems to help their recommended suppliers gain access to financing. With Standard Chartered’s structured warehouse finance product, clients can unlock liquidity trapped in their inventory, which is used as collateral to increase funding.


With a network of more than 600 branches and a presence in 30 countries, Arab Bank is able to capture trade flows worldwide. Its local expertise throughout the Middle East and North Africa benefits its clients by helping them to meet their specific trade finance needs. Arab Bank’s relationship managers and product specialists work closely with clients and provide customized services, as well as a wide range of standard offerings. The bank prices its services competitively, taking into account the country risk of each country where it operates, as well as its clients’ overall transaction business, including cash management. Arab Bank’s online cash-management solution has been implemented across the region and includes a trade finance portal. Arab Bank has a centralized trade finance business line at its head office in Amman, Jordan, ensuring that its overall strategy and quality is maintained across the group. Trade is an integral part of the bank’s business development strategy globally. Arab Bank offers a full range of trade finance products to support flows out of and into the region, as well as increasingly among countries within the Middle East.

AFRICA: Standard Bank

Standard Bank, also known as Stanbic in certain markets, is Africa’s biggest bank by assets and earnings. It offers a comprehensive array of trade finance products, including a range of offerings to meet the working capital requirements of its customers. The South African bank has a presence in 18 nations in Africa, where it has 1,250 branches, positioning it strategically to handle its global correspondents’ trade flows. It also operates in 12 countries outside of Africa. The bank’s centralized client service for trade is experienced in document checking and the application of Uniform Customs and Practice (UCP) rules. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is Standard Bank’s largest shareholder. The unique arrangement helps Standard Bank to facilitate growing trade flows between China and Africa and other emerging markets. Standard Bank connects select emerging markets to Africa and to each other, drawing on its expertise in natural resources globally. Its corporate and investment bank also specializes in mining and metals; oil, gas and renewable energy; telecom and media; power and infrastructure; agribusiness; and financial institutions. Standard Bank in London is a member of the London Stock Exchange, the London Bullion Market Association, the London Metal Exchange, the London Platinum and Palladium Market and the New York Mercantile Exchange (Comex division).