GTR Ventures News

Congrats to Source Sage and iLoan for Winning the Tradetech Showcase at GTR Asia 2019!

This exciting event brought together various start-ups to ‘pitch’ their business models, strategies and activities to a panel of expert judges. Strong emphasis was placed on innovation, efficiency and providing greater access to financing, particularly for those most in need.

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GTR Ventures wins Capital for Good Award at Brands for Good

Brands For Good aims to recognise businesses that not only make a difference, but also commit to being stewards for a positive impact. It honours SMEs across Asia for embodying the principles of Social Responsibility in their business and operations. It was truly a great honour to be apart of such an incredible event, and we look forward to continuing the goal of  providing capital for good!

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Congrats to our portfolio company, iLoan, for winning first place overall in the Disrupt Asia Startup Battle!

GTR Ventures Tradetech Showcase and Afterparty Video Recap

GTR Ventures Tradetech Showcase @GTR Asia 2019

This exciting event brings together various start-ups to ‘pitch’ their business models, strategies and activities to a panel of expert judges. Strong emphasis will be placed on innovation, efficiency and providing greater access to financing, particularly for those most in need.

The confirmed participations for this year’s showcase so far include:

CarbonChain (UK
The CarbonChain platform allows users to track assets directly across global supply chains. Utilising smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, the platform is able to track assets as they move from point of origin to the end customer. The CarbonChain platform has been built from the ground up to be highly scalable across multiple products and industries with opaque & easily manipulated supply chains.
Presenter: Adam Hearne (CEO & Co-Founder)

iLoan (Sri Lanka)
Founded in 2017, iLoan is an emerging fintech company that provides access to working capital for micro and SMEs in South Asian frontier markets. It has developed a proprietary loan aggregation engine and invoice verification protocol using distributed ledger technology to enhance transparency on underlying loan assets for financial institutions. The service enables lenders to reduce invoice fraud, lower processing costs and have enhanced traceability for each transaction.
Presenter: Lakshan De Silva (CEO & Co-Founder)

Obillex (UK)
Obillex is an innovative provider of trade finance solutions, with the goal of aiding SMEs to generate fast liquidity from their receivables. Their platform has been adopted by two major UK city councils and their platform provides the cutting-edge technology, support, and expertise that ensures partners get the most out of their product, as well as access to an extensive network of capital market investors.
Presenter: Harsh Khurana (CEO)

QNX Credit (China)
QNX Credit’s platform changes the traditional way of credit risk analysis and management for SMEs. Founded in 2017, the company aims to become a market leading credit risk underwriting and monitoring agency by deploying insurtech and big data analysis to support SMEs to get easy financing from various financial institutions.
Presenter: Hui Wang (Founder)

Nufin Data (Singapore)
Nufin Data is a fintech trade financing firm founded by Adera Global. With its proprietary cloud-based financing platform, NEMO, that enables connections between buyers and suppliers, Nufin Data offers alternative financing solutions to SMEs through trade related data and trade relationships. The platform was launched in April 2019 and has already funded SMEs in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia with total gross transaction value of $6 million SGD.
Presenter: Denise Ang (Managing Director)  

SourceSage (Singapore)
SourceSage is a venture-backed fintech company founded in early 2015. The SourceSage platform is a plug-and-play fintech platform which aims to allow companies to build marketplaces, payments, financing and logistics gateways. The company’s mission is to digitize and execute transactions in traditional industries which have fragmented procure-sales-to-pay processes. 
Presenter: Jian Min Sim (CEO)

Flowcast (USA)
Flowcast is a VC-backed fintech startup based in Silicon Valley (HQ) and Singapore. Its mission is to help the underserved market gain access to capital through using AI/machine learning and data sources to unlock SME finance. Flowcast’s advanced machine learning platform harnesses untapped complex data to automate credit decisioning. Smartcredit’s proprietary machine learning algorithms can draw on more diverse data types, more detailed, and up-to-date company data to provide credit-decisioning on thin-file, credit invisible SMEs. 
Presenter: Ken So (Founder & CEO)


Our Panel of Expert Judges Include:

Moderator: Ow Kim Kit (Partner at Bird & Bird

Jun Nitta (Co-Head of Financial Services Sector Funds at IFC Asset Management)

Lawrence Loh (Managing Director and Head of Group Business Banking at UOB)

Ricard Marzo (Venture Analyst at Amplifier Lab)

Jasmine Ng (CEO Fintech at Razer)


At the end of the day, the winners in two categories: ‘Most Bankable’ and ‘Most Sustainable’ will be announced.


Tradetech Partner SpotlightAmazon Web Services (AWS) provides startups with the low cost, easy to use infrastructure needed to scale and grow. With the AWS Activate program, startups get access to the resources they need to quickly get started on AWS – including credits, training, and support.

