Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited and FreightAmigo have joined forces to utilize a privacy-preserving technology – “Federated Learning”, developed by the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong with enhanced access to financial products and services, simplifying the financing and credit application and approval procedures for SMEs.

In line with the 2023 Policy Address objectives to unlock potential of SMEs, “Federated Learning” technology-powered financial solutions are poised to tackle the financing and cash flow needs of SMEs, especially those in the quickly growing e-commerce and cross-border trade sectors. SMEs can enhance their business development and market expansion plans by addressing challenges related to financing, cash flow and information fragmentation.

FreightAmigo is a full-service, one-stop international supply chain finance platform that aims to innovate and redefine the logistics experience for individual and corporate clients. FreightAmigo platform provides a seamless search and comparison process for instant freight quotes, empowering businesses to access comprehensive shipment data, track cargo status, and facilitate secure payment and financing. By providing real-time visibility across the entire supply chain, all stakeholders gain invaluable insights, FreightAmigo’s SME clients experience rapid turnaround times and the flexibility to draw down on their facility, effectively meeting the demands of their evolving business landscape. FreightAmigo’s accolades include winning the Digitizing Trade Finance track at the Bank of International Settlements Innovation Hub (BISIH) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)’s TechChallenge in 2020.

By leveraging on Federated Learning technology developed by ASTRI, which enables collaborative machine learning while keeping all the training data on device to safeguard data privacy, Standard Chartered Bank worked with FreightAmigo to harnesses the vast data sets available on FreightAmigo’s platform with their diverse user base, which includes SMEs, eCommerce businesses, and cross-border traders to generate predictive machine learning models in an encrypted way, ensuring customers’ privacy and data security could be safeguarded throughout the process.

These trained models could then be effectively utilized to generate lists of prospects that are best suited for Standard Chartered Bank’s financial products and services based on clients’ behavioural patterns on FreightAmigo’s platform. This would help to solve SMEs’ long-standing pain point of information overload in finding suitable financial products and services. This ultimately enhances SMEs’ access to financial solutions that are the best matches for them.

ASTRI’s Federated Learning technology has received notable recognition, including the “Asia FinTech Award 2023 – Data Initiative of the Year” and the “BUSINESS GOVirtual Tech Awards 2023 – Tech Company of the Year (Excellence Award in FinTech)”. The successful collaboration between Standard Chartered Bank and FreightAmigo serves as a testament to the vast potential of open shared data in the FinTech sector. “Federated Learning” facilitates pre-screening of suitable financial services and products for SMEs, enabling financial institutions to evaluate and approve loans effectively. With consent from authorised financing merchants, the data partner employs established models and alternative data to assess borrowers’ creditworthiness, evaluate their competitiveness within the industry, and provide valuable insights for the financial institutions. This platform benefits a diverse range of users, including financial regulatory authorities, organisations utilising AI technology, research communities, and the general public.

In addition to harnessing advanced FinTech solutions, SMEs can take advantage of FreightAmigo’s unprecedented promotion offers, which provide discounts exceeding HK$20,000. This exclusive discount offer encompasses FreightAmigo’s full range of door-to-door logistics solutions, spanning air freight, sea freight, rail freight, express services and cross-border trucking, while covering over 250+ countries and regions. FreightAmigo offers access to a vast network of over 1,000 partners, facilitating seamless connections and augmenting supply chain efficiency.

Ms Winnie Tung, Head of Business Banking, Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong, said, “Customer’s experience is of utmost priority in Standard Chartered Bank. Meanwhile, we have always been actively searching for digital and innovative ways to better serve our Business Banking clients. The collaboration with ASTRI and FreightAmigo facilitated us to better target our products and services at suitable SMEs while ensuring our clients’ data privacy is well secured. Not only this could provide better client experience by saving our Business Banking clients’ efforts on going through loads of information to identify suitable financial products, but for our bank, we could also streamline our prospecting process and ensure that we are providing the right products to clients with the right needs.”

Ms Ivy Tse, Co-CEO and Co-Founder, FreightAmigo Services Limited, said: “As a key player in the TradeTech ecosystem and a 1-stop international supply chain finance platform, FreightAmigo’s core mission is to ‘Make Trade Easier’, we are revolutionizing the trade industry by providing cutting-edge technology solutions that combine Federated Learning and FreightTech AI technologies. This integration optimizes supply chain operations and streamlines trade financing.  We can now offer our valued partners, such as Standard Chartered Bank, access to valuable insights derived from our dynamic logistics data while ensuring the utmost privacy and security of our clients’ information. We always enhance this collaborative approach allows us to streamline the trade financing process, better target financial products and services for SMEs, and ultimately enhance the overall customer experience. Together, we are shaping the future of global trade.” 

Dr Denis Yip, Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI said “Federated Learning” technology eliminates the need to transmit data to a centralised database, reducing security risks significantly. “This innovative financial solution revolutionises cash flow, point-of-sale transactions, utility bill receipts and other data into alternative data that can be utilised for credit scoring. Not only does this safeguard privacy, but also simplifies the loan process, expedites approval, and provides banks with more comprehensive data for reference. Moreover, this collaboration would encourage more SMEs to incorporate advanced technologies into their daily operations while attracting other industries, such as insurance, to leverage the potential of ‘Federated Learning’ technology,” he added.