Today, with de-risking and mergers among top banks, and lack of liquidity in smaller institutions, only agile companies can survive. Companies must purposefully listen to the new demands and expectations of more savvy customers, applying appropriate technology, integrating external applications and being vigilant to market trends, regulation, legislation and geo-political influences.
Financial institutions, especially, need to be ever more aware of a new breed of market entrants, challengers and disruptors, moving away from traditional bricks and mortar branches to a new wave of services, delivered through mobile, digital assets (such as crypto-currency) and smartphone channels.
In the light of the above mentioned, we are thrilled to present you Euro Exim Bank Ltd., an innovative financial institution that offers corporate banking services and trade finance instruments with complete compliance and operational excellence in its processes.
Getting Off to A Flying Start
Euro Exim Bank Ltd. started as a small payments provider in the UK (SPI), however, due to diminishing margins and the crowded competitive nature of the business, it was clear that the designation was no longer suitable to the company growth model.
Moving forward to 2015, the company applied for an international regulated banking license in St. Lucia, under the strict auspices of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), enabling the full range of banking services to be offered, and concentrating more on the company speciality. From just issuance of non-regulated instruments, the company is now empowered to provide Letters of Credit, Standby Letters of Credit and regulated Bank Guarantees and Performance Bonds from its St. Lucia Head Office. Additionally, Euro Exim Bank Ltd. is also looking at extending its platforms to include foreign exchange and issuance of prepaid cards.
We got a chance to interact with Mr Kaushik Punjani, the CEO of Euro Exim Bank Ltd. who was happy to share his business journey with us. Below is an excerpt from the interview.
How successful was your first project roll on?
It depends on how you measure success. For us, the measure was not profit but the ability to handle the full extent of the trade, and build a business with future volume. From the inception of the initial order to full completion, payment, settlement, reconciliation and transport of goods to the ultimate destination, across borders, jurisdictions, cultures and processes, the life-cycle of a trade may be up to 360 days, with numerous risks that accompany any movement of goods. So, our software builds and roll-out was key to our ongoing success.
Our position as issuer of instruments relies on provenance and investigating the real picture, getting certified and notarised information from trusted sources and making services available to bonafide companies actively engaged in cross border trade in often difficult countries. Understanding the different players, agencies, legalities, regulatory requirements, terms and conditions is not for beginners and needs established companies like Euro Exim Bank, with experience to assist clients through the complexities that still exist to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.
What challenges did you face in your initial years?
Initially, we were heavily paper-based, relying on manual processes, with duplication and error-prone data entry. We looked at commercial trade packages for an application to suit our way of working rather than adapting all our processes to a particular product. For us, given our size, building, maintaining and refining our architecture allowed us to jump through legacy offerings and to create a platform embedded with blockchain quickly.
By creating a foundation IT architecture which allowed rapid implementation and integration of other services such as cash management, payments and compliance, our self-sufficiency paid off in terms of continued speed to market, cost control and functionality.
Is your company a ‘leader or follower’? Do you formulate your core values?
A leader. From small beginnings, we are now a major recognised player in the facilitation of trade finance instruments, having grown significantly from 3 people to more than 40 staff worldwide. Moreover, we were one of the first supervised authorised Banks to participate with technology provider Ripple, building our blockchain-enabled trade platform, using their xCurrent and On-Demand Liquidity services, incorporating innovative real-time payments and use of digital assets in exchange for local currency.
‘Leaders cannot optimize results by themselves; they need employees’ support and assistance.’ How does your company interpret this saying?
This could be our corporate slogan! Just as a captain without a crew cannot run a ship, good leadership is crucial in close collaboration with experienced and expert staff, surrounding themselves with people with the right skills in IT, sales, legal, financial, administration, research and development and myriad other roles. Our management team from the outset has strived to hire the right people, and we have achieved this, as shown by our low staff turnover and high retention rates.
Where do you see you and your company a couple of years from now?
Our expansion plans remain on track. We are continually hearing of clients left without cost-effective access to fiat currency, loans and instrument issuance services as some major banks leave the market.
We are well-positioned and ready to work with smaller disadvantaged companies, finding trade initiation solutions enabling them to rightfully and economically compete in the wider international arena and aim to be the pre-eminent provider of trade finance services globally.
The Thought Leadership
Kaushik Punjani, CEO
Kaushik is a self-made specialist in international trade in retail and wholesale goods distribution. Kaushik has an extensive financial background, supporting, using and consulting on accounting applications in several industry verticals. His accounting experience covers on-line payments systems, confirmations, reconciliation, and his roles have covered management and delivery of financial solutions at UK businesses at all levels.
Quote: “Euro Exim Bank is committed to generating sustainable value for our clients, employees, stakeholders and society by responsibly balancing risks and returns and by putting long-term success over short-term gain.”