We thank AWS for making available up to US$10,000 of startup promotional credits for this showcase.

Trade Rocks! Drinks and After Party by GTR & GTR Ventures

GTR & GTR Ventures, together with partners and co-sponsors will be co-hosting Trade Rocks! Drinks and After Party at the Monti at Fullerton Pavilion on Wednesday September 4th 2019. 

Trade Rocks! – an exclusive private event organised by GTR and GTR Ventures – is an opportunity for multiple decision makers and professional communities from banking, trade, treasury, capital markets, venture capital, funds, and fintechs  to come together and network in a convivial atmosphere. 

Chat over sunset drinks and enjoy an after party under the stars, while overlooking the Marina Bay waterfront!

Drinks start at 18:00h and Afterparty from 22:00h

Date: 4 September 2019

This event is by invitation only .

Please register here for your early bird tickets!

Our Sponsors

Our Partners

GTR & GTR Ventures Hosts Drinks @TheExchange to Kick Off Summer

GTR and GTR Ventures gathers the banking, trade finance, insurance, trader, fintech and VC communities together for an evening of drinks and networking at The Exchange, Asia Square

Summer drinks on 27 June saw over 100 professionals within the industry attending! Watch this space as GTR Ventures strives to be a pioneer in the digital transformation of areas related to trade, treasury, credit insurance, supply chain, and physical trade. 

Download and view all photos from the events here

Participants include the following companies/institutions: 

  • Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
  • Enterprise Singapore
  • International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • Korea Development Bank
  • Standard Chartered
  • Deutsche Bank 
  • Emirates NDB
  • Euler Hermes
  • Coface
  • NEXI
  • Louis Dreyfus
  • SC Ventures
  • Golden Equator
  • Tryb
  • Eastvine Capital
  • Culum Capital
  • Gozem
  • Plug & Play
  • Huobi

and many more!

Upcoming Announcements & Events

Look out for our announcements in the next few months, including new deals in the pipeline.

Block your calender now for GTR Asia on the 3 and 4 Sep, the world’s largest gathering for trade and treasury professionals, with over 1200 in attendance, at the Marina Bay Sands. 

On 4 Sep, GTR Ventures and its partners from the broader banking, fintech, and funds community, shall be organising another fun-filled Trade Rocks! Networking Drinks and Afterparty. Register your early interest with if you are keen!

GAC hires Euler Hermes underwriting head to lead new special risk division

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Eleanor Wragg

Commodity and agribusiness trade credit specialist Groupama Assurance-Credit & Caution (GAC) has opened a new special risk division, which will be led by new hire, Valerie Talbot. Her remit will include providing single risk, excess of loss and top-up solutions. Based in Paris, Talbot has more than 20 years’ experience in single risk, structured credit and political risk insurance. Starting her career with Unistrat Coface in Paris before moving to New York, she then went on to Credendo (Garant) where she spearheaded the single risk activity in Geneva. Her most recent role was head of commercial underwriting in London for Euler Hermes’ transactional cover unit. Speaking to GTR about her appointment, Talbot says: “GAC writes whole-turnover trade credit business in all sectors but is particularly focused on commodity and agribusiness. We’ve seen more and more demand to cover the portfolio of buyers and single transactions as well, particularly for commodity traders.” The post GAC hires Euler Hermes underwriting head to lead new special risk division appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

