Cross Border Trade Tech

January 18, 2022 5 Min Read

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As we launch the Drip Tech Portal, I am excited to share the engineering challenges and projects that the Product and Engineering Teams at Drip Capital are presently working on to create relevant financial solutions for Small-Mid-size (SMB) exporters and importers worldwide.

Global world trade in 2019 stood at approximately 19 trillion dollars. The primary opportunity for Drip Capital is to solve the $3 to 5 trillion global trade finance gap where SMBs struggle to get financing to meet their growing capital needs. Closing this gap will support SMBs during challenging market conditions and help provide diverse local and innovative products to the world markets.

Our financing products – Receivable Factoring (RF) and Supply Chain Finance (SCF) – have evolved significantly over the past five years to provide financing to thousands of SMBs exporters and importers efficiently. Applying valuable insights gathered from our own experiences and stakeholder interactions, we have continuously improved the products to better support and meet our customer needs.

As we expand and introduce the products to new markets, three key product design aspects begin to emerge:

  • Easily customizable product workflows to meet new regional requirements.
  • Accurate and configurable risk analytics models, risk variables to deal with credit risk and fraud risks across different customer segments and product types.
  • Compress turn around times (TAT) for data gathering and risk assessment to enable same-day funding and onboarding

To meet the above requirements, the product and engineering teams at Drip Capital are redesigning the user interfaces (UI) and backend systems to ensure ease of customization and assembly of UI elements and backend microservices. This allows us to create new workflows, easily modify existing workflows that interact with the customer, and reuse UI elements across products. Providing multi-language support to our customers and using the product on mobile devices via native apps built for iPhone and Android devices (available on App Store and Google Play Store) are also important aspects to consider.

We are also redesigning the backend systems to meet the higher scale, reliability and security requirements. This includes the need to support more fine grain APIs and replicating micro services across cloud regions. Our backend systems were originally developed using Ruby on Rails and MySQL. However, now the team leverages Go and Python to ensure increased adaptability and versatility. We have, also, increasingly begun to use MongoDB, Redis, Influx to meet the reduced latency, cross-region replication, and enhanced availability requirements of the core backend systems. We are primarily on Amazon Web Services (AWS) but have utilized Google cloud for specialized machine learning (ML) evaluations.

The ability to continuously update risk analytic ML models is crucial for our financial products to run effectively. The need to maintain models for multiple products customized for 100’s of locations worldwide requires us to maintain and manage a complex MLOps pipeline built on top of the data warehouse and data lake. The MLOps pipeline provides continuous integration of data and evaluation feedback, helps data analysts and risk management teams to evaluate results, and provides the tools to run new experiments and create new models.

We integrate the data that correlates to risk variables from multiple external vendors, public data sources, online sources, and government agencies worldwide. This integration of data helps us embed new risk management techniques in the product and identify and mitigate the emerging risks.

Another design aspect that the team focuses on to reduce TAT is implementing automation to replace manual processes and run tasks in parallel. Import-export documents in different languages and formats pose an interesting challenge to solve as we build automated systems that parse data from documents provided by our customers. The data points gathered from the documents are further analyzed and used for risk analysis. This will be an area of continued focus for innovation as we strive to get to an instant TAT.

The Product and Engineering Teams at Drip Capital are poised to take on the evolving cross-border trade tech stack challenges and provide effective trade and trade financing tools. In the upcoming blog posts, team members will dive deeper into specific areas mentioned above. We will also explore other readworthy and relevant topics in our blog. Thank you for your interest, and stay tuned for exciting trade tech updates!

What’s next:

We live in an interconnected global environment where even localized changes impact everyone--from climate change to political issues, the butterfly effect is felt across the globe. This is especially true when it comes to cross-border trade.

Evolved over centuries into a complex system, cross-border trade has its checks and balances to protect the parties involved in case of unexpected events during the lengthy trade process. Nevertheless, the existing cross-border mechanisms are being stretched even more by recent world events such as geopolitical changes, the pandemic, congestion in ports, rising labor costs, container shortages, etc.

The present scenario raises many pertinent questions: how do importers, exporters, and all parties involved in the cross-border trade deal with increasing levels of uncertainty, rapidly rising demand, and labor shortages? Can technology alleviate some of the challenges and help importers and exporters ride the wave of change?

Our future blog posts will tackle the above questions. Please keep coming back as we offer solutions and critical insights regarding emerging trends, news, and all matters related to cross-border trade tech.

Anil Gopinath

Chief Technology Officer at Drip Capital