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HSBC and IBM develop cognitive intelligence solution to digitize global trade

The two organizations have developed a technology to automate and simplify the processing of documents used in international commerce


August 10, 2017
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Trade finance bank HSBC is working with IBM to develop a cognitive intelligence solution combining optical character recognition with advanced robotics.

HSBC’s Global Trade and Receivables Finance (GTRF) team facilitates over US$500 billion of documentary trade for customers every year, and in doing so must manually review and process up to 100 million pages of documents, ranging from invoices to packing lists and insurance certificates.

The new solution uses IBM’s advanced analytics technology, including intelligent segmentation and text analytics, to identify, digitize and extract key data within these documents before feeding it into the bank’s transaction processing systems.

“The average trade transaction requires 65 data fields to be extracted from 15 different documents, with 40 pages to be reviewed,” said Natalie Blyth, HSBC’s global head of GTRF. “By digitizing this process we will make transactions quicker and safer for both buyers and suppliers, leading our industry forwards, and we will reduce compliance risks through an enhanced ability to manage huge volumes of data.”

HSBC is using the technology to analyze English-language import and export bills in several markets in Asia, Europe, the Americas and the MENA region. The team aims to enhance the solution so it can read a wider range of documents and languages including French, Spanish and Chinese.