R3’s KYC blockchain app completes fourth trial, but will remain a prototype

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Sanne Wass

Five French banks and 21 firms, together with blockchain firm R3, have completed a fourth trial of the CordaKYC blockchain application for sharing know your customer (KYC) data. But R3 now reveals it does not intend to bring the solution to market. CordaKYC is a prototype designed and built by IT and consulting company Synechron on R3’s Corda blockchain platform. It works as a “self-sovereign” model, where corporate customers can create and control their own identities, including relevant documentation. Banks can request access to the data, whilst customers can approve requests and revoke access. Any updates that are made become automatically visible to the banks that have permission to access the data. The new trial is the fourth in a series of tests that have been conducted for the solution. The first were known as Leia 1 and 2, and more recently as “CordaKYC”. A total of 26 firms participated this time around in what was a regional trial only, in which KYC requests were simulated amongst the group. Participants included AFTE, Allianz France Insurance Company, Alten, BNP Paribas, bioMérieux, Crédit Agricole CIB, Daher, Danone, Engie, Natixis, Natixis Assurances, Natixis Investment Managers, Ostrum AM, Pierre et Vacances, RCI Bank and Services and Société Générale. The trial saw 232 updates sent to banks through Corda, with data sharing being approved 185 times between corporates and banks, according to Estelle Roiena, a senior associate at R3 and responsible for its business development for France. Roiena tells GTR that the focus of this particular trial was on ensuring that the corporates’ experience of meeting KYC requirements through Corda was effective and aligned with their needs. “While previous trials have been focused on KYC from the standpoint of banks, with this trial we’ve focused on how the service will work for the corporates,” she says. “The trial involved companies from across a very wide variety of industries, including department stores, pharmaceuticals, finance and even aerospace. This allows us to demonstrate to corporates how KYC on Corda can be responsive to the challenges of any industry and helps companies to feel confident in the process to ensure the solution is fit for the needs of all businesses.” She adds that France was an “ideal country” for such a regional trial, given that enterprise blockchain activity in France is “accelerating”. While R3 describes the trial as a “big step forward in making blockchain-based KYC a common reality for corporate banking”, it says the CordaKYC application is “not a product in its own right” and the goal is not to take the solution to market. Instead, the aim is to “demonstrate the benefits” of running KYC through the blockchain for both corporates and banks, explains Abbas Ali, director of partner solutions at R3. “Our plan has always been to develop the ‘operating system’ on which other firms will build applications to tackle enterprise challenges,” he says. “By helping the community develop a greater understanding of how KYC applications on Corda operate, we are able to support the wider ecosystem and share our learnings with partners developing applications for end users.”   Blockchain’s perfect use case? A number of KYC applications are already live on Corda, including Tradle and Gemalto Trust ID Network, with other firms, such as Norbloc, currently in the process of implementing similar solutions on the platform. What they all have in common is that they see blockchain as a route to making KYC– a task that is mired by time-consuming and labour-intensive manual processes and the duplication of efforts – more efficient. The figures speak for themselves: some major financial institutions spend up to US$500mn annually on KYC and customer due diligence, according to Thomson Reuters. And the amount of time dedicated to KYC efforts is growing: Thomson Reuters’ 2017 survey found that the average corporation spends 26 days a year providing KYC regulatory information, up from 23 days in 2016. In contrast to centralised solutions that currently exist in the market, such as Swift’s KYC Registry and IHS Markit’s, blockchain technology eliminates third-party data aggregators and centralised repositories of data. Instead, it utilises the power of the distributed, immutable ledger to drive greater operational efficiency through a digital process flow and a streamlined way to access real-time up-to-date customer data. Founded in 2014 in New York, Tradle’s solution caters to a broad range of sectors, including trade finance. Speaking to GTR for its recent Fintech Issue, Gene Vayngrib, CEO and co-founder of Tradle, said he is convinced that a decentralised model can make the trade finance sector more agile and significantly speed up the time it takes to set up a deal. The main goal, he added, is to help banks turn compliance pain into a commercial advantage for the banks, which can then serve their customers better. “The majority of the conversation in trade finance is that KYC is such a pain and that it’s stopping business,” he explained. “The way we approach it is: it’s a commercial advantage. The information is sitting in a silo and we are taking it out of the silo and making it available for commercial business. Now two companies that are KYC’d by different banks can engage in trade much faster.” Meanwhile, the idea of a blockchain-based KYC solution has been met with cautious interest from established players. For one, Bart Claeys, Swift’s head of the KYC registry, recently told GTR that KYC “seems like the perfect use case for distributed ledger technology”, but argued that it doesn’t yet solve the real issues faced by banks today. Swift itself has helped banks tackle the burden of KYC since it launched its KYC Registry in 2015. Of Swift’s 11,000 members, 7,000 have correspondent banking activities and are therefore the target of the registry. Around 5,000 have joined the centralised, non-blockchain-based solution thus far. The challenge, Claeys said, is that blockchain initiatives have thus far been driven mainly by technology rather than compliance. “For us, at this stage, I haven’t yet seen the value addition of the distributed ledger technology related initiatives compared to what we have in our centralised solution,” he says, bringing up a widely expressed scepticism in the industry: can technology alone get banks onboard and make them want to work together towards better KYC? “In my view, a lot of these initiatives have been initiated from a technology perspective, yet today little has been said around the level of acceptance from a compliance perspective within the banks. Ultimately, be it a distributed ledger technology-based or centralised utility, you will be required to have the backing and support from the compliance side within each of the banks,” he said. The post R3’s KYC blockchain app completes fourth trial, but will remain a prototype appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

EBRD’s growing focus on SEMED: “Economic reform enables us to invest more”

