Trade Finance Case Study 2018-04-17T22:50:39+00:00



Global Singapore-based bank digitizes and automates trade documents with ACUMI and IBM Watson.

According to a recent ICC global trade and finance survey, 31% of respondents expected to see an increase in trade finance fees. This is due predominantly to increased costs in terms of compliance and, consequently, the operational risk management that comes with it.

Global trade finance banks must navigate these issues which relies on human knowledge workers to comb through mounds of files and trade documents from diverse sources. This structured and unstructured data—which is paper-intensive and varies widely in formats—must be carefully examined in order to meet transaction accuracy and regulatory compliance.

Unfortunately, humans can’t scale like machines. Risk of errors increases with the pressure on teams to handle growing volumes in less time. Even one small oversight can result in penalties, fines and catastrophic loss of business. Financial services institutions are facing mounting problems with this regularly.

This is the case for an international banking group with a 150-year history in the world’s most dynamic markets. It serves the individuals and companies driving investment, trade and the creation of wealth across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The bank’s trade financing division provides options to lower the costs and risks of businesses in domestic or international trade.

The institution’s mission is to give clients peace of mind while they explore new growth opportunities with Letter of Credit advising and confirmation, performance and financial bank guarantees, and many other critical trade services.

The Challenge.

As the bank’s business grew along with large-scale shipping transactions with sanctioned countries this increasing to authenticate the massive amount of documentation so did the demand on their knowledge workers. If paperwork is ever wrong, the bank carries the risk that comes with human error. The bank’s trade service counters were at capacity to audit the following paper-intensive services:

  • General trade inquiries
  • Inquiry of export Letter of Credit
  • Trade submission status
  • Outstanding trade bills inquiries
  • Paid trade bills inquiries

Structured and unstructured data from these documents were increasing on a global scale, but customer deadlines still had to be met—with compliance and precision. Unwilling to compromise on speed, accuracy and operational efficiency, the bank sought a proven, cognitive-based solution that could scale beyond human capabilities.

The Solution.

After a competitive RFP process and exhaustive visualization testing, the bank selected DataSkill for its cognitive ACUMI DataFind and ACUMI DataLearn software, powered by IBM Watson. Our team worked with the bank to customize the user interface to seamlessly learn from their thousands of experts on a daily basis and automate their unique workflow. In this highly regulatory environment, the algorithms and annotators were carefully optimized to satisfy bank stakeholders in terms of compliance, auditing and risk management.

By automating the knowledge worker, the institution has gained a cognitive edge over other financial services organizations.
– Brian Swanson, Vice President of Cognitive Services at DataSkill

Today, ACUMI and Watson enable the bank to automatically extract and interpret key fields from a high volume of complex legal documents. For example, through an unattended process, the bank can quickly identify specific information crucial for contract negotiations. ACUMI can also locate specific legal terms within minutes, not hours or days. This is essential for finding potential compliance violations and missing elements, such as signatures and calculations.

“The visualization component was critical for the bank, especially the natural flow of how users interacted with this sensitive data,” said Luke Baer, Director of Cognitive Financial Services at DataSkill. “By automating the knowledge worker, the institution gains a cognitive edge over the competition.”

Thanks to ACUMI’s and Watson’s robotic process automation, the bank is now recognizing results that are more accurate, rapid, consistent and repeatable across the organization.

DataSkill ACUMI benefits for financial services

  • Automates “knowledge worker” intelligence with cognitive models
  • Mitigates costly regulatory fines and penalties
  • Extracts data from high volumes of unknown documents with similar data
  • Collects and analyzes data for the best possible accuracy rate
  • Reduces workload through automatic identification and classification of cases
  • Improves risk models and data quality

ACUMI Markets

  • Financial Services

ACUMI Product + IBM Solution

  • ACUMI DataFind
  • ACUMI DataLearn
  • IBM Watson
  • Watson Explorer
  • IBM Datacap

Cognitive Science

  • NLP
  • Ontology Generation
  • Concept Extraction
  • Unstructured Data Analytics
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Image recognition
  • Deep Machine Learning


  • In IBM Cloud or On Premises installation of hardware and run over network