HSBC and IBM to Digitize Global Trade

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HSBC, the world’s leading trade finance bank, is working with IBM to develop a cognitive intelligence solution combining optical character recognition with advanced robotics to make global trade safer and more efficient for thousands of businesses.

HSBC’s Global Trade and Receivables Finance (GTRF) team facilitates over US$500 billion of documentary trade for customers every year, and in doing so must manually review and process up to 100 million pages of documents, ranging from invoices to packing lists and insurance certificates.

The new solution uses IBM’s advanced analytics technology, including intelligent segmentation and text analytics, to identify, digitize and extract key data within these documents before feeding it into the bank’s transaction processing systems; boosting accuracy whilst freeing up staff for more value-adding activities.

Natalie Blyth, HSBC’s Global Head of GTRF, said: “The average trade transaction requires 65 data fields to be extracted from 15 different documents, with 40 pages to be reviewed.

“By digitizing this process, we will make transactions quicker and safer for both buyers and suppliers, leading our industry forwards, and we will reduce compliance risks through an enhanced ability to manage huge volumes of data.”

Roger Welch, Industry (Financial) Expert and Solution Architect for IBM Analytics ECM practice, said: “The problem is how to capture semi-structured documents with highly variant content through an analogue process, and no-one has the perfect answer.

“In our experience, no trade finance solution has come as far or done as much as this new solution.”

HSBC is currently using the technology to analyze English-language import and export bills in several markets in Asia, Europe, the Americas and the MENA region.

The team aims to enhance the solution so it can read a wider range of documents and languages including French, Spanish and Chinese.

Natalie Blyth added: “We are continuously investing in technologies that will improve the way we work for the benefit of our customers and our people.

“HSBC wants to be the leading bank for innovation, and initiatives like this one are key to achieving our goal.”

IBM recently made waves with the blockchain transaction data service after partnering with ocean shipping carrier Pacific International Lines (PIL) and port group PSA International (PSA) — two key players linking Singapore to global trade.

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