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Sanne Wass

The Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region is now the biggest region of operation for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Founded in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the development bank initially focused on the nations of the former Eastern bloc, but has since expanded to support development in 39 countries, from central Europe to central Asia. Since entering SEMED – initially being Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia – in 2012 in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the bank has invested over €7.8bn in 179 projects in the region – ranging from wind farm developments in Morocco to supporting dairy producers in Egypt. 2018 has seen the EBRD expand to Lebanon and the West Bank, under the leadership of Janet Heckman, who took on the role of managing director for the SEMED region in February 2017. GTR met with Heckman in Cairo recently to speak to her about her focus areas and further expansion plans for 2019.   GTR: SEMED is now the largest region of operation for the EBRD. Why has it received such a big focus? Heckman: That’s correct. Last year SEMED was the largest; we did roughly €2.2bn of investments in what was then four countries we invested in: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. Egypt was the biggest at €1.4bn. As a country, this investment from the EBRD was second only to Turkey last year, so very significant. This year it’s also looking like a very strong year, so we expect numbers to be in the same range. I think it’s because there has been a lot of economic reform taking place in the region. Particularly here in Egypt, for the last two and a half years you’ve seen a very strong reform programme, removal of subsidies in key areas, key investment acts being passed, bankruptcy and company laws, etc. When you have that type of reform, it enables us to invest more in a country because we believe the future of that country is strong. Another example is Tunisia, where in July we spearheaded a mission with the EU, the IFC and the African Development Bank to encourage Tunisians to continue on the reform path, and take the steps needed to ensure that the country is economically viable. One of the things I am proudest of this year has been that we were able to begin work in Lebanon and the West Bank. These are two areas where you really need trade facilitation lines, because of the perceived political risk in the region. It doesn’t just benefit the local banks; it really helps to open up the economy as a whole. It’s quite gratifying to see this.   GTR: Are there any specific programmes or projects you are particularly focused on at the moment? Heckman: We have a very strong programme in value chain development. Let me give you the example of Morocco – the country has really geared up for export and is now amongst one of the major centres globally for automotive components production as well as for aerospace components. The country put in the place the necessary infrastructure: the roads, the high-speed train, the Tangier-Med port and introduced proper incentives to attract multinationals to produce. Where we became active is in helping to finance local supply chain development. We’re working with the major multinational companies as well as the local companies who are investing, to help identify what type of supplies they can source locally. We then work with the local companies in the market to train them and bring them up the value chain. This is something we’re replicating throughout SEMED. We call it value chain financing, which is absolutely critical, because if a company can produce to the standard of global major companies like Ikea or Renault, then they are capable of producing under their own names in the local market. We also have a really great programme called advice for small business. It is funded by the EU throughout all of the SEMED countries, and we launched it in Lebanon in October. So far, we’ve advised more than 2,200 SMEs in the region. It includes advice on how to target export markets and tender for projects, as well as technical advice on how to gear your product for export markets. In that way we help small and medium-sized businesses with either local or international advisory services. This is absolutely critical. As part of this, we also have specific programmes geared towards women-owned SMEs. We work through the banks – it’s a combined programme – to provide financing to SMEs owned and operated by women. We help to train the banks, the credit departments, etc, on what the key factors for lending to women-owned businesses are, and then provide the technical advisory and mentoring to female entrepreneurs. We recently launched the programme in Morocco, in conjunction with the ministry of women and family.   GTR: What are the EBRD’s SEMED expansion plans? Heckman: Right now, our main plan is to expand within the countries where we are already operating, to do more in those countries. For example, in Egypt, we hope to open a third office this year. We’d like to do more in the regions of Egypt, namely outside of just Alexandria or Cairo, because those are the areas that need the most development. The same goes for Morocco: we opened our second office in Tangier, which covers the northern part of the country, and we hope to get approval to open later this year in the southern part of Morocco too, out of Agadir, where there’s a lot of agribusiness and a need for regional connectivity. When the time is right, we’ll also take into consideration other countries. Libya and Syria are both within our domain. I would personally love to be in Algeria – I worked there for four years with Citi, but we have to see after the elections what the political will is. Libya is another country that I could see the EBRD working in.   GTR: You mentioned earlier the EBRD’s expansion this year to Lebanon – what opportunities do you see in the country? Heckman: The Lebanese are extremely entrepreneurial, so naturally there are a lot of private sector opportunities. Initially, as we often do when we enter countries, we started with financial institutions, and we took an equity stake in Bank Audi. But then we’ve also signed trade facilitation lines and SME lending lines with other banks in the country. But the real opportunity is with private sector entrepreneurs and family groups in Lebanon.   GTR: Sub-Saharan Africa doesn’t fall under your domain, but with a growing focus on intra-African trade, does your work go beyond SEMED? Heckman: What we’ve noticed is that quite a lot of the companies we work with in North Africa, but also even in Lebanon and Jordan, are investing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco is a key example of this. Attijariwafa Bank is present across Africa, and the corporates and companies have followed the Moroccan banking system, predominantly into the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Francophone Africa, because they see huge opportunities for growth. The EBRD has been involved in two events this year, working with our companies who are active in Sub-Sahara. One was the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, and the other the Africa 2018 Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh. So we’re looking at how we can invest in companies which want to invest further in Sub-Sahara. The post EBRD’s growing focus on SEMED: “Economic reform enables us to invest more” appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

