Mitigram launches tool to help corporates build new FI relationships as banks de-risk
Stockholm-based fintech company Mitigram has revealed a new feature called Open Market Discovery on its marketplace. The tool enables corporates to build new relationships with financial institutions (FIs) to finance and cover exposures that their usual banks and insurers may not be able to service.
Launched in 2015, the Mitigram marketplace allows trade finance players to meet and collaborate on the financing and risk coverage of trade. Banks and insurers are able to bid for corporates’ trade finance business on a transaction-by-transaction basis, while companies can extend their network and compare and accept quotes.
Open Market Discovery enables corporates to identify FIs with a matching risk appetite for particular transactions and invite those counterparties to review them, making it easier for companies to forge new relationships with FIs and strike a deal.
In this interview, GTR speaks to Milena Torciano, CEO of Mitigram, to learn more about the new tool, how the pandemic has made building new relationships between corporates and banks even more important, and how the current crisis has affected the company.
GTR: Tell us about Open Market Discovery.
Torciano: Open Market Discovery is a game changer. It is the first time that corporates are able to build relationships with banks that they do not have a pre-established relationship with on a trade finance marketplace. They can find coverage or funding for certain risks, where their relationship banks are not able to support them. For example, a corporate in Asia can find a bank or insurer in Europe that it does not have a relationship with to price and cover a risk in a different market where it was not able to do so previously. It is all about creating those connections to support global trade.
GTR: Can you explain the technology behind the feature and how it works?
Torciano: The feature is a build-on to what we currently have; it is part of our pricing discovery feature. The technology itself is not revolutionary, but it really leverages the network that we have built over the past four years, which is quite exceptional. It enables counterparties to discuss transactions and review them, with the aim of providing a pricing structure. It is a tool for true collaboration.
If a corporate has a risk in, say, Indonesia, that it could not get cover for from its bank, or if the coverage or pricing is not adequate, it can then put this transaction on the open market and invite a counterparty with a matching risk appetite to review the transaction. It can do this because Open Market Discovery’s algorithm instantly reveals the banks with matching risk appetite. After that, the corporate can select which banks it wants to work with. It is by invitation only – it is never a request that is sent across the entire marketplace. It is the corporate’s decision to select which banks from the open market it would like to invite to review a particular transaction.
At this time, we see significant interest from FIs on the platform around these Open Market Discovery transactions – some of which are very large.
GTR: Why do you think integrating something like this is important?
Torciano: There is a substantial gap in trade finance, estimated to be US$1.5tn globally. Covid-19 has given banks liquidity constraints, and, in some cases, they are taking a de-risking approach, whereby they are not willing to take on certain risks. Meanwhile corporates need to ensure that goods keep flowing and that they can get their business done. Right now, they need coverage for transactions.
GTR: How has the pandemic impacted Mitigram – have you had more requests on the platform?
Torciano: When the pandemic hit and the world went into lockdown in March/April, we certainly saw a sharp reduction in flows on the marketplace. This was simply because ships were not leaving ports. Things have recovered significantly since then; we had a strong rebound in May, seeing continuous growth through the summer. We think our marketplace has proven resilient. The number of requests sent through the platform has never been higher, and our user base continues to increase. We have recently onboarded our first corporates and banks in South Korea, which is hopefully the beginning of a significant expansion into East Asia.
The need for market participants to digitise is now very apparent. Our platform keeps growing despite the current market conditions, strengthening our conviction that there is a true need for Mitigram in the market. We aim to continue to grow at a high pace across all major trade corridors.
Mitigram releases Open Market DISCOVERY
- In another digital first, Mitigram has launched Open Market DISCOVERY, a smart tool to enable users (corporations and banks) to discover partners willing to provide trade finance that matches a specific transaction
- These partners have already covered risks of over 1,000 banks, from 100 markets, supporting over $50b of trade finance requests on the Mitigram platform
14 September 2020 – Mitigram has released Open Market DISCOVERY; a significant new module that will further democratise trade finance by helping corporates, traders and banks to build global networks, access new relationships and originate new trade transactions.
