Excellence Awards 2017 - Best Trade Bank for SMEs: HSBC

Awards | 1 August 2017


The frequently-cited US$1.6trn trade finance gap identified by the Asia Development Bank (ADB) in its 2016 Trade Finance Gaps Survey is not the full story - many forget (or are unaware) the survey also revealed that SMEs are "the only client segment that is more likely to have a transaction rejected than supported".

Due to the perceived risks associated with supporting small businesses, their need for a tailored and time-consuming structure, and the relentless pressure from regulation and compliance, many financial institutions have shied away from SMEs and ended up prioritising larger and more profitable clients (ADBs report found only 34% of multinationals had a transaction rejected compared to 56% of SMEs).

In order to cater to this highly fragmented market sector, HSBC has turned to technology to find new ways to provide for the SMEs.

Following a successful pilot in the UK, the bank rolled out its 'LinkScreen' platform in Mexico and the US in May 2017, with France, Canada, and Hong Kong expected to join in September.

LinkScreen allows clients to meet with their banking representative on a virtual platform to complete trade finance, receivables finance and business loan applications remotely. The bank has reported that applications have been completed and access to funds granted within 48 hours.

"We're investing in digital innovations to make global trade simpler, safer and more efficient for our customers and leveraging technology to help us engage with clients, support their growth ambitions and connect them to opportunities. We're delighted that our efforts have been recognised with this award," said John Dial, senior manager, global trade and receivables finance, Europe.

HSBC is also one of seven banks involved in the Digital Trade Chain consortium, which is developing a blockchain-based trade finance platform aimed specifically at SMEs. The bank has also launched a 'Connections Hub', which is designed to act as a quasi-social network for traders. Its biggest selling point is that buyers and sellers are all trusted customers of HSBC.

Runners up: Commerzbank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (10 banks were nominated).

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