essDocs to launch blockchain solution in early 2019

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Sanne Wass

Paperless trade platform provider essDocs will launch a series of blockchain-based trade solutions, having entered a strategic partnership with Swisscom Blockchain. Founded in 2015, essDocs already offers a range of non-blockchain solutions to digitise trade finance and logistics documents, including the bill of lading. Swisscom Blockchain, meanwhile, is a blockchain advisory that helps companies design, build and implement distributed ledger applications. It was established last year. In a statement, essDocs says the two companies will “leverage their respective resources and expertise to enable companies to digitise their trade and trade finance processes swiftly, efficiently and with minimal friction”. The parties have already started testing their first collaborative product, which will officially launch in Q1 2019. essDocs CEO Alexander Goulandris says the firms will offer “value-adding blockchain solutions” such as traceability, cross-platform connectivity and solution-data distribution. “Our joint solutions will first and foremost focus on transition technology, bridging data ‘gaps’, paper-based processes and technological silos with the end goal of secure, automated digital trade,” he says. Also commenting on the partnership, Daniel Haudenschild, CEO of Swisscom Blockchain, hints that blockchain technology will enable them to tackle the challenge of mass adoption that digitalisation efforts in the trade industry have historically faced. “Along the journey, both our companies will support a use-focused approach in order to unleash the true potential blockchain and digitalisation has to offer to the trade, trade finance and logistics community,” he adds. The partnership marks essDocs’ official foray into blockchain, a technology widely explored by other trade finance tech firms and banking consortia. Bolero, its much older competitor founded in 1998, has been working with blockchain firm R3 for more than a year to give its electronic bill of lading service a blockchain upgrade. This has evolved into Bolero taking part in a number of pilots of the Voltron platform, a blockchain project run by R3 and eight global banks to ease the exchange of trade finance documentation. In November, for example, Bolero’s electronic bills of lading solution was used in a Voltron-based trade transaction involving HSBC, ING, Reliance Industries and Tricon Energy. The integration enabled the digital transfer of title of goods on the blockchain. At the time, essDocs was mentioned as another electronic document provider that could be incorporated with the Voltron platform. Chris Sunderman, blockchain initiative lead for trade finance services at ING, told GTR: “When you look at the trade ecosystem, the world is large, and companies do not per se work with one provider of e-documents; there are also companies like essDocs and eTitle. So within project Voltron, the banks agreed to investigate and analyse the application of other solutions as well. We need to incorporate other solutions to make the lives of our clients as easy as possible.” He also confirmed that the consortium is currently in discussions with essDocs, which is interested in working with them. The moves by Bolero and essDocs to build blockchain solutions come as the competition in this space is heating up, with a range of other tech firms and consortia seeing trade documentation as an obvious home for the new technology. The nature of blockchain, being a decentralised technology, makes it ideal for the trade industry, as it allows multiple parties to exchange information in real time, while securely being able to track and transfer assets. One of the first firms to make headlines for its blockchain-based trade documentation solution is Israeli startup Wave. In 2016, it completed what became known as the world’s first live blockchain trade transaction with Barclays and is now working towards releasing a commercial bill of lading solution. This was followed by the foundation of Slovenia-based blockchain firm CargoX, which raised over US$7mn in an ICO in late January. Last month, the firm announced that its blockchain-based bill of lading platform is now commercially available, having spent the second half of 2018 conducting pilots with a number of logistics providers. Meanwhile, Maersk is working with IBM to build and expand TradeLens, a blockchain platform that enables users in the shipping ecosystem to interact efficiently, access real-time shipping data and digitalise and exchange trade documentation. Already, more than 92 organisations are participating in the platform’s early adopter programme. And more recently, some of the world’s top container lines and terminal operators formed a consortium, Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), again with the same goal: to develop a new blockchain-based platform for the global trade ecosystem. The post essDocs to launch blockchain solution in early 2019 appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