With over 200 registered banks and corporates, Mitigram has the largest network of any trade finance platform. As Benoît Steinbach, Managing Director for Corporate Sales at Mitigram describes, “Open Market DISCOVERY is a game changer which automates the process of finding risk mitigation and financing for trade transactions for corporates and banks. Now, our subscribers can build new trade finance business opportunities in hard to reach markets, and work with new counterparties that were previously difficult to access”.
For Mitigram subscribers, Open Market DISCOVERY seamlessly integrates into existing workflows on the platform, at no additional cost.
Corporations can use Open Market DISCOVERY to find and invite new banks with matching credit appetite to price for trade finance contracts where their existing banking partners may not have capacity. Mitigram’s Open Market DISCOVERY module is unique and will significantly expand existing networks of relationships and help to ensure continuous business flows.
For financial institutions, Open Market DISCOVERY is a tool to drive new business and to build trade assets at no extra cost. In July, The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) released its 2020 Global Survey on Trade Finance, which found that 77% of bank respondents surveyed plan to transition trade finance to digital as a way to grow their businesses. 70% of respondents felt that it was their most urgent priority.
“For banks, Open Market DISCOVERY is an origination tool,” says Steinbach. “Banks are permitted to indicate their risk appetite within the platform, our automated Open Market DISCOVERY extension instantly indicates qualified and new business opportunities to banks that would otherwise find these transactions difficult to source.”
The reception from existing Mitigram users has been exceptional. A soft launch of Open Market DISCOVERY to subscribers in mid-August immediately resulted in significant traffic, including a number of substantially-sized, multi-million dollar transactions.
Mitigram is the largest digital market network for trade finance, digitising previously fragmented front office processes. To learn more about Open Market DISCOVERY, visit mitigram.com.
Mitigram is the leading market network for exporters, traders and financial Institutions to access funding and risk coverage arising from cross-border trade activities. The company’s clients are multinational corporations, leading commodity traders and many of the world’s largest banks. The platform provides access to an extended network of counterparties, supports enhanced compliance processes through its comprehensive automated quotation workflows, and provides all parties with a better understanding of market pricing and capacity.
Source: WTO Data (2020), https://data.wto.org
How COVID-19 is changing trade finance needs
The importance of trade finance front office digitization
Economic statistics for growth (or should we say contraction) look like something from another era: Eurozone -5,5%[i], advanced economies -6,1%[ii]. World merchandise trade volumes are expected to decrease between -13% and -32%, depending on the scenario laid out by the WTO[iii].
It’s the kind of events that we will be telling our grandchildren about. But right now, we are not reminiscing. It’s all very real.
Clients and prospective clients are suffering a lot: there’s a fear in the market that is tangible and we need tools now.
The threat of repeated non-performance under contracts will seriously impact business. And, unavoidably, the COVID-19 crisis is driving an increase in demand to cover our clients’ trade finance exposures. So, while there’s a dip in trade volumes, active Mitigram clients continue to put significant transactional volumes on the platform.
The reasons are multiple, of course, but there is always a viscous circle that ensues a credit event, that inevitably exacerbates the symptoms:
- Increase of counterparty risk
Mitigram clients have reported they already see an increase in perceived counterparty default risks, this is driving of the need to get cover for risks on obligors and geographies where it was not previously the case.
- Reduced risk appetite
At the same time that sellers perceive higher risks, it’s an unfortunate truth that so do the institutions offering the credit protection. So, demand for cover goes up while, simultaneously, the supply of cover goes down; plus ca change! But it’s a difficult situation that needs a solution.
In the meantime, while economies are struggling and emerging market banks look to developed markets for support, the opportunity exists for banks everywhere to act as agents of positive change by driving trade finance as a tool for supporting economic growth while also maintaining and building their balance sheets around an asset class that benefits from proven lower risks.
