Now is the time for digitisation – that was certainly the widespread view at this year’s GTR Asia Trade & Treasury conference in Singapore.

A record-breaking 900 delegates attended the two-day event (September 6-7) which is probably the largest gathering in the world of people interested in trade finance.

Singapore is certainly the right location for a conference of this type, where so much focus is on innovation. Given that so many global banks and commodities traders have headquarters in the city state, Singapore remains a great trading hub, but one conscious that innovation is essential to its survival.

With such widespread recognition that digitisation has the capacity to completely transform trade finance, Bolero was right at the centre of the debate. We gave a joint presentation with our partner MasterCard on the effects digitisation of trade is having in support of flexible settlement options and we were delighted with the positive feedback we received following the presentation.

Throughout the event, speakers and contacts in informal conversations stressed how important it was to grasp the nettle and actively move into digitisation. The key driver however will be the corporates. Whenever they decide to move, the banks and their trading counterparties will undoubtedly follow. And It was apparent throughout the course of the two days, that more and more conversations are now taking place within the corporates about how they can approach digitisation of trade instruments.

Alongside the topic of digitisation, the problems and challenges associated with compliance and anti-money laundering regulations were also raised. Other themes that emerged included the shift in attitude among the commodities players, who are now adapting to the “new normal” of lower rates and leaner margins, driving them to investigate every avenue for efficiencies and cost-savings, including of course, the removal of paper-based and manual processes – a key area for Bolero.

GTR Asia was certainly a successful show for Bolero this year, yielding plenty of excellent new contacts and fruitful conversations. The gravitational pull of digitisation as an important issue meant that for those two days Singapore was at the core of trade finance, indicating that the tide is turning in favour of digitisation.