Africa’s floating LNG projects set to disrupt global gas trade

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Sarah Rundell

 The imminent final investment decision of Kosmos Energy and BP’s Tortue offshore floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project in the waters of Mauritania and Senegal underscores an important shift in Africa’s LNG ambitions. The project, which is targeting first gas from its floating vessel in 2022, suggests that Africa’s growing exports of natural gas won’t come from vast land-based LNG sites where most of the interest has focused in recent years. Instead, new FLNG vessels are set to anchor offshore to liquify natural gas on site for shipment directly to markets in a trend set to reverse Africa’s declining LNG exports – and disrupt global LNG trade. Although the FLNG liquefaction concept of converting gas from offshore fields into LNG has been around for decades, there are only a handful of units operational or commissioned in the world. At present Africa leads the way, with Cameroon blazing a trail for the continent. FLNG vessel Hilli Episeyo, moored 14km off the southern port city of Kribi, exported its inaugural cargo last May in what was also a pioneering proof of concept since Hilli is the first conversion of an LNG tanker into an FLNG vessel. Elsewhere on the continent, at the end of last year Eni signed off its US$4.7bn Coral South offshore project in Mozambique, with its FLNG production vessel coming on stream in 2021. Coral South is important because it is Africa’s first project-financed FLNG project, and is backed by a consortium of 15 international banks and five export credit agencies (ECAs). “It is likely to be the template for much of future Mozambique LNG documentation,” says Paul Eardley-Taylor, head of oil and gas, Southern Africa, at Standard Bank in Johannesburg, who sees advantages for FLNG in West Africa particularly. “Water depths and sea conditions are moderate and geographical locations favour Latin American and European markets,” he tells GTR. In its favour, FLNG is cheaper than the cost of building pipelines and onshore liquefaction facilities. Golar LNG, the company behind the Hilli conversion, said its refit cost US$1.2bn, coming in US$70mn under budget. “It can cost billions to develop a land-based facility. But taking an old LNG vehicle and converting it by adding regasification equipment costs a fraction of the price,” says Thomas Moore, a partner in Mayer Brown’s Houston office. It’s a point shared in a recent report from Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) entitled Investing in natural gas for Africans: doing good and doing well, which notes “significant cost reductions [and] offtake discussions” in FLNG projects. But FLNG’s appeal is not cost alone. The technology also makes Africa’s small-scale projects viable. Small-scale production cannot serve giant utilities in Japan or South Korea, but it can serve individual or smaller groups of power plants that suit more intermittent and flexible supply, or traders rather than end-users. Power plants switching to renewables which still need back-up generation are one example, says Moore. Small-scale production also has other advantages in the oversupplied LNG market. Smaller plants could help keep costs down, and having the cheapest gas will help win customers, he says. FLNG also offers an alternative to Africa’s onshore LNG projects which have struggled to secure the long-term off-take agreements with utilities needed to attract finance. Lengthy contracts are key to financing projects because ECAs, banks and other financiers want security for the large, upfront funds they provide, yet getting those contracts for African producers has proved a challenge. It is also faster to develop FLNG than onshore LNG: Coral South is running at least 12 months ahead of Mozambique’s onshore project, which isn’t expected to achieve final investment decision until 2019, says Standard Bank’s Eardley-Taylor. Although the bulk of production is destined for export, FLNG also has important implications for Africa’s undeveloped power sector. Despite the continent’s abundant natural gas reserves, few countries can transport gas over long distances and the lack of grid infrastructure and pipelines has resulted in localised power generation. “Natural gas infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa is sparse. The absence of a large regional market can lead to investment uncertainty and cause financing difficulties,” notes the EFI report. Yet FLNG offers another way to transport LNG into localised markets where power demand is strongest. “You could locate the vessels near port cities close to electricity demand,” says Moore. Nevertheless, there are downsides to this new development. Offshore facilities don’t bring the value add that comes with onshore sites, such as key infrastructure investment and spin-off manufacturing in fertiliser and petrochemical industries. It is also critical to find the right partners and sponsors who can bring project know-how and facilitate FLNG financing. “The technology is relatively new, so for new vessels financings will likely require sponsors to provide conventional completion support. For refurbished vessels, we would envisage sponsors are more likely to on-balance sheet completion risks rather than involve external lenders with high due diligence requirements,” says Eardley. But the idea that this could be a solution for Africa’s LNG exports is catching on. “This is really exciting for Africa,” concludes Moore.   The post Africa’s floating LNG projects set to disrupt global gas trade appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