There are social schemes that can offer assistance. In Europe, we see ECAs exceptionally responding by offering cover for short term private risks. This underlines how much the market has moved to avoid the increase of trade risks globally and the need to expand the ways to mitigate these. https://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/what_is_new/covid_19.html
Going forward, corporates and their financial partners need to get closer. With people working remotely, the need to save time and improve processes has never been greater. The digitization of the trade finance front office is key. Mitigram brings participants closer, making business easier, and delivering better visibility, availability and efficiency in these troubled times.
Using the corporate clients’ chosen digital channel, Mitigram will ensure the bank remains relevant and can grow trade finance assets. And building on this theme, our Open Market module goes live next month, it’ll act as a matchmaker helping corporates find financial institutions keen to back their trade businesses.
Click on the link and see what Mitigram can do for you: https://vimeo.com/395210572; ask for a demo.
Keep alert and keep safe,
The Mitigram Team.
[i] European Central Bank, April 2020. Accessed at: https://www.ecb.europa.eu/stats/ecb_surveys/survey_of_professional_forecasters/html/table_hist_rgdp.en.html
[ii] International Monetary Fund, April 2020. Accessed at: https://blogs.imf.org/2020/04/14/the-great-lockdown-worst-economic-downturn-since-the-great-depression/
[iii] World Trade Organization, April 2020. Accessed at: https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/pres20_e/pr855_e.htm
Mitigram take the win at EuroFinance Copenhagen 2019
At the world’s leading international treasury event, 22 technology firms pitched their solutions in a bid to win our Technology Innovation Award. They showcased their solutions from payments and FX to supply chain finance, trade, compliance and more, to see what emerging fintechs, banks and treasury suppliers are developing in response to the issues that plague corporate treasury the most.
We were delighted to announce Mitigram as the winner of the 2019 Technology Innovation Award in Copenhagen.
Learn more at EuroFinance.com:
The FinTech Friction (And Opportunity) In Global Trade
Although business lending requires the aggregation of data from a multitude of sources, there is typically only one financial institution managing the process. Trade finance and the facilitation of trade transactions, however, require complex coordination between businesses, their service providers and their financial institutions to ensure that jobs are complete and goods are moved before any money changes hands.
Communication is key to any relationship, but when data and documents are shared via phone and email into proprietary systems, information can be locked behind silos instead of readily available to the business partners who need it.
According to Mitigram Chief Executive Officer Milena Torciano, this challenge is only getting harder thanks to heightening anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) requirements, as well as open banking and PSD2’s reach into the corporate banking sector.
Full article on PYMNTS.com:
Milena Torciano, CEO, Mitigram
Swedish fintech Mitigram secures SEK 100 million funding led by Sampo Group
Stockholm, 28 June 2019 - Mitigram has secured SEK 100 million in funding with lead investor Sampo plc, through its wholly owned subsidiary Mandatum Life, twelve months after its Series A funding round. Sampo plc is a listed, long-term owner of financial services assets, covering both traditional banks and insurance companies – the Group owns 21 per cent of Nordea – as well as technology platforms through its investments in Nordax and Saxo Bank.
The previous funding roundnpm run build was backed by Kaj Hed (founder and significant owner of Rovio Entertainment) via the venture capital fund Moor&Moor AB; Swedish investors Johan Andersson (CEO of Mellby Gård) and Fort Knox (a family office) have also invested. All three investors are participating in the new round.
So far Mitigram has facilitated $27 billion of trade finance risks from over 100 countries, covering more than 1,000 local issuing banks in both developed and emerging markets.
Milena Torciano, CEO, Mitigram commented: “We are very excited to have Sampo Group as a long-term investor and experienced partner in Mitigram. With the Group’s funding and expertise, we have a sound product development roadmap which will benefit our bank and corporate customers”.
“Our goal is a simple one: to further the depth and reach of the Mitigram marketplace by delivering more product features and capabilities to increase automation and liquidity in the trade finance space.”
