HSBC is investing in a Hong Kong-based company aimed at matching small manufacturers with component suppliers across the globe, according to KFGO reports on Sunday (June 23).
Serai officially launched operations last week, reports noted, and is part of HSBC’s broader push to invest in FinTech; reports noted that HSBC Chief Executive John Flint previously announced plans to invest as much as $17 million by 2020 to fuel growth through technology. Serai marks HSBC’s first investment in a non-banking technology startup and is a strategic partner that could open up access to new corporate customers for the financial institution, reports said.
In a statement, Serai Chief Executive Vivek Ramachandran likened the platform to a social networking solution for corporates.
“Navigating international markets as a small-and-medium-sized company is still a nightmare,” said Ramachandran. “And the real pain point is business-to-business [transactions]. So if you have got Facebook for your personal network, LinkedIn for your professional network, Serai is for your company.”
Ramachandran formerly served within HSBC’s commercial banking unit, reports noted.
Financial details of HSBC’s investment in Serai were not revealed, but according to Ramachandran, the backing includes Serai’s ability to leverage HSBC’s current network of trade banking clients. Serai will eventually open up services to buyers and suppliers that are not currently customers of HSBC, reports said, while also offering small trade financing loans to some of its business users.
“The idea is to create a platform where buyers and sellers come together,” Ramachandran said. “You can make connections, and then over time you can access a range of solutions.”
Other efforts by HSBC to enhance its B2B offering include last week’s announcement that the lender would integrate Identitii tokenization technology into its HSBC DART solution, a digital information exchange that allows buyers and suppliers to connect and exchange data electronically. HSBC DART aims to enhance and accelerate accounts receivable for B2B clients.