Small businesses “simply want working capital. They want to know how much, how soon and what it will cost,” says Martin McCann, CEO and Co-Founder of Trade Ledger. As the Australian company establishes itself in Europe, Martin talks with FinTECHTalents about bringing the open banking revolution to corporate banking, overcoming the barriers of Excel spreadsheets with machine learning, AI and bots and plans to bring the winner of their upcoming ‘Code Challenge’ to Sydney.
Trade Ledger was founded in 2016 – Why, what problem were you solving?
The single biggest reason businesses fail is a lack of adequate funding – globally this equates to an under supply of credit of somewhere in the region of £1.2 trillion. This is the problem we are trying to resolve.
Advancements in technology are rapidly changing the way business’s trade, whether its sending invoices, receiving payments, managing cashflow or simply interacting with your bank. We’re on a global mission to create the world’s most versatile banking platform which uses data, analytics & technology to help banks, businesses & economies access the resources that they need to thrive.
Why do you think supply chain finance, credit and lending has been slow on the innovation front – compared to other areas of financial services?
In some ways we’ve been waiting for the corporate market to catch up to consumer space, but regulation has now started to really accelerate the cadence at which banks are innovating. In recent years, a number of challenger banks in the UK and around the globe have appeared who are using technology, an innate understanding of the customer or simply jumping into underserved markets to create highly profitable innovative business propositions and new market niches.
Traditionally, this is a market dominated by the large incumbent banks, but these banks have a number of significant barriers to overcome before they can consider joining this new wave of challengers:
- Technology – This sounds obvious but many of the processes we work with in banks are still hosted on excel spreadsheets – this couldn’t be further from an innovation platform! On average 6 different systems are used to onboard new customers – with Trade Ledger, you only need one!
- Organisation – Fast decisions are virtually impossible in a large organisation, which make rapid transformation extremely difficult to implement and many people are naturally averse to change.
- Regulation – To ensure the stability of our economic system, banks have to comply with a bewildering array of compliance procedures. The sheer volume of analysis and consultation required for even minor process changes is staggering.
- Competition – For many years the major players have had very little in the way of competition. As challenger banks and fintechs start the great unbundling of banking products, banks will see an ever-increasing threat from competition. Not to mention the still unknown intentions of the ‘Big 4’ global tech companies in financial services.
Who uses Trade Ledger?
Any business wanting to use the very latest technology to solve problems in banking can use Trade Ledger. We have specialised in building propositions for the lending sector over the last few years, but our infrastructure is ideal for any corporate banking innovation, such as open banking and PSD2 new services opportunities. We help our customers solve even the most challenging problems in corporate banking. The new world of banking is about connected platform eco-systems and we plan to be at the centre of this movement for our clients.
Your solution in built on machine learning and robotics, among other technologies – Why these technologies and how do they enable Trade Ledger to provide a platform that allows banks to automate the entire credit assessment process, assess SME supply chain data in real-time, and calculate changing credit risk?
Trade Ledger is fundamentally an enterprise deep tech company. Our background is building the world’s most sophisticated software applications for the world’s biggest companies. The unique insight that provides has informed our view on how to build high-quality, innovation solutions for corporate banking. We only deploy tech that is enterprise scale ready. For example, many people assume we are a blockchain company. We don’t currently use blockchain because the best blockchain stacks in the world can only support tens of transactions a second. Trade Ledger has already been tested at hundreds of customer transactions per second.
Our industry knowledge enables us to select the emerging tech just as it becomes scalable and deployable at massive scale in banks globally. That is why our road map is currently focused on API’s, Analytics, Machine Learning, and bots. These technologies also remove the constraints of previously manual credit processing and enable us to reimagine business credit for our customers. Trade Ledger has better, customer consented, digital data, in real-time than any other platform in use globally today. We manage risk in real-time, making zero expected loss ratios on credit possible.
We work with banks and other lenders to redefine a new digital service concept for their operations, based on leveraging this incredible asset and focused on customer experience. No SME wants to sit and figure out if they need invoice discounting, supply chain finance, overdrafts or something else. They simply want working capital. They want to know how much, how soon and what it will cost.
The company was founded in Australia – how has product been developed to scale globally?
The platform has always been conceived from day zero to scale globally. Both myself and Matt, my co-founder have worked in the enterprise global software for our entire careers so we know how to build scalable, multi-tenanted, cloud native technology – that’s the “easy” bit! It was multi-currency and multi-language capable from the beginning. We can deploy our platform via our continuous delivery DevOps processes in a new country in less than four hours. We have taken advantage of the advances in cloud technology and built the most modern, well architected and global platform we could think of.
The more challenging scalability issues are around building a world class organisation that works seamlessly across border and time zones to deliver something ground breaking. This year has seen the launch of our European innovation labs in London which complements our existing Sydney labs and over the next six to 12 months we will look to spread across the EU and into the Americas to establish a truly 24/7 development and delivery capability.
Finding the right talent in each of these regions is going to be one of our biggest challenges but we truly believe that finding the right talent is more important than filling a role so we’re taking our time to find the right partners, like FinTECHTalents, to help us discover the next generation of coding superstars!
You are running a Code Challenge as part of FinTECHTalents – tell us about it.
We’ve partnered with FinTECHTalents to launch our Code Challenge which is focused on finding some of the best coding talent to help us build out a new part of our platform. Trade Ledger isn’t just about solving problems in banking, we’re passionate and committed to solving problems faced by the entire industry and developing future talent is something we are taking very seriously. Our Code Challenge in partnership with FinTECHTalents is just the first in a long line of activities we are planning over the next few years to help discover, develop and nurture the very best engineering talent.
The winner gets to head across to Australia to train with our Sydney innovation team and the chance of a permanent position at Trade Ledger, so we’re excited about who we’ll find.
You may have heard about our ongoing FinTECHTalents Spotify Playlist – What would you like to add?
Daft Punk – ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’