Mitigram is the market network for exporters, traders and financial Institutions to access funding and risk coverage arising from cross-border trade activities. The company’s clients are multinational corporations, leading commodity traders and many of the world’s largest banks. These include Ericsson, Maire Tecnimont, Nokia, Olam and Wärtsilä; and the banking institutions Commerzbank, Standard Chartered Bank and Natixis.
Mitigram enables banks to collaborate with each other and with non-bank financial institutions in the exchange of information to allow effective communication and redistribution of trade finance needs. The platform provides access to an extended network of counterparties, supports enhanced compliance processes through its comprehensive automated quotation workflows, and provides all parties with a better understanding of market pricing and capacity.
For more information, please contact:
Milena Torciano, CEO, Mitigram
Mobile: +46 70 720 57 99
Carsten Carlsson, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Mobile: +46 70 893 50 22
Mitigram is a privately held company founded in 2014 and headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Our vision is to digitize bank relationship management and transform the way corporations and financial institutions do banking. For more information on Mitigram, visit mitigram.com and follow us on LinkedIn.
Featured article on Trade Finance Global and exclusive interview with CEO, Milena Torciano:
Featured article in Dagens Industri (in Swedish):
Featured article on Breakit (in Swedish):
Mitigram launches interbank capabilities
Mitigram, a fintech based in Stockholm, is launching a new Bank-to-Bank module to improve workflow, analytics, governance, audit and turn-around-time for correspondent banking needs between financial institutions.
The module enables banks to use Mitigram to request confirmation, financing and reissuance needs to their correspondent banks and non-bank FI counterparts. A number of tier one banks are spearheading adoption.
The platform delivers benefits to bank users; principle amongst these are:
- Speeding up the workflow to enable multiple banks to be contacted for any trade finance requirement
- Releasing the bank from its reliance on email
- Removing inefficiencies and risks associated with conversations and pricing information being primarily stored in email folders
- Centralising control of contact details at correspondent banks - no more hard-to-find excel sheets in personal drives
- Allowing access to communications relating to historical transactions
- Assuring data availability survives the individual at the organisation
- Delivering analytics on historical pricing, and relationship activity
“Using Mitigram’s centralised service to communicate with correspondent banks will ensure information becomes much more accessible. Our Corporate-to-Bank experience has demonstrated that moving the RFQ process onto a platform creates efficiencies in many different areas, ranging from turn-around-time, audit trail, data analytics and compliance. Looking at the interest our Bank-to-Bank module has received, it is obvious that banks share our view. The module was born from enquiries received from tier one banks, who independent of each other saw Mitigram as the perfect build partner” says Mitigram CEO, Milena Torciano.
Torciano cites Mitigram’s web-based application, together with an integrated email solution as reasons why banks sign up; “the fact that there is no IT integration, and that Mitigram supports communication with any bank in the world - on or off the platform, are reasons why banks have been so quick to adopt.”
Mitigram is the premier global online platform for funding and hedging the risk of trade. Adopted by multinational corporations, leading commodity traders and many of the world’s largest banks, Mitigram offers a collaborative, efficient and cost effective way for corporations to securely interact with their financial institutions in the negotiation of trade finance, bonding & guarantees and risk mitigation. Mitigram also allows banks to collaborate with each other and with non-bank financial institutions in the exchange of information to allow for trade finance needs to be effectively communicated and redistributed. The platform provides access to an extended network of counterparties, supports comprehensive automated quotation workflows and provides all parties with a better understanding of market pricing.
Launched in 2015, Mitigram has facilitated over $22 billion of trade finance in 100+ countries, covering the risks of over 500 issuing banks in both developed and emerging markets.
Mitigram closes SEK 50M (USD 5.8M) funding round with Swedish Investors
Mitigram, the Stockholm-based fintech specialized in Trade Finance, is closing a SEK 50M (USD 5.8M) Series-A funding round with Swedish investors Johan Andersson (CEO of family-owned investment company Mellby Gård) and Fort Knox. Mitigram already has backing from serial entrepreneur and investor Kaj Hed (founder and significant owner of Rovio Entertainment, Angry Birds) via the venture capital fund, Moor Capital. Moor is also participating in this Series-A round.
