Frank Tezzi, vice president of Trade & Supply Chain at CGI, explains how technology can help banks by bringing efficiencies to trade finance.
Global Finance: What are the biggest changes occurring in trade finance, and how is this impacting banks and their customers?
Frank Tezzi: Trade banks today are under continuous financial pressure in terms of growing top-line revenue—competing for stagnant traditional trade volumes and focusing on supply chain growth—while also driving down costs in a traditionally higher-cost industry. Couple this with client expectations of a modern and simplified user experience, as well as the need for rapid deployment of new products, and you can see why banking today is so dependent on technology solutions. We believe that CGI Trade360, which has now been deployed for over 20 years to a strong base of industry-leading clientele, solves many of these challenges, offering continuous system evolution and providing an overall lower total cost of ownership. As a SaaS [software as a service] offering, it allows the bank to focus on growing the business and profit margin while CGI manages the technology. Our team works closely with our client banks and industry leaders to ensure our solution is positioned to deliver the benefits required to meet the banks’ objectives today and into the future.
GF: How are application program interfaces helping to reshape trade finance?
Tezzi: APIs are enabling technology to achieve true end-to-end digitization across all participants in trade transactions. Modern design patterns, particularly REST [representational state transfer architectural style] as deployed in our CGI Trade360 application, allow banks to interact at a system-to-system level in real time without massive integration projects. In an era where we are seeing a proliferation of new networks which connect trade players in a web ecosystem, the ability to seamlessly and quickly connect to new platforms is critical, and we view APIs as the future of the trade industry as a result. Overall, APIs facilitate the growth of the bank’s value proposition to the market at a lower integration cost and with expedited speed to market.
GF: What other technologies are helping to improve trade finance?
Tezzi: In addition to API management and the broader trade ecosystem, we view intelligent automation, blockchain/DLT [distributed ledger technology], digital signature services and ESG [environmental, social, and governance] solutions as critical. CGI has been working in all these areas to determine how fully integrated solutions can help service our clients and solve real problems and provide new product opportunities. That said, in order to even consider these technology components, it is crucial for banks to modernize their front-end and back-end platforms. While bolting on a new offering may seem appealing, in the long term it is cost prohibitive and limits the value of the proposition. Only banks that develop a modern end-to-end offering for their customers will continue to be able to thrive and compete in the current market.
GF: How can technology improve both business efficiency and continuity?
Tezzi: We’re very proud of the work we performed this past year in the area of intelligent automation, incorporating additional efficiency into trade processing. This, combined with our existing digital workflow, means that banks using the CGI Trade360 platform can anticipate significantly reduced operational effort to support the same level of trade transaction activity. We are also work closely with our banks to incorporate automation wherever possible into trade, ensuring that transactions are handled straight through, where possible, whether received from an external channel or our portal. As we continue to deal with the tumultuous nature of the pandemic, banks must utilize platforms that allow digital workflows from start to finish. The past two years have been a challenge in the industry, but CGI Trade360 is uniquely positioned to allow our customers to expand their business and thrive.