TDB rolls out SME programme for women-led businesses in six African countries

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Sanne Wass

The Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) is rolling out a credit programme in six African countries to support women-led export-oriented SMEs. Among the first to benefit are Ethiopian businesses, following an agreement between TDB and Ethiopia’s Enat Bank. Under a memorandum of understanding, the two have agreed to set up a credit enhancement facility and work together to build a pipeline of SMEs which qualify for export credit support. Focusing on women-owned and managed businesses, the parties will run the programme in partnership with the Ethiopian Women Exporters Association. The facility will make available loans, guarantees and capacity-building interventions, mainly within the financial services, agribusiness, mining, leather and tanning, and manufacturing sectors. TDB and Enat Bank will also enlist a local SME advisory partner to support participating firms on export readiness requirements. The agreement is part of a larger programme that TDB is rolling out to specialist financial institutions in its member countries. It launched its first facility in Zimbabwe in October and will be expanding it further in the coming months, starting with Burundi and Kenya, and then Zambia and Malawi. The bank has allocated US$3mn to pilot the programme over the next two years in these countries. According to TDB president Admassu Tadesse, Enat Bank was selected as a partner for this facility because of its “unique ethos”. The local bank is known as “the first women’s bank” in Ethiopia. It was initiated in 2013 by 11 Ethiopian women, with a 64% women ownership, and has a special focus on providing financial services to women. “This instrument is aimed at helping Enat Bank scale up its impact, share their risk and reach out to more SMEs, particularly women-led and women-owned SMEs. We also hope that Enat will use this instrument to reach more young entrepreneurs and those companies employing youth,” Tadesse says. According to the World Bank, Ethiopia lags behind the rest of Sub-Saharan African and other developing countries when it comes to lending to SMEs. In fact, it has reported that SME lending in the country comprises only 7% of banks’ lending portfolios. The post TDB rolls out SME programme for women-led businesses in six African countries appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

GTRV Portfolio Company, Culum Capital, Onboarded to the NTP

Pictured above at the launch of the Networked Trade Platform (NTP), from left to right, Rupert Sayer Co-Founder and CEO GTR Ventures, Tingxi Tan Co-Founder and Head of Legal and Compliance Culum Capital, Ginnie Chin Co-Founder and CEO Culum Capital, Heng Swee Keat Singapore Finance Minister, Kelvin Tan Co-Founder and CIO GTR Ventures 

Date: September 26, 2018 

Location: Orchard Hotel Singapore 

The Networked Trade Platform (NTP), which officially launched September 26 2018, combines all customs and trade-related services and brings together four government certification services required for trading in and out of Singapore. The Networked Trade Platform will replace TradeXchange and Tradenet, the two prior trade facilitation programs. 

The NTP’s goal is to  help digitize trade processing and bring the entire ecosystem to one platform, where individual entities can interact and trade together.  

GTR Ventures’ portfolio company Culum Capital is one of the 90 organizations being onboarded to the Networked Trade Platform. 

Tradeteq and GTR Ventures at SIBOS 2018

Date: October 22nd – October 25th

Location: Sydney, Australia

The 2018 SIBOS Conference returned to Sydney October 22 through October 25th. The event was held at the International Convention Center and had more than 7,500 attendees. The week’s themes related to financial technology, and the increasingly digitalized world of banking. Shayne Elliot, Chief Executive Officer of ANZ Bank, stated one of the weeks major themes in his keynote address, describing how banks need to become increasingly more agile and adaptive to the technological advances in society.

Kelvin Tan, Founder and CIO of GTR Ventures attended the week’s events along with portfolio company Tradeteq – represented by Mattia Tomba and André Casterman. 

Mattia Tomba, Director Tradeteq and Head of Tradeteq Asia, pictured above at the HSBC Panel Event at Sibos 2018. The panel shared their thoughts on the evolution of trade finance as an asset class, and included Surath Sengupta – Global Head of Trade Portfolio Management at HSBC, Kah Chye Tan – Founder of CCRManager, Alexander R Malaket – CITP CTFP and President of Opus Advisory Services International, and André Casterman – Non-Executive Board Member and Chair Fintech Committee ITFA. 

GTR Ventures is looking forward to SIBOS 2019, which will take place in London September 23rd through the 26th.

GTR Ventures Attends Singapore Fintech Festival 2018

Date: November 12 – 16, 2018

Location: Singapore Expo

Singapore Fintech Festival drew nearly 45,000 participants from over 130 countries. GTR Ventures was excited to attend, alongside partner companies Lucidity and iLoan. The festival featured more than 250 speakers, including Christine Lagarde, Managing Director International Monetary Fund, Barbara Novick, Vice Chairman Blackrock, Ashok Vaswani, CEO Barclays Bank UK, Ari Sarker, Co-President Mastercard Asia Pacific, and Aharon Aharon, CEO Israel Innovation Authority.

GTR Ventures announced three new partnerships with Lucidity, iLoan, and RM Tech on the first day of the festival [see press release here]. Other announcements included the launch of the API Exchange, an online fintech marketplace, as well as Vanda Global Capital’s opening of their $1.5 billion Asia agriculture technology fund, in collaboration with Shenzhen Dayshine Fund Management and Raffles Capital.  

GTR Ventures also attended many of the post-festival industry events, such as the Innovation Lab Crawl hosted by MUFG Bank, ADB Asian Fintech Night, and the UK Singapore Fintech Bridge Networking Reception.

The Singapore Fintech Festival will return next year 11th – 15th of November, and GTR Ventures is looking forward to attending this 4th edition of the festival.

GTR Ventures attends Hong Kong Fintech Week 2018

Date: October 31st, 2018

Location: Hong Kong

Pictured above – Jolyon Ellwood-Russell, Partner at Simmons & Simmons and Advisory Board member of GTR Ventures, and Ningwa Lau, representative GTR Ventures (China and HK SAR), at Hong Kong Fintech Week 2018.

Fintech Week is the world’s first cross-border financial technology event, with over 8,000 senior executives and over 200 of the world’s leaders in the fintech industry including founders, investors, regulators, and academics. GTR Ventures was thrilled to be a part of this five day financial technology event that works to bring together innovative thinkers and industry leaders within the fintech and trade finance industries. 

Significant takeaways pertinent to trade and supply chain included Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s launch of a new blockchain-based trade finance platform called “eTradeConnect”. This platform combines the services of 12 different banks, both domestic and international, with the goal of allowing better trading among the network of European and Asian organizations. Angie Lau, Bloomberg Television Asia’s former lead anchor, also announced the launch of her new blockchain-related news platform, where she will operate as the Chief and Lead Anchor.

 On the 2nd day of HK Fintech Week LiqEase hosted a morning gathering of 25+ finance and industry experts to discuss the role technology is playing in disrupting trade finance and presenting access to new investment opportunities.  Stakeholders, including deal originators, investors, and family offices, joined the LiqEase team at one of Hong Kong’s historical clubs and enjoyed a vibrant and interactive atmosphere learning about pain points in the international wine trade, and how LiqEase’s platform unlocks tied up capital in the supply chain – allowing firms and investors to both benefit from this new ecosystem and exciting asset class.

Prominent speakers throughout the week included Jim Lai, Tencent VP and Head of Fintech Greater China, Paul Chan, Financial Secretary the Government of Hong Kong, Norman Chan, Chief Executive HKMA, Ashley Alder CEO SFC, Jessica Tan, Executive VP, COO & CIO Ping An Group, Aldi Haryopratomo, CEO Go-Pay, Richard Mash, VP Paypal, Mancy Sun, Managing Director & Head (PSI) Goldman Sachs, and many others.

“Hong Kong Fintech Week, in its 3rd edition this year, is a splendid occasion in which to showcase to the world what Hong Kong has to offer” described Carrie Lam, CEO Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

GTR Ventures is looking forward to Hong Kong Fintech Week 2019.


RM Tech

Sector: Transaction Banking, Investment Banking

Offices: Guangzhou 

Key markets: China, Southeast Asia 


RM Technology Co., Ltd, a Fintech company setup in China from 2015. The vision of the company is to make SMEs’ supply chain finance simple and safe. We collaborate with commercial banks, to provide enterprises and B2B portals with a payment, accounts and settlement platform, while enabling low cost financing. Our solution – “Bank Account as a Service” have digitized and connected sellers and buyers in B2B marketplaces for their payment and settlement services, while retaining a connectivity to banks. Our solution supports businesses who wish to create a “platform” for their supply chain with full payment and banking services. At the same time, financial service providers enjoy efficient and effective risk Management. Currently we have tested this model in China with multiple customers and in different industries. We are already working with different banks in China. Currently, we are working on a proof-of-concept (POC) with a bank which focuses on imports to China with Supply Chain Finance services inbuilt. We will continue to make Supply Chain Finance simple and safe.





Sector: Trade Operations 

Offices: Singapore

Key markets: Southeast Asia


Lucidity is a trade finance solutions provider that is paving the way for greater adoption of digitalized documents in global trade transactions. Lucidity also goes beyond digitalized documents by harnessing the power of machine learning to solve one of the most important challenges surrounding trade documentation – its deep reliance on human experience and comprehension. Lucidity provides comprehensive automation and digitalization solutions for supply-side documentation, ranging from transaction origination to electronic BL solutions for exporters and traders. Applying our unique and AI-centric technology, Lucidity also explores new automation solutions for trade finance operations within the banking and financial services industry, in order to empower our customers to compete and stay ahead of their competitors in today’s increasingly cost-conscious macroenvironment..



Sector: Technology and Loan Aggregation 

Offices: Sri Lanka, Hong Kong

Key markets: Southeast Asia, Hong Kong


Founded in 2017, iloan is an emerging fintech company that provides access to working capital for micro and SMEs in South Asian frontier markets. It has developed a proprietary loan aggregation engine and invoice verification protocol using distributed ledger technology to enhance transparency on underlying loan assets for financial institutions.

Website: www.iloan.ik 

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