Launched in 2015 and with over USD12bn trades facilitated to-date, Mitigram is the fastest growing platform for the global industry of trade finance, with users such as Exporters, Traders and Banks funding, hedging and distributing risks of international trade transactions. Mitigram has a number of Multi-National Corporations, global and regional banks as users, and was awarded EuroFinance Award for Technology Innovation Winner 2019.
The funding will be used to scale operations in Europe and Asia; advance the platform’s core technology; drive the development of its digital capabilities, analytics and visualizations; and further integrate networking features to deliver on our mission of connecting counterparties in global trade.
Speaking of the funding round, Milena Torciano (Mitigram CEO) commented “This is excellent news and an indication of the level of confidence our investors have in Mitigram. Our business is growing in volumes and across geographies, our team is expanding and the backing of strong, knowledgeable and long-term investors like Moor, Mellby Gård and Fort Knox will support us in meeting our goals.”
Watch the video:
Featured article in Dagens Industri (in Swedish):
Featured article on Breakit (in Swedish):
Kerstin Cooley and Kaj Hed from MOOR
A chat with Moor
We have interviewed Kerstin Cooley and Kaj Hed from MOOR, one of Mitigram’s main investors, so that they can tell you a little bit about themselves and why they are supporting Mitigram. MOOR is a private investment company funded by serial entrepreneur Kaj Hed - former majority owner of Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds. MOOR was co-founded by, and is managed by Kerstin Cooley.
Hello, Kaj and Kerstin, could you tell us a bit about yourselves? How are you connected to fintech?
Kaj founded Trema, and over a decade, built it into an international leader in the treasury management system market. The product was used by treasury functions at global Fortune 500 companies, and adopted by numerous central banks. Trema was eventually acquired by Wall Street systems. Kerstin was also part of the Trema journey, working with strategic client implementations in multiple geographies. Later on, Kerstin worked with Hedge Funds and other structured products at SEB. Now, at MOOR, we both meet lots of exciting startup opportunities in the fintech space, and invest in a few select opportunities such as Mitigram.
What do you think are the main challenges faced by the corporate banking industry?
Digital disruption has the potential to deeply reposition the role of today’s banks, and we believe that those that embrace this disruption and embark on a digitization journey will have the potential to offer better, faster, cheaper services, making them an even more essential part of everyday life for their customers. If the existing banking players are to benefit from growth driven by new services and productivity, Openness, Collaboration and Investment are critical themes they need to address. Many banks only have a fragmented or opportunistic strategy for dealing with digital innovation. Certainly, legacy technology and the difficulty of deploying new technology fast and current skills and culture present a challenge. Most banks are minimally equipped for the digital age.
Do you see a need for a corporate banking marketplace? What would it look like?
We are strong believers in the transformative power of cloud/SAAS based delivery models where the focus is on delivering high quality user experience as well as rapid feature evolution and delivery. From the corporate banking perspective, we believe that a lot of value can be added by simplifying and speeding up the process of finding counter parties, price discovery, and transaction completion. Furthermore, we feel there is a big opportunity to increase transparency in the market, to the benefit of all parties, by providing all actors with structured, real-time market data. Today this is not available, due to the fact that transaction level data is currently isolated and stored locally in an unstructured manner in emails or excel sheets, making it impossible to aggregate market-level data.
Why do you believe in Mitigram?
As committed, early stage investors, we have a strong focus on the team quality. We are convinced about the Mitigram team’s ability to execute on their mission to build a company that adds digital value to existing corporate banking flows, such as in trade finance. An important team factor here is the ability to navigate and adapt to the needs of the market, as well as innovating and creating features that lead the market forward. At MOOR, we like teams focused on solving the needs of deep, global markets in specialised spaces, where there is an opportunity to build long term success stories.
If you had one piece of advice to give Mitigram, which one would it be?
Always to keep the spirit of thought leadership, and the vision that originally inspired the founders to embark on their journey to build the